It started with one of my AGP Poster Couples, Phil & Megan. Megan’s been around since the veeeery early days of Abby Grace Photography- back when I only had a blogsite, when I still watermarked my images, and when my hair was still above my shoulders. They were the first couple who I photographed for their engagement, wedding, AND anniversary. (Also, can we talk about drastically my work has changed over the past four years? Praise the Lord!)

Washington DC anniversary photographer

Then Eddie & Priyanka took it one step further- I did their proposal, engagements, wedding, and anniversary. And then when their daughter Leah was born this past December, I photographed her too!

Washington DC anniversary + wedding photographer- Abby Grace

With the realization of how much JOY it brought me, the idea of the Abby Grace Legacy Couple was born!

See, I often spend a year or more getting to know these fabulous couples- we’ll do wine together, have an amazing time at their engagement session, and then I have an all-access pass to the biggest day of their lives thus far. And then… I sometimes never see them again, especially if they’re not from the DC area. It’s such a bummer! My couples are incredible human beings; people that I’d be friends with in life anyways, and having been there for such an exciting and important time in their lives, I feel especially connected.

What’s also fun is that the blog readers who’ve been following along for years? They feel connected, too! They’ve seen every blog post, viewed every wedding, they remember things like “Maria- she was the bride who wore her mother’s wedding dress, right?”

Washington DC anniversary photographer

So having my brides and grooms return on their one, two, three year anniversaries is SUCH a gift! I love hearing how their love stories have grown, what’s surprised them most about marriage; I love hearing about their biggest highs and the battles they’ve overcome.

Washington DC anniversary photographer

One of the foundational beliefs that I’ve built my business and work on is that your marriage is worth fighting for. Knowing that my couples are fighting for theirs, whether that’s in something simple like a date night, or something major like walking through tragedy, it gives hope. Being able to reflect on and celebrate your victories as a couple can help make walking through the hard times a bit more manageable. Having moments captured on film that show those blissful moments when you couldn’t remember ever loving each other more than you do right now? Those are worth far more than their weight in gold when the going gets tough.

To all my Abby Grace couples who’ve trusted me over the years with some of the biggest moments of your lives, I can’t express what an honor it is to be asked to photograph you after the wedding day’s come and gone! I can’t wait to photograph more of these this year!

  • Alicia Lacey - This is such an incredible idea, Abby! You are pioneering a new client experience in photography and I can’t wait to see where it takes you!!ReplyCancel

  • Emily - My husband just emailed me this saying “are we a legacy couple??” Looking forward to Abby Grace shoot #3 in 2 months!!ReplyCancel

  • Emily Gerald - ohhhh Abby! I love this, especially the sweet babes!!!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy Byrd - oh this is so wonderful. I can’t wait for photo shoot #3, 4, 5…ReplyCancel

  • Rici - Awwww! How cool of you Abby! To share the journey & share about your couples again! Crazy stuff, I remember all the posts from the early days! Oh WOW! Such a great progress & wonderful road you have taken!!!!!!
    Loads of greetings from Germany!ReplyCancel

Things that I do not suggest doing: deciding the DAY BEFORE a shoot that you’re going to “just make” your own 12 foot x 16 foot backdrop. The last time I photographing Christa in studio (remember that pas de deux session?), I did so without any backdrop- just the white cyc wall of the studio itself. This time, I wanted a more “polished” feel to the session, so I got a bit ambitious and decided to paint my own backdrop.

I headed to Home Depot (twice), then Lowes, and then Lowes again. And then for good measure, I headed back to Home Depot at 9pm to pick up another can of paint, because canvas soaks that stuff up like you wouldn’t believe. And then the morning of the shoot, I was outside on our deck as soon as the sun had risen to touch up any spots that needed more color.

In the end, it was definitely worth it! I loved having the neutral background to make Christa’s skirt really jump off the page. The next time I attempt something like this, I’ll do a bit more research beforehand, but for a last-minute hack job with a canvas dropcloth and two buckets of paint? I’d say this was a win.

Christa- you, my dear, are wonderful. Your heart and personality alone would be enough to make me want to photograph you, and adding on top of that how exquisite you are? You’re one of my favorite muses! Thank you for giving me your time- this first might be my all-time favorite from my ballerina series!

