Sponsored Post: Elissa R Photography & Giveaway

It’s almost Christmas and New Years, and that means time to wind down for the year. But before that happens we have one last sponsored post, and a good one too. Today I get to officially introduce you to Elissa R Photography in Austin Texas, serving Austin and San Antonio, as well as Houston and Dallas (with a small travel fee). We’ve got a lot of APW-ers in Texas: there are three thriving Texas book clubs, and our own editor Alyssa lives in Dallas. So I’m thrilled that we’re finally able to get y’all more Texan wedding elves you’re going to love. Yay Elissa R Photography!

Elissa has been reading APW forever-ever (two years), and has been chatting with me for at least nine months about coming on as a sponsor. She was building her business and her portfolio, and wanted to wait till she finally felt powered up and ready to go, and that time is now! Yippie! Elissa’s photos are gorgeous, and I have a feeling that after this summer’s experience shooting APW weddings, her work is going to be even better, if that’s possible. That makes Elissa R Photography one of those wedding myths… the affordable but talented photographer who is building her portfolio. Her wedding rates start at $600 (!!), and I have a feeling THAT isn’t going to last. So those of you in Texas looking for a phenomenal deal on a rising star? Let’s do this thing.

Elissa is a classically trained photographer who went to an arts magnet school in Texas, worked in Houston-area museums, and grew up in the dark room. But she told me, “I didn’t think I could make a career with my passion, however, so I put the camera down, rejected offers from art institutes, and went to a state university. I’m glad I received a well-rounded education, but it turns out that being behind the lens (and then writing about the people and experiences I encounter!) is really what makes me happy. So I’m giving it a go.” Hooray!

But her story about why she wants to work with APW couples is even better. Elissa R Photography might be the only wedding business ever (or at least so far) that started *specifically* to work with you guys. She got engaged, found APW, and started reading all your comments and support every day, and she told me this:

While I was reading about these smart, practical, talented folks I thought to myself that I would love to support them all, one day, somehow. Being a part of this community has made me feel like I have thousands of awesome sisters — or, at least, some awesome distant cousins.

At the same time I realized that my life was so much better with creativity and art and I picked up my camera again. I realized I could contribute to this fantastic community by being a part of their wedding days. Does that sound insane? That I chose to go into wedding photography because of the people I met here? I admire the seriousness of the love, life, and marriage that these ladies (and gents) have admitted to owning. And hey, if supporting their marriage means being there with a camera in hand, working my butt off, I will totally do it.

And in one final bit of awesomeness, Elissa is offering a free photo session early next year for an APW couple. Here are the details:

I want to offer a couple a free portrait session in the greater Austin area (special consideration to fabulous folks in San Antonio or Houston!) to be redeemed in early 2011 (Jan or Feb). It can be an engagement session or just a couples’ portrait session, or whatever — no strings attached and they will get all their photo files. I just want to meet some rad people and have fun and shoot some lovely photographs. If they could comment with their story, that’d be great.

So leave a comment, and then go browse. We ended 2010 right, didn’t we? Elissa R Photography could not be more perfect for APW, and I can’t wait to see the magic you guys create together.

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  • Alyssa



    But I love love LOVE that APW helped inspire Elissa. And her photos are awesome, one more reason I’m jealous of Austinites. (But shh….they’ll kick me out of Big D if they found out.) I’ll definitely be telling my friends about you, Elissa!

    • Bridette

      Ditto Alyssa!!!1

    • Awww thanks!

      Texas pride, y’all ;)

  • Nina

    This is a little off the beaten path, but hey, in the spirit of keeping Austin (and APW!) weird, I’d like to nominate my parents for this awesome couple’s portrait session giveaway. My parents had the most amazing crazy elopement 36 years ago: they met as Peace Corps volunteers in Ivory Coast, and decided to get married within only a few months of having known each other. It was a crazy match at the time: my Dad’s a true southerner from Alabama; my Mom’s from NYC and second-generation from Germany. They started trying to plan a wedding long distance — imagine! it took six weeks for a letter to reach their families in the States! — and quickly became frustrated with WIC, with parents’ and community expectations, and with the sheer ridiculousness of stressing over party favors while living in a freakin’ hut without electricity in Africa. So they eloped. They grabbed some witnesses, ran down to the closest courthouse in rural Ivory Coast, got hitched, hosted a dinner for ~10 friends at a local restaurant, and sent their parents a telegram. That was 36 years ago.

    One of the only drawbacks about this awesome elopement (besides returning from Africa and hoping to God that your parents like your new husband!) is that my parents have no photos celebrating their partnership, their love, or the fact that they have stood by their vows despite hell and high water. After the Peace Corps, my Dad joined the foreign service, so they have spent their marriage traveling through third world countries across four continents. They took lots of photos of each other while traveling, and there are lots of photos with their kids, but very very few with just the two of them.

