And how sweet is their first date tradition?
Marissa and Brooks are getting married at Musket Ridge Country Club in June and we can’t wait for the gorgeous Catoctin Mountain views, clean lines of the reception space at Catoctin Hall (think vaulted ceilings, light walls and walls of windows with views of the golf course) and seeing them finally getting to celebrate after so many years of being together!
Get ready to read the sweetest thing you’ve read in a long time: “I sent her puppy videos every other day because I wanted to make sure she smiled at least once that day.”
I have to say, I don’t think I’ve ever watched 2 people laugh and snuggle so much during an engagement session… Tessa and Marshall, you both are an absolute joy to be around and I love how you make ordinary adventures into extraordinary experiences. Your energy, fun-loving nature and chemistry together is so refreshing!
While trying to choose the perfect location for their engagement session, we considered a few parks and outdoor locations with beautiful views. I’d never been to Codorus State Park before and OHMYGOSH is it gorgeous, serene and so picturesque. Tessa’s breathtaking red curly hair was also literally glowing as the sun was setting, making this a romantic and playful engagement session I’ll never forget. It was all over when we ended with a dip in the lake…
Here’s their how-we-met story, in Marshall’s words:
“Well, the first time we "met" Tessa didn't remember me. She thought I was a freshman, but that she had seen me around before. I actually saw her my first week at school at a distance and said to myself 'Wow, if I was going to try and marry any girl at this school, that one right there would probably be the one.' Anyways, she was going through her Athletic Training course at school and I had hurt myself during wrestling practice, so I needed to get my ankle taped. I really only needed to get it taped for about a week after hurting it, but I had a crush on Tessa, so I continued to go back to get my ankle taped for about two months. We talked while she was taping my ankle and started hanging out during our free time. We had very similar tastes in movies and books, so we had a number of things to talk about during our time together. We were just friends for about three years and became extremely close. Then we dated for about a month her senior year, but broke up because of the uncertainties of life after college. We still kept in contact. I sent her puppy videos every other day because I wanted to make sure she smiled at least once that day. She eventually went on a trip with her family to Germany and while she was over there we talked for hours. We knew this time was going to be different from the last, so when she got back from Germany, I was there nearly 24 hours afterwards (by invitation of course). We've been together ever since.”
And in Marshall’s words, the proposal…
“So we went out Latin dancing/salsa dancing at the end of April (the same day of my parents anniversary funnily enough). We had a great time and it was the first nice, warm night in ages, so I suggested we go down to the lake near her house to take a walk on the beach. I had the ring in my bag, so when we parked the car I said I had to go back and grab my jacket because it was colder than I expected, when in actuality, I was grabbing the ring. I had it inside of a bulky watch box so she wouldn't become suspicious. We started heading down to the beach and she knew something was up. Tessa kept asking, "What's going on? Why are you smiling like that? What are you planning?" (Tessa- He was acting extremely suspicious). I could barely hold my composure together. We starting hugging, but I was trying to get the ring out of the box. I couldn't get the stupid lid off. I eventually did and proposed and we spent the next hour comprehending what just happened.”
T+M, you two are an incredible force together and we can not wait for your waterfront wedding in June at The Anchor Inn!!
A quintessential boy meets girl at a bar love story, at the right place at the right time… and I couldn’t love them and their playful relationship anymore if I tried! Ashley and Greg have such a genuine love for each other that would shine through with every place we explored together - they’re the perfect blend of head-over-heels-in-love sweethearts and passionate urbanites and I can’t wait to share more from their colorful Shaw D.C. engagement session with you!!
I’m also smitten with their answers when asked what they love most about each other… Greg: “her infectious personality” and Ashley: “his sense of humor” and after spending more than 5 minutes capturing them, I can say with 100% certainty these favorite traits are both SO true and easily visible. :)
Here’s how it all came to be in their words… “Ashley was out with her (at the time) future sister-in-law for her bachelorette party in Annapolis, and Greg was out with one of his best friends after taking a day off to go to an Orioles game in Baltimore. It was a Friday night in September, and we both happened to be at the same bar in Annapolis, even though neither of us lived closer than 45 minutes away. Ashley and Greg made eye contact while Ashley was on her way to the restroom at Pusser's with her future sister-in-law, and after they came out, Greg followed them outside where he proceeded to walk up to Ashley and offer to buy her a drink. They got to talking and exchanged phone numbers and have been together ever since!”
