Shuttle Launch {Florida}

I'm not a fan of sci-fi.  I really don't like it.  I don't care what people say, Star Wars is lame.  I'm sorry. But real outer-space? Now that is really cool.

I mentioned in my "stranded in Florida" post that we got to see the space shuttle, Endeavor, launch into space.  Here's the 411. The DL.  The full-scoop on that experience ;D

Part of the best thing about an "accidental" vacation is that you really have NO plans.  We had our faces and our rental car, and Florida was our oyster.  So one day, as we headed to the beach, we saw lots of RV's camping out along the highway.  After a quick iPhone google, we discovered that the last night-time launch ever in the space program was going to be happening that night!  We (after a little debate) decided to go to the 4:14 am launch. Um, yeah. 4:14 am.  I haven't seen that hour... since... probably when I needed to get a drink of water in the middle of the night last year.  It was early.  Since our hotel was over an hour away from the launch site, we decided to just keep busy.  Target shopping, late dinner, more Target shopping, late movie and then some waiting (and sleeping in the back of the car for me ;D) at the launch site.  So sadly, the launch was called off 9 minutes before it went up.  Major bummer.  Not as big a bummer for us as it was for the astronauts who were all strapped in, but still a bummer.  We rolled back to our hotel at about 6:11 am and slowly stumbled and oozed our way to bed.  The next night, at 2:00 am we got back in the car and prayed it wouldn't be canceled again!

Everything looked good, so I happily grabbed my 200 prime lens as we waited.  After taking a quick "tester" picture, I was truly disappointed when I saw this:

I was like "Man!  We aren't going to be able to see anything!  We came all this way and it's just a little speck!"

The flight deck was counting down on the radios, the silhouettes of people wrapped in blankets decked the hill, Dre, Becca and I had our cameras and iPhones ready - and I was still "hmph-ing" about how far away we were.

Everyone.  Don't worry.  When a space shuttle launches... you can see it.  Don't worry

The fire from that blast literally lights the area for MILES.  It was complete darkness, then complete day-time light in seconds.  It was insanity.  I can't believe that really happens. 

And, oh manny, that ship FLEW. 

After it went into "turbo launch" we couldn't see it anymore.  Boom. 10 seconds. Gone.

By the time we had gotten into our cars and turned around to head back, the shuttle was over Spain.  RIDICulous.  That was such an awesome memory and truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. 


Brandon + Tamara {Tremont Grand Baltimore Wedding}

"I don't wanna be just friends, no
I don't want another girl
Cause you're the only one I love"
just friends - jason reeves

Are you breezing through this post real quick?  Because that's fine.  But this is just a solid, no joke, GOOD story.  You should probably take it slow and let their story seize you.  

Tamara was a cheerleader and an 8th grader.  She was a spirited, blonde, All-American girl - what 7th grade boy didn't have a secret crush on her?  They all did.  You know it.  And Brandon suuure did.  He really liked her.  Imagine his awkward, adolescent joy when Tamara actually agreed to go out with him! He was a lucky, excited and confident fellow.  He got Tamara to date him.

In a completely predictable and normal turn of events, Tamara called things off before the monumental and historic two week anniversary. Ohhh burned! She wanted to stay friends though.  Hm.  I feel like that doesn't help.  You are 12, your upper-lip is all scabby from bad-shaving, your pants really are too short but you're too unaware to do anything about it and the girl you like wants to be "friends." As Jason Reeves sings, "Those two words are bullets in my chest - just friends."  
In an uncharacteristically brilliant move on this 7th graders part, Brandon decided that, yes, he'd liked to be friends.  Cheer-leading, heart-suffocating, smile-making 8th-grader Tamara wants to be friends with him? Deal. Done.  He was in.

So, they were friends.  Despite Brandon's "unchanged affections."  They laughed their way through middle school, and then high school.  College-years moved them around a bit, and they were rarely, if ever, in the same state.  However, they did a good job keeping in touch.  

Brandon always had Tamara there in his mind, but considering how adamant she was that they were "just friends" he tried to move on.  But no other girl was Tamara - simple as that. 
Let's face it, she is pretty awesome.   I didn't get a chance to meet her before the wedding, which isn't my preference, but my goodness... if there was a ever a bride to meet "day of," it's Tamara.  She effortlessly mixes an out-going excitement for life and a peaceful, calm demeanor.   I want to be friends with Tamara!
My heart honestly warmed as I watched her get ready.  She was too happy for her own good :D  But hold... how did we get to wedding day?  We need to flip back to the story.

