Posts Tagged ‘Serendipity Photography’

Making Marriage Work: Q&A with Stephanie McKenzie of The Relationship Firm

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Stephanie McKenzie, founder of The Relationship Firm, has been a life coach of sorts since she was a teenager. “The first person I provided life coaching to was my godmother. She was getting divorced, and I was absolutely livid. I was 13 and I kept reminding her of the tenets of marriage,” Mckenzie says.

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Photo: Courtesy of The Relationship Firm

She won’t go as far as to say that divorce is never an option, but she will tell you, straight up, that it’s a very last option. As a certified life coach, who offers counseling for couples in any stage of the game, she believes that couples who are willing to fight for their marriage will always have a chance of making it. To her, that fight starts when a to-be-wed says, “Yes.”

We talked with Stephanie about what engaged couples can learn from marriage counseling, and the importance of talking about the things that might make you squirm, and we learned a bit about the coach herself. Take a look!

Houston Wedding Blog: How did you get into this industry?

Stephanie McKenzie: It was a really well planned accident. This was not what I was doing with my life, but I had done it my whole life unofficially. I was working in marketing and started working with a dating site. I thought it would be great to offer relationship education. So I went and got certified and started building a brand via social media.

HWB: What has shaped your opinion on marriage?

SM: My parents are divorced and have been since I was about two years old. Yet, I was never engaged in the conflict—they remained friends. As I got older and developed more of a spiritual understanding, I realized how beautiful it can be when two people come together and want to share their life. It requires an understanding of something greater than ourselves, no matter what you call it. Marriage really is a divine union and can be amazing if you do it right.

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Photo: Civic Photos

HWB: What are the most common problems—or potential problems—you see when you work with engaged couples?

SM: I see them being very idealistic about what marriage is, thinking that they have arrived and achieved, once they say, “I do.” The wedding is just one day. It is supposed to be a celebration, but couples shouldn’t let it get bigger than the marriage, to the point where they are spending plenty of cash, but are bankrupting their marriage with the stress and the tension. Anyone can get married, but I am talking about staying married.

A lot of the time couples just haven’t talked about anything, or they haven’t talked things through to the point of resolution. And I don’t just mean talking about having kids or where they are going to live, but also money, sex, and deal-breakers, which we call “no-no’s.”

HWB: What are your no-no’s?

SM: No-no’s are always determined by the couple, but if someone asked me for my deal-breakers, they would be physical and emotional abuse. I hate divorce, but sometimes when you can’t get what you need from a partner, and are being degraded and berated, something has to change. I would also add consistent disrespect by thought, word or deed. At some point everyone does something that is disrespectful, but maybe they didn’t think it through. After you tell someone what you expect and come to a resolution, and they continue to show these behaviors, then that’s a huge problem.

HWB: What advice do you have for couples for not letting the wedding get bigger than the marriage?

SM: Elope… I’m kidding. I recommend that they craft a ritual to stay grounded. Make every Thursday night massage night, or every Saturday morning go on a walk or a run, and don’t talk about the wedding.

Also, take away the expectation of perfection. It should be a beautiful day, and not a stressful day where mistakes are not welcome. You are both fallible, and if you are going to have a life together, mistakes are going to happen.

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Photo: Serendipty Photography

HWB: What are some of the biggest points of contention you recommend couples talk through before their wedding?

SM: Learning how to handle conflict in a healthy way is huge. People often have the mistaken notion that when there’s conflict, it is terminal. We can grow to love and have a greater understanding for our spouse if we handle conflict correctly. Not dealing with conflict can be like dripping water on a rock. It just keeps dripping until it erodes the rock. You might call it the Grand Canyon.

Also, for many couples, sex comes as an assumption, but it is something you should discuss. It is very easy once you’re married for life to take over. Your friendship and your physical intimacy with your spouse are so important. Your union with your spouse should be your priority; don’t let your marriage be a casualty of your life.

HWB: OK, so we’ve talked about sex and conflict? What about the other taboo: money?

SM: Regarding finances, my cardinal rule to couples is to figure out what works, and don’t tell anybody outside of your relationship. People have visceral reactions to how other people handle their money. At the end of the day if you want to have a joint account, great. If you want separate accounts, that’s great too. Just don’t tell anybody. Everyone is going to have an opinion and it will make you doubt the decision you made with your spouse—the only other person who has skin in the game.

