Audra & Michael

When Michael and I are photographing a wedding I get in a zone. I am ultra focused on finding a good shot and getting everything covered that I don’t really get caught up in the little moments. It’s after the fact, while sorting through all the images from the day where I reflect at what an amazing day it was. Well, that was NOT the case for this wedding. I was caught up in so many moments, the father-daughter first look, Audra coming down the aisle with her mom and dad who adore her, seeing Michael look at his gorgeous bride for the first time (his reaction was the best I’ve ever seen.. you could completely see how overwhelmed he was that he was marrying Audra), Audra Audra immediately hugging Michael because she just couldn’t help herself, their amazingly heartfelt vows and ceremony, the father-daughter first dance (yep, I was weeping.. so happy we got some good images even through the tears).. the whole day was filled with emotional moments, so incredibly filled with love. These two make such an amazing couple with such beautiful hearts. It didn’t matter that we had only met them the say before, we felt like old friends the whole day. They put so much trust in us and we were so honored to be a part of this perfect day.
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Their written vows were great! They threw in fun everyday commitments like finding each other’s phone!
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We absolutely love this shot! Chokes us up every time.
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They were gracious enough to let us take them away from their reception for a few minutes to the barn. Beautiful!
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Congratulations Audra & Michael! We know you will be so happy together!

Our Honeymoon – Part III

This is the last one, I promise. If you didn’t catch part I or part II of our amazing month long honeymoon, go check it out!
To finish our month abroad, my sister, Lindsay, who was backpacking Europe at the time met up with us for our quick visit to Barcelona.
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The amazing Sagrada Familia is enough of a reason to visit this awesome city. 2014-08-27_0066.jpg
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And Guell Park.. 2014-08-27_0072.jpg
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…and of course La Rambla for some sangria and tapas
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We ended our wonderful night at the magic fountain.. so much fun!
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We absolutely LOVED planning our honeymoon.. everything turned out remarkably well.. 3 rental cars (returned without a scratch), 2 ferries (get to those EARLY.. we missed one of ours and had to catch a later trip.. it was no trouble though), 1 overnight train, numerous taxi rides, hotels, airbnbs.. it took a lot of planning, but it was well worth it! Enjoy planning your honeymoon! Let me know if you have any questions!

Andrew & Olivia

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This summer one of Michael’s best friends growing up got married in the beautiful Yosemite National Park.  We were so thrilled when Andrew asked Michael to be a groomsmen.. it’s such an honor to be a part of someone’s wedding day!  Anddddd we figured it would be an awesome excuse to take a trip to California #calivaca.  We’ll have to post some pictures from our awesome lil PCH road trip, but for now we wanted to share some of Andrew & Olivia’s big day.

I have a nasty habit of not being able to put a camera down.. even when we aren’t actually working an event.. and while I’m definitely NOT a videographer, that is one thing Michael and I really wish we had at our wedding.. so I though I might throw something together for the happy (and amazingly beautiful) couple.  We love you both, and hope you enjoy being able to relieve a little of your pretty perfect day! Thanks for letting us be a part of it.

Andrew & Olivia from Laura Downing on Vimeo.

Our Honeymoon – Part II

If you missed part I

After going to Ireland we took a ferry to England to visit Michael’s family.  We rented another car and drove south to stay a couple of days.

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After spending some quality time with Michael’s family, we drove to another ferry from England to France.  We picked up a car and took a short drive to Brugge, which is an AMAZING little city.

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We got there in time for dinner, went to the city center after stopping quickly in our adorable hotel ^, and sat at the first restaurant we saw.  We asked our waiter what we should eat while we are in Belgium.. he said, ” Four things.. Mussels, Beer, Waffles, and Chocolate”, so we got all four. 2014-08-11_0071
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2014-08-11_0072 2014-08-11_0074After Belgium, we drove to Paris.

2014-08-27_0003.jpg 2014-08-27_0004.jpg2014-08-11_0075The Louvre was INSANELY packed.. I guess a Saturday afternoon in the summer is an ideal time to visit.  I think this was the most empty room in the place.

