Rockford, IL Wedding Photographer | Ryan & Katie

Katie & Ryan are both sentimental, family-oriented people. From Ryan wearing his grandfather's wedding ring and tie pin, to Katie's & Ryan's moms surprising Katie by attaching pieces of their own wedding dresses to her bouquet, almost every element of this day was filled with special meaning. After dating for just over 9 years, both Ryan & Katie's families became very close, and it was a beautiful thing to witness the relationships that have grown and the joy they all shared over Ryan & Katie's marriage. 

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This was one of my favorite moments from the day. Katie was having a sweet, private moment with her mom to give her her mother-of-the-bride gift along with a thank-you card. When Katie's mom went to read the card, IT WAS BLANK. So someone out there got Katie's card to her mom (did you guys ever find out who got it????)! It was such a perfect, hilarious moment!

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Another favorite moment: Katie's first look with her dad. 

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Ryan kept kissing his mom on the forehead during the mother-son dance, and I cried at the sweetness of it. I also cried while editing the images. Aaaaaaand I'm kinda tearing up right now, for crying out loud!! I hope this is me with my boys some day. <3

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Hair: Kelly Bolander (bride's sister), Dolce Vita

MakeupDolce Vita

Florist: Hy-Vee

Wedding Dress: Wolsfelt's Bridal

Suits: Ducky's Formal Wear

Ceremony & Reception: Franchesco's Ristorante

Donuts: Hy-Vee

DJ: Pro Sound Productions

Videographer: Shawn P. Boyle

Favorite wedding day memory:

Katie: My favorite wedding day memory was the first look with my dad. He is definitely not an emotional person and it took me completely by surprise when he cried.

What they would have done differently:

Katie: I would keep everything the same! The day was exactly what I had always hoped and dreamed it would be. I have had a lot of years to picture my wedding day and I loved everything about it!

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms:

Katie: I would say that you do not need to spend a lot of money to have the perfect day. I did a lot of things myself and with the help of family and everything turned out great! Also, if you are interested in doing a first look, DO IT! It took a lot of stress off both Ryan and myself because we were able to see each other and it was incredibly calming. I loved having a moment just the two of us and it also made walking down the aisle a lot easier.

Honeymoon:

We will be going to Hawaii in March.

Final Reflections

Katie: Everyone that was involved in the planning and execution of my wedding was amazing. I surrounded myself with some of the best people. Everyone was so positive! I am so happy and I am loving married life already :)

Sycamore, IL Family Photography | John, Dawn, Abigail, & Allison

Got some in-home goodness coming atcha today!! It was so nice to meet this family and hang out in front of their cozy fireplace, especially since the day of their shoot was one of the coldest we've had this Fall! Abigail and Allison were so stinkin' cute and up for much silliness, which I always approve of. ;) After we got nice and toasty by the fire, we hopped outside into the freezing, blustery weather for a few quick images in the backyard (and I mean QUICK! I think we lasted about 5 minutes tops!). Thanks so much for inviting me into your home, friends! 

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Sycamore, IL Family Photography | David, Michelle, Leah, Addy, Eliza, & Anna

I just photographed this team back in February right after Anna was born, and I CAN'T BELIEVE how much they've all grown in just eight months!! All four of these girls are so stinkin' cute and so much fun to photograph!!! Technically, this was a mini session because their daddy (David) is a farmer and literally took a quick dinner break for this shoot so he could get back to harvesting, but these girls did such a great job in just 20 short minutes! 

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Bloomington-Normal, IL Family Photographer | Scott, Sharon, & Charles

After photographing their engagement session in 2014, their wedding in 2015, and baby Charles last year, you know I was super excited to see this group again!! It was so good to catch up with Scott & Sharon, and Mr. Charles has changed sin the last year from being containable on a blanket to being a curious explorer of the big wide world. When I used to work at a daycare waaaaaay back in another life, this was one of my favorite ages to work with. Toddlers are so full of wonder and excitement over the everyday things we take for granted, and it's so fun to observe them taking it all in! They always remind me to slow down and appreciate what I consider to be mundane. Maybe "slow down" isn't the right phrase (can I get an "amen!" toddler moms?!?), but they at least help me look at things with fresh eyes. ;) 

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Two Brothers Roundhouse Wedding Photography | Matt & Liz

Matt & Liz were married on an insanely beautiful Fall day back in September. If I had to pick one word to describe the two of them, it would be chill. They had to have been one of the most laid back couples I've photographed. One moment that really sticks out to me was just after Liz opened her gift from Matt. We were waiting for her girls to finish getting ready so we could head over to Two Brothers, and we were doing great on time (not always the case with weddings as things often run behind schedule!!). It was just the two of us in the room, and there was nothing but peace and calm radiating from Liz. We took a quick breather and chatted about random life things while we waited, and as I look back at that little 5 minute snippet from their day, I'm reminded of how so very thankful for all the beautiful souls I get to work with. I try so hard not to take for granted that I get to document some of the most important days in my client's lives, and the fact that I feel like my clients become friends during the process is just icing on the cake. 