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Photo: Adam Nyholt

HWB: What is the benefit about discussing all of this before the wedding?

SM: I always liken it to weight loss. You can lose 10 pounds or you can lose 100 pounds. What’s easier? If we are coming in and taking the bull by the horns from the beginning, it’s easier to be beholden to the values that brought the couple together, not the values that are breaking them.

I am working with a couple that I also worked with during their premarital coaching session, and the same issues are cropping up. I do feel that they will be more successful because at a certain point they knew that they had to call me, or another unbiased party who could help. It takes a humble person to say that. I feel like those couples who say, “We need help with this and want to be our best selves and our best love,”—those are the couples that last.

Visit The Relationship Firm here, and contact Stephanie McKenzie to schedule your pre-marriage coaching session. You’ll be glad you did!

Colorful Spring Wedding by Serendipity Photography

Monday, March 27th, 2017

Almost a decade of dating and an intense game of “Super Mario World” brought childhood acquaintances Jennifer and Sean together forever.

“It happened at home, which is very us. He had somehow managed to write ‘Will you marry me?’ in a ‘Super Mario World’ game,” Jennifer says, though she didn’t realize at first that the words were meant for her!  
A resounding “yes” and 11 months later, the couple wed in a lush garden on a sunny March day among 68 of their closest friends and family. 

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“We knew that we didn’t want a huge wedding,” Jennifer says. “We loved how intimate and personal it felt and that we were able to spend time with everyone who attended.” 

Adding to the intimacy of the affair, Jennifer’s sister designed all of the couple’s wedding invitations and stationery, and Sean’s best friend officiated the ceremony!  

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Jennifer and Sean booked their dream photographer, Serendipity Photography, to capture their bright floral arrangements, lush table designs and joyous dancing.

“Right from the start, we knew we wanted Serendipity as our photographers,” Jennifer says. “I’ve been following them on their blog for a few years, and I really love their style. Alice and Eric are awesome people as well.”

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Jennifer and Sean will celebrate two years of marriage tomorrow! Congrats, and thanks for sharing your oh-so-special day with us on the Houston Wedding Blog! 

Photos: Serendipity Photography

Romantic Wedding at The Petroleum Club of Houston by Serendipity Photography

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Jenny and Chris knew each other long before they would ever fall in love. Their families were great friends even before the two were born! When Jenny was very young, her family moved away from Houston to Corpus Christi, but they eventually returned. So did Jenny, many years later, to attend nursing school. Chris, by that time, had moved to Austin. That’s when fate brought them back together, at a party at Jenny’s parents’ home, where they reconnected, and Jenny says, “we have been inseparable ever since!” The proposal happened on a weekend when the couple had traveled to Austin for a friend’s wedding—totally smooth move on Chris’ part. Jenny wasn’t suspecting a thing with another wedding going on! They went out for a date night at one of their favorite Austin spots, but the hostess didn’t lead them to a table. Instead, she led them “down candle-filled steps into a private wine cellar.” (Keep going! Here come those cute details we promised…) The cellar door opened and Jenny still recalls all of the details perfectly; champagne, candles and being surrounded by the most beautiful flowers. In the most romantic way Chris proposed to Jenny, the love of his life. And he gets kudos because he made sure the moment didn’t stop there…when they returned to Houston, their families were ready and waiting with a party to celebrate! Jenny and Chris couldn’t wait to say I do—and Jenny couldn’t wait to see Chris’ face when he saw her in her gorgeous Liancarlo gown from Ivory Bridal Atelier.  The big day started with a meaningful ceremony at their church, and concluded with a fantastic reception hosted and catered by the Petroleum Club of Houston. We’re grateful to Serendipity Photography for sharing photos of this sweet couple’s wedding, and grateful to Jenny and Chris for sharing their special day with us…and all of you!

