On Sunny Slope Farm: Nora and Greg

Her mother-in-law made the ceramic vases for each table, and her step-mom arranged the flowers. 

Our mutual friend Anne and her ever obliging husband did the appetizers, and Mashita's Korean BBQ truck catered the rest. 

Her brother DJ'ed, and his mother altered her BHLDN dress. 

They made their guests trail mix to take home.

It was a family affair, through and through On Sunny Slope Farm with the hills of the Shenandoah serving as the perfect backdrop.

just around the bend

I can get bored with the most marketable love story. You know the one: a boy and a girl meet when they are in their physical prime. They're fit and their skin is clear and they both have full heads of hair.

And they date for a respectable amount of time before he proposes at a point that is both reasonable but still exciting. She hasn't started to drop passive aggressive hints and her friends aren't whispering behind her back.

And they marry at a point when their careers are well established and finances are stable, but not so late that their parents worry if grandchildren are ever going to happen.

The story continues after the "I do's", although the credits have rolled. We all know what happily ever looks like. They grow old together with only the normal sorts of disagreements, both content and healthy until they die peacefully in one another's arms in their 95th year.

It's the story I want for my children. A story that doesn't involve fear that love might never find them. The story that doesn't scare me for it all happening too soon. A story with no heartbreak.

But love isn't always pretty and it doesn't always come to us in a perfect package on our 25th birthday when we are fully recovered from the breakup that happened nearly a year ago and ready to start again. And love doesn't end without at least one person's devastation.

Love comes and goes. It must be fought for and worked at. And sometimes, despite everything, it evades us for a time.

But it can return. It will. In new forms and in unlikely packages, hidden in plain sight or found on the other side of the world.

And lightning can strike twice. Happiness can find you more than once.

You can be happily married for decades and suffer the deepest heartbreak, and on the other side, there is love for you again.

I want to honor all the love stories, in all their forms. Because sometimes when we don't see these stories or hear them, we start to wonder if they actually exist, wonder if they could ever happen to us.

They do exist.

They can happen.

Have faith.

always sisters

As we walked around Jefferson Patterson Park, there were more than a few strange looks. Three brides? And there are plenty of jokes to be made. Sister wives?

But strange looks, jokes, and confusion aside, these sisters are beautiful and a pleasure to photograph.  They have fun when they are together. They laugh and move with ease, teasing each other and complimenting one another in the same breath. 

So much of my identity as woman comes from my understanding of what it means to be a sister. What it means to have years of jokes and hurt feelings living together in a memory of unconditional love.  Getting to spend a golden hour with these three sisters reminded me of the power of sisterhood. And certainly the beauty of it.

Chestertown, Maryland Wedding on the Banks of the River

My dear friend got married this summer.

I knew her before I ever met her. She was one of those people who carried herself with an quiet confidence. From a distance someone once pointed her out, "That's Kat" they told me as we watched her help unload a thrift-store purchased chair from the back of her Jeep. Even in that moment, I knew I liked her. The thing is, everyone likes her. As a person who can be a little ornery and not like things simply because they are well-liked, it's remarkable I like Kat as much as I do.

When meeting other people who know Kat, I sometimes try to prompt them to say something awful about her, share some dark, terrible secret. I'm convinced that if I ask enough people, someone will finally reveal even one negative thought about her. But each time, the other person just laughs. No one ever has an unkind word to say.

And somehow, she managed to find another human as equally well-liked, a man of the people who listens when you talk to him and rules this dance floor with his deft moves and a sense of humor. The fact that his name rhymes with hers almost makes it too cute. Almost. 

So "Kat and Pat" got married, and even the weather must love them because it was a beautiful day August day on the Chester River, and that was no guarantee. August in Maryland can be downright unpleasant. But the day they said their vows on the lawn of a friend's old family home was sunny and cool. 

The wedding was a testament to their overwhelming likability. Our friend Claire, one of the bridesmaids, made Kat's dress. Another friend, Becky of Redtree Farmstead grew and arranged the flowers. My sister catered it, with the help of her friends, my daughter and my aunt. Friends came together to paint signs and set the tables and make the whole day painfully beautiful.  

It was joyful and touching and a perfect way for them to honor their commitment to one another. 

-- 

wild shore

I love the water in all her iterations.

I love it when she's steamy and the shore stretches on forever.

I love it when she's calm and still, a glass castle bouncing off the sounds of children and birds and fleeing fish.

And maybe I love her most when she's moody. When she eats the at the earth with an insatiable appetite. When she is wild and free and full of life. 

And we get to stand at her edges, soggy and silenced, completely aware, and maybe slightly afraid,  of her power.