1st Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Seattle, WA

1st Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Seattle, WA

Finally, we have arrived to the anniversary photoshoot and vow renewal that started it all! To properly set the scene for this post, I am writing as it is raining, sipping my coffee, and burning a Seattle scented candle (seriously, it’s from Bath & Body Works and smells like white caramel cold brew). The ambiance couldn’t be more perfect aside from maybe writing this post while in Seattle itself.

Seattle, WA

For the longest time, Sean and I had talked about taking a trip to the West Coast to explore Seattle and Portland. We took the opportunity to make the trip to celebrate our 1st anniversary. Traditionally, the first anniversary gift is paper, so that is when I decided to gift us with our paper vow books (that’s right, we got our vow books AFTER our wedding). We wrote our original vows in them as well as new vows to read to each other on our anniversary.

The Photographer

Since we were going to be in Seattle, I envisioned hiking around mountains and waterfalls while wearing backpacks for the shoot. I wanted a dark and moody style of photography that really represented the mostly overcast vibes of the area.

I posted on my Facebook feed that I was looking for a photographer in the Seattle area with this particular style and my network came through! A friend suggested that I reach out to Megan Gallagher Photography who had recently relocated to Seattle from Raleigh. Her style was exactly what I had been envisioning, she had experience shooting in the mountains outside of Seattle, and she was already someone who was familiar to me.

photo of couple hiking at Snoqualmie

Since we did not have a car, Megan picked Sean and I up from our AirBnb in Capitol Hill and drove us to the Snoqualmie River area which was an hour outside of the city. Once we had arrived, she pulled the car over close to an area where we could hike the rest of the way to Franklin Falls.

On our walk over to the area with the waterfall, I quickly realized that this location exceeded my vision 100%!

The Franklin Falls area was breathtaking.

photo of couple at Franklin Falls

Pure bliss. How could it not be? These views plus sweater weather is the best!

Of course we couldn’t go to Franklin Falls without getting photos with the waterfall itself.

photo of piggyback couple at Franklin Falls in front of the waterfall

Time for a piggy back ride! Do not attempt this while wearing a dress!

photo of Sean in front of Franklin Falls waterfall
photo of Mollyann in front of Franklin Falls waterfall

We also took this opportunity to get a few individual shots with the waterfall.

close up photo of Mollyann in front of Franklin Falls waterfall

Don’t go chasing waterfalls unless they make you feel like this!

I did my own hair and makeup for this shoot so I definitely don’t look as glam as in some of my other shoots but the look was perfect for the scenery and the casual vibe. Who gets their hair and makeup done professionally to go on a hike in the wilderness? The correct answer = no one.

Once we were finished shooting at Franklin Falls, we started making the trek back to the car but stopped to take some shots on these rocky stairs.

photo of L.L. Bean boots

You may recognize my boots, the classic L.L. Bean Duck Boots. I knew that they would be the perfect boots for the shoot, however, I did not own a pair and they were sold out on L.L. Bean’s website in my size at the time. I ended up buying them used from a seller on Poshmark. And that’s not the first time that I’ve bought shoes that I had been eyeing from Poshmark, my wedding heels also came from there. If there’s a will, there’s a way to find what you are looking for!

Next, we drove over to our next location, Rattlesnake Lake. Do not fear, I am told that there are no rattlesnakes there, but you will find these amazing tree stumps in the water.

photo of couple in tree at Rattlesnake Lake

And this crazy tree!

photo of Sean in tree at Rattlesnake Lake

We changed into our second outfits for Rattlesnake Lake in the car – you gotta do what you gotta do when shooting in nature like this!

I love this outfit on Sean. Sometimes rolling up your sleeves and pant legs are all you need to complete a look. We decided to both go barefoot for the remainder of these shots, however, the ground was very rocky and uncomfortable to walk on barefoot, so we would wear flip flops to move around then throw our flip flops out of the frame for the photo.

photo of couple at Rattlesnake Lake

To this day, Rattlesnake Lake is probably one of the most unique areas that I have ever seen in my life. Thank you Mother Nature for showing us your roots (literally)! I am so happy to have had Megan there to capture this memory. These photos are the best keepsakes and are priceless to us!

close up photo of couple at Rattlesnake Lake

These photos give me all of the feels (especially the feels of my bare feet on the rocks)! Kiddinggg.

photo of couple standing on a tree stump at Rattlesnake Lake

Going out on the tree stumps in the water was magic. Pure magic.

