rob + marci • wedding at spirit ranch • lubbock, tx

Rob + Marci had one of the most beautiful ceremonies I have had the pleasure of photographing. It was perfectly timed with the sunset, and as the Texas heat cooled down, these two said their vows and then got to celebrate the start of a lifetime together! Thinking back on this wedding, I don't think I'll forget the images of Rob looking at Marci- even when she didn't happen to be looking back- he just gazed at her with a huge smile. The excitement in both of their faces was palatable. 

Not only was this ceremony beautiful, but every other aspect as well- including the details and the fabulous people we got to work with. Marci told me she took a calligraphy class- and did all of the hand lettering you'll see. Such a great idea! 

At the reception, the Maid and Matron of Honors did a personalized rap to the theme from "Fresh Prince of Bel Air"- and it made for the most wonderful start to the party. There were many more great moments- but I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. Congrats, Rob and Marci!

cameron + alanna • rockwall wedding chapel

Cameron and Alanna were married last month at a perfect little wedding venue in Rockwall, Texas- the Rockwall Wedding Chapel. This building is almost 100 years old and is situated in a quaint neighborhood that really lent itself to the elegance of their day. There were so many things I loved photographing on this day- the navy and light pink color scheme, Cameron's infectious laugh and Alanna's classic beauty. It was wonderful to see them surrounded by many family and friends who had traveled many miles to get there. Enjoy these images! 

david + kay • engagement • lubbock, tx

David and Kay are true Renaissance people. I'm not sure they would say this about themselves, but I will. :) They love music, stories, history...and are romantics at heart (not to mention they both have professional careers). I so appreciated that they trusted me despite any nerves they had about their engagement shoot. They've been together for 10 years- and there is something so easy and wonderful about photographing a couple who has a long history of standing together. It's a settled satisfaction- a level of comfort that is so enjoyable to capture. I loved photographing these two- thanks for trusting me, you guys!

how to be a GREAT bridesmaid

This is a post that has been stirring in my mind for the past 8 years- seriously- since I started a full-time career as a wedding photographer. I have photographed over 120 weddings in those 8 years, which means I've worked with 120 brides (many of whom were also bridesmaids in one of those other 119)!

Standing right beside those 120 brides were the (somewhere around 480?) women whom they selected as bridesmaids- typically very important friends or family members of the bride. 

Being a bridesmaid is a real honor. You get to be up front and close to someone's wedding day. You have insight on the bride's feelings, the details, and the dynamics that not many do. I feel the same way about wedding photography- no other wedding vendor is going to have quite as intimate of a look into a couple's lives as I will on their wedding day. When I am reminded of that I realize what a responsibility I have- and it makes me want to work that much harder. 

I think most women want to be someone's bridesmaid- to feel chosen and special- but what I've realized over the years is that though it is a position of honor, it is also one of service. I have to be honest- I've also been a bridesmaid/maid of honor a few times myself- some of these suggestions are the result of things I wish I'd done better. However, most of them are the result of the many kind and thoughtful women I've had the pleasure of watching put these very things in action. So, here are my suggestions on how to be a GREAT bridesmaid:

1. Don't fuss. 

Yes, it is your job to be helpful to the bride. Please find her earrings for her or help her tie her sash. But please, don't fuss about things that are not important. There is a heightened air of stress that happens on a wedding day- a point at which if something is not finished, it's not going to ever be finished. If every wrinkle is not perfectly steamed out of the wedding dress before time to put it on, please don't fuss. Just help the bride get into her dress. I promise that no one will see that one tiny wrinkle once she is walking down the aisle. 

By the same token, please don't fuss about yourself. It is your job to make sure your dress is steamed, altered, etc. before the wedding day. If you want to paint your nails, please do it before the wedding day. If your dress is wrinkly, or you don't like your hair, please remember- it is HER day. Your smile and great attitude will go a lot farther than a perfectly pressed dress or an amazing updo.

Moral here: You do the bride more favor by majoring on the majors on her wedding day. Don't add to the stress by attempting to fret over every "imperfection".

2. Communicate with the bride ahead of time.

The best way you can accomplish #1 is to communicate with the bride ahead of time. Ask her what things are most important to her (i.e. what's worth worrying about). Ask her how you can best be of help on the wedding day. It's really more your job to be considerate of the bride and her feelings than to interject with your opinion on her wedding day (unless asked). So, know how she feels about stuff.