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The Arc De Triomphe was our favorite.
2014-08-27_0009.jpg 2014-08-27_0010.jpg 2014-08-27_0011.jpg 2014-08-27_0012.jpgThe Lock Bridge

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This is what happens when you ask someone to take a picture of you with a DLSR… we have lots of blurry pictures.. but I love ‘em anyways..
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Our lock.. the key is at the bottom of the river.
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2014-08-27_0017.jpgI thought this was really high.. uhh no.. This is the first level.. The third is wayyy higher.. and scary during a storm.
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2014-08-27_0020.jpgEclairs and Crepes.. yum.
2014-08-27_0021.jpgAfter Paris, we took a train to the Barcelona and got on the cruise!

Now cruises are SERIOUSLY the way to go people.  Everything is planned for you, daily activities, shows in the evening, meals, you can even buy excursions planned by the ship to do in ports.  It’s pretty much the perfect holiday for indecisive people like us.
2014-08-27_0022.jpgFirst stop.. bike ride in Cannes
2014-08-27_0023.jpg 2014-08-27_0024.jpg 2014-08-27_0025.jpgI wish I had some pictures of the set ups we use to take selfies.. they were dangerous.. I can’t believe our camera survived it.  This one is on a rock IN the water..
2014-08-27_0026.jpg 2014-08-27_0027.jpgSecond stop, Livorno.  We took an excursion with the ship to Pisa.
2014-08-27_0028.jpg 2014-08-27_0029.jpg 2014-08-27_0030.jpgThird stop, Civitavecchia.. we took another excursion to Rome.  If you ever visit Rome, use a tour guide!  It saved us so much time, and we wouldn’t have known how to get anywhere/what anything was without a guide.
2014-08-27_0031.jpg 2014-08-27_0032.jpg 2014-08-27_0033.jpgThen we went to the Vatican.. Ladies, make sure you bring something to cover yourself up when your there or they won’t let you in.
2014-08-27_0034.jpg 2014-08-27_0035.jpg 2014-08-27_0036.jpgThis church is seriously AMAZING..St. Peter’s Basilica.2014-08-27_0037.jpg 2014-08-27_0038.jpg 2014-08-27_0039.jpgWe became slightly obsessed with gelato..
2014-08-27_0040.jpgOK, so on our cruise, we decided to choose to sit at a table with other people, and we are so happy we did!  They sat us at a big table with three other honeymoon couples, who were SO much fun.  We had a blast eating with them everyday and even traveling with them in ports.
2014-08-27_0041.jpgForth stop, Athens.. Parthenon is easy train ride from the port.
2014-08-27_0042.jpg 2014-08-27_0043.jpg 2014-08-27_0044.jpg 2014-08-27_0045.jpg 2014-08-27_0046.jpgFifth stop..Santorini to hike a volcano2014-08-27_0047.jpg 2014-08-27_0048.jpg 2014-08-27_0049.jpgThese donkeys were IMPRESSIVE.. I couldn’t even walk down this steep hill without slipping ever three feet..

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2014-08-27_0054.jpg 2014-08-27_0052.jpg 2014-08-27_0055.jpgSixth stop.. Positano.. absolute favorite.  We took a water taxi along the Amalfi Coast to get there, most beautiful day ever..
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2014-08-27_0057.jpgThe lemons that grow there humongous.. and delicious
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2014-08-27_0062.jpgThe honeymooners.. miss you all.. anniversary cruise has gotta be soon, right?
2014-08-27_0063.jpgMy parents went on a cruise for their honeymoon too.  I have always loved this picture of my parents from their honeymoon, so we decided to recreate it on ours.
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There is still a part III.. coming soon.  Long honeymoons are the way to go!