Still feeling the magic, we made our way back onto land and began our vow renewal.

I purchased our vow books from Moglea but unfortunately, they no longer sell them. There are many Etsy sellers that also have cute vow book options though!

After the vow renewal, it was starting to get dark but we had one more surprise in store…

photo of couple popping champagne

Champagne! We bought a mini bottle thinking that it would be easier to transport however, if I had to do it over again, I would have splurged on a big bottle for a more grand POP! You live and you learn.

The success and experience of this shoot is definitely what encouraged us to continue this tradition every year. Let’s just say, it set the bar HIGH! Even looking back at these photos I am in awe of some of the images. It’s hard to not just look at them as art – we were really there! It was real life! It makes me want to visit the West Coast again soon.


photo of Megan Gallagher

Hi Megan! It’s hard not to fall in love with Megan Gallagher Photography. I can’t believe that one individual can be so dang talented. Megan seriously went above and beyond for this shoot. The locations were breathtaking and it was an experience that Sean and I will never forget. She also delivered the album in both web size, ideal for posting on social media/online, and high resolution, ideal for printing.

For more photos from this shoot check out Megan’s blog post, Rattlesnake Lake-Franklin Falls Anniversary Session. Heads up, since this shoot, Megan has relocated to Portland, OR.

Are you inspired to travel, have a vow renewal each year on your anniversary, or to at least book a photoshoot? I hope so. Please, please, please copy our tradition for yourself! It’s exactly why I share these experiences.

If you aren’t convinced yet, check out our 2nd Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Austin, TX and our 3rd Anniversary Photoshoot + Vow Renewal in Charlotte, NC.

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Experience

The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Experience
walt disney world marathon weekend logo

I started running while I was in college. I really enjoyed it and found myself training for and running 5k after 5k after 5k. I started to crave a longer, more challenging race and decided that a half marathon would be the perfect challenge. Then, I learned about the epic runDisney races and it was a no brainer. My desire for a longer distance paired with my love of Disney made this the perfect place to start.

My dad had previously ran several Disney races so we decided that we would run the half marathon during the January 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend together. He really took the lead on creating our training schedule and setting up the logistics for us to travel to Orlando, Florida for the race.

Here is my breakdown of our race training and prep and our before, during, and after the race experiences.

Training for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon

As a 5k is 3.1 miles and a half marathon is 13.1 miles, I had a ways to go to boost up my endurance and to add more mileage into my training. One of the best ways to add mileage is to add a mile to your distance every week. Often runners will continue to do several 1-4 mile short runs throughout the week and then do their long runs on the weekends. This is exactly how my dad and I trained. We did short runs throughout the week on our own and often met up on the weekends for the long runs.

Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run

In addition to adding mileage each week, we decided that we were going to run the race using Jeff Galloway‘s run-walk-run method.

list of run-walk-run ratios
Jeff Galloway’s website and his books are great resources for this type of training.

We decided to pace ourselves at a 12 minute per mile training pace in order to finish the race in a little over two and a half hours. For our pace, we would run two minutes then walk one minute and repeat. Training in this way makes the distance much more manageable and also greatly decreases the risk of injury.

Often people think that they have to run 13 miles prior to a half marathon which is not always the case. We trained up to 12 miles with the race day being our 13 mile run day. Since we were already comfortable at a 5k distance, we were able to start training 8-10 weeks out before the race and this gave us plenty of time to work up to the half marathon distance.

Before the Walt Disney World Half Marathon

The runDisney Health & Fitness Expo

We arrived in Orlando, Florida a few days prior to the race and attended the runDisney Health & Fitness expo to pick up our race bibs and packets. Big races always have incredible expos full of running vendors selling goods and other activities to get you pumped and excited for the race ahead.

rundisney health and fitness expo photos
In addition to our race bibs and packets, we even picked up disposable jackets to wear for the race.

Race Prep

The morning before the race, we went for a short 6am run to prepare to help get our bodies accustomed for the race the next morning.

early morning photo
Getting a taste of running in the dark and cold.

