Ponte Winery Temecula, CA Wedding | Lauren + Brian

Floral beauty meets California wine country = an unforgettable day.

When a bride has two bouquets, one traditional white and the other modern and colorful, you know it’s an extraordinary day.

I mean, it’s absolutely hard to beat cool temperatures, the most lovely floral details designed by none other but the bride herself and her sister, talented owners of A&L Floral Design and the sweetest love between Lauren and Brian.

Truly—when Lauren walked down the beautiful staircase toward her fiance, their immediate reaction was to kiss and hug tighter than I’ve ever seen. It was easy to see their attraction and love for one another was magnetic and oh-so-deep. And this made the rest of our portrait time just so much fun.

It felt like as long as the two of them were together, we could take pictures as long as we wanted wherever we wanted—although I’m sure this maybe wasn’t 100% how Brian felt ;-) However, we spent such a generous time on portraits of them all around the beautiful Ponte Winery, even coming back out for sunset portraits right at sunset.

Aren’t these two PRETTY together?! So photogenic, so sweet and so undeniably in love. It was an honor to photograph them in Temecula and to capture the beginning of their forever. And I have to smile and believe that their forever is looking pretty beautiful. It literally brought tears to my eyes watching not only her parents but also his parents dancing together on the dance floor. They looked as in love as they day they said, “I do”, and it made me happy for Lauren and Brian to have such sweet steps in which to follow.

Their legacy started in a vineyard and will be as sweet as the grapes we tasted off the vine ;-) Wishing these two the absolute best!

How to do San Diego in 2 Days

OKAY. I’m walking out of this FUN whirlwind of a work-trip turn vacation-trip, and I’m honestly so giddy about So-Cal/San Diego that I HAVE to share it with you.

We: explored So-Cal wine country, saw La Jolla, Mission Beach, Sunset Cliffs, USS Midway Museum, Downtown, Little Italy, Coronado Island, Oldtown and Pacific Beach.

Jordan and I photographed a wedding in Temecula, CA on Monday. We arrived Sunday, stayed at the resort Sunday, Monday night and hit the 1-hour-ish trek back to San Diego on Tuesday after we slept in and explored the winery shops. We entered San Diego around 2:00 Tuesday and departed Thursday about the same time, and it’s HARD to believe we covered all the ground we did in just 48 hours—AND feel rested.

So I’m going to do my best to share all the places we hit so WHEN you go to San Diego (or So-Cal), you can have as much fun as we surprisingly did! And I say surprisingly, because San Diego wasn’t necessarily at the top of my list to explore, but we did, because we were here.

So-Cal Wine Country

First, we learned that there’s ALSO a southern “wine country”, aside from the well-known Napa Valley wine country. Temecula houses a beautiful wine country just about an hour north of San Diego, and let me tell you, the rolling hills, wineries and weather were IDEAL. Highs of 70s with lows in the 50s (in October), and it was nothing short of marvelous. We learned that this can be a more affordable option for groups of people traveling, because there are more large air bnbs than in Napa. And guys, Napa may be “better”, but this spot was BEAUTIFUL, and with San Diego/the beach just an hour away, it makes it even more versatile!

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Okay to secondly, San Diego! We had tons of good recommendations of places to go and see while here, thanks to you ALL! So I’m going to share them with you AND the ones we did.

Like I said, we arrived to San Diego around 2:00 in the afternoon Tuesday and chose to go to La Jolla first. Partially because SO many people recommended it, I’ve heard tons about it AND it was on our way into SD from Temecula.

La Jolla

And La Jolla was everything we expected—gorgeous. Let me start off by saying that the weather in San Diego is hard to top. The entire two days here, it was highs of 70 with lows in the 50s. The breeze was brisk, and in the evenings, we needed sweatshirts, which I LOVED. I’m all about that life--especially coming from a hot fall in Dallas. From what it sounds like, this is pretty typical all year round, though if you drive just miles inland, it becomes much warmer.