    My parents retired to Austin a few years ago, and Mom turns 60 this spring. I know they aren’t your stereotypical early 20s lovebirds, but I think the spirit of APW posits that committed love at any age is worth honoring. In this case, this couple stood up to WIC before it was cool and had to give up on the wedding photographs, those tangible, ageless testimonies to lifelong commitment and love. A couple’s photography session could help fix that, 36 years later.

    Thanks, and best of luck with your business!

    • I know that giveaways usually go to readers, but I love this story!

      • I love this story too.

    • JEM

      Chills AND tears!

    • I love this!!!! And it strikes a chord with me because my parents have a similar story (my mother is a Japanese immigrant).

      If you’re sure your parents wouldn’t mind having their photo taken, I will definitely consider this :)

    • Cassandra

      Completely, totally love this story :)

    • ML

      What an awesome story.. can I put a request in for a wedding graduate post!?

  • I know exactly how Elissa feels about being inspired by this community and wanting to work with the amazing people that frequent this place. And how lucky for Texas couples!

  • I love this sponsor story! Makes me wish I could think of somebody in Texas to recommend her to!

  • I so wish I lived across the border in Texas– unfortunately we’re over here in Arkansas.

  • @Nina that story kills me! And they totally deserve to win, so much that I don’t want to submit my story, but I love me some pictures so I’m going to try.

    When the husband-elect and I met, he was an engineer and I was working at a non-profit doing event planning. We would text each other all day as he died of boredom in his cube and I avoided crazy volunteers who liked to yell at me for no reason. I went over to his apartment many, many nights after to work to cry my eyes out and drink margaritas, and he struggled constantly with feeling like an unimportant number in a huge corporation. We were floating along in post-college life, with no idea what we should do with our lives or even what we wanted. It was scary and awful, but we had each other and that made it worth it somehow.

    Then a year ago I decided to quit my job and move home and go to graduate school for something completely different. A serious thing, a businessy thing. And it was absolutely terrifying. But he was there, telling me he believed in me and that he knew I could do it. How could he know, when I didn’t? But he did. And it made me believe that I could too.

    Almost as soon as I got settled in to grad school, he was laid off from his awful job. I helped him find openings, I helped him write letters and I helped him with applications. And then I saw it – his dream job. An opening for a professional brewer at a local brewery. As a man whose brain truly operates in the language of mechanical engineering, who home-brewed for 2 years and built all of his own equipment, it was the most perfect thing for him to find. He struggled with applying, and then accepting, the job because of the huge pay cut, but this time I got to be there to tell him to go for it. To tell him that we would make it somehow, together, no matter what.

    So now, he’s got his dream job and plans to keep making his career dreams come true. I’ve got half a graduate program done, half left, a killer GPA and 2 internships lined up. We’re engaged and planning our lives together. We’re making it happen, for ourselves and each other, RIGHT NOW. It’s the most amazing thing I never could have predicted, and I thank my lucky stars every day that we get to be so happy and so blessed, and that we get to do it together.

    We make each other stronger and braver. We pick up the slack when the other can’t, and trust that the scales will tip back the other way eventually. He makes me believe in us, in him and in myself in ways that I never thought I could. Our wedding song will be “The Luckiest” by Ben Folds because we truly feel like that, every single day together.

    • meg

      Jesus. You guys are going to make us draw names out of a hat, aren’t you?

    • Ahhh, I relate to this way more than I care to admit. And your husband is a brewer?? Umm, may I ask where? My husband is a beer enthusiast… maybe they should become friends.

      Your story is so amazing. Oh man, this is going to be hard to choose.

      • He works for Saint Arnold in Houston. They have daily tours! I would love to have some sort of meet-up there sometime. They let you bring food and board games and then they give you beer. Best thing ever.

        • Hahaha, awesome. I’m very familiar with St. Arnold’s because of their “Elissa” beer… named after the ship, of course, though I boast that it’s named after me. I’ve never been to the brewery, though. :)

  • Shelley

    Elissa’s photography is awesome and I am SO proud of her for being noted. You go girl! And good luck picking a lucky couple for that photo shoot, these stories are all amazing, and I’m sure there will be more to come when the word gets out more.

  • I just need to say that I’m totally bananas for Elissa (yes, I just said bananas)! I met her in the comments on APW back in April or May sometime when we both realized we were working 2 jobs to support our hubbies, and building our own photography businesses on the side! What are the odds?! Her work rocks and she has a heart of gold. I love this girl and I have yet to meet her in person! :) SO happy she is a sponsor and I can’t wait to see pics from the giveaway session! Eeps! :)

    • meg

      The odds seem to be good in these parts, where I am doing the same ;)

      • It seems to be a trend among we APW ladies, no? :)

    • Thanks, Christy :)

  • Ali

    This is an absolute god-send. I’ve been planning my wedding since June, reading APW for a bit longer than that, and I’ve never felt as touched by any sponsor post until now.