How’d the proposal take place? “At DISNEY WORLD! Disney is one of Ashley's favorite places to visit. Ashley and her mom often visit every other year, and 2017 was the year! The trip was planned for September 2017, so they could visit during the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot. Greg came along for the fun! After a few days of Disney magic, he told Ashley that he had something planned for Friday night just for the two of them, so she went along with it. That evening, they drove to the Grand Floridian resort and Ashley was immediately impressed! They took a walk around the grounds before boarding a private pontoon boat that Greg had chartered just for the two of them. After they got on the boat, a bottle of champagne was brought out and the boat took off for a tour of the Seven Seas Lagoon around the Magic Kingdom. After a beautiful boat ride around the lagoon seeing some of the magic of Disney, the boat parked in the middle of the lagoon, in front of the Magic Kingdom just in time for the evening fireworks! The boat had speakers so they could hear the music playing during the fireworks, but there was no music needed as Greg got down on one knee under the fireworks and asked Ashley to spend forever with him! It was truly a most magical moment!”
My favorite engagement sessions are MADE up of unique ideas that celebrate who you are as a couple and what you love to do together. When you suggest your favorite places to me, it then turns into a fun date that I get to tag along on, learning more about your personalities, how you define cozy and watch you interact in the most natural way… it becomes less about posing for the camera and all about just. being. you… together.
When I learned how Ashley and Greg live in DC but are planning a chic Baltimore wedding at the Sagamore Pendry in Fells Point, I couldn’t stop smiling (MY KIND OF PEOPLE alert!). Then I learned they wanted to celebrate all of the quirky and fun, colorful murals and urban spots near where they live in DC and I audibly shrieked. I had no idea Shaw was full of so many incredible vibrant urban art installations alongside some of the best wine bars and award-winning restaurants!
We started at La Jambe, a French wine bar that had the most amazing mural painted on a wall that was washed with natural light and had pink parasols hanging from the ceiling… I could have stayed here for 3 hours, but we stayed for about 7 minutes before heading to our next stop. ;)
Blagden Alley is definitely my new favorite urban space. Brick paved walks with walls that are colorful, dynamic, geometric, textured and full of character PLUS the best rainbow Love mural by Lisa Marie Thalhammer - it was MAGIC!
We had the funkiest neighborhood bar Lost and Found, all to ourselves and enjoyed drinks against the vinyl record wall as well as the back bar area that had the last hint of light creeping in…
A+G, we are SO excited for your upcoming wedding working alongside Lemon + Lime Event Design and know it’ll be a day full of the sweetest smiles and most beautiful moments as you officially become husband and wife!!!
So, you said YES (or you asked someone if they’d say yes) and now you’re engaged! Once you’ve had a chance to pop multiple bottles and share the news with everyone, the first official act of your new status as an engaged couple may be to take your engagement photos… the most common concern I hear as a photographer is that you don’t take good photos together / hate having your photo taken / want candid moments together that don’t look posed or staged…
I get it! No one is naturally photogenic when told to “SMILE!”… seriously think about it. I’d rather ask people to lick noses since that elicits more of a genuine expression than asking you to smile on command ever will. ;)
Here are 7 do’s and don’ts that hopefully help get you in the right mindset when it comes to taking photos together!
Do feel confident.
Shop for a fun new outfit or go to an old classic you know you love the way you look in. Make an appointment to get pampered (meaning, scheduling a hair/makeup trial for the day of your engagement session can kill 2 birds with 1 stone!) if it’ll give you an extra boost of confidence. If not, just do you!!
Don’t worry about how you look.
That’s my job. I’ll tell you if something’s out of place and remind you to empty your pockets. ;) You don’t have to be models! The quality and range of emotion real couples have and want to celebrate together, is why I love what I do.
Do think of our time together as a rehearsal for your wedding day.
Having casual and everyday photos of you both that aren’t phone selfies is wonderful and something I think more couples should absolutely have, but the main goal of our time together is to get to know each other. I want to feel like a good friend that happens to have a professional camera by the time you’re saying ‘I Do’… not some random person you can’t remember the name of who asks you to smile in my direction. I want to see how affectionate you naturally are together and learn what inside jokes you make that result in nose crinkling laughter and eyes smiling so brightly, it’s unmistakable that your love is unique and special.
Don’t worry if one of you is more enthusiastic about taking photos than the other.
Just being a good sport and going along with the crazy ideas your fiance has or the prompts that may be out of your comfort zone will encourage them to love you that much more for it… and if nothing else, will earn you a beer right after we’re done.
Do hold hands.
Touch noses, faces, fingers, hips, hair, neck. Seriously, you’re getting married! You found your person!!
Don’t overthink it.
If thinking of it as a photoshoot makes you nervous, think of it as a date and pretend I’m not there!
Do eat before (nothing good happens on an empty stomach) and drink during.
