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‘Tis the season for not only turkey and Christmas trees but engagements! And we all know what happens after someone gets down on one knee… an engagement shoot! This week, we’ll be bringing you three different takes on the engagement session, each sweet and simple and stunningly photographed. No awkward props, no awkward poses, just lovely people being photographed by lovely photographers in lovely places.

Today, we’re starting things off with a session from Lauren Larsen. Sarah + Jon chose to be photographed on his family’s ranch, and we agree that they couldn’t have chosen a more beautifully rustic or meaningful location. Well done, you two! (You three, including the talented Lauren — see more on her blog here!)

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Thanks so much for sharing, Sarah + Jon! Good luck with the rest of wedding planning!

emily Written with love by Emily
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Brooke and Dean’s day-after shoot is gorgeous, obviously.  Stunning, really.  The wide-open field crossed by a galloping horse?  The LIGHTNING?  Almost too good to be true.  But what really got me in Brooke’s story, below, is her feeling of something “rising up inside her” when she thought about the shoot.  I knew exactly what she was talking about: that giddy, bubbling feeling you get when you’re truly excited about something, and can’t believe it’s really happening.  I think everyone should experience that sometime in their wedding planning process, and I’m so happy we’re all able to share in Brooke’s moment.

P.S. Her dress is by Allure , his boots are by Anderson Bean, and the stunning photographs are the work of Aric + Casey.  Thanks so much for sending them over!

From the bride:

“Dean and I love the ranch; in fact, it’s my favorite place on earth.  The ranch is the place where Dean first fell in love with me (I was already in love with him!), and the ranch is where he proposed.  Everything about the ranch is so meaningful to the both of us, so when my best friend suggested we take our day-after photos there, I wouldn’t take no for an answer. 

I wanted the photos to capture the beauty and adventure of the ranch, as well as the love that my husband and I share.  To be perfectly honest, I still can’t believe I rode bareback on a horse in my wedding dress! But I remember being in junior high when the movie Runaway Bride came out.  When Julia Roberts finally says “I do,” she rides off into the sunset on a horse, in her dress, with her groom.  The first time I saw that, something rose up in me, and I wanted to do the very same thing.  But life happened.  It became silly, and I stuffed that dream, that desire, away… until suddenly I was nervously sitting bareback, on a horse, holding tight to my husband, and he was asking, “Are you ready?” 

If I had any advice to give a bride for her wedding, I would say don’t worry about the dress.  That was my biggest fear throughout my entire wedding process, but I did more damage to my dress dancing at my reception and walking down the aisle than I did riding a horse across the field.  If there is a dream that you have, but you are worried about getting your dress dirty in the process, remind yourself that for the rest of your life, your dress is going to be in a box, never to be touched or worn again.  And, if something does happen, you can have the dress cleaned and repaired.  I will be forever grateful to my sister, who said to me, “You will regret it if you don’t do it” (referring, of course, to the whole riding-bareback-on-a-horse-in-my-beloved-wedding-dress thing).  So I did it.

Be bold.  Go after your dreams.  Do something that you love, that’s totally you!  Take the pictures that you want, and don’t worry about the dress. Do you want safe pictures that kept your dress intact?  Or do you want pictures that take people’s breath away, and remind them of what life is supposed to be like?  The choice is yours.  I, for one, am glad that I chose to go after my dreams.”

Thank you so much for sharing, Brooke + Dean!  Your photos and your story are inspiring!

Written with love by Southern Weddings
13 Comments
  1. avatar Lemon reply

    It's too gorgeous for words. These are just stunning.

  2. avatar Stacy Reeves reply

    That last shot – are you kidding me? WOW!!

  3. avatar nancy ray reply

    holy wow this session is EPIC! straight out of a dream. love love LOVE.also – i want every bride i photograph to read what she said about not worrying about her dress. it's SO true!

  4. avatar Oakstream Photography reply

    OH MY WORD that last shot….AHHHHMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. avatar Astrid and Rene reply

    As a mom to a little girl in love with horses and weddings (because she always sees me working on wedding images), this is wonderful advice that I can pass along to her when it's her turn to marry. And as a wedding photographer, Aric and Casey's work is simply breathtaking. Excellent job capturing what the bride felt in her heart…..

  6. avatar Becks reply

    Okay, those photogs obviously have an in with Mother Nature, because these pictures are breathtaking!!! The lightning, the dusky clouds, the sun, the breeze… these are the most beautiful natural bridal shots I've ever seen.

