In honor of our nine-year wedding anniversary today, I thought it’d be fun to put together a quick instagram video of highlights from 2016. Up until a few minutes before throwing this film together last night, I honestly had no plans to share any of our birth footage. Although I’ll be FOREVER grateful to Justin’s cousin Melissa for being there with us to not only film but to be an active part of my labor, Rowen’s birth was nothing like I had anticipated. I was very naive and selfish to think I’d have this picture perfect delivery since I worked out my entire pregnancy and had had a very easy, healthy pregnancy. After witnessing so many births, I just knew we’d have this beautiful video to share of Rowen being born, being placed on my chest, and the three of us sharing what would be one of the most special moments of our lives together. Over the course of 32 hours, we learned that God had much different plans for us.
I wasn’t the one with the crazy ten-page birth plan – I just wanted delayed cord cutting, to breast feed exclusively, and to not have a c-section. So making the decision to have a c-section after painfully pushing for over 3 hours was one of the hardest decisions of my life. Rowen was sunny side up and and even though I felt strong enough to continue pushing I just knew he wasn’t progressing enough to continue putting him at risk, especially since there was meconium staining when they broke my water. In a matter of minutes, I was on an operating table with tears flowing. In the process of getting me set up for his delivery, Rowen’s heart rate plummeted. I’ve never been so scared in my entire life. I remember the quickness of everyone prepping me as they continuously called out his heart rate, which up until we reached the OR and it regulated again was in the 60s. I just remember the entire experience as feeling so unbelievably surreal. In just minutes, the entire plan I had for my son’s birth had completely changed. I was so sad that this was his birth story. That strangers would see him before me. That I wouldn’t get to hold him immediately. I was also so scared. Scared for his health and how this c-section would effect our bonding. Scared to finally meet him. But oh God so happy that we would FINALLY MEET HIM. The moment I heard him cry was the happiest moment of my entire life. I remember the look in Justin’s eyes as he continuously looked from my face to my belly to my face to my belly as they struggled to get Rowen out. He was so far down in my birth canal that they had a very hard time getting him back up enough to be pulled out. I remember Justin saying, he’s beautiful. He’s a big boy. And yes, he was a 22 inch, 9lbs 8oz big boy. I had to wait 20 minutes (aka an eternity) before I got to see his beautiful face for the first time. And even longer before I got to hold him. But those moments, as unexpected as they were, were his birth story and will still be the happiest moments of our lives. Happy one month baby boy. And happy nine years love of my life. Cheers to a truly unforgettable 2016.
And yes, the first clip is about 10 seconds after Justin found out I was pregnant. His reaction will always be my favorite.
And here’s some of my favorite images from myself and my talented friends Katie Nesbitt and Shannon Moffit.
I don’t think there is anything quite as romantic as a destination wedding in Europe, especially when it’s the wedding of two of your dear friends. We met Ryan through mutual friends in college, but it wasn’t until after graduation that Ryan and Justin became close. I vividly remember the night out at Cha’s Cha’s in Richmond when Ryan pointed Hella out to us as the girl he was essentially chasing. Now years later knowing Hella and the amazing woman she is, I can definitely understand why Ryan had to work as hard as he did to gain her attention. Luckily for all of us who were a part of their fairytale wedding, Ryan never gave up in his pursuit of Hella, even if it took him over a year to make her realize his sincerity.
A few months after Ryan proposed to Hella at the Palace of Versailles, Hella suggested the idea of getting married in a castle somewhere in Europe. Hella is from Belgium so the idea sounded only somehwat crazy to Ryan. Realizing how special it would be, they both agreed to do the wedding in the Netherlands at Chateau Neercanne, a castle built in the late 17th century on the Dutch and Belgian border. Being that Hella’s father is Dutch and her mother is Belgian, this seemed to be the perfect location.
When they told us they were getting married in the Netherlands, we knew it was going to be a dream. The ceremony was officiated by their longtime family friend Floor in the stunning lower gardens, incorporating personal promises that, knowing Ryan and Hella, would surely involve food, animals, and the Baltimore Orioles. Justin was a groomsman so big thanks to our friend Ben for helping me film during the ceremony. During dinner, Hella’s dad sang songs from her childhood and gifted them with traditional Dutch wooden clogs that they were immediately tasked to dance in. Following dinner, when we weren’t roaming the wine cellar or sneaking off to Belgium (or of course snacking on frites), we were dancing for hours in the limestone caves in …yes I said, caves. Of all the special moments from the day, Ryan and Hella told me that their favorite moment was shortly after the ceremony, when they stood up on the steps to greet everyone and saw just how many of their friends and family that had traveled so far to share in their special day. We are so thankful to have been a part of that group and so thankful we could create this film to help our friends remember their incredible day for the rest of their lives together.
Planning: Fabuloes Weddings
Photography: Ruud Fotografie
Ceremony and Reception: Château Neercanne
Floral Deisgn: De Rozengaard
Beauty: Sumeya Hamie
DJ: Artistic Productions
Officiant: Family Friend | Floor Meijer
To see more from Hella and Ryan’s day, check out these film stills below.