I’m a huge supporter of liquid courage in whatever form that takes! We can start at your favorite bar, break open champagne when we start or enjoy a fun cocktail halfway through... why not?
Don’t look at Pinterest poses.
The light, the location and your love are not the same as that super posed adorable couple who’s flowing hair took more time and setup to capture than it looks like. However, this leads right into my next tip…
Do communicate if you have a strong vision for what you want.
I love it when couples not only choose a location with meaning but also have an idea of the kind of images they want out of their engagement photos. Are you an outgoing couple that want your photos to reflect a lot of movement and more candid action? Or are you most comfortable at home in a more private spot to allow you to be comfortable getting cuddly and close together while barefoot and quiet?
Don’t lose sight of why you’re doing this in the first place.
You met online… or at college… or at work… or at a bar during a night out with mutual friends. However the stars aligned, the fact is that they DID. Millions of tiny decisions, conversations and choices lead up to the moment you met and when you stop to think about it all, it’s pretty miraculous and deserves to be celebrated.
Do bring your dog!
I’ve captured the fastest moving hyper little pup and the sassiest 100lb. Great Danes. I was a boxer mom, we have 2 kids and I have plenty of experience and tricks up my sleeve. Besides, slobbery wet kisses make for the best expressions!
Don’t choose a location you’re not comfortable in or familiar with.
Meaning and good vibes are everything. Your location should hold both... and if you can’t think of the perfect spot, I’m happy to share my favorites that may resonate with you!
Do embrace your awkwardness.
At least for the first 10 minutes. It means you care and you’re doing it right... I promise. Remember your first date? Pretty sure those first 10 minutes were awkward too... and look how that ended up.
Don’t bring an audience.
Other than a friend or family member meeting us to help take the dog home if you bring yours, this is one situation that is best as a party of 3.
With winter allowing me some time to breathe and catch up with all the things, I can’t wait to finally share warmer weather vibes and all the madly in love 2019 urban row couples that I haven’t shared yet!
Before we dive into how wonderfully matched Erin and Greg are, I have to say how grateful I am not only for fun-loving couples like them, but how they came to be part of the Urban Row Photography family... Mandi and Miles, one of our 2016 couples (see their incredible July waterfront wedding in Baltimore here!), are good friends with Erin and Greg and connected us soon after they got engaged. Referrals like this mean the absolute world to us - there are not enough words to express how much we appreciate knowing you felt that comfortable and confident in sharing our work and your experience with your best friends!
Meeting up with Erin + Greg at Tide Point was the perfect spot to capture their love story since it all begin by the water!! I’m always amazed to hear stories like theirs! If this doesn’t make you believe in fate, I don’t know what will…
“We met at Seacrets in Ocean City! An unlikely spot! Greg was visiting Ocean City with a group of guy friends. It was the weekend he was supposed to be in Vegas for a friend's bachelor party. When that friend's wedding was called off, they decided to go on a quick trip to Ocean City instead of going to Vegas. Erin was staying in Fenwick DE (not far from OCMD) with her friend (and maid of honor) Maddy. Both groups ended up at Seacrets on Friday night. Maddy was dancing with one of Greg's friends, so when Greg saw Erin alone, he asked to buy her a drink. We exchanged numbers at the end of the night and have been texting daily ever since!”
As soon as we started, Erin and Greg fell into such a groove, they were complete naturals in front of the camera and if they didn’t feel like it, I definitely couldn’t tell… (that’s always the goal: I want you to have fun, be silly and belly laugh as much as possible… just so ya know!)
Erin’s favorite thing about Greg makes me smile since I could totally see it during their engagement session! Their faces both light up whenever they look at each other… “My favorite thing about Greg is his laugh. It sums up his care free attitude and overall "fun to be around" spirit. And, it's what stood out about him the first night we met.”
Their proposal story gave me butterflies and also involved a view of boats and Baltimore waterfront sunset perfection!
“Greg planned to propose at Erin's family's cabin on the Susquehanna River. They were supposed to spend a Saturday there so Greg could help put the docks in the water for the season. However, Erin was asked to go to Los Angeles for work last minute and booked a flight home the Saturday he planned to propose, so that plan wouldn't work. Greg says he couldn't wait until another weekend, so he decided to propose the night before Erin left for Los Angeles, on Wednesday evening. They went to dinner at Blair's on Hudson (favorite neighborhood spot where we always order the same thing - Guinness Filet!) and went for a walk on the water afterward. Greg proposed on the waterfront in Canton when the sun was setting. It was a beauuuuutiful early May evening. It was a pretty private spot, but after he proposed, a few people sitting on their boats docked in the water nearby started cheering! They continued walking to Fells Point for a celebratory drink and started making calls to family and friends to share the news.”
