Life's current events may have changed their wedding plans, but Raven Gates and Adam Gottschalk still had reason to celebrate on their original wedding date in May.
In addition to planning a wedding that will someday happen (TBD on the new date!), Raven and Adam bought their first house together this year and have been making it home while in quarantine. So, when it became clear that they would not be walking down the aisle as planned, they thought: Why not celebrate at home?!
"We thought it would be so special to do an engagement time shoot in our home," Raven says. "This way we not only captured our date and our new home, but we also could do it in a safe distance and safe setting. Hey, the more engagement pictures the better!"
On the big day, the couple—who met on Bachelor in Paradise—invited photographer Charla Storey over to capture the not-so-average Saturday. "Shooting in our new home was so EASY! That morning Adam and I picked out the comfiest clothes we own, crawled into our bed, and Charla did her magic," she says. "The pictures truly captured us in our everyday life. Enjoying each other, in the house we built together, with our sweet Boaz (our dog!)."
Meet the Expert
- Charla Storey is a fine art wedding photographer based in Texas. She has been photographing couples for more than 15 years.
- Raven Gates is the owner of Grey Suede, an online fashion boutique with a warehouse in Dallas.
While the couple had already done engagement photos, Raven says she is glad they were able to do another set at home in quarantine. "Looking back now, I wish we would have done this from the very beginning!" she admits. "It was so easy and stress-free. Even if we weren’t under a quarantine, I still think it’s such a beautiful way to capture our home and what it is really like in our every day."
We wanted to show what joy and flexibility look like when life gets crazy. You can feel the love in these images in a time where so much is unknown and uneasy.
Photographer Charla Storey, who also did engagement portraits at home when she got married, says she was more than happy to document this time for the couple. "We wanted to have a very light, fun, fresh, and intentional shoot at home to document this time in their lives, both as new homeowners, engaged, but also engaged during quarantine," she says. "We wanted to show what joy and flexibility look like when life gets crazy. You can feel the love in these images in a time where so much is unknown and uneasy."
Their advice? "The more comfortable you are, the more organically beautiful your pictures will come out," Raven says. Below, a few more tips for couples interested in doing engagement photos at home.
- Fix your hair and makeup like you would every day.
- Don’t buy something new, go get your favorite pair of PJs or comfy jumpsuit that’s not going to leave you uncomfortable.
- Go without shoes.
- Wear your favorite dainty everyday jewelry.
- Include your pet.
- Make sure you photograph in your favorite part of your house.
- Pick scenes that make sense to y’all! If you love to cook together, pick the kitchen, and make something together. If you love movies, pop popcorn and cuddle on the couch with your pets.
- Look up some at-home pictures on Pinterest and show your photographer so you can recreate them.
- Dress in similar colors and tones so that your emotions stand out without any distraction.
Keep reading for more on Raven and Adam's at-home engagement session, as captured by Charla Storey on film and Peyton Anne Frank on video, and their (future!) wedding plans.
Since they were going to an "everyday" vibe, Raven wore a go-to outfit: the "Easy Breezy Strapless Jumpsuit" from Grey Suede. "I wear this jumpsuit at least once a week—it’s the more comfortable thing I own!" she says.
The pictures truly captured us in our everyday life. Enjoying each other, in the house we built together, with our sweet Boaz (our dog!).
Taking her own advice, Raven and Adam made sure to hang out in their favorite rooms of the house: the kitchen and bedroom. Had their pool been finished in time, she says they also would've shot there. (It's understandably a favorite spot in the Texas summer heat!)
"Exactly a year ago we did our first engagement shoot so it was so special to have an updated look into our lives and how much can change in a year," Raven says. "Who knew that we would be quarantined, we would not be getting married on the day we planned, and we would be living in our new house."
Despite the unexpected circumstances, photographer Charla Storey admits that she is (almost) always a fan of an at-home engagement session. "It’s intentional, intimate, and tells your personal story so well," she says. "It's not for everyone, but if you were engaged during quarantine, or your love being home together, cooking, movie buffs, homebodies, Netflix addicts—this is an option that you may cherish forever."
Raven and Adam plan to do just that. "Even though life didn’t go as we planned, we’re still able to find joy! Marriage is all about the ups and downs in 2020 has shown us exactly that," Raven says. "We are so blessed to have each other, and these pictures remind me of that every time I look at them. I plan to make a photo album that our kids are able to look back and ask us what 2020 was like, and we are able to show them that despite what bad may come your way, you have to look at the things in your life that bring you joy."
I plan to make a photo album that our kids are able to look back and ask us what 2020 was like, and we are able to show them that despite what bad may come your way, you have to look at the things in your life that bring you joy.
While navigating planning a wedding at this time, Raven says they have focused on one priority: their guests. For this reason, they vetoed any idea of shortening their guest list or planning a different celebration. "We don’t want to get married without every single person we want there," she says. "And for now, it’s not possible, so we are willing to wait! We want our wedding to be filled with friends and family that are happy, safe, and healthy! So we have definitely learned what is important to us!"
For photos, Raven chose the “Come Home Knit Set”—in white!—from her store. "I had kept one for myself!" she says. "When I was looking through my closet for something to wear that day, this set was actually ironically perfect."
Naturally, the couple had to get photos outside their beautiful home as well. For her third (and final!) outfit, Raven slipped into another piece from her store: the “Leopard Print Twill Jumpsuit.” "I thought the leopard looked perfect in the blue car," she adds.
Boaz came outside for a few portraits with Mom and Dad.
After planning (and replanning) their wedding over the past few months, the couple has learned several lessons. "If I could give any advice to a couple planning during this time, it would be to sit down with each other and make a list of things that are a priority and a list of things that aren’t. That will help you navigate through this time!" Raven advises. "I also believe brides and grooms shouldn’t settle for anything less than what they truly want!"
While it may not have been their getaway car, Raven and Adam borrowed a friend's vintage ride for a memorable drive around their new neighborhood.
The day was also complete with plenty of flowers and gifts from loved ones. "We had so many friends and family send us flowers and gifts that day and it made the day that much more special!" Raven says. "Adam's brother and sister-in-law sent us a bottle of Clase Azul, and engraved on the bottle it said, 'Someday you will be married. Until then, here is some tequila.' Hah!"
While the couple is still in the unknown about setting a new date, Raven says, "until then, we have each other forever and always!" "You have to turn lemons into lemonade—this time has given us a time of reflection of what’s truly important," she continues. "It’s also given us more time to plan and save up for the big day—when it does happen."
As Adam has reminded Raven countless times: "Our wedding is going to be one for the books, because when we do have it, we may be the first wedding people get to attend in a while. So be ready to show up and show out!”