My Prayers as a Wedding Photographer

There has only been one instance in my entire career as a wedding photographer that made me sincerely question my desire to continue what I do.

It was last year, it was rainy, and I wholeheartedly felt like we all forgot why we were gathered.

And trust me, it showed in the pictures. In the faces. In the lack of life. In the lack of love.

It’s a sad reality when you are in the midst of documenting what is supposed to be the most vivid reflection of unconditional and unshakeable love. Instead, you are reminded that for some of us, we are hoping for the best wedding, not so much for the best marriage.

I know that expectations are an inevitable reality for all of us. It is not that I blame folks for having dreamt of what their big day looks like.

How it will feel.

How it will smell.

How it will glisten.

How every single thing will be in neat. perfect. order.

How people will react.

How people will post about it.

How it will be remembered.

How it will go down in history of all the weddings of the world.

I remember some of these anticipations, being a married woman myself.

I remember the planning, the anxiety, the mild worries, the temptations to care even more than you already do.

But you want to know what I remember most?

Letting go.

People often assume I love my job.

Maybe I’m just an overexplainer (or maybe this is just me being female) but the answer to whether or not I love my job is twofold.

Do I love photography? Honest answer: no.

I think it’s a pretty cool expression of art and I am extremely grateful that the Lord provides me the opportunity to use it as a business and a ministry.

But… what do I LOVE? I love being with people. I love capturing life. I love exercising my creative heart. I love making people realize the beauty within them in the truest of colors. I love seeing moments of passion and holding them for more than the seconds they exist in this world so that maybe, just maybe, my images can reignite real emotions, real memories, real comfort and real joy in the eye of the beholder.

I love being surrounded by something real.

So, what pains this love for what I do? When the intentions are abused. When the thoughts and expectations of my clients listed above trump the list below:

How he will look at me.

How this love is so undeserved.

How we are all so broken yet gifts like this day exist.

How much sacrifice my friends and family have made to be here.

How I look and what others think are so little in comparison to the sheer joy inside.

How… this day isn’t actually the best day at all. Rather, it is the first of the infinite best, favorite, and memorable days to be had with my significant other.

How nothing else matters.

Because… To be before God, and to hold my one and only, is all I came here to confess, and all I came here to portray.

In this life, it could rain. It could pour more than your faint heart could’ve ever imagined. And you know what? I hope you can find it in yourself to dance in it. Your dress could quite easily get dirty. You’re going to have to dry clean that thing one way or another anyway. Your hair may become disheveled. Bobby pins will surely fall. But are you asking yourself: am I having fun? That one bridesmaid may run late (as we know she always does), and your groom might forget that one thing you asked him not to forget. But by the end of the day, y’all are getting married. And that’s pretty rad. The florist could mix up which arrangements go where. No one else will have a clue. Cufflinks could get lost and the cake could fall over, to which I say, what a story to tell later. Someone could’ve made the wrong turn and show up in their loud car in the midst of the ceremony, and it was your aunt twice removed who show up in all white. And you know what? That’s alright. Life goes on.

But, do you get what I am trying to say? These imperfections in terms of photos, are perfect.

The wrinkle in the nose. The ugly cry. The dirt embedded in the shoes.

It makes the day believable. It makes the whole thing beautiful and honest. It makes your day truly yours.

As a photographer who cares more about the mood of the day, the flow of the laughter, and the authenticity of the expressions on your faces, it is an absolute inconvenience when the dress has to be fluffed to a tee, the make up has to be in its neatest chapter, when that jacket has to be ironed for the seventh time by the mother-in-law. I mean, you do you. I am the last person to say what should be done and how. But if you’re doing any of this out of concern that the photos might not look as nice, let me assure you, you have never been more wrong.

The perfection is not what makes your wedding day memorable. Or important.

The in-between moments are.

It’s in the life.

It’s in the Love.

That wedding last year was a huge wake up call for me. It broke my heart and yet, it also allowed me to incorporate an essential tool in my work. Something that I really should’ve practiced using every single time I took my camera out. I regret to this day for not having had the discipline and the diligence to use it all the times before.


So simple, yet so easily forgotten. I decided from that specific wedding forward, I will do my part and pray for the couples I get to meet and love. From the day they book me on the calendar to the morning of the big day, my prayers are lifted up. It has become my most favorite thing about my job.

My prayer is that your joy overpowers your need for perfection.

My prayer is that the defining moments of your marriage are not determined by the temporary.

My prayer is that when I ask you two to share a kiss in front of my camera, it isn’t the fully-rehearsed, better-side-of-your-face showing kiss that you hope to emulate from Pinterest (please don’t). But rather it is as if I weren’t there, as if it was just a secret moment between you and your beloved, that every time you embrace, you forget any outside prompting… all distractions crumble away… it is as if you were kissing for the first time. As if you were kissing for the last time.

