My confession

January 18, 2016

Hi, my name is Anna and I am a blogaholic. I have a problem with starting blogs and not following up with them. I currently have six blogs in my blogger account and sporadically update only one. I start blogs with high hopes, lofty ambitions and creative goals, then let them sit there and wither away into the interwebs abyss. I apparently really like designing blogs and creating a space, then forget to actually USE the space. Oops.

Things got confusing when I started my photography business a few years back. I used to use my blogger blog as a way to share my work, but then I started using my professional photography blog to share my work. But now I miss sharing and recording my life, not just my work. Hence, my attempt to re-enter the creative blogging world.

My most current blog, Hogans in Holland, is all about my husband and my travels throughout Europe while we live in the Netherlands for a year. Confused? Lost? Yeah, a LOT has happened since I last updated Snap Happy. Plus, does anyone remember Photographs & Memories - my first jaunt in the blogging world? I loved that space and miss using it for writing and inspiriting my creativity. But it died when I accidentally erased all my photos from my gmail account (Stupid gmail.)

All this to say that I want ONE  space (or maybe two...) to be able to scroll through my life in the last five years of entering the blog world. I'm going to be combining Photographs & Memories posts into Snap Happy, and then using Snap Happy for random documentation of my life. There might not be photos from P&M posts, but oh well. Hogans in Holland will mainly be about our travels and sharing our adventures with our friends, so check that out too.

So, enjoy my random life documentation of my life - hopefully it will be easier to follow soon.
The end.


Our Wedding // Finding THE dress

February 26, 2015

Finding THE dress was really difficult for me (along with every other part of the planning process). I tried on about 30 dresses at 7 different stores, and by the end of it I was confused, exhausted, and downright discouraged. I loved a few of them, but always found one little thing that wasn't perfect. On top of it, I was shopping in the cold of January and it was extremely difficult for me to image when I'd what to wear in the summer. I had a few criteria - I wanted little lace sleeves and didn't want it to be a stereotypical wedding dress. No rhinestones, no frills, nothing too over to top. But besides that I was pretty open to any style and look. But for some reason, I had the hardest time finding my dress.

When I walked into Amy Kuschel in downtown San Francisco, I knew this was the place. They had so many gorgeous, hand made dresses to choose from and it was so reassuring to know that they would make the dress for YOU, tailoring it to be the perfect, one of a kind dress for your day.  No extra alterations or the worry of sending your dress somewhere random - they did it all. Plus, my bridal consultant Teresa was amazing and totally understood all of my dress concerns.

Needless to say, I was in love with my dress. The second I slipped the little lace sleeve over my shoulder I was hooked. I love the deep cut of the back with the lace shoulders and felt like a sexy goddess because of the way it hugged my body. My fittings were so exciting because I could see the dress being put together over the months, but it wasn't until my final fitting a week before the wedding that I tried on my real dress for the first time and I was completely breathless. It was perfectly me.


Our Wedding // Picking our venue

February 25, 2015

The second we got engaged, the first things we did was find a photographer and find a venue. We had an idea of what wanted - something rustic/ organic that we could make our own, something without crazy time constraints and somewhere close to accommodations for our guests. We went to about 10 different site visits at venues around the Bay Area and I freaked out for months about finding the perfect place until one afternoon, after hours of site visits at places that just weren't perfect, we stopped by my parents place to say hi. My dad was out in the backyard fiddling around with his many gardening tools, and as we walked around the yard my dad dropped the not so subtle idea that we could have the wedding there. Now I'm not going to lie, I was not too keen on the idea at first. I knew how much time and energy went into the one day event and I did not want the pressure of making the whole planning/ logistics holy on me and my family by not only hosting the wedding, but actually HOSTING the wedding at our HOME. I mean, that's crazy, right?! But as soon as I saw Jack's face when my dad proposed the idea, I knew that we would be getting married in my childhood backyard. I mean, the place has significance for us. Back in the day before we were dating, my family threw a welcome home party for the volunteer program where Jack and I had met. We had spent the previous nine months in the same training group flirting awkwardly and I was so excited to see Jack again when we got back. We hadn't seen each other for two months after experience crazy, life changing, bonding experiences, and we all spent the afternoon hanging out, relaxing, and catching up. Jack tried to impress me by hoping on an old tricycle my dad had in the yard and riding it like a dirt bike - over mounts of rocks and paper cups, only to have my dad yell at him "Hey, are you going to pick that cup up?! (something he'll never live down nor forget) - and after making eyes at each other and him lingering around until the last guests were leaving, we had a quick hug good bye. I whispered to my sister "You see that guy in the red sweatshirt?? That's the one I was telling you about!" A few months later he texted me when I was in photography class asking if I wanted to go to a Giant's baseball game with him, and the rest is history. So yeah, my house is pretty special to our relationship.