  7. avatar Kelly reply

    WOW! Seriously. Amazing. Congrats to the bride and groom!

  8. avatar Robyn reply

    I am glad i am not the only one who decided to do pictures in my wedding dress on horseback!!!! I did mine before the wedding and had my dress cleaned before the wedding. I love your pics

  9. avatar Daniel reply

    beautiful shots.. a lightning storm and a horse ride that's pretty awesome for a shoot!

  10. avatar diana elizabeth reply

    beautiful! I love it, i shot some images of a girl and her horse in northern california and these just took me back. the lightening shot is spectacular!

  11. avatar Kate@MagnoliaRouge reply

    Wow these look straight out of a blockbuster movie!! Beautiful!

  12. avatar Tara reply

    I love Aric+Casey! These shots are gorgeous.

  13. avatar Chandler Adaway reply

    I remember seeing these pictures on their blog and thinking, "Wow… THIS is where I want to be as a photography..," talking about their beautiful talent. I love these pictures so much and I wish I took them more than anything. Great job guys!

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This cowboy boot-wearing bride is a gal after our own heart!  In addition to loving Jennifer’s Ariat Legend riding boots, we are total suckers for brides who pair their boots with their wedding dresses.  Jennifer + Paris were married in an intimate ceremony at a private estate in California, and were photographed by Cooper Carras Photography.  The bride wore a dramatic, open-back Camille Lavie lace dress (and striped something-blue leggings!) to her rustic outdoor nuptials.  Do you love her wildflower bouquet from Mountain Laurel Florist as much as we do?

How did the two of you meet?  Tell us your story.  Our friend Ernie set up a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas in 2000 with his college friends, including me, and his work friends, including Paris.  We were a group of eight, meeting for the first time but we all ended up as great friends by the end of the trip. The next time Paris and I saw each other again, there was a definite spark between us. We didn’t act on it though, and another several months past before we saw each other again. The very next New Year’s, Ernie organized another trip. We saw each other again, and the attraction was still there.  We spent most of that trip together and at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s 2001, we finally kissed. We’ve been locking lips ever since. In many ways, we have our good friend Ernie to thank for getting together. In fact, we only thought it appropriate to have him perform the ceremony at our wedding.
Describe the proposal.
I work for the Golden Gate Bridge District, which only allows tower tours of the Golden Gate Bridge for their employees.  I had tried a couple of times to arrange for a tower tour but had been unlucky due to bad timing and weather.  I had pretty much given up on the idea.  So when Paris pushed me to submit a request again, I wasn’t too hopeful but did it anyway.  This time, the request was approved, and we were scheduled to go up for a sunny day in January 2009.  An engineer took us up to the very top of the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, 746-feet above the water on a beautiful San Francisco day.  After 20 minutes of snapping photos and gawking at the magnificent view, Paris turns to me, kneels on one leg and pulls a small shiny object from his shirt pocket, tethered by a fishing wire to his pocket – a ring!  I sobbed out a “yes” and we both cried and held each other.  He worked with my boss behind my back to arrange the tower trip all along while making it seem like it was my idea.  It was such an amazing and surreal moment on top of the Golden Gate Bridge, looking over our beautiful city.
Three adjectives that describe the day are:
whimsical, unbridled, jubilant.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was:
We included our most beloved dog, Pumpkin in our celebration.  She was the “best dog” and “ring bearer” at our wedding.  Our friend, Andra, adorned her harness with green and white ribbons.  Paris’s mom, Karen, made a beautiful satin pillow for the rings, which was also attached to the harness.  Another favorite of ours was our shoe selections.  I was born and raised in San Francisco, and Paris grew up in Sonora, CA, a rural city in the heart of California Gold Country.  We thought it would be appropriate if I wore cowboy boots as my wedding shoes and Paris wore his urban sneakers as a tribute to each other’s upbringings. 

Written with love by Katharine
2 Comments
  1. avatar Holly Hatam reply

    The bride's blue striped stockings were such a nice surprise!

  2. avatar Shawn reply

    For some reason, the pictures and words written here brought tears to my eyes, such tenderness and sweetness exudes from it all….and/or, maybe it's because it's about 3 weeks until our wedding day, so…..you know, lol. Absolutely adore the blue striped leggings and boots! A beautiful bride and groom!!Our pups will just be waiting in the car for our ceremony to finish, hopefully napping….LOL!!Thanks for sharing your lovely day!!

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