It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when you’re around Yovannah and Jonathan. There’s something so gentle, so very intimate in the way these two love each other, you almost feel like you’re not supposed to be present. That this moment was meant just for the two of them. But as these personal moments of comfort and devotion grew, we quickly realized that this was Yovannah and Jonathan’s norm. That even after twelve years together, it feels as though these two just met. Jonathan told me, “There are just those moments in life where you just know something is meant to happen and that whatever force led you there was for a reason. That is the feeling that I had when I saw Yovannah for the first time. It was at Junior College, twelve years ago and since that day I’ve never lost that feeling. I didn’t even know who she was, never met any of her friends or had even carried on a conversation with her. There was just this girl standing in a group under a large oak tree with her her tied back in a band t-shirt and jeans, wearing some low-cut Chuck Taylors; and for whatever reason it was in that moment that I knew she was the person I was meant to be with. We ended up meeting thereafter though a mutual friend because I was too intimidated to talk to her and even though it took us a week to actually speak to each other, there is not one day that has passes since where she has not been at the forefront of my mind. It is those kind of feelings and moments which make life special. In a way, it’s a feeling we shared when we saw Chalk Hill for the first time. We had probably seen more than a dozen other venues and Chalk Hill was the last venue on our list. From the rolling vineyards to the sacred hidden chapel, it was just a place that we found special; that we felt embodied our relationship as a couple and is something that we wanted to share with our friends and family. Moving forward, we’ll keep searching for those special moments together…with Lola of course.” (Lola is their adorable french bulldog who joined them at Chalk Hill for their ceremony and reception.)
It was such an honor capturing the raw emotion of Jonathan and Yovannah’s wedding day, a day they waited over a decade for. We hope you enjoy their beautiful story.
Officiant: Father Joe Bravo
To see more from Yovannah and Jonathan’s day, check out these film stills below.
Long before their wedding day came, I knew Hans and Tiffany’s wedding was going to be an unforgettable one, especially knowing how much love and energy they put into their day. With Hans from Ghana and Tiffany from New York, family members traveled from all over the world to celebrate with them in Williamsburg. And what a celebration it was!!
Hans and Tiff first met during their undergraduate studies at the University of Buffalo, where they were both pursuing their Bachelor’s in Science. Hans would often reach out to Tiffany for her class notes, and slowly a friendship formed. One spring afternoon after classes were over, Tiff was waiting to catch the shuttle back to her apartment when she saw Hans all dressed up. He offered her a ride back to her apartment complex and during the ride, she discovered they both resided at the same apartment complex. That summer, they began spending time together at the complex, where Hans told me they would play games, watch movies and shows (like their favorite – House) and get to know each other relaxing at the pool. It was that summer that their friendship transformed into something much more. Five years later, these two would begin planning the wedding of their dreams!
When Tiff was offered a job at Riverside in Williamsburg after college, Hans also found the opportunity to pursue an MBA with healthcare in distinction at William and Mary. Tiffany told me they have grown to love Williamsburg so much they wanted their friends and family to experience their wedding in what they now consider “home.”
Hans and Tiffany had two ceremonies on their wedding day – one smaller, intimate ceremony at Wren Chapel on the William and Mary campus Hans just graduated from and another outdoor ceremony that evening at Colonial Heritage. There were so many amazing moments throughout the entire day but my favorites were Tiffany and Hans’ surprises to one another. During their outdoor ceremony, Tiffany surprised Hans with a dove release. Hans, who has never been able to successfully surprise Tiffany, surprised her with an amazing fireworks show following dinner at Colonial Heritage. It was such a special day and one we will never forget! Hans and Tiff, we love you guys so much!!
Carriage Ride: Colonial Williamsburg Stables
To see even more from Hans and Tiffany’s day, check out these film stills below.
It only takes one trip to Bald Head to fall in love with this special island off the southern coast of North Carolina. Jaime and her family have vacationed on the island ever since she was a little girl. Every year while growing up, she’d see beautiful brides getting married on the island and being whisked around in the “Royals Royce” golf cart. It was then that the dream of having her own wedding on Bald Head began. Although Tom and Jaime met in high school, they didn’t start dating until after college. For some time, they were long distance between cities outside of Austin, but eventually both were brought back to their home town of Austin. As a couple, it only made sense that Jaime would introduce Tom to Bald Head, where he too fell in love with the island. Jaime told me, “We continued to visit every summer and would introduce new friends to the island every time. When Tom proposed, we both knew where we wanted to get married, and couldn’t wait to have all our friends and family help celebrate this special occasion and experience our happy place – Bald Head Island.” It was such an amazing day!! These two and their family and friends should teach lessons on how to let loose and have a good time (just hit play for proof) and to see the love surrounding them was such a beautiful thing. Jaime and Tom, we couldn’t be happier for you two!!! -S+J
String Duo: Kathy Meyers
Hair and Makeup: Island Retreat Spa and Salon
Cakes: Coming Soon