You guys, I have a total case of the Mondays!! It started with a sick child, forgotten school lunch, and was completed with a early morning fender bender!! Ahhh!!! Even so, I can’t help but smile when I look at this sweet family. Owen’s toothy grin is sure to put a smile on your face and is the perfect cure for any case of the Mondays.

Victoria and Matt are one of my all time favorites couples. We first met in 2012 when they were planning their wedding. This is the 5th time I have had the privilege to capture a milestone for them. I’m such a lucky photographer girl :)

This time they are celebrating Owen’s first birthday. I loved seeing Victoria and Matt enjoying their new roles as Mom and Dad. Owen is so obviously loved and cherished. He is full of life and has such a fun personality. He kept us all running after him and laughing, as he searched for the perfect leaf and flirted with the ladies who passed by.

Victoria’s wardrobe styling is perfection!!  Their outfits were a fabulous coordination of patterns and colors. Here are my favorites from their session. Thank you Matt and Victoria for sharing your beautiful little family with me. And happy birthday Owen!!!
-Jenn

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Bend the Light Photography specializes in family photography and children’s photography in San Antonio, Texas and surrounding areas. San Antonio Family Photographer.

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After being a wedding photographer for 10 years, I have come to realize that families have cultures, just like countries have cultures. Some families are playful, some serious, some formal, and some down-to-earth-casual. The “culture” of Nikki,  Nate, and their families, was overflowing with love, kindness and joy. You don’t have to spend much time with them to catch some of the overflow of their love. They (and their families) are a perfect match. It was a privilege to be their company to witness the joining to these families and an even greater honor to be the photographers entrusted with capturing their memories!!

When I arrived in Nikki’s room (at the gorgeous Hotel Havana!), I was instantly greeted with smiles and laughter. Nikki’s ladies were drinking mimosas, while oohing and ahhing over the perfection that was Nikki the bride. Everyone was happy to help and honored to be a part of Nikki and Nate’s celebration. One comment from me about the light being better from another direction, and there were three ladies in heels and sequined dresses rearranging the furniture!

Their wedding ceremony and reception were both held at the Southwest School of Art in downtown San Antonio, TX. It was truly a family affair. Nikki’s brother preformed the ceremony (unofficial title of “Bad Ass Officiant”), Nate’s brothers played the music for the ceremony, sang during the mother/son dance, and gave some of the most moving speeches I’ve ever heard at a wedding (and I’ve heard quite a lot of speeches!).

Nikki and Nate…Being a part of your wedding day was an absolute delight. We wish you all the joy and happiness that you give to others. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!!
-Jenn

PS – This day would not have been possible were it not for the wedding-coordinating guru that is Nancy Hernandez! (with Eventfully Yours) This was our first time working with Nancy, but it won’t be the last! She was absolutely. incredible. If you are on the hunt for a wedding coordinator that will thoughtfully handle every detail of your big day, Nancy needs to be on your list! –> www.eventfully-yoursllc.com

This gorgeous ring belonged to Nikki’s grandmother. I adore personal touches like this.  Nikki, you are a light. This smile was on her face all day. Nikki’s bridesmaids seeing her for the first time in her dress. Love those smiles. Special thanks to the furtiture rearranging bridesmaids for this image!! Don’t worry, we put everything back :) The whole group — bridesmaids, groomsmen, ushers and house party. They made my job so easy! Nikki ad Nate, you have some amazing friends and family!! Emma was the most adorable and helpful flower girl. Such a cutie!!

#GoodGirlGoneBadding (Nate’s last name). Best wedding hashtag EVER!!
Nikki’s parents walking her down the aisle. It is easy to see where Nikki gets her smile from. Weddings at the gazebo at the Southwest School of Art = our favorite. :)
I love this image. A hug between Nate and his brother Tyler, after he gave the most beautiful and heartfelt speech, describing Nikki and Nate’s relationship as a love song all their own. It was perfection. Nikki’s nephew, Sam, couldn’t resist giving his aunt a hug of congratulations! We are often asked if we take formal family photos… why yes, we doooo!

Southwest School of Art chapel, oh how we love thee for wedding receptions.  Nikki + Nate, your wedding was BEAUTIFUL and I can honestly say we will never forget it! THANK YOU for allowing us to capture these moments!

View our other weddings at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas here: http://tinyurl.com/BTLswschool

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Wedding Coordinator: Nancy Hernandez, Eventfully Yours, San Antonio TX
Wedding Ceremony: Southwest School of Art, San Antonio TX
Wedding Reception: Southwest School of Art, San Antonio TX
Bride’s Hair/Makeup: Ashley Kravitz, Blush
Bride’s Dress: David Tutera
Bridesmaid Dresses: Badgley Mischka, Rent the Runway
Wedding Band: Finding Friday
Floral: Evember
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Bend the Light Photography specializes in wedding photography and engagement portrait photography in San Antonio, Texas and surrounding areas. San Antonio Wedding Photographer.

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If you have been following us for a while, you may remember this post about my Mom and her passing last summer. And if you follow us on Instagram, you may have seen my many InstaStories about our new house. What I haven’t talked about is the connection between the two.