3. Steal the bride's phone.

This tip comes from my friend and fellow wedding photographer, AlexM. Seriously. Steal her phone. There are always at least 2 people who text at the worst possible time things like, "Where is the chapel again?" or "What time do we need to be there?". These are legitimate questions but ones the bride does not have the time (or sometimes mental capacity) to answer. Help her out and be personal assistant for the day.

4. Be early and respect the day-of timeline.

Your punctuality is just one more way to love the bride and groom. She and her vendors (like myself) have gone to a lot of effort to put together a timeline that will allow for the beautiful day she planned. Even if you think it's a little silly to get there 3 hours ahead of time, THERE IS A REASON. Be there and be on time. Do what you can to stay on schedule, and to help everyone else stay on schedule. 

5. Anticipate needs. 

Be aware of what's going on around you (if you've done a good job taking care of your own needs ahead of time, this won't be difficult). Offer to find someone/something that is missing (there is always something). Dry off the bouquets before portraits. Pick up the bride's train as she walks. Simple acts go a long way.

6. Plan childcare. 

I have seen many mommies with young kids do the bridesmaid thing (and I also did it a couple of times). Even if you are Super Mom, you cannot take care of your small kids the whole day. Have someone there to hold/dress/get kids from place-to-place for you. If you need to feed a baby, do your best to work with the timeline of the day (I know it can be tough!).

7. Smile and find the positives. 

Emotions are high. Even if it's raining, the bride and groom will still be married. Even if you lose the ring right before the ceremony, they'll still be married. Even if another bridesmaid spills nail polish on the bride's train 15 minutes before the ceremony (yes, that really did happen- refer to #1), the bride and groom will still be married at the end of the day. Choose to be a positive, helpful resource.

8. Be present at the reception.

Your duties are not over after the ceremony. The bride will still need help transferring things, bustling, and there has to be someone clapping and celebrating for them as they enter the reception. Don't run and hide in a corner. Check in with the bride and DANCE. Even if you feel like an idiot. You've already survived standing through the ceremony in heels- you deserve to dance!

9. Toast with grace and intentionality. 

I have heard some fabulous wedding toasts, and some terrible ones. If you THINK you MAY have to give a toast at the reception, please try to think about it for a little bit and maybe at least write something down. :) This should be obvious- but needs to be said- do not imbibe so much beforehand that it makes it difficult to give your speech. The BEST speeches I have heard have never been because they had the funniest old story- they were the best because they were written with the bride and groom's BEST qualities and BEST future in mind. They are complimentary of the bride and groom, and forgetful of their faults. 

That's it for now! Any other tips you guys can think of?

todd + heather • wedding • texas tech club

Todd + Heather had the most beautiful wedding day. After several days of rain, the weather brightened up as if for this special occasion- and there really was an air of excitement throughout the events of the day. Todd and Heather were clearly aware of God's perfect timing for them both, and were so eager to start this new journey. I so loved getting to capture the whole sacred, wonderful celebration!

Ceremony: First Baptist Church, Lubbock

Reception: Texas Tech Club

Coordination: Jill Leven of Eat, Drink and Be Marry

Makeup: Brenda Becknell

Hair: Kara Howell, Roxi's Hair Studio

Groom + Groomsmen: Men's Wearhouse

Wedding Gown: Ines de Santo, Neiman Marcus

Ceremony Music: Classical Strings

Stationery: Little White Invite

Limo: Limousines of Lubbock

Band: Harlan Hodges Jazz Trio

Cakes: Marla Felton

Floral: College Flowers

freezer meals 101

I am giggling at the title of this post because it suggests that I am an expert on this subject- which I am not. I have, however, made freezer meals once-a-month for the past couple of years and LOVE it. I have had several people ask me to share the "how's" of the process, so I am finally blogging about it. But before I get into the nitty gritty, here are a few reasons WHY we do it:

1) It TOTALLY works with our schedule. With our retail store closing at 6 pm and me doing photoshoots in the early evening, we frequently don't get home until 6:30 or 7:00. I know many families that eat dinner right at 5 every night, but we are late eaters- and if I can put a meal in the crock pot and have it ready when we get home, it is a huge relief. Even the non-crock-pot meals have easy directions written on top- so if Shawn gets home early, it's not hard for him to preheat the oven and pop it in.

