life

Our Joshua Tree Elopement

Whenever I talk about having eloped, I'm usually met with the same response: their eyes get big and wide, a smile leaps onto their face, and they ask lots of questions. We're celebrating six months of marriage this Saturday, so I thought it'd be the perfect time to post a few answers!

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Deciding to elope was a big + hard decision for sure. I've been to my share of gorgeous, traditional weddings - I mean, how else could I have gotten so interested in the world of WEDDING photography?! I was covered with goosebumps when my friends Tiffany and Matt exchanged vows during a Catholic ceremony, and equally so when Madison and Walt said "I do" at a 100-year-old southern home. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing something more traditional.

I believe a wedding should aim to be a reflection of your relationship. This is the very beginning of the new start in both your lives. It's a manifestation of the bonds you've built together and all you've been through. It's a bridge from where you've been to where you're going. Your wedding - and your marriage - don't have to look like any one else's.

It just has to work for you two.

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We decided to elope for a few reasons: 

1. Even though we're social, we're both introverts at heart. The thought of a huge wedding seemed so out of character for us. We'll take a vegan pizza loaded with veggies + a documentary on Netflix over going out to a club any day; something that felt super high-energy would have been really straining and felt unnatural.

2. We *try* to keep things pretty minimal. We're both passionate about sustainability and try to be mindful of that whenever we can. Traditional weddings can produce a lot of waste - from the bridesmaids gowns that will never be worn again, to an exorbitant amount of leftover buffet food no one will eat. A lot of more modern approaches have made great progress in reducing this waste, but again - it just felt like it would be forced and not in line with our values.

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3. As big fans of travel, nature, and national parks, we wanted to choose a location that really reflected those interests. Neither of us was excited at the thought of having a church wedding, and by eloping we avoided that entirely! We researched a lot of different parks and places. We decided to stay in California because we had just made the big adventure out west and everything was still (and is still) so exciting to explore! Joshua Tree is incredibly picturesque and not as highly trafficked in January as many other California parks, so we knew we would have a little more intimacy in that space.

4. Financially! I recently read the average U.S. wedding costs $35,000. With us both having graduated college only last year, $35k wasn't something we were itching to add to the piles of student debt laying around. When it was all said + done, our wedding cost us about $1500. He wore his best suit but bought a new tie + pocket square, I bought a dress online + had it fitted. We bought locally-roasted coffee in Joshua Tree to drink after exchanging vows and picked up way too many flowers from the Downtown Los Angeles Flower Market (did you see that bouquet? so much for minimal!). We stayed at a super cute AirBnb in the desert + spent time enjoying nature.

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5. We wanted to be married already, damnit! After dating for nearly 5 years and living together for almost as long, we both knew we were in it for the long haul. We had celebrated victories and mourned losses. We worked countless busy weekend brunches at one of Atlanta's top restaurants (shout out to The General Muir), which bonds even strangers in unimaginable ways. We traveled together, helped each other make big decisions, and supported each other through it all. More than anything, we were extremely happy and ridiculously in love. 

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The first month we were dating, I told him I'd marry him whenever he was ready. It took a little longer than I would have liked, but in the end I wouldn't change a thing.

 

**Photo credit to the amazing Victoria Bonvicini. So grateful for these beautiful images that captured the day, and for the inspiration she has always served for my own journey in couples photography! 

Room to Grow

 

For years, I've heard so much advice on honing in, "niching down" -- and for years I felt like I was destined to fail because I could never devote my whole heart to one singular craft.  My entire life, I feel like I've been interested in so so much. So about two weeks ago, while I navigated the process of securing a full-time job rather than continuing as a contractor, that was a huge concern. I didn't want to be pigeon-holed into a job title that felt small or narrow - I wanted to make sure I had room to grow. I wear a lot of hats, and that's exactly the way I like it. I design beautiful materials that tell stories. Some days, the way I do it looks differently than others. 

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Loving photography - loving the way someones face lights up when they see themselves exactly the way they want to be seen - doesn't mean that I love design any less. My B.F.A in graphic design - and the years I spent prior to receiving it, ogling good branding from the shelves of my local Target - was pivotal in getting me where I am now, and where I hope I continue to go. 

 

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If you're struggling to hone in on one particular thing, know this: what you do now doesn't have to be what you do forever. Take one step in a direction that feels right, and then do the next thing that feels right. Our world doesn't function the way it did fifty years ago. It's become acceptable for many people to live out many passions, many job titles within one life - even at the same time. If you get to a point where that thing you loved no longer feels right, investigate. Pump the brakes a little. Is it the work itself that's bothering you, or is it something else - the industry you're working in, the clients you're working with, or the way you're doing business? Commitment isn't a life sentence - you can be committed to your work and still find a way to pivot. Or maybe you try something else entirely. That's okay too. 

 

Maybe like me, you're working a 9-5 with a passion hustle. Yes, that is a combination of passion project and side hustle - my photography business is both a passion project and a side hustle and so much more. It's an integral part of my identity and truly shapes how I see the world. But Monday through Friday, I funnel my energy into helping other people achieve their dreams. I still get to stretch my creative bones, and often I even get to incorporate photography - but it's all me, all the time. I don't want to be "work Morgan" and "Kept Record Morgan." I love the stability and perspective that working my conventional job provides. It also allows me to think with a mindset of abundance when it comes to Kept Record, because I don't have to react from a place of scarcity. I say yes to projects I want to work on, rather than projects I would hate to work on but need to make the extra income. It's not the right way for everybody, but it's definitely something that's working for me. 

 

Understanding that our work identities are as fluid as our identities in any other way has given me such a renewed appreciation for the work that I do -- all of it. Taking the pressure off to be one person here and one person there allows me to bring all of my talents and insights to the table. Whichever one that may be.