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Monday Mash-Up

Ok, so we can all agree that it’s finally universally acceptable to listen to Christmas music, right? Fantastic! Because I’ve been holding out over here and it’s been killing me! It’s now painfully clear how good of a job my mother did at instilling in me that “CHRISTMAS MUSIC BEFORE BLACK FRIDAY IS A SIN.” I tried really hard to listen to my Christmas Pandora station a couple of weeks ago, but I got 8 seconds into the first song and had to switch back to my Disney station. It must have been hilarious to watch, because I know my face was most likely contorted some sort of horrible grimace and I probably looked like I was struggling against an invisible force to keep myself from changing the station. Speaking of Christmas, I’ve been super jealous watching all my friends Tweet about bringing Christmas trees home already, but Matt and I agree that neither of us are capable to keeping a tree alive for over a month, so we’re waiting til December 1st to get ours. Rest assured, though- I’ve got all my ornaments ready to go and have my retro lights in tip-top shape for their debut this Saturday.

As always, lessons learned from the past week:

  • From hereon our, before making plans as to where we’ll spend Thanksgiving, we will be checking the Dallas Cowboys schedule. Should they be playing the Redskins again on Thanksgiving Day, we will plan to spend the holiday alone, holed up in a dark room until the game is over. Or at least, that’s what I’m planning on doing.
  • I have a bone to pick with you, JCrew Factory store. We stood in line at 11:00 pm on Thanksgiving night for over an hour and the line barely moved at all, and I’m pretty sure the only reason it DID move was because people in front of me were fed up and decided to go home. What’s up with that?? They were only letting 10-15 people into the store at a time, and those people inside the store were taking their sweet time. Never again.
  • If you’re picking up the last bag of rolls at the grocery store on the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, try not to do your rendition of a touchdown dance and shout “BAM! I GOT it!” You’ll look like a jerk. (speaking from experience)
  • If I never heard the song “Christmas Shoes” again, it’d still be one time too many. It’s one of those songs that’s designed to make you cry, and it makes me want to punch an elf. (that was unnecessarily violent, I apologize).

Hey look! My film scans from RU came back! Fall in the New River Valley is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen- the trees are ablaze with autumn foliage and the drive down 81 will take your breath away. During my time at Radford, I’d tell myself I really NEED to take photos around campus, but would always come up with an excuse as to why “right now” wasn’t convenient. And then I graduated… so I managed to go four full years at Radford without ever having taken the photos I wanted. So when I was down at RU in October, I made sure to have my Contax with me in case any leaves were left on the trees. Sure enough, they were! I’m actually glad I waited until now to finally take these photos, because I hit campus at the PERFECT time and got to capture the foliage on film instead of digital. I’m definitely framing some of these around our house.

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The Bonnie, where I spent nearly every lunch hour with other CRU peeps, and my  PO box  where I received many a care package (thanks, Dad!).

Radford University Virginia film

This one is my favorite. It’s an image of the classroom where I took my first film class.

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Preston Hall, where I played in countless band concerts!

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And then a few images from the day my grandparents and I spent on the Blue Ridge Parkway…

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I love them:)

New River Valley Virginia film

Mabry Mill Virginia filmNew River Valley Virginia filmHappy Monday!

Sarah B. - November 28, 2012 - 1:11 pm

Abby, I am right there with ya on the music after Thanksgiving. I waited and waited! But it has been worth the wait! :D

I’m laughing a lot about the rolls…. lol.

And, I TOTALLY agree with you about the song Christmas shoes!! Seriously!

Megan Guernsey - November 27, 2012 - 8:41 am

Your grandparents are so cute together! Love the film photos.

Brittany Claud - November 27, 2012 - 1:25 am

I’ve never been to Radford…but what a beautiful campus! I was at Longwood and never took that many photos of campus either…totally need to go back and do so. And your grandparents are so freakin adorable!

TL - November 26, 2012 - 9:12 pm

Ah, Radford. So different, and yet so much the same. Love that place. And Mabry Mill in the fall. It doesn’t get much better than that. Love all the photos, and your granparents really are precious :-)

Matt - November 26, 2012 - 12:24 pm

Well, I don’t think it was that bad on Thanksgiving… but I guess that’s because I was on the other side of things. I am sure I would have been just as upset if the situation were reversed.

molly - November 26, 2012 - 12:08 pm

i LOVE your scans! and your grandparents are the cutest things i’ve ever seen. seriously. i hope john and i are like them one day!!

