Feb 26-14


I met Kristen and John at the Rose Garden one very cold Sunday morning. As the sun slowly came up, the ground was covered by a small layer of frost, the leaves were crisp and the roses were slightly frozen which made our session so romantic! Although this couple currently lives in Cinncinati, Ohio they will be getting married in Raleigh because of how special it is to them. I am so thankful that we were able to catch each other over the holidays and do their engagement session at a place that holds special meaning to the two of them!


John is adventurous and loves Motorcross. Kristen is supportive and tenderhearted. But what I love most about this couple is that they are so silly. They described themselves to me as "young at heart" and I would totally agree! How refreshing it is to spend time with people who simply enjoy life. We laughed more together than I think I ever have during an engagement session. This couple has so much fun together, whether it's cooking dinner, cheering John on at his motocross races or traveling the world.


Let me tell y'all, I love my job mainly because of the people that I get the opportunity to meet and work with. Kristen and I didn't know each other before this, but I think we email each other almost once a week. I am truly convinced that if she didn't live in Cincinnati, we would meet for coffee pretty frequently.


Kristen and John, I am so excited for your wedding at the amazing Merrimon-Wynne House in a few weeks!

Comments: 1

  1. Kristen almost Snow! February 26, 2014 1:27 pm

    Love. This. Thank you Callie for such a sweet blog post and amazing pictures! You are so talented and we are so thankful for the opportunity to work with you. Can’t wait to see you in a few weeks for our wedding!

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Feb 25-14

Making Things Happen October 2013 from Caitlin Sullivan on Vimeo.


You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Jim Rohn

Confession: I googled that quote so I could give proper credit and to my surprise, I ended up listening to this short talk  (and this one, too) by Jim Rohn. I had never heard him speak before, and the video is pretty dated. (80's hairstyles and a chalkboard!) But the content is SO good. It was one of those mid-day surprises that I hadn't planned, but I'm so grateful for it, especially as I have been thinking a lot about Making Things Happen.

You see, I googled that quote because it's something we discuss at the conference : I am the average of the 5 people I spend time with the most. 

That's a pretty powerful statement if you think about it. Let that one soak in!


My heart gets so excited when I think about the Making Things Happen conference just a few weeks away. Each spring and each fall, this conference is held in Chapel Hill and led by my friend Lara Casey. I am honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to speak at this conference for the past few times, and I count down the days when it begins to get closer. This spring conference is already sold out, but we typically announce the fall dates within a month after MTH is over. So be sure to keep an eye out in April!


So, why am I writing about all of this now, if the conference is already sold out? Great question. Honestly, it's just been on my mind. There's an anticipation that begins to build the weeks before. In all the excitement, I want to prepare my heart to face the hard decisions, to be inspired, to make the most of it.

Making Things Happen isn't a just conference that takes place twice a year. It's a community of people who love and support one another throughout the year, who celebrate one another's successes, who encourage one another's dreams. I am motivated to make a concise list and stick to it when I pick up my coffee mug in the morning. I think twice before ever turning on the TV. I set goals that light my heart on fire each month when I work on my Powersheets. I've eliminated distractions. I've set my eyes on what life is all about.

To put it simply, Making Things Happen is about living life to the fullest.

Better to live 30 years full of adventure, then a 100 years safe in the corner.
Jim Rohn

That quote resonates in me so much right now. I want to live life to the FULLEST. The way God intended it! Lately, there have been so many things in my mind and heart that have been challenging:

Risks I want to take
A lot of work to juggle
A growing business
A future that's not perfectly clear

But that's when I have the opportunity to either:

Live 100 years safe in a corner
Choose to really LIVE a life full of adventure


I don't know about you, but I want to live the life of adventure. I want to look at what I have right now in my hands, and do something with it. I'm done with excuses. I want to do the very best that I can with what I have.

I'll leave you with one more quote from my new friend Jim:

The best study of life is how it is. Not how you wish it to be, not how you wish to rearrange it -
how to take advantage of it how it is.
Jim Rohn

Let's stop trying to rearrange everything and just take advantage of life how it is. What a breath of fresh air that is!