Once we finalized the location, we booked a few essential vendors like the photographer and caterer, and then it was on to making decisions on what to do with the place. We have about an acre in a residential neighborhood in a small town in Marin County, and we're blessed with awesome neighbors and tons of space to play with so the options were endless. My only issue is that there were TOO many options to choose from. I can't tell you how many times I rearranged the layout, changing the ceremony location and the dance floor, giving my planner / best friend a migrane every week to almost being disowned from my parents ( literally, I can't believe they still wanted to have the wedding there at the end of it all.) My biggest issue with wedding planning was the fact that there was so many options and so many different ways to do things that I would change my mind each week and continually second guessed my decisions. I'm telling you, Pintrest is a bride's best worst nightmare. It's dangerous.

Not to mention, having it at the comfort of our home made ME feel so safe and relaxed. I'm such a nervous person - from a nervous stomach to random anxious feelings to always envisioning the worst - so my wedding day has always been a terrifying day for me. I always envisioned getting sick the morning of, or forgetting my bra or shoes or, god-forbid, my DRESS, and not being able to get it or fix it or having it all out of my control. Having the wedding at my house made me feel like it was out of my hands in a controlled way.... if that makes sense. On the day of I just knew it was all going to work out, and if it didn't work out, it didn't matter, because we were getting married. And thankfully, it did work out. It worked out perfectly.

Regardless of my own personal nightmare of feeling pressure to have everything cohesive and perfect, getting married in my backyard was the best decision I made, besides of course my choice in a husband. It was the most amazing day made so much more significant - from getting into my dress surrounded by friends and family in my kitchen (my favorite room in the house), to having a last minute dance party in my childhood bedroom before walking down the aisle, to grabbing my dad's arm in our entry way as he gave me his final words of wisdom, the place where he'd hug me before leaving the house and tell me to make good choices, before walking me down the aisle.

It made the day feel like us, made it feel so comfortable and welcoming and relaxed. You could tell that everyone felt at home at our home, that everyone could let loose and have a blast. So yeah, it might have been a hellish year prepping and planning, but it's safe to say that every single person had the time of their lives and I couldn't imagine experiencing this day and those moments anywhere else.

Hands down, the most amazing thing about this whole wedding shindig is the amount of love we felt throughout the entire process. Our families spent the entire year slaving in the backyard - like, actually slaving away digging and planting and hammering and watering - and completely transformed our yard into THE most perfect wedding venue. My biggest fear in getting married at my childhood home was that it would feel like, well, my childhood home. I have so many amazing memories in that yard, that I didn't want to feel like we were just hosting another party there. Needless to say, it did NOT feel like that at all. I can't tell you how many people came up to my parents asking if they could rent out their yard for their own wedding, and I spent the entire day amazed at the fact that we were married and that I was running barefooted in my backyard in my wedding dress. It was simply the best feeling in the world.


