Rachael Houser Photography » Wedding Photographer based in Western Kentucky

By the title of this post, you’re probably thinking, Did she go on a trip to San Diego? And if you follow me in Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram then you’d know the answer is UH YEA! AND IT WAS AWESOME! The reason? Well, my best friend Megan and Neil’s best friend Bryan are actually married to each other. They currently live in Northern Indiana, where Megan is doing her medical residency, and we only get to see them a few times a year. SO when Megan found out she had to fly to San Diego for four days for a medical seminar thing she asked if Neil and I would join her and Bryan. Neither of us had ever been to California so we thought, What the heck! Let’s do it! On Thursday, November 21st, at the booty crack of dawn, Neil and I met Bryan & Megan at the Nashville airport. Be forewarned: most of the images in this post were taken with my iPhone.

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We had a connecting flight in Phoenix. Super cool looking from the air.

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We landed in San Diego Thursday afternoon and even though it was a tad drizzly, we hit the first stop: The San Diego Zoo! Everyone said we HAD to go so maybe I had built it up in my head, or maybe the rain hindered things, but I’m not sure the zoo was any better than the St. Louis Zoo. Just sayin’

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Our besties!

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And BAM, Megan’s pregnant with her second! And this time it’s, a BOY!

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From the zoo, we found our amazing (doesn’t do it justice) hotel: The Grand Hyatt. Every room had an awesome view… here’s our’s:

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Even the lobby was grand… Around 3:30 San Diego time, aka 5:30 our time and 6:30 Bryan & Megan’s time, we were STARVING. The best thing about our hotel? It was within walking distance to the really nice part of downtown. We took a walk and found a great Californian Mexican place: Las Hadas Bar & Grill.

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I’m not embarrassed to say that we were all in bed by 7:30pm Thursday night. Which meant we were all awake by 5:30 Friday morning. Oy. Megan had her first day of seminar so the boys and I got ready and ventured out to the little “village” beside the hotel: Seaport Village. Something we found out about San Diego that morning? Even breakfast places don’t open until 8.

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After we ate a delicious breakfast (we ate really well in San Diego) we headed back to the hotel to decide what to do for the day. Out in the distance we could see a front coming in. I set up my office and started working while the boys played Playstation. They were calling for rain and we didn’t want to get caught out in it. This little bird was my friend for about 20 minutes. He just sat there and watched me. Weird but kind of cool.

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It rained for a couple hours and by lunch time we were ready to explore the Navy Battleship Museum in the marina.

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Is it weird that I can’t, for the life of me, remember where we ate lunch Friday? Anyway, after the Navy Battleship we drove across the bay to Coronado Island to search for a good dinner place. And really? Just to drive around and use the rental car lol

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Driving around some more, we made it up to the Mission Beach area a little north in San Diego where we found Sunset Cliffs. Amazing place! The ocean rock allowed you to climb down right to the water, which was tons of fun!

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Please don’t think for a moment that, if Neil were actually in danger, I would be taking the picture to document it. The boys just wanted to play in the crevasse. He was actually standing on a ledge. Silly boys.

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Once Megan was done with her seminar for the day we headed back out to Coronado Island, walked around a bit, ate some delicious Italian at Village Pizzeria and ice cream at Moo!

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Aannnnddd because we were up at 5:30am, we found ourselves back at the hotel around 8. These 27 year olds know how to live it up in San Diego on a Friday night y’all! How about some cards?!

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This time we made it till 10 before we were asleep! Saturday morning, up at 6:30am. Megan left for her seminar and we found breakfast downtown at Cafe 222. LOVED this place, inside and out.

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We returned to our hotel room, I worked, boys played playstation, we waited until right before 11am to drive out to Mission Beach and Belmont Park. THIS PLACE. SO much fun! The whole area really! There was only one roller coaster (but yea, we rode it!) but tons of other cool games and a rock wall that the boys just HAD to do… several times… and race of course.

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Bumper cars. Eeek!

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Right between Belmont Park and the ocean was a strip of little shops and restaurants. We stopped at Sandbar Sports Grill because Urbanspoon said it was good. Urbanspoon does not lie.

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It’s really hard to say, because Californians know how to cook y’all!, but this MIGHT have been my favorite meal…? Chicken and black bean quesadilla. Holy mother. What I would do for one of these right now.

