J & M

Hello, hello! 


Info :

Date : June 18, 2016

Location : “The Beach House” 991 Sea Eagle Loop, Bodega Bay California.

Timeline :

4:30  Guests start arriving.

5:00  Ceremony begins.

5:30  Ceremony ends, family portraits commence.

5:50  You may start drinking now (if you haven’t already). 

6:30  Dinner is served.
(We’ll be doing a crab boil, so I hope you like seafood. If not, let us know.)

7:00  Toast free for all.

7:30  Cake cutting & dessert time.

8:00  Continue drinking… there’s no plan here. Just enjoy yourself. 🙂



(written by Justin… so, you know… get coffee or just read the headings. It’s no Sharon Mayfield Christmas Card, but I tried my hardest) :

The Past:

I was working with a photographer in Columbia, Missouri in 2011 when I first saw Mariah. I had my bearded face and shaggy hair buried in a laptop and was hard at work editing photos. In walked M, and up went my… heart-rate. I don’t know if it was love at first sight, but I do know I wanted to see her again. I asked the guy I was working with who she was and he promptly informed me “That’s my brother’s girlfriend…” and I promptly retorted under my breath, “Not for long.”

As it turns out, things were coming to a close with that relationship anyway (both mine and the other photographer and M’s and his brother), and my timing, while far from perfect, was good enough to get an introduction. I knew a friend of Mariah’s and weaseled her number out of her “For photography stuff…” After a haircut and shave, I decided it was time to get in touch. One of my first correspondences was a text sent from The Beach House. I was not messing around. All the stops were being pulled out. A followup text was something along the lines of “Hey… do you want to hear the new album my band is working on?” Beach? Check. Musician? Check. I’m sure I mentioned chocolate and puppies at some point as well.

February 1st, 2012… she took the bait… er… we started dating.

The Present:

M and I live together (sinners) in a 150 year old log cabin in the woods of Glencoe, Missouri with a hexagenarian botanist hippy. It’s not as strange as it sounds. The house was converted and he lives in the new part… we rent out the 150 year old part. We share a kitchen. We do not share central heating. We have space heaters, cats, and animal pelts for that. Our snake got loose in the walls. There are homing pigeons and bees next door. Ok. Maybe it is as strange as it sounds.

We have been in the process of developing a center for artists, hobbyists, and layfolk to explore their talents with photography, ceramics, building, metalwork, etc. Wildwood Green Arts is what we’re calling the whole area, and it’s a dream come true for Doug (the aforementioned housemate), who started planning on such a facility years ago. His wife recently succumbed to a lengthy battle with cancer, and the new-found isolation gave Doug the kickstart he needed to begin his project in earnest. We are trading our skills as photographers / designers / videographers / consultants / utility workers to help him make the WGA a reality. It started as a good trade, it has become a real passion project. We get to use our skills to provide for ourselves and better the lives of others… which segues nicely to…

The Proposal :

Our fulltime work is still photography. A year or so ago, we switched Justin M Photo over into So Gold Studio. Mariah was responsible for the branding makeover, the restructuring of the business, and most of the good things that changed. I have been responsible for continuing the legacy of photography that I began in 2008. That’s just my fancy way of saying, I kept doing what I was doing and M made everything better. Honestly, that’s kind of a rough summation of our relationship. But I’m happy to say that goes in both directions.

As a part of our work, we attend educational seminars to learn the newest techniques in the art and business of photography. One such seminar is a two day conference in St. Louis called Shutterfest that pulls a few thousand attendees out to Union Station. Weeks before the conference, I got in touch with the guys who put the whole shindig together and asked if I could propose to M in some grand ridiculous fashion while we were all doing something we love. So, I brought the engagement ring I made (that’s another saga entirely), I brought along a videographer, I setup the surprise in the middle of a class we were “unexpectedly chosen to model for,” I got down on one knee, and I asked Mariah to be my wife (click HERE to view a video of the proposal). “Of course, you sneaky bastard,” were her exact words of response. Definitely not the first time I’ve heard something to that effect, and I’m sure I can expect many similar utterances to come.

Which leads us to The Future:

M and I love each other like crazy. The first future goal is to keep that up. I think we’ll nail that one. It’s the easiest in some regards (and I’m certain all of you eye-rollers who scoff at that are probably justified… but you’re also probably not the ridiculous optimist I am). The other things we have planned are pretty ambitious. For starters, world domination… but I’ll dial it back for the sake of discussion — read: diatribe.

We have already begun the planning process of downsizing even further. When we moved from Downtown St. Louis into the woods, we filled a 17 foot UHaul with our worldly possessions. About 14 feet of that ended up either at Goodwill, or a friend’s house. The other 3 feet were the start of our lifelong Minimization campaign. See, for us, the future looks like experiences, travel, a small studio/home, and a place to hang our hammocks; we gave up the bed life a few years ago – RIP, Memory Foam. I’ll never forget you.

Let’s see… No bed, not a whole lot of possessions, the desire to travel but also have a home… I know! Bus conversion! Yep. That’s the goal. We want to build our own home on wheels. We traveled this past winter to Austin, Texas to help a friend with his bus conversion because we were pretty sure that’s how we wanted to proceed. Turns out, it is. It gives us the best of all our desires, and yet, is fairly attainable. Turns out owning a castle in Norway is a bit pricey. Part of Minimization as a life goal is to get rid of crummy stuff and replace a few ancillary items with one item that will do everything well, will last for a long time, and is lovable, not just “Meh… ok.” So, if you have any desire to have a hand in that, feel free to give us suggestions of “THE PERFECT ITEM FOR…” tell us where the greatest stores or websites are to find X, Y, or Z, donate a trusty knife/fishing rod/compass/marine stove/solar panel/etc., or if you’re feeling particularly generous, you can visit our (sticks the landing on the final transition)…


Registry :

(This is M now.)

You see, Justin and I don’t plan on living the conventional life after our marriage. Our first long-term goal as a married couple is to build a tiny house. (Yes, we’re one of those couples.) We’re leaning in the direction of a bus conversion, but haven’t fully decided. We know we want it to be mobile, and that’s about it, haha.

As you can imagine, filling out a registry can be somewhat daunting when you have no clue what kind of space you’ll be having. So with the registry below, we tried our best to pick only essentials for us to live this kind of lifestyle. However, filling our future house with the gifts inside our registry is a ways off, if you’d like to help us out with the first step of this journey (in lieu of or in addition), we would greatly appreciate any contribution to our tiny house fund, which can also be found in our registry.

And really, don’t feel obligated to get us anything. Truth is, we’re not the materialistic type. If you’d rather come hang out with us/help us build our tiny house over the next year, we’d be love that just as much.
Thanks in advance!





Please feel free to contact Mariah if you have any questions.
2906 Ossenfort Road, Wildwood, MO 63038