Images by Anna Paschal and Robyn Van Dyke

Comments: 11

  1. Emily February 25, 2014 2:18 pm

    Hi Nancy! Thanks for sharing. I’ll be joining you at MTH and this post just made me even more excited! I can’t wait! Do you have any advice for how to “prepare my heart?” After speaking at several MTH conferences, is there anything you find helpful for getting ready? I still don’t know what to expect, but I want to be “prepared” if that’s possible. =)

  2. Melissa Donaldson February 25, 2014 4:51 pm

    I super needed to hear this! Thank you for sharing, and great blog!

  3. Kat February 25, 2014 8:29 pm

    Oh, Nancy!! I am SO, SO, SO excited for MTH!!! I’ll admit, life has been so busy lately & time is flying by so fast I haven’t really had time to think that MTH is a month away… but it IS and I am SO honored to be going this year. I can’t wait to see how God speaks to me, to meet all of you & spend 2 days being immersed in it all. Yippee!!! xo!!!

  4. Sarah Becker Lillard February 25, 2014 8:55 pm


    Can’t wait to join y’all at MTH in just a few weeks! Wow I can’t believe it’s nearly here! I tend to cry or at every strong emotion (sadness, happiness, anger, empathy) so after watching that video I think I’ll be bringing my waterproof mascara. ;)


  5. Em February 26, 2014 2:25 am

    Thank you for sharing your heart for living life to the fullest! I’ve been stretched to my God-size dream over the past few months and MTH couldn’t come at a better time.

    Life IS meant to be lived full and abundantly–I want to live a life that is completely poured out in service, purpose, love and laughter. I can’t wait to meet you and hug you in a few weeks!!!

  6. Karen Stott February 27, 2014 11:58 pm

    I love this Nancy. Thank you for this amazing reminder. I am now even MORE excited to get there and meet you! Xoxo

  7. ANNIE March 1, 2014 9:44 am

    Nancy, this video is so sweet, and really very moving. Why is Australia so far away!? I’d love to attend one day. Wishing you all the very best for the forthcoming MTH x

  8. March 2014 Goals | Nancy Ray Photography March 1, 2014 2:38 pm

    […] updating my lenses) Have a getaway weekend in Asheville with Will Speak at Making Things Happen (Can't wait!) Declutter excessive decorations in my home Practice new calligraphy techniques (Thank you, Lauren!) […]

  9. brighton March 18, 2014 5:04 pm

    OMG – I MUST GO. I’ve GOT to find a way!!!!

  10. Making Things Happen 2014! » Niagara Wedding Planner and Designer March 24, 2014 3:27 pm

    […] Here’s a video of a previous MTH shared by the amazing Nancy Ray! Check out her MTH post here. […]

  11. WilliamRay.com – I’m Making Things Happen! March 31, 2014 11:31 am

    […] tomorrow.  I’ve heard a lot about this conference (Nancy has been a speaker there for the last two conferences), and experienced a little bit of […]

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Feb 20-14

2014 Book List

Goals ~ by Nancy Ray ~ 13 comments


Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to guest post on my friend Val's blog in her Fresh Start series. I wrote all about how I became a reader and how the thought of reading used to be so incredibly boring to me. Like stare-at-one-page-for-30-minutes-like-I-did-for-my-high-school-homework boring. It wasn't until later in life that I became an avid reader, and I am a different person because of it. A better person. In fact, I'm a better wife, a stronger believer, a more informed citizen, a better manager of my time, a more focused business woman, an inspired photographer, a healthier person, and a more confident individual. All because of the books I've read!

Tips to help you become a Reader

1. Only select books that come recommended by a trusted source. (Need a few recommendations? Check out my Pinterest Pages: Books on Life + FaithBusiness, and Enjoyment. To follow along with my current reads, follow my Instagram hashtag #nancyrayreads)

2. Choose a balance of books that touch on every aspect of life:

Social Relationships

This allows me to mix it up and really stay sharpened as a person. I think you’re the best reader when you’re a well-rounded reader.

3. Read a little every day (I read at least 10-15 pages/day, during my morning routine. I occasionally read in the evenings, but usually I’m too sleepy!)

