Wednesday, November 23, 2016

After The Wedding Film: Katie Burns

"We also view each other as totally equal partners and don't follow the 'traditional' divisions of labor, meaning we share equally in housework, cooking, yard work, etc. (Though I insist on doing the laundry—otherwise Paul shrinks my clothes!)" ~ Katie Wassink
We filmed Katie and Paul's wedding in Gainesville back in 2008. It was the first wedding that Jeff and I had filmed at Gainesville's Sweetwater Branch Inn after moving here from Tarpon Springs. I remember the photographer being very creative with his shots, and I remember enjoying filming the beautiful suite that Kati and her bridesmaids were getting ready in, and how accommodating the staff were. Here is a secret...it is awesome to be a vendor at Sweetwater Branch Inn because they provide a table and chairs for vendors, located just outside the glass doors to the reception hall. It is great to have a place to put the gear down and sit for a second to change a lens and plug in a battery. The staff leaves a carafe of water and glasses on the table, sometimes even some sweet tea. It makes the whole filming experience pleasurable so it is easier to concentrate on working while feeling welcome and valued!

I was happy to catch up with Katie after 8 years! Here is Katie's account of their marriage and relationship... before, during and after the wedding film!!



8-Year Anniversary

On Finding Each Other
When I was 19, my mom and I signed up for a trip to Italy and France with our church, St. Augustine. On the itinerary were museums, cathedrals, countryside, and adventure, and I couldn't wait to explore. I had no idea, of course, that I was also destined to meet my future husband.


Paul and I were both undergrads at the University of Florida, where I studied journalism and he studied mechanical engineering. We attended the same church but had never met.


On the trip—which took place in the summer of 2004—I noticed Paul from the very beginning, on the charter bus that took us all to the airport in Miami. I was shy, though, and didn't say anything. (Interestingly, my mom did—she chatted with him on the bus for a while and came back to say, "He's really nice! You should talk to him.")


Eventually, toward the end of the trip, I did. The group was in Assisi, Italy, at the time, and one day at breakfast I asked him about a solo hike he'd taken the day before. Later that afternoon, a few people went up onto the roof to watch the sunset, and Paul and I spent a while pointing out animals and shapes in the clouds above.


From that point, we were inseparable, and we spent the rest of the trip together. (Sorry, Mom!) We continued to see each other upon our return to Gainesville before school started back up. Unfortunately, though, Paul had previously arranged to study abroad in Munich, Germany, for a whole year, leaving just a month after we returned. You can imagine how devastated I was to learn this! I already knew we were meant to be together, the same kind of knowledge that told me the sun would rise and the tides would turn—I simply knew it to be true.


So I waited, as a year stretched into 18 months. We were never dating, officially, before he left, and we kept only in minimal contact while he was gone. It was easier that way. When he did finally return, I drove down to meet him on the beach in Fort Myers. It was New Year's Eve, 2005. And we've been together ever since.


On The Wedding Day
Our wedding took place in October 2008, a few months after we both returned from living in Switzerland. (Paul went for a year of grad school there—are you sensing a pattern here?—and I joined him to work as an au pair for 6 months after I graduated from UF.) We were married in St. Augustine church by the priest who'd accompanied our group on the European trip. A bunch of our guests had also been on that trip and in a way were witnesses to our love story, making it extra meaningful.


Not everything went according to plan that day: I forgot to wear my earrings, the flower girls' baskets didn't show up with the floral delivery, and we weren't able to visit with everyone at the reception as much as we wanted to. However, I had to let all those little things go and focus on the big, important picture, which was that Paul and I were starting our new life together. Being surrounded by so many friends and family members made for a truly special day.

One favorite moment at our reception, which was held at the lovely Sweetwater Branch Inn, occurred when a group of international friends, who'd traveled all the way from Germany and Switzerland, got up and performed a long, intricate traditional German wedding song. Nobody could understand a word, but their enthusiasm made for a hilarious crowd-pleaser nonetheless!



