I’m swooning over this Old City Engagement session from Noelle Andrews of Femina Photo and Design.  Cristina and Tyler chose to do their engagement session in some of their favorite scenes throughout their neighborhood, which makes for such iconic Philadelphia images.   I think my favorite is the cherry blossomed covered street.   I know you’ll love this session too.  Especially when you read more about the couple:
 
After spending much of their relationship long distance, Cristina and Tyler are starting their future together in Philadelphia! When they first started dating back in 2010, Tyler lived in Delaware while Cristina lived in Philly. In 2013 Cristina made the hard decision to pursue a dream and go back to school full time across the country in California, with the hopes that Tyler would follow after the one-year program was finished. Living apart tested their relationship in so many ways and while many other couples might crumble, their love, Tyler’s unwavering support (and lots of Facetime calls!) got them through.  
Weighing career and life decisions, Cristina moved back to the east coast last Fall where her and Tyler moved into their first place together on South Street on the Headhouse District.  Again, many couples also have trouble living together for the first time, but for these two it couldn’t have felt more right. Then on Cristina’s 30th birthday in February, Tyler surprised her at home with candles and photos of their 6 years together and popped the question!  Cristina and Tyler are currently scoping out wedding venues in southern California for a destination wedding!
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 Noelle Andrews is the co-owner and director of Photography for Femina Photo and Design.  Noelle is based out of Philadelphia, PA.
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Rain rain go away!  What to do when it rains on your rustic woodland wedding at Thorpewood.  Hope that you hired amazing vendors who have lots of plan B’s, smile, grab one another’s hands, and realize that at the end of the day…You’re getting MARRIED!!!  Anna Schmidt Photography brought clear umbrellas to take the sweet couple Ashley & Luke outside of the beautiful barn at ThorpeWood.  Pack rain boots and embrace the fact that not everyone is going to have rain pearls and glossy sidewalks 🙂

From Anna Schmidt Photography: After a long courtship, heartfelt proposal, and months of wedding planning, Ashley and Luke were finally ready to walk down the aisle!  When I had my final meeting with Ashley 2 weeks before the big day, everything was set to go and she was beyond excited to tie the knot.  Her dream rustic woodland fairytale wedding was actually about to happen.  This was it!  I couldn’t believe my ears when just a week later, exactly one week before the wedding, Ashley told me that her wedding venue had run into some permit issues and could no longer accommodate her for the wedding!  Ashley and Luke’s family all banded together to find the perfect wedding venue for the couple and helped them make all of their last minute changes possible.  Luckily the rest of Ashley and Luke’s vendors were on board with these last minute changes.  By the time the big day rolled around a few days later, everything went off without a hitch.  I couldn’t get over the camaraderie of this group of family and guests and how much love they had for this amazing couple.  Ashley and Luke are one of the nicest couples I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and I am so happy that their wedding day and celebration went over so well and that they can now call each other husband and wife.  ThorpeWood in Thurmont, Maryland ended up being the perfect wedding venue for their special day in the end.  It has a rustic elegance and ambience about it that was very fitting with Ashley and Luke’s theme.  I couldn’t imagine a better place for them to get married.

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  • July 12, 2016 - 1:27 am

    Lynn Blanchet - Great picturesReplyCancel

  • July 18, 2016 - 12:46 pm

    Julie Castleman - Beautiful!!! 😊ReplyCancel

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Carly recently asked me…”How do you shine for others with so much joy all the time and not become depleted or drained?” So this month, I thought I would share a little bit about what that process looks like for me, because that’s exactly what it is- a process of self-care.
I truly believe in order to successfully care for other people, you must first take care of yourself, though I’ll admit that caring for others and championing for people comes pretty naturally for me. I love hearing people’s stories, figuring out what makes them tick. Overall, I find it pretty energizing to share my enthusiasm- when my people are showing enthusiasm (or needing it), it makes me feel good to be able to contribute to that. Having said that, I’m a known introvert, which takes a lot of people by surprise. There’s a common misconception about introversion and shyness. Make no mistake- these are two totally different things. Introverts aren’t necessarily shy- but they get their energy and recharge from being alone. I am certainly not shy, especially once I’ve gotten to know someone. I do like to take the time to observe and read a situation and where I “fit” before I jump into conversation. I’m much more comfortable in small group interactions than I am within large groups. Networking is kind of my nightmare. I can do it, but it really just leaves me feeling like I need a long nap or a blanket-fort to hide away in.