Hannah Rancourt - November 26, 2012 - 10:57 am

Everything is SO beautiful on campus!!! I love the mountains <3

Jean - November 26, 2012 - 8:39 am

Great photos, Abby! Memories of that fun day with our beautiful granddaughter. Looking forward to many more!

Dani - November 26, 2012 - 8:30 am

First off, I love your grandparents. Love them and I don’t even know them. Second, monday mash ups are so hard for me because I feel like I am needing to leave a whole paragraph in your comments section. JCrew Factory store – so lame of them! Christmas Shoes – I cry every time, it really should be banned.

Lena - November 26, 2012 - 8:23 am

Can totally picture you doing the touchdown dance with the rolls. lol

Wine Wednesday- stemware

I have a sort of weakness for stemware…. the second shelf in our cups/glasses/mugs cabinet has been completely overtaken with various wine glasses. I can explain, though! Sometimes when you visit a tasting room, you’re given a branded wine glass to take home with you, and I can’t help if I have a few of those, right? Right. And then there was that time when I had to buy those adorable geometric pink glasses for the Shel Silverstein shoot, and that time I attended a wedding where they gave vintage/antique glassware as their favors. So really, it’s not my fault.

When it comes to a basic arsenal of wine glasses, there are three generic shapes to have: one for big reds, one for smaller whites, and one for bubbly! If you want to get into particulars, there are actually hundreds of different shapes of glass based on the different grape varieties, blends, and even years, but basic wine enjoyment calls for just the three mentioned above.

First, a bit of basic background on wine glasses- ever wondered what the purpose of the stem is? It’s to keep your hands from warming the wine. There’s argument over whether or not red wines benefit from the warmth of your hands, but anything chilled should undoubtedly be kept away from fingers. The stem also keeps the bowl of your wine glass from unsightly fingerprints! Because the ideal serving temperature of wines can vary from 45-65 degrees, fluctuations due to body heat can change the flavor and aroma of your wine. Whites, as a general rule, should be held by pinching the stem. You can do the same with reds, but it’s not incorrect to hold a red by the bowl- some argue it helps in aging the wine a little as you drink it.

Wine Wednesday

The first glass in our lineup (on the left) is a standard red wine stem. Generally, the larger the red wine glass, the better! A large glass gives your wine room to breathe, which is also why when you pour, you’ll only want to fill your glass 1/3-1/2 of the way, and you’ll want to stop pouring when you reach the widest part of the bowl. This opens up the wine at the largest possible surface area, allowing the wine space to decant and aerate. Some of the fuller-bodied reds do best when decanted (poured into a big bulbous crystal vase-looking thing for an hour +), but if you don’t have a decanter or don’t feel like waiting an hour for your glass of wine, make sure you have some big fat stemware to pour it into.

The second glass (middle) is a white wine glass (for non-carbonated whites). Red + white glasses are similar in shape (they both have the sort of tulip shape) but white glasses are typically more narrow. This is to KEEP them from oxidizing (breathing) as quickly as reds- most whites will be lighter in flavor than reds, and they don’t need as much time/surface area to aerate.

The third glass (on the right) is a flute- use these for anything carbonated like champagne or sparkling wines. The reason for the narrow opening is to reduce the surface area of wine coming in contact with the air, slowing the wine from oxidizing too quickly. Ever seen those wide-mouthed champagne glasses? Don’t use those- your champagne will go flat in about three minutes. And flat champagne is gross. Flutes are another glass you’ll want to grip by pinching the stem to keep the wine from warming.

See? Easy peasy! You can get a basic set of four red, white, or champagne glasses at Bed Bath & Beyond for $20. When you’re looking for glasses, remember to buy CLEAR, delicate glass- anything too chunky will make your wine tasting more cumbersome.

Happy Wine Wednesday!

Brittany Claud - November 25, 2012 - 12:35 am

Lovin these Wine Wednesdays Abby! I never hold my wine glass by the stem! I’ll give it a try next time I’m drinking some white :)

Christine Jehu - November 21, 2012 - 9:20 am

Timely information to take home for the holiday! Happy Thanksgiving Abby!! :)

Katie Nesbitt - November 21, 2012 - 8:52 am

I know it’s wrong, but I like drinking wine from mason jars:)

Jean - November 21, 2012 - 8:44 am

So….do the blue glasses make your wine taste clunky? Just wondering.

Anna K. - November 21, 2012 - 8:27 am

Thanks for sharing Abby! I seriously had no idea why they were all so different!