On Marriage
Starting life as a married couple seemed surprisingly easy for us. We got a little condo and a cute little rescue dog, Buddy. We chose not to live together before the wedding, but we quickly fell into a natural routine afterward. It helps that we're pretty in sync, lifestyle-wise; for example, we're both morning people who enjoy quiet evenings at home. We also view each other as totally equal partners and don't follow the "traditional" divisions of labor, meaning we share equally in housework, cooking, yardwork, etc. (Though I insist on doing the laundry—otherwise Paul shrinks my clothes!)


Some advice to newlyweds: pick your battles. I'm an only child and got used to doing everything my own particular way. It took me a little while to learn that if Paul puts things in the "wrong" place in the pantry, or cleans differently than I do, that's OK! (Alright, I might still be working on this a little bit.) Get used to each other's idiosyncrasies and save the fussing for things that really matter.


After several years in Gainesville, my hometown, we took a big step and moved our lives up to Boston, Massachusetts, so Paul could take a new job just outside the city. Going so far away from my family, my friends, and the place I grew up to a place I'd never been wasn't easy for me. It also didn't help that we moved in the middle of winter, one day before a huge blizzard hit!



It ended up taking me longer than expected to find a job—about 6 months. I'd made some friends through Meetup, so I wasn't lonely, but my unsuccessful job hunt had me very discouraged all that time. However, the right position finally came along (with an awesome location in downtown Boston), and I'm still happily there over 3 years later.




We have a house in the suburbs now, just us, Buddy, and our second pup, Luna. We both love Boston—yes, even despite the winters!—and exploring New England. (Hiking in Vermont is a favorite.) I've learned over the years that I could go just about anywhere as long as Paul is with me. Living in Boston, and Switzerland before that, is something I probably wouldn't have done on my own, and I'm grateful for having done it with him. Now, if we could only make our family not so far away...


Paul and I agree that being married is wonderful. Even after nearly 11 years together, I can't wait to get home and see his face. And to think: it all started because we each wanted to take a trip to Europe.

 Thank you Katie!

p.s. Check out "After The Wedding Film" Post #1

Thursday, November 17, 2016

After The Wedding Film: Susan Claire Stieglitz


"In an attempt to pique my interest and keep myself engaged while healing,  I like to pull a random cookbook off my shelf and then open a random page and force myself to cook whatever is on that page. I find I heal better and faster when I specifically try new things and get myself out of my standard comfort zone while I’m grieving." - Susan Claire

Susan Claire is a wildly-creative entrepreneur. From running multiple small businesses, to creating professional cakes, to designing her own stunning wedding dress, she invents beauty. Also, she and her husband, Jeremy, run an international video-game company. Platinum Digital Video filmed their incredible French-countryside-themed wedding 4 years ago. 

Here is Susan Claire's beautifully honest account of life after marriage, and the ever-present pain of miscarriage.  


On The Wedding Day
Jeremy and I got married in 2013 in a perfect ceremony at Santa Fe River Ranch. I loved having people there to share in the beautiful day with us. 

Secrets:
One secret that you can’t tell by watching our wedding video is that our officiant told one of my bride’s maids that he gave me and Jeremy 6 months before we divorce because I was a “difficult” woman!! (Obviously he was wrong). Another secret, and one of my favorite parts of our wedding day was sneaking off to Burger King late at night when it was all over; that, and seeing Jeremy so happy. 

The beautiful video Shena made and photos of the day are what I have to remember everything. When I look at what she made, it helps me to remember how beautiful things are in retrospect. Somewhat like marriage; sometimes the moment can be challenging… but the outcome can be glorious.

On Grief
Shortly after our wedding I became pregnant and then miscarried. This experience repeated itself over and over. We still have no children to this day much to my deep sadness. Even doing errands is difficult sometimes as it’s hard to avoid seeing baby items, pregnant women, or moms with young children.

I had been running a beautiful little cupcake bakery downtown for a few years and even this came to a close as I dealt with my grief.