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When Megan was done with her seminar she really wanted us to take her to the park and that was fine with us. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening there. We took so many Christmas Card worthy pictures of us but Neil had his sunglasses on in EVERY SINGLE SHOT. Fail.

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That night we drove around the extremely wealthy part of San Diego and found a cute Thai restaurant, where I ate if not the first, then the second best meal of my life. Salmon in a ginger sauce and OMG I’m drooling. Sunday morning was a little lazy. We got up crazy early as usual. Megan wanted us to take her to Cafe 222 for breakfast and surprise surprise, it was delicious once again! We walked around downtown, chatted about the cost of living in San Diego, housing/apartment prices, and how much each of us could make if we moved there. A girl can dream :) Megan and I scheduled massages for right before we needed to leave for the airport and we stumbled upon yet another thing that San Diego does better than anywhere else (that we’ve been). Sadly, we had different flights going home. We flew into Dallas and then Nashville while they flew into Minneapolis and then to Fort Wayne. Neil and I were so glad to be back in our bed but wouldn’t have traded that long weekend for anything.

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It was one of the few chilly days we had around the beginning of November but Kyle & Bridget were such troupers! I think I probably asked Bridget a bazillion times if she was comfortable… and her answer was always “I’m perfectly fine!”. They met me at Downtown Paducah, close to the flood wall for the beginning of their session and we made our way down Broadway toward the center of town. I could have stayed there all afternoon but so glad that Kyle & Bridget had other, better plans!

Bridget is from Calvert City, only a 20 minutes drive, and she hoped the leaves around the Kentucky Lake Village would be beautiful and colorful. She was right! We stopped by her aunt’s house to pick up their doggie (yay, more puppies!!!) before we started shooting by the lake. They brought along several props that really nodded toward their personalities. Love it when couples want to get involved in their engagement session!


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Thanksgiving has come and gone and now everyone’s gearing up for Christmas, I definitely am too. But before I put my Christmas decorations up (we’re doing that today!!), here’s a little recap of my Thanksgiving this year!

I chose to focus on my family instead of focusing my camera last Thursday. Like that little photography pun there? Haha! I didn’t even bring my camera to my mom’s house that day! Crazy-sauce! So the images below are the few that I shot with my iPhone, just of table details because my mom worked hard on everything, right before family started arriving. I didn’t pick my phone back up until after everyone had left and after I helped my mom put the house back together in preparation for Christmas decorating. The day was filled with great food and even better company. I really do love spending time with BOTH sides of my family and it was a treat to be able to do that. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I pray that this Holiday season treats you well :)

I baked from 9pm to midnight the night before: Mashed potatoes, corn casserole, pecan pie, and french chess pie (or french coconut pie).


I used Pioneer Woman’s Pecan Pie recipe and my grandmother’s French Chess Pie recipe. They were soooo delicious, if I do say so myself ;)


My mom is such a nerd, but in the best way! She made us all name place cards because she knows that everyone spends about 15 minutes right before eating figuring out where they’re going to sit. In total, I think they’re were 22 of us this year so smart move momma! Below is the “grown up’s” table. In other words, anyone older than 40 lol


The “kids” table. There were only two actual kids this year so at this table sat me, Neil, and my cousins. There was another “kids” table that sat my brother, his family, and our cousin and his family.


After dinner everyone say around and chatted and watched the football game. Aly is kind of (really) nervous and anxious around people she’s not comfortable with so after everyone left she was pretty much wiped!


My dad and Neil went hunting, per tradition, that afternoon until sunset. When they returned, mom and I heated up some leftovers and it was time for round two with just the four of us.


And finally, after dinner Neil and I came home and got to work! Excited to show more soon!


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{image from our Christmas Card session last year}

Ahhh December! One of the slower months out of the year for a wedding photographer in our area. It’s the beginning on our “winter break”… kind of like how teachers have summer break. They still have the occasional meeting but other than that, it’s a break from work. This year my winter break doesn’t official start until after my December 28th wedding but my first wedding of 2014 isn’t until March. Trust me, I have plenty in store for next year so even though I’ll be on a “break”, I plan on being in the office about 4 days a week.

December is probably my favorite month. I just LOVE the Christmas season! I love the cold weather (in fact, I could stand for it to be colder!), the snow (I hope we have a white Christmas this year!!), the food, the shopping (yes, I actually love the hustle and bustle!), the giving, the family, the friends, the music (I’m not kidding when I say we listen to Christmas music 24/7 in our house around this time of year!), and  last but certainly not least – It’s my Lord and Saviour’s  Birth Day! There is no better reason to celebrate!!

