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adventure is in a little english town called matlock, where georgia and ali grew up and then got married.

first, the story:

as always goes in a story like this one, we had no idea what to expect as we rode the train from Knutsford, England into the Peak District. we knew that georgia and ali were going to be wonderful, and that her family had already been so kind and generous as we emailed back and forth. but as we arrived, as we went on hikes through the stunning wintry green hills of county derbyshire, as we unpacked our suitcase and camera gear at their family home in Matlock, we began to realize how blessed an opportunity we had been given in sharing this particular time with this particular family.

it struck me as I watched them that we had been invited, even paid to come eves drop on, something sacred. we weren’t just watching a bride as she got ready to be married, but as she turned in her key to the house, as she said goodbye to her childhood bedroom, and hugged her parents goodbye as their youngest child, their only daughter. we were watching them turn from a family into two separate families – the empty nesters and the newlyweds. history was happening right before our eyes, a right of passage unfolding, and we were invited to be the historians. and filling that role meant that we got to learn about the house they called home. We got to learn the soup recipe that her mom would always make on the weekends. We got to sit around and listen to her dad’s favorite records, and hear First Aid Kit (artists of the second song used in the slideshow) reverberate off the walls. In fact, despite family coming in from around the world, we were the ones who were offered the guest room in Georgia’s parents home.

We tell our couples that we come to their weddings not as a vendor, but as a close friend or family member. We have arrived at a wedding to discover we are staying in our own cottage next to family and friends. We have been given place cards and shared the reception meal with the couple’s loved ones at nearly all of our weddings. We have even been sat at the head table before. But we have never been so brought in, so honored, so made to be a part of the family in this intensely personal way. and what a family to be invited into!

these people were extraordinary and truly unique. and not just because it’s cool to say that about other people these days, but because for them it is true without their even trying to be. to be greeted in the peak district in the wintertime, arrive to a warm home and be offered slippers to put on our feet. then fed a hot pot of soup and offered good, cold beer while holding hands and thanking God for the food around a family table. that is truly unique. for a father to sing a song to his daughter all the years that she grows and then to learn to play the harmonica and perform this song for her with her mother and brother at the wedding, that’s unique. A bride who doesn’t need a fancy dress or kate spade shoes to impress anyone, but just has a dress made that she feels like herself in and can wear her favorite slippers with, that’s unique. the love these people had for each other, the lack of need to do the “status quo” for a wedding day and replace etiquette with house slippers and blue tights complimented with a flower crown, reindeer jumper and a brass band, it was all surprisingly poetic and wonderful. There are so many stories we could tell you about these dear ones, so many little endearments about each person we came across, especially georgia and ali. But part of the joy of being invited into a family is that sometimes, you just had to be there. and if you weren’t you have to hope that the pictures will somehow allow you to peek in the back window and feel what it might have been like to be there.

to georgia and ali and your wonderful families, this is our thank you note. it was one of our greatest honors to share that weekend with you.

to everyone else, this is the back window, we invite you to look in.

next, the experience, in motion:

georgia and ali from WE ARE THE PARSONS on Vimeo.

finally, the stills:

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by the parsons

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pen - These are beautiful images, as are the words you wrote above them. I love how you shoot from the heart, and connect with your couples the way you do. It shines through the images and will be treasured for generations.

Charis Warrell - beautifully real stunningly innocent. powerfully God-filled. x

Mercedes - I'm having trouble expressing what I want to say about this wedding. It is an incredibly precious skill to be allowed such intimacy into a couple's wedding day. You guys have an amazing gift with people and it comes out so beautifully.

Chris & Carly - Jeremy and Ashley, what amazing memories you have recorded! It was so good meeting you. You know where to come next time you're in the area!! God bless you. Chris and Carly

Jeremy Brown - Congratulations to the lovely bride and amazing groom. And to the photographers, darn it you guys. You made me cry again. Thank you for being you in front of all of us and showing us what you see. From my heart to yours.

andy - wonderful pics guys..lovely to have met you at ali and georgia's memorable wedding..it was special without your pics..but it has been made all the more memorable with all your pro work.. love the editing, and the use of contrast and focus..you have captured the beautiful essence of the wonderful couple and the most amazing day. Well done guys another great job in the bag! Andy and Jane

christopher messenger - beautiful, my friends. :)

adventure is in the peak district on the day before georgia and ali got married

We would like to introduce you to two of the best people on the planet. And they just happen to live in one of the most stunningly beautiful places on the planet: the peak district in Derbyshire – north of London by a few hours. Far more will be said about these two when it is time to blog their images, but for now, let these serve as a small glimpse into who they are, and the setting in which they live.