In 2006, my Mom was diagnosed with Carcinoid cancer, but that didn’t slow her down. She kept working. She was a nurse and a Diabetes educator who loved her job and the people she spent her days with. Working gave her purpose and joy. When she had to have a big surgery, she would take some time off and then go right back to it. For 10 years, she lived with cancer as constant cloud over her head, sometimes it was dark and gloomy, but usually it looked like there was a silver lining just waiting to peek through. She was a planner, with a filing cabinet of meticulously organized medical records, notebooks full of notes she made during doctor’s visits and hospital stays and a spreadsheet for everything. I realize now that these records and papers she could hold in her hands, organize and analyze gave her a sense of control over this disease that was driving the course of her life.

The last photo I have of my Mom and I. Mother’s Day 2016

My Mom was the closest family member that our little family had. Her quiet, strong, loving presence is woven intricately into countless memories. Family trips, birthday parties, home projects, holiday traditions, and a slow weekend at home. The hardest thing for me to get used to is not being able to call her on my way to and from my photo sessions and weddings. That was always our time to catch up and connect. I still get that excited feeling you get when you want to share something with someone important when I get in the car, and then I remember that I can’t call her anymore.

The first family photos at our new home.

Although we had been encouraging her to slow down for a couple of years, she didn’t retire until December of 2015, a mere 6 months before she was gone. If only we had known…She had been planning to live and travel and enjoy time with me, my brother, Michael, and our families for many years. Cancer had another plan.

Because of these years of planning, she left my brother and I with her retirement and her home. Within the first few weeks of her death, I knew that I wanted to do something special with what she left me, something big and tangible. Such a huge part of our family was gone, but I wanted the way she brought us together and loved us to live on.

Pretty quickly, I decided that I wanted to buy a home with the money she left me. A place we could fill with love and memories, a physical place to extend her legacy. Where our family would begin to deepen our connection to our friends and family, creating family from friends and friends from family. A place that would forever remind me to live with purpose, to slow down and enjoy, while at the same time stop waiting and live every moment. A home with space to entertain and share our lives with others.

Since the beginning of our marriage, Chris and I would spend weekends driving through historic neighborhoods and dream of  an older home with history and character. If I’m being honest, we maaaaay have started the house search a bit soon after my Mom’s passing. I was still overwhelmed with grief, but the house search gave me a welcomed distraction and something to look forward to.

Last winter, we found a home built in 1924, on an acre of land, but still in the city. It needed some work, but we were up for it. We closed on the house in December and after a few renovation projects that took 3 times the estimated time, we moved in about 6 weeks ago. It was our first move as a family. For our entire marriage, we’ve lived in the home Chris purchased before we even met. We loved our first, little house. It was the place that Chris and I met, shared our first kiss, first “I love you”. The place that we became a family.

These last 6 weeks in our new home have been a kaleidoscope of emotions, joy and sadness, confidence and fear, excitement and grief. A perfect blend of bitter and sweet. I often walk through the house and think of her, of how much she would love it, of all the projects she would have helped us with. I also imagine our future here, filled with the laughter of friends and our growing family. Our hope is that this new home will become a part of the cloth of our family, continuing the thread of love that my Mom had been weaving in us. We are looking forward while holding memories close to our hearts.

Our new front porch

As I just celebrated my first Mother’s Day without my Mom, I have come to realize that I am forever changed. I have replayed many memories in my mind over and over, wanting to have one more conversation with her, needing my Mom’s help to teach me how to live without her. But there is one thing I know for certain, her greatest desire was for me and my brother to be happy and fulfilled. I love her too much to do anything other than live big and bold, to create new memories, to pour the love that was given to me into the lives of those I am blessed to have around me.
-Jenn

My tiny dog, Romeo on our new front porch.

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We met Kendra back in 2015 at Chris and Katy’s wedding. Back then, she was one of Katy’s bridesmaids, dreaming of her own wedding some day. And now she’s engaged! It is the greatest compliment when friends of BTL Brides become BTL Brides themselves. Kendra and Jeff drove down from Dallas for their session. The trust that all BTL Couples put in us is something that we are always thankful for.

I’ve been looking forward to Jeff and Kendra’s session at their alma mater, Trinity University from the moment Kendra sent us an email. They gave me a tour of the campus, while walking down memory lane, sharing stories of when the first met and how they fell in love.  I love that we were able to use a location that was sentimental to them for their engagement session. We stopped at some familiar places and found some new ones too! Congratulations, Jeff and Kendra. Thank you for including me in your story. I can’t wait to see you again for your big day!

-Jenn

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Bend the Light Photography specializes in wedding photography and engagement portrait photography in San Antonio, Texas and surrounding areas. San Antonio Wedding Photographer.

 

Yesterday was May 10th. Just another day to most people… but for me, May 10th has always been a pretty big deal. I bought my first house 11 years ago (on May 10th). We shot our first wedding 9 years ago (on May 10th). After being told by the doctor that Jeff may have M.S., we found out last year that he DIDN’T (on May 10th). :) I’m not a superstitious person, but May 10th has always been a lucky, life-changing day in my life. Each year, I’m eager to see what it will bring…. And it’s almost always something.

