Sabrina + Nick | Handcrafted Jersey Shore Wedding

Sabrina and Nick have always been “adventure buddies.”

During one of their many adventures, volunteering to rebuild historic cottages in the Grand Tetons, Nick asked the love of his life to accompany him on their greatest adventure yet: marriage and family.

Their love story encompasses conversion, Padre Pio, the Jersey Shore, and beehives--all part of their extraordinary, summertime wedding bathed in sunflowers and God’s grace. And it all began in a college architecture class.

From the Bride: Our Catholic relationship was not a typical one. I am a cradle Catholic who started to grow deeper in my faith only after college. Nick's mother is Lutheran, and his dad is Catholic. He was raised primarily in his father’s faith, but he did not receive any of his sacraments beyond baptism before dating me.

Nick and I met during our first year of college at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2010. He had transferred from Hartford, and I had just graduated from high school. Looking back, I almost attended a different college.

God’s plan is perfect, though, and we both chose to attend NJIT in 2010. We were placed in the same studio room for our architecture class and quickly became good friends, especially since we were both commuters. Nick would wait for my dad to pick me up on his way home from work. He would even miss his train ride home to wait with me.

We supported each other through late nights in studio, and he always kept me laughing. We became good friends but didn’t start dating until our fourth year of college because I had been in a previous relationship until then. Nick was quick to seize the opportunity.

Three and a half years later in August 2017, Nick and I found ourselves in the Grand Tetons National Park. For the past three years, we had volunteered a week of our time annually with the National Park Service in the Grand Tetons to stabilize historic log cabins in the park. Nick proposed in the barn we were working on for the week in front of all the volunteers. It was like a dream.

We decided to get married a year later on the anniversary of our engagement. As we prepped for the wedding, Nick went through RCIA with me as his sponsor. He would come to my bible study group, and our faith grew deeper. We attended holy hours together, and I knew I was growing in my faith along with him.

We planned to get married at the church by his family’s shore house that we attended all the years we dated: St. Pio’s. After our engagement, my friend Gabriella found a St. Pio rosary and gave it to me. I prayed on it every week at adoration leading up to the wedding. I even wrapped it around the stem on my bouquet with a miraculous medal.

Nick and I developed a strong devotion to Padre Pio. We prayed his novena and asked him to adopt us as his spiritual children and be the patron saint of our marriage. We also prayed St. Josemaria Escriva’s novena in the days leading up to the wedding, which we loved.

Throughout it all, I petitioned God for Nick’s full and deep conversion to the Catholic Church. And although we both have more room to grow, I’m so proud of how far we have come, especially Nick.

The night before the wedding we went to confession with the priest who would be celebrating our nuptial Mass. We wanted to receive the marital sacrament with pure hearts, and I’m so happy Nick and I made sure we did that. Before going to sleep we called each other and said the last day of the St. Josemaria novena. It was such a beautiful way to countdown to the wedding.

The weather on the big day was hot but not too humid, and I felt like God was smiling on us the whole time. My friend Gabriella said a quick prayer as we walked into the church, but I told her it had to be a quick one because I would be too emotional. I’m such a happy crier!

I kept asking God and Padre Pio to be with me because I was so nervous to walk down the aisle. When they opened the doors, I tripped a little on my dress. This helped me focus on not falling, but I also think it was God’s way of giving me something to think about instead of becoming a crying mess. When I looked up at the end of the aisle, Nick was crying hard. He was so happy, and I felt such peace knowing I was marrying him.

As the ceremony went on, I strongly felt Padre Pio was with us as well as our guardian angels. Nick and I had picked all of the music and readings for the Mass, so it was very meaningful to both of us. When we presented flowers to the Blessed Mother, we prayed a couple of Hail Mary’s and then a prayer we had written together. It was such an intimate and special moment.

Our wedding programs included all the parts in the Mass and a beautiful quote by St. Thomas Aquinas: “The Eucharist is the sacrament of love; it signifies love, it produces love. The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.”

With that in mind, we received the Body and Blood of Christ together for the first time as a married couple. All I could do was look at Nick and thank God for giving me the man of my dreams and allowing me to lead him closer to Christ.

We had worked so hard on planning the wedding, but the work we put into our faith life was worth more than anything else that day.