My prayer is that every person that you had invited to this extremely important event was selected out of pure and thoughtful intentions. That they weren’t for the sake of filling up the pews or because they have a heavier wallet than others. Because if the latter reasons are the motives behind their invitations, then surely you will find yourself being unnecessarily self-aware and not showing your true self. The people surrounding you that day should feel like a cloud that lifts you up, not an audience to perform in front of.

My prayer is that you really understand what you are getting into. Because if your concerns for the artificial details truly dictate your attitude and outlook of your wedding day, I worry for you. Out of love. Out of knowing and realizing time and time again that marriage is no joke. And if something as fickle as a playlist or someone’s uninvited date is going to sabotage the beginning of your holy matrimony, you need to check your priorities before it’s too late.

A wedding isn’t a show.

It definitely isn’t a mark of money or reputation.

A wedding isn’t just a party. And it is most certainly not something you want to waste away.

It is one of the most important promises that you can ever make in your life, that just so happens to be in front of a handful of carefully chosen witnesses.

I don’t know about you, but that’s pretty intimate. In my opinion, all else is, as Joey Tribbiani puts it, moo point.

A wedding is supposed to be a prelude to a MESSY, up and down, RAW, unfiltered, wholehearted marriage. Let it reflect as such.

Not a preview of some cheap ABC family film that never shows the outtakes.

I will do my part as your photographer. As a business owner. As a friend.

I will remember to pray for you and your beloved. It is my honor and absolute joy. I will remember to ask the Lord to bless such a day, to help us keep in the forefront of our minds what this celebration is supposed to be focused on, and how much work, sweat, and hard love it took to get us here.

I just ask that you do your part, as a soon-to-be married. I ask that you forget what the world tells you of what is to be expected. Be open to life happening and realize that your love for the life ahead of you with your partner surpasses any high or low. Realize that hard laughter can cure just about anything and that none of us are worth taking too seriously.

Just be you. Beautiful you. And accept that. And I can promise you. It will be picture perfect.

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Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

I’ve always associated September with starting new.

Maybe that’s an influence from the academic calendar, or perhaps because it introduces my favorite season.

I’m not quite sure.

I want to talk about suicide today. I am currently on the road for photography work and have inevitably found myself back in my stomping grounds: Grand Rapids, Michigan. A couple days ago, I ran into someone I knew during grade school. I don’t know how and am still uncertain why, but she boldly made the decision to tell me about how she’s been wanting to end her life. Soon.

If there is anything we as a society don’t talk about honestly enough, it is depression. It is considered taboo to bring it up. So many don’t.

I’m not under the illusion that all experiences of depression are alike. I cannot speak on behalf of everyone out there struggling. But I can speak out of my personal experiences.

It’s waking up everyday, counting down the moments until you can close your eyes again. Secretly hoping it’d be the last time. It’s when the simplest of tasks such as getting out of bed and putting on your face for the day is an Everest of a climb and you’ve somehow misplaced all of your tools to get there. It’s looking into every opportunity possible for an imminent death — everywhere you go, everyday you’re alive. Daydreaming about it. The thought of it being an escape. Realizing that the only time you can ever feel any sense of peace is when you dwell about not having to do this anymore. This dance between earth and hell. This charade of a life you’ve had to create while people buzz around you without a clue, without seeming to care.

You feel waves of guilt. Always bigger than the wave before. It gets harder and heavier to keep your feet planted while the words and the thoughts wash over you… drowning you quite literally in a place you don’t want to stay in. Yet you don’t know where else to go. You wonder how you were ever anywhere else. You wonder why someone more grateful couldn’t have had your life. You would easily donate your time left to someone willing to receive it. You’ve heard people dismiss the opinions of those who’ve committed suicide before you. They say they were weak. They say they didn’t seek help. They say they were selfish and wrong. You begin to implant those words, those opinions, those identities in yourself. It doesn’t help. It makes you less tempted than ever to reach out to anyone. Due to judgement. Due to condemnation. Due to hopelessness of anyone out there who might dare to try on your shoes. You become easily envious of those in hospital beds, only a few breaths left until they pass. At most, they have loved ones around them, and they know they will not die in vain. You pray for something like that. You pray for a plausible death so that you don’t have to commit this sin. But praying for such a thing seems like a sin in itself. If anyone else heard your thoughts, they’d probably find you arrogant and self-absorbed. You come back to square one. Feeling completely and utterly alone.

To be depressed is feeling completely misunderstood, wildly incapable, and wholly alone.

What I want to educate others about thoughts of depression is that although someone’s feelings and views may seem dramatic or invalid at the time, you are not one to judge that. No matter the circumstance, the background, the size of the matter, everyone’s feelings and views are valid in their world. To them, it is everything. It is their lens, it is their emotions, and during that time being, all of those feelings and views are the realist things they know. So for someone to come up to them and say that it is not as difficult as it seems… you may as well have not given effort to “help” at all. This may go against the concept of discipline and hard truth. But in such fragile instances, a simple act or word could make it or break it for someone. There are definitely right and not so right moments to teach somebody a life lesson. But during the depths of dark depression is not the right time to lecture someone. It is the most pivotal time to love someone. To embrace someone. To comfort someone. To cherish someone.

