Odyssey Country Club, Tinley Park, IL Wedding Photography | Nicholas & Marial

The first time I photographed Nick & Marial was actually waaaaay back in 2016 when they both stood up in Marial's brother's wedding (Joe & Christine!! Check 'em out!!). I love showing up to a wedding and seeing a bunch of familiar faces, and it was so good to see this family again!! They are such a tight-knit group and do their best to make everyone around them feel welcome and included.

This wedding may have been a record for me with tears shed at a wedding. Basically if anyone cries at a wedding you can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to cry as well. So I cried during Marial's first look with her dad (like, fogged up my glasses, cried). I cried during her dad's speech. I cried during Nick's dance with his mom. And I cried while Marial's grandparents were dancing during the anniversary dance because her grandpa kept kissing her grandma on the forehead and it was quite literally the sweetest thing I've ever witnessed. I'm actually a little teary right now thinking about all of those moments again! I blame my kids. KIDS MAKE YOU SOFT, PEOPLE. It's not a bad thing. ;) 

ANYWAYS, now some of my favorite images from Nick & Marial's perfect day!

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Oh hey there, Joe & Christine!!!

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Hair: Lisa Murphy

Makeup: Stefanie Severino

Invitations: Shutterfly

Florist: Gary Gudino from Randolph Floral Design

Wedding Dress: Allure from Eva's Bridal

Bridesmaid's Dresses: Vera Wang from David's Bridal

Suits: Men's Warehouse

Ceremony: Our Lady of the Woods

Reception: The Odyssey

Cake: Delicious Creations

DJ: Rolling Sounds Entertainment

Videographer: Forty One Films

Second Photographer: Calynn Berry

Favorite wedding day memory:

Marial: My favorite memory is when I was walking down the aisle and saw Nick waiting for me