Our Wedding // Wedding planning

February 24, 2015

One of my many Pintrest boards for our wedding. You can see more of it here.
When I first started blogging two years ago, I could not wait to get engaged so I could blog about the whole thing. I swear, I wrote post drafts fantasizing about what I would actually write when I was wedding planning (embarrassing). I made board after board on pintrest about my dream weddings, which, by the way, I had many dream weddings, so my pinning it was quite obsessive. When I actually got engaged, life was crazy busy and I was overwhelmed. I sifted through my pintrest boards, trying to find my style and create a vision for our day, but there were just too many dang choices. There were too many vendors to choose from, from photography to caterers to florists, as well as design layouts and napkin colors and decor ideas and guest favors. Pintrest became my worst nightmare. I changed my mind every other week and gave my planner (who was thankfully my best friend and had to love me no matter what) a heart attack whenever he saw my number pop up on his phone. Not to mention, I was THE BIGGEST control freak. Like, I redid my to-do list every day, emailed my family with weekly to-do lists, and would spastically freak out when I forgot to do a significant errand or was behind on my "list" (that damn list....). We chose a style "relaxed garden party" (It sounds ridiculous, I know) and after months of feeling overwhelmed by decisions I knew I just had to trust that it was going to all work out. And in the end, the day was more beautiful and perfect than any Pintrest board I could have ever imagined.

I can't wait to finally document my wedding planning process because even though it's only been six month since our wedding, if feels like it was years ago and I don't want to forget any of it.


Oh hi hey there

February 22, 2015

Oh hey there. Remember when I used to blog? I spent a good few hours re-reading my past blog posts from the last few years of my life, and it saddens me that I haven't recorded the last year through this medium. Needless to say, it was a crazy freaking year of my life. My last post was in May when I quit my job and threw myself full time into photography while also trying to plan my own wedding. Silly me. I was way in over my head, going through crazy spurts of productivity and anxiety and obsessively followed by months of "I don't give a f*** what happens" and then circling around to "HOLY MOLY THE WEDDING IS SO SOON!". It was a roller coaster. Thankfully, I have the BEST family that literally spent the last year slaving over our backyard making it the most beautiful wedding location I have ever witnessed. But more on that later.

Life, man. How do I even recap what's been up? It'll take a few weeks, nay, months, to get fully up to speed, but I hope that I can use this place to record what's happening in my life because I miss it. I miss this place to pour my heart and soul out when things get crazy or exciting or straight up boring. It's gone from being my portfolio for photography, to my record keeper of crazy adventures, to a place for musing and random memories. And to be honest, I love how it's turned out. I love looking back at posts and remembering EXACTLY how I felt and what I was experiencing at that time. So get ready, I'm baacccckkkkkkk.


expectations and self-imposed pressure

October 13, 2014

The other day I read this amazing post about the pressure of being a small business owner. As I've been building my business I've felt a ton of pressure grow fast and be successful, but I've found that 100% of that pressure is coming from me. I have extremely high expectations for myself and where I want to be, and unfortunately have very little patience for sub-par work. I find myself feeling like I'm "failing" when the inquiries slow down and get frustrated when I can't dedicated all of my time to building to growing. The crazy thing about starting a business, at least for me, is that it's so hard to balance my work and personal lives. I find myself staying up until 1 in the morning finishing edits and emails just to crawl into bed to realize I never asked how Jack's day was. It's been months since I've had a day when I wasn't making mental lists every waking hour of the day, or since I've really felt like I could relax with my friends and family. It's an awful habit that I definitely need to work on, but I think it all comes back to the self-inflicting pressure of succeeding. So, for the next few months as I try to grow my business, plan a wedding, work a part time job, and make sure I give my fiance plenty of goodnight smooches, I need to remember that the world can still be conquered tomorrow.


OH yeah, I'm getting married in two weeks

August 9, 2014

When I first started reading blogs I knew that when I got engaged I wanted to use my blog as a way to record the planning process and gather inspiration. I fantasized on weekly wedding updates with inspiration boards, the planning, and my thoughts and feelings of this entire engagement.

Now, two weeks before my wedding and in the midst of way too many DIY projects, logistical nightmares, and rereading vendor contracts, I thought it was as good a time as any to write my first wedding blog post. I mean, what better way to procrastinate than doing something completely non essential during the business time of your life, right?