 So they met in 1999 and it was now 2008.  Tamara was still in school and doing cheer, and Brandon was working in Florida.  She had always promised she would come visit him, but never had.  Not that she was avoiding it, but the trip just hadn't happened. Untillllll, an over-booked flight in Boston.  She kindly gave her seat to a stranger and took her free flying voucher to anywhere in the country.  
The bustle of life swept that voucher out of her mind, but right before it expired she remembered she had it. In a random, last-minute decision, she decided to keep her promise and see her middle-school buddy down in Florida.   You know what's coming, don't you?  He picked her up at the airport and it was like love at first sight!  Hugs, tears and instant romantic connection! Not.
It was the same story right there in the airport in Florida as it always had been.  Brandon liked her - really at this point loved her - and she thought of him as her dear friend, nothing more.   After enjoying each other's company for a week, Tamara headed back home.  Brandon was torn.  He had tried with her... he really, really had.  Hadn't she realized how great they were together?  How much fun they had?  How they could talk for hours?  But after almost 10 years of trying with this girl, Brandon needed to let her go.  His heart couldn't take it anymore.  She was too good and he couldn't have her.
The plot thickens, ladies and gentleman, oh how it thickens.  Tamara left her little-brother-esque, buddy-boy, friend in Orlando, boarded her plane home and by the time she had landed on the dull, chill ground of Maryland, it had all changed.  
She was newly crazy about that man she left behind.  Whoa there. Man? Yes, he was a man to her now - not merely a friend, but a wonderful, incredible man.  She couldn't stop thinking about him.  Her stomach swelled inside her as she remembered their last week together, psh, their last 10 years together!
Not even days later, Brandon called to tell her he was ready to take his role as her friend.  He'd had his Mr. Darcy "one word from you will silence me forever but I love you" speech, and he needed to get her out of his system.  He'd been rejected by the same girl so many times, and fell harder each time.  Imagine his heart - that patient, enduring, love sick heart - when he heard Tamara on the phone say "Wait a second.  My feelings have changed."
Brandon wasted no time.  That was the sentence he had been waiting to hear since he was 12-years-old. He was coming to see her. Pronto.  He flew to Maryland a few days later, and just after their big "two week" anniversary, he proposed.  He wasn't going to let her get away. No, not this time.  
God had been faithful.  He had seen these two through years of life, and at the perfect time, He made their lives one.  How wonderful!

After the ceremony, Brandon and Tamara exited the chapel and stopped around the corner.  Brandon hugged his wife, Tamara. And sobbed.  He kissed her as tears ran down his cheeks, slid down his lips and landed abruptly on his wife's wedding dress. Tamara's wedding dress.  Tamara was his wife.  And he was holding her.  

Their love is simple and it's deep.  It reminds me of the story of Jacob who worked for seven years to marry Rachel and all that time "
seemed like a few days to him, because of the love he had for her ."
Baltimore was boasting stunning night-color.  It couldn't have be more perfect for them :D
Their lovely wedding day was hosted inside the
Tremont Grand in Baltimore .  There were so many amazing rooms to use for pictures - but my favorite was the library :D
SMOKIN' - ohhh my!
The reception decor was flawless and the whole wedding was just an elegant, traditional eye-feast!  The music was beautiful, the food was to die for (no exaggeration), the place really was a room from your dreams.
And the love from friends and family couldn't have been stronger.  Everyone carried these two on their hearts and were just overwhelmed with excitement for them.
My favorite part of the day was when they entered the reception.  Now married, with a room bursting with love and support.  Brandon stood there so proud and happy.  And darling Tamara smiled and shifted in her dress.  They were so happy together, hand in hand.  
He got Tamara to marry him.  And be his love and best friend for the rest of his life.  Congratulations!


