When you're planning your wedding, things can get overwhelming, particularly when you can't decide on a theme. There are so many options to choose from, so many directions you can go in to plan your big day that it can be tough to narrow it down.
So why just have one wedding? Why not do it all?
Kendra and Abby decided to save their money (and sanity) and instead scheduled thirteen wedding photo shoots that captured their love in a unique and heartfelt way.
Teaming up with Jen Martin Studios, they've planned out these beautifully styled shoots that celebrate who they are and their love for one another. They're a little more than halfway through the project, but we couldn't wait to share how beautiful and romantic these photo sessions have been, and we hope you'll be inspired by their love and creativity!
Kendra says: My first Christmas gift to Abby was exactly what she’d asked for. A time-space continuum, so she could stop time and spend all the moments with me she could ever wish for. Since then, I’ve found a few others and bought those for her too, all in the form of special, magical pendants made from mystical stones and antique clock parts. This is a daydream of ours, obviously, but it’s a lasting one and the story behind Thirteen Weddings. It goes like this:
I always thought I wanted a “Wedding!” You know what I’m talking about – a white dress, an aisle, the whole bit. But somehow the more we talked about our wedding, the less I wanted all of those things. The more you dive into the wedding planning world the more you see that they are all just slightly different variations of the same. A template to plug in your own “personal touch.” At a certain point none of it is personal anyway. Who says we need to do all of that stuff? All we really wanted was to celebrate our love. So for a long time we were working on how to have our wedding be uniquely us and not doing the “traditional” thing.
We had loads of ideas and could spend hours brainstorming and falling in love again and again. The problem was, we couldn’t settle on anything. Nothing was perfect enough for our day. How could we dwindle our huge love and huge imaginations down to just one day, one song, one outfit, one venue, when we are so big together? Add all that to the pressure of the dreaded guest list! We wanted something small and intimate and genuine – and at times we wanted to invite everyone we knew and everyone they knew, just to share in our excitement. All of this pressure and stress was enough to make me want to be in wedding planning overdrive all the time, and enough to make Abby want to ignore wedding planning. All the time.
As of January 19, 2013, we’d been engaged for two years exactly. We’d passed two of our set dates, canceled the perfect venue and changed our “theme” about six times. I can honestly say I was beginning to wonder if we were ever going to have a wedding at all. Here we were, in January, our current wedding date coming up in June, a short six months away – a mere minute in wedding planning world. A frighteningly small amount of time to plan, decide, order, hire and purchase… everything. At this point, the only thing we had was a verbal agreement from a band.
After a week or so of life – and me – turning up the heat on our non-wedding planning, Abby and I had a heart to heart. I said, “Honey, I know something is going on. I’m not sure what it is, but we need to figure it out. I know you love me, and you want to marry me, but why don’t you want to plan the wedding?”
She thought for a minute and was able to tell me of all the pressures she was feeling, from all angles. I was one of them, because she knew how important having this wedding was to me. I melted. She’s my partner. My love. I didn’t want her to feel pressure from me. I have never wanted to have the kind of wedding where one person does all the planning and deciding and the other just signs the dotted line, puts a smile on and participates – probably drunk.
So I searched my heart real deep and told her I could let go completely of every single part of my wedding daydreams except for one – the pictures. The captured moments of our love and beauty and youth are what I daydreamed of. For me, every single detail of wedding planning was in order to capture beautiful portraits of our life. Every time we talked about the day I was making absolutely certain to allot for ample time for photos. I want to be able to look back on our wedding and see our relationship.
I saw a flood of relief over her. All of that pressure melted away, and it was so freeing. A beat or two later, she lit up the way she does when she has an awesome idea. I love this part – the anticipation right before she finds the words. She gets so bright and excited and hopeful and wistful. I always let myself get caught up in her. “What? What? Tell! Tell,” I say.
“What if… wehadaweddingphotoshooteverymonthofthewholeyearinsteadofjustone?”
Of course! After she said it, it seemed so absolutely obvious. And perfect. And exciting. And all the reasons it is the absolutely perfect idea have been falling into place ever since.
Jen says: My name is Jen Owen of Jen Martin Studios and I am a local professional photographer here in Bellingham.
This Thirteen Weddings project has been amazing... not only because of all of the fun and creative photo shoots, but because the love between Abby and Kendra is so real and true and beautiful, that it shows in every single image I take. Even when they are just being goofy!
They are an inspiration to all couples, everywhere. They remind us to stop and really enjoy a moment together, even if it's just a quick kiss on the nose and an "I love you" before running out the door. They inspire us to get creative and find that little spark of romance we sometimes forget that we still need or crave after we have been together for years. Abby and Kendra remind us to laugh together when things don't go the way we planned or when what we had our hearts set on just won't work out – because the most important thing is love. Nothing else matters.
Their first wedding was up at Silver Lake in the snow with Abby serenading Kendra and then they exchanged vows and rings on the dock above the frozen lake. They played in the snow with their daughter Chloe and made snow cones.
February's wedding was nothing like they had planned. The weather just would not cooperate and after rescheduling their shoot once already - they decided to just go with it and be spontaneous and embrace the rain and cold. We went downtown Bellingham and did some portraits in the alleys and the parking garage and then we drove over to Whatcom Falls Park, where they proceeded to have the most fantastic mud fight I have ever seen! I think this is probably my absolute favorite wedding so far. They had had their heart set on another location and theme and instead of moping about not getting to do what they had dreamed up they reveled in their love together and the photos reflect that.
March was the most intricate of the weddings so far. They decided to bend gender stereotypes. The Grand Avenue Ale House invited us to come in and use their pool table area for our sessions and let us come in before they opened so we would have the run of the place.
For April, we went out to a field in Ferndale and found a beautiful old weeping willow tree. Abby made a swing and they dressed in vintage style. It was a beautiful sunset session and watching them run around laughing together was wonderful.
With May's wedding, they focused on their newfound love of gardening so we did their session at their home where they had been working for months to create beautiful raised garden beds and had been planting and growing their own food. Their bouquet was made of various vegetables and it was just gorgeous. They "planted" their rings, rode a bicycle, hung upside down and played music and just spent the session having fun, enjoying their beautiful garden and being surrounded by things that they had created together. It was perfect.
For June they invited a small gathering of friends and family to do a more formal wedding. They had local band Rattletrap Ruckus play, with dancing, a potluck dinner and a whole lot of laughter and fun.
In July, Abby and Kendra spent some time with Abby's parents crabbing and beach combing.
The rest of the weddings have not been released yet but in the previous seven months of wedding shoots we have captured so much love and laughter, romance, beauty, selflessness, and "real," that it has inspired others to rethink the way they are planning their own weddings and getting people excited about trying something new and outside of the box for their weddings.
I am honored that Kendra and Abby chose me for their photographer, but I'm more blessed that they chose to love me as a friend.
To continue to follow Kendra and Abby's story and see more beautiful images from Jen Martin Studios, visit the Thirteen Weddings Facebook page over the next six months as they post the rest of their photo shoots.