The past year of my life has been a whirlwind, to say the least. As I've mentioned in many posts before, last fall was a crazy time with getting engaged in August, attending a working in September and traveling a ton, photographing my second wedding in November, and traveling and celebrating the holidays in December. And then, in May, I decided to quit my part time desk job and completely focus on building my photography business. I thought that making that decision would free up more time to build my brand AND plan for the wedding. But, of course, as soon as I decided to focus full time on photography my business grew exponentially and I ended up booked almost every weekend with weddings and shoots, photographing families, traveling to Puerto Rico to photograph a president's club trip, and spent the majority of my week days editing and communicating with clients.  I kept saying "as soon as things slow down, I'll be able to focus on ____", continually pushing things back until I had "more time". Well, as I've quickly realized, I'll never have "more time" and will always have a ten page to-do list. So this past year has been full of prioritizing between wedding planning, building my business, and spending way too many nights drinking my 10th cup of tea at 8pm and hunkering down to edit/email/attempt to plan our wedding.

I thought that I would LOVE wedding planning. I have been obsessed with wedding blogs for years and my favorite pintrest boards are my wedding boards, but as soon as I had to sit down and focus on what I wanted for MY wedding, I freaked. There are so many good ideas, so many creative, unique, beautiful ideas, that I had the hardest time narrowing down what I wanted and what fit US. I've seen so many things through my own weddings and blogs, so it was hard to think up something unique that I haven't seen a million times. When we finally did decide on a theme/ ideas/ venues, I second guested EVERYTHING, and I'm still second guessing my decisions today.  I guess it's the pressure of hosting 150 people and being in the industry and wanting it to be perfect.  I had a few months where I would freak out for a few weeks and be so focused on wedding planning, and then get so over it and freak out and not do anything for the wedding for months and focus solely on my business. And then a few months later the whole process would start again. As I said, it's been a crazy last year.

The weird part is, I keep forgetting what the whole point of the wedding is. I keep forgetting that the details don't matter, the schedule doesn't matter, the logistics don't matter (well.. they kind of do... ) but the whole point of having this whole celebration is that Jack and I are getting married. I've been so far removed from the ceremony part of the planning, letting Jack and his dad (who will be our officiant) handle the ceremony planning. But when I feel super stressed or overwhelmed, I keep thinking that in two weeks Jack will be my husband. HUSBAND. After 10 years of being together, we will be married. Ten years ago we were just kids, driving out to the beach in West Marin, snuggling under blankets and star gazing, dreaming of our futures and planning out our adult lives. We'd go to college, either together or apart, and meet back up after college to live in a big city together - probably New York or San Francisco - then I'd be a traveling photojournalist and we'd get to travel the world for a few years - then we'd settle down on a ranch somewhere with a white fence, a barn, and a rope swing from a big tree out front for our kids to play on. These dreams were always just that - dreams - but now that we are getting married I keep thinking back to those dreams and realize that we're making those childhood fantasies a reality. It was always a given that we'd get married and have kids, but that always seemed like such a distant future. But now, it's a reality. We are now living those childhood fantasies and living out our dreams. It's a surreal feeling and one that I am so grateful to be able to have.

The next two weeks are going to be spent finishing up (or starting...) DIY projects for the day, gathering last minute decorations, finalizing schedules and timelines, and finishing building projects in the backyard. My parents have completely transformed their home into the most amazing wedding venue, completely with a gorgeous, buzzing garden, a grapevine arbor that we get to dine under, and beautiful flowers and plans to line the yard. It's truly amazing what they've done to make this day exactly how I imagined, and I'm beyond grateful for their tireless hard work and commitment to making this day amazing. Plus, after the wedding we're going to have a SWEET backyard!

And my amazing fiance - what can I say. We've definitely struggled a bit with finding balance between wedding planning, business building, traveling, family and friends time, and finding time for us, but all of the arguments and stress we've felt has only brought us closer. I'm beyond excited to marry childhood sweetheart and be his wife. I'm so excited to be able to plan our lives together for reals, to be one unit forever and always, and to build a beautiful family together. Plus, we decided last minute to book a 10 day honeymoon in Kauai for right after the wedding, which I'm pretty excited about too.

And with that, I'm out. Time to go stamp and cut and tie and assemble until my hands are bruised.


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