Merry Christmas!

It’s technically about a half hour past Christmas, but I say that until you actually go to sleep, it’s still Christmas. :)   The upper left photo is my daughter with her two favorite Christmas characters, Heat Miser and Snow Miser.  She was so thrilled when she opened these two presents; she has been requesting to see “The Year Without a Santa Claus” non-stop for weeks.  The bottom right photo is her looking in the mirror of the “Under the Sea” musical jewelry box I gave her; every girl needs a special place to stash her secret treasures.

Christmas was a blast this year; four is such a fun age, full of imagination and whimsy.  On Christmas Eve I watched as little miss Sassette, as I like to call her, spent a good hour diligently wrapping little gifts for each of her favorite stuffed animals, then place the gifts  and their recipients under the tree to wait for Santa Claus.  What a sight to see that tree was, with Oscar the octopus, Nemo the clownfish, and Frownie waiting patiently for Father Christmas to come.  When she woke this morning, the first thing she did before opening any of her own gifts was to help the dog and each of her stuffed friends open their gifts.  So cute!

It’s times like these that I feel so incredibly blessed that it takes my breath away.  Merry Christmas, dear Reader!  May you be blessed with the joy of of being surrounded by your loved ones this holiday, and many moments that take your breath away.

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Amanda - Your bokeh is aaaa-maaaze-iiing ;-)

I love the mirror photo! She is growing up so fast. Someday – some photographer will take her picture staring into a mirror as she gets ready on her wedding day with you there beside her. It’s so precious, it all starts with a little girl.

Anna - Oh my word she is so precious! and where did you get the heat miser and snow miser figures! they are my favorite as well. I love the photo of her looking in the mirror the colors are wonderful.

A - DUDE IS IT SNOWING ON YOUR BLOG????? How did you do that??

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Emily & John | Masontown Wedding

Emily and John were wed at All Saints Church in Masontown, PA.  If I had to only choose one word to describe Emily and John, it would be…FUN!  Such a fun couple with a great sense of humor and a down to earth, easygoing attitude that makes you feel like you could hang out with them all day, even if you just met them.

Emily and John had already known each other for 15 years before they tied the knot; the first time they met was in 9th grade biology.  Though they were friends through high school, they each went their own way after graduation.  A decade later, it took a chance meeting at their 10 year high school reunion to remind them of the amazing connection they had with each other, leaving them with the obvious question, “Why aren’t we together??”

Both knew that they wanted friendship in their marriage, and when they finally came together, there was no doubt they had found the person who could be both friend and lifelong partner.  You can feel it in the air when you are around them…they are best friends who are so in tune to each other, so at ease, and the fun they have with each other permeates their surroundings.  What a wonderful way to start a marriage!

Doesn’t John look dashing in his Navy uniform?

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Emily was just a vision.

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We went to Emily’s grandparents’ 130 acre farm for some photos.  Ahhh, I love the country.  At the top of this hill you could see miles of rolling fields and woods in every direction.  A storm front was moving in later that night, causing the wind to really pick up, so we had some fun with it!

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The bridal party members were a bunch of cards.  Miming….need I say more?

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Favorite from the day.

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Second favorite from the day.

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Emily and John’s flower girls, or rather, “flower dogs” made an appearance for photos.  Look at that face!

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Ok, now let me tell you how I really knew we would get along famously; see that cowbell?  Emily and John gave each of their guests one at the reception, and then right before they made their grand entrance, they had the DJ play one of my favorite Saturday Night Live skits of all time–the one with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken in “Gotta Have More Cowbell!!”  I have never heard such cheering and cowbell clanking as I did when they finally made their entrance.  Awesome!

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There was popcorn and cotton candy for kids of all ages.

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Love the backlighting in this image, courtesy of my trusty radio trigger and off-camera flash.

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Emily and John, thank you so much for allowing me to document the love, friendship, and fun that you two share.  Best wishes and lots of love!  Sandy

Amanda - I LOVE the field pictures! The details of the bell and the smiley cookies are so cool :-) My favs are 2, 11, 12 and 13. And the dogs ! I am so jealous of your ‘through the veil’ shot!

There should be a book – “Ode to a grassy field.”

Emily Chuma - Sandy…I just saw that we are on your blog today! It was SOOO much fun! John will actually be heading home soon…and I will have survived my first deployment…next up for us will hopefully be contacting you for some baby pictures! Thank you again for everything!

