Bianca & John | Mount Bonnell Elopement

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Bianca and John’s new marriage saw the last sun-soaked seventy-degree December day before a cold front came in that evening. We were lucky! The two got ready together at Archer Hotel with their respective siblings and ten-year-old Boston terrier, Bella. After reading letters to one another, we set off for the beautiful Mount Bonnell for their wedding ceremony.

Contrary to what these photos suggest, the famous spot was crawling with tourists who wanted to watch the sun go down over the Colorado River. They all gave a respectful berth while the two exchanged vows (with ring bearer and flower “girl” Bella!) on a cliffside edge. It was lovely being a part of their tiny celebration.

The couple donated to Planned Parenthood.

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Ayrinn & Les | Downtown Austin Elopement

capitol building rotunda wedding

As Les and I waited for his bride to arrive at the State Capitol Building, he described how he knew she was the one: “We’d been dating a while when we got into a car accident. We weren’t hurt, thankfully, but the car was pretty messed up. I was trying to get her out of her seatbelt and realized she was doing the same for me. That’s when I was like, wow, we love each other so much. I need to be with her forever.”

It was a frigid day in Austin, but that didn’t stop Ayrinn from slipping off her fuzzy sweater to get married in a strappy sequined white dress. The two took frequent breaks to wipe tears and hug each other during their vows. It’s hard to feel the cold when you see such heartwarming love in front of you.

Ayrinn and Les were the first of my couples who opted to move up their wedding and donate to a good cause. The couple donated to the ACLU.

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Officiant: Judge Jan Breland

2016 Book Post | My Favorites of the Year

I haven’t written a book post in 3 years! Life got a little bit away from me; I was shooting a ton of weddings, and the blog was hoppin’ with all the fun and beautiful days I was able to document. But this entire time, I’ve been challenging myself to read fifty books a year, and in the past three years I’ve surpassed that goal each year.

Usually, I let Goodreads mark my progress for me, but I feel that actually ranking different genres of books, as well as books outside of my comfort zone, may be a fun task. Book aficionados, you agree with me, right?

Let’s start with the books I read in 2016…


As always, you can follow me on Goodreads to see details of these books

Best books of the year:

I have a hard time narrowing down all 76 books to distinctively say, “Yes, this is the best book I read this year,” but I do have a short list of favorites I feel others should read. In no order:

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman (nonfiction essays) by Lindy West
When Breath Becomes Air (memoir) by Paul Kalanithi
A Little Life (fiction) by Hanya Yanagihara
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (fiction) by Bryn Greenwood
Conviction (YA) by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Between the World and Me (nonfiction essays) by Ta-Nehisi Coates


Usually I’m a big fiction fan, but this year I branched out and read more memoirs and essays. The social discourse about feminism, #blacklivesmatter and racial tolerance, helped me to understand the world a little better and to understand myself better. If you only read one book this year, let it be Shrill. 

My book club laughs at me and says that I’m all about the bleak books, and I do have to say that the books on this list are more on the side of heavy realism than stories with happy endings (which I also love too, by the way). When Breath Becomes Air is a memoir of a man who was about to become a neurosurgeon and discovered he had terminal cancer. (You will cry.) A Little Life, a 700-page tome about four friends growing up in New York, will make you hate people. (You will cry.) All the Ugly and Wonderful Things follows a child who falls in love with an adult — but for some reason, you root for this strange relationship. Conviction is the story of a young man in the Bay area whose father is on trial for the murder of a police officer and his struggle to remember what happened so he can give testimony. Between the World and Me is a collection of essays from a black man to his son about the state of the world. (You will cry.)

Every book made me think about every value that I already hold, made me wonder what are exceptions to these rules, and consider other people’s realities in the world I also occupy. Reading is both an escape and a way for me to gain empathy for others. I highly recommend it.


Favorite YA books:

I’ve been reading more Young Adult work this year, in part because I joined a YA book club in late 2014. Some favorites…

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen (really, all Sarah Dessens)

Favorite “Cold Pick” Read:

Sometimes you just pick up a book that looks interesting and it turns out to be great. I love those happy accidents, don’t you? My Kindle screen broke earlier in the year and a friend gave me his bricked Kindle that had an intact screen. My husband took my working battery out of my shattered Kindle and put it into the bricked one. After re-loading my books into the “new” Kindle, I found that a few of the old owner’s titles remained. So I started Room by Emma Donoghue on a plane and was so enthralled I finished it in all the spare moments I could, while in New York City. Had no idea about it except that Brie Larson won an Oscar for her performance in the movie adaptation, but it was amazing. If you are also unfamiliar with the novel, it’s written in the voice of five-year-old Jack, who has been stuck in a room with his mother for his entire life. You come to learn that Jack’s mother was an abducted woman who has been kept in a shed by her captor for years. It’s haunting and will stick with you.

Best “Happy” books:

Yes, I’m a bit of a downer sometimes. So here are some happy novels!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: her novel Fangirl was one of my favorite reads of 2015 and I really enjoyed this slightly more sci-fi, adult novel about a woman who discovers a magical phone line to her husband when he was in college!

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick: you may know her best as Beca from Pitch Perfect or maybe Jessica from Twilight, but Anna is a feisty and witty young lady whose book made me laugh out loud. I saw her when she visited Austin for her book tour and she’s whip-smart in real life too.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer: her Lunar Chronicles series was one of my favorite reads from last year, and this collection of short stories with familiar characters from the series, tying together some loose ends, was so adorable and made me happy.

Any favorites of yours? I’m always looking for recommendations! Have you read any of these? Do you agree with me on my picks?

Note: the Amazon links are affiliate links