After the ceremony we left on a trolley to Smithville to party! The theme of the wedding was “adventure” because Nick and I always say that we are adventure buddies. And we handmade everything for the wedding. We are both architects, so we knew we could do it.

Our invitations, made by hand, included a map of the Jersey Shore with all the significant places to the wedding and to us. Our favors were honey jars made from our own honey that we harvested the weekend before the wedding from our beehive. The table that displayed the honey also displayed birdhouses that Nick had made for me when we were dating.

I wrote all the table assignments on panes of glass from old windows, and the tables were named after different national parks. Nick and his dad built wooden crates for the centerpieces,  and we filled them with flowers and fresh peaches. We told everyone to take home a peach with their honey.

Our sweetheart table had handcrafted signs that I painted as well as more crates. Nick’s mom and I made a quilt together that had Disney’s Up house on it. That became our “guest quilt,” where everyone signed in on a balloon. And finally, we painted a mailbox like the one from Up where guests placed their cards.

My favorite flowers are sunflowers and succulents, so there were plenty throughout the whole wedding. We took photos all over Smithville, a cute, historic town with many photo opportunities. And our wedding band kept everyone dancing all night.

In short, our wedding day was amazing, and I thank God everyday for it. I couldn’t wait to live life with Nick and build on the foundation we built on Christ.

For our honeymoon a month later, we travelled to Rome and Switzerland after my friend Gabriella’s wedding with her and her new husband. In Rome, we attended the Sposi Novelli blessing at the Pope’s general audience. Again, I was praying to Padre Pio that we would get to meet the Pope, but there were so many couples there that it seemed unlikely.

They started gathering all of the couples, and we found ourselves in the wrong spot. It seemed like we wouldn’t get to meet him. I told Gabriella and our husbands that we should stand on a shorter rail that I spotted. I thought even if we wouldn’t meet him, we could at least get a better view.

That short rail ended up being the gate to let all the couples into the main area for everyone to gather. So we were the first ones through! When we got our spot, I realized I had lost my Padre Pio rosary. Gabriella told me not to worry, that Padre Pio was with us anyway. But when we looked down, I saw the rosary had somehow landed in the spot we were going to stand in!

When we met the Pope, we told him we were praying for him and that he needed to rebuild the church. Gabriella and I got pretty emotional about this, so he spent a long time with us saying that he would, and that we needed to keep praying too.

It was one of the most special experiences of our lives to receive the Pope’s blessing. Nick and I have had the most incredible year, and it is all because of God and his perfect plan.

Without a Christ-centered relationship, our entire wedding day and our marriage would've been completely different. It would never have been as fulfilling. You could feel our love for each other and for God that day. Everyone said that is what made the wedding so special.

Photography: Maryanne Photography, Kevin and Aly Photography, Meyer Photo and Video Group | Mass: St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Lavellette, NJ | Reception: The Smithville Inn, Absecon, NJ | Engagement Ring: designed by the groom, via Salt and Stone

Finding Your Wedding Style + Planning Your Liturgy: A Look Back on Spoken Bride Weddings

Are you recently engaged and just beginning to identify your wedding aesthetic? Did you know Spoken Bride weddings are indexed by color, style, and state?

Click the tags at the bottom of each wedding feature to see similar celebrations. It’s our honor to be invited into the unique, singular beauty of each of our couples’ special days and to share the distinctively Catholic elements that elevate their wedding days and point their guests’ senses heavenward.

Here, a collection of our past features. For our new brides, we hope they help you find your own style and introduce you to some of our incredible couples whom you might not have encountered before. For longtime readers, enjoy this look through the archives! Wherever you’re coming from we desire above all that like us, you’ll take in these stories and step back with nothing but awe, reverence, and gratitude for the Father’s fathomless love for his children.