4. Read one book at a time (My husband disagrees on this one! I like the feeling of accomplishment it brings, and the focus it allows. But when it comes down to it, do what works for you.)


The first thing I do at the beginning of the year is set a goal for how many books I want to read. In 2014, my goal is to read 20 books. Then I create a list of  more-than-enough books to choose from. That way, I can have a variety of books to choose from throughout the year. I typically compile this list during the previous year through various recommendations I hear from friends, blogs, etc. Here is my booklist for 2014!

Nancy Ray Reads : 2014 Book List

Descending into Greatness
- Orphan Justice
- Crash the Chatterbox
Ordering Your Private World 

- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- Smart Money Smart Kids
The Soul of Money

Necessary Endings
- Insanely Simple
- Time Traps
- Paid to Speak

Marriage and Family Relationships
- Love, Sex, and Happily Ever After
- Notes from a Blue Bike

Social Relationships: Book Clubs and Small Group readings
Holy Spirit : An Introduction

Personal + Intellectual Development
Boundaries for Leaders
- Half Time: Moving from success to significance
- The One Thing
- Who Moved My Cheese?

Health (Physical Well-Being)
Born to Run
- The Omnivore's Dilemma

Rest and Relaxation (Physical Well-Being)
The Storyteller
- The Glass Castle
Labor Day

Want to read 2013's Book ListClick here!

I'm considering signing up for Goodreads, to keep all of my book recommendations in one place. Do you have any thoughts on Goodreads if you use it? Where do you find your best book recommendations? I'd love to hear!

Comments: 13

  1. Liz Shults February 20, 2014 5:30 pm

    I love Goodreads! I use it to make book suggestions to my students (I teach High School English) all the time. I like that I can build my personal bookshelf and place it on my blog too.

    I have amassed a pretty big library, so if I keep a record of the books I already own in Goodreads, it helps me to avoid buying duplicate copies.

    I’m still very much in the process of building my profile, but it’s on my list!

  2. Mackenzie February 20, 2014 6:38 pm

    I love Goodreads! It helps me so much to know what my friends have thought of a book and overall how many stars its received! I don’t read a book before checking it on Goodreads. When you shared your recommendations I was hoping you were sharing a Goodreads link so I’d love to see your recommendations on there!

  3. Paige February 20, 2014 7:23 pm

    I use Goodreads and LOVE it. It’s a great way to keep track of what you read/want to read and browse recommendations both from friends and the ones that are generated for you.

  4. Lauren February 20, 2014 10:12 pm

    The Glass Castle is Wonderful! I also recommend reading her second book, Half Broke Horses. It really rounds out the story created in the first memoir.

    I was a lit major in college, so I’m all about fiction. I’ve loved reading since I was a little girl and I agree with you – it’s changed my life!

    And thanks to you, Margin in next on my list. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Amanda February 21, 2014 12:16 am

    Your book recommends are always the best, love how you keep the balance! Glad you posted your 2014 reading list!

  6. Valerie February 21, 2014 2:54 pm

    I haven’t tried Good Reads yet but it sounds great!! Right now, I just have mine divided up into different categories in my Amazon wish list. I like the idea of setting an amount of books to read each year and listing what those will be. I have so many in my wish I think sometimes it paralyzes me a little. Having a plan might keep me better on track!

  7. Valerie February 21, 2014 2:55 pm

    I forgot to mention, I just finished a book called Uncovered by Susie Davis. It’s on love, sex and marriage. I loved it!!

  8. jude February 21, 2014 2:55 pm

    I love goodreads. It is not just helpful to keep track of what you’ve read, but you can add books to your “want to read shelf” and that feature has been great for me. (before GoodReads, I had an ongoing list on a couple index cards in my purse1) Once you put some books on there, you will be able to explore similar genres, and other titles by the authors as well. I LOVE to read, and often find my next book via a friend’s review. The Glass Castle is wonderfully heartbreaking. I didn’t even realize it was a memoir until I was halfway through, so moving. Labor Day was a wonderful quick read, and bonus, the movie is out now! (that is always my favorite thing to do, read the book, then watch the movie.) I just finished The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. So good. I am definitely trying to mix more non-fiction in this year as well. Happy reading!

