She was the kind of bride so happy about marrying her fiancé that nothing could dim her smile. The kind of bride who didn’t want to burden her eight bridesmaids who were flying in from San Francisco and NYC to Virginia Beach to celebrate with her. 'Wear what you’d like for the wedding', she said, and they did. Short dresses, long dresses, every color and all stylish and stunning.
She laughed frequently and easily, her head back and face to the sky when the best man dropped the wedding bands at the altar. Later, her usual smile broadened to the megawatt version at the suggestion of a spontaneous detour to the beach for a few photos on the way to the reception (which was right next door to the Church... and well worth it).
He was into photography, greeting me at the rehearsal with a handshake and a “We’re so glad you’re here”. And that was all I needed to become one of his many fans.
Together they totally worked. Clicked. Fit. A pair meant to be. It was such a pleasure shooting their wedding and meeting their amazing families and friends. I was honored to be their photographer.
More to come....
At first I thought it was perfect. Well how about that, what a sweet message in my birthday fortune cookie! “Keep true to the dreams of your youth”, I told the kids. “Look”, I showed my husband, "such a cool fortune for a birthday".
And, as always, one of the kids said, “But what does it mean?”.
I read it again and thought, “Huh. I have no freakin’ clue”.
When I was five I dreamed I would grow up to be a princess. (In this economy, cushy princess jobs are at an all time low so... phew!)
When I was eight I just wanted to live with my family, and of course my stuffed animals, for ever and ever. (My parents are so happy that didn’t work out).
When I was ten I dreamed Parker Stevenson would marry me and I'd be the first Hardy girl. (and where is he now?)
When I was a teenager I dreamed I’d go to medical school. (I agree, that is just scary).
When I was working on my MBA the big plan was to be a ruthless businesswoman and make millions in really cool suits with short skirts. (Ally McBeal. Snort).
But truthfully. Seriously. I never in a million years dreamed I’d have this. All of this. My own incredible, beautiful family. A great job that I really love, in photography of all things.
So I taped that fortune to the wall beside my desk to remind me that dreams can change. Maybe you won’t keep true to the dreams of your youth, but you should definitely hold onto them so you can see how much you’ve grown.
Thanks for the best birthday ever! Don't worry, no more deep thoughts for today.
I missed out on that whole chapter about 'not talking to strangers'. Don't worry, I've watched enough episodes of Law & Order not to be foolish, but I really enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories.
This is especially true if (insert stranger's name here) lives somewhere far away or leads a life that isn't like mine at all, giving me a little window to peek out of my oft too comfortable world. Sometimes these conversations take unexpected turns, like when I met Massachusetts-based filmmaker, Linda, in a Las Vegas Starbucks and over the next 6 months we orchestrated (with lots of help) a fundraiser that raised $85,000 for cancer research. Or when I picked up the phone and called a Vancouver photographer whose work I admired, and over the next five years she became one of my closest friends despite the 3,000 miles between us.
My buddies Jill and Kelly are like this as well, and when we were in L.A. last January (a trip that was also the result of the fundraiser) we were a walking talking interview machine. I think it's partly a southern thing that can make people really uncomfortable, or totally open them up which is way more fun. Either way it made the trip what it was, though we could have lived without the conspiracy theorist at the pool. He was so freaky.
So in our very happenin' hotel lobby one night, we started chatting with a kind stranger about the difficulty of texting on an iPhone, which eventually brought us into the world of Chad Wolf and his soon-to-be-famous band Carolina Liar. About three hours and many twists and turns later we were at a party and asked Chad to sing us something from his work-in-progress. He kindly obliged (though Damien Rice would not... I think we scared the lad) with his writing partner Tobias on the guitar. We were in awe. We kept looking at eachother going, "Wow, he is really, reeeeeallly good!". Loved the songs, loved his voice, and to top it off he was just a really nice guy. When we told him about the fundraiser and how we ended up in L.A., he responded "Man, that is awesome. You guys are helping save people's lives, I am just making music." Do you love him or do you love him? We said we'd keep an eye (ear?) out for Carolina Liar down the road and wished them well.
Fast forward several months and their songs have been playing on "The Hills" for three weeks in a row, their video for "I'm Not Over" even playing at the end. While I personally exceed the legal age limit for watching the show, I can totally grasp the greatness of that coup. It has been fun to watch, from afar, success come to someone insanely talented, but also seemingly humble and grateful. From playing coffee houses to signing with Atlantic Records, then landing on a cult hit like "The Hills?". Odds aren't high. They are on a radio tour now and even blew through Richmond last week. Hopefully they'll be back to play soon.
