I have a confession to make - I am a terrible procrastinator when it comes to getting our family portraits taken. Let’s be honest, it can feel overwhelming - you have to find a photographer, pick a time, make sure all the family members are available, find clothes that don’t clash, keep everybody clean and happy and THEN you have to hope that the weather behaves! Add on top of that the cultural expectation that your family portraits include everyone looking at the camera at the same time AND smiling - whew! It’s a lot! And sometimes you have to ask it worth all the hassle?

Before we had Emma, I remember a time when I noticed that a family friend had a canvas of their family portraits on the wall and (because kids grow at insane rates) even though it was taken within the past year, their kids looked completely different! The baby was a toddler, the toddler was a little had changed for them. And I distinctly remember thinking “it’s almost not worth getting them taken, they change so fast!”

Fast forward 4ish years and I have my own kiddo and I can’t believe I ever said that. We have iPhones FULL of daily photos of Emma, because we just don’t want to miss a second! As parents, we know that we want to document those precious moments because they go by so quickly. We see numerous articles and blogs advocating for Mom to get in front of the camera. But when it comes to actually making it happen, it can be hard.

So I have to be transparent about these family portraits. I was overwhelmed and wishing I had lost 5 more pounds of baby weight (you know, 18 months later). Emma was tired and spent the moments between scarfing down Goldfish and fussing. Jeremy was cranky. It was chilly. And I selfishly just wanted some “good” portraits. God bless my sweet sister who was so patient with us and Lloyd who entertained Emma with Goldfish.

All of that to was worth it. In spite of the occasional tears, the crankiness and the cold, we have portraits that capture our interactions during our "right now". To be honest, they help us remember both the joy and difficulty of this stage of life. It’s a reminder that just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. Just because raising a toddler is exhausting doesn’t mean that we don’t love it. There’s gladness and exhaustion in these portraits and I’ll remember the tears and the apologies along with the laughter and Goldfish. Because that’s a part of our life too.

You know that feeling when you've looked for 15 minutes for something...really looked for it...and then it shows up right in front of your face? That's how I felt when I discovered there was a woods and secluded path literally minutes from our house. I'd spent hours trying to think of a fun place for our family portraits that would be close to home, would have great light and still have some autumn colors. And then I realized that we lived only minutes from 26 acres of undeveloped land that was technically deemed a city park. We've lived in our home for 2 years and didn't have a clue! What a find, right in the middle of suburbia!

I'm blessed to have a very talented sister (two talented sisters actually!) who are not only alike in the fact that we have curly hair but can also trade taking family portraits - what a gift! Kara and Lloyd were patient enough with our portrait requests and with our hungry little person (you can see below that Lloyd ended up winning Emma's affection with goldfish) and I was able to take their portraits too! I shared a little about Lloyd's proposal to Kara on instagram a few weeks back and how grateful we are for the man that he is. If you know Kara, you've probably heard people say "is anyone good enough for Kara?!?" because she is just that wonderful. And it's been a joy to see Lloyd be the perfect fit for my sister (and her for him!) . And if you can't tell from the images below, he's got a pretty rad sense of humor. Love you, Kara and Lloyd!

Ethan and Claire are early risers.  Like, very early risers.  The nature of their jobs gets them up before the sun, but they genuinely enjoy being awake before most of us have opened our eyes in the morning.  So it made sense that the first thing they did on their wedding day was go to breakfast together at the place where you can get unlimited bacon at 6am - Waffle House!  A lot of people might spend their wedding morning with friends, getting ready and putting the finishing touches on the details of the wedding, but Claire and Ethan spent the start of their morning with their best friend - each other.   And if there are two things that their family and friends know about them, it's that 1) they love Jesus and 2) they really, truly delight in being with each other.

Ethan and Claire go to our church and Jeremy has been able to get to know him better since Ethan became an intern last year.  So you can imagine, it was a church family affair to see these two get married!  They are the type of people who care more about their marriage than they do about the rings, the dress or the reception.  They care more about keeping their vows than what people will think about their vows.  And they care more about how their marriage honors the Lord than they do about special their wedding day looks on Instagram (but let's be real, their wedding day was full of BEAUTIFUL details).

From the laughter as they got ready with their best friends to the happy tears as they committed to each other before God and precious family and friends, to the SNOW that started just as they left the ceremony, Ethan and Claire's wedding day was full of powerful emotion.  Jeremy and I felt so privileged to witness their commitment to one another and to photograph the joy of the day.  As we wrapped up the evening with dancing while the DJ played "We are Family" I couldn't help but tear up, thinking of how much we love these people and how our church family truly is family to us.  Ethan and Claire, we are honored to know you and excited to see you set an example for others as you model selfless love for one another in your marriage.

Dress: David's Bridal

Hair: Hair by Maddie

Floral: Amy Tompkins (Mother of the Bride)

Venues: Oak Park Baptist Church and The Calumet Club

Catering: Dre's Dreamy Delights

DJ: Spin Around Sound

© 2019 Beth Sumners Photography

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