Standing on the edge of the cliffs at Monsal Dale – deep rich green grass bordered by stone fences, farms lying in the valley hundreds of feet below beside a snaking river, smoke rising from their chimneys, birds grazing in their fields – it was easy to thank God for the gift of sight as well as the 80 miles per hour wind in your face. And what a gift to have gotten to know Georgia and Ali.

We cannot wait to share their wedding with you.

by the parsons

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keri Bryant - oh parsons, How i love you so. Amazingly beautiful, as always!!

pen - These are beautiful images, as are the words you wrote above them. I love how you shoot from the heart, and connect with your couples the way you do. It shines through the images and will be treasured for generations.

samara - beautiful... I lived in the peak district ... and you just dragged my heart back there. xx

Lauren - Such a tease! Can't wait for the wedding photos!

sharon - what an incredible place and such beautiful photos you made there friends! I can feel what a lovely and fun couple they are :)

adventure is in the story of how lenora mae got here.

I had a random conversation recently with a random gentleman.

him: what do you do for a living?

me: I make photos.

him: like a photographer?  .. cool.  what kind of photos do you make?

me: um..mostly weddings..and births.

him: I’m sorry…births?

me: yeah, I make photos for people while they are becoming a family, I make photos of labor and birth.

him: …..(awkward silence..) huh. so isn’t that pretty…

me: raw? gory? messy?

him: yeah.

me: actually, yeah. it is pretty raw.    and it’s the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed.     and it’s the most beautiful thing those families will ever witness. so I really love being a part of it.

him: huh..interesting.. well, nice to meet you.

 

nice to meet you, too.

 

I struggle here. I struggle to tell you, yonder blog reader/friend/confidant how sacred this ground is I am about to walk on with you. I struggle because the act of a woman working harder than she will ever work to do the most miraculous act she could ever perform and then being willing to share it with you is a holy and sacred thing. Its not to be taken lightly and not to be trifled with. birth is real. it’s happening to someone right now. it happened to you once and if you are one of the lucky and the brave, you may give it to someone else someday. and it’s never a predictable, easy story to tell, either. you won’t find these images on a stylized blog giving women tips on how to be glamorous for their next baby. but long after stylized blogs have gone out of style, these images will live on and change lenora’s life.

don miller says, ” we get robbed of the glory of life because we aren’t capable of remembering how we got here.” well, I am as much a historian on this day as I am a photographer, because someday, lenora may is going to see these images and remember how she got here. her mom and dad, leslie and jesse will see them, too, and the struggle, the pain, the fear that she wouldn’t cry and get the fluid out of her lungs, the joy that she survived a natural birth, all of it will come flooding back.

so maybe you , as you stare at a phone screen or computer screen turning slowly into a dazed passer-by with a full bladder, will hear the new cry and the glory of being alive will rush back into you.

at least, I hope so.

but for now, leslie and jesse and lenora (and big brother, shepherd, too), I love you dearly and this is for you. xo

lenora mae from WE ARE THE PARSONS on Vimeo.

(song used is leslie’s favorite wilco song, a muzzle of bees)

by the parsons

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liz - Oh wow, I've only photographed two births but it was an incredible experience and now you've brought it all back to me - the feelings again. This is a beautiful documentary. Smiling and sending love to this dear family :-)

jessica sands - so perfect and wonderful, as always!

sharon - absolutely beautiful. thank you for making and sharing this xo

lecinda - just...wow. beautiful xo

Ruth - Beautiful, incredible, miraculous, indescribable. For this, I love my job!

Kate - That was absolutely beautiful! The tears and chills and wonder and excitement for them I had/have! Truly beautiful!