Hickok_CostaRica-5379_CarlyFullerPhotographyPhoto by Wendy Hickok Photography

That being said, it’s taken me a long time to arrive at the point where I am now: knowing myself well enough to know what gives me energy and what drains me, and being able to apply that to my life in a way that I can really manage. Sometimes I still struggle with these scenarios, particularly when the nature of my work or my life causes the need to act in a way that doesn’t feel completely comfortable or natural to me. (Last fall I went to a work conference and got myself through the long days surrounded by people by reminding myself that in my kitchen at home was a bag of farm fresh apples and everything I needed to bake a pie. Nothing like a few hours of solitude in the kitchen!)Hickok_Brooke-23_CarlyFullerPhotography

If you’ve never taken a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or one based on Myers-Briggs, I strongly suggest you do this. Many college and university career centers offer these profiles to students (Shameless plug: If you’re a current student or recent alumni, visit your campus career services center and see what they offer!) MBTI can also be used as a great team building exercise if you hold a leadership role. Knowing your personality type can be helpful in many ways, and the research behind MBTI can be helpful in understanding how you process the world, work as part of a team and take in information, to name a few things. If you don’t have access to take the official MBTI test, there are plenty of free assessments online: Try https://www.16personalities.com/ for a good one with plenty of information on personality types.Hickok_CostaRica-1092_CarlyFullerPhotographyPhoto by Wendy Hickok PhotographyHickok_Jeff-32_CarlyFullerPhotography

Hickok_CostaRica-1962_CarlyFullerPhotographyWhen I really need to recharge, I’ve found a few tried and true options that really work for me which I’ve listed below. The trick is to figure out what works for and recharges you: These things are undoubtedly different for everyone and may look nothing like what works for me. It might help to start by making a simple list of the things that make you feel happy and calm- and go from there. If you feel like you don’t have time for self-care, you’re wrong. Take at least 15 minutes a day to put yourself in what feels like a safe space and take note of how your entire outlook changes.

  1. Take care of the body you live in: I have so much more clarity and motivation when I am regularly moving my body. I need a plan for this, and every week I map out what my workouts will consist of for the week. I give myself a variety of cardio, strength training and yoga. I have teachers and trainers who challenge me and encourage me to find my edge. Yoga speaks to a spiritual practice for me, strength training surrounds me with goal oriented women who encourage and challenge me, and cardio makes me feel like I’m detoxing the things I no longer need. Please note, this care of your physical body also includes your brain and your mind! I regularly go to counseling, and encourage everyone to do so. I started after a bad breakup a few years ago, but I’m so glad I had an established relationship with my counselor as a result when I was going through my multiple sclerosis diagnosis. I love having an outlet for my thoughts and feelings, accountability for my goals, and an unbiased sounding board for new ideas.
  2. Put yourself near water: This one is huge for me. Have you ever heard the Isak Dinesen quote “The cure for anything is salt water: Sweat, Tears, or the Sea”? I think this is incredibly accurate. Water has such power. Think about how a river can cut through the earth when armed with time and consistency in its path. There’s a lake on my commute home that I’ll sometimes stop to walk around or just sit near. I could sit for hours with my feet in the sand, watching waves roll into shore. Fancy bubble baths make me feel instantly calm. Give me some time to be near water and everything feels more manageable.
  3. Cultivate a quiet, safe space for reflection: I converted the spare bedroom in my apartment into a yoga room that lets me have a home practice or a nice, calming place to meditate. I’ve recently discovered that instead of sitting on the couch with the TV as background noise at night, it’s incredibly peaceful to go into that room and sit on a cushion listening to music with as many candles lit as I can gather. Even if I am still carrying on text message conversations with friends, the peace cultivated around me helps me feel grounded. I often use this space to start my day in a few minutes of meditation, too. I was lucky to have a whole room to use for this space, but a chair or a small corner of a bedroom could easily be set in this way, too. This peaceful space can also mean taking time to clean up and clear out the junk in my apartment. Does anyone else feel like a clean kitchen makes it seem like your life is together?
  4. Create something: My brother is an amazingly talented artist, and I will forever compare my art to his, but I still love to create things. Whether it’s something I saw and thought “I can make that!” or a Pinterest project that’s calling my name, I love the experience of seeing something and figuring out how I can make it or recreate it myself. Lately, I’ve been really into watercolor painting and will often paint little pictures to mail to friends. (I also really love sending mail). Homemade gifts are my love language. The act of turning nothing into something feels powerful, and with any kind of art you must remember to be flexible and go with the flow.
  5. Practice gratitude: Find something good in every day. Take a few minutes before bed to reflect on a few really wonderful moments you had, or pause and take a deep breath when you experience something that truly touches you in the moment. You can keep a journal of these items, and on particularly challenging days use these lists as catalysts to remember that there is something good in every day.

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Do you know your MBTI personality type, and does knowing it help you?

What do you do to practice good self-care? What do you do when you need to recharge?

PS- for those of you wondering, my MBTI is INFJ 🙂

Photographs by Wendy Hickok Photography

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Happy 4th of July!  As you relax and enjoy this Independence Day, we know you’ll love this beach wedding of a Navy sailor and his bride.  Wedding planner Carly of Carly is Inspired shares the story of her clients Erica and Zach.  Congratulations to the happy couple!  Zach, we thank you for your service and commitment to our country.

As a wedding planner, florist, and editor, I’m constantly drawn to beautiful details. However, during the design process and while I’m coordinating a wedding, I always strive to allow the couple and their unique story to shine brighter than their details.

I have such a heart for servicemen and women and the partners who stand by their side that was instilled in me by my grandfathers. As a result, a military couple’s wedding day has been a story I have hoped to have the honor to be a part of for years. When Erica approached me about the possibility of working together as her month of coordinator for her wedding day to her Navy fiancé, Zach, I was overcome with excitement.