Kelly’s Seniors

When I got an email from Kelly’s mom to set up Kelly’s senior pictures, I was so excited.  Curt & Julie are good friends of ours and I was so excited to get to see them again!  Honestly, I had met Kelly a couple times, but never had a chance to really spend any time with her, so I didn’t have a good idea of what we were getting into.  In retrospect I should have know that with Julie as her mom and Curt as her step dad, she was going to be the sweetest senior ever.. but we figured it out pretty quickly after meeting up with them!  She was such a natural and so much fun to have in front of the camera!  Thanks you three for a wonderful shooting day!  Enjoy some of our favorites.

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I wish I had this model face! 
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GAH!
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2014-08-13_0019.jpgSeriously though.. how cute is she? 2014-08-13_0020.jpg2014-08-13_0021.jpgShooting at Virginia Beach was a blast!  It was way hotter that day than it was supposed to be, so we had to go stick our feet in the water, but since I haven’t been to VA beach in quite some time, it was super fun spending the day there.2014-08-13_0022.jpg2014-08-13_0023.jpg2014-08-13_0024.jpg2014-08-13_0025.jpg

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2014-08-13_0030.jpg2014-08-13_0027.jpgI asked Kelly if she had ever had pictures taken of her before.. she said no.. but I couldn’t believe her.  She was such a natural, we barely had to direct her.. and her smile was INSANE!!! Such a beauty.  We figured out that her perfect smile might come from years of cheerleading..2014-08-13_0039.jpgKelly has been going to this school her whole life!2014-08-13_0041.jpg

And we had to take a few with the family.. how cute are they!?2014-08-13_0032.jpg
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We just love these two.. couldn’t help taking a few of them.. such an awesome couple.. 
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Good luck with everything, Kelly.  It was so much fun spending the day with you!  Have an amazing last year and enjoy every little moment, it goes by in the blink of an eye.

Our Honeymoon – Part I

I can’t believe that we haven’t posted our honeymoon pictures!!! I feel like a year after our travels is a little too delayed, but so many people have been asking us about it recently and asking for suggestions in planning their own honeymoon, so here we go.

Michael and I threw out a lot of different options about where we might want to go on our honeymoon. My parents went on a cruise for their honeymoon, Michael had never been on a cruise, and I love cruises, so we thought that might be a good option. But we also wanted to try and tack on a visit to Michael’s family (he is from England) who weren’t able to come to the wedding. And I had always wanted to go to Ireland. So we were bouncing between all these different options, and then they somehow molded together into one big trip. We figured flying is the big cost of a trip to Europe, I was off for the summer, and Michael was able to take the days off work, so we might as well go BIG. And we sure went big.. our little cruise turned into a month long honeymoon. Lots of people told us that if we could make it through a month of traveling together, marriage would be a piece of cake.. in fact so many people alluded to the fact that we were getting ourselves into something crazy, that I started to get nervous that maybe we were going for a little too long.. but it was AMAZING. So suggestion #1, if you can make it work.. go for as long as you can.. it’s your change to go big.

So we started off in Ireland, flew into Shannon and rented a car.  Michael driving on the tiny Irish roads in a rental.. on the left side of the street was terrifying.. every time we went around a round about I shouted “Left! Left! LEFT!”.  But we made it alive, no accidents even.

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We got off the plane and immediately tried to make our ferry to Inis Mor.. we hit traffic and were super late.. I thought we had missed it, but I think our “bride” and “groom” shirts from Caitlin saved us.  I can’t believe they let us on.. we were SO LATE.. but we made it.  The second Michael got on the ferry we pulled away.. so worth the trip though. The little fishermen’s town is adorable.  We biked around and it was the perfect day.  I wish we had more time, but we had to make it to our B&B, so we caught the ferry back.
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After our original flight being cancelled, we had to fit two days of travel into one.. we skipped staying the night in galway and drove straight to the Dingle Peninsula (all the way south). But we couldn’t pass the Cliffs of Moher without stopping!!!
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We finally made it to Dingle (at like 2am) and our AMAZING host at PAX house was up waiting for us.  Seriously, if you go to Ireland, do not miss this amazing B&B!!!  We drove through the dark, so we were pretty happy when we woke up to this amazing view from our bedroom.
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Seriously, stay here.
2014-08-11_0011.jpgOur amazing host gave us a binder (literally) full of stops to make while we were in Dingle.. like Conor Pass
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When we told our PAX house host that we were on our honeymoon, he told us we had to go get remarried in Dingle.. thankfully he explained himself ’cause I was super confused.  Apparently this is how people got married hundreds of years ago.  They would stand by this cross (that has sunk into the ground) and meet their thumbs together. It was said that if two people in love did this, they were married in the eyes of God. (Kilmalkedar Church)