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Photos: Serendipity Photography | Venue: Petroleum Club of Houston | Invitations, Stationery & Registry : Bering’s | Gown: Ivory Bridal Atelier

Pastel and Gold Wedding by Serendipity Photography

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

There’s nothing like the Red River Rivalry…or a true love story that comes from it. Anne and Jacob met during the TX-OU Weekend—a very important longtime tradition where the Texas Longhorns go up against rivals the Oklahoma Sooners in a football showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Anne and her girlfriends were at Hotel ZaZa Dallas taking part in the typical rivalry weekend activities, which included trying to capture a photo with one of the live gold statues. Ah, and here comes Jacob…a chivalrous knight in shining armor offering to be their impromptu photographer. In that moment, Anne and Jacob each found the one. Let’s fast-forward and set the scene a few years later: Anne and Jacob are now living together. One exceptionally normal day at home, Anne is doing a little laundry…when she hears Jacob having a very interesting conversation on the phone with his father (Jacob had no clue Anne was home listening). So, doing what any girl would do in this situation…Anne comes around the corner to see what he’s up to and offers a simple, “Hi,” totally taking Jacob by surprise! Anne remembers, “He stopped dead in his tracks, looking guilty, quickly told his dad he would call him back and stuffed a box into his bag.” Oh, Jacob. However, Jacob was so excited to make Anne his wife that he just couldn’t wait any longer and popped the question right there. Anne was absolutely floored…and of course said yes! The two had an incredible Houston wedding celebration, which began with a delicious rehearsal dinner at Brennan’s, and commenced with a beautiful church ceremony followed by a reception at, of course, Hotel ZaZa! Anne and Jacob truly cherish Hotel ZaZa, and are in total agreement that the chic Museum District property is “practically our second home.” Their pastel and gold wedding was simply to die for. The celebration was made perfectly complete with a decadent and detailed four-tiered cake (and a Superman-theme groom’s cake!) by Who Made The Cake, and some seriously breathtaking floral designs and crystal decor by Plants N’ Petals (do you see these centerpieces right now?!). Anne wore a stunning Lazaro mermaid gown from Ivory Bridal Atelier down the aisle and, let’s face it, she looked gorgeous! Thank you to Serendipity Photography for capturing the night so perfectly. We wish this couple all the best and more!

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Photos: Serendipity Photography | Rehearsal Dinner: Brennan’s Houston | Reception: Hotel ZaZa | Cake: Who Made the Cake! | Flowers & Décor: Plants n’ Petals | Bridal Gown: Lazaro from Ivory Bridal Atelier | Videographer: 31 Films

WOW, What a Show!

Thursday, February 11th, 2016

If you were one of those fortunate (and savvy) enough to have attended last Thursday’s utterly magnificent I Do! Wedding Soiree at The Corinthian, you experienced first-hand the all-encompassing splendor of Houston’s ONLY true luxury wedding event and VIP bride/groom cocktail bash.

If you weren’t present for Thursday’s festivities, well…let us give you a little glimpse of what you missed.

WOW, What a Show!

Photo: Civic Photos | Decor: Darryl & Co.

We’re so thrilled to have benefited from the talents of the following show contributors, without whom we could not have put on this one-of-a-kind wedding fantasyscape and sumptuous fete: EB Inc. Event Rentals & Design, LBL Event Rentals & Design, Johanna Terry Events, DJU Productions, LG Entertainment, Scott Graham Piano, and our awesome show photographer (and top Houston-area wedding photography studio!) Civic Photos, whose pix we’re featuring here.

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Photos: Civic Photos | Top Left: Plants N’ Petals | Top Right: Flora & Eventi | Bottom: Johanna Terry Events

From the moment our guests entered the majestic Corinthian in downtown Houston, they knew they were in for something special, as they encountered floral-and-finery flights of fantasy from the likes of Plants N’ Petals, Todd Events, Flora & Eventi, Darryl & Co., Johanna Terry Events, Nuage Designs, Inc., EB Inc. Event Rentals & Design, LBL Event Rentals and Flowers of Kingwood.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Top Left: Nuage Designs, Inc. | Top Right: Darryl & Co. | Middle: Todd Events | Bottom Left: EB Inc. Events | Bottom Right: LBL Event Rentals

Helping couples to refine their wedding-day vision, and coordinate the details of their big day, planners Kat Creech Events, A Day to Remember and Cocomar Ladies met one-on-one with attendees, and showed plenty of examples of the incredible Houston wedding celebrations they’ve brought to life for their grateful clients.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Top Left: A Day To Remember | Top Right: Kat Creech Events | Bottom: Cocomar Ladies

