RACHAEL HOUSER » photography for couples & families

A Lowertown and Noble Park Paducah Engagement Session

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Not many people can say they are married to their first boyfriend/girlfriend and shared their first kiss as a married couple on their wedding day with the very same person they shared their very first kiss with EVER. But Sarah and Dustin will be able to say that, come the first Saturday in October! They grew up together, went to the same schools, and Sarah found herself in “as much love as aa 13 years old could be” with Dustin. But life happened and come high school, they were no longer together. They went to college, and each found their own careers before reconnecting again. But their cute story doesn’t stop there!

Sarah began substitute teaching in that same school district with none other than Dustin’s mom making the subbing assignment calls every morning. She became close with her soon-to-be mother-in-law once again! At that time, Dustin also worked for the school system and one morning, they spotted each other across the parking lot. Sarah said she couldn’t stop thinking about him after that short chance encounter. She text him that weekend and they’ve been together ever since! GAH I love stories like their’s!

Sarah had mentioned to me that she loves “old times” things and that they both love being outdoors. I immediately knew where I’d take them for their engagement session! Lowertown Paducah and Noble Park. Lowertown isn’t used by many other photographers, which I love, but finding a spot in Noble Park that doesn’t look like Noble Park? I had to make sure not one would be able to pin point that location and I think I succeeded! All the while, finding a beautiful Bradford Pear tree!

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My first wedding of the season, near the beginning of May, included a local tradition that was quite exciting to be involved in. Breese and Carlyle Illinois weddings take a long break in between the ceremony and then again part ways through the reception for the wedding party to bar hop. Yes you read that correctly! The wedding party enjoyed drinks at the Country Clue where the ceremony took place and then we “hopped” to a bar downtown near the reception hall once dinner was over, before dancing began. I’ve never encountered this before so you could say that Staci & Matt’s wedding day timeline looked very different from my typical wedding day timelines. BUT it was an awesome way to start my 2017 Wedding Season!

I’m always up for new things and while we didn’t partake in the festivities, it was so much fun capturing all the fun that was had by Staci & Matt and their wedding party – even before the bar hopping began!

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Morgan & Andrew went to school with each other from elementary to middle to high school… even college! To say they know each other well is an understatement! Yet it took Andrew 7 years to finally break Morgan down and convince her to go on a date with him… poor guy! They say when you know, you know, and Andrew knew! But it didn’t take Morgan long to catch up. Once they began dating, there was never a question. They knew one day they’d be married.

And that day isn’t far away! Morgan contacted me before Andrew had even proposed this past December, wanting a list of my available dates. Once she had the ring, she felt comfortable in setting the date and I was officially theirs! November can’t get here soon enough! In fact, Morgan & Andrew had even played with the idea of moving their date up but since everything was pretty much set in stone, it would have been too difficult. It is my hope that their engagement session would help hold them over.

We met at Murray State’s infamous Quad to start their session off. MSU is very special to both of them – it’s where they’ve spent most of their lives these past several years. And it is a beautiful campus! We finished the evening off at MSU’s Arboretum were they both worked as Ag majors. All the spring flowers were in bloom…. Ah! The whole day was just lovely!

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After I photographed Mindy & DJ last fall for their mini session, Mindy told me she was hoping that she’d be able to use the session as their pregnancy announcement. What none of us knew is that she was freshly pregnant, just too early to test! She and DJ had been praying, planning, and trying for a baby for a while and we had been discussed fertility issues at length. I would never wish infertility upon my least favorite person and was more than thrilled that they were successful on their own!

Now, Mindy is 38 1/2 weeks pregnant and we are sort of kind of patiently waiting for labor to begin… I can’t wait to photograph the next step in their love story – the birth of Baby W!

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Guys. It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life – how I wanted to make a living. I had a good idea of what what I wanted my life to look outside of work…. the kind of lifestyle I always imagined having. The things that were/are important to me: being a present wife and mother, being somewhat of a homemaker, and being with my own child(ren) more than I was aways from him. Secondary to those things were what I’d hoped our family would be able to do together: live in a large enough house to not feel cramped nor be on top of each other all the time, live in Paducah, have time to spend with friends and family on a regular basis, and take Disney vacations. Let’s be honest, Disney vacations may have been a primary goal ;)

Neil and I had planned to both contribute to the family income but it was also important that I stay at home “enough” and raise our child(ren). I had an interest in medicine from a young age and worked in a pharmacy in high school so my first major in college was pharmacy (or pre-pharmacy). I got three semesters into it before I realized maybe that’s not what I wanted to do. So I switched to accounting (my father’s profession). Two semesters in I knew that wasn’t the career for me. So maybe vocal performance? Nope. Web/Graphic design? Not that either. Finally, I settled on nursing. It was the first time I felt challenged and excited for my future.

Halfway through nursing school is when I found my humble passion for photography. I had zero plans of it taking me anywhere so I completed my nursing degree. Years into practicing nursing and I found myself at a crossroads with my business and my day job. I made the scariest decision of my life. Yes, even scarier than my decision to marry Neil – because, let’s be honest, when you marry your best friend, the decision feels natural and so so right. So in April of 2013, I quit my full-time, stable, admirable job as a nurse in surgery and focused my time and energy on my ever-growing business.

Between then and now, life has thrown many curve balls our way but I have never once regretted the decision to “just take pictures”. It took months of praying and consulting and praying some more but I believe that had God not wanted this path for me, He wouldn’t have provided SO MUCH for us thus far.

Because He truly has provided for me, my family, and my business. Sure, I’ve put in the hard work, but sometimes there’s just no earthly explanation of how my success has come to me. Or how certain people have come into my life.

Take for example, Morgan & Ethan, whose wedding is coming up at the end of July in the Memphis area. Yes, I shot one Memphis area wedding a few years ago but haven’t been down there since. They attend school in Arkansas. They’ve never been to Western Kentucky. Yet, they still found me and after a Skype date, chose me to be their wedding photographer. Every day I thank God for bringing them into my life and allowing me to be a small part of theirs.

Their love story dates back several years while they were in youth group in church. Not only did they attend different churches but also lived in different states. Somehow they met during a youth group trip, set by each other on the bus, and the rest is history! I just love high school sweetheart stories!!! They brought me down to Memphis for their engagement session because Morgan had her heart set on Memphis Botanic Gardens and Ethan wanted portraits at their wedding ceremony and reception location – more than we’ll have time for on their wedding day. Can I just say that I am SO GLAD I drove all that way for them! Shooting in foreign locations is kind of scary because I don’t know what I’m getting myself into, background and light wise, but man oh man! MBG – you have to see it to believe it! And now I know exactly where to take them on their wedding day at Shelby Farms Park! End of July can’t get here fast enough!

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