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Ride Bird We immediately parked in free parking a ways from the beach and hopped on our first Bird ride—our first of literally 12 rides for a total of about 169 minutes and 14.7 miles. Baha Jordan and I literally just high-fived when we added all of this up. Seriously, such a GOOD way to see San Diego and cover the ground we did. We literally couldn’t have fit as much in or done it if it wasn’t for scootering all over this beautiful city!

First, we scootered up and down the coast of La Jolla, saw sea lions, a wedding that was happening on the beach, cute shops and rode through the swankiest beach neighborhood that had so much character. That’s always a favorite or ours when we travel—we like exploring the neighborhoods to get a feel for something different.

Although we didn’t eat in La Jolla, we got SO many recommendations that I wish we could’ve tried! One thing to note, Jordan and I have always been this way: we tend to sleep in on vacations, eat a hearty brunch (we love brunch), explore the day, maybe snack if we feel like it and eat a hearty dinner. That way we eat usually 2 meals a day, because it simply just works best for us that way—and is a little cheaper.

La Jolla recommendations for food: George’s (overlooking the beach), The Taco Stand, Puesto (filet mignon tacos)

Totally Recommended Air BNB

After about a couple hours, we headed to check in at our Air BNB, which we would highly recommend—if you haven’t used an Air BNB and want $40 off your first trip, use this link here. It wasn’t the “nicest” in the sense of being pampered, but we did that the first half of our trip. This was meant to be central, safe and inexpensive. We loved our hosts and would absolutely go back again. It was located on Burgener, which is super central for everything we did. We stayed 2 nights in a master suite with a lock on our door for $187 total, taxes, fees and cleaning included. THIS and the Bird were two positives to the quick trip.

Sunset Cliffs MUST-SEE

After checking in and getting settled, we headed out to Cannonball, a sushi restaurant, on Mission beach for dinner.  But Jordan missed the turn and we accidentally started heading to Sunset Cliffs which was a GOOD mistake. It was on our list of “to-sees”, but we hadn’t planned when to go. THANKFULLY, we made our way RIGHT at sunset, which is a literally MUST SEE! We Birded down from where we parked along the Oceanside until we got to the cliffs, and WOW. GO.

Cannonball YUM

After that, we Birded back and arrived at Cannoball, which was a hoppin’ place (expect a wait), but it’s got gorgeous views right alongside Mission Beach, and we had the best waiter Matt, while we sat at the bar. The sushi was amazing, and afterward, you guessed it, we Birded miles alongside Mission Beach at night, which was SO MUCH FUN. The breeze was almost cold, the condos along the beach were neat, and the beach obviously sounded amazing. If you go earlier, there’s a fun shopping area you can hit up before dinner, but we missed these!

Downtown, USS Midway Museum, Little Italy

The next day, our first full day in San Diego, we started with Brunch around 10:30 at Breakfast Republic, a recommendation from Matt. IT WAS WORTH IT. We chose the location that was downtown, accidentally, which ended up being perfect AGAIN. I ordered Chilaquiles, and Jordan had crabcake & crawfish benedict—both delish, but the atmosphere was legit. Again, we had a wait at 10:30 on a Wednesday morning. We parked in free parking prior brunch, Birded there, then Birded to the USS Midway Museum afterward—a quick 10 minute Bird ride.

Jordan was in heaven, and it was honestly pretty fascinating.

From there, we Birded to Little Italy, which was FUN! Birding through it was easy to get the feel for it and realize that we wish we’d planned a meal there, but it was midday for us, so we weren’t hungry. We stopped at a local shop and tried Cannoli and gelato, which was yummy and satisfying!

But seriously, there were TOO many restaurants that had cute outside covered patios where people were eating the most delicious-looking pastas, so I wish we could’ve planned this stop for dinner!

After Little Italy, we Birded back to our car where we parked that morning prior brunch and were pretty exhausted after 5 hours out and about. We headed back to our Air BNB to recharge and plan our evening.