Sandy - Emily! So great to hear that you and John are doing well. Thanks so much to you, too–I had an awesome time with you both! I would absolutely love it if you called me for baby pictures!!!

Shannon - I love the cowbell idea!! I totally want to do that!

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Carolyn & Justin | Butler Wedding at the Succop Conservancy

Carolyn and Justin were wed at the gorgeous Succop Conservancy in Butler, PA.   The Succop Conservancy, which is practically across the street from The Mansion on Route 8,  is a 170-year old stately mansion located on 50 acres of beautiful land, truly a photographer’s dream.  I can’t say enough good things about this venue!  From the moment I arrived, I wanted to do a little happy dance, because all my favorite elements were there:  beautiful  and charming structures, tasteful art and antique decor, two sparkling ponds complete with ducks and geese, winding trails through fields of tall grasses, herb gardens, colorful doorways of old wood and peeling paint, little nooks for taking pictures everywhere you turn…Oh, Succop Conservancy, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways…

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The upper right corner of this collage shows the bridal suite – spacious, well decorated, and with two windows to allow natural light into the room.  Brides-to-be, here’s a tip for better pictures that is so often overlooked: If those getting ready shots are important to you and you want them to be beautiful, take the time to check out locations beforehand.  Look for a room that has plenty of natural light, ample space for your bridesmaids to gather around you, nice furniture, a place to hang your dress (preferably near a window), and is uncluttered.

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The lace on Carolyn’s dress was so pretty, and the bow was the perfect accent.  Oh, Succop Conservancy, I love thee for thy thoughtful touches, such as this coat tree for hanging the wedding gown.

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Just beautiful.

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Love capturing the groom’s face when he sees his bride for the first time.  Image by Amy.

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It was a gorgeous day–look at that sky!  Carolyn and Justin picked the perfect time of day for their ceremony, just a few hours before sunset.  The sun was down far enough so that it created the perfect touch of delicious backlighting.  Brides-to-be, here’s another tip for better photos:  When you decide on a time for your ceremony and pictures afterwards, keep in mind that the best lighting occurs 1-2 hours before sunset.  When you check out your outdoor venue, try to be there during the time frame that your ceremony or formals will take place to get an idea for the lighting.  Choose a spot that has nice, even lighting like this.  Oh, Succop Conservancy, I love thee for thy picturesque spot in front of the pond and even lighting…thy sun sets from the perfect angle…

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A few minutes before the reception, I noticed this gorgeous spot of sunlight.  I asked Carolyn to go over there and play with her veil in the light–so graceful.

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Such pretty colors Carolyn chose for her bouquet and centerpieces by Gift Baskets, Flowers, and More in Zelienople.

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Justin and Carolyn gave pine tree seedlings as favors–a unique and earth-friendly idea.

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Such a lovely cake by Mimi’s Bake Shoppe in Cranberry.

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I would like to take a moment to point out the impressive athleticism displayed by one of Carolyn and Justin’s guests during the bouquet toss.  Wow!

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The mood was set by the music and colorful uplighting in the pavilion, as well as on the surrounding trees, courtesy of DJ Frank Gloor of Otto Productions.

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The perfect ending to a perfect day.  Carolyn and Justin, thank you so much for a wonderful time.  I’m so glad that you chose me to capture your wedding memories.  I wish you both all the best that life has to offer!

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If you are planning a wedding in Butler or the surrounding areas, I suggest that you consider the Succop Conservancy.  Then give me a call, because I am in love with this venue!

A - Ok this is officially the next place I would like to go with you. HELLO PERFECT VENUE! I love your panormaliciousness. And your ambient light photos are buttery and sweet. And you always make the food look so darn good. What a beautiful couple! You can tell they really are in love :-) I love the shot under the willow tree, they are so comfortable with you ! That’s when the good photos happen :-D

Carolyn Fogle - I cannot wait to see the rest! They are wonderful and I know that is simply because you are also wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing our day and for spending so much time with us. I’m glad you liked the venue as much as we did. We’ll be in touch! -Carolyn

Anna - Oh my word that dress is so beautiful! and I love love love the last shot. Thank you for the comment on my post. I actually tried making my own action today…it was interesting seeing as I didnt know how to work the thing very well but I figured it out in the end. & yes I love watching your blog :D

Succop Conservancy Bridal Show, E-Session Winner, and a Contest–Oh my! | Red Lotus Photography Blog - […] I did a blog post about a wedding that I photographed there last year; you can view it by clicking here.  The Succop conservancy is a lovely venue with a charming mansion and acres of natural beauty, […]

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Mandy & Mike | Wedding at Bella Sera

Mandy and Mike’s wedding and reception were held at Bella Sera by Greco’s  in Canonsburg, PA.  The ceremony took place outdoors at the rear of the building, where there is a pathway surrounded by trees and dappled shade leading to the pond.  It was a lovely, bright sunny day, and the weather was much warmer than it is right now!