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

Washington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby GraceWashington DC and Virginia ballet photographer- Abby Grace

I’m starting to love this morning routine I’ve created. After Bonnie’s talk on balance at Creative At Heart, I realized my old morning routine was setting me up for workday failure and that something REALLY needed to change. So for the past week, I’ve been following a certain routine that begins at 7:30 (or earlier), and it’s resulted in MUCH more productive days! I want to wait a few weeks before blogging about it, just to make sure it sticks, but I’m really excited about getting off on the right foot every morning!

Last week was a good one. I’ve slowed down quuuite a bit, and I’m loving it! One of our pastor’s kids, Ami, is my FAVORITE 5-year-old in the world. She and I have been BFFs since this time  she was having a tantrum two years ago and I managed to calm her down by asking about her pink dress. Ever since then, we’re as best of friends as a 20-something and a kindergartener can be! We had a “date day” this past Wednesday that involved ice skating, Ted’s Bulletin (where she went on a total sugar binge with a chocolate milkshake AND a pop tart), and a trip to the nature center where saw a snake devour a mouse.

If you’re ever in need of laughter, hang out with a five-year-old. Ice skating alone was enough to have me in stitches, since Ami had never been before and I hadn’t been for at least five years. We had one of those Fred Flinstone moments- you know, where you desperate trying to stay upright, flailing your legs and arms all over the place? And then we both ended up on our butts on the ice anyways. It was the best!

As always, lessons learned/events that transpired over the past week!

  • We’re FINALLY getting our house in order! You might be thinking “…but Abby, didn’t you move into that house in August?” Yes, but moving during wedding season makes it really hard to get your life in order, especially when you’re ADHD. So this weekend we made a long-awaited trip to Ikea to get a bed frame for our guest room, which required moving allll the crap out of that bedroom that’d been piling up since August.
  • We also bought an entryway bench! WOO. Living large, people.
  • And, I finally finished hanging the photo frame collage I carefully planned out for the living room. So it no longer feels half-finished! Now I just have to order photos for those frames.
  • This is what happens when you get a little older. Things like entryway benches become a highlight of your week.
  • Matt took me on a creative date on Thursday- he told me to pick anything I liked from a book he bought for us, “52 Uncommon Dates.” But instead of choosing one of those dates, you know what I asked to do? “I really just want to crunch the ice along the W&OD trail before it melts!” So we took the pups to the trail and I wore my wellies, and Matt waited patiently while I stomped along the puddles covered in ice for a solid 2+ miles. And it was AWESOME.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a photos of the pups, so here’s a little dose of our four-legged children! Hard to believe they’re both German Shepherd mixes, isn’t it?

German Shepherd mixes- Abby Grace

Fun fact: the only way I can get them to sit like this is to bribe them with Beggin strips. Yaaay!

  • Urška Majer - You two pups are so adorable!ReplyCancel

  • Jean - Cute picture or the pups! Getting your house in order makes everything better!ReplyCancel

  • Karen/aka Mom - You enjoy so many things I can relate to! Breaking the ice on puddles is a forgotten art. The pups look great, especially Sirius, with that one ear cocked up. #settingatrend #grandpuppieslookinggood #momReplyCancel

I’m still trying to work out what happened last week. I mean, I KNOW what happened- I attended a life-changing conference in Staunton, Virginia with 84 other creatives in the industry, and had my world totally rocked by the experience. But rocked HOW? It’s still a little unclear. But every day the mist disperses and little and I can see a bit more of what happened in my heart, and what was going on in the hearts of the attendees.

Creative at Heart conference- Abby Grace Photography

Back in November, Kat asked if I’d be willing to come be an official conference photographer- heck yeah! I’d told her. I hadn’t been planning to go, just because I’d already eaten up my education budget for the year. So I jumped on the request! While I was there, I also had the honor of being on a photography panel with Katelyn, Caroline & Annamarie- being able to sit down in a more intimate group to talk about any and everything that revolves around running a photography business was such a treat! I learned so much listening to the other three panel members, and it was so interesting to hear the different methods we all employ to make our businesses run smoothly and successfully.