  9. Em February 21, 2014 5:06 pm

    I do have a Goodreads account, but I’ve never used it much – I think I was paralyzed by wanting to catalog all of the books I’ve ever read, even though that’s obviously not a requirement! My best book recommendations come from people whose taste I respect, including yourself (my sister, Dad, and brother-in-law literary agent are all good, too!). I actually get the majority of my others from O Magazine – they have LOTS of book reviews every month, and they’re usually spot on! I keep all of the books I want to read in a note on my phone, and for the last two years I’ve also kept notes for the books I’ve read each year. 100% agree that reading changes who you are in amazing ways – one of the things I am most grateful to my parents for is that they fostered a deep love of reading in me from a young age!

  10. Annie Franceschi February 25, 2014 2:23 am

    Thanks Nancy! I stumbled upon Dave Ramsey thanks to you and have since been reading a lot of books that I first heard about through you sharing on Instagram, like The Martha Rules.

    It’s wonderful that you are sharing your recs- I have really enjoyed all that I’ve read and first heard about through you posting!

  11. WPS Roots Workshop | Nancy Ray Photography March 10, 2014 8:17 pm

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  12. Megan April 1, 2014 10:28 pm

    Love, love, love Goodreads! You should definitely sign up — I would love to follow you :)

  13. How I stay organized: Personal | Nancy Ray Photography May 14, 2014 7:13 pm

    […] in Wunderlist, and I add to it whenever I hear a good book recommendation from a friend. I create a yearly book list at the beginning of each year, in hopes of reaching my reading goals and keeping a well balanced […]

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Feb 17-14


Christy and Michael met me on Hillsborough street on the perfect fall afternoon. What better place to have your engagement pictures done than the place that you fell in love! Because they were both State students themselves and Jamie and I fell in love on the same campus, I knew we were going to hit it off! To finish our time together, we went to the Rose Garden where Michael proposed to Christy. I love the way they lit up telling me the story of and reenacting the proposal, which was filled with a sweet notes, rose petals and a scavenger hunt which ultimately lead Christy to the spot of their first date, the Rose Garden.

Just from our short time together, I noticed very quickly that these two together love Jesus and each other immensely. Christy is personable, confident, organized and thoughtful. Michael is sweet, intelligent, caring and patient. Together, they light up a room! I know that the Lord has blessed them greatly with each other and will continue to bless them through their marriage and ministry.




To the Future Mr. and Mrs. Britt,
I know your Wilson, NC wedding is going to be one filled with love, meaning and family! Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of your engagement!
P.S. Don't ever again say that you are not photogenic.

Comments: 5

  1. Christy February 17, 2014 9:15 pm

    Oh how sweet!! Callie- thank you so much!! Words cannot express how grateful we are!

  2. Emilia February 17, 2014 9:30 pm

    These photos are simply stunning. They are sophisticated and classy, yet not forced and cheesey. The love between Christy and Michael is so encapsulated in these photos that it is hard to notice much else. The photography, setting, everything contributes to these timeless engagement photos. So very happy for you Christy and Michael!

  3. Melissa February 20, 2014 2:13 am

    Thanks so much Callie for taking such amazing photographs of my sister and Michael. They were literally talking about it non-stop after and are still going crazy over the pictures!!!

  4. Cheryl February 24, 2014 9:26 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful photos of Michael and Christy. We look forward to traveling to North Carolina and celebrating their marriage!
    Love, Aunt Cheryl and Uncle Denny

  5. Cate March 31, 2014 2:13 pm

    Oh my goodness! You look absolutely stunning Christy! The photography is amazing as well. I love your love story and watching it unfold. Can’t wait to see you walk down the aisle :D

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Feb 12-14


I met Amber and Will on Sunday morning at Pullen Park. It was cold and gloomy, but Amber and Will's attitudes were quite the opposite! As we walked through the park, it was almost as if we were not doing an engagement session at all but just spending time together as true friends. Our main topic of discussion: marriage counseling! I am so blessed to be working with the clients that I am during this exciting period of my life because I get it. The wedding planning including each and every little detail and decision, the life planning - where are we going to live, what are we going to do, and most importantly the marriage planning. While Jamie and I are in the midst of planning, our greatest desire is to focus more on our marriage and less on our wedding. I am so encourage by this couple, because they are doing just that. I love the way that they have invested in the marriage counseling series at Summit and were open with me about the things they have been learning about marriage and about each other.