So much attention to detail went into this wedding; by far my favorite were the many, many origami cranes that Mandy made by hand for each of her guests’ place cards.  All I can say is wow.

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How cute is that card box–a little birdhouse with their name and “Est. 2009”.

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As usual, the flowers by Mocha Rose were gorgeous.

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Loved the feathered hairpiece.

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Rather than a unity candle Mandy and Mike opted to have a  flower ceremony.

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Mandy’s sister sang a beautiful rendition of “I’ll Be There” while her cousin played the guitar.

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LOVED the cake topper; I am partial to octopi because my daughter loves them.  Such an intricate rendition of the framed photo on the table, crafted by Creations by Carlini.

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Mandy and Mike honored their parents and grandparents by setting aside a special place for their wedding photos.

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First dance.

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Rather than a slow father-daughter dance, Mandy and her father cranked up the beat and did a fantastic dance to “Turn the Beat Around”.

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The best dance by far was when everyone got their zombi groove on to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

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I was able to sneak these two away from the reception for a few minute for some romantic images in the tall grass.

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Mandy and Mike, thank you for including me into your special day!  I wish you both the best of everything!

Amanda - What are you doing commenting at 1:23 a.m. ?? Get some sleep! Unless you were awake chimping at photos . . . ? Thanks a ton for coming up to the lingrow yesterday and shooting with me! You have a way of getting the romantic photos going that I don’t – if I tried it everyone would laugh at me! And you were right – I left behind all of my umbrellas and today have to go back to retrieve them.

Bella Sera – LOVE the paper cranes! The rose petals on the step and the guys walking in! The dappled light looks warm and summery!

Anna - oh my gosh I love the basket covered in flowers. and the last shot of them is adorable.

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Jessica & Danilo | Pittsburgh Wedding

What’s this?  TWO posts in one week?  No, dear reader, you have not stepped into an alternate universe where everything is turned upside down, nor are you dreaming.  Photographing Jessica and Danny’s wedding, however, was a dream!  Not only were they a fabulous couple to work with, but they gave me the ever precious gift of a little extra time with them between the ceremony and reception.  The result?  So many favorite pictures that I had to pare them down for the blog.

When I walked in the room and laid my eyes on these apple green babies I knew it was going to be a good day. :)

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Jessica and Danny were wed at Epiphany Catholic Church, a beautiful old church located near the Civic Arena.  Their reception was held at the PPG Aquarium in the Pittsburgh Zoo.

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The wedding was beautiful, and I felt privileged to witness the Filipino traditions that they incorporated into the ceremony.  I loved the barongs that the men wore instead of tuxes, and the dresses that the women wore were gorgeous.

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Loved the colors Jessica picked for her bouquet.

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Jessica and Danny had such a sweet idea for favors; each of their guests received candy “penguin stones” with an explanation as follows: “Penguins mate for life and stick together in sickness and health…and REALLY cold weather!  They also bring their mates stones as a soothing gesture or greeting.  Enjoy these edible Penguin Stones to celebrate the bond that we have made to one another today as a married couple.”

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Although Danny has a look of mischief in this photo, he was a perfect gentleman.

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Jessica and Danny, I can’t thank you enough for the trust you placed in me to capture your precious wedding memories.  I wish you both a lifetime of happiness together!  Also, a big shout out to a past couple of mine, Vanessa and Matt–it was wonderful seeing you both again!  Vanessa and Matt were nice enough to refer Jessica and Danny to me before I even photographed their own wedding.  Thanks guys!

amanda - takin a walk on the wild side! LOVE the yellow flowers shot of the two of them and the wide shot of the zoo room. What a cool place for a reception! The jellyfish are sweet! You had to have been at a high ISO but they are silky smooth. Awesome – I can’t wait to team up on the 8th!

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Monica & John | Pittsburgh Wedding

Monica and John were married at St. Anne’s Church in Castle Shannon, just a hop, skip, and a jump from where I live.  Their reception was held at Salvatore’s, which is a stone’s throw from St. Anne’s!  Monica and John were referred by a lovely couple whose pets I photographed for Christmas last year.