Coronado Island

For that evening, we headed to Coronado Island where we parked and actually WALKED—Birds weren’t allowed on the island. We explored Hotel del Coronado and the beach it led to which were both pretty fascinating and beautiful. The beach here was pristine—very impressive. We caught this at sunset too which was so incredible—God totally is seriously unbelievable with his creations.

We walked back to a delicious restaurant recommended to us called Village Pizza. It totally hit the spot!

BUT if you go here, you should look into “Tour de Coronado”. People paid $30 to for a ticket to have access to several different eateries along the island. They could walk by, grab food from whoever was participating and keep walking. Village Pizza participated in this, so we kept seeing people stop by for a slice of pizza, and we were so confused. This would have been a fun option! We were also told that Miguel’s had delicious Mexican food.

That night we drove back to Mission Beach and Birded for about 20 more minutes up and down the coast along the shops after dark. You know, because we loved it. :)

Old Town

On Thursday, our last day, our flight took off at 4:25, so we had a pretty good chunk of the day to still explore. We went to Libre Lucha for “brunch”, because we were told by my mom that the burritos were killer. And she was RIGHT—whatever show they were on on the Food Network was right. We had the California Alambre burritos, and the homemade chips and various salsas were the BOMB. Highly recommend! Just know that it definitely feels like a hole in the wall restaurant in an interesting part of town. ;-)

We Birded from breakfast to Old Town which was about a 10 minute ride, and we walked around this area. It was good enough for us to stroll through for an hour or so and head back. I could definitely see where it would have had some DELISH Mexican food restaurants though! We would’ve enjoyed that!

Pacific Beach

After Old Town we headed to Pacific Beach, which was another area we’d been recommended. Not surprisingly, we Birded from a Better Buzz, a coffee shop we later came back to and were recommended. We headed toward the ocean and stopped to relax for a little—and watch a literal lifeguard rescue, which was pretty exciting—everyone fine.

It was definitely a pretty yet popular beach scene—probably similar to Mission Beach during the daytime with lots of shops and eateries around. Coronado beach seemed the most relaxed, pretty and nice.

After the beach, we Birded back up to the coffee shop which was what coffee shop dreams are made of. I finally got to try an Acai bowl (didn’t disappoint just wasn’t v hungry) and tried the Best Drink Ever—iced. It was tooootally bomb. We relaxed there until we needed to head to the airport and talked about how much we packed in—even some accidentally.

Spontaneity is Key

We loved the location of our Air BNB, because everything was within 15 minutes, with the exception of Coronado Island being closer to 30. This wasn’t as much of the “splurge” part of our trip, so we were totally happy with our investment—plus we were rarely there.

And we loved the work-time turned fun-time together. I honestly had lower expectations for the trip, simply because I San Diego wasn’t high on my list, and Jordan and I simply weren’t in the most comfortable place when we left for the trip.

But every time we leave our everyday routine, force time together and dive deeper into the heart of….us, it’s fruitful. While connection at home felt distant, we had hard but good conversations, thanks to The Brave Marriage podcast and simply knowing how to communicate well from past counseling, and the remainder of our trip was literal laughs, light-heartedness and so many fun new things experienced.

I’ve always felt like experiencing new things together is a sweet way to grow together and connect, and this trip was so that for us.

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I’m Actually A Worrier

I honestly don’t believe Jordan and I would travel as much as we do if it were for my job. 1) Jordan isn’t a travel-initiator and 2) I’m a worrier by nature. As I reflect on this, I realize more and more of God’s good plan—specifically for me to have a job that oftentimes requires travel.  It’s a blessing but at times a curse (if you’re afraid of flying). Those of you who know me, know that I lean on the side of worrying. I always have and will always have to remind myself of God’s sovereignty and goodness.

