Bring Your Loved Ones Into the Frame



This is my father and me on my wedding day, almost three years ago.

I was the last of my parents’ nine children to get married. By that point, I’m sure my family had given up hope that it would ever happen. I can’t really blame them, as I tended to be pretty picky. I had also adopted two children on my own and wasn’t entirely sure there was someone out there willing to take us on. And then I met someone who did and, boy, did it happen fast. Looking back, it’s pretty crazy how fast it was, but it just worked. As they say, it just felt right.

The next few months were a whirlwind. When it came to planning the wedding, the two most important decisions to me were choosing my dress (which proved surprisingly easy) and choosing our photographer. And I chose one of the best—two actually, a husband-and-wife team named Erin and Courtney de Juaregui. From our first conversation, I let them know how important it was to me to not only document this day, but to make sure they captured moments with my dad. You see, my vibrant, charming father had been diagnosed with dementia five years before. Although he had been robbed of his speech, his joy and affectionate nature were always evident.

They caught it all—the smiles and hugs, the before-ceremony prayers, the quiet moments with his youngest grandchild and namesake. It was everything I had hoped for.

My father passed away less than three months later. At the time, everyone said what a blessing it was that he had been able to walk me down the aisle and see his oldest daughter so happy. And they were right. I can’t fathom that day without him, even though, as my littlest often reminds me, I will always carry him in my heart.

Timing, they say, is everything. I didn’t know when I was falling in love so fast and turning my world upside down that there might be other, unseen reasons why. I’m just grateful that I have those memories—and those photographs—to keep with me forever.

I tell you all this to urge you to take the time to get your loved ones into the frame, to capture memories today. From the very beginning of my business, I have encouraged families to bring grandparents to their sessions whenever possible. If grandparents resist (as they often do), tell them the photos aren’t for them—they’re for you and their grandkids to cherish and keep forever.

Time passes so quickly, and life is busier than ever, especially if you have little ones. How many times have you wished you could make time stop or, at the very least, just slow down a bit? I love how photographs help me freeze time, if only just for a brief moment. And they let me go back in time to those moments nearly three years ago, and experience again exactly how my dad smiled at me on my wedding day. And that is everything.