Now that I've gotten the sappy stuff out of my system, let's get on to the pictures!!

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Congrats & blessings!!

Hair: Mandy with Bridal Brigade

Makeup: Alyssa with Bridal Bridage

Florist: Hillside Florist

Wedding Dress: Bonny Bridal from White Satin Bridal

Getting Ready: Holiday Inn

Ceremony & Reception: Two Brother's Roundhouse

Cake: The Cakery

DJ: DJ's for You

Second Photographer: Brittany Meeker

Favorite wedding day memory:

Liz: our vows were my favorite memory. At that moment I kind of blacked out everything around me except for Matt and my words to each other.

Matt: my favorite memory was actually at the end of the night when almost everyone was gone and we were tidying up the room together. It was our first real time that we got to spend alone, reflecting on the day.

What they would have done differently:

Absolutely nothing! Everything went so smoothly and perfectly.

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms:

Matt: from the groom’s perspective, be proactive in helping with the planning and work from the beginning. A lot of the decisions will tend to end up with the bride, and you want to be sufficiently informed to be able to help when the date gets close and it feels like there’s too much to do.

Liz: try to make the wedding as much your own as possible. We tried to put our personal touches on as many things as we could (music, favors, etc) so that it really felt like “our” wedding.

Honeymoon:

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Final Reflections:

Everyone says this, but the day really does fly by. Take the time to sit back and take in everything around you!

Rockford, IL Family Photography | Michael, Jessica, Reese, & Paisley

I've known Jessica for over 10 years now and I've watched her walk through some pretty important life-changes: graduating college, getting a job as a teacher, meeting and marrying Michael, and having kids. The last time I had the privilege of photographing her and her family was back when Paisley was just a wee little newborn, so you know I was excited to see how much these kiddos have grown and catch up on life!!!

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Sycamore, IL Family Photography | Pete, Holly, & Benjamin

Sycamore, IL Family Photography

I just photographed this bunch at Matt & Anna's wedding in July (Pete is Anna's brother, Holly was her matron of honor, and if you check out the post, you'll see a shot of Benjamin in a sweet tux onsie!), so it was great to see them again and get to know them a bit more. Benjamin is already a little heart-breaker (hello, huge blue eyes!!), and I was dying over all of his cute expressions!! 

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Rock Cut State Park Family Photography | Chris, Karissa, Bennett, & Family

Rock Cut State Park Family Photography

I've had the pleasure of photographing Chris & Karissa four now times over the past 3 years! From their engagement session in 2014, to their wedding in 2015, then again last year with Karissa's family after Mr. Bennett joined the scene, and now this year with Chris's side. Never gets old getting to watch families grow over the years while preserving their histories!

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DeKalb, IL Engagement Photography | Sang & Brenda

DeKalb, IL Engagement Photography

I met up with Sang and Brenda last month just two days after the season changed to Fall for their engagement pictures. I know that you're probably thinking, "Ahhh Fall, such a great time of year! I love the nice crisp feeling in the air!!" Well, in this case, you're WRONG. It may have been Fall, but it was a scorcher!! 95*, muggy, July-type weather. The ole Midwest sometimes doesn't know what to do with itself when the seasons change. Whatever. We still got some rockin' images that I'm really proud of and I can't wait to photograph these two again in June when they get married!

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Kilbuck Creek Wedding Photography, Monroe Center, IL | Brandon & Stephanie

Kilbuck Creek Wedding Photography, Monroe Center, IL

I'm not sure I've ever photographed a wedding that was as culturally diverse as Brandon and Stephanie's. Brandon is Japanese by way of Hawaii, and Stephanie is Mexican and Irish. To honor their unique backgrounds, they had a bag pipe player lead their recessional, a mariachi band play during cocktail hour, 1,001 gold origami cranes at their reception, and a banzai toast during dinner led by two of Brandon's family members. I'm a huge fan of couples making a wedding their own, and these two did that to the fullest and I'm stoked to share some of my favorites with you all!