And if it weren’t for booking weddings outside the state (and country) and my love for traveling, I can completely say it’d be hard for me to leave Luke. Without this needing to be said, I LOVE traveling with Luke and letting him experience new things—almost nothing more fun for us! But every time the two of us leave, I’m reminded of how fruitful it is to leave the everyday behind, take a deep breath and try something new.

When Jordan and I left for the trip, connection wasn’t our high point. We felt jumbled into the everyday shuffle of busy life and struggled to really get to where we needed relationally and emotionally. And while escaping isn’t the answer, it helped us get to a more clear space for us to have heart-to-hearts, connect and then laugh our freaking heads off the remainder of the time.

We are so grateful for grandparents who eagerly love Luke and are loved by him so that we have opportunities like this and opportunities for him to grow in relationships with them.

So guys, I’m a fan. I know it’s hard, but it’s so fruitful to leave—whether it’s a date night, stay-cation in your city or a few nights away.  I will always support time like this! We cannot WAIT to get our hands on our sweet Bubba!!

And maybe someday you can enjoy San Diego like we did!

Hidden Waters Classic Wedding | Kelsey + Josh

All the greenery, all the classic, elegant details and all the bridal white florals!

OH MY!

What a BEAUTIFUL and classic wedding Josh and Kelsey have to remember at Hidden Waters in Waxahachie. The weather held out literally until right before the indoor reception, and we had various light to play with all day—backlighting, even lighting with cloud coverage and it was all so beautiful and fun to work with.

I think I (and all of you) can just about drop dead at how gorgeous Kelsey and Josh looked together in such a stunningly green location. I mean, the sun-kissed glow around Kelsey just makes your jaw-drop. I know this, because I have done it, and so many of you have made comments on social media to confirm! :)

These two make such a beautiful pair, and when I picture their precious first look, their lovely choreographed first dance and their bubble-filled exit, I can’t help but smile. I see Kelsey’s smile, and I see Josh’s smile, and like Courtney, the maid of honor stated in her speech, she loves seeing the way Josh makes her best friend smile.

It’s evident and captured in pictures, and the celebration that followed is too.

And then the details.

OH the lovely details! A tad overwhelming only because they were TOO perfect with sweet sentiment behind them.

Kelsey’s ring shone brightly with radiance but so did her earrings, her bracelet and her surprise additional gold wedding band that Josh gifted her on her wedding day. Her shoes, her Mrs. box and her Martak ring holder—all too perfect to capture the elegance and beauty behind their big day.

It was an honor to photograph and be a part of such a lovely day, and I loved Kelsey’s love for photographs and wanting to capture her day as she remembered it. I love it when brides want all the portrait time!

Hugs to this beautiful pair!

Christ United Methodist + Gleneages Country Club Blush Wedding | Blair + Kevin

I would happily relive this wedding day any day.

What a classic, elegant and absolutely joyful occasion. As I already mentioned in Blair’s bridal session, she’s as beautiful on the inside as she is outside, and we all know that’s saying a lot of wonderful things!

It was such a joy to walk alongside her throughout her wedding planning process to the precious exit she and Kevin experienced, as they celebrated through bubbles and all of their loved ones. She made the process so fun and easy in many ways—I mean, she’s such a sweet bride, so naturally, all of friends and family were such a joy to work with, as well!

The day started out overcast with just a teaser of light sprinkles. I don’t think anybody let that get to them, because the mood of the day never changed from joyful and fun. We thankfully were able to rock some beautiful weather, even lighting and catch some cool breezes. What a joy for a September wedding in Dallas! Literally, as the bridesmaids were lining up for portraits outside, a mist of sprinkles began to fall, but not enough to do any damage. Within second, when nobody seemed to lose positivity, it STOPPED, and we had the best weather the remaining of the day.

And this was how Blair and Kevin’s wedding day was. Just perfect, sweet and as joyful as can be.

I’d say the sweet and happy tears throughout the day pulled at my heart strings and made me even happier for these two. From Blair’s first look with her father to his toast during the reception, I could feel all the feels and see what a celebration it was for the Reichs and Krummes.