David + Jennifer {I'm Kristen - Florida Wedding}

"The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee,
Expend their bloom in vain.
Come over the hills and far with me,
And be my love in the rain."
{robert frost}
Florida became emotional about Jennifer's wedding.  I was emotional, the bridesmaids were emotional, Jennifer's bosses were emotional, so it was only fitting that the sky was too.  Warm, cozy air coated us - but oh my, the rain poured.  This wasn't a quite drizzle or delicate sprinkle.  This was an extreme, tropical shower.

Extreme was perfectly fine, though.  Jennifer is extreme.  She isn't subtle or plain.  She, like her mom and sister, just does things BIG.  On February 5, 2010 she was happy big.  Her facial expressions were extremely happy and you couldn't help but just watch her relish every single second.
I love this shot.  A family relative came in to say hi - look how "happy big" they are :D
Jennifer has an engaging way of making everyone feel comfortable.  She greeted and hugged many relatives who popped in to say hi.  She giggled with her bridesmaids and couldn't stop telling them how beautiful they looked.  She locked eyes with her dad when he came to see her.  She cracked jokes and hugged giddy children who were so excited to be in a wedding.  Even as the bride, Jennifer poured her heart into other people around her.  She is a selfless woman.
I got to know Jennifer thanks to many a friendly comment on my blog.  For a few years now she has been following along my life's fun through her computer screen.  We became facebook friends, and I got to see her happy little reports about finally being a girlfriend and eventually a fiancee'!  I also got a gushy, delighted, extreme e-mail from her asking me to shoot her wedding.

I was always excited to come to Florida to meet Jennifer and shoot her wedding, but as soon the cold and snow bit harder and harder, I... well, I was just on Cloud 10 walking around the beautiful, colorful, warm streets of Orlando.
Yes, it rained. Which was kind of a downer... but when you have extremely brave brides, you can really make the rain work.
Jennifer had that smashing, smooth-and-creamy, firefly, bride-flush.  The bridesmaids helped like crazy and watched Jennifer beam with their own twinkling eyes of joy.  I hope everyone has friends like these.

AND. The flower girls.  Ohhhh, goodness.  I just.  There aren't.  Oh man were they cute.
I WANT TO KEEP HER. Forever.  I'd live with her in a little flower field and we'd color in coloring books. 
(You can see the rain at the top of this picture.  Proof. Evidence. I'd make a great detective.)

Okay doke-ay.  We need to get to marriage time.  The ceremony was at Jennifer + David's church... a wonderful church, and a huge building.  But maybe not the most intimate of places.  Jennifer out-did herself in making the space flawlessly gorgeous.  It had the feel of a mid-night stroll on a winter night.  The big space was turned into a charming, romantic and intimate host for the wedding.  I was major impressed.

Jennifer paid much attention to detail, and all the little moments before the ceremony went off without a single issue.  Everything was beautiful.  Everything was emotional.  I had chills.

The glorious classical music rose and rose!  The guests gasped!  A spotlight dropped onto the aisle! And she went.  She went to him.  David.  Her David.

And *boom* they were coming back down together.  His Jennifer, her David.  Officially - after worship, prayer, tears, charges, encouragement, vows, rings and kisses - they are now one, brought together by God and united for Him.  Marriage is just powerful.

(This is just a tasty little side-note before we get to the husband and wife shots. Isn't this cake so glamorous and lovely? I really liked it.)

In keeping with the whole "dreamy romantic elegant mid-night stroll" thing their wedding had going on, we took some pictures with that theme ;)

Now, up until this point I haven't said much about David.  That was intentional, because I wanted to end with him.
In his vows, he said one of the dearest, most heart-felt things I have ever heard.  Even though I don't personally know him that well, I had heard a lot about him from Jennifer (I mean, she is an extreme gusher, right?) but I always like when I see in person what I hear from the bride.
During the vows, David said "I've waited a long time for you.  I prayed and wondered.  A lot of people told me I was being too picky, but I knew what I wanted and what I was waiting for."
He paused, Jennifer's mother wiped a runaway tear.  "Jennifer, you are God's best.  You were worth the wait.  You are His daughter, His princess.  I am so honored to be marrying you."

The audience fluttered with tissues that looked like graceful butterflies along the guests cheeks.  He had waited.  And so had she.  But here they are together!
They laughed and twirled and kissed their way through the dark park, remembering the past and looking forward to the future.
Enjoy these first few days and weeks of being married, so in 50 years you can look back and laugh at how little you loved each other then :D