But other than Christmas, here’s what I’ll be up to this month:

– several last minute Christmas Card Sessions
– one wedding at the end of the month
Help Portrait Worldwide is this coming Saturday and I’ll be helping out for the first time! Sooo excited and blessed to be able to do this for our community!!
– more work on SECRET projects ;)
– and second shooting a wedding with my dear friend Makenzie!

– Decorating for Christmas. I list this because it’s a big deal in my house :D
– A few house projects. More on that later!
– Spending tons of time with friends and family! Working every Saturday during 3/4 of the year makes it hard to spend time with friends in particular. It won’t make up for my lack of social participation and neglect that I know a few may feel but I intend on being a good, no GREAT friend while I can! Get ready, friends of mine!

And now for the Cyber Monday Sale details!

If you’ve come from Facebook, then most likely you’re interested in learning how you can save $400 on your wedding photography.

Book your 2014 or 2015 wedding with Rachael Houser Photography before January 1st, 2014 and pay a retainer fee of $1,000 and I will knock $400 off your remaining balance, due one month before your wedding! It’s that easy!

Fine print time: The Wedding Collection for 2014-2015 includes up to 10 hours of wedding day coverage; a complimentary portrait session of your choice; private gallery for viewing, sharing, downloading, and printing of both engagement and wedding images; and digital files of all fully edited high resolution images with printing rights. This collection is priced at $2400 with a retainer fee of $600 due with contract. The Cyber Monday Sale Wedding Collection (including everything mentioned above) is priced at only $2000! Spend $400 more now, save $400 overall!

Contact me to reserve your wedding date today!

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This wedding was beyond fun! Pretty sure I could talk about the reception all night but I should probably start at the beginning ;)

I met Jayla and her girls at Di Sorellas Hair & Nail Design where the lovely Lindsey made our already beautiful girls wedding ready. I snapped photos of the girls just hanging out before we all headed to the church… it was almost picture time!


I know I can’t be the only photographer who is almost as excited to see the bride’s dress as they are to see the couple see each other for the first time that day… almost! Every dress is so different and SO unique to every bride. This Allure Bridal dress from Wendy’s Cincinnati Bridal just screams Jayla and man did she look amazing in it!


Jayla’s aunt, Rocia of Rocia’s Exquisite Designs did such an amazing job arranging the florals and decorating the ceremony and reception… it’s awesome when you have friends and family with such talent!


This year I chose to gift my brides with custom, personal dress hangers that really accent their gown. Bonus! It’s theirs so they can use it after the wedding too!


Her girls wanted Jayla to do a first look with them… what a cute idea! Their faces totally make my whole day worth it… and I’d only been there a couple hours!


Josh & Jayla opted for a first look and I am SO glad they did! We would not have been able to get this reaction out of Josh otherwise and I wouldn’t have been able to get these pictures. So sweet!


I love Jayla’s little brother’s expression (hidden) in this picture!


We had to hold off on Josh & Jayla’s portraits due to rain so we snuck away for a quick little bit right before the ceremony… the light was perfect!


Jayla, you’re stunning!


Gift time! Jayla gifted Josh the ole wool socks for cold feet… and a sweet note that produced an expression to rival the look he had during the first look.


And they’re married!!


The reception site was gorgeous… the building itself is nothing to comment on but Rocia worked her magic!


This cake! Or rather, cake and cupcakes! They were delicious AND brilliantly designed. Kudos to The Blue Pinky Bakery!


Short but incredibly romantic and sweet first dance…


And an even shorter father-daughter dance with style! Dad knows how to twirl!


The rest of the night was a pure party! Monte of Hensley Twin’s BOMBSQUAD productions had everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, up dancing the whole night!! Definitely made for some awesome pictures!


Other vendors:
Ceremony | Harrison Street Baptist Church
Reception | Robert Cherry Civic Center
Coordinator | Kim Keeling
Hair and Makeup | Lindsey Manker
Invitations, programs, menus | Wedding Paper Divas

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Holly Greene -

you did a great job Rachael! I’d like to order some of them!

Holly Greene

Rocia Keeling -

Your photography is outsanding! I will definitely recommend you to my brides!