Cultural traditions

Maria and Santi’s Buenos Aires wedding and bilingual nuptial Mass | Edith and Bomani’s Kenyan Catholic wedding | Elisabeth and Salvador’s El Salvadorian wedding | Lisa and Steve’s elegant resort wedding ,celebrating the bride’s Polish heritage

For the classic bride

Blair and Jordan’s fireside black-tie wedding | Jamie and Seth’s Baltimore wedding with astronomy-inspired details, designed by the bride | Sarah and Christopher’s Kate Spade-inspired wedding | Maggie and Ryan’s walk from literal blindness to true seeing, and their vineyard brunch wedding

Holiday weddings

Emily and Daniël’s Praise and Worship-filled Christmas season wedding | Christina and Kristian’s Austin wedding, with holiday colors and Christmas hymns | Genevieve and Dalton’s festive celebration at Rock ‘N Bowl | Caroline and Matt’s elegant cathedral wedding, rich with family heritage | Kaitlyn and John’s New Year’s wedding in blue, gold, and white | Becca and Phil’s Christmas picnic wedding

For the vintage-lover

Emma and Mark’s 1920s-inspired Arkansas wedding | Ada and Greg’s Texas celebration with her grandmother’s dress and other family heirlooms

Regional-inspired weddings

Fatima and John’s Tuscan-inspired celebration and Italian honeymoon | Brooke and Tim’s taste of Southern Virginia hospitality | Emily and Bradley’s & Katherine and Jonathan’s Louisiana weddings, inspired by French and New Orleans traditions | Erin and Andrew’s relationship guided by Our Lady of Perpetual Help, their Notre Dame Basilica wedding and reception football game | Cynthia and Chad’s Midwestern traditions and the beautiful significance of the Holy Land in their relationship | Sarah and Joseph’s Chesapeake Bay wedding with preppy and nautical details

For the rustic bride

Emily and Ben’s elegant evening on 40 acres of Nashville farmland | Chloe and Joseph’s winter farmhouse weddings and tips for spending as much of your wedding day together as possible | Jamaila and Andy’s NYC courtship and wedding filled with elements from nature

Ever ancient, ever new: unique Catholic devotions

Joan and Matt’s summer wedding, with original music composed by the bride | Kelsey and Jacob’s personal marriage prayer, and tips for writing your own | Susanna and Brad’s vineyard-inspired wedding and reflections on marriage, the priesthood, and religious life | Beth Anne and Tom’s beautiful alternative to a bouquet and garter toss | Robyn and Greg’s Divine Mercy weekend wedding and the role of this devotion in their relationship | Janae and Ryan’s foot-washing during their first look | Rosanna and Matthew’s Norbertine liturgy in English and Latin | Erica and Chris’s decision to say their vows over a crucifix | Laura and Alexandre’s fully sung Mass at a California mission | Bridget and David’s hometown Mass and decision to memorize their vows

For the DIY bride

Angela and Lucas’s farmhouse-chic Indiana wedding | Katherine and Ian’s handmade floral arrangements and reception catered by family | Amy and Jake’s Colorado Springs celebration with hand-lettered details, homemade centerpieces, and a custom crossword

City weddings

Anna and Mike’s Minneapolis nuptials | Maggie and Eric’s downtown Denver wedding | Chelsy and Ben’s portraits at the Washington, D.C. monuments during the Cherry Blossom Festival | Chelsea and Nick’s Pittsburgh black-tie evening

For the boho bride

Kelly and Peter’s high school sweethearts story and outdoor California reception | Heather and Jude’s transatlantic romance and bayside wedding day

Military weddings

Alana and Stephen’s conversion story and Air Force wedding | Hannah and Jared’s sophisticated Pittsburgh wedding, with the groom in Captain’s dress

Special circumstances and non-Roman rites

Andrea and David’s convalidation ceremony and powerful conversion story | Julia and Francis’s Byzantine liturgy | Dominika and Joseph’s & Gabrielle and Vince’s Ordinariate weddings | Victoria and David’s journey of discernment and conversion | Jenna and Michael’s Italian family-style wedding | Heather and Matthew’s witness to divine love’s healing power and their family-centered wedding with their daughters | Ashley and Ashbee’s black and white WVU wedding and advice for accommodating non-Catholic guests

For the romantic bride

Julie and Rudy’s elegant blush wedding and a love story that began in Fatima | Katherine and Dominic’s hometown wedding and rainy night reception | Elise and Hunter’s long-awaited celebration in the Maryland countryside

Feeling a call to share your proposal or wedding day with our community? Submission info can be found here.