Creative at Heart conference- Tyler Herrinton

Creative at Heart conference- Abby Grace Photography

The speaker line-up was killer. Over the two-day conference, we heard from nine different professionals about everything from blogging efficiently, to making Google work for you, to the nitty gritty details of how to divvy up your finances. Having been in the industry for 4-5 years now, I was expecting that I’d “heard it all;” that everything the speakers were going to say, I’d already read it on a blog or learned it in a workshop.

Boy, I was so wrong- Bonnie‘s talk on balance cut right to the heart of some of my biggest weaknesses. And Natalie‘s slot on social media taught me some really valuable techniques for making the most out of my online presence. I’d brought a notebook with me to jot down a few thoughts over the two days, but I ended up with pages and pages of hastily-scribbled notes. It was awesome.

Creative at Heart conference- Abby Grace Photography

But the biggest takeaway for me was that I’ve been spending WAY too much time focusing on the wrong things, and it’s only hurt me and others.

If you’re been following AGP for a while, you’ll know that my pride is my biggest enemy. I’ve lost days, WEEKS of productivity over the years from obsessing and stressing over what I see other people doing, because I’m jealous, or because I think it’s threatening to me. My biggest emotional breakdowns over my business haven’t been due to burnout- they’ve been due to being humbled in big ways, being humbled in ways big enough that I’ve spent entire mornings crying ugly tears because I didn’t get something I thought I deserved. Because I am, to be totally honest, stuck on myself. Sometimes I don’t even STRUGGLE with the pride- I just let it run rampant and bask in the ugliness of it all.

But despite my bitter, jealous heart, God is still working in me- refining me, redirecting me, using me to bring him glory. Creative At Heart isn’t a Christian conference, but God was still moving. He used my time at the conference to gently but pointedly remind me that my purpose here isn’t to build up a photography empire that worships Abby Grace, it’s to honor him. It’s to use any GOOD that comes from my business to glorify him.

Creative at Heart conference- Abby Grace Photography

And maybe glorifying him looks like pouring life into my couples’ marriages through their anniversary sessions, or maybe it’s to speak encouraging words to someone who needs to hear them. Or maybe it’s through being raw and vulnerable to let other people know, you’re not alone in this. Whatever it is, my time at Creative At Heart reminded me that I believe in a God, and am loved by a God, who is SO much bigger than my photography business. And that my purpose as a person is so much bigger than just taking photographs and hosting workshops. And, that despite my bitterness, pride and jealousy, God loves me so fiercely and chooses to bless me anyways, even though I am frightfully undeserving.

If you’re thinking of attending the next Creative at Heart conference, I cannot stress enough that you should DO IT. If you want your business rocked to its core in the best way possible, DO IT. If you’re looking to be encouraged by both inspirational and practical speakers, DO IT. If you feel alone or isolated in this industry and need people to come alongside you to cheer for you, DO IT.

You’ll be so happy you did.

(Me and two of my favorite boss ladies, Natalie & Katelyn!)

Creative at Heart conference- Abby Grace Photography

Registration for the next Creative At Heart was just announced this week! And I’m SO excited, because for C@H Round 2, I’ll have the privilege of speaking & presenting alongside some of the most talented women in the industry, as well as serving on a panel again! I’ll be speaking on the topic of finding vision for your business, and though I’m already getting nervous about making bad jokes in front of everyone, I can’t wait see how it helps other business owners bloom and grow!

For more details, visit the conference website :).

Creative_At_Heart_conference_photo_0009

  • Alicia Lacey - It takes a strong person to identify their own weaknesses, Abby! We all have them, it’s just figuring out how to manage them that is the hard part — proud of you!ReplyCancel

  • Alexandra {Heart Love Always} - I just love you!! And I’m so happy I get to see you again in March!! YIPPEE!!! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Shalese - I have debating back and forth on going to the one in March!! I’m keeping this post open for reference. :) I love love LOVE how open and honest you are about the “raw” things.ReplyCancel

  • Dad - i don’t know where this pride comes from???? Certainly not from me, I am the humblest person around and I don’t mind bragging about that!ReplyCancel

  • Tiffany Heidenthal - Your dad’s comments are always my favorite :)ReplyCancel

  • ashley - I loved finally being able to meet you in person! I feel like your recent blog posts really match the person I met at the conference! :) You are so awesome for being so transparent. I can’t wait to see you at the next conference! And SERIOUSLY! You NEED to read Love Does by Bob Goff. Y’all could be related! Plus, he gives you his phone number in the book so you can call him! He never lets a call go to voicemail! Do it! :) See you in March! :)ReplyCancel

