This last year was nothing short of a huge learning experience for me both personally and professionally. It was one of those years where anything and everything that could go wrong did. From car accidents, to slow seasons with financial hardship, to lost relationships and situational depression, it was a year that put me in an amazing crossroads. I was able to decide how I was going to let it affect me, define me and push me. The decision on which path to take was completely up to me, and I was finally in a place to come into my own. My dad used to always tell me when I was a teenager that everything is a choice. It wasn’t until my mid to late twenties that I really started to grasp that idea, and it wasn’t until last year that I really started to act on it. Sure, I could let the end of a four year relationship ruin my life by sinking into depression and not pursuing what I was passionate about. Absolutely, I could let booking 65% of what I normally do throw my business, all my hard work and passion, in the gutter. Definitely, I could let those that were trying to take advantage of me pull me under and ruin my spirits. However, this rollercoaster of a year pushed me to take some huge risks, trips, and decisions to get myself back on my feet. Because of this, I also embraced a lot of amazing opportunities making a hard year one I will also never forget!
My first wedding in 2017 was at Carnegie Music Hall in Pittsburgh, PA. While that alone made it exciting, what was even more exciting was that the bride, Ang, and I have been friends for fifteen years – middle school, high school choir, college sororities, and the real world in Colorado. We’ve experienced a lot of life together. I even had classes in college with her husband, Ted, sharing a love of design and photography. It was also refreshing to be with close friends at a time I needed it most. It comforted my soul.
My next amazing opportunity this year was a wedding in Ancelle, France, deep in the French Alps. I met Clara in 2011 when she came to Colorado from Marseille chaperoning high school students. Little did I know that this friendship would lead to fulfilling my dream of traveling to France over and over again, as well as meeting some of my closest relationships with the sweetest souls. I love you Laurene and Clara! This was a memory of a lifetime, and I even got to partake in the festivities!
One thing that this last year showed me was that despite the struggles I was facing, I am so unbelievably blessed by so many wonderful friendships in my life. This wedding at Lake Louise in Banff was again for a best friend of twelve years. Not only did she cross something off my bucket list by taking me to Canada, but Melissa has been a long-standing support and sounding board in my life. I could not have gotten through this last year without her friendship.
Another favorite wedding from this year was for Renee & Jason at the Lyons Farmette in Colorado. From the airstream, to the shiny LED balloons, to of course the goats and llamas, what wasn’t to love?
Lauren & Jimmi’s wedding at Perry Mansfield in Steamboat, Colorado goes down in the books for me because of all the puppies, crystals and lavender! Everything about this wedding, I loved. Their ceremony was in a gorgeous aspen tree grove and the one year old ring bearer may have worn a furry bear onesie. We had a blast!
Talk about some good luck! It rained the ENTIRE day at Mallorie & Mike’s wedding at Winding River Ranch in Grand Lake, Colorado. These two just couldn’t seem to have good weather, from 10 degree wind chills at their engagement session to the downpour through their ceremony. However, I think this made for one of the best days and some of my favorite photos, especially with the fall colors. I love fall! My favorite part through? They never once stopped smiling and were willing to ditch the umbrellas for an unforgettably beautiful ceremony!
To date, hands down, one of my favorite elopements. Mary and James thought they were going to elope at the Maroon Bells. Little did they know I had better plans for them – a beautiful secluded teal lake in Aspen, Colorado. This elopement completely confirmed my passion for intimate weddings and elopements and the adventure that can go along with them. After climbing across logs over rushing rivers and finding hidden waterfalls, I knew this was the direction I wanted to take my passion and business.
Another rainy wedding, but this intimate wedding at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies was everything to me for a couple reasons. First, I decided despite getting water damage on one of my cameras, I love rainy days for shooting. There just something about all that weather and mood. Second, Kat & Dan booked me less than two months before their wedding. This may seem crazy to some, but it was precisely this laid back vibe that made every part of their day so perfect. And lastly, Kat & Dan are without a doubt MY PEOPLE! Initially wanting to get married hiking the Colorado trail, they are avid adventurers. And their response to getting soaked before their ceremony for photos, “We have a running joke that something always goes wrong with any adventure we plan, so why would our wedding be any different? It makes for the best stories.” I think this positive energy is what made not only their day and photos so amazing, but will be what also makes their life together amazing. These are the people I want to be around! The ones that embrace everything life has to offer and run full speed into what sets their souls on fire.
Along with all the business opportunities I had this year, I took on some amazing personal adventures – some to cleanse my soul, others for fun, and others to really figure out where the hell I was going and who I was. Along the way, I met some amazing people who really impacted my life for the better, really encouraged me, and helped me get to where I am today.
The journey started with a last minute solo road trip from Colorado to the California coast. This trip was a cleansing trip. A hard journey to start letting go of the shit show the last four years my life had been. I slept in my car most nights, didn’t shower, had nightmares, and explored places alone that I’d dreamed of seeing. While running away doesn’t actually give you a solution, it can definitely give you perspective, especially when you meet people who you were clearly supposed to meet along way. It was Marlowe’s first time seeing the ocean and my first time seeing the Pacific.
This year also held some great adventures with my best friend, Olivia, starting with a road trip down to Taos, New Mexico and back thanks to Native Campervans. We may have almost gotten arrested, definitely got the van stuck in a snowy, muddy situation, got lost trying to find hot springs and I was sick as a dog. However, the challenges made it a trip that we will never forget and that we can now look back at and laugh!
Then I went back to California thanks to two incredible souls I met on my first trip (pictured below), exploring more of Southern California this time. This time I was really trying to figure out where I wanted to be, who I wanted to be and what I wanted for my life. I almost made some huge changes, but ultimately realized that Colorado had my heart and the drastic changes didn’t need to come from location, but rather from who I was around and what was going on internally.
My annual trips to Marseille to see my soul sister, Laurene, are also always top of my list. It was a hard year for both of us, and I think being able to see one another and love on one another was exactly what we needed. This girl has breathed life into my soul since the day I met her, and I couldn’t imagine life without her.
Then I met an amazing crew of talented creatives from Iowa and we hiked a 12er. haha! Little did I know that one of them would end up being my best friend’s love of her life. They’ll probably get married and have lots of cutie babies!
Speaking of that best friend, here’s another camping adventure we had.
My last big trip was a road trip out to Oregon, crossing some bucket list goals off the dream sheet, and of course spending more time with the BFF. This trip was so meaningful to me. It opened up parts of me that were closed off for quite some time and helped me really let go and realize there is life after pain.