Erica and Zach’s wedding day was such a joyous celebration that I have no doubt will remain as one of my greatest honors and most treasured weddings for years to come. They planned their wedding from miles apart. She was living in Pennsylvania while he was stationed in Hawaii. They chose many of their details over phone calls and email with Zach always turning to Erica for her best judgment.

Erica’s dream was to get married in her beloved vacation town of Bradley Beach, and her dream came true. The pair recited their vows at Church of the Ascension before spending the afternoon taking pictures with CLB Photography at her favorite locales around town. Their final stop was Asbury Park to spend time at the beach with their bridal party and ultimately be welcomed into their reception at Tim McLoone’s Supper Club (the view of the beach and ocean was incredible!).

Their palette was filled with shades of blue and green that mirrored the ocean, but they also included red and white. “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin was a must-play song during dinner, and Erica’s dad, Greg, bottled wine that served as favors. Erica and Zach’s details were thoughtful (the table saved just to display the servicemen’s hats was my favorite), but it’s the relationships from their wedding that stand out the most.

I’ll never forget Erica’s phone call that opened with, “Change of plans. The best man’s leave was approved.” Our call happened 72 hours before their wedding day, and the best man, a fellow Navy serviceman, arrived 24 hours before E+Z tied the knot in a sincere act of dedication to the pair. Erica’s dad, Greg, opted to create an audiovisual presentation in addition to his speech – one he had been nervous to give. His presentation was funny and so very touching to the point that everyone was in tears by the end. Erica presented her bouquet to her mom to honor her for having the longest marriage in the room, and Sue happily offered the newly married couple her best advice. The dance floor was filled, but there were pauses throughout the night as E+Z made sure to talk with each and every guest in the room.

I have never worked with a couple more deserving of a beautiful wedding day, and I have never seen two people more excited to finally be married to each other. Honored, completely is the very best way to describe how I felt to be in their presence with their friends and family on their wedding day. To those who serve, thank you. I will forever champion that the days you celebrate should feel like magic because that is what you, and those who love you, represent.

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CLB Wedding Photography
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Wedding Professional Team:

Wedding Planner: Carly is Inspired | @carlyisinspired

Photographer: CLB Photography | @clb_photography_of_nj

Hair: Brides by Valerie Clarke & Associates 

Makeup: Jacqui Rochonchou | @jacqui_rochonchou

Flowers: BLOOM Floral & Events 

Transportation: Long Branch Trolley 

Ceremony Venue: Church of the Ascension

Reception Venue & Catering: Tim McLoone’s Supper Club | @timmcloonessupperclub

DJ: DLE Event Group  | @daniellinares

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There are no truer words spoken then how hard it is to be a mom, how nothing can prepare it and yet how completely fulfilling it is.  Reading Meghan’s story was something I could not only appreciate but I deeply understood every word she said.

Raw Story - Meghan Ashley - First time Mom challenges

“Nobody ever told me being a mom would be HARD.  I saw lots of pictures of my friend’s cute babies, and heard stories about love at first sight.  Nobody told me that the first few months alone with your first baby can be lonely, exhausting, and downright scary.  I remember being at the pharmacy when my son was four weeks old.  After the usual exchange over how cute and how young my baby was, the pharmacist looked me in the eye and said “Wow, and you’re already out and about?  You look great!  Good for you!”  It was such a small thing for her to say, and such a monumental thing for me to hear.

Raw Story - Meghan Ashley - First time Mom challenges

Looking back, it was probably the first interaction I had since my son was born where someone took the time to acknowledge that I still existed as a person.  My son certainly didn’t appreciate all my hard work – newborns aren’t known for their positive feedback – at best they are sleeping and at worst they are crying.  My husband was just as tired as me, and I would practically throw the baby at him when he got home from work, seeing my first opportunity to shower all day.  The general public started referring to me as “mom,” even though just a few short weeks before, I had been a whole person with a name, a degree, friends of my own and a career that I loved.

Raw Story - Meghan Ashley - Challenges of being a New MomRaw Story - Meghan Ashley - Challenges of Momhood

I wish I knew then that the adjustment to being a new mom is not just about learning to deal with sleep deprivation and washing bottles and laundry.  I wish I could go back and tell that new mom that motherhood is about a massive shift in your identity, one that doesn’t always fit right at first, but like a favorite pair of shoes, will soon feel like an extension of yourself.  I wish we could all be a little kinder to new moms, and after stopping to admire their babies, stop for a second to say “you’re doing a great job.”

Raw Story - Meghan Ashley - Challenges of MomhoodRaw Story - Meghan Ashley - Challenges of being a New MomRaw Story - Meghan Ashley - Challenges of being a New Mom

Three years and a second baby later, I love being a mom.  My boys are the best thing I’ve ever done.  It wasn’t love at first sight.  It was a love that grew with sleepless nights, first words, scraped knees and lots of kisses.  Just as much as I’m raising them, they’re raising me.”

Meghan Ashley is an attorney and owner of Meghan Lynn Photography.  She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband Jim and their two children.

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