Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: The Best Engagement Photoshoot Ever

happy couple at engagement shoot

Planning our engagement photoshoot was a bit of a nightmare. Beau has a good friend who is a photographer, and he wanted to give his friend the job. I insisted on seeing a portfolio first... and his friend never gave us a portfolio. I wanted pictures taken outside, but in the Midwest, there's not a lot of time after an October 20th proposal for an outdoor photoshoot. 

In the end, it all worked out! I contacted two photographers that I knew pretty well in my (southern and still warm in November!) home state. One studio (a mother/daughter team) was available the Saturday after Thanksgiving for an engagement shoot, and our sitting fee was less than $110. Plus they had an option for buying the photo CD and printing rights, which was very important to Beau and me. 

Our photographers put an incredible effort into personalized our photoshoot for us. They added me as a friend on Pinterest and asked me to put together a board with engagement pictures I liked. After I added a bunch of my favorite engagement photos, Beau and I looked at more together so he could add his ideas. From there, our photographers scouted unique locations where they had never before done a photoshoot so that ours would be totally different.

Some of our Pinspiration!

engagement photography
book photography
engagement shoot with books
outdoor engagement pictures

We had a bunch more pictures than just those, but they're all pinned to the Pinterest board with my real name attached to it. Trying to repin ALL of them would take me all night! About a third of the pictures I pinned included books somehow, so our photographers found a tiny, cute secondhand bookstore for the first part of our photoshoot!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Musings

I went to church this morning.

And I almost cried. Several times.

I had forgotten how much joy I can feel in the right church setting.

I had forgotten how light my heart feels when I'm worshiping God, when I can feel Her love pouring over me, when I'm just so happy to be in Her presence.

It's been so long since I've attended church. I didn't even go to church at Christmas. I think the last time I went to church was when I was home for Thanksgiving.

I haven't had a church home in a long time, since I graduated college, in fact.

It made sense at first. Was my French good enough to follow services in France? Plus I woke up so early most of the time, and I just wanted to sleep in on Sundays. In New York and in Toronto, I relied on walking and public transportation on the weekends, which didn't really encourage me. I knew living in Big City would be temporary, and I didn't want to commit to a new church right before moving again. Then I was working two jobs most of last year, and I often had to work on Sundays.

But reading that paragraph, all these decisions that made perfect sense at the time now just come off as excuses to me now. 

Beau and I will probably live here in Small City for at least two years, if not longer. I need to find a church home, and today I took that first step. 

Beau and I attended Easter services at the Episcopal Church. I was raised in a conservative Presbyterian denomination, but I need to find a Protestant denomination with a more liberal theology. The Episcopal Church is a contender.

While I didn't completely follow the entire order of service (there's a lot of repetition, and they use multiple books for reading stuff), I did love the rituals performed this morning. Plus we sang my two favorite Easter hymns!

Next weekend, I'll be a bit busy with our final wedding receptions and my parents visiting, but I hope to try out the Episcopal Church again in May.

I want to feel this joy and peace again. I want to celebrate God's love every day, not just on Easter Sunday. I just hope that I remember how I feel today in a few weeks.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Club Friday: Memoirs of Paris

To contrast my regular life with my honeymoon life, just look at the number of books I've read.

On our honeymoon (including time spent flying), I read four books start-to-finish, I finished a collection of short stories, I read several chapters of a textbook, and I started another novel. In the rest of 2014 (thus far), I finished two books that I'd technically started in 2013, I read two books start-to-finish, and I finished the book started on my honeymoon.

In other words, I need to go on vacation more often because I don't have enough time to read!

photography, bookstore, engagement shoot
We had no problem making out in front of a camera.
Back in November, Beau and I took the first half of our engagement pictures in a used bookstore. Before we left for the next location, however, we took a few minutes to browse their selection. Naturally we each bought something, but it took me a whole four months to find the time to read my book!

My eye was immediately drawn to Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton. Memoirs set in Paris? Yes, please!