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John looking cool and confident  just minutes before the ceremony.

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These three boys were so sweet and cooperative through all the pictures–thanks guys!  Don’t they look handsome in their suits?

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I love the look on little man’s face here; being a ringbearer is serious business.   Of course, you have to make a little time for play, right? :)  Notice the green koosh ball laying innocently on the table, and then in the second picture he’s been busted by grandpa.

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Oh, that father-daughter dance…gets me every time.

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So sweet.  What that must be like for your little boy to be all grown up and taller than you in the blink of an eye.  I love the way he is holding his mom with such emotion.

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A romantic kiss goodnight.

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Monica and John, it was an absolute pleasure working with you both!  Many happy years to you!

amanda - Love love love the new logo bar – perfect! Might steal it ;-) The ring shot is classic elegance and I love the one of the three kids. Sandy Yetter pulls off yet another chic, warm, deliciously detailed wedding :-D

Becky & John | Engaged | Red Lotus Photography Blog - […] actually met through Match.com!  They are not the first of my couples to meet that way; remember Monica and John?  The people at Match.com must really know their stuff, because these two are absolutely perfect […]

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Meet the JDC Family | Pittsburgh Photography

Meet Jessica and Derek, and their two adorable kids.  Are they not the cutest family in the universe?  I knew both Jess and Derek as co-workers  in the past, and I was thrilled when they asked me to take some pictures of their family.  They are such nice people, as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside.

I absolutely love doing family portraits, because for a couple of hours, I get to be a guest  in the lives of others, an insider to the special bonds that they share.  And because it’s FUN!

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Here the boys are having a blast climbing a “mountain” and the taking a giant leap down!

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Look at that big smile as daddy twirls her in the air.

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And those soulful eyes…how could you ever say no to those eyes?  Jessica has her work cut out for her. ;)

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I don’t know what it is that I like so much about this image.  Something about it evokes carefree childhood memories for me…

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Little Miss ‘O.’ stops to smell the sweet clover blossoms.

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Eeee!  A whole field of tall grass!  Was I in heaven?  You bet I was.

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A stolen moment while the kids were off playing.

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Jessica and Derek, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your family life for a little while.  I had so much fun!

A - I love the black and whites! Especially number 2 and number 8!

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Welcome to the World, Little K. | Pittsburgh Child Photographer

This past Sunday my husband and I had the honor of becoming the Godparents of our nephew, little Mr. K.  Isn’t he a little cutie?  Sigh…there is nothing like holding a sleeping baby; the sound of their soft breathing and the downy feel of their fuzzy hair on your cheek is so relaxing.  (That is, until they wake up…lol.)  I’ve only known him for a short time, and yet I already love him.

I remember when I was a child and there was just my sister and I.  I couldn’t imagine what life would be like with another sibling; I couldn’t imagine loving a complete stranger who would soon be a part of our family.  Our family, we were just fine the way we were, I thought to myself.  Why change things now?  My mother was going to have another baby, but I didn’t think we could feel the same way about him, the same attachment, the same love, the same sense of belonging that we had for each other.  Or at least it would take a long, long time to feel that way, once we got used to him, I thought.  Oh, the silly mind of a seven-year old.

When Andrew was born, instantly it was hard to imagine what life was like without him.  Was there really a time when there was just my sister and I?  Why didn’t we know how incomplete our family was?  How did we not know that something was missing?  It was strange to think of a time in our family’s history when he didn’t exist.  It was like he had been there since the beginning…

And so this Sunday, as I looked down at my little nephew, I somehow still felt the same sense of wonder and amazement that I felt when Andrew was born, and when my little girl was born.  What was life like before them?  I can’t remember, because it’s as if they had always been a part of our family.  It makes me wonder, who else haven’t I met yet that will become an indispensable part of my life as time goes on?

Welcome to the world, little K.  We’ve been waiting for you.

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Kristen - He’s beautiful! :)

Amanda - Kobe has the most adorable little round tummy :-)

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Molly & J | Hitched

Finally!  Things have been quite busy in Red Lotusville, and I am slowly catching up.  You might have waited even longer for this post, had not a good friend shamed me into just posting already!  Oh Reader, I confess that I have been a bad blogger, and I vow to change my slow-blogging ways!  Lest I make promises that I can’t keep, I will start small by making it my goal to post once a week.  Baby steps!