  • Lydia - Thanks for sharing so deeply, Abby! I need a constant reminder of this! It’s inspiration for the ups and downs. Busy and slow, many bookings or none, my business is to glorify Him!ReplyCancel

She called me mid-November with a secret- she & Joe were engaged! But no one else knew. And no one else was going to know until after they tied the knot. “We were thinking… we want to elope in New York. And before I even met Joe, I knew that you would one day be my wedding photographer. Will you be there?”

So with everything under wraps, we began to plan; where would the ceremony take place? What would she wear? Would Central Park be alright for portraits? (Btw, Central Park will ALWAYS be more than alright for portraits). And what about a place to get ready on the morning of? “I found this amazing loft apartment in Chelsea with a ton of natural light!” Wendy, I could kiss you.

In the end, she settled on a pink gown, a vintage mink shrug, a birdcage veil, and an antique diamond bracelet. They got ready together- he zipped her into that stunning blush frock, helped her into her mink. She fixed his tie, fussed over his hair a little. And as they stood there facing each other at the High Line, the windy gusting, a crowd of onlookers swelling with each passing minute, they wore these matching smiles so bright that even the sun might pale a little in comparison. This was THEIR day, the start of the rest of their lives, Day 1 of thousands and thousands.

Joe & Wendy, I don’t even know where to begin. To have the honor of being one of a mere four friends to witness your marriage ceremony, it’s something I will always treasure and never forget. And to be able to have done so in such an iconic location was a dream come true!! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for one of the most special days of my career, and for the chance to photograph your unabandoned, unrestrained, and completely exuberant love!

New York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace Photography

New York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace Photography

New York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace Photography

New York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace Photography

New York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace Photography

New York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace Photography

New York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace PhotographyNew York City High Line elopement with pink wedding gown - Abby Grace Photography

And then this past Saturday, they told their family & friends! Everyone gathered in Richmond for what they thought was an engagement party, and had no idea that the video Joe & Wendy were about to show would actually reveal that they’d eloped! Here’s the amazing announcement film by Molly B. Ransone!

Details
Dress- Lela Rose
Mink, bracelet & veil: Bygones Vintage
Officiant: Sondra Peeden
Video: Molly B. Ransone

A huge thank you to my brother, Ethan, for making the up-and-back-in-one-day trip with me to assist for the day. This would have been a lot more complicated without him!

 

  • Moriah - These are breathtaking! What a beautiful couple and such a sweet wedding day all to themselves!ReplyCancel

  • Wendy Byrd - Abby, you posses a gift, you not only capture the beauty and sentiment of an event but you are able to see and connect with people in a way that comes across so vividly in your photographs.

    I called you the moment I knew a wedding was in the works, no one else would be the photographer for us.ReplyCancel

  • Kristyn - Abby, These photos are absolutely amazing! You captured their love beautifully!ReplyCancel

  • Tara Peddicord - The story that these images tell. Remarkable. Beautiful work Abby!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley Mitchell - Okay seriously. How were you not SQUEALING the entire time this was all happening. Your best work evah evah. Love it.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel McCloud - absolutely stunning. The BW of Wendy looking out the car window is so beautiful :)ReplyCancel

  • Caili - Just magical, Abby! These were so fun to look through.ReplyCancel

  • Jean - what a great blog! Must have been hard for you and Ethan to keep this secret. The photos are gorgeous. Love them all.ReplyCancel

  • Megan - Umm this is magical! There was not a single photo I didn’t love!! I also love that your brother & his bowtie made it on the film :) GREAT job Abby!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany - This is next level. I am so in awe. Stunning work. Simply stunning!ReplyCancel

  • Rebekah - These are so stunning! I particularly love the B&W image where the bride is in the car & looking up out of the window. Such classic beauty. I love the idea that they did this secretly. So intimate.ReplyCancel

  • Heather - OH WOW!!!! These are SO AMAZING!!!! I love how you captured this beautiful couple and how natural they looked! So classic and elegant! LOVE IT!!!!ReplyCancel