And then the dance floor perfectly wrapped up the night with the best part. The DJ brought all the right songs, and it brought so much happiness to my heart to see the smiles on Blair and Kevin’s faces and notice their presence allllll night on the dance floor!

There’s just something about seeing a bride and groom totally own the dance floor with their loved ones, celebrating in the biggest way.

Blair and Kevin, biggest congrats!

Gleneagles Country Club + Christ United Methodist Church Bridals | Blair

Oh, Blair.

I don’t know how I accidentally or impulsively didn’t share these bridals in the few months that I had to keep them secret! I was literally jumping up and down with the most excitement when we hit golden hour so perfectly at Gleneagles Country Club.

The session started with overcast skies which I LOVE for photography due to the even-lighting, but when the sun came out to play in the perfect location on the golf course with bright florals all around, I just about lost it. I’m sure Blair remembers.

And do know that it wasn’t only the combination of beautiful sun-kissed light and gorgeous locations—BLAIR. Blair. That’s all I need to say. Blair couldn’t possibly have made a more beautiful bride with her classic hair-style, lovely & fun blush tulle, stunning bouquet and gorgeous smile. I mean, every little detail aligned so perfectly for the most lovey bridal session for Blair.

And it was so sweet having her mom present with us too! Like I said, I literally had to keep these bridals in my vault for months (to avoid the summer heat), and I am SO ecstatic to share. While it may have been months ago, I absolutely remember how excited I was about the session and how much fun I had getting to know Blair soft and sweet personality better.

She married the man of her dreams this past Saturday, and I’m locked and loaded with their wedding blog to share with you shortly! Until then, let’s admire this bride’s inner and outer beauty!

Las Cruces Hotel Encanto Wedding | Adrienne + Jacob

Oh sweet FALL colors and FALL love!

Adrienne and Jacob celebrated several years of being IN LOVE with their vows in front of all of their loved ones at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Oh, how I do LOVE New Mexico! It was so warm and fulfilling to be in my home state photography such a sweet couple who had spent the better part of the last two years planning their dream wedding day!

And I do mean PLANNING. Their little girl, who served as the most precious flower girl, carried a floral wand down the aisle, and it was THE CUTEST THING. In addition to her floral crown and lace white dress to match her mama, I think it was cuteness overload. One of my favorite moments of the day was watching both Adrienne and Jacob dance with Aaliyah on the dance floor with their smiles beaming from ear-to-ear. I mean, after saying their vows, celebrating a smooth, fun wedding day, I’d say that those smiles were absolutely accurate and necessary!!

It was such a joy to spend the day with this sweet couple who has been nothing but fun and easy to work with. I think that the foundation of love that they’ve been laying over the past 8 years was a true testament to how strong they are and how perfect they are for one another and for their SWEET little girl.

Once the mariachi band serenaded everyone through dinner and visiting afterward, the dance floor opened, and the party fully STARTED. All I can remember (and picture!!) are smiles, smiles, smiles and everyone having the BEST time.

Not a detail was forgotten and not a tear lacked joy—everything was memorable and special from getting ready in the morning to the celebration that lasted past midnight!

Hugs to such a beautiful couple who has such a special day to remember as their OWN wedding day!

The Venue at Waterstone Wedding | Alex + Julie

Oh goodness. How am I ever going to write this blog post to do the Bernhard wedding justice?!

Joyful. Intimate. CELEBRATION. And uh--GORGEOUS. 

But it started way before I set foot on the grounds of the venue for me. I felt like I was driving to photograph my good friend’s wedding, and I felt #allthefeels. My eyes literally filled with tears as I drove to the beautiful rural country of Celina to find a perfect Saturday afternoon for Julie and Alex to marry.

And these tears happened, because I've become invested. I’ve fallen in love with their love story since I met Julie over coffee with her mom. She invited me into her love story, shared what made them special, what made them them, and what their wedding day would be about: tender moments, joyful moments, and unforgettable moments.