The evening before the run, we loaded up on carbs with pasta for dinner and set out our race stuff so that we would be prepared for the next morning. I set out every article of clothing and race gear, even down to the safety pens for my race number which were already pinned in the holes of my bib so that they would be easy to find. This step is so important so that you are prepared for an early morning run.

photo of race clothing and gear
I spy my old iPod Shuffle. Talk about a throwback!

Walt Disney World Half Marathon Race Day

Before the Race

On race day, we woke up at 2:30am to get dressed and to fuel for the race. These races have very early start times as the entire race needs to start and end before the parks open up to guests.

photo of mollyann at 2:30am
I was barely feeling awake in this photo but I managed to eat half of a bagel, a banana, and hydrated with some Powerade.

It was freezing that morning, literally a record cold day for Florida which was a bit unexpected. Here I am wearing 3 layers of shirts including the race shirt that I had just received at the expo and I am wearing a bandana to serve as a bit of a scarf.

photo of mollyann dressed for the race
Pointing in case you can’t see my race number.

We even put on additional layers and then took a shuttle to the race start.

photos of being bundled up for the race
Isn’t Florida supposed to be warm?!

There was an area where we could store our belongings during the race. Once our belongings were stored, we wore some additional disposable layers that we could shed as the weather and our bodies warmed up during the race. It was very cold just standing around and waiting for the race to start.

photos wearing trashbags
Our disposable layers consisted of trash bags and white disposable jackets. It’s a cute look, right?
crowded race start photo
We were in Corral C. They organize runners in order of their qualifying speeds with Corral A being the fastest runners who start off the race.

There were fireworks, music, and of course Disney characters getting everyone hyped up for the race to begin.

photo of mickey mouse, minnie mouse, donald duck, and goofy

During the Race

When we started running, it was still dark out but we quickly shed our layers. Below, is a rather dark photo in front of the castle in Magic Kingdom. By the time we ran through Epcot, the sun had finally come up. One of the most shocking parts of the race is that you run through the parks just a little bit. You spend most of the race running on the road between parks. They do have photo worthy mile markers and additional characters along the way though.

photos at magic kingdom and epcot

The Finish Line

After running 13.1 miles in the bitter cold we finally finished. Here we are crossing the finish line!

finish line photos
The guy on my right is STRUGGLING.

I’m not going to lie, this race was tough. It rained, it sleated, and it even snowed a bit. While we were running, it was manageable but almost immediately after we stopped running, our body temps dropped. Our clothes were soaked and I was shaking like a leaf. These tin foil blankets were much needed to insulate our body heat.

photos wearing tin foil blankets
We did it!
photos with race medals

photo with goofy
Did you know that Disney has a Goofy Challenge where you run the half marathon then the next day you run the marathon? My dad has done it!

After the Race

As soon as we returned back to the hotel room, I took a hot shower and then napped in the fetal position for several hours. Once we had recovered, we returned to the parks and had a chance to enjoy the rides.

To this day, this is the longest race that I have run and I am really proud to have completed it. There is a lot of prep and training for a long distance run. My biggest regret after the run is that I did not keep up my mileage. Instead, I actually took a bit of a break from running through the winter and became what I like to call a “seasonal runner”. I much prefer running when it is a nice day. A temperature of around 60 degrees is my ideal running weather.

My dad and I did return a few years later to run the Inaugural Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler race in 2012 which was an evening run.

tower of terror logo
It doesn’t look like they have this race anymore!

Upcoming runDisney Events

I think that every runner aspires to run a Disney race one day. However, they do sell out rather quickly so you will want to plan your run pretty far in advance and register as soon as registration opens in order to secure your spot. The Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend takes places annually in January but they also host several other popular races:

  • Following the Walt Disney World Marathon weekend, in February is the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I totally thought that the Princess Half was only for the ladies. However, the website encourages both Princes and Princesses to participate!
  • The notorious Disney villains even get their own race! The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is described as being “Wickedly Delicious.”
  • Sadly, the Star Wars Rival Run Weekend was canceled this year but it would be amazing especially with the new Star Wars park being open for all of you Star Wars lovers out there!
race logos

To follow along with updated race weekend information and updates, you can visit rundisney.com or follow them on Instagram at @rundisney.