I have been dying to post Molly and J’s commitment ceremony pictures, not only because there were so many amazing details, and not only because Molly and J are such an awesome couple, but also because I had the fortune to have the fabulous Amanda Wilson (the aforementioned good friend) as my second shooter!  I can’t tell you how excited I was to have Amanda with me all day; the details she captured were just fantastic.

Molly and J celebrated their commitment to each other in a beautiful wooded setting just behind the Barn at Fallingwater, followed by a reception in the Barn.  Truly, I can’t imagine a more idyllic setting; surrounded by tall trees, leaves rustling in the breeze, and sunlight filtering down to create the perfect soft lighting.

Molly’s dress was so elegant, and the perfect shade of blue.

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Molly and J opted to see each other before the ceremony for pictures (sometimes referred to as a ‘First Look’), which I love!  It’s nice to be able to get some alone time with couples before the ceremony, and it takes some of the stress off of trying to squeeze in everything before the reception.

Molly is workin’ it here – muy caliente!

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Can I just say that the camera loves these two?

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They began by making their entrance to the sound imagery of music and poetry performed by their friends; they each walked down opposite sides of the clearing to meet their parents, and then both families convened in the front to greet each other with warm smiles and hugs.  Then several of their friends gave touching testimonials of love that made everyone laugh, and sometimes well up with tears.  I admit that I got a little misty more than once.

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Such passion and love for each other that Molly and J expressed in their vows…just beautiful.

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We were able to take a few photos at Fallingwater before the reception.

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Do you remember how in a previous post I said that I loved peeling paint, old wood, rusting metal and such?  Well, the only thing I love more than those things is a field of tall grass.  Any time I am out and about, I keep my eyes peeled for possible photo locations, and my heart skips a beat when I find a hidden patch of tall grass.

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Amanda gave me the idea for this one–thanks Chickie!  Molly and J actually used this picture in the design of their thank you cards; I photoshopped the words ‘thank you’ on their knuckles to look like tatoos.

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First dance.

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Just when everyone thought it couldn’t get any more fabulous, Molly and J  broke out into a surprise dance that they choreographed to Michael Jackson’s song Billy Jean.  IT WAS FANTASTIC!!  I could only dream to move with such skill and grace.

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Molly and J, thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your special day.  It’s something that I will never forget!  I wish you both many years of happiness together!

Amanda - OMG. This wedding was SO GREAT! I am drooling with jealousy over the shot in the grass with the soft edges. And I love the glowing wine bottles and the pearls on the drink list and the twisted string of lights. How did you ever edit all of those shots?? There had to have been so many!
I had a Fantabulous time with you guys and I can’t wait till we get the chance to shoot together again.

Sandy Yetter is a rockstar !

We should wear capes and hire out as a dynamic duo.

MollyBain - These so beautifully represent our evening of festivities! Thank you, thank you! We had such a wonderful time working with you and your two fierce assistants who packed cameras and lights galore. We love how you capture the space, the green and warm and hazy environment, our community of friends and family, and all the love! Dear Goddess, how I adore the Sandy-Montage!! Thank you again; and thank you, Amanda, for your contributions–they’re great!

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Molly & J | Riverquest Cruise

You may remember the fabulous Molly and J from their couple session that I posted a couple months ago; well, the evening before their wedding day, Molly and J treated their friends and family to a tour of Pittsburgh’s three rivers in RiverQuest’s Explorer vessel, a state-of-the art, eco-friendly hybrid electric bio-diesel boat used for education as well as events.  It was a lovely affair, with a spectacular view of the city that you just don’t see every day.

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The food, by The Enrico Biscotti Co., was a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.

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Molly and J do more than talk the talk about being eco-conscious; they walk the walk and live it every day.

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Image by Amy.

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These two are hilarious when they are goofing off.  If a healthy sense of humor is essential to a great marriage, they are set.

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Pittsburgh really is a beautiful city.

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Soon to come:  a selection of photos from Molly and J’s commitment ceremony, which took place at the barn at Fallingwater.  Family and friends, FYI: to see all of the photos from the cruise, visit Molly and J’s private online gallery here.

Amanda - Ahhh! So good to see these guys again – (although this is before the after, but now we’re after the after) you know what I mean.

The food shots are AWESOME and the city at night – DROOL :-D :-D

You rock, I can’t wait to see the wedding!

simone - wow! this is gorgeous ms. sandy!!

Amanda - POST SOMETHING.

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B E   I N   T H E   K N O W !