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National sibling day

So…I had no idea that yesterday was National Sibling Day til Wednesday’s blog post was already up. So forgive me for posting this late, but I couldn’t let the opportunity to post this go by! I LOVE sharing this very personal story and think it’s perfect to share in honor of National Sibling Day.

My sister and I are close in age (about 20 months apart, me being the older) so we were very close growing up. Since our family moved a lot, the four of us were a tight knit group and my sister and I basically did everything together. Yeah, might have been bickering, tattling, (cough, not me, cough), and of course, fights (and in some cases even hair pulling and bleeding!), but we always shared a close relationship and a special bond I feel like only sisters can really share. We ate our meals together, watched tv together, did homework side by side,  and spent a lot of time playing “babies”. Our “babies” were a group of six stuffed animals and dolls…I had three “kids” named Monkey, Emily, and Amy and my sister had Tiger, Buttercup, and Sarah. Oh you don’t think it gets weirder than that? HAHA. Our other imaginary “mom friends” were all characters from Xmen. Yes, you read that right. Don’t judge!

Eventually we grew out of boy bands, “babies” and weekends spent watching cartoons and we traded in our Barbie dolls for driving around in my sister’s little white truck. We still pretty much did everything together and though back then it was kind of something we almost did by default, those days are some of my favorite memories. My sister was always there for me. And though sometimes I wasn’t as grateful for her as I should have been, I did my best to be there for her too. In those times, growing up, I needed her. And she needed me.

Photos from left to right, top to bottom: Christmas 1989, Chattanooga, TN sometime in the 90s, King’s Island Mason, OH,  my sister’s birthday, 1992.

A few years later I had moved out of our parents home and gotten engaged. When I started thinking about my bridal party there was no question in my mind about who my maid of honor would be. It would be my sister. Duh. After the world’s longest engagement, the year of the wedding finally rolled around and I got some news that at first I didn’t know how to deal with…My sister had decided to join the Army. I was so proud of her, but it was hard to not think about the fact that her basic training was going to end a week before the wedding meaning she would be 1,600 miles away at AIT and not able to fly home. I took it hard. I took her leaving hard. I’m HORRIBLE at goodbyes, even if they’re only for a little while. I chalk it up to abandonment issues, but for whatever reason, I was legitimately depressed when she left. I wrote letters every day…even a letter from the cat because I couldn’t bear for there to be a day where the mail came and she was the only soldier who didn’t get a letter.

Over that last few months of my engagement and her boot camp a lot of things went through my mind, including whether or not her not being there was a sign that I shouldn’t be getting married. I say I don’t really believe in signs, but I do believe that things usually work out the way they are supposed to. I couldn’t figure out why things were supposed to work out to where one of the only people I truly trust wasn’t going to be able to be at my wedding. I was young. Only 23 at the time and sure in my heart that if it was meant to be, my sister should be there.

Boot camp graduation was the week before the wedding. I went with my family to South Carolina. I cried a lot. I was so happy to see my sister, and so proud I couldn’t really even begin to describe it. But I was also incredibly sad that I was going to have to say goodbye again and not see her next week on what was the biggest day yet of my 23 years. I also really struggled with the idea that my little sister who I always want to protect would be using guns and could go to a war. She is so strong and fearless and brave and I felt so weak and sad. This is still something that I think I struggle with. That I can’t really protect her. To be honest, I’m not sure if I ever really did. I know I’m older, but for a lot of our lives it’s like she’s been taking care of me.

The next week (the week of the WEDDING!!) I was actually too busy to spend much too time dwelling on it. That was a good thing. And I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that things were the way they were and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Maybe I was in denial though, because two days before the wedding it started hitting me hard. We were arranging flowers and she called to ask how things were going and I finally realized if she was coming, she would be leaving now. So that was it. She wasn’t going to be there.  I cried at least twice the day of the rehearsal. We were getting our nails done and I got a little weepy. And then I was sitting there at lunch with my friends and thinking how much fun she would be having if she had been able to be there. And I cried then too. I was probably the saddest bride anyone had ever seen! Poor John.