On Healing

Exercise:

With each miscarriage I have to try new methods of healing and medicine helps. Previously I didn’t do any form of exercise, as working in a bakery was physically quite a workout…. lifting 100lb bags and mixing everything by hand. Currently I do weight training 3 days a week and cardio training 2 days a week at a gym near my home. I find the weight training days especially beneficial when I’m feeling really sad or really angry. There is nothing like struggling under a weight that takes all your focus and effort to move, to get your mind off of something.

Cooking:

I really do love to cook. I have a large collection of cookbooks and antique cookbooks. In an attempt to pique my interest and keep myself engaged while healing I like to pull a random cookbook off my shelf and then open a random page and force myself to cook whatever is on that page, even if it sounds horrible. I find I heal better and faster when I specifically try new things and get myself out of even my standard comfort zone while I’m grieving.



Paris 2012
On Marriage

Working on ARK (see Jeremy's presentation about their new video game he designed) has been something Jeremy and I really enjoy doing together. Other than that I enjoy getting to travel with him, going to the movies, or snuggling up on the couch to watch TV together.

Marriage has helped me to learn to be more self-reliant. I came to marriage assuming at first that partnership heals all. You turn to it only to realize sadness persists despite being lessened. I came to see I must find strength within myself to feel and heal what hurts. Marriage is delightful, but it is no replacement for a healthy ability to care for your own emotions. By being in a relationship with another you can sometimes find yourself, or at least I did. Marriage provides a mirror for me to see myself more clearly. I learn who I am by seeing my own reaction to Jeremy which exposes myself to reflection within my own mind, permitting me to grow.

On The Future

Patience, losing my mind, hope, self control, nature, pets, music, good food, family, friends, and my spouse… these are all things that have helped me and continue to help me in my times of sadness. And I look forward to having a child regardless of if that means adoption or birth.

October 2016. Jeremy and Susan (on right) with Susan's twin sister and her husband (on left).
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-Thank you, Susan Claire for your open and honest account.

p.s. Check out "After The Wedding Film" Post #1


Friday, November 4, 2016

After The Wedding Film: Lauren Weseman

 "Marry the man that wakes up ten minutes early to cook you breakfast so that you can get a little more sleep. Marry the man that makes you laugh, even when you want to cry. Marry the man who puts the biggest smile on your kid's face. Most importantly, marry the man that will be your teammate in this life and next. Life is too short to spend it with someone who loves only part of you."
~ Lauren Weseman

 When I filmed Lauren and Michael's wedding in 2014 at the Santa Fe River Ranch, it was only the second time that I had filmed at the Ranch and as Jeff and I unpacked the gear from the car, I was in awe of the endless stretches of green and the golden, misty sunlight. This was the first time I had filmed at the Lodge where the girls got ready and I could feel the selfish-excitement of how gorgeous this was all going to look on film. As the girls got ready, there was a vibrant mood in the air of love and joy mixed with the grief that Lauren was dealing with, over the passing of her mother. I filmed her tattoo of angel wings on her shoulder, knowing it meant something special but not knowing at the time just how special it was.

 I have filmed hundreds of weddings and being so consumed with the technical aspects, I generally focus exclusively on monitoring the audio quality and getting the perfect shots. But at Lauren's ceremony I found myself hearing the words of the vows and wiping my tears as I filmed.


Recently, I watched this video and I wondered where Lauren and Michael were now. I messaged Lauren on Facebook to say hello, and I asked her if she could help with this blog series by sharing her thoughts about life leading up to her wedding day, and by offering a glimpse into married life afterwards.

Here are Lauren's words:

Michael and I have known each other for about 17 years. We went to the same church group growing up, and attended grade school together. Michael came back into my life at a time where I felt hopeless. At this point in my life, I had just gotten out of an eight year relationship, and I was losing my Mother to a long lasting battle with Carcinoid Cancer. My Mom was not only my parent, but she was my best friend. What person would want to come in at this point of anyone’s life? Who would want to deal with the emotional baggage I had to carry for years to come?  Michael came in and stood beside me and wiped away my tears. First it was as a good friend, and then as so much more. ​

