In Memory of Brielle Maria Vela

#BriellesImpact

Brielle Maria Vela

This is a story of my dear friends, Dre and Gilbert. I have known this family for several years now and have been photographing them since their oldest son was 3 months old. And I continued with pictures when their daughter Leelah was born and their family was complete! They decided to take a permanent solution to complete their family and Gilbert got a vasectomy. Not even 3 days after his vasectomy, Dre wasn't feeling great, took a pregnancy test and found out she was pregnant. Surprise! Family of 5 coming right up! When Dre went to her first ultrasound appointment they found out they were not having 1 baby, but they were having twin girls! Double surprise! Time for a minivan.

During one of their routine checkups that found that baby B had some fluid on the brain and possible heart issues. It is hard to tell in utero how severe the issue is so Dre and Gilbert prayed for both their girls. Dre was put on bed rest at 23 weeks.  Their twin girls, Ariella (Baby A) and Brielle (Baby B) were born on December 14th by emergency C-Section at 33 weeks. Ariella did great, considering being a premie. Once Brielle was born they were able to get a better idea of the issues that she had. They found that she had Hydrocephalus (fluid on the brain), she also had several heart issues that would need corrected.  They put a shunt in to help relieve the pressure on her brain and they also put in a G-tube to help her eat. When she was about 2.5 months old she was hospitalized for RSV and overcame that! She was a fighter from day one and went through SO much.

When they got home from the hospital Dre texted me that they were finally all healthy and ready for their first session with me! We scheduled our session for a week later and the night before I texted Dre that we better push it back because I still had a bit of a cold and didn't want to expose either of the twins, especially Brielle, to any illnesses. We scheduled the girls' shoot for the following Saturday. While preparing for their shoot I kept thinking about how Dre called the twins her little Warrior Princesses and I wanted to play off that and make outfits for them to look like little Xena's!

I woke up the next morning to the most heartbreaking news. They had lost Brielle. She had gone into cardiac arrest and after lots of work and effort from the medical professionals, they weren't able to save her. This little girl, at 3 months of age, had been through so much and had fought SO hard, but her little heart just couldn't keep fighting anymore.

Now, instead of photographing Brielle and Ariella together, I would just be photographing Ariella, but we wanted to incorporate Brielle into the photos as well. The Hydrocephalus ribbon is a two tone blue. I wanted to represent Bri in these photos with that color and the shape of the heart for the hard battle she fought. Dre and I wanted Ariella to have these photos when she grew up to remember her twin sister with.

Dre also wanted some last memories with Brielle so I went with her to the funeral home for one of the hardest shoots I have ever done. Dre wanted photos of her holding her baby one last time. It's hard to watch your friend in pain, but it's harder to watch a mother lose her child. That's a pain I can't even imagine.

I was there at the funeral home as some of Dre's family came to visit, and even met their granddaughter for the first time. Because of Brielle's conditions it was very dangerous for her to be around any illnesses so many people weren't able to meet her even if they had the slightest sniffle.

 

Brielle lived her short life being hooked up to tubes and wires the whole time. She had fought hard and had been through so much already but she still had a long road of surgeries and procedures ahead. When Dre and I were talking at the viewing she told me that as hard as it was to see her daughter like this, it brought her peace knowing that Brielle wasn't suffering anymore. She was no longer hooked up to machines and in pain and she was no longer fighting every day. She was free.

Brielle's funeral was a celebration of her life. Her short, but SO impactful life. Brielle's story changed all of us that knew them. We watched Dre and Gilbert, as small business owners, work SO hard to keep everything afloat while Dre was on bed rest, followed by maternity leave, followed by time off to take care of the twins. While Gilbert ran his business and took care of their older children at home.

We all watched and eagerly awaited updates as this brave little girl at such a young age was going through surgery after surgery to give her a better life. We learned about health, and family, and love, and faith. We watched as this family leaned on each other and leaned on God to get them through this time. We learned to give a little. This money may not mean much to me, but to them it may mean keeping their house, or taking time off to spend time with family.

Brielle's story taught us that life is short. For her it was 95 short days, but in those 95 days this little girl accomplished so much, but most of all, brought so many people together. Life is too short to hold grudges or live in fear of failing. Follow your dreams, say you're sorry, and most of all- Love.

 

Andrea is hoping to start a foundation in Bri's memory to help families who are in the NICU so they can focus on what they really need to: Family. She also asked us all to make a promise, to ourselves, but also to Brielle. I've been struggling with this promise for a while. And as I sat at her funeral and watched the slideshow and the photos that I took of Brielle for the first time, after she had passed, I made a promise to myself to treat every shoot like it's the last. Like it's the last photos of this family, this person, or this place, because we don't know what comes tomorrow. It breaks my heart when people use photos I have taken of someone as their obituary photo or for a memorial, but it brings me peace knowing that I was able to give that family something to hold on to. Forever. #mypromisetobrielle is to photograph every person through the eyes of their loved ones and as if these were the last photos to be taken, because tomorrow is never promised. This is #briellesimpact

Something Old, Something New…. | Northern Colorado Wedding Photographer

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

The reasons for this fun tradition

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, something Blue | Fort Collins Weddings Photographer | Elizabeth Jane Photography

History of Something old, new, borrowed, and blue!