Fun side note: Jamie and Will were in the same Fraternity at NC State and we didn't put this together until after Amber and Will booked me as their photographer and we found out we go to the same church!


Amber and Will, I am so excited for your wedding in less than two weeks and am praying that The Lord will continue to bless you!

Comments: 0

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Feb 11-14



You guys, God is so good. I am so incredibly honored to be speaking at the Influence Conference in September to share my heart alongside these incredible people. If you don't know about the Influence Conference, it's time for you to spend some time on the Influence Network, fall in love with Jessi and Hayley and all the other brilliant women who run this community, then mark your calendars for 2/17 to sign up. It's going to be really beautiful, and I can already tell it's going to sell out fast. Comment on this post if you're planning on joining us! I'm feeling humbled and blessed as this year unfolds before me. 2014 is going to be GOOD!


Comments: 1

  1. Melissa Cheek February 14, 2014 6:19 pm

    Hi Nancy! Ah yay, that’s so exciting that you will be one of the speakers! I have been praying all week about getting to go to this conference and have asked a few of my other christian blogging friends and we plan to all make a decision by next week :) So if the good Lord puts it on my heart that I should go, I can’t wait to attend and to hopefully meet you!

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Feb 10-14


Meredith and AC, the sweetest couple, met me early one morning at the Contemporary Art Museum in downtown Raleigh. I was so grateful to see the beautiful light bouncing all around the buildings as soon as we arrived! I admit, I had never been there before, but that is always my favorite thing to do: to photograph new couples in new spaces. Something about the different backgrounds, the unique architecture and vibrant colors - it was all a backdrop that was brand new to me. And to incorporate these new backdrops with this couple's laid-back, fun personalities was the perfect match. I can tell AC and Meredith have great style, but it's the kind of style that's effortless. It's just them - relaxed and fun. Meredith struck me as such a natural beauty: very little make up, yet so stunning. AC was so comfortable in front of the camera too, which made my job super easy!

I love the way they describe their relationship: comfortable and casual. It's true, too - I felt so comfortable around them, like I had known them forever. I'm especially excited about their wedding! It's going to take place in the same small town that my own Mama grew up in, and they desire to make family the heartbeat of their wedding celebration. I'm so grateful to be a part of this couple's life as they begin their lives together!







Comments: 3

  1. Em February 11, 2014 2:30 am

    Love that first shot – dreamy morning light!

  2. Anne February 11, 2014 3:40 pm

    So sweet!! Love the lighting and textures of the pictures. The yellow “Raleigh” sign really pops! I also want her sweater! :)

  3. Meredith February 12, 2014 1:24 pm

    Nancy–thank you for making US feel so comfortable around YOU! I truly believe that’s a sign of a great photographer as well as a beautiful spirit; you are certainly both. We love the photographs and are SO excited to have you with us on the big day! Thanks again!

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Feb 07-14


Uncategorized ~ by Elizabeth Tate ~ 6 comments


"Several months ago, my family (and Robert and I) had the privilege of visiting “a little piece of heaven” – Bar TT Ranch, not far from Dillon, Montana. The term “a little piece of heaven” is something we picked up from the family that owns the 75+ square mile working cattle ranch, and is a huge understatement to my family.

I’m not really sure where to even start in describing what this trip meant for my family. I could write for days about the history and the details of the Ranch, and the memories my family made. I took about a thousand pictures but will only share a handful. Nothing I could write or show you in this post will do our time in Montana justice.

The quality time that my family spent together was irreplaceable. Each day we gathered at “Hilltop” to eat together, play games, hang out, and plan our adventures. We had our own agenda every day: four wheeling, hiking, horseback riding in the hills, skeet shooting... really just enjoying being outside and exploring completely unknown and breathtaking territory. We’d meet back at Hilltop for lunch, and again at dinner. Each meal served was unbelievable, y’all. We were, without question, completely spoiled by Mrs. Gay, the ranch cook whose sweet company we enjoyed just as much as her cooking!

