Vista West Ranch Wedding

Almost a year ago, I assisted Leah at The Life You Love Photography with this beautiful cross-cultural Vista West Ranch wedding. Vista West is a gorgeous wedding venue with quirky wind chimes and antique signs, and the Scottish/Indian union that happened last October had my heart singing. Plus, that dress? If I could do my wedding all over again I would totally pick that as The Dress.

Enough of my babbling :) Here are some of my favorite photos from this wedding. 

wedding day portraits at vista west ranchoutdoor lamps at vista west ranch vista west ranch outdoor decor hanging flowers in mason jarsvista west ranch outdoor ceremony space wedding day anticipation bridesmaids getting ready at wedding grooms reaction shot as the bride walks down the aisle outdoor wedding ceremonies in texas crying bride mother of the groom crying outdoor weddings in texas recessional with rose petals austin wedding photographerbeaded jenny packham gown cocktail hour at vista west ranch in dripping springs postcards on wedding tablescape vintage cups and saucers at wedding table twee bride and groom signs for chairs interesting wedding photography awesome first dance wedding photos reception pictures at vista west reception at vista west cross-cultural wedding danceshappy people dancing at a wedding

On Not Being the Villain

So, in May, this happened:


I was driving home from running a few errands when a couple in a Lincoln (the right car) decided to not yield at a left turn, and smashed right into my Corolla. I tore off their front grille, amongst other things. All things considered, it was a pretty good wreck to have (if there is such a thing as a “good” wreck) — nobody was injured, and the other driver admitted fault to police and the insurance company. I hobbled my car home, got it towed to a body shop, got a rental, all on the insurance company’s dime. I was feeling okay about it all, until I was informed that my car was considered a total loss and that I had to figure out a way to get a new one.

(Apparently, hidden damages are quite costly.)

And thus began my search for a new (used) car. The last time Walt and I had to purchase an unexpected car, we had a friend who was selling one and we just rolled with it. This time, we were looking for something comparable to my 2005 low-mileage Corolla, and it was not an easy task. I’d never really researched cars before. I didn’t know what to expect, so I started googling.

I was reading car-buying websites and realized: I am way too nice to buy a car from anybody. Not to say I’m a total pushover, but there were tips on some sites that basically said: “Make the seller grovel.” Act disinterested. Point out every flaw on the vehicle. Never reveal how much you have to spend. Always tell the seller that you’re looking elsewhere.

That’s when I realized that this is probably how most engaged couples feel when looking at wedding vendors. Couples are told that we’re all snakes in the grass, that the Wedding Industry is out to get all that we can grab, that we don’t care about you as people and just look out for the bottom dollar.

If this was the way that business is conducted within all industries, I would hate to live on this planet!

austin engagement photographer

I would never want to be considered a villain in any transaction.

I try to approach my job, first and foremost, as a resource: after a few years in this business, I have a bunch of information stored from past experiences and relationships with other vendors. Secondarily, as a person who has been there before: I got married too, not long ago. And thirdly, as a person who is trying to be compensated fairly for the work that I’m doing, the skill that I’m sharing, the time that I’m taking, to do this job.

Clients have said, on public forums such as Yelp or Wedding Wire, and correspondence through feedback forms and emails, that I’ve been super helpful. Here, let me dig out a few quotes.

[Elissa was] absolutely wonderful every step of the way from the initial email exchange to the final package with the adorable USB drive and bars of chocolate. We really felt taken care of and she treated us as if we were her only client. – Maggie & Daniel [feedback form response]

Elissa’s customer service is absolutely fantastic. She made us feel like her only client and priority, while still being a tremendous and talented professional. Our photos were gorgeous, relaxed and warm. I’m so glad she was there to capture our day. – Emily & Bill [feedback form response]

Elissa was a dream to work with. She responded promptly to emails, no matter how minor the issue. All of our pictures and products ordered have arrived on time or ahead of schedule. I am a firm believer that the person you hire for your wedding should be someone you click with and enjoy having around. Elissa fit that for us to a T. – Jill and Zach [Wedding Wire review]

austin bride and groom portraits

I’m writing this because I contacted the owner of a small auto dealership and laid all my cards out on the table, saying things that apparently I should not have: I got into a wreck. This is how much I have. I would like to do this quickly because I really need to be able to drive to weddings and appointments and the insurance company is about to stop paying for my rental car.

But! I was pleasantly surprised. The car dealership was responsive, friendly. The owner helped me figure out what I needed and made sure to fit the cost of the car within the confines of my budget. All in all, it was a great experience.

I ended up with a Prius. Her name is Prudence.

prius at bookpeople

We Will Be World Travelers (Pt II)

Have you ever been to New York? I have, once.

I was sixteen and it was a pseudo-vacation with my family. I say “pseudo” because the real reason we went up north was to see my cousin get married in Maine. It was not to see the sights — we saw the Guggenheim but not the Met, we didn’t check out Central Park. We flew to NYC, gathered my great-aunt who lives on Long Island, and drove to Bar Harbor… where I threw up on a whale-watching boat (but did enjoy a lovely wedding overlooking a scenic cliff the next day). Then we drove back; eight miserable hours each way in a tiny sedan. It was June 2001 and hot in New York City and freezing in Maine and the line to see from the top of the Statue of Liberty was so long that we just admired her from afar. I didn’t understand why there were no public bathrooms, and the people walked too fast, and I remember feeling very distinctly like a small-town nobody.

new york summer

That’s me (on the right) with my sister. Notice how happy we are to be in New York.

New York did not give me a good first impression. In the years since then, I’ve been wary of it when it comes up in conversation. I don’t like to tell people that my experience in New York was unpleasant and that I really didn’t want to go back. But everyone is always so positive about it!

“You know what?” I told myself last month. “It’s been over ten years. I bet it’s different when you’re an adult. It’s probably amazing if you’re doing your own thing and not being dragged around by parents. It’ll be great! And you have so many friends there! Hang-outs! Slumber parties! Geeky photography nerd-outs!”

After a good while of hemming and hawing, I booked a spot at the What If Day Camp NY and bought plane tickets, so I’ll be visiting New York in a few weeks. I can’t say that I’m not apprehensive about it. The last time I was in New York, I found myself holding a cell phone in the middle of the sidewalk, with a finger plugged into one ear as I screamed to my friend in Houston, “Where is that store you were telling me about? I can’t find it” — as scores of people darted around this spectacle of an obvious teenaged clueless tourist making a spectacle of herself… and I’m pretty sure NYC hasn’t forgiven me for it. I mean, yeah, I was that person.

I cringe when I think about the last time I was in New York. It’s a quirky city, but I was young and naive and didn’t know what I was doing. I’m crossing my fingers that this next time it’ll be fun and different, and I’ll sense the spark that everyone else talks about.