This tradition actually comes from an Old English Rhyme..

Something Olde
Something New
Something Borrowed
Something Blue
A Sixpence in your Shoe

What does it mean?

As we have learned by now, there is a reason for everything. Whether its a symbol or a superstition or whatever, everything in weddings seems to stand for something! 

The Something old is a symbol of Continuity 

The something new represents your future

Something Borrowed is borrowing someone else's happiness. Typically a bride will borrow something that from a happily married bride. (So, if you want to keep this tradition true, you might want to borrow something from a friend or family member who is happily married)

Something Blue represents the brides faithfulness and purity. 

The sixpence is the most forgotten part of the poem! The brides father is supposed to place a sixpence in the brides left shoe to attract wealth for the new couple.

The bride is typically given these items right before her wedding to wear on the wedding day, but as tradition goes on, some acquire them sooner and some get them for themselves.

What can you use?

Something Old

Jewelry is usually what I see as the something old. Wearing a grandmothers old necklace or moms ring. Anything that is a family heirloom. I had one couple who had a cake topper on their cake that had been in the family for over 75 years! Talk about a tradition!

Something New

Typically a brides "something new" is her dress, or shoes, or veil, or anything she bought to complete her wedding day attire.

Something Borrowed

The most unique item I have seen for this is mom's wedding dress. They always say "Save your wedding dress so your daughter can wear it some day!" and I have to admit that out of the 100+ weddings I have photographed and been to, I have only had one bride wear her moms wedding dress (the photo of the smiling bride and groom). And it was gorgeous!

The bride in the above photo wore a neighbors pearls as her "something borrowed"

Something Blue

Shoes, garters, and underwear are typically what I see for the "Something Blue". I had a bride wear sapphire earrings and necklace once, but for the most part I haven't seen anything too crazy on this one!

Another thing that I see often is brides including something of a loved one who has passed in their bouquet. The bride above included a locket of her mother and a little bottle with her ashes in it, so her mother could still be with her on her wedding day!

Cortney + Zach’s Wedding | Younger Ranch | Colorado Springs, CO

Cortney + Zach

06.23.2018

She pulled up her black and white “cow” socks as she said, “This is what my life revolves around, cows” spoken like a true ranchers wife. But the truth is, her life revolves around the two blond, curly haired boys standing next to her. THEN it revolves around cows.

Cortney and Zach’s wedding was gorgeous and the weather was perfect! No rain, a little cloud cover during times, and even a couple deer made their appearance after the ceremony and we tried to grab a couple photos with them!

One of my favorite things about photographing weddings is when I get to be a part of the family. I met Cortney at her sisters wedding, that I also photographed. Now, two years later, here I am with the same family members and knowing a little more of the story! It makes me so happy when “grandpa” comes up and starts talking to me without having to make small talk.

That’s what I love about my job. Watching families evolve. Photographing families one year, and coming back a couple years later to see how they have changed, grown, grieved, feared, hurt, and laughed. There’s something special about that. About feeling like I’M part of that family. It make me so happy!

I am obsessed with this wedding, and come on, look at Easton’s cute smile and those little curls!

If I were to pick a favorite photo from this wedding it would be from the end of the night as Zach and Cortney were playing the “shoe game” and Easton climbed into his dads lap, took off his own boot, and joined in on the fun!

Vendors

Flowers- Sara Andolsek

Officiant- Kevin Weatherby

Wedding Coordinator- Hannah Miller

Stephanie + Devin | Fort Collins Backyard Wedding

Stephanie + Devin

06.05.2018

I should point out that I am so awkward around people I don’t know. Which makes for a tough job when you are in the business of sales, especially for yourself! When I first met Steph and Devin I felt like they weren’t strangers at all (but that doesn’t mean I still wasn’t awkward) and I loved their story, their wedding plans, and not to mention their adorable son, Walter.

As Steph was telling me their plans for their wedding I wanted to yell at her (somewhat like a 8 year old jealous girl) “No! That’s my dream wedding!!” and when we showed up at Steph and Devin’s house, it was everything I pictured it to be!

Steph and Devin had a backyard wedding at their home, which they have bought from Devin’s grandparents. They were surrounded by their family and friends and had a dance floor set up on their lawn with market lights dangling over. Throughout the whole day my team and I kept saying, “I love this.” “This is perfect!” “They’re so adorable!” and we may have thrown in a few “Oh my gosh it’s so hot” here and there, but it was a BEAUTIFUL wedding day.