More lovely faces- Anna’s Lucketts bridal session

Every so often I’ll arrive to shoot a wedding and as the bride pulls her dress out of it’s garment bag, it stops me in my tracks. Anna’s dress was exactly like that- I LOVED the drop waist, the delicate crochet detailing, the elegant cut. Everything about it was gorgeous. And then Anna put it on and everyone around her started squealing- it was so perfect for her! Her sweet, southern self was giggly and giddy, ready to rush out and meet her groom for their first look. Because the day’s schedule became a little bit crunched, we unfortunately didn’t have much time for bridal portrait on Matt & Anna’s wedding day, so Anna and I scheduled a “day-after” bridal session to give her another chance to put her dress on! YESSS! Y’all know how much I love bridal sessions :).

Anna’s a wedding photographer in the Frederick, MD area, so she knows how to work in front of the camera. I could photograph her all day!! She’s absolutely stunning, has the cutest little laugh, and her soft smile? It’s killer. We met up in Leesburg on a cloudy fall afternoon for what have definitely become some new favorites of mine.

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Virginia bridal session on film- Abby Grace Photography

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 Happy Tuesday!
molly - November 23, 2012 - 10:15 pm

holy moly she is gorgeous and the setting and model and everything is just GORGEOUS!

Anna Kerns - November 22, 2012 - 1:01 am

Thank you so much Abby! You are such an artist! I started to tear up when I saw these for the first time… and second time… and I’m sure a third time tomorrow when I show my grandmother at Thanksgiving!

You gave me such an incredible experience and made me feel beautiful! My wedding day was so lovely and exciting, but having this bridal session gave me a chance to breathe and really enjoy being a bride! It was the perfect thing to do before putting away my wedding dress. Thank for creating and capturing all these beautiful, sweet, and joyful moments! Love you girl.

ashley barnett - November 20, 2012 - 1:23 pm

Abby these are LOVELY! I love the ones by the Winnebago! Now, where is this antique place?! I NEEEED to go stalk treasures! :)

Rebekah Hoyt - November 20, 2012 - 8:21 am

Beautiful Abby!! Anna, you look gorgeous!! Love this sesh :)

Monday Mash-Up

Since leaving my full-time corporate job, I’ve never had such a rough time returning to a Monday as I did today. This weekend was AMAZING!!! Matt and I went up to New York City for our anniversary shoot with Justin & Mary (AAAAHHHH!!!!!!!) and used Saturday to tool around Times Square while we were waiting to go see Harry Potter, The Exhibition! My heart is so incredibly full from such an impossibly wonderful weekend, and I’m humbled yet again by what a precious gift my husband is. He’s an introvert, not a fan of crowded cities, and not comfortable in front of the camera, and yet he braved all three challenges for me this weekend. Just as I knew they would, J&M brought Matt out of his shell, and he surprised me with how relaxed he became. It was such a blessing!! But more on our experience with Justin & Mary later :).

As always, lessons learned/things that happened over the weekend:

  • I learned that, under no circumstance, should I ever ask Matt to drive in New York City ever again. Especially not in Times Square. I thought northern Virginia drivers were bad…
  • If you’re going to take photos of street performers, either a) have a few dollars with you, or 2) shoot fast then run away. That’s what I did.
  • Being an extrovert and extremely outgoing person, I always assumed I’d fit in well in the city. Oh my gosh, y’all, I’ve never been so intimidated in my life being in Times Square. There were thousands upon thousands of people, I was constantly on the watch for someone to mug me, and I really had no idea where we were. I suppose if we’d spent more time there I’d have relaxed, but holy cow. Talk about stressful!
  • Harry Potter, The Exhibition = awesome. If you’re going to be in New York City between now and April, I definitely recommend going!
  • I don’t recommend NYC taxis if you’re prone to motion sickness or a general fear of dying in a high-speed journey through the city.

And because I’m about to jet off to an engagement session, I’ll leave you with one image from our weekend, taken at the Disney Store in Times Square:

Happy Monday!

Tina - November 19, 2012 - 10:29 pm

Omg you went to the Harry potter exhibit!?! We live right in nj and are planning our day to see it!! I heard you can meet buckbeak & I LOVE buckbeak! Probably the most random character to love lol. Can’t wait to see more of your trip (um, times squares Disney stores is the best!!) and your shoot with Justin and Mary!

Terry Lynn - November 19, 2012 - 10:00 pm

NYC tips:
Act like you own the city even when you have no idea where you are. If you discover you are going the wrong way, either stop and look in a shop window and then correct, or square the block to get turned back. There’s plenty to see if you do.
Keep you eyes off in the distance. You can steal glances for people watching, but don’t get caught in an eye to eye contact.
Have any valuables divided between a purse and close fitted pockets.
There, nothing to be scared of. Enjoy!