Love Disney? I interviewed my friend Michelle Clark for an Expat Chat and she has recently started up a fun Disney-inspired enamel pin company, Chipadeedoodahs. Definitely check it out!

5 Reasons to Book a Photographer During Your Honeymoon | Paris Honeymoon Photoshoot

5 Reasons to Book a Photographer During Your Honeymoon | Paris Honeymoon Photoshoot

I joke that I took my husband, Sean, on his dream honeymoon. We had decided that I was going to focus on planning the wedding and that he was going to focus on planning the honeymoon. He had his heart set on Paris. However, at the time, he was in grad school and I was providing our sole income. I had researched and the cost of plane tickets to get there and back was going to set us back $3000.

However, when you put something that you want out into the universe, it has a way of working itself out. I had shared with a colleague that my husband and I were wanting to go to Paris on our honeymoon and she set an alert for the price of Paris flights. I didn’t think much of it at that time, however, one morning she texted me that the round trip flights to Paris had dropped down to $700! YES! I had opened up a travel rewards points credit card and purchased our tickets on the spot. Paris was a gooooooo!

A few months before our wedding, I went to a conference and shared a room with someone who had been to Paris several times. She gave me so many wonderful recommendations and tips. I wrote them all down on a note on my phone so that I wouldn’t forget. She had also shared photos that a photographer had taken of her and her husband in Paris. I knew that I wanted to book a photographer as well. I reached out to her photographer (it was very important that we booked someone who could speak English) but sadly, she was unavailable. I asked her for some recommendations and fortunately, we were able to book a photoshoot that was within our budget with an English speaking photographer. Once we had the photographer booked, we were able to start planning the rest of our trip and it also gave me some time to find the perfect dress for the shoot!

Here are the top 5 Reasons to Book a Photographer During Your Honeymoon:

#1. Your photos together will not just be a bunch of cell phone selfies.

When it is just you and your new husband/wife on your honeymoon, especially in a country where they speak a foreign language, you don’t just want to hand off your cell phone to a random person to take photos of the two of you. For this reason, you just end up with a lot of selfies.

Exhibit A

#2. Professional photos. Enough said.

When you book a photographer, you can be certain that you will have professional quality photos of your memories captured. Can you say #framers?!

These framers make great home decor and gifts for family!

#3. The photographer knows the lay of the land.

Your photographer is familiar with the area and will know where and when to get the best shots. Unlike you, who are likely visiting this spot for the first time on your honeymoon. Their expertise will make a huge difference.

For this shot of the eiffel tower, we met our photographer at Trocadero at 8am before tourists flooded the area. It was windy and chilly, but totally worth it!

#4. It’s a fun activity!

Getting all dolled up and dressed up for a photoshoot is a lot of fun! It is a completely different experience than the photos on your wedding day. You’ll enjoy snuggling up with your partner with just the photographer as the witness when you are relaxed and in love on your honeymoon. Bliss captured!

#5. You are in tip top shape.

For your wedding, you and your partner likely got in tip top shape. Maybe you sported a spray tan, wore hair extensions, got fake eyelashes, have freshly painted nails – you name it! You both look awesome, why not get some more beautiful photos during this exciting time in your life?

For Sean and I, we were both in great shape, he had just gotten a haircut, and I was still rocking my spray tan, mani/pedi, and eyelash extensions. We were both already photoshoot ready. It was great to have these beauty treatments last through both the wedding and our honeymoon. I felt confident and like I got my money’s worth from these beautifications!

Trust me, it is worth every dime to book a photoshoot during your honeymoon! Do not skip it! Just like your wedding photographer is a must have, a honeymoon photographer is a must have – even if it is just for a one hour session in one outfit like we did. Of course, you can change into multiple outfits and make it more of a production if you would like. The opportunity to capture these once in a lifetime photos with your significant other post nuptials is the perfect way to start off your new life together.

We are so in love with our Paris honeymoon photos and had such a wonderful experience. We would highly recommend working with Sasha of Timeless Paris Photography.

This photoshoot has actually inspired us to continue having photoshoots in various cities on our anniversary every year as well!