Personal // My #tbt Wedding Disaster

Have I ever told you about the biggest uncool surprise of my wedding?  It wasn’t when I coughed uncontrollably in the middle of my vows to the point that someone had to bring me a cup of water.  Nope.  That wasn’t it.

It also wasn’t when we realized we forgot to tell the DJ our first dance songs and he just did the best he could.  To this day I don’t know what our first dance song was.  It was pretty, though!

It wasn’t forgetting the picture frame I wanted everyone to sign at the reception.

It wasn’t even the chocolate fountains blowing in the wind and covering my guests with chocolate.  One unfortunate guest actually to go home because there was chocolate all over his shirt and pants!

But nope, none of that.

It was the cake.

The cake?

Yes, the cake.

How bad could it be?


Pinterest didn’t exist when I got married in 2006, but if it had, my cake inspiration board would have looked like this:

Now, I realize that in 2014 this makes our eyes hurt, but keep in mind, I was nineteen and this was 2006.  Pink, orange, and gerber daisies were all the rage for spring weddings.

We made an appointment at the local bakery to pick out a wedding cake, but when we arrived, they totally blew us off.  After 30 minutes of sitting in a corner staring at a book of lame cakes, we left and went to the only other place in town that made wedding cakes: The grocery store.

Do you think I’m kidding?  ‘Cause I’m not.  :)  It is a small town which now has many options for wedding cakes.  But then? Very few.  Plus, my brother had a wedding the month before mine and he got a small cake from the grocery store– it was delicious!

I gave them a picture and very specific instructions.  They only worked with buttercream frosting, so I told them to please just ice it plain without any of the frilly edges.  Absolutely nothing frilly at all.  I even looked at what they wrote down to make sure it said ‘no frills.’  Unsure if I was using the correct terminology, I pointed to the edging on the other cakes there & said I didn’t want that.  Then I pointed to a cake without it and confirmed that it was what I wanted.  99% of their cakes had the frilly edging so I was very particular about that point.

I also gave them a color swatch of the pink I wanted, as well as the orange ribbon I wanted placed around the very bottom of each layer.  And that was it.  Nothing else.

Fast forward to the day before the wedding.  Everyone was running around like crazy and my mom picked up the cake.  She was shocked and called me a bit panicked.

“Susan, I think they messed up your cake.  It’s pink!”

“Mom, remember, I didn’t want a white cake.  I gave them the color swatch.  It’s okay.  I know it’s bold, but that’s what I wanted.”

“I think you should come down here and look at it.”

“I don’t have time… just trust me.  It’ll be okay.  If it’s not perfect then it’ll do.”


I can’t even make this up, y’all.  I suppose it’s possible to have more frilly things on the cake… I mean anything is possible.  Also, that is definitely not the color swatch that I left.  I’m fairly certain it’s illegal to make fabric in that color, and I don’t remember leaving a glowstick as the color swatch.

Are you catching that?  It’s in the shade… and it’s glowing.  The frilly doily was a nice touch, I have to say, just to really bring home the frills.  And the ribbons… I mean, who needs a ribbon at the bottom of the cake layer anyway?

I didn’t see it until I got to the reception.  Literally, I was the last one to see it because everyone else was at the reception venue while we were taking pictures.  I was pretty mortified.  I didn’t care so much about the cake, but I didn’t want people thinking that I liked that & wanted it!  Also, I hate that my parents actually paid money for that. :(

It didn’t stop us from shoving cake in each others faces, though!  Pink stained faces for the win!

But even with the cake disaster, our wedding day was awesome.  We were just a couple of kids who couldn’t believe that our parents actually let us get married.

All wedding images from our wedding are courtesy of Celeste Pressley.

One of these days I really want to do another session in my wedding dress!

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Personal // Not Today

Right now I’m sitting in my office surrounded by paperwork, random props, cameras, a shredder, and some party supplies.  It is so not classy.  But cleaning it isn’t even on my to-do list today.  Why?  Let me back up for a second.

At the end of October we bought our first home.  I’ve had a Pinterest board titled “Future Home” for awhile now, so I was beyond excited to make some of those dreams come to life!  We signed on a Tuesday morning & I went straight to the hardware store to buy paint and had the dining room painted by that evening.

It was awesome.  With a lot of help from friends, we got the living room, nursery, and hallway painted before we moved everything in three days later.

Then everything went downhill.  The day after we moved our stuff, Josh had a wedding in Washington, DC, three hours away.  For the next several [very cold] months we got very little done around the house.  Six months later, we still don’t have anything hanging on the walls in our dining room.  It looks exactly like it did the day we moved in!

How depressing is that?

And don’t even get me started on my office.  I finally painted it in January & made an awesome chalkboard wall.  It was exciting, but I had this one Craigslist piece that I’d bought earlier to paint & use as an organization system.  Where was it?  Sitting in the garage with dirt and chipped paint all over it.  I’d started sanding it and realized it was a gigantic job, so I stopped.

But last week changed something.  It was warm outside.  And if you live in Hampton Roads, or anywhere on the eastern seaboard, then you know that this was a light at the end of a very cold, wintery tunnel.  In a matter of two days I completely finished painting the giant bookshelf, several frames, and a stool.

That’s when I realized… it’s not just me being a slacker. There is a time to do everything, & the time just wasn’t right.  I’d been beating myself up all winter because I hadn’t drug a 6 foot bookshelf out into the yard and painted it in the middle of a snowstorm.  In fact, I actually painted it on the first day that was even warm enough!  Instead of being behind, I was on top of it!