The worst was actually AT our rehearsal. Our officiant wasn’t aware of the situation and as we were rehearsing, she kept asking me where the maid of honor was. I heard myself say “She’s not here” for like the millionth time before I totally started bawling. Like Kim Kardashian ugly crying. It was gross. Again, poor John! His fiance was flat out sobbing at his wedding rehearsal…and not happy tears! I was so happy to be marrying him, but I couldn’t  stop feeling sad. I know that is not rational, but I wasn’t thinking like a normal person. My sister not being there for this important day really made me feel like something was missing. My sister is not just my sister. She is not just a family member or a friend.  She’s a part of me. Sometimes I question things in life, like how I got to be here, was I meant to be adopted, etc…but somewhere within me I know that my sister and I were meant to be sisters.

I don’t really remember the rest of our rehearsal. I do remember my friends riding with me to the rehearsal dinner and talking A LOT. Probably to get my mind off of my outburst at the rehearsal. And to cheer me up.  We got to the restaurant and they bought me a Blue Moon (my favorite) to cheer me up and I started to act like a normal person again. After that, things started happening so fast. My dad came over and told me my sister had called to talk to me. He said he’d let me take the phone outside, probably figuring I wouldn’t want to cry again in front of everyone and embarrass myself. HAHA.

When I got outside, I put the phone to my ear and said “Hello, hello?”. Assuming the call was lost, I just handed my dad his phone and said I guess she’d call back later. I was disappointed, but I knew she didn’t really have that much time to talk on the phone anyway. Before I could even complete my thought, I heard my dad saying well that’s because she’s here! And my sister literally RAN OUT FROM BEHIND A CORNER and hugged me for what was both the longest and shortest time ever. It was seriously the happiest moment of my life. The relief  I felt was huge. I don’t know how to explain how much this meant to me except to tell you that I couldn’t even write this paragraph without tearing up like a baby. (Can you tell I cry a lot???)

Later I came to find out exactly how hard my family worked to get her home. They were working on it all week and no one even whispered the possibility out loud to me because they didn’t want me to find out and then have their plan fall through. Imagine the double devastation! My dad called my sister’s captain and somehow the person who first said no was on vacation and the other person said yes. They pooled their money to pay for the last minute (I’m talking I’m-at-the-airport-now last minute) plane ticket and got her home just in time. The night before the wedding we slept in her old room in my parents house and though it didn’t feel like when we were kids, it felt just right. Instead of serving her Maid of Honor duties (she didn’t have a dress), she read a poem at the ceremony instead. We all cried. Are you noticing a trend? HAHA.

People ask me if my tattoo is for my husband, which is the logical assumption since the ee cummings’ poem was read at our wedding ceremony. The answer is yes and no. Because I also meant it to be for my sister, who is such a part of me that I carry her with me no matter where I go.

Wedding photos by the fab Jodi and Kurt of Jodi Miller of Photography. All others are personal photos.


Aw Katie, that is such an AWESOME story!! You had me tearing up. 🙂 my brother (18 months younger) finished Army training 1 week before my wedding too! I knew there was always the chance the army would change their mind on his time off (it’s the army, it’s what they do!) so seeing him walk into our rehearsal was amazing. 🙂 he was deployed for my sister’s wedding a year later, but surprised her by skyping in. Sounds like you have an AMAZING family and I’m so glad your sister was there for your wedding!!


This made me cry!! I am a twin sister so I could relate to this through every sentence! Your bond with your sister sounds just like mine with my sister. I enjoyed reading your story so much! I always say that I’m going to tear up when walking down the aisle (yes for Neil) but for some reason more for Jessica, my sister. I don’t really know how to explain that but after reading this, I think you’ll understand!

Katie Nesbitt

Aw!!! I totally understand what you mean!!