2) It TOTALLY works with our budget. We have a monthly food budget of 360.00 every month. I have had people tell me that is crazy generous, and people say it is crazy small. I believe your budget for groceries is just a matter of scale- the bigger your overall income, the bigger your food budget can be. So, whatever your budget is- is your business. This is ours. :) I try to allot around 30.00 per week for weekly quick trips to the grocery store for things like milk and fresh fruit and veggies for snacks. I am also a couponer and do my best to buy the most expensive things on my grocery bill- toiletries- on sale at Walgreens or CVS. So, that means I am typically spending around 240.00 on our freezer meals.

3) Leftovers! We usually have leftovers from each meal that we happily eat for lunch the next day. If you have a non-leftover-eater in your home, you need to either convert them or plan to make your meal portions smaller. :)

I must start this section by saying that one of my awesome past brides/friend, Bandi, was the one who got me started doing this. I thought it was genius and still use some of the recipes she shared in this blog post

My Tips:

1) Set your budget and shop your pantry. What do you already have in there? Rice? Noodles? Spaghetti sauce? Using these staples can really save you some $$ when planning your recipes. 

2) Make your meal plan. You can buy one online (just google once-a-month meal plan), or make up your own out of your favorite recipes or others. I have most of our favorites pinned on my Pinterest board HERE

If you are just starting out, I would suggest looking at your calendar and deciding just how many nights you will actually need a meal. Don't make more than you need to- and don't make too little- should you get sick of having the same thing over and over! I am usually planning about 20 to 25 meals- which usually falls around 4-5 recipes, quadrupled. If we are planning on eating at home 4 nights per week, I like having the option of 5 different meals, so we aren't eating the same exact thing every week. 

Choose recipes that will work well with freezing- I once thought it would be cool to do fish tacos...and that's when I learned that defrosted cabbage is DISGUSTING and to mix the marinade for the fish separately, then combine when cooking. Trust me on this one :) 

I would also suggest limiting yourself to 2 meals that require pre-cooking. For example, I love chicken spaghetti, but you have to cook the chicken before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients and putting it in the casserole dish. The same goes with anything that requires ground beef or turkey. Crock pot chicken recipes like one of our favorites, French Chicken, just require me to throw the already frozen chicken breast in the bag with the other ingredients, and freeze. WAAAAY faster. 

After you have decided on your recipes, don't forget foil pans/foil, muffin liners, ziploc freezer bags, etc. I have found foil pans at Wal-Mart and Dollar Tree for pretty cheap. The foil pans (and not having to wash dishes) are SO worth buying those new each month.

Also, don't forget your sides! You can stock up on frozen veggies here and things like crusty bread which freeze well and make for easy side dishes.

3) Make your shopping list. You will first need to decide how many of each recipe you will be making (I usually quadruple recipes- so 4 of each recipe). Then I make a list of all of my recipes in a word document and convert all of the measurements to fit with the amount of meals I'm making.  (AHHHH- MATH!!!) So, if the original recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, I change it to 4 cups.

Also, you'll want to check the serving sizes- I will take "family" recipes that feed 8 and split them into two meals (4 servings each). This usually gives at least one of us leftovers for the next day. 

I do my shopping list very simply- writing out the ingredients I need recipe by recipe, changing the quantities as I go.Then I go back through and decide which items I can buy at Sam's or Costco and which I will go to the grocery store for. I can also frequently find good coupons for canned tomatoes/seasonings/frozen items at Target.

Side Note: I do my best to find recipes that are meat/veggie based, although I LOVE carbs and noodles and potatoes (very prevalent in many freezer recipes). I also always use ground turkey instead of beef- just our preference!

Most crock-pot recipes can be packaged in Ziploc freezer bags. This is one of the easiest ways to do it!

Most crock-pot recipes can be packaged in Ziploc freezer bags. This is one of the easiest ways to do it!