From Amazon: In this remarkably honest and candid memoir, award-winning journalist and distinguished author Kati Marton narrates an impassioned and romantic story of love, loss, and life after loss. Paris is at the heart of this deeply moving account. Marton paints a vivid portrait of an adventuresome life in the stream of history. Inspirational and deeply human, Paris: A Love Story will touch every generation.

I don't normally describe women based on the men in their life, but since Marton's memoirs include detailed chapters on her late ex-husband and her late husband, they must be mentioned. Her second husband was ABC News anchor Peter Jennings. Her third husband was US diplomat Richard Holbrooke. 

A journalist's memoirs are not normally the sort of book I read, but anything about Paris lures me in. I'm SO glad I stumbled across this book at the little used bookstore. Marton seamlessly weaves back and forth between different times in her life, telling thematic stories more so than chronological ones. Yet the overall timeline of her life is easy to follow, and I'm genuinely jealous of how much of it takes place in Paris.  

Anyone who loves Paris, or Hungary (Marton's family escaped Hungary after the revolution), or journalism needs to read this book.

What have you read lately?


*Y'all know the drill. Two Amazon Affiliate links are embedded in this post. I get a few pennies if you shop via my links.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: A Timeline of Events

love, photography, engagement pictures

I think Beau's proposal and our months of wedding planning was our best-kept secret from the blog. My motivation for the secrecy was two-fold.
  1. I wanted to control the narrative of my own story of sex and virginity. I didn't want to force the blog conversation before I was ready.
  2. I thought announcing our wedding by linking this video was HILARIOUS, and so did both Beau and my best friend Lauren. That was actually planned before we even got engaged.
All the wedding madness isn't quite over yet, but I'm at the point where I can start blogging about all the fun details!

I present to you...

Our Love Story: A Timeline of Events

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Puerto Rican Honeymoon: Day Trip to Arecibo

Puerto Rico, honeymoon, Arecibo, maps
Map tiles by Stamen Design, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under CC BY SA. Stars and text my own.

Beau and I arrived back home late late late the evening of April 6th, and honestly, the first few days back at work were ROUGH. We each took off 12 days from work for our wedding, our honeymoon, and our first wedding reception. It's nice being home again, but I miss our lazy days in Puerto Rico. Then again, our day trips from San Juan were far from lazy occasions...

While we spent most of our honeymoon in Puerto Rico enjoying the beach, the pool, and each other wink wink, Beau and I also took two day trips outside of San Juan to see other parts of the island. After spending the second full day of our honeymoon in Old San Juan, and relaxing the third day, the fourth day was the perfect time for an adventure! Beau carefully mapped out our trip to include four highlights:
Camuy River Cave Park, Puerto Rico, honeymoon, caving
Beau is a better photographer than I am
I am not an outdoorsy person. My idea of an adventure is going to a new museum or walking aimlessly through the streets of a big city. But Beau really wanted to see the cave system with the third-largest underground river in the world, and who was I to deny my new husband anything? Luckily for me, the paths in the cave are wide with gentle inclines, just right for caving novices, children, or people who have physical disabilities. 

We showed up to the Rio Camuy Caves Park around 10am. Unfortunately, we arrived at about the same time as a large school group who was given priority over other tourists. We waited more than half an hour before we were finally escorted into the small cinema. After watching the short film on the history and science of the cave system, the underground river, and the sinkhole, everyone lined up to board the trams.

We waited a good 15 minutes before we could board a tram. Then on the tram, we waited another 15 or so minutes before the second tram arrived for the rest of the group. I'm not sure if there was a mechanical error, or if they were trying to place extra distance between us and the school group, but I don't think all this waiting is normal for tourists. 

The tram ride was quite terrifying, and I thought I was going to die, but at least all the trees and plants were pretty. 

The caves were so much cooler than I thought they would be. The beauty and magnitude of the first cavern made me wonder aloud if we should have just gotten married there. 


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