Rachel and Brandon got engaged! And then, while searching for wedding venues in New Orleans, they serendipitously stumbled across some weddings I shot down there and contacted me to do their engagement session in Durham where they live. They were super pleasant and friendly via e-mail and phone and I was already excited to work with them and their dog Jovie. But then, a few days before the session, Rachel casually sends me an email that reads, “And a heads up. We recently rescued a kitten, so he’d have to be involved here as well.” I like how she worded this: the kitten has to be involved… as if to imply there might be some sort of chance I wouldn’t accept?!?? Or would tell her, “NO. ABSOLUTELY NO KITTENS.” Rachel did not know me well enough when she sent that email but I think she does now. This is when I grabbed my Crazy Cat Lady cape from the back of my office chair, slung it around my shoulders and got to work converting her engagement/family session into 100% a kitten session without even trying or thinking about it. I did try very hard to pet Jovie the dog and hug Rachel and Brandon equally but let’s face it, I think they all knew I was there for Crash the Cat. Crash is really good at posing because he’s really good at sleeping when he’s not running full speed around the house. Jovie is really good at eating Crash’s cat toys and also entire Dominos pizzas when we weren’t looking. Rachel and Brandon are good at looking cute and adopting a lot of animals and eating pizza. I wish I was still shooting weddings so I could follow them to Nola, but these kitten photos were a good consolation prize.
Back in 2017, one of my most popular sessions I shot involved a pit bull named Wilma and her love for destroying large, plush animals and sleeping on the couch. Geoff and I fell in love with Wilma, as she’s one of the most RIDICULOUS and charismatic dogs we’ve ever met, as well as the laziest (also recently proven when Jessica e-mailed me a bunch of pictures from Wilma’s daycare, of which she’s laying down in literally all of them while other dogs run all over her). Wilma has a brother, Britton, who is kind of anxious and can be shy, so he was not part of the first photo shoot, but Jessica and Dustin decided they wanted to try to make it work for their wedding photos on Thursday (they were married at the courthouse on Thursday, and did photos at home with the dogs, then had their wedding reception party on Saturday). AND IT TURNS OUT THAT BRITTON IS EQUALLY AS RIDICULOUS BUT ALSO LOVES CAMERAS. Wilma, perhaps upset that she wasn’t the sole star of the afternoon, spent most of her time with us staring intently at a lizard on the deck, while Britton hammed it up repeatedly. When Wilma wasn’t staring at lizards, she was busy violently shaking off her beautiful floral collar and then rolling around in the yard to the point where nobody could get her up.
Normally I might feel kind of bad writing an entire paragraph about their dogs instead of about their wedding but I 100% know that Jessica and Dustin will not mind. But now that I have discussed their dogs, whom I adore, I will discuss Jessica and Dustin, WHOM I ADORE. I feel like someone who wears glitter shoes that say “FRENCH FRIES” doesn’t really need an explanation as to why you love them but I will attempt anyway. Jessica exudes the most happiness and enthusiasm of anyone you’ve ever met. And in an entirely way too negative world, I love her. She is everything great and happy and positive and wonderful. She also likes incredible art, and sends it to me, for which the walls of my house are eternally grateful (the cat art here is by Casey Weldon, which were thank-you cards to her bridesmaids, and the plant art is by Angela Deane, which were also gifts to her bridesmaids). And Dustin LOVES Jessica and I’m fairly certain it’s for all the same reasons, and they make each other laugh so hard, and then it makes me laugh and I truly just want to hug them all the time. Dustin likes really old cars (one of his Volkswagens that he’s fixing up makes an appearance in this shoot) and working on sound equipment, and I appreciate men who have cool hobbies and like to work with their hands. Together, their house is incredible and joyous and they have a 70s built-in oven that’s chartreuse. Regretful that the 8 of us (four people, 2 dogs, 2 cats) were not married but will settle for friendship instead.
Date: April 27, 2019 Ceremony Venue: Wake County Justice Center // Raleigh Reception Venue: Neuse River Brewing Company // Raleigh First Dance Song: “I Only Have Eyes for You” – The Flamingos Jessica’s Occupation: Hospitality Dustin’s Occupation: Sound Engineer How You Met: Through Jessica’s Brother Honeymoon: Savannah, GA DJ: DJ Nyce Florist: Teacup Floral Cake: Cupcake Shop Caterer: El Molcajete Food Truck, Southern Harvest Hair: Bride Makeup (Ceremony): Michelle Clark Makeup Coordinator (Reception): Amanda Scott, a Swanky Affair
Jessica and Andrew hail all the way up from Minnesota! And, like all Minnesota people I’ve encountered in my lifetime, they are exceedingly nice and can also tolerate much colder temperatures than me. These guys are avid travelers, and they wanted to share the joy of traveling with their family and friends, so they decided to hold their wedding in Ocean Isle, NC and have everyone join them. They rented an enormous and gorgeously updated beach house, and had a ceremony out by the ocean. It was a sunny and clear day while Jess and Andrew strolled along the beach in the sunset with me and videographer Matt from Dogwood Media shouting “Dope dope dope” at them… which is, I’m pretty sure, exactly what they pictured their wedding day being like. We had a ridiculous amount of fun with these guys. And look at how pretty they are. Just look at them. SO PRETTY. Jessica’s dress was gorgeous and I had a fun time making her spin around repeatedly and then trying to shake the sand out of the tulle. They then danced the night away with a super fun group of people who love to pretend they’re all jumping rope at the reception. We are so glad that they asked us to join them out in Ocean Isle – we had never been to that part of the NC coast before (we’re originally from Pittsburgh so still have much of this state to explore) and we loved it! It was clear of people and the light is beautiful out there in November, and the beach is pristine in every direction. We’re so happy and grateful these guys chose North Carolina and chose US to be with them for their wedding day. Congratulations to you both! You beautiful people you.