Images by Spoken Bride Vendor Horn Photography & Design, seen in Melissa + Antonio | Springtime Ballroom Wedding

Angela + Lucas | Farmhouse-Inspired DIY Wedding

It started on the roof of a convent in Mexico. 

Angela and Lucas met on a medical mission trip with FOCUS as both prepared for their forthcoming missionary years with the organization. Text by text after returning home, spanning the miles between Indiana and Colorado, each realized a uniquely attractive depth and character in the other. They began a long-distance relationship punctuated by letters, phone calls, and occasional visits.

 The following summer, Lucas went on pilgrimage in Poland. Angela participated in another mission, this time to the Philippines. Upon their return stateside, Lucas invited Angela to a Wisconsin shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, to whom they share a devotion that began during their time in Mexico. There on a hillside, at Our Lady’s feet, Lucas proposed.

From The Bride: The Nuptial Mass was the center of our wedding day, and I am glad we put so much of our focus there. Our relationship is founded on a love for Jesus Christ and his Church, so the Mass was the most important and special part of our day. We also chose Soul Creations as our photographer because the owner, Sinikka, is Catholic and familiar with the Mass. She was able to beautifully capture it.  

We chose Mass parts we loved while hoping to share the beauty of the Mass with those attending. Not all of our friends and family are Catholic, so we hoped to be instruments of an encounter with our Lord for them. Everything from the Worship Aid to the petitions was considered from the perspective of a new-to-Mass attendee. Praise God for the truth, beauty and goodness of the Church.

 Our Lady is of particular importance to us, and we wanted to offer great thanksgiving for her motherly hand. I walked in to an organ rendition of the Salve Regina. Our Gospel reading was the Wedding Feast at Cana, where Mary gently guides us all to do whatever Jesus tells us. We presented flowers to Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Holy Family while my good friend and talented vocalist Kelly sang the Ave Maria-it was the one part of the Mass that made me weep!

 We chose a white and neutral aesthetic, inspired by the image of heaven. With white and gold as our main colors, we found bridesmaid and groomsman attire that looked great on everyone, simple yet beautiful flowers, and many DIY projects. We did not want the look of anything to appear overbearing, but natural and simple, highlighting the beauty of those in our wedding party and the natural elegance of the church where we held the Mass.

 I loved the way my dress fit with our intentions for the theme. The cathedral-length veil and the long train fit very nicely in the church; simple yet elegant.

I’d originally hoped for our reception to be held in a simple barn, but little did I know they were such a hot commodity and not as budget-friendly as I’d hoped. We also wanted to serve our own food--homemade by Lucas' incredibly talented family--and most venues didn’t permit outside catering. So, we ultimately chose a hall. At first look, it was a bare and resembled a gymnasium, but our decorations upped the elegance. Much of the inspiration was my own. Some items, like the flower hoops over our head table, were Pinterest re-creations. Other elements, like the pallet décor, were made of found items. You never know what you’ll find for projects.

I must totally credit the generosity of Lucas’s family for providing the best food ever! They let Lucas and I help make tamales with them one day before the wedding, and my family learned so much during an afternoon of laughs, instructions from Lucas' grandmother, and bonding with family members.

We had a mariachi band that started the night with dancing and singing before the bridal party even arrived. The father-daughter dance was special to us and so much fun! My dad is certainly not the sappy, emotional type. My family has a great love for Chicago Cubs baseball, so we decided to dance to their signature anthem, “Go Cubs Go,” which was perfect.

The best way for me to describe our wedding day is in the words of our opening hymn, "O God Beyond All Praising." We are beyond blessed by our heavenly, Father through the intercession of our Mother Mary. Together they brought us to the altar, after introducing us in such a surprising and unforeseen way before our FOCUS missionary service. Our wedding day was a great celebration of thanksgiving for the goodness they have given us in loving one another.

It was also a time of thanks for the conversion of our own hearts. We both know deeply that we have done nothing to deserve this goodness, yet it has been freely given to us as a gift from our loving Father, a fact that still causes me great wonder. Through the working of the Holy Spirit, our wedding day was one of great witness to our family and friends of the love we have for the Church and the joy that comes from living the Gospel! We were so blessed to have a Catholic and non-Catholic bridal party, bringing people from every sector of our lives to celebrate together. It was awe-inspiring to see the young Church alive in the pews and in celebration at the reception.