I wasted so much time thinking about that dumb bookshelf and how to paint it in the garage and not get paint on everything else.  I’d contemplated just scrapping it and buying something that didn’t need to be painted.  I wasted time. I beat myself up for it, thinking I was lazy.

So that brings me back to my office.  Today, I could beat myself up about it being a mess or I could accept it.  Yes, it’ll be cleaned up soon enough, but today it is much more important to serve my clients.  Some days there is less work and it’s a great time to clean an organize, but that’s just not today.

PS: I can’t wait to finish the office and show it off!!

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Personal // 10 years ago today

The first 6 months of dating.

It’s been exactly 10 years since I walked through the mall and met a cute stranger named Josh Fowler. My friend ended up giving him my number & that night as we were eating dinner, my friend said, “Oh Susan, don’t worry. He’ll call, you guys will fall in love & get married & have lots of babies!” I didn’t have a clue how defining those words would be.  Once I actually got to know that stranger from the mall, I quickly fell in love with him. We got married when I was 19 and he was 21.  According to our tax return that first year of marriage, we made $21,000 combined.  That wasn’t in the 1970s, it was 2006.  As my dad always says, ‘No one makes it in this world alone’ and that couldn’t be more true.  We worked our butts off, but we also had an incredible amount of support from others.  There were times that friends insisted on buying our groceries or we would find a random box of vegetables on our front porch, a time where we borrowed money from a family member, and one month where we literally couldn’t pay our rent. We weren’t spending frivolously, and at one point we collectively had 5 jobs and I was finishing up my undergrad.

Wedding Photo Credit: Celeste Pressley

Fast forward.  It’s been 10 years since we met. We are now debt free except for our mortgage and we run a successful & debt free business together that we LOVE. We have the most adorable two year old in the world who is not scared of anything.  We have close friendships that mean the world to us and best of all?  We’re closer to each other than we’ve ever been.  We still work a lot, but we’re living out our dreams and it’s the most wonderful thing in the world!

Photo Credit: April Renee Photography

Here’s to 10 years since meeting the coolest stranger ever!

Maternity Photo Credit: Sarah Halstead Photography

For those of you out there that are struggling, who can’t pay the bills, and who think that peanut butter & banana sandwiches are a delicacy for the weeks where you have extra money, don’t lose heart.  Keep working hard, saving your money (or paying off debt).  There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the other side is so much sweeter!  It really is everything that you hope it will be.  And even better?  You’re already learning to work hard– if you keep that up even when you don’t have to, you’ll be unstoppable!

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Weddings // Melissa & Jim Say I Do!

This bride’s story has touched my heart… and just about everyone’s!  Melissa has a wedding planned for May, but her mom has cancer, and after learning that her mom may not make it to her May wedding, she decided to have a wedding now.  And planned it all in a week!

She took some details from her May wedding and what wasn’t ready, they found other ways.  Her dress and the bridesmaids dresses weren’t finished being tailored yet, so they found alternates.  She wore her mom’s wedding veil, and she even made the cake herself!  The baby’s breath flowers everywhere were such a romantic touch! I had mixed emotions all week in preparation for the wedding.

On one hand, I was very excited and honored that she chose us to capture such a special occasion.  On the other hand, I knew how important these pictures and the film would be… and that’s a lot of pressure!  As a photographer I know that the pictures I take of someone will be treasured, but when they know that these will be some of the last pictures of that person, it just brings everything to a whole new level.  But once we got there we felt completely at ease.  We were prepared, and everyone there was so wonderful!

The sweetest part about the day was how everyone treated each other.  So much respect and love flowed through the house.  The groom, Jim, called his mother-in-law ‘mom,’ which is such a cool relationship– that’s not something you see every day!  It is clear how much Melissa’s mom means to everyone, and the mix of happy and sad emotions were treasured. Melissa & Jim will still have their wedding in May, as everything is already planned, and both days will surely be treasured forever!

Now… to the pictures… and film!  This film is a bit different than the other ones you’ve probably seen.  This is our Highlight Package, which includes one videographer for 4 hours and yields a 3-4 minute highlight film.

Jim & Melissa from Fowler Studios on Vimeo.

This may seem like just another picture but trust me… it’s not.  It takes a lot for Melissa’s mom to smile these days, as her body is very weak.  But on this day, she smiled!  She was the proud mother of the bride, and her eyes… oh my goodness… they just say it all.  She doesn’t speak much these days, but after being around her for a few hours it was easy to tell what she was saying by the actions in her eyes.  Here?  She couldn’t be prouder of her daughter & son-in-law.
These two lovebirds… oh my goodness!  I didn’t even hardly have to do anything because they couldn’t stop staring at each other!  I love it!
I love asking for a cheesy picture every now and then.  I get strange looks, but the result is sweet pictures like this, so it’s worth it!  Melissa just has the best smile!

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Engagements // Chad & Elizabeth

I can’t even tell you how excited I am to photograph Chad & Elizabeth’s wedding in June!  They are such a cute & fun couple– they make my job so easy.

One of the great things about our wedding photography is that we include a complimentary engagement session!  You get 3 digital files for free (great for Save the Dates!) and it’s a chance for us to get to know each other with a camera.  Let me tell you, we can be best buds, but when a camera comes out, people change!  So getting comfortable in front of the camera before your wedding makes a huge difference in your wedding pictures.  That’s why we include it for free!

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