Katie Nesbitt

Aw! I’m so glad your brother made it home for your wedding!! And that is so awesome he surprised your sister at hers!!

It’s too early for tears but thanks for making my eyes water this morning. Such a great story. Thanks for sharing something so personal. I’m the oldest of three girls so I can relate to the babies, barbies, imaginary husbands and the lovely fights but it’s all worth it to have siblings. It’s really great to get a look into your amazing family : )

What an awesome story. Well done for being so brave to tell it!

Ashley Barnett

Awww Katie I love this!! I am an only child and stories like this really make me wish sometimes I had had a sibling 🙂

love this post 🙂 i couldn’t imaging such a special day without my sister and i’m SO GLAD she was able to be there!!!

aw katie! I definitely teared up reading your post!!!! The military can be rough.. Andrew and I were both REALLY upset when we found out his brother is going to be deployed when we have our wedding.. so sad. I’m so happy things were able to work out for you on you wedding day!!!!!!!

omg. you should have warned me that i needed tissues to read this post. BEAUTIFUL. and amaaaazing story. makes me want to call my sister and tell her i love her RIGHT NOW. 🙂

What a beautiful post! Makes me wish I had a sister 🙂

And I love your tattoo!!!!!!

Wow!! I read this this morning and was crying while I was getting ready for work! Such a beautiful story. And I love that your sister was able to surprise you for your wedding!! Makes me think about my God-sister studying abroad in Australia this semester…even though we’re not real sisters, we might as well be, and having her so far away has been very hard. Here’s to sisters and all that they mean to us – near or far! 🙂


oh my gosh…i’ve read this like five times by now and cry every time…i’m SO happy you ended up posting it..such a great and inspirational story with an awesome ending! i love when real life feels too good to be true!!!!! and i totally understand about the worrying..i’m a professional worrier too;)…half of my family lives in germany and sadly, werent able to come to my wedding, but as a wedding gift they gave us tickets to come see them for our one year anniversary!
I’m SO thankful for amazing people like your sister who work so hard so that we can be free!!!!!!!!!

Stephanie + Brad | Yorktown Engagement Session

I have seen a lot of commercials for e-harmony, and I always wondered to myself if it really worked. Well, after meeting Stephanie and Brad and spending some time with them, I know for sure that it does! They could not be a better (or cuter) pair if they tried. John and I spent Saturday afternoon hanging out with these two at Yorktown Beach and got to hear all about their wedding details. I am SO excited about all of the fun things they have planned!!


SUCH a classy all of her outfits!! And these are all beautiful:)’re amazing!!!

BEAUTIFUL! This session in outstandingly beautiful. Great job!

oh wow. these two are amazing. SOOO beautiful!!!!


ahhh love love love! such a cute couple.. yay eharmony!


All the pictures are beautiful but the black and white pictures with the polka dot shirt are my favorite too. You both look very happy and in love. 🙂

Confessions of a Former Bride: Part Six

Did you think this series was gone? IT’S BAAAACK! You can blame my busy schedule and writer’s block for it’s brief absence 

Like with many wedding related things, I found that shopping for a wedding gown could be somewhat of a roller coaster ride. At least for me. So, I thought I would share a few tips on getting the most out of the experience! Feel free to share yours in the comments!

Before you go, do your research!
Before you head out to dress stores, look online and become familiar with wedding dress designers and silhouettes. Think about what styles suit the type of wedding you are having. If you’re having a rustic wedding, a gorgeous lace gown might work, but that same gown might look completely out of place at a super glam ballroom wedding. I personally would advise that you don’t shop for your gown before you have at least settled on your venue!! I know gown shopping is super fun, but you might be doing yourself a disservice if you shop before you at least know the overall theme of your day. I actually bought a super traditional white satin a-line gown with a beaded bodice before we decided we wanted our wedding to be a soft, romantic garden wedding. The dress I bought didn’t suit our day so I ended up consigning it and buying a second dress.