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Florist: The Petal Boutique

Wedding Dress: Alexis Kay Designs, Dekalb, IL

Suits: Black Tie Formalwear

Ceremony & Reception: Kilbuck Creek

Cake: Sweet Dreams Desserts

DJGo 4 It Entertainment

Invitations: Minted

Second Photographer: Brittany Meeker

Big Foot Country Club Wedding Photography, Lake Geneva, WI | Dave & Ali

Big Foot Country Club Wedding Photography, Lake Geneva, WI

Dave and Ali were married on a perfect day back in August on a day was filled to the brim with love and laughter. Also, I got to ride in a boat while photographing people for the first time, so that was a pretty sweet first for me! :D

Here are some of my faves from their day!

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Ali, my daughter was watching me edit some of your bridal portraits and said that you're beautiful. She's just saying what we're all thinking! ;)

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Congrats again you two! Blessings!!

Hair: Angelina Manna & Ashley Jo Lawrence

Makeup: Lisa B Makeup

Florist: Lily Pots

Wedding Dress: Lazaro, from Bella Bianca Bridal

Suits: Suit Supply

Ceremony & Reception: Big Foot Country Club

Cake: Bittner's Bakery Lake Geneva

DJ: A Personal Touch

Videographer: Leap Weddings

Second Photographer: Brittany Meeker

Favorite wedding day memory:

My favorite memory was seeing Dave as I was walking down the aisle. I instantly felt calm and relaxed once I saw his smile ear to ear!

What they would have done differently:

I would have allowed a little more time for getting ready. Give yourself a little extra time then expected.

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms:

Get all the major important things planned first and out of the way! Then take a little break and enjoy your engagement! And as the day gets a little closer focus on the small details.

Honeymoon:

We went to the Caribbean island St Martin!

Naperville Wedding Photography | Geoff & Stephanie

Naperville, IL Wedding Photography

When I envision what my 5-year-old daughter's wedding is going to look like far (far!) into the future, I imagine it looking much like Geoff & Stephanie's wedding: full of class and glam, and all that is pink and sparkly!! Stephanie's details were a perfect reflection of who she is, a balanced blend of fun, beauty inside and out, and nostalgia. Stephanie is warm and bubbly, with an infectious joy and enthusiasm that is hard to resist (amiright, Geoff?? ;) ;) ;) ). It's impossible to not have a good time around her and Geoff, and throw in the people from their insanely fun wedding party (some of whom were in Marta & Anthony's wedding last year!!) and it was no surprise that their wedding day was a rockin' good time!! 

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Congrats again you two!! Blessings!

Geoff & Stephanie's Chicago Engagement Session

Hair: Ashley at Zano Salon

Makeup: Brandi Koerten

Florist: Christina Butler

Wedding Dress: Martina Liana, from Bella Bianca Bridal

TuxesMen's Warehouse

Ceremony: St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church

Reception: DiNolfo's Banquets of Homer Glen

Cake: Artesa Bakery

DJ: Liam from Admit One DJs

Second Photographer: Carrie Holbo

Favorite wedding day memory?

We had so many favorites! During the ceremony, Deacon Joe read aloud the love letters we had written to each other before our wedding day. They were so heartfelt and our family and friends loved hearing them. Another great part of the day was when we were on the party bus going to and from photos. Despite the lack of A/C on our sweltering wedding day, our bridal party still had a blast. We have such an amazing group of friends and it was wonderful to spend some time just hanging out with them.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

Stephanie: Definitely not. It was perfect.

Geoff: I don't think so. Nailed it!

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms?

Stephanie: Stress happens. Not everything is going to be exactly how you planned or envisioned your big day together. Make the choice to let problems and hurdles roll off your back those last two weeks before the wedding and the day of. The end goal is to marry your best friend and you want to enjoy every moment.

Geoff: Get stuff done early. It'll make the end of planning way easier and less stressful.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?

Riviera Maya in Mexico! We decided to take a serious vacation instead of traveling. After all of the planning and the big day, it was wonderful to arrive at our all inclusive resort, Valentin Imperial Maya, with everything paid and taken care of. We did check some items off of our bucket list though! A whole day was dedicated to exploring Chichen Itza's Mayan ruins and cenotes. We also learned how to scuba dive in Cancun!! That was probably our favorite part. Take us backkkkk!