Steph and Devin, thank you SO much for trusting me to document this special day. It seriously means the world to me! I hope you’re having fun in Hawaii. Lucky ducks!

 

 

Brittany + Joe | Northeastern Colorado Wedding

Brittany + Joe

06.02.2018

Brittany and Joe both came from the same small town, but it wasn’t until a mutual friend introduced them that their story began. I LOVE hearing people’s story about how they first met, and with Brittany and Joe I heard the best parts of it at their wedding from their officiant (Joe’s uncle) and the Maid of Honor (the mutual friend AKA Matchmaker).

Once Brittany and Joe started dating I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” and I loved seeing photos of the two of them together from day one. Their smiles are both so big every time they are around each other. Not to mention their smiles are also contagious. When I left their wedding my cheeks were hurting!

Brittany and Joe’s wedding was a lovely afternoon wedding on the driving range at Riverview Golf Course in Sterling, CO. They spent the day surrounded by family and friends, and even Joe’s two-day-old nephew!

I can’t wait to see where life takes these two! Joe and Brittany, thank you SO much for asking me to be a part of your day!

Vendors

Venue- Riverview Golf Club

Officiant- Rodney Bellinder

Florist- Countryside Gardens, Sterling, CO

Caterer- Melody Hime

Cake- Melody Hime

DJ- Gordon Avenue, Golden, CO

Wedding Traditions | Bridesmaids | Northern Colorado Wedding Photographer

Why do Brides have Bridesmaids

The reasons for this fun tradition

Country Wedding | Fort Collins Wedding Photographer

History of the Bridesmaid

When one of your close friends gets married you may wait around to see if they will ask you to be one of the bridesmaid, but the sad truth behind the history of bridesmaids is that they are actual evil spirit decoys. Many wedding traditions come from wayyyy back and they were often scared of evil spirits. The bridesmaids dressed up like the brides to try and trick the evil spirits. So, next time you are asked to be a bridesmaid, just know that you're really the brides evil spirit decoy!

Northeastern 18 | Sterling, Co | Fort Collins Wedding Photographer

Why do we continue??

There are several other reasons for the continuation of the bridesmaid. In this article in the Reader's Digest they said "There’s evidence of this custom {bridesmaids dressing like the bride} dating back to ancient Rome and feudal China, where a bride may have been required to travel many miles to her groom’s town, making her susceptible to attack by bandits or rival suitors. With a host of bridesmaids all dressed alike, it became that much harder to target the bride on the road or at her ceremony".

So the next time you're asked to be a bridesmaid know that you may be in charge of more than just making sure the bride has a good day! You may need to risk evil spirits and kidnapping!

McC Ranch | Loveland Colorado Wedding Venues

But what about the groomsmen??

Remember how the bridesmaid tricked evil spirits and kidnappers? The groomsmen, or Bride's knights, were there to protect the bride on her journey to meet the groom. It is also believed that in some cases these bride's knights were actually the kidnappers who stole her from her family to get married.

There are also sources that state the best man was often the best sword's man and he would stand next to the groom to protect him and the bride. I also read that the reason the groom stands on the audiences right is so that he can easily draw his sword if he is right handed and being attacked. 

So maybe you'd be better off asking the Man in Black or Inigo Montoya to be your best man than your best buddy from college who may be really good at drinking. Although, he may be the best option as a bridesmaid as in some cultures they are to drink all the drinks brought to the bride on her wedding day.

It is crazy to see how some traditions began and have evolved over time!

Kenna + Wade | Ellis Ranch | Loveland, Colorado Wedding Photographer

Kenna + Wade

5.12.18

I LOVE small and intimate weddings. There is just something about being surrounded by your family and closest friends that I love. Kenna and Wade’s wedding was just that. Kenna + Wade got married at Ellis Ranch on a overcast and rainy day, but the weather cleared up just in time for the ceremony and some family picture outside. AKA a photographers dream!

At Ellis Ranch the bride and her father come down the hill in a horse drawn carriage. I was watching Wade to see when he would turn to see his beautiful bride and he waited to look at her until she was at the end of the aisle and started to make her way to him. His eyes were locked on her the ENTIRE ceremony and even on through the reception.

Kenna and wade spent the evening surrounded by the people closest to them, as they will spend the rest of their lives.

Vendors

Venue- Ellis Ranch

Caterer- Rudy’s

Cake- Donut Haus

DJ- Stage one

Flowers- Lil flower shop

Dress- Bridal Connection in Longmont

Seamstress- Cindi James Alterations

Is Rain on your Wedding Day Good Luck? | Colorado Wedding Photographer

Rain on your wedding day?

