The Ruin Venue + A Personal Story


I’m all about keeping things real and if you’ve been with me for a while now, you know I mean that!  I think I held off on sharing these images because this trip is a little bittersweet for me as a business owner and as a human being in general and I’ll explain why below.

I was unhealthy.  I was unhappy.  I was trying to be someone I’m not, trying to fit in, trying to feel something that was simply missing.  I can’t believe that not even 8 months ago, I was allowing so much negativity into my life in so many different ways that I never even realized until I had my wake-up call just shortly after this trip and the SO MANY wake-up calls I'd have in the months to follow as well.  #myfighttofeelbetter

I’ll try not to jump all over the place, but no promises!  Again, if you’ve been with me for a while now, you also know a lot has changed for me over the past year with my health and wellness… this trip to California was a pivotal moment in my life.

I was unhealthy.  I was unhappy.  I was trying to be someone I’m not, trying to fit in, trying to feel something that was simply missing.  I can’t believe that not even 8 months ago, I was allowing so much negativity into my life in so many different ways that I never even realized until I had my wake-up call just shortly after this trip and the SO MANY wake-up calls I'd have in the months to follow as well. 

One of those wake-up calls was on this trip to Sunny California.

My beautiful + talented friends Samantha McFarlen and Alicia with Rogue Styling offered a boudoir session to me as they were staying at my parent’s vacation home, along with some other people like Taylor with Bixby and Pine.  First things first, I’m the first to admit that this experience was incredibly empowering for me as a woman.  I absolutely LOVED the way these women made me feel while I got to glam up and try on something I’d never typically wear... ever.  I was excited and happy and feeling super confident, even if that confidence only lasted a short while.

Yet at the same time while feeling empowered, I felt totally out of place.  I felt like I was trying to be someone I'm not and even though I wanted these images SO BADLY to lift me up and fuel me, they just made me want to cry, and still do.  And don't freak out, it's so much more than the weight, my friend.  And I want to also note that this has NOTHING to do with Sam and her work, this is a me thing.  

When you're down and not loving yourself, it hurts you in so many more ways than you ever realize until you decide to truly make a change.  At this time my marriage was struggling, my business was going through a really turbulent time and I was ready to quit.  I was so close to closing the chapter with Emma Rose Company and I don't say that lightly because it consumed me for quite some time.

Photos by Samantha McFarlen

I was lost in my own head and heart.  Each day I’d wake up, put on my happy face and try my damnedest to somehow prove to the world that I had it together and that I was okay… when in reality, I was totally and completely falling apart.  Did you know that the original means of this trip was to host a women’s retreat focused on self-love and to empower other women? I so badly wanted to TEACH those things but realized I was a complete fraud because I wasn’t doing anything in my own life to promote all the things I wanted to try and tell others that they should be doing.  I just couldn't do it.  I told everyone I cancelled the retreat due to numbers but I used that as a front to hide the real reason.  The real reason being that I couldn't dare to face other women and try and teach them how to love themselves when I was hating the person looking back at me in the mirror.

I canceled the retreat and paid back all the deposits and even refunded a flight cancellation for one photographer.  I was devastated.

I could write an entirely separate blog post (hmmm... maybe I will), on what THAT was like canceling such an event and how it made me feel but I won't focus on that here today.  This was a moment in my life that set off a switch in me.  It didn’t kick into action until the following month of December, but it was brewing… yes, it was.  It was so much in fact brewing that on December 4th of 2017 (just one month after this trip), I decided enough was enough and I was going to DO SOMETHING about the way I felt.


So I started working out and cleaning up my diet.  I didn't "diet", but I stopped pounding my toddler's mac and cheese whenever I felt like it or cruising through the McDonald's drive thru on a regular basis.

I realized for the first time EVER in my life that only I am the one who could and can make a change.  I am the only one who has to workout, who has to treasure the one temple I'm given in this life which is my health and my body.  I'd neglected it for so long and missed out on so many important things and happy times because my weight was quite literally weighing me down and holding me back from truly living the life I deserve to live.  The girl on the left was 202 pounds and on the threshold of obesity (.1 away).  The girl on the right is 150 pounds, happy, and truly smiling for the first time in many years.

I'm proud to say my marriage is back on track, I'm the absolute happiest I've ever been and I've learned SO MUCH about life in such a short time and what's truly important.  I've found out who my real friends are along the way, too.  That's been the biggest blessing beyond just me... it's been building REAL and genuine relationships with other women who fuel me and support me and love me for all that I am, flaws and all.  It's been learning how to myself be a better friend and show up for others.  So much of my weight struggles impacted my relationships and I know that now.

We recently had some updated family pictures taken by the talented Lora Grady PhotographyYou can view our family session here!  I had a vision for our shoot and part of that was getting cozy with my man in our home.  I hope you can appreciate WHY I wanted these pictures and how they are so much more than beautiful photographs but a celebration of really hard work and determination to not only light a fire back in my marriage but a fire within my soul to be a better version of myself.

I wanted some more "intimate" pictures to highlight our love and how far we've come together as a couple.  I'll never sit here and say I've been a bad wife, or mother, but since changing my life, I have realized that I missed out on many moments.  So while to some these photos might be weird, to me they're not.  They are everything.  I'm so grateful to Lora for completely exceeding all expectations I had for these photographs.

ALRIGHT, let's get to the pictures from the most epic styled shoot at the ruin venue!

While I have some ill feelings about the trip that I won't chat about because it just doesn't matter anymore, one highlight of the trip to California was that I got to tag along to a few different shoots with Samantha, Taylor and Alicia.  Samantha was so gracious to let me follow along and capture some moments for my portfolio, too!  I've been out to Joshua Tree a few times and it never ceases to amaze me.  Then I experienced The Ruin Venue and oh. my. goodness.  This place is what dreams are made of, truly!  I'd never hung out with Sam before this trip and I just fell in love with her personality, style, and drive.  She's an inspiration and I'm grateful our paths crossed!  And Alicia... ahhh this girl is something special.  She's so talented with her makeup skills (something I lack entirely) and just a really GREAT human being.  I loved getting to know her better on this trip.

I'd never even heard of The Ruin Venue so it's in these moments I'm so grateful for connections and having opportunities to experience something I never would have without my photography business.

The amazing team that brought this shoot together could not have been any better. Sam was the lead photographer, Alicia the makeup goddess, perfect design details from Bixby + Pine, a stunning Rue de Seine gown, paper, copper, and leather goods from Natalie at Pink by Peach and gorgeous velvet ribbon from Honeysilk Co.  I was in photography heaven playing in the desert with this amazing team and the beautiful models!

Take a look at a *few* of my favorites from the day.  vendor credits at bottom of post!  Enjoy!


Planning/Design/Florals: Bixby + Pine // HMUA: Rogue Styling // Venue: The Ruin Venue // Gown Designer: Rue de Seine // Gown Boutique: The Dress Theory: San Diego // Paper Goods/Place Cards/Table Number: Pink + Peach // Ribbon: Honey Silks & Co // Ring Box: The Mrs. Box

Emma Rose Company, Squarespace Website Designer and Fine Art Photographer, offers website services and photography services, photographers in Seattle, Olympia, and Tacoma, specialize in portrait, engagement and wedding photography in Seattle, Olympia, and Tacoma Washington.


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