RACHAEL HOUSER » photography for couples & families

I hopped in my car, turned the key, and paused to thumb through my text messages on my phone and pull up the address Katie had given me. A family farm is a perfect location for an engagement session, in my opinion! Carlisle County Kentucky, more specifically, Fancy Farm. I’d been to Fancy Farm maybe twice in my entire life? and it had been YEARS since. In all of my 28 years of living in Western Kentucky and I still wasn’t quite sure WHERE exactly Fancy Farm was. My GPS said it would only take me 38 minutes to get there, yet I was leaving my house with more than 5 minutes to spare. You know, just in case!

A few miles down the highway and I was turning onto backroad after backroad. In Western Kentucky, you’re only one road off the highway from a farm – and that’s no exaggeration! When I pulled into Grant’s grandparents’ gravel road I was met with bright, smiling faces; adorable outfits; and a beautiful, light filled background! Ah!, what an awesome engagement session we were about to have!

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Kelsey & Jared called me one afternoon with a tone of excitement, and nervousness, in their voices. They had just gotten engaged! They were planning the wedding of their dreams! They’d picked the perfect wedding venue! Only problem? It was just a few months away and they were having trouble finding a photographer that they loved! It didn’t take long for our conversation to go from formal to casual once we realized we were perfect for each other!

One thing that were pretty ecstatic about after they booked with me was the fact that I was more than willing to travel to them, to their favorite town, to Owensboro, for their engagement session! Because their October 2014 wedding is just right around the corner, we had to move fast! We started planning their engagement session during that first conversation and by the end of their session Tuesday evening, we were planning the nitty gritty details of their wedding! I absolutely LOVED our time together and I can’t wait to spend more time with them soon!

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Several years ago, more specifically 7 years ago, here in the south there was no First Look. In fact, there was no Traditional Reveal because there was no need to differentiate and put a title to it. There was no option: it just was. The first time the bride and groom saw each other was when the bride walks down the aisle. So, naturally, when Neil and I got married, we didn’t know any different and it didn’t bother us.

Fast forward to just three years ago when I became a wedding photographer and First Looks were a thing – for good reason to!. Suddenly, brides had an option and I wanted to give it to them. At first I was unbiased but the more I saw it, the more I read about it, and the more I photographed it, the more I realized: First Looks are more than just convenient! And when brides ask me my take on First Looks (and I’m so glad they ask my opinion!) this is what I tell them:

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If your ceremony begins even an hour before sunset, there will be little to no available light left to shoot in afterward. And naturally, having your ceremony start after sunset will mean the same thing. In instances like this, I really encourage clients to do a first look because I want you to come away with images like the ones you saw when first making your decision to book me. That is, all images shot in beautiful, natural, and available light. The downside of not doing a first look in this case would be bride/groom portraits, bridal party portraits, and family formal portraits that all have a completely different aesthetic than what you’d expect from my work as a natural light photographer. That’s not to say creating nice images in these circumstances isn’t doable. But again, the whole aesthetic you’d once preferred would be missing.

Your wedding day will, without a doubt, fly by. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times before, from each and every married person on the planet, and it’s true! As one of the most important days in your life, it is often one that is hard to remember simply because of the pace of it all. Having a first look will ensure that you and your bride/groom have one-on-one, face-to-face un-rushed time with each other on your wedding day. The intimacy and beauty of that moment when you’re alone (with your photographer shooting away from a distance) is something that none of my clients have ever regretted. AND you’ll get to spend more time together on your wedding day!

Seeing each other before the ceremony will by no means take away from the gravity of the moment when those doors finally open, the music crescendos, and you lock eyes at the end of the aisle, with everyone you love most serving as witnesses. The two are both completely different experiences. The first is intimate and private and special in its own unique way. Whereas the second is dramatic and intense and “Oh my goodness, THERE she/he is! And here I am. And in five minutes, she/he will be my all mine. Forever!” POWERFUL. I’ve never met a groom that felt his reaction at the end of the aisle was muted by the fact that he and his bride had done a first look prior. If anything, it just adds to the drama of it all. The awesome and sudden realization that THIS is it. The same goes for brides out there. Trust me, if your man cries during your first look… You better bring a whole BOX of tissues to the ceremony!

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When Bridget & Kyle first emailed me in the beginning of 2013, I had no idea what I was about to get into! A friendship that I know I will cherish for many many years to come! Bridget & Kyle included me in so many details of their wedding and I really can’t thank them enough… it’s definitely a goal of mine to be more than just a couple’s photographer!