Have an open mind
So I know I JUST got finished saying you should get familiar with designers and silhouettes and to think about what you like. Okay. But you should definitely keep an open mind, because you just might find that what you’re looking for is something you thought you didn’t like at all! I thought I hated lace and embellishments, but once I got into a lace gown, I LOVED it. Once i had on a lace gown it was no longer a grandma fabric that I hated, it became a soft, romantic fabric that I desired! So I definitely advocate keeping an open mind and being willing to try something outside of your comfort zone. Trying doesn’t hurt anyone!

Know your budget
Wedding gowns are not cheap. And honestly, when you really start thinking about how practical it is to drop a lot of $$$ on a gown you only wear once (yowo?? ha!) it can get stressful coming up with a budget. No matter what your budget is, please come up with at least a range before dress shopping and then DO NOT  try on gowns that are over that budget unless you are really okay with paying the difference if you try it on and love it. Because you will probably love it. That’s just how life works:(  If you are trying to save money or stretch your dress budget, I would suggest checking out other alternatives…there are lots of great used wedding gowns for sale online at sites like Once Wed. Let’s say you tried on an incredible J Crew gown but it’s just too much out of your budget…google the style number and see if someone is selling theirs! Also, there may be a bridal consignment store in your area! I actually bought (and then sold) that first gown I chose at Blush Bridal Consignment here in Newport News. I always recommend them to my friends who are engaged because they have such a great selection (tons of stuff by designers!!) and really good deals!

Don’t bring everyone you know
When you’ve finally scheduled your appointments to try on wedding gowns it’s time to start thinking about who you want to take with you. I personally would advise against a huge entourage at least at your first appointment. Dress shopping is stressful enough without including the opinions of a big group of people. I know it’s hard because everyone wants to go with you, but really consider whose opinions you trust the most when deciding who to bring! This is not necessarily the time to invite the most opinionated people you know…but if you feel bad about leaving certain people out, there will always be fittings later on you can invite them to!

Be Prepared!
Make sure you take with you to your appointment: a hair tie so you can see how you’d look with an updo (this CAN make a difference!!), a good strapless bra, and pictures of any styles you know you are interested in. Also, I definitely recommend you think about your choice of underwear before your appointment…I had no idea that I would need a friend or a stylist to help me into the dresses, so if you are modest like me, I would definitely suggest you do NOT wear a thong or the comfy underwear you love with two kissing schnauzers right over the butt. *cough*

Enjoy Yourself!
Although wedding dress shopping can be stressful at times, it can also be very fun, kind of like playing dress up when you were a kid (but on steroids!). This is the one time in your life when you will get to have this experience, so you should make the most of it! Make a couple appointments and make a day out of it! Go for pedicures first, do some dress shopping, and then enjoy lunch somewhere with real cloth napkins. Have fun!! And text your wedding photographer a picture of your gown! If she is me, she will LOOOVE to see.

To conclude this post I decided to share some outtakes from when I went dress shopping back in 2010 (seems like SO LONG AGO!). Excuse my unexcited faces…that’s just how my face looks.



umm… those all look fabulous on you 🙂

Fun post – SMILE!


Aw this makes me go back! It does seem like forever ago!!

Katie, which of these did you end up going with for your wedding (if any)? they all look fantastic on you!

Katie Hill-Nesbitt

I went with the one on the bottom left!! I really liked the top left dress a lot, but it was 300 over what I wanted to spend lol.


Wow! Every single one of these dresses look amazing on you!!

Just for fun I’m going back through these old posts, and I totally tried on the bottom right one! My mom was convinced that it was “the one” but I was disappointed that all of the “pretty stuff” was on the back.