Most of all, in reflecting on our wedding day, I thank God for a husband who loves God more than me, who desires to pursue holiness with every ounce of his being, and who loves me without reserve, especially now that we've started our little family.

I frequently echo the words of Our Lady: He has done great things for me, and Holy is His name. Praise Him!

View Angela and Lucas's DIY projects up close, and hear Angela's how-tos, here.

Photography: Soul Creations Photography | Church: St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, Indianapolis, IN | Wedding Reception Venue : McGowan Hall, Knights of Columbus, Indianapolis, IN | Rings: Reis Nichols, reisnichols.com | Flowers: Ayers Wholesale Flowers | Dress: Blushing Bride on 17 | Shoes: Toms | Bridesmaids Dresses: David's Bridal | Groom / Groomsmen Attire: Jos A Banks | Cake: Classic Cakes | Hairstylist: Fringe Salon | Makeup Artist: Fringe Salon  | Music / DJ: Complete Weddings and Events | Planning / Coordination: Courtney Roach

A DIY Bouquet for Literature-Loving Brides

LAUREN HENDERSON

 

"Can you give me your bouquet for a moment?" asked the Lorax-mustachioed priest at our wedding Mass. I was surprised and a tad embarrassed; I don't love attention, even on my wedding day.

Photography:  Jocelyn's Photography , from the author's wedding

Photography: Jocelyn's Photography, from the author's wedding

My bouquet had caught many eyes, including our priest's, because it wasn't made of flowers. I’d created it from the pages of books. Our priest asked for my bouquet during the homily. I handed it over and he started to ad lib about how the novels whose pages I included were symbolic of my husband and I. These books, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (barring its problematic ending), reminded me of how open my husband and I are with each other and how we love doing unusual things together. We each make the other better and are always working at our relationship. Books, said our priest, can already be good as their own entitiesu. But when transformed by marriage and by God, they can become something even more beautiful--like my bouquet.

Two people, their own individuals, become one new entity in marriage, better than they could be alone. How much more beautiful and meaningful could marriage get?

Truthfully, I didn’t think anyone would really care about my bouquet. In fact, when friends and family members heard about the DIY project I’d planned, they did the polite head nodding thing while saying “Oh, that sounds interesting,” which almost always actually means, “Okay, good luck with that.” I continued anyway, a sucker for meaningful things.

Practically, I created this bouquet because I was getting married in February in the Midwest, where fresh flowers would have cost an arm and a leg. But I also did it because my husband and I read The Fault in Our Stars together in our early days of dating. We both identified with the characters' interactions. I love personalizing everything I can and creating meaningful moments. I chose my bouquet as an opportunity to personalize our wedding liturgy.

I bought the books and began tearing out their pages, cutting out petal shapes, and wrapping them around floral wire. It was a long process, yet incredibly worth it--it is something I can keep forever. After the wedding, a friend asked if she could write about it for Reader's Digest in an article about alternative wedding bouquets. I was honored, and sort of stunned that my simple bouquet would reach the amount of people it did.

But isn’t this like marriage? A marriage is hard work: lots of menial tasks, yet so full of sacred meaning. A marriage starts with something ordinary, like a book or like two independent people, and makes it into something extraordinary, like a bouquet or one in the eyes of God. And then these two people go out together and serve. So without trying to, or seeking it, God taught us and our wedding guests the meaning and the call of marriage: to join together and create something extraordinary.

Let God work through your creativity. After all, he is the creator of all life.


About the Author: Lauren Henderson is a newlywed and convert to the Catholic faith who loves cooking, baking, reading, and singing in the car. She studied Psychology in college and enjoys guessing whodunit in mystery shows. A lover of children, she cannot wait to be a mother someday. Lauren and her husband host the podcast God Winks and the Kitchen Sink.

PODCAST | INSTAGRAM

7 Reception DIYs for Brides On a Budget

Spoken Bride vendor Sinikka Rohrer of Soul Creations Photography possesses a true heart for helping her clients prepare for their marriages--the days that follow long after the wedding. Knowing budget-conscious choices and DIYs can be time-consuming, sometimes to the point of unrest and spiritual distraction, she shared with us a handful of projects from her clients Angela and Lucas' springtime wedding with a natural, farmhouse-inspired sensibility. 