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Then off to Killarney

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We had lots of little picnics.. with amazing views..

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Kissing the blarney stone.. which which involves laying on your back leaning over a large gap while someone holds you to kiss a rock.. but ya just gotta do it..

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Our castle home for the night. It was amazing.

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2014-08-11_0039.jpgThe first of many Airbnb stays..
2014-08-11_0040.jpg2014-08-11_0041.jpg2014-08-11_0042.jpgthe gorgeous walk to the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge
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Our FAVORITE!!!  Giant’s Causeway

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2014-08-11_0054.jpgFinn’s shoe!
2014-08-11_0055.jpgAndddd to Dublin..
2014-08-11_0056.jpgThe beautiful long room library at Trinity College.  Home of the Book of Kells
2014-08-11_0057.jpg2014-08-11_0058.jpg2014-08-11_0059.jpgAnd you MUST go to the guinness storehouse
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It’s so special they keep the barley in a safe..

2014-08-11_0064.jpg2014-08-11_0065.jpgWe stayed in another airbnb right next to the amazing Temple Bar
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And that was Ireland.. let me know if you have any questions about traveling Ireland.  We LOVED it and will answer any questions you have!

Emily & Jonathan Part II

The BEST piece of advice I can give a couple about their ceremony is to high tail it outta there when it’s over. You just got MARRIED!!! Spend a few private moments with your new hubby. You have all the reception to hung friends and family and recieve your congratulations from everyone. But the time for that is not right after the ceremony. PLUS, when you sneak out of the ceremony area, not only do you get those intimate moments with your new spouse, you get so much more time for pictures!
At Emily & Jonathan’s wedding we were able to wisk them away and walk to their reception area with them. AND they made it back in plenty of time to get a sneak at the untouced reception venue, visit with people at their cocktail hour, and sneak off to their own room to take a breather before the party started! And this reception was a serious party!

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Favorites!!!
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Seeing the reception area for the first time! .. I think she liked it..
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Emily & Jonathan created an “our story” table at the reception where they walked their guests through their relationship.  It was SO cute, such a good idea!
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#husswedding
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I loved these wildflower centerpieces. 2014-07-30_0003.jpg
Introducing the new Mr. & Mrs. Huss!!!
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To all future groomsmen.. lifting up the groom during the dancing portion of the evening makes for excellent pictures.
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Same goes for the bride ;)
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Late night taco bar?  Yes, please!
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Don’t forget to leave these two some love in the comments!  And go look at their part I if you missed it!

ceremony – St. Paul’s Church

reception – Mariott Richmond

florist – Flowers Make Scents

dress – Bella Rosa

dj – Stevie Ray

cupcakes – Family members!