You both are the sweetest and we can’t wait to capture your wedding at the Accelerator Space in April! If you bring your best laughs and adorable carefree love, it will be a day to remember like no other!
Cheers to 2019 being your best year yet!
If this isn’t the best answer to what Courtney’s favorite thing about Dustin is, I don’t know what is… “just one?! I love that we compliment each other. We are opposites in the right ways and the same in the right ways.”
One of my favorite aspects of being a photographer is learning about what means the most to my clients (both in love and in life) and capturing the joy of their relationship TOGETHER in an effortless way. While Courtney told me numerous times how they are awkward in front of the camera, I beg to differ… these two ROCKED their photos and chose an amazing Baltimore location, Rye Street Tavern, adjacent to the Sagamore Spirit Distillery, to enjoy a gorgeous October night overlooking the water!
After I first connected with Courtney on Instagram, we’ve bonded over our shared love of wine, cheese, healthy and easy recipes, female small business ownership, a lifestyle full of approachable wellness, growing up in the tristate area… and the list goes on!
Here’s the story of how they met, in Courtney’s words:
“Dustin and I met at a bar on the University of Delaware campus. In my mind, it was a much more 'meant to be' moment than just meeting some random guy in a bar might sound. I went to UD for undergrad and when I stayed for grad school, I moved out of the college town and was alone with no friends in the area. There was a new grad student orientation happening my first true night 'alone' and my mom encouraged me to go. She called me and said she was worried about me and I better not be home alone all night. I was not planning to go to this event, I thought it was so silly because I had just spent four years at the school and I knew my way around. But I went in the hopes that maybe I would make a friend. I did meet a few people and had a nice time. At the end of the event, the organizers / leaders of the event invited us all to meet them at a local bar to hangout. It was still early in the evening and I called my mom to tell her about how I was glad I went to the orientation. I told her about the bar gathering but said I didn't think I would go. She told me I should go for at least 15 minutes if I had a good time because having some friends for this stage of my life was important. I said fine. I went and felt awkward but almost immediately one of the leaders, Ryan, came up to me and said hi and that he recognized me from the event and he was glad I came. He was very nice and was trying to make me feel comfortable. After a few minutes of talking a guy walked into the bar and up to us and Ryan introduced him as his roommate, Dustin. I immediately thought he was super attractive and I hadn't gotten a drink yet so the two of us talked while Ryan moved on. We ended up standing at that bar and talking for almost 3 hrs. I found out he liked Bruce Springsteen and was from Kentucky; being a Jersey girl, I was sick of east coast guys and had a love of Bruce. I thought he was funny and easy to talk to. We exchanged numbers and I went home. On my way home I called my mom and told her I met a 'really nice guy'...”
And then the most thoughtful clue-filled proposal…!
”We had a day trip to DC planned to see the cherry blossoms. I was running late (per usual) and we had a train to catch. Dustin was upstairs because I asked him to help me with my outfit choices. Once I was dressed, he came over and gave me a hug and said I looked nice and there was something he wanted me to do before we left. He reached into his pocket and picked out a slip of paper. It was a clue! I immediately knew what was happening and got all shakey. Clue 1: ‘You let me eat these when I have a sweet tooth (it was a box of sugary cereal)’. Inside that box was another slip ‘Thank you for feeding me nutritious foods and helping me be healthy.’ Clue 2: ‘We took one of this the first day we met' (a shot… it was a shot glass on our bar). Next slip said: ‘I love that you are fun and adventurous with me’. Clue 3: ‘This is where you organize all of your days, like today (my planner)’. Next slip said ‘I admire your ambition and I know it will pay off big soon’. Clue 4: ‘It's under the thing I worked on for six years (his PhD which is framed above our office desk)’. Next slip said: ‘Thank you for always supporting me and being there for me, even during hard times’. Clue 5: ‘hiding under your favorite sleep companion’ said "I want to be with you for all days" and when I turned around Dustin was there with a ring box open - just looking at me, for what felt like FOREVER. I was so tempted to speak but I didn't, I just smiled and nodded like come on, ask me, hahahaha and he asked "Do you want to get married?" in a Dustin fashion I would expect, and I said yes, and then we went and had a fun day in DC.”
Your wedding at Mt. Washington Tavern is going to be absolutely incredible - we can’t wait to be a part of it! I already love how your wedding date is the EXACT date you met… 1000% meant to be!!
As soon as Kelsey + Bryan told me they were thinking of taking their fall engagement photos at Artifact Coffee since they love their maple lattes, I knew we were in for a treat (and I don’t just mean the delicious maple lattes!)… add in their pup Camden and a love of the Clipper Mill / Woodberry industrial sites around the corner and I was feeling all the ‘how-did-I-get-so-lucky-these-are-my-people’ feels!!!