No matter what your style, we hope Angela's strategies for creative, affordable décor will inspire your own projects. 

From the Bride: Here, the inspiration and steps we employed for our reception DIYs.

Head Table Backdrop: Hula Hoop Wreath with Faux Flowers

At the end of the summer season, my family and I went to Dollar Tree and bought several hula hoops (only $1 each!!). We sprayed them with gold paint before adding flowers.

Then we got to my favorite part: flower shopping! I went to Michael's in the spring when they were 60% off. Thank goodness for faux flowers, because we were able to make these ahead of time and transport them without worrying about damage. My mom and I laid out all the flowers and greenery I bought and made the arrangements ourselves. We used hot glue, wide clear tape, green floral tape, and green floral wire to adhere everything to the hoops.  

While setting up, my dad and brother hung the hoops from the arches in our reception venue with clear fishing line.

Head Table Backdrop: Golden Monogram

For the backdrop featuring our newly shared last initial, N, I needed material that was sturdy but also light enough to hang from the arches. We went to Lowe's and found green foam insulation boards. I traced an N onto it with pencil and cut it out with a knife. I then covered the whole thing in Mod Podge and sprinkled glitter all over it. I bought a pound of gold glitter from Amazon that I used for all of the projects with sparkle.

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Wine Bottle Table Numbers 

I collected wine bottles from everyone I knew. After Googling, I found the best way to remove labels was to soak the bottles in hot water mixed with baking soda; it really did the trick for the most part. If I were to do it again, I would have tried to gather all clear bottles and bottles without foil labels--the foil was nearly impossible to remove .

I invited my girlfriends over to paint the bottles white. We ended up using white spray paint, which left a nice smooth finish. I decorated the bottles using ribbon, lace, and gold crafting materials I'd acquired from different bridal showers and sales at Michael’s.

For the gold table numbers, I purchased a Cricut Air from Joann fabrics on Black Friday, as well as solid and glittery gold adhesive paper. I cut out numbers from the Cricut and simply stuck them on all the bottles. We filled them with baby’s breath at the tables.

Paper Tablecloths & Stenciled Chargers

We purchased thick brown paper for the tables, and my dad found a laurel wreath stencil from Michaels that we used to frame each table setting in white, using spray paint. Once we figured out the size and positioning of each plate, each tablecloth after that was easy to replicate. 

Hand-Written Silverware Holders

With the leftover tablecloth paper, we cut strips thick enough for the stamp I bought from Etsy. We them cut out, stamped each one, and wrapped the silverware in it. A small touch of hot glue kept it together! We also used gold plastic utensils and napkins from Costco to keep costs manageable.

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Cake & Gift Table Décor: Painted Crate & Garland

I literally found a pallet in a dumpster downtown Indianapolis, and some random man helped me hoist it into my car! I decided to use it as a sign for the cake and gift table painted it using white paint we had leftover from a room project at my house. After covering the pallet and letting it dry, I went to my computer to find a fancy yet readable font, which I used to type and print the Bible verse used for the pallet. 

My parents have a small teacher’s overhead projector at home, which I used to project the printed verse onto the pallet. I traced the outline of each letter with a pencil, then used a gold paint marker from Michael’s to fill them in.

The gold garland we draped over the finished sign was purchased around Christmas time from Hobby Lobby. My bridesmaid arranged it once the table was set up! 

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Welcome Table Décor: Painted Window Shutter with Clothespins

Our welcome table featured a collection of Lucas' and my engagement photos, pinned to window shutters. My parents had a set of shutters in their basement already; otherwise, I would have looked for them at garage sales or resale shops. They were a dusty rose color before I spray-painted them white 

Once we got to the hall, I asked my bridesmaid to arrange the pictures, printed from Walgreens, and attach them with gold mini clothespins purchased from Michaels.

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If you're also a bride with a penchant for DIY, we're eager to hear about your own projects. Be sure to share your inspirations and budgeting strategies in the comments and on our social media!

Photography: Soul Creations Photography