To this day, I remember the day he asked me to be his girlfriend. He knocked on my door with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers. I remember opening the door and saying, “They are beautiful. Thank you!” He looked at me and said, “I have someone I need to go give these to”. Needless to say, I got in the car with him as he pulled up to my parents’ house. At this point in time, my Mother was slowly declining in health and could hardly get the strength to sit up and talk. We knocked on the door, and Michael walked right over to her with the flowers. I remember the look on her face. She knew. He knew. This was the man of my dreams, and with hardly one word, he was telling my Mom that he would always take care of me. My mom lost her battle to cancer a couple days after. Never one to not put up a fight, my mom fought until she couldn’t fight anymore. This was one of the most important days of my life. It was in that moment that I knew this was going to spend the rest of my life with this man.

Michael and I got married at the Beautiful Santa Fe River Ranch. I remember that moment as I walked down the aisle. I was so nervous! Would I trip in my shoes? Does my hair look okay? Will my pictures look good? Then I saw Michael. I’ll never forget that feeling. We locked eyes, and I felt at home.  It was so very important to Michael and me not to just have a day about the two of us, but about the people who had brought us to this point in life. We wanted to make sure our pastor addressed our family and friends to show the gratitude we had for all they had done for us. Thank them for helping us make us into the people we are today. We wanted to not only thank them, but to ask for the future support of our marriage. I remember the moment the pastor started talking about my Mom. I just stood there and kept my eyes on Michael. I knew she was there right by my side that day. She wouldn’t miss it for the world.

After Michael and I got married, we started building our dream home. Whoever thinks starting a marriage with building a house is a good idea, needs to probably rethink that idea! Do you know people cry over paint colors? Well, apparently I do. While it was a testing process, it was so nice to be able to start our marriage in our own house. We started our family out with a new Golden Retriever puppy named Tucker, and enjoyed life as newlyweds. Our free days were spent at the Beach, Football games, and spending time with friends. We did not have a care in the world.



Our carefree life ended the day we had our son, Brantley. It is so amazing to me how in that moment, your life truly changes forever. I never knew I had the capacity to love something as much as I love my son. The amazing thing is, I feel like my love for him grows daily. Being a Mom is something I had always wanted-I just never knew how much it would change me. Life is not always easy. I sometimes feel like I am failing. There was a point where I had to tell myself it was okay to not be perfect. It was okay for the floor to be dirty. It was okay for my body to not look and feel the way it used to. There is not a day when I would say it is easy, but there is never a day would I would say it wasn’t worth it.

At the end of the day, I pray that I can be the best mom I can be. I pray Brantley grows up to be a good person. I pray he respects others, and loves those around him. There are so many days where I just have to ask God to take over. I ask him to take over my worries, and help protect my family. Faith is one of the many things I have gained after having a child. Not only do I feel like I know the unconditional love of a parent, I now know the helpless feeling of raising a child. I do the absolute best I can to protect him, and the rest I give to God. Being a Type A personality, it is hard letting go sometimes. I have learned that I have to put my trust in God.



The advice I give to people who are looking to get married, is to marry your partner. Marry the man that wakes up ten minutes early to cook you breakfast, so that you can get a little more sleep. Marry the man that makes you laugh, even when you want to cry. Marry the man, who puts the biggest smile on your kids face. Most importantly, marry the man that will be your teammate in this life and next. Life is too short to spend it with someone who loves part of you. I thank God every day for putting this man into my life. He is the man that loves every piece of my imperfections, and makes me want to be a better human being. He’s my person, and I am his.



Thank you Lauren, Michael and Brantley!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

After The Wedding Film...The Blog Series Starts Tomorrow



That is Jeff and me in the middle! 2001


Wedding planners say that you can plan and plan for your wedding, but when the big day arrives, it is quite likely that one thing or another may not go as planned, and you just "gotta let it go".

So you see, your wedding day is pretty much a metaphor for life. We can plan for what we want and how we think things should go, but in the end we are going to go wherever life takes us and that is amazing.

This Friday we begin our blog series about where my couples' lives have taken them.
In their own words, our brides (and sometimes grooms) share what happened before, during and after the wedding film.



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