The few weeks leading up to their big day was full of uncertainties so when I arrived at the ceremony/reception location to see the perfectness that was their wedding venue, I knew God had answered so many prayers and that Bridget’s mom was up in Heaven smiling down on the whole day! Bridget & Kyle were completely surrounded by their loved ones from sun rise to way after sun down and I was so honored to be there to witness and capture it all!

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While Kyle wore a long tie, each and every man and boy standing up with him had their own unique bow tie. I kind of died from all the details!

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Kyle’s twin sister stood beside him as his Best Twin. I absolutely LOVED every single bit of sentimental touch that the two love birds thought of!

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Bridget & her ladies in their monogramed tees!

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Finally, a first look with her best friend and brother, affectionately called Gator, who stood beside her as her Best Brother!

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Bridget’s aunt, Bridget’s momma’s sister, stood in for her on that very special day.

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Bridget, you are beyond stunning!!!

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And your groom killed it!

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The First Look!

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Bridget’s Maid of Honor mentioned it in her toast and I know it to be true… Bridget’s smile is so beautiful and contagious!

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Brother & Sister Love!

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A great thing about first looks? We were able to grab a few shots before heading to the ceremony/reception location!

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Get ready to feast your eyes on tons of awesome DIY details! Bridget had literally been collecting odds and ends for 18 months!

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This table stood at the entrance of their ceremony area… so thoughtful! Drinks, bug spray, and fans!

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Their ceremony program really portrays their fun and easy going, yet extremely organized and detailed personalities!

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Friends from all over came to celebrate their day…. not pictured below but still definitely worth mentioning, a friend from Malaysia! What?!? I know! They are crazy loved by crazy talented people!

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Ladies from Bridget’s mom’s side of the family placing roses on what would have been her chair…

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Bridget’s uncle and aunt, who practically raised both her and her brother, were the best stand in parents ever! Her uncle walked her from the lake house to the aisle, where he brother took over and presented her to her husband-to-be. It’s was a very emotional moment.

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They opted to do both traditional AND personal vows. Loved every serious and silly promise that was made between the two!

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After the ceremony, everyone made their way to the reception area while we staked out the place for ourselves!

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Those smiles!!!

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For those not from the area, Bridget & Kyle provided these little booklets on Beautiful Kentucky Lake. I have no idea where they got them but I need one!

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I swear that Bridget & Kyle did this just for me because, even though I love cake, I LOVE pie! Check out their pie bar!!!

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Sometimes, the Bride & Groom laugh and giggle throughout their fist dance. Sometimes they cry and kiss. And sometimes, they just stare into each others’ eyes and soak up the moment. They were finally married.

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Because it wouldn’t be their wedding otherwise, the Father-Daughter dance included her uncle, a friend, and her brother!

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Not to be out done! Bridget was surprised with one of her bridesmaids singing to her and Kyle… tears were running down my face!

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The open dancing was enjoy by everyone!

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Before the end of night, I happened to look out over the water and see a beautiful harvest moon rising into the night sky! I grabbed the happy couple for one last portrait!

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Ceremony Venue | Private residence on Kentucky Lake
Reception Venue | Private residence on Kentucky Lake
Bridal Gown | David’s Bridal
Bridesmaids Dresses | Target
Suits | Macy’s
Stationary | designed by the bride & groom
Florist | The Basket Case Florist
Hair Stylist | Tamara McFarland of The Color Bar
Coordinator | friend of the bride
Caterer | friend of the bride’s family
Pies | Parcell’s Deli and Grille
DJ | Majestic Sounds DJ
Photo Booth | Clint Pogue

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sheri tucker -

Rachel,

You captured every perfect moment of Bridget’s special day. For that, my heart over flows with thankfulness. Our Bridget is one of a kind, you get her, and lots of people don’t. Thank you for opening your heart to Kyle and Bridget. You have given all of us a permanent record of that perfect day. For that, thanks just doesn’t seem like enough…

Aunt Sheri

Carlene Robinson -

The most elegant wedding I have ever attended! Love the HAPPY Couple forever

My and Neil’s college dating years weren’t much different from our high school dating years. Or even much different from our first few years of marriage really! In the fall of 2005, Neil joined me at Murray State University and it was suddenly like we were ever apart.

His dorm building was right next to mine (we might have planned that) and the only times we weren’t together was during classes (our majors differed quite a bit) and when we were asleep. Every meal was eaten together, every night was spent working out at the university wellness center together… we’d even (sometimes) study together! Some weekends were spent back at home while others were spent hanging out with mutual friends. We grew into a kind of comfortable rhythm that, I can honestly say, we’re still in today. I think that’s my favorite thing about our relationship.

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