Team McLeod : The Bridal Party Portraits

Even with a total of 14 attendants we didn't budget too much time to formal portrait photography. Posed photos are nice, but they're not how I wanted to remember the day. Plus, they're boring, and it's hard to get a few people to all look good in a picture let alone 16. Everyone worked together to make this happen fast and I cannot express how much I appreciated that. My favorite photos of our friends are candids - ones with their mouths hanging open in laughter or a silly expression while busting a move. These photos though, I love because we're all together.
Jump! I hate jumping pictures - that's why our feet stayed firmly planted on the ground. After less than a minute of these I was already saying "Enough!". Rachel and the other ladies whose dresses were kept in place by tape were in full agreement. You can even see her hand is on her chest to keep that baby up.

Here is the obligatory laugh-and-act-casual pose. Some of us are more comfortable faking it and hamming it up than others.

kara, janie, meggan, rachel, ashley, kat, anna

Introducing the bridesmaids. First up is Maid of Honor Rachel. We met in Mrs. Soderquist's second grade class and were fast friends. She is the woman I can go to for anything. My best friend through elementary, middle, and highschool on through college. She is the reason Collin and I met, both times. Sure we all went to middle school together but it wasn't until the end of highschool that I actually met Collin. I was at a going-away party for Rachel when I found myself at a table next to a cute blonde boy. I remember we talked about being Irish and never getting a tan and distinct exclamations of "so you're Collin!" and "you're the Lindsey I hear about all the time." Two years later I would find myself on Rachel's porch in Gainesville when who else would walk up but Collin and Gabe. Our relationship didn't start for nearly another two years but it all comes back to her.

I also met Ashley in second grade. This time, it was ballet class. We were friends in ballet but not outside the studio until 4th grade when she came to visit our class to start in the gifted program. She just so happened to visit when we were giving presentations about our favorite author. We met again with me dressed as Louisa May Alcott. She's the only one of my friends to have been married herself and is the mother of a beautiful little girl. I am grateful she is always there for advice.

Kara and I also met in dance class, jazz to be exact. We always partnered up one day when our usal partner friends were out sick and it stuck. She is the only one of us who continued in dance all the way through college and is now living the dream in NYC with Rachel. I can't wait to be able to get up to the city to finally see her in a show.

Anna and I met in third grade even though she also went to the same dance studio and was already friends with the other three girls. She entered the gifted class with Rachel and I that year and we became friends. Anna was my Gainesville local throughout the wedding planning process. We spent many dinners at The Top talking about flowers and dresses and the groomsmen. In just a couple more years she'll be a doctor of audiology; definitely the most dedicated of us all. I look up to her in more ways than I think she knows.

These four women have been in my life through everything. Every awkward phase, every teenage drama, every college crisis and now through real adult trials and triumphs. They are my rocks - yes, I get to have many. We've all been closer and farther apart (physically and emotionally) over the last 15 years but we've made it. We stuck it out and stayed together so much longer than most girls can. We've all changed so much but I know we will travel our lives together in some way. These women I'll refer to as my laark ladies. The acronym stands for our first name initials and is the title to our collective private blog where we get together to catch up and spill our guts. It is a wonderful haven for us and one of the only ways we can keep in touch being scattered in different cities. I love these women.

Kathryn is my brothers long-time girlfriend. I usually refer to her as his 'Lady' because the term girlfriend just seems to trite. She is wonderful and fun and compliments him so well. I am happy to have her in our family and happy that she agreed to be a bridesmaid even though she once said she'd never be in another wedding again. Hah!

A nice individual portrait of Meggan isn't here. Sadface. She wasn't around when Djamel caught the girls all together for these photos. Thankfully we found a nice shot to crop in on her for the page in the album with the rest of these. It's not perfect, but she's there. I couldn't have ever asked for a better sister-in-law than her. Really, she's sweet and caring and we have so much fun hanging out. She's not too much younger than Collin and I and she's local to Gainesville which makes it easy to get together. She even has a creative streak like me and has become my thrifting/crafting/photography partner since I've moved to here.

Janie is the youngest of the bridesmaids, I called her a jr. bridesmaid to be exact. Originally with six other attendants already we weren't going to have flower girls or anything like that. We didn't have anyone the 'right' age and weren't planning on inviting kids under 15 or so to the wedding at all. Then I remembered my cousin Liz's wedding - where I was a jr. bridesmaid. It was amazing. I felt so special and beautiful in my dress and I was so important that I even got to be there when the bride was getting ready and everything! I wanted to give Janie this, so when I mailed out cards to the other women asking them if they would be in my wedding party, I sent one along to her too.

The girls on the right in this picture had it easy. The wind was gusting their hair into perfect modeling conditions while it was blowing the hair of the rest of them right into their faces. Good thing I had an updo locked down with a can of aquanet. I thought it was really interesting how all the bridesmaids chose to wear their hair down and curled (minus Rachel, of course). Every one of them was stunning that day. See, hottest bridesmaids ever.
So sweet. All the ladies just love Collin so much, but I don't blame them.
This is what happens when you instruct a big group of guys who don't usually have to stand for "wedding photos" to jump. They all go straight up in the exact same place.

Forrest, Sagar, Gabe, Kevin, Thomas, Sam and Asa

If only I had individual portraits to introduce you all to the groomsmen - but I don't. Suffice it to say that except my brother Asa, Collin has known his attendants from childhood too. He and Kevin, BFF's since age three and Thomas is Kevin's little brother. Forrest, Sam and he would skateboard around their Sarasota neighborhood. He and Sagar met in middle school. Gabe is the only person he met after moving away and even he is from Sarasota, too. They lived together for three years in a great big animal house before the three of us moved into our current home together. Who better to be the Best Man than the person who lives with us every day.
Now for some silly photos. I wanted a few pictures with just the four friend bridesmaids...
This quickly turned into Spice Girls posing and a throwback to our middle school days.
The guys got all West Side Story and were snapping away walking down the lawn. I think it was hard for Djamel to get them to really loosen up (see: jumping photo) but they ended up having fun and getting excelent shots.
While different groups were being photographed, the others had fun:

Before we knew it there were guests arriving and the music and decorations were still being set up. I admit, I started to panic. "They couldn't see the bride before the wedding! What are those arrangements doing on that table? Where are the cocktail hour linens?!" With my first opportunity to look around I was starting to see a lot of things being done, well, wrong.
Didn't anyone read that 14-page packet I spent so much time making? The one that had a diagram of the exact setup, the layout of each table, information about which flowers went where.
The bridesmaids and I went inside to get our first look and again, more mistakes. I started to re-arrange a few things myself when Kat picked up on my stress and decided to go swipe a bottle of champagne from the cooler. Brilliant. I shouted a few more directions at the coordinators for the day and was off to try and calm down. Too close to crying, I sat on the stairs of the parlor room and tried to keep it together. Kara poured a glass for each of us and by the end of a toast, I was ready. I don't even know what she said, but it took my mind off the superficial long enough for me to collect myself and remember that I was getting married and as long as that happened, the day was a success.

Just then the coordinator came in to say, "It's time." We went out the side door to line up and I downed the last of my champagne. This was it.