October 21, 2019

Jonathan & Mary Sheldon | North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh Engagement Photographer

I’m Stephanie, a wedding + lifestyle photographer based in Destin, Florida and Warrenton, Virginia. Whether I’m by the mountains in Virginia or the ocean on the Florida Gulf Coast, my soul feels at home, surrounded by rural living and the raw beauty of nature. I genuinely love what I do, and feel so passionate to share the enthusiasm and joy of these celebrations with you!

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Jonathan and Mary Sheldon, or together known as “The Esby’s”, reached out to me months ago excitingly telling me their plans to get married this December! πŸ™‚ Just through our short conversation via email, I was very excited to chat with them! After conversating over the phone … Which really felt like catching up with friends … I quickly realized how easy going, down to earth, and hilarious these two were! Their love story was one of a kind and incredibly sweet, but beyond the wedding conversations, I enjoyed the effortless talks we had about real life (including a talk about the dreaded Florida palmetto bugs). HAHA!

While considering a variety of locations for their engagement session, I was mostly looking forward to hanging out with these two in person before their big day. πŸ™‚ I’m SO glad we made their session happen on my way up to Virginia in their city, Raleigh! Their engagement session happened at the North Carolina Museum of Art on a gorgeous evening! We had SO much fun that the fun had to continue after the sunset. πŸ™‚ Jonathan and Mary Sheldon also have a super sweet and hilarious golden retriever, so I knew that Ollie (who was with me on the road trip) had to go meet his new girlfriend! I feel like such a mom already sceaming Ollie’s girl friends. πŸ˜‰ HEHE! Jonathan and Mary Sheldon knew my love language as they spoke of Mexican food and skinny margs while watching our pups chase balls around their beautiful home. I really felt at home with these two and enjoyed some intentional time with them before finishing up my road trip the following morning. πŸ™‚ I cannot wait to pit stop in Raleigh again and hang out with the Esby’s in the future!! Until then, we have a wedding to look forward to just weeks away at the ever-so-gorgeous, Pippin Hill!!!

Jonathan and Mary Sheldon’s Love Story


From Jonathan’s point of view

The Day The Esby’s Met, by J. Esby πŸ™‚ It was a Sunday in September.  With the market just right, I decided to sell my home and scheduled the open house that day.  I was directed by my realtor to find something to do for a few hours.  My football team was playing, and I found a bar with great food, refreshing drinks, my favorite sports teams and fun for all!  (Shameless plug for the local Ale House, which we’ve never been back to).  There I noticed one particular beauty off in the distance eating a grilled cheese sandwich like a princess. πŸ™‚ Like Grace Kelly with a finger sandwich.  We started talking and to make a long story short, I asked if it would be too forward to ask for her phone number.  MS replied, wittingly, ‘if you don’t ask now, you may never get another chance.’  I asked again, I called, and the rest is history. πŸ™‚


From Mary Sheldon’s point of view

I had my fingers crossed that Jonathan might propose while we were on our trip to Europe this past summer. For the first 2 days of our trip, I was waiting on baited breath hoping that he might propose, he laughs when we talk about it now, how I made sure my hair and makeup was on point at all times for the two days of our trip just in case the moment presented itself. I laugh about it now since the proposal of my dreams came as I was waking up, no makeup and hair looking a hot mess. It was perfect. I love that my soon to be husband asked me to be his wife just as I am, no curling iron no makeup, not even brushed my teeth yet, just as I am. 

When we arrived in Lake Como, day 2 of our trip, Jonathan surprised me and arranged for a gorgeous bouquet of long stem roses and a chilled bottle of prosecco to be waiting for us when we arrived and I thought for sure he might propose then, nope. He also arranged for one of the most romantic dinners we have ever shared overlooking the lake and I thought he might propose then, nope. Come to find out, he planned to propose on our balcony after dinner but when we opened the doors to our room we where both shocked that we had accidentally left the doors to our balcony open and a light on inside which attracted several uninvited guests of the “bug” variety. Jonathan decided that the best time to propose what not going to be while I got in touch with my inner exterminator and Jonathan decided to abort his original plan. 

The next morning, after “bugmageddon” he went downstairs to get me some coffee, this was not out of the normal as he makes my coffee almost every morning (he’s the best and I feel very lucky to have a man who takes such good care of me!). He came back upstairs and i was just waking up. He put the coffee down next to the bed and told me to look in the bedside table, He said that he thought the jeweler we visited last fall might have sent me something πŸ˜‰ I remember sitting up in bed with my eyes wide and reaching inside the bedside table to pull out a box from none other than Eric Trabert, the jewelry designer we met within San Francisco last fall. Jonathan was on his knee next to the bed and I said, “Can I open it?” He nodded, took my hand and told me how much he loved me, just the way I am and said some other very sweet things. He, however, did not ask the question “will you marry me?.  I remember smiling at him with the box in my hand and asking through eyes filled to the brim with happy tears “Does the box come with a question?” He laughed through equally misty eyes and said yes it does, will you Marry me?”. I said Yes, there were lots of hugs and kisses and we spent the next two magical weeks in Italy and Croatia celebrating our engagement I didn’t tell my family (with the exception of my mom whose only request when Jonathan asked her for my hand was that I call her from Europe after the proposal) until we got home and it made the rest of the trip really special. Just us enjoying each other, no frantic wedding planning, no one asking what colors we liked, to see the ring or if we had picked a date yet. Those two weeks were the best present ever. 

Thank you, Jonathan and Mary Sheldon, for being so kind, generous, thoughtful, and lovely to be around!!! You two are pure joy! And when I think of playing Kygo and drinking skinny margs, I cannot help but think of our amazing time together! Love you both and I cannot wait to help you celebrate your wedding day soon!!!! XOXO!!!!

CONGRATS!!!! I cannot wait for your wedding in a little over a month! AH! <3



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