They wanted everyone to feel the love they had for not only one another but for everyone there. To know either of them, you must know that they’re as kind as they are beautiful. They know no strangers, are friends to many and are as genuine as can be. This can also be translated to: they had MANY people to celebrate WITH and to share their love and be loved by.

Knowing this about them made every second of the Bernhard wedding day special to me. Being included in sweet surprises and family traditions is always fun for me to be a part of and truly just feel in the moment with my couples. To know that Alex had secretly added another diamond wedding band to the one that Julie thought she’d be getting on her wedding day—to know that they were keeping tradition and marrying one another in the two silver rings that her grandmother married in—to know the sweetness of Alex to save a moment for the two of them on their wedding day after the ceremony to gift and surprise Julie with her wedding bands—EMOTIONAL. Too perfect.

And too perfect is always welcome for any #ldpbride but especially this sweet gal! 

But with so many unforgettable moments from their wedding day, my absolute favorite two moments from the day (aside from the epic Hora chair lift, of course) were both "first looks"--first with Dad and second with Alex. It's very clear that both of these men are beyond special to Jules, and their "first looks" absolutely displayed that. What gifts! Her daddy couldn't have been more proud of his beautiful daughter, and Alex couldn't have been more smitten and overjoyed with his WIFE in that moment. 

I'm telling you--there are SO many photos from their "first look", because...they're just that precious, y'all! Alex didn't want to stop admiring Julie, and I didn't want to stop him! The emotion and excitement captured in these few minutes is definitely priceless to them, I know. :) And it started a day of stunning photographs for the two of them to remember the abundant, genuine love they have for one another. 

A love that I cannot wait for generations to come to witness and feel secure in and proud of. What a power couple who I couldn't love more or be happier FOR!

Mr. and Mrs. Bernhard, I hope you remember your wedding day the way I and everyone saw it--unforgettable, beautiful, tender and sweet. Love you guys!

Christ the King + Warwick Hotel Classic Wedding | Francesca + Rafael

Classic. Joyful. Elegant. 

I'm telling you, if I photographed weddings for people half as joyful as everyone I encountered on Rafael and Francesca's wedding day, my cup would be absolutely overflowing! I believe I left their joyous occasion beaming ear-to-ear, because I physically couldn't help it! 

What a special wedding I was able to document, and it was such an honor to do so! 

Every from from Francesca's classic, stunning details to the luscious florals throughout the reception hall--absolutely perfect. Every person from Rafael and Francesca to literally the event staff--joyous and kind. I'm still recovering from the awe of Francesca's Hailey Paige wedding gown--it was too perfect! And I don't think she could have chosen a more elegant hair style to compliment everything special that was her or her wedding dress. 

I could easily tell that the thought and planning put into every detail of their wedding day was planned and important, and I loved this about Francesca. She's a bride who knew what she wanted. As she was getting ready, she had specific requests for how she wanted her hair and makeup, and this stood out to me. I thought, "I wish I could be better at knowing exactly what I want--being knowledgeable." 

But mostly, after thought, I realized, this is a woman who knows who she is. She knows and is confident in everything Rafael is, and she oh-so-much joyfully celebrated every bit of this on her wedding day. It was absolutely refreshing to see a couple so perfect for one another take in and celebrate the details of their wedding day WITH the most special and loved people to them. 

It's very rare for me to not meet face-to-face with a bride and groom before their wedding date, but for travel-sake, this was the case. And let's just say it didn't stunt their ability to be comfortable, unashamedly in LOVE and trusting during their portrait time. We had probably double the amount of portrait time for the two of them, and it just about made my little heart burst. Goodness gracious, these two are not only a beautiful couple together, but they cannot be more kind or down-to-earth. 

This was reflected in all of their family, their friends I visited with, their intentional details and those gorgeous smiles ALLDAYLONG. 

Francesca and Rafael, here's to wishing your honeymoon in Italy is half as wonderful as your wedding day!! Big hugs!