Brides who were searching for wedding-day style and fashion found plenty to love, from Parvani Vida Bridal & Formal, Winnie Couture, Now & Forever Bridal Boutique, Houston Bridal Gallery, Damsel White Label, Tess Harriss Designs and MW Couture.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Top Left: Now & Forever Bridal Boutique | Top Right: Houston Bridal Gallery | Middle Left: Winnie Couture | Middle Left: MW Couture | Middle Right: Tess Harriss Designs | Bottom Left: Parvani Vida Bridal & Formal | Bottom Right: Damsel White Label

And just in case they weren’t sure whether they’d prefer a head of flowing waves or a glam updo, a sun-kissed glow or shimmering bare shoulders, a full set of lush lashes or just a bit of enhancement, our guests could experiment with looks, get advice and try out products from Nyoka Gregory Beauty, WINX Lash Studio, KAX Tanning Souffle and Hotze Health & Wellness Center.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Top Left: Kax Tanning Souffle | Top Right: Nyoka Gregory Beauty | Bottom Right: Winx Lash & Makeup Studio | Bottom Right: Hotze Health & Wellness Center

Of course, no wedding-day look is complete with the right…sparkle. And guests found oodles of glimmer and shine (and a few VERY substantial rocks), at the dazzling displays put on by Peran & Scannell Jewelers, and Donoho’s Jewellers.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Left: Peran & Scannell Jewelers | Right: Donoho’s Jewellers

Couples seeking a talented photographer and/or filmmaker to capture the beauty and emotional resonance of their special day had an abundance of options, with exhibits from Adam Nyholt, D. Jones, M. Wang, Lindsay Elizabeth, MD Turner, Steve Lee, Serendipity, Danielson Cinema, mutli-Emmy-award-winner Sculpting With Time, and our very own show photographer Civic Photos.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Top Left: Serendipity Photography | Top Middle: Steve Lee Photography | Top Right: Sculpting With Time Productions | Middle Left: Danielson Cinema | Middle Left:  Adam Nyholt | Middle Center: Civic Photos | Middle Right: D. Jones Photography | Bottom Left: MD Turner Photography | Bottom Middle: Lindsay Elizabeth | Bottom Right: M. Wang

Cakes? Gifts? Invitations? The I Do! Soiree had something for each and every couple, from Houston icons Susie’s Cakes & Confections, Bering’s and Isabella Invitations.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Left: Susie’s Cakes & Confections | Top Right: Bering’s | Bottom Right: Isabella Invitations

While they wandered through the Soiree’s wonderland of wedding WOW, guests were entertained by top Houston MC, DJ, and live-music experts DJU Productions, LG Entertainment and pianist Scott Graham. And, of course, since this WAS a party, eager attendees indulged in fabulous food, sips and sweets from Jackson and Company.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Top Left, Middle Left & Bottom Right: Jackson and Company | Top Right: DJU Productions | Middle Right: LG Entertainment| Bottom Left: Scott Graham Piano

Along with the grandeur of The Corinthian all around them, venue-seeking to-be-weds could virtually tour The Parador and Chateau Cocomar—two beloved Houston sites for ceremony and reception.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Top: Chateau Cocomar | Bottom: The Parador

To round out their full wedding- and marriage-planning experience, guests had the chance to chat with Minister Lynn Turner of Weddings Performed, and expert realtor Michelle Ray, of Michelle Ray Properties.

WOW, What a Show!

Photos: Civic Photos | Left: Michelle Ray Properties | Right: Weddings Performed

We are so thrilled to have had the honor to celebrate and serve so many Houston couples, and their friends and family, at this month’s extraordinary I Do! Wedding Soiree. From food and drink, to stunning tablescapes, to beautiful exhibitor displays, to luxury swag bags and superb door prizes (including our hold-your-breath giveaway of 5 nights’ luxury oceanfront accommodation at Bermuda’s fabulous Pompano Beach Club), the Feb. 4 I Do! Wedding Soiree was an absolute knockout.

We welcome you to post, pin, tag, share and comment on photos, and, if you attended Thursday’s show, let us know what you DISCOVERED, what you LOVED, and what you’d RECOMMEND to Houston brides and grooms starting on the journey to planning the perfect wedding.

Thank you…and HAPPY PLANNING!