    The photographer we were planning to use for our upcoming wedding has gone away for a missionary in Nigeria…she recently got engaged herself and I have not been able to get ahold of her to ask her any questions about my wedding. She’s supposed to be returning a month before our wedding, but I am a bit uncomfortable not knowing…Photography is really important to me, and I was starting to worry that I might not have a photographer at all :(

    I’ve already e-mailed Elissa because I’d be thrilled to have her shoot my wedding!! Fingers crossed she’s available on April 16th…

    Now, for the portriat session! Yippee! Can I just say I would love to have a couple-session with me & the hubby-to-be?

    The truth is, we took a few (yes, as in 3) pictures when we got engaged, but I am non too thrilled with them due to the fact that my fiance’s hair was a messy, ponytail length. You see, when we first met in 2007, he decided to shave his head and grow his hair out for Locks of Love. He’s grown it out for three whole years, and finally donated it about a month ago (and met the 10″ requirement). So, as much as I love my man no matter how he looks, long hair or not, I would LOVE to have some pictures of us with him looking as studly as he does now :)

    A bit of our background: we met at Texas A&M University (whoop!), where we both majored in Construction Science. We work in the same field and enjoy sharing that common interest. We have a 3 year old Jack Russell Terrier who is the absolute love of our life, and who will be starring in our wedding as Ring Bearer.

    • hahaha! ali, I hope you’ve already booked elissa, because my wedding’s the same date, and if you don’t grab her, I will!
      where’s your wedding being held?

      • Ali

        Hey! Unfortunately I think we might’ve both missed out, cuz Elissa said she’s been talking to another customer with our same date already! :(

        My venue is a German biergarten near Georgetown…the ceremony will be held outdoors.

        • Dang it, y’all, why does April 16th have to be such a popular date? I want to be there for every one of you!

          I appreciate the love, though :)

          • Ali

            I know…I guess April 16th is just THE day to get married :)

          • yeah. all the cool kids are doing it then.
            … it’s a full moon, and no major races or festivals in austin. if your gig falls through, I hope you’ll let us know. we’ll cage-match it out.

  • Madeline

    I read Nina’s story about her parents, and I’m pretty sure they should win this giveaway. Of course, after reading that story, I thought that if I wanted to still have the balls to write about my FH and me, I needed to not read the other stories until after I’ve posted mine. Unfortunately, Jason and I won’t be in Austin after January 1st. But I love Elissa’s stuff, and I feel the need to share our story, regardless of whether a couple’s session with Elissa is possible. So here goes.

    I met Jason in fourth grade. Or so I’m told. I honestly don’t remember him until high school, but I know we were in the same schools for longer than that. We weren’t particularly good friends in high school – I was better friends with his best friend than with him – and my only real memory of him from that time is watching him being chased by the swans at the Arboretum after a trip to Amy’s Ice Creams (we’re Austinites to the core, btw). Then we graduated from high school and went our separate ways. I went to college in Louisiana, he went into the Marine Corps.

    Four years later, we moved both moved back to Austin. He works with the reserve unit in the area, and I was taking a year off from school before starting my Master’s degree. A good mutual friend from high school was on leave (she’s in the Navy), and invited a bunch of people to go out to 6th Street. I decided to go, even though it wasn’t something I would typically do at the time. Jason was there, and we hit it off. It started out really casually, and the seriousness of our relationship actually kind of snuck up on me. The first night on 6th Street was in late September 2009 (we think), and we got engaged in August 2010, even though (or possibly because) I was about to leave for grad school.

    At the end of this past August, I moved to Denver without Jason. He stayed in Austin, but not for long. He’s been in California for the past few months getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. I start school again in Denver on January 3rd, and Jason leaves sometime in mid- to late-January. Our wedding is set for September of 2012, so we have plenty of time to get engagement pictures done after Jason gets back, and I will completely understand if our schedule just won’t work for Elissa. But I would love to have some pictures of us together before this deployment, especially because we currently don’t have any professional pictures of us as a couple (all we’ve got are a bunch of poorly-aimed self-portraits).

  • Elizabeth

    Having met Elissa at the book club meetups, I can vouch that she’s awesome. I can’t imagine that she’d be anything other than amazing at your wedding!

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  • Alison

    My finance, Jason, and I just got engaged on the 19th. We live in Austin, but were visiting my friends in NYC for the holidays. He planned a romantic day in Central Park which ended with him proposing! Jason is a native Austinite and I have fallen in love with the city during the past few years I have lived there. Of course, part of that love is because I met the man I want to spend the rest of my life with in Austin. We are looking forward to getting married this summer. He is an Iraq War veteran and finishing school at Texas State. I am a elementary school teacher. We are doing a lot of DIY things for the wedding in part because it is cheaper and part because I love the idea of putting so much personal work into our wedding. Jason and I would love to have Elissa take our engagement photos this winter at our favorite spots.