We were also blessed to be in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Sloan while we were there – Mr. Sloan is my mom’s boss and the owner of the Bar Double T Ranch.  I can’t say enough about this man’s generosity, integrity and character. We so enjoyed spending time with he and his sweet wife... hearing their stories and sharing with them in the joy that comes from this magnificent place.



Without a doubt, one of the best trips my family has been on together. We loved every minute of our time together and will treasure it for years and years to come!


Comments: 6

  1. Elizabeth Ligon February 8, 2014 5:07 pm

    Such a great post, Libis! Pictures are great!

  2. Sloan Baker February 11, 2014 3:38 pm

    These are beautiful!! Hope you are doing well.

  3. Ann C Sloan February 11, 2014 5:33 pm

    Cheryl’s family at the ranch last summer, her daughter is a professional photographer and the pictures are great. Ham

  4. Carson Henline February 12, 2014 2:08 am

    The pictures are wonderful! Thank you for sharing. So happy your family had such a special time at the Bar TT Ranch!

  5. Edythe Poyner April 6, 2014 1:40 pm

    I just bought a week’s visit at the Double TT. What time of year did you go? We will go sometime in 2015

  6. Elizabeth Tate April 6, 2014 8:59 pm

    Hi Edythe! We went mid-August… It was gorgeous! In the 80′s during the day and down in the 30s and 40s at night. Have a wonderful time!

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Feb 05-14


I've been waiting to share this incredibly lovely wedding with you, friends! Emily and Andy tied the knot in historic Winston-Salem, and their wedding could not be more elegant. Blush hues, lace, pearls, black tie tuxedos, lush bouquets, the sweetest first look, raindrops, umbrellas, gold undertones, an entertaining band and a groom that can d-a-n-c-e! (Seriously, y'all. I've never seen a groom with moves like Andy.) Everything came together to create one stunning celebration. Emily's style resonates with me so much, which is another reason I adore this wedding. I think if I were to re-create my wedding today, it would be very similar to this one. She has such lovely taste! Rebecca Rose outdid herself as she pulled the details together seamlessly, and Amy Lynne created florals that I could not stop staring at all day. Their bouquets were just stunning. Emily and Andy are young, beautiful, and so bright - both are students in med school at Wake Forest. Planning a wedding in the midst of studying, exams, and the high demands of med school made it all the sweeter when the wedding day arrived. Now that they are happily married, they can tackle med school as a team! So grateful to have captured your beautiful celebration, Emily and Andy. You were so wonderful to work with! And Andy… please never stop dancing!

A big thank you to Snippet and Ink for featuring their lovely wedding today! 

Ceremony Venue: Highland Presbyterian Church
Reception Venue: Old Town Club
Cake Artist: Maxie B's
Caterer: Old Town Club
Florist: Amy Lynne Originals
Event Designer/Coordinator: Rebecca Rose Events
Reception Band: The Company Band
Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Makeup and More
Calligrapher: Carole Murrary
























Comments: 4

  1. Tiffany Medrano February 5, 2014 3:11 pm

    I’m in my office reading this blog post. I see this beautifully shot wedding and say, “Gorgeous!!”

    Then from the kitchen (without him knowing what I’m looking at) I hear my husband ask loudly, “But is it SWOON WORTHY?”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!! I love him.

    And yes, yes it is sooo swoon worthy ;)

  2. Elizabeth February 6, 2014 6:21 pm

    This wedding is gorgeous!! I’m in love with it, especially her dress. Stunning!

  3. Joy February 7, 2014 12:00 am

    Stunning! I love the bridesmaid dresses and beautiful flowers.

  4. Hannah February 7, 2014 3:06 am

    Love this wedding! Especially those dancing pictures :) I am doing the same color scheme for my upcoming wedding, love how it looks here!

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Photographer, wife, and worshiper... I am a Southern girl who looks most forward to waking up each morning to drink my coffee, read my Bible, and soak in the beauty that surrounds me. These pages chronicle my work, my life, and the things that I love most. You'll also hear from Callie, Will, and Elizabeth - my amazing team who has so much to offer. Thanks for visiting, I do hope you stay a while!
Nancy Ray
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