Emily & Jonathan Part I

I have know Emily and Jonathan for a long time. I grew up swimming with Jonathan and playing soccer with Emily. I am so honored to call them both friends. When Emily called and told me she was engaged I was THRILLED! These two make such a beautiful and adorable couple and I couldn’t have been happier they were getting married! And then when she asked us to photograph her wedding I was so excited. I knew it would be an amazing day, and it was! When I told Emily we’d shoot her wedding day, she immediately had me promise her that we would still act as guests. Throughout the day people came up to us to make sure we were “having fun and being a guest”. Well, it would have been impossible to NOT have fun at this wedding. I may be a little biased with these long-time friends, but their wedding was an absolute blast! This day was definitely filled with a lot of good friends & family, love & laughter, and music & DANCING! In fact, it’s too much fun for one blog post, so we are going to split this one into two parts. Enjoy part one :) 2014-07-28_0021.jpg
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Off to the church. They danced the whole way there!
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I love that even when they bride and groom get ready in two seperate locations we can get some of the groom getting ready! Michael stays with the boys and I say with the girls.
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I loved these engraved groomsmen gifts!
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I love that almost all our brides this season are opting for first looks! I’m going to have to do an “I love” post on that one soon.. And even better when we have an amazing location like the capital to do it!
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When we told Emily she could start walking to Jonathan, she ran! I think she was a little excited.
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And here is why I LOVE first looks!
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And here is why I LOVE that there are two of us! 2014-07-28_0057.jpg
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downtown richmond wedding 2014-07-29_0002 2014-07-29_0003 2014-07-29_0004 2014-07-29_0005 2014-07-29_0006 2014-07-29_0007 2014-07-29_0008 2014-07-29_0009 2014-07-29_0010 2014-07-29_0011 2014-07-29_0012 2014-07-29_0013 2014-07-29_0014 2014-07-29_0015
The beautiful St. Paul’s Church
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Some churches have really strict standards of what photographers are allowed to do on a wedding day (like this church). But it makes it all OK when you get images like this that you may have missed otherwise… 2014-07-28_0068.jpg
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MARRIED!!!
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Can’t wait to share part II! Leave Emily & Jonathan some love in the comments until then!

“I love”.. square cash

Goodbye to the days of hunting each other down to get paid back and hello square cash.  My sisters and I have been spending a lot of time together.  For us that means seeing each other maybe once every other month, but considering it has been maybe once a year, this is a big step up for us!  Well, spending time together naturally means eating out and going shopping.  Often one of us will pick up the bill and another will say I’ll pay you back later.  Surely this has happened to you, right?  Maybe you get paid back, maybe you don’t.. I mean who really carries cash around with them anymore?  Well with square cash you can take 10 seconds (literally!) and pay that person the exact amount from your smart phone.  It’s SO easy!

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I mean that bought a lot of stuff…

On my trip to Boston to help move my sister into her new apartment, we stopped at Ikea.  Kelly and Lindsay bought a ton of stuff, and I found a $1 set of travel bottles.  Well it got mixed in with Lindsay’s stuff so she paid for it.  I immediately took out my phone and before she had signed for her items, I had sent her the $1 on square cash.  I LOVE IT!  No more “you owe me for this”, or “well you bought that”.  Now there are no excuses.

It is also great for buying joint gifts.  We do this a lot in my family too.  One person pays for it, and the others immediately reimburse them for their part with square cash.  Have I said I love it? ‘Cause I do.

The app connects to your back account and email, so you “email” whoever you are giving money to.  Try it out!  Square cash will send you a dollar so you can test out how it works.  Who can say no to a free dollar? Once you do it once, your information is saved so it is so fast and easy to do!


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square cash

Angela & Kai

Everything about Angela & Kai’s wedding day was absolutely gorgeous.  Stunning.  Exquisite.  Elegant.  It was our first time shooting at The Founders Inn and Spa, an amazingly beautiful location.  We grabbed her incredible details, just wait ’til you see these shoes, her dress, the bridesmaids’ dresses.. GAH!  Her florist dropped off the fantastic bouquets.  Her hair and make-up was FLAWLESS.  The first look on the grounds, the ceremony location in the gardens, the cocktail hour in the atrium, the reception in the ballroom.  All gorgeous.

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This dress is amazing!

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Can’t decide which ring shot we love more.. Which do you like?

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So excited so many of our couple this season opted for first looks!  We LOVE them!

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Such a beautiful couple!

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One of our favorite group shots!

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Angela & Kai, thank you so much for allowing us to be a part of your beautiful day!