Sarah B. - November 19, 2012 - 8:09 pm

Abby, your love and devotion for (and very obvious fun with) Matt make me so excited to be married! What an example of a fun and godly couple you are!

Glad you had a chance to get away and do something with you hubby!!

Court Bay - November 19, 2012 - 6:33 pm

You were so close to me!!!!

ashley link - November 19, 2012 - 6:03 pm

so fun! i can’t wait to see more of your shoot with justin and mary!!! that’s so exciting and cool! new york is amazing!!! totally stressful,though, too haha. and yay! i love the tangled quote! :)

happy monday! :)

Cassady Adams - November 19, 2012 - 2:52 pm

NYC was intimidating when I moved up here in May but you quickly learn to fit in. And driving actually becomes pretty fun…it’s more the parking that’s a pain. Can’t wait to see J&M’s pictures!

mollystillman - November 19, 2012 - 2:24 pm

i cannot WAIT to see your J&M pics!! so glad you had a great weekend :) :)

Sarah Goodwin - November 19, 2012 - 2:02 pm

Now that’s my kinda weekend! A J&M portrait session is definitely on my to do list too. Can’t wait to see!

Sharon Elizabeth - November 19, 2012 - 12:54 pm

haha — sounds awesome! and i cannot wait to see the photos =)

Rosie Parent - November 19, 2012 - 12:17 pm

That sounds like a very full weekend! Can’t wait to see the Justin & Mary shots :)

Alicia Lacey - November 19, 2012 - 12:14 pm

You have to check out my recent FB pics from London — we went to the Harry Potter Warner Bros tour and it was amazing! I totally thought of you while we were there and how much you’d like it :)

Rebekah Hoyt - November 19, 2012 - 12:03 pm

I’m so glad you guys had a great time in the city!! I simply cannot wait to see Justin & Mary’s pictures!!

First Looks

…are the bee’s knees. They really are! I know a lot of photographers have written about their take on the popular trend (I hope it’s a trend that sticks!), but here’s my take on the matter. It’s a topic that I bring up at every consultation to put a bug in my couples’ ears from the beginning- I want my brides and grooms thinking about their schedule as far out as possible. “Why?” you ask. “That seems like a pretty tedious detail if you’re booking 9-12 months out, don’t you think?” Actually, you want to start thinking about the portraits + the  overall schedule almost as SOON as you start planning to help choose a ceremony and reception start time! Unless a bride and groom are wedding industry professionals or have had a heavy hand in planning a wedding before, chances are they won’t know how much time they’ll need to devote to portraits. Opening up the topic from the beginning helps my couples understand how much time we’ll need and why we need that much time. I never pressure anyone for an answer at that first meeting, I more just want to get my brides and grooms talking about it between themselves.

First looks- Abby Grace Photography

Whenever I’m chatting with one of my couples about First Looks, I always make sure to tell them that ultimately, it is absolutely their choice as to whether or not they’ll do one. It’s a personal decision, and I’d never push my brides and grooms one way or the other; after all, Matt and I didn’t do one for our wedding. Looking back I wish we had, but it’s good for me to be able to articulate WHY we didn’t do one and WHY I wish we’d done things differently. After prefacing the “First Look” conversation with my no-pressure disclaimer, I begin to talk with them about why I think they’re an ideal way to schedule your wedding day:

  • It’s more private. The first time you see each other on your wedding day is big moment, something most brides have dreamed about for years! Not everyone wants to share that moment with 100+ other people. It’s a way to keep that time intimate, to share it just between the two of you- to shed a few happy tears without getting embarrassed, to laugh, to hug, to kiss with abandon without dozens of pairs of eyes watching you. Waiting to see each other at the ceremony is wonderful, but you’re not able to exclaim your joy or throw your arms around each other at the altar for another 20-40 minutes! First Looks give you the chance to let your guard down.
First looks- Abby Grace Photography
  • It’s more relaxed! Instead of waiting until after the ceremony, after family formals and after bridal party photos, we get to do your bride & groom portraits BEFORE the wedding, meaning we have ample time to shoot without the pressure of needing to be introduced at the reception in 10 minutes. We’ll set aside plenty of time for portraits of just the two of you to capture you all relaxed and crazy-in-love :). In my experience, when the wedding day schedule gets crunched because so-and-so is running late or family formals took longer than expected, the thing that ends up being cut short EVERY TIME is the bride and groom’s portraits. It’s such a bummer to go from having 40 minutes set aside for relaxed, romantic portraits to a short 15 minute window. I want you all to ENJOY taking these portraits! Plus, on your wedding day, you won’t have much time alone together to soak everything in- a First Look gives you guaranteed time for just that.
  • It makes for a smoother schedule! If you do bride & groom  + bridal party portraits before the wedding, then you don’t have to worry about building in an hour and a half + travel time between the end of the ceremony and the start of the cocktail hour  for all of your portraits. Doing a First Look means that after the ceremony, we’ll do family formals, then I’ll steal you and your new husband away for 15 more minutes (for a few photos once you’re, you know, ACTUALLY married:)), and then it’s off to your reception! No worries about an antsy bridal party, no having to check your watch over and over to make sure you’re not doing to miss the deejay’s introductions. Just the chance to ENJOY the process in a laid-back way.
 First looks- Abby Grace Photography
  • Your hair and make-up are fresh! Matt and I didn’t do a First Look but also didn’t want to keep our guests waiting between the ceremony and reception, so we opted to do portraits after the reception (it ended around 5:30pm, so we had plenty of time). What I hadn’t anticipated was my hair starting to fall and my make-up needing freshening up, and as I look back at my wedding portraits, you can tell it was at the end of a long day. Doing the First Look before everything ensures you’re looking your absolute best!
  • If you’re getting married in the late fall or winter and have scheduled your ceremony for the late afternoon, it may be the ONLY way we can do portraits. The sun sets much earlier around this time, which isn’t something most brides think about when planning their ceremony time (I know I didn’t!). These days in Virginia, the sun is setting around 4:55, meaning a 4:00 ceremony time would only give us about 20 minutes of waning daylight if your ceremony is 30 minutes long. I definitely suggest looking up what time the sun sets when choosing your ceremony time- it can be the deciding factor as to whether or not you’ll be able to do portraits before or after!
I think Katelyn hit the nail on the head when she said that people who want to wait for the ceremony to see each other are more looking forward to the reaction than the tradition itself (that’s what I was looking forward to!). In my humble opinion though, the most thorough way to capture that precious reaction is by setting aside time for portraits beforehand, because who knows? You may not be able to see each other’s faces very well from the end of the aisle when you walk in, owing to a long aisle or various guests stepping in the aisle to take photos of their own. At our wedding, the church’s restrictions on our photographers meant they weren’t allowed to get close enough to photograph Matt’s reaction, something that still makes me sad. And because of how emotionally0charged everything was, I barely remember that walk down the aisle!
First looks- Abby Grace Photography
The most common concern I’ve come upon is the idea that the First Look will lessen the impact of that moment you walk down the aisle. In my experience? It doesn’t change it one bit. It’s still JUST as big of a deal! Guys, your bride is still taking that walk down the aisle to marry YOU! Seeing each other beforehand doesn’t that walk any less of a big deal. Ladies, your groom is still going to get that ear-to-ear smile when he sees you on the arm of your dad. It’s just as big of a moment, just with a little less anxiety.
Like I said above- it’s a personal decision, and not one that I would ever push anyone into. It’s something I feel like helps me do my job best though, and a decision that helps me give my brides and grooms the kinds of images they’re dreaming of!
First looks- Abby Grace Photography
Happy Friday!

[…] love First Looks. I really, really, really do! But one inherent flaw about the First Look is that it typically […]

molly - November 17, 2012 - 3:11 pm

a-freaking-men! john and i did a first look and i was a wee weary thinking it would “ruin” the walking down the aisle part. NOT AT ALL! it was the BEST decision we made!!

Tiffany Farley - November 16, 2012 - 10:50 am

I LOVE first looks!!

Wendy {Weswen Design} - November 16, 2012 - 9:51 am

My hubby and I couldn’t have made it through our wedding if we didn’t see each other first. Period. We would have both been blubbering idiots which would have made for horrible ceremony pictures. As it turned out, we were able to have our tearful moment together just the way we wanted it, by ourselves (and our photographer of course!) What it got us was amazing pictures before the ceremony, which also included our bridal party. In the end, I think we lucked out doing it this way because when we got married, the sun had set, so we have a beautiful set of pictures with bright skies, and then the ceremony set with the dreamy fireplace setting. It the best, do it.

Lena - November 16, 2012 - 8:43 am

Great explanation of it! I am so thankful that you were able to explain it in this way to Brent. He totally was against it, I think more for the tradition aspect. But now, he is all in for a First Look and I couldn’t be more excited to see how those pictures will turn out!