Yesterday was May 10th, and it was BIG.

Maybe the biggest…

I’ve written and re-written this post several times in my head. Finding the right words has been tricky… “Is this too personal? Am I oversharing? What will our clients think? Will I cast a gloomy shadow on our usually-upbeat blog?”

I’ve realized something, though. Our journey to having a family isn’t a “gloomy” one. It’s been tough, absolutely. But it’s mostly a story of hope. And love (sooo much love, you guys). I love Jeff more today than I ever thought possible, our marriage 100 times stronger as a result of our infertility.

There, I said it…

Infertility.

It’s a taboo word, as we’ve found out. Even our closest friends and family members sometimes get quiet when we talk about it. It’s one of those topics where people just don’t know what to say. Jeff and I are 100% ok with sharing our story. It’s almost therapeutic for us. So many couples go through it, about 1 in 8 actually. If you’re one of the millions that have been affected by the pain of infertility, I want you to know that you are not alone.

When you’re in school, they never teach you that getting pregnant might actually be difficult. I remember feeling like it was possible to get pregnant if someone just looked at you the wrong way! :) But If there’s anything I’ve learned over the last 15 months, it’s that starting a family is often anything BUT simple.

Because that’s how long we’ve been trying to begin ours.

And as I look on with joy at my friends that are announcing their pregnancies and growing families, I’m thrilled for them (really!) But it’s also an undeniable reminder that we aren’t there yet, and I can’t help but feel sad.

And to be honest? Sometimes a little angry. I waited for YEARS to find the right person, and he is finally here. We were 34 and 39 when we were married… haven’t we waited for long enough? Are we somehow being punished for waiting so long?

When Jeff and I got married last February, we knew we wanted to start trying for kids right away. “We’re not wasting any time,” Jeff would say. “We’re getting pregnant on the honeymoon!” The clock was ticking, and we were eager to begin our family.

But it didn’t happen on the honeymoon, or in the months to follow.

I turned 35 in August. My sister-in-law bought an Aggie’s onesie for me for my birthday (Jeff loves A&M). I opened it up in front of our entire family. We were all sure it would happen any day. It was just a matter of time.

And then 2016 turned into 2017…

On January 17th of this year, when the answer was again “No, not this month,” something changed for me. My “Oh well! We’ll try again!” attitude was gone. I found myself on the floor in our guest room, crying my eyes out (as quietly as possible so that Jeff wouldn’t hear me). It was a new year, and I had SO expected to be pregnant by 2017. I’d imagined Jeff as a father so many times. We’d picked out names. We had dreamed about what sports our kids might play or what career path they might take. What if it was never going to happen? Could I be ok with that?

I had to know for sure what was going on.

On February 1st, we had our first appointment with our new doctor — a fertility specialist. I was so nervous, freaked out even. But he PROMISED (as he held my hand) that he would get to the bottom of things. It’s a funny feeling… you’re terrified that they’ll find something wrong with you. And at the same time, you want them to find something so that they can fix it. We braced ourselves for anything.

After running what felt like a million tests on both me and Jeff, we learned that there was something wrong. I needed surgery. I had a large, benign tumor (called a “fibroid”) inside of my uterus. Uterine fibroids are apparently common, but mine was the size of a large walnut (um, whoa.) In the off-chance that I had conceived a child, my chances of carrying to term were extremely small. Like, non-existent.

The doctor ordered that we stop trying for a baby immediately.

This is the part where things began to (finally) make sense. There have been so many moments over the last year where I have found myself weeping, literally crying out to God because I just. didn’t. understand why it hadn’t happened for us. Now I knew why. And we had a game plan.

I had the surgery on March 16th. The good news is that tumor was removed successfully. The bad news is that the doctor also discovered that I have endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disorder where tissue that normally lines the uterus somehow grows outside the uterus. I didn’t even know that was a thing… but it is. And it can also cause infertility. (insert sad face here)

So goes the infertility roller coaster. You’re hopeful. And then you’re brutally disappointed. You’re up. And then you’re down… My doctor was able to remove most of the misplaced tissue. Which means we’re up again. And he says that we are (finally) ready to have a baby.

Which brings us to yesterday, May 10th. Two months after the procedure, I’m fully recovered! I’ve been taking fertility medication (with some not-so-great side effects) for the past couple weeks, and the doctor said that yesterday (MAY 10th!!!) was our day to conceive! I’ve been joking with Jeff that conceiving on May 10th would make a great story. He hasn’t quite bought into my whole May-10th superstition, but this year I’m hoping to make him a believer.

I know it may not happen this month… but I am so, so hopeful.

In fact, the one thing I’ve never felt throughout this journey is hopeless. I know God has a purpose in all of this. Whether that reason is because God is still working on me and Jeff before we become parents, or because He has something else entirely planned for us, I know that His plan is perfect and His reasoning is infinitely better than ours.

And so, we wait. Some days with more patience than others… but always with hope. I know that this is only the beginning for me and Jeff, no matter how big or small our family is. ❤️

-Kaylinn

**Wedding photos courtesy of the incredible photography team, The Nichols.