What you can do is be there. Quite literally. Be present. Pursue them. Think of the ways in which Christ has pursued the Church even whilst we push away time and time again. Extend your time. Be bothersome if you have to. If you have an inkling, if you have even a remote curiosity that something might be wrong, don’t hesitate to open up a conversation about it. In reality, those suffering are dying for someone to see that they are barely making it inside. The fact that people don’t only affirms them in their mind that no one in their world actually ever knew them because they are obviously depressed and no one has noticed. Which makes them feel valueless. Unimportant. A burden.


I am a suicide attempt survivor. It was autumn, weather was very similar to this, and it was the beginning of my senior year in high school. I was dubbed homecoming queen and skinny as a stick. It’s funny how creative and great one can get at making people assume you are just fine. I specifically remember someone that evening coming up to me and saying, “You literally have the perfect life, you know that? I’m so jealous. Your parents must be so proud.” I also remember driving home by myself on an empty road, the unforgiving tiara tousling about in my trunk, cheap makeup running down my face, chuckling like a crazy person as those words echoed and swirled about in my head. Jealous? Proud? My parents? Oh how perceptions can be so far from the truth. I would say that night was the peak of feeling that this world will never see me for me. When I got home, I stared at the mirror in my parents’ basement for a very long time. I crawled into the corner of the bathroom, swallowed pills of death and immediately the images of every person who I’d be killing by killing myself flashed before my eyes. My little sister. My best friend. The people who depended on me, those who may have looked up to me. Maybe it was my people-pleasing heart, or maybe the fear of my sister losing hope, but I stuck my index finger down my throat immediately like instinct. I puked. Hard. Incredible panting, incredible pain. I just lied in the fetal position, listening to the faucet drip slow droplets of excess water onto the base of the sink, wondering if I was making things up, or if it was Jesus that I just heard say through the fog,


You want to know the only resource that truly helped post-suicide besides my years of counseling and digging into the Bible?

Moments after my attempt, I Googled something along the lines of, “easiest ways to kill myself,” (since my previous try had too many controllable variables for me to prevent the intended purpose) or “DIY suicide” — something bleak as such. One of the first links to pop up simply read, “Read this before committing suicide.”

Guys, the internet can be a real pain the butt sometimes. But there is always beauty to be found when a gathering of people realize something can be used for good. Whoever typed this up is a hero. I clicked on the link. Looking back, I wonder why. I think — even if I didn’t know it, I didn’t actually want to die. I think somewhere deep inside of me, I may have been hoping that there could be a way out of this trap that the devil has so mischievously set up for me. It was a website with all too simple of a layout. There were white words written on a black background and I ate up every sentence because my life depended on it. It told me to just do anything I can to get by the next minute. Whatever that looks like. So I did. I’ve never paid more attention to anything before in my life. I obeyed every little task it asked me to do. It told me to breathe. I did. It told me a lot of things, actually. It told me I mattered. It told me that I wasn’t alone in this, and that someone out there might care. It told me that my life was worthy to continue with and… for the first time, I felt loved. I felt loved by a computer screen. But even so. At that point, it didn’t matter. I felt known. I felt understood. I felt loved.

It’s been seven years since then. I can confidently say that I have been fully healed and have fully processed that season of my life. I am making sure to state this, because for anybody out there who may be wondering if the misery could ever end, I want to assure you: It can. It will.

You are important to me.

You are beautiful.

Your every breath is intended to exist.

You were not a mistake.

Your scars, your wounds, your past are all remarkable testimonies of your strength, your confidence, your perseverance.

Your laughter is heard. Your cries are valid. Your smile is perfect. Your joy is missed.

There is a way out of this. There are options. There is hope.

You matter. You aren’t forgotten.

You. Are. Not. Alone.

It’s not to say that the traces of depression are forever gone. I think someone might be lying to you if they’ve come to live through their twenties and thirties and still claim they’ve never experienced an ounce of anxiety or depression. This kind of stuff, this mirky, gross, toxic in-between emotion that comes and attacks when the enemy wants to feast on your life… Take them as vivid reminders that spiritual warfare is real and that the biggest lie Satan wants to buy you with is that you are alone. He sees you fighting. He sees you conquering at life and he is jealous. I dare you to spit in his face. I hope you throw his plans into hell along with him by finding the courage to reach out to others. Near, far, where ever. People are listening. People care. God is listening. And He cares.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Let us not shy away from something so real. I bet you’d be surprised to know who is suicidal around you. Not to say that that is the kind of radar you should be aware of 24/7. But it’s the dense truth. Never take for granted the moments you have with those around you to affirm them in their life plans, in who they are, in the impact they make in this world. We need more transparency and less of this hiding behind screens, have-our-lives-put-together, altogether perfect facade.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

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