The reasons for this superstition

McC Ranch | Loveland Colorado Wedding Venues

Rainy Forecast

As a Colorado Wedding Photographer, there is one thing that I have zero control over on the wedding day; rain! The morning of each wedding I check the forecast for the day to see if we should expect any rain. Now, this forecast may change about 40 times before the bride even gets into her dress, but it helps me get an idea of what to expect. So many brides ask me if it is good luck to have rain on your wedding day so I decided to do some research. 

Ellis Ranch Wedding | Fort Collins Wedding Photographer

What started this superstition?

As is the case with most wedding traditions and superstitions, rain is considered good luck because it was a symbol. Now, who decided what everything symbolized, I don't know, but I do know what rain did symbolize!

Rain symbolizes fertility, cleansing, and unity. 

You need rain for things to grow, which is the reason for the symbolism of fertility. If you have rain on your wedding day that is a sign that you will grow and raise children. In the same aspect, rain helps to cleanse things, like your past. Rain washes away the past and allows you to have a fresh start. My personal take on unity is this; much like the common sand ceremony, two colors of sand are joined together in one vase and can never be separated again, in the same way, once a drop of rain falls on top of another drop of rain, the two can never be separated and will always be a part of the other.

 

Ellis Ranch Wedding | Fort Collins Wedding Photographer

Is rain bad luck?

BUT, I do have some bad news.

Rain on your wedding day also symbolizes tears. When I first read this I thought of the tears of loved ones in heaven, but it's not quite that sentimental. The rain symbolizes the tears the bride will shed in their marriage. There is a little bit of hope, as I didn't see any posts that specified if they were tears of happiness or sadness!

Why Did I Become a Photographer?

Why I'm a Photographer

And what got me started

Fort Collins Photographer | Elizabeth Jane Photography LLC

Photo by © Darcy Fehringer of Miss Darcy Photography 1998

 

Back when I was a kid..

If you remember in my fun facts about me I said that I was the baby of 5. I was tortured as a child by my 3 older brothers, but loved when my sister came home to visit. She is 14 years older than me and left for college when I was 4 years old, so from a young age I always looked up to her and wanted to be just like her.

When she was in college she started doing some film photography, and I always wanted to play with her camera, but I was a small child with grimy hands and wasn't allowed to play with it for the longest time.

The day finally came that she let me take some pictures with it and I was so excited! And then at the age of 8 (or something like that) I decided I wanted to be just like her.

Fort Collins Photographer | Elizabeth Jane Photography LLC

One of my early (and clearly amazing) photos. 

Where it all started

I got my first camera as a hand me down from my brother. It was a plastic point and shoot film camera. After a few years I upgraded to a new point and shoot film, then I got a digital camera and I was taking pictures of everything from flowers to fences to every cow in the pasture. I took that camera with me EVERYWHERE and it was my baby. I was limited by the capabilities of my camera and saved up the money for my first DSLR. Once I got that camera, the rest was history!

I started a lot of my photography shoots using my oldest niece and nephew as models and my friends as guinea pigs. Eventually this hobby turned into a money maker, then a college major, then a side job, and now a career.

It's funny to look back now and think that all of this started because I was an annoying little wannabe sister, but who am I kidding, I'm still a wannabe sister!

Miss Darcy Photography

A shout out to my sister

My big sister has been running her own business for years now and has expanded it into quite the amazing business! Miss Darcy Photography is the business that started it all and EVENTography is the business her and her husband have started. If you have friends in California, send them their way!

Two Newborn Sessions available each month! | Fort Collins Newborn Photographer

Limited Newborn Spots available

Time to schedule!

Fort Collins Newborn Photographer

Only two newborn sessions a month!

I am ramping up for a busy season from now until December. I have many family sessions and weddings each month, and because of this I am only accepting two newborn sessions each month!

Newborn sessions can take a long time and you are working with a very unpredictable little human. I want to ensure that all of my clients get the time and attention that they all deserve, so I am only accepting to newborn a month!

Newborn | Fort Collins Newborn Photographer

Customized sessions

I have started spending more time at my sewing machine to add a lot of customization to my sessions. If there are interests that you have or colors that you love, I can make outfits for our session to incorporate those items! Sometimes newborn onesies can be cute, but they may not fit the greatest, which may not make for the best photo. 

Customized items may include rompers, pants, bonnets, hats, etc. 

There may be an additional charge for unique requests.

Newborn | Fort Collins Newborn Photographer

How does scheduling work?

Contact me to book your session prior to your due date! I will add your due date to my calendar and will keep in touch with you around the baby's due date. Once the munchkin arrives we will schedule your session within the first 7-10 days.

Most people don't know this, but we want the little one asleep during their session. Newborn sessions can take anywhere from 1-4 hours depending on how well they sleep while we are shooting and posing etc. I do my best to keep them asleep but some are just heavier sleepers than others, so there is often a lot of rocking involved to keep them asleep!

Contact me to book your session before all my spots are filled up!