Their album drops on June 3, but two of their songs are available on iTunes. Seriously, beat the rush, download now. I'll be saying "I knew them when" (even though I don't really) before too long.
Note: I did not take that photo, but couldn't find who to credit. I guess Atlantic Records? Please don't sue me...
I white-knuckled the steering wheel up the seemingly never ending driveway, the kids in back screaming "Don't look down!!" and "AAAAAACK!!!". Not terribly helpful. Of course I had to glance over, super fast, and immediately below us was the valley, lilliputian houses and rolling farms in emerald green patches ringed by the famous Blue Ridge mountains. Guard rails would have been a welcome sight considering my truck was almost the entire width of the lane, and I would be lying if I said my heart wasn't beating out of my chest when we came face to face with another truck. But somehow we squeezed by (hold breath and cue more kids 'playful' screaming) and made it to the top.
The reward, the impressive stone house and spectacular backdrop, was best summed up in Peyton's exclamation "OH MY GOD!". I said "Peyton, you don't say God, you say gosh". He responded "No Mom, this one deserves an 'Oh my God'". The boy had a point.
Our weekend destination was a friend's family retreat to celebrate Allison's (Queen of 'the running man') birthday. Home for the following two days would be a... well, a castle, nestled on the side of a mountain. We joined 36 friends, some new, some old and all great. The next 48 hours on 'activity mountain' would include hiking, hitting golf balls, shooting skeet, tennis, foosball, late night ping pong, dancing, eating, drinking, huge country breakfasts, bocce, and a midnight limbo contest under the watchful eyes of a few authentic suits of armor, which I think have seen a lot in their time and are very confused.
The kids spent a lot of the time pushing on things in an attempt to make bookcases revolve and find hidden passages. I would not have been surprised to see it happen, alas, it did not.
One afternoon we all took a slow hayride to the top of the mountain which was not a peak so much as a huge grassy field from which you could see 360 degrees. Breathtaking. We played an aggressive game of kickball. Haven't done that in, oh, twenty years. I told Peyton the view from the top made it easy to imagine how Lewis and Clark felt on their expedition across the Appalachian Mountains. He decided it looked more like the opening credits of "The Simpsons". That's what you get with a ten-year old. And again he had a point.
And to my Vancouver friends who are saying 'what mountains?', pipe down. Those are Virginia Mountains. And that's my daughter holding a HUGE lethal Virginia snake of some sort. Actually, maybe that isn't my kid. The two making 'ick' faces seem more genetically connected. I mean, ewwwww...
Yep, we did it. We woke up in time, got through the traffic and made it to the starting line at 8 am in the rain. Tadaaaaa! That should have garnered it's own medal. Actually, it wasn't that bad because the kids were so fired up....and it didn't hurt that we had gotten some fine lookin' Krispy Kremes to lure them out the door.
So our kids ran their one-mile race on Saturday morning. It was chilly and soggy, but awesome. They raised $2,000.00 for cancer research through their efforts which is pretty insane. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who supported them! They pumped their little legs as fast as they could. I was such a proud mama, on the side cheering and fighting back the biggest lump in my throat. Watching my littlest one run a mile with her Dad by her side was too much for my emotional self, and my 8 year old surprised us with his 7:30 time! It is freaky when your kids start to outperform you. I guess I'd better get used to it. Or start running faster.
Overall, the Kids' run and the 10k race raised over $500,000 for Richmond's very own VCU Massey Cancer Center. David and I ran the 10k, which is something to be experienced. It's the 4th largest race in the country down the most gorgeous stretch of Richmond, regardless of the pouring rain, and somehow functions like a well-oiled machine with 30,000 participants.
I thought I had a good pace going on mile 5 but then got passed by a tall gorilla-suited guy on my left. Even worse, the Chiquita banana passed me on my right. I could not possibly make that up. I could handle being passed by the monkey, but the fruit was too much.
And now back to work. Wedding season kicks in here in a few weeks and I am so ready. The next 6 months are going to be wild, with really fun, cute couples and weddings taking me all over the east coast . Sea Island, Jekyll Island, Pennsylvania, Charlottesville, Irvington and Virginia Beach. Even a couple in Richmond. I am so excited and my kids will be thrilled for me to point my cameras elsewhere!