We talked about our shared love of the texture throughout the stone and wood historic mill buildings for probably more emails than I should admit… ;) You both are too cute for words; words can’t express how happy I am that our paths crossed!!
Camden has the most alluring eyes and was such a wonderfully sweet little model! He rocked his status as the newest #urbanrowpup and coordinated with the warm fall color palette so well…
But enough of my commentary, I can’t wait to share THEIR love story: one of perfect timing and location. While Bryan and Kelsey both grew up in North Carolina and spent their college years at UNC-Chapel Hill, it wasn't until a year and a half after moving to Baltimore for graduate school that they ended up meeting at a school formal. Bryan tried to woo Kelsey by bringing up their similar roots, but Kelsey was extremely unimpressed. A year later, after several crossed paths and attempts by friends to bring them together, Kelsey accepted Bryan's request for a date. Bryan cooked Kelsey BBQ, they talked, laughed, and watched Game of Thrones. Kelsey fell for Bryan's sense of humor, good cooking, and kind heart while Bryan fell in love with Kelsey's intelligence, compassion, and of course, her beautiful smile (it didn't hurt that she laughed at his dumb jokes too). A year and a half passes. They explore Baltimore, get a dog, travel together, do Whole30, meet each others families, and decide they want to spend the rest of their lives together…
Once we decided that we wanted to get married, Bryan got to work designing a custom ring using the diamonds from both his maternal and paternal grandmother's engagement rings with Ron at Stonehaven Jewelry in Cary, NC (Kelsey always wanted a family ring!). Kelsey is someone who is very hard to surprise and Bryan decided to propose when she'd least expect it - on a trip to visit Kelsey's best friends in Atlanta. Bryan got Kelsey's friends Kaley and Emma in on it to help with logistics and decided to ask in the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. When he found the perfect spot, he got down on one knee and asked Kelsey to marry him, and the first words out of Kelsey's mouth were, "Stop it.". Nevertheless, Kelsey said yes and we celebrated with her best friends. There was champagne, confetti, and of course pizza to end the night.
You two have such an undeniable chemistry, we’re SO excited for your September wedding at Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park!! The menu alone (featuring Copper Kitchen’s catering and ice cream cookie sandwiches for dessert) is already making all of my fall waterfront wedding dreams come true!
When Elizabeth and Donald are together, they exude calm and gentle love one minute and adorably sweet laughter the next… these two are the perfect blend of fun, sophistication and classic style with a love of city life!
We started in Mt. Vernon since the Walters holds a special place in their love story and finished by the water in Fells Point… you don’t want to miss Donny’s incredible proposal that involved a Faberge egg exhibit, one of Elizabeth’s favorite things to see at the Walters Art Museum!
In Elizabeth’s words, this is how it all started…
”At a coworker’s going away party, a few people from my office got together at Ryleigh’s in Federal Hill and each coworker brought friends along. We met briefly and then Donny left and went to the bar next door. I went to the guy that brought him and said “…where did your cute friend go? …bring him back.” And Donny came back. A few fireball shots is all it took and since that night, we have been together.”
And as for the proposal?
”It happened at the Walters Art Museum. We had an action packed weekend with Happy Hour and dinner with friends planned but before it all started Donny suggested we go to brunch and he had a surprise for me. First instinct, I asked if we were going to SPCA to be annoying and get another dog since I would like another... he said no, its a surprise. We pulled up to the Walters and we were just there a few weeks before so I was suspicious why we were here again, since he knows this is one of my favorite places in Baltimore. But he said there was a Faberge exhibit so I really believed we were going to see this and the suspicion went away. Then he asked if we could go to the Chamber of Wonders and in there he got down on one knee after asking what was my favorite thing in the room. Afterwards we still went to HH and dinner with friends and were able to celebrate with them!”
I’m so excited for their wedding day one month from today at the Baltimore Country Club in Roland Park; I can’t wait to share their engagement session with you since Jayce, their cute little pug was the most perfect dog model!
We CAN NOT wait until your wedding day is finally here, lovebirds!! It’s going to be such an incredible moment when you become husband and wife!
A beautifully historic Pennsylvania inn was the backdrop for so many moments in their relationship, so it had to be the location of their engagement session! Spoiler Alert: Jeff’s surprise proposal will bring tears to your eyes…Read More
I wanted to share my top 5 reasons why engagement sessions are so valuable... since after being in this industry for awhile, I've answered all of the questions below and you might be wondering the same thing!Read More