In 2015, in a swing dance class, I met a beautiful woman with a wonderful soul.  She had just moved to Texas from Illinois, and I fancied myself a suitable local guide.  After weeks of attempting to get her to go out with me — she was always remarkably busy — she finally agreed.

In the months that followed we learned we shared common values and had similar tastes.  We both were artistically inclined, loved photography, animals, and Will Ferrell, and were motivated to build a creative and adventurous life.  I learned that she could make up hilarious songs on the fly, and she learned that I am the “Father of Tacos.”  Above all else, we learned that we absolutely loved spending every moment together.

On January 5th, I popped the question in front of Lauren’s hometown church in Campus, Illinois.  The same church where her parents and grandparents and great grandparents were married.  It hadn’t been snowing at all that day, and there was no snow in the forecast, but it magically started snowing right then.  I propped a Canon 5D Mark II on top of a nearby trash can, turned on the timer, and took some photos right after the big moment.

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(I’m the goofy guy next to the beautiful blonde, if you can’t tell.)

It was perfect.  Afterwards we were able to celebrate with her immediate and extended family, as well as close friends.   It couldn’t have gone any better.

And now I’m engaged!

So … we’re planning a wedding.

We’ve been thinking all the time about this one day in our life that will mean so much.  A day when we’ll commit to each other for life, in front of our family and dearest friends, many who will have traveled across the country to celebrate with us … it’s actually almost overwhelming to think about.

Now, I’m typically not the most sentimental guy.  I’m typically pretty even keeled, don’t get too emotional, but when it comes to weddings, I’ve always considered myself a softy.  I mean, I cry when I’m making our couples’ highlight slideshows!  I cried during a wedding last week when the bride and groom sang a song together during the ceremony.  Being with my clients and capturing their most meaningful day taps something deep inside of me and allows me to feel — really feel — the importance and beauty of the day.  And that means during our wedding ceremony I guarantee I’ll be bawling like a baby.

Now that Lauren and I are engaged, I feel all those “wedding” feelings even more, because I’m able to relate just that much more intimately with what our clients are going through.  Knowing firsthand how much planning goes into everything, and imagining our own wedding, I’m imbibed with this sense of reverence, joy, and beauty.  I feel even more these days that it is such an honor to be able to capture images of all these moments and details, and to be able to photograph our clients and their family and friends on this day.  One precious day in our fleeting and short lives where we come together to celebrate love, commitment, and family.

And it motivates me to make the absolute best images I can.

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I’ll often run into photographers who are burned out on weddings, or just do it for the money, or are just filled with so much negativity and cynicism about the whole process.  And I just can’t relate at all.  I actually get angry — because to that photographer’s clients, that day is so important and so meaningful, and for him to shoot weddings without feeling that passion, that enthusiasm, and without recognizing what a blessing that day truly is…it’s doing those clients a tremendous disservice.

While we are considering wedding photographers, we certainly want someone who will treat our day with respect, enthusiasm, and excitement.

And now that I’m engaged to the love of my life, I feel that way even more about each of the weddings I shoot.  I’m so excited for our wedding — and so excited for each of our couples’ weddings.  It’s time to celebrate and cherish these beautiful moments.

— John