4) Go shopping. This takes longer than you think, so don't give up! Some days I try to do this the day before so I'm not super tired. Bring a friend or if you are really brave, bring your 3 year old. :)

I usually opt for frozen chicken at Sam's, but this time United was having a Buy 1, Get 1 free sale on chicken breast, so I took advantage! We eat a lot of chicken around here. Also pictured are bags of meatballs and pork butt which I made into carnitas- delicious!

I usually opt for frozen chicken at Sam's, but this time United was having a Buy 1, Get 1 free sale on chicken breast, so I took advantage! We eat a lot of chicken around here. Also pictured are bags of meatballs and pork butt which I made into carnitas- delicious!

5) Set it all out at home. Double check to make sure you have all your ingredients. Some people suggest prepping at this time by chopping all veggies, cooking noodles, browning meat etc. - but that is too overwhelming to me (and I'm afraid I'll mess something up doing it all at once) so I just typically go recipe by recipe.

It's always best to put your sauce or smaller ingredients in the bag first, so you can mix it well, before you add the meat. I will put the bags in large plastic cups so they will sit straight up if they won't sit up on their own.

It's always best to put your sauce or smaller ingredients in the bag first, so you can mix it well, before you add the meat. I will put the bags in large plastic cups so they will sit straight up if they won't sit up on their own.

6) Get cooking! Start with the recipe that will take the longest. If I am baking muffins- I will go ahead and start those so they can be cooking while I work on something else. Before I start a new recipe, I will label the ziploc bags or foil covers with the recipe name and date, along with the cooking directions. Your kitchen will be a GIANT MESS. This is a great time to ask your husband to take your child and just. go. At least that's what I do.

Be aware that you might run into issues when you realize you need to cook 3 lbs of pasta in your regular sized pot. Obviously, that won't work- so you may have to borrow some extra pots/pans, or just split it up. Unless you have a commercial kitchen...that's when I wish I lived in the Duggar home. :)

My sister Layne helped me this last time and we split all the meals- getting about 13 meals each- which was perfect for our July since we will be traveling a lot. It was wonderful to have a helper! 

Finished freezer meals!

Finished freezer meals!

Once you're finished, find a way to squeeze it all into your freezer. Amazingly, I still don't have a separate deep freezer- we just use the one on our fridge. It's been all we need so far! 

Full freezer = Happy Lissa

Full freezer = Happy Lissa

 

Here's a few links to our favorite recipes:

French Chicken

Baked Ravioli

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Easy Freezer Chili

Mama's Excellent Banana Muffins

Cilantro Lime Chicken

 

I'm sure I've missed several important things- so if you have a question, please post it in the comments below so everyone can see the responses!

the barnes family & the sherwood family

It's adorable baby day on my blog today! I had two sessions in Amarillo last week with some families I was very excited to photograph.

The first was the Barnes family- I was excited to meet baby Declan, who is quite possibly the smiliest, most content baby I've ever met. It was wonderful to catch up with our college friends Will and Ragan as well. Love the way Ragan styled them all! 

Next was the Sherwood family- I had also never met miss Blakelee (who just turned 1) in person, and on my goodness…adorable does not even begin to describe! Could not get over her little outfit and moccs. Haylee brought along some pink balloons that were a total hit. 

House of Lovely Kickstarter Project

If you've been around long you've heard me brag on my sister, Lauren, who is the designer of the vintage-inspired bridal line, HOUSEofLOVELY. 

One of my favorite designs of hers- a belt for my other sister, Layne! This piece made the look. 

One of my favorite designs of hers- a belt for my other sister, Layne! This piece made the look. 

Lauren has bravely embarked on a new path with her line and is wanting to take it wholesale. If you have any experience in production/retail, you know this can be a daunting task. Getting the capital for mass production and materials is a challenge- but there is SO much opportunity for her, and I KNOW she can do this! 

She has started a Kickstarter project, where you can back her company as an individual, and get a pretty sweet gift as a thank-you from her. Seriously- check out the gifts:

Please visit her Kickstarter site HERE!

 

The project ENDS July 18, so don't miss out! 

chris + tomiscena • wedding • lubbock, tx

Chris + Tomiscena had a beautiful wedding day at The American Wind Power Center. The windmills and West Texas landscape was the perfect background for a lovely ceremony filled with family and friends- and so many who watched them fall in love. These two had custom made boots for their big day, and there were so many personal touches to the ceremony and reception. I'm so glad to know these two- congrats!