Rockford, IL Wedding Photography| Matt & Anna

Rockford, IL Wedding Photography

Two of my favorite things are books and The Office. If I'm not reading something, I'm not happy, and about 85% of what I say is a either a reference or direct quote from The Office (which leaves about 10% for Friends, Arrested Development, Parks and Rec, The Room, and Doctor Who, and about 5% for my own original talk). That may seem like a random way to start out a wedding blog post, but bear with me. In Matt and Anna's engagement session post, I talked about how these two were my bookish soulmates because at our initial consult I discovered that I share some random book loves with both of them. That combined with the fact that they are quite literally two of the kindest souls out there led me to believe it was a match made in wedding photography heaven. So you can imagine my immense joy when during wedding party pictures, I bring up the scene from The Office where Michael falls into the koi pond and the groomsmen were like, "WE WERE JUST REFERENCING THAT!" (Also not as random as it seems...we were taking pictures on a little bridge over a koi pond). You guys, if I ever photograph a wedding on a mountain top or in Scotland, it won't matter because THIS WILL ALWAYS BE MY FAVORITE WEDDING. Books and The Office. The bar is that high, people!! (Although, if you're reading this and are planning a wedding on a mountain top or in Scotland, that would be pretty cool, so let's talk. ;) )

ANYWAYS. You came for the pictures.

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Congrats again, you two!! Blessings!!!

Hair: Jenny Musselman

Makeup: Haley Skora

FloristEvent Floral

Wedding DressThe Crystal Bride

SuitsMen's Warehouse

Ceremony: The Church of Saint Mary, Sycamore, IL

Reception: The Radission, Rockford, IL

Cake: Doris Garland

DJ: Luxe Productions

Second Photographer: Brittany Meeker

Favorite wedding day memory?

Both of us agree that our favorite memory from our wedding day was just after we had walked down the aisle as husband and wife and went into a small room just outside of the chapel. All we could do was laugh and kept saying to each other, "Wow... we are married now!" It was fantastic to have a few moments together to try to absorb the emotions and happiness of the day.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

Nope! Everything went perfectly (even when little things weren't actually "perfect") and we couldn't have asked for a better day!

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms?

The day goes by so fast!! Chances are if something isn't exactly how you wanted it to be, you and your new husband or wife will be so excited to just be married that you won't even notice it. Relax the day/night before your wedding, and the morning of, just think about the person you will be spending the rest of your life with.

Final Reflections:

Chrissy was AMAZING to work with and really helped us capture the special moments of our day. We all had so much fun!!

Pheasant Run Wedding Photography | Sam & Megan

Pheasant Run St. Charles, IL Wedding Photography.

Sam and Megan were married on a perfect June day at Pheasant Run Resort. Megan is one of the most laid-back, kind, and caring brides I've worked with--all qualities that not only make her a dream bride, but I'm sure make her an excellent nurse! Her and Sam have the type of quiet love that runs deep. The kind of love that doesn't need to be constantly screamed from the roof-tops or proven with grand gestures because it's a steady, reliable, ever-present current. It's impossible to be around these two and not feel it, and it was a true joy to be able to photograph it!

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Congrats again you two!!! Blessings!

Ceremony & Reception : Pheasant Run Resort

Flowers : Meagen Lee Floral

Second Photographer : Carrie Holbo

North Ave Beach Engagement Photography | Tom & Laura

North Ave Beach Engagement Photography.

Tom and Laura are currently living New Orleans, but since they're originally from the Chicago area it only made sense for them to do their engagement session in their home state, specifically in the city which holds so much nostalgia for them from the past 10 years of their relationship. The two of them were so stinkin' cute and giggly during their shoot, and while they tried to tell me that they were super awkward in pictures, I challenge you to find a single awkward photo of them in this post! Spoiler: THERE AREN'T ANY!

I have to admit that I wasn't sure this session was gonna happen. We had been having some crazy off and on storms all day, but I took a chance and made the trip out to Chicago anyways and I'm SO glad I did!! I think it stopped raining about an hour before our shoot, and about 10 minutes after we wrapped up, it literally started down pouring! Talk about perfect timing!! So we didn't get our beautifully lit sunset pictures at North Ave beach that we had initially planned for (or more accurately, that I had initially planned for ;) ), but honestly, the storm that was rolling in as we neared the end of the shoot created a moody & romantic set of images that just might be my new favorites!

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Tom & Laura, congrats again and best of luck as you continue to plan your wedding!! Blessings!!

Cantigny Family Photography | Chad, Stephanie, & Beatrice

Cantigny Family Photography.

I know I've said this before, but one of the best things about being a wedding and family photographer is having the opportunity to follow a couple over the years and take part in so many of their important and exciting milestones. Chad and Stephanie are one of those couples!! I just checked, and I photographed their engagement back in December 2012, and then their wedding in September 2013! WHAT?!?!? Wasn't it just last year?!? I seriously don't understand time. 

Well, it was time to photograph these two again, and this time they brought their stinkin' adorable wee one, Beatrice, who just turned one!! It was so much fun wandering around the Cantigny grounds with this sweet family!!

 

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