The Katelyn James Workshop Experience

If you read my blog every once in a while (Thank you!!) you might have seen a post a while back where I explained how I got started and what photography means to me. Well, that post was actually my entry into a contest to win a seat at the Katelyn James Workshop Experience!! I hate entering contests because I’m always so afraid to lose, but when Katelyn announced she was hosting (is that the right term?) a contest for a seat at her workshop, I decided to enter anyway. I knew that even if I didn’t win, challenging myself to enter the contest and open myself up would be a good, positive thing to do. Well…to my surprise, I ended up winning third place and being able to afford to attend!!  I was SO pumped when I found out I was a winner! I was having a terrible week (you know, the kind that make you question your whole life) and winning a prize definitely helped lift my spirits!

Last Friday I drove out to Richmond to attend the workshop not really knowing what to expect. I’d never been to a workshop before and was pretty nervous! What if my questions were stupid or too obvious?? Honestly, even if my questions were the worst questions in the history of questions, I would have never known! Katelyn was super sweet and patient and answered every question we could come up with.

I have been following Katelyn’s blog for a while now and I will just say that I really liked her from reading her posts, but I LOVE her as a person in real life (you know, not on the internet…ha). She is incredibly genuine and has such a good heart. You can tell that she really cares about people and you can’t help but love her for that. Not only did she share tons of her secrets with us, she was also incredibly encouraging. I really appreciated that!! I tend to be pretty hard on myself.

The day started in the classroom, where we learned about posing and light. After that we got to observe Katelyn in action and then had the chance to shoot a sweet mardi gras themed wedding put together by Dana FitzGerald! YES, I said mardi gras! The couple that modeled got married a year ago in New Orleans so the theme was in their honor!

LOOOOVED the florals, especially the bouquets by Janie Medley of The Bride’s Cafe. I’m obsessed with those purple ranunculus!!

Bridal Gown and Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Joanna August available at Bella Bridesmaid Richmond Mini Birdcage VeilTigerlilly Jewelry Jewelry: Simply Vera Vera Wang  Wedding Cake: Kristine Bender of K Rose Cakes Chairs, linens, and tables: Perfect Party Creative Director and Stylist: Dana FitzGerald Floral DesignJanie Medley of The Bride’s Cafe  Makeup Artist and Hair Design: Emily Hudspeth Calligraphy: Moya Minns of MM Ink  Model: Emily Hudspeth (Bride) Location: Virginia Center for Architecture


*Special thank you to: Ruby Press and Janie Medley of The Bride’s Cafe



Love it katie!!!!!! Your images are BEAUTIFUL and I’m so happy you took that chance and entered the contest!!! 🙂

Katie your images are fabulous!!! I’m so glad that you entered the contest and I’m even more glad that we got to meet and share this experience together!!


AMAZING! love all of them:)…sooo soo happy that you were able to go:).

Of course I remember because that’s how I found your blog :_) and of course, I still believe you needed to win!

So glad this was a wonderful experience for you – looking forward to following your journey!

Awesome work!

LOVE these!! so so gorgeous! and i adore your blog… you’re adorable! so excited for you! xoxo

Kelly Hudspeth

Fun Pictures!

For photographers – Va business one stop

This post is more for Virginia photographers (or business owners) than people in other states. It also mostly applies to newer folks who are working on getting established than to those who have been around a while. When I started my business last year (while trying to plan my WEDDING haha) I was quickly overwhelmed trying to figure out what I needed to do and what forms I needed to complete to make everything official.  Well, somehow I stumbled upon the VA Business One Stop, an application created by the the state to help small businesses. VA Business One Stop is actually pretty easy to use…you pay twenty dollars to use the service to create a business (and there may be more fees involved depending on how you decide to classify yourself) and it walks you through all of the required steps and then populates the forms you need to file. If the city or county you live in allows online filing, it will file them for you. Unfortunately, good ole Newport News doesn’t allow online filing so I had to make a visit to the clerk’s office. To me, 20 dollars to make life simpler is pretty much a no brainer!

VA Business One Stop also has some pretty great resources for current small business owners, such as one on one business counseling and tax information, but I haven’t really used any of those features so I can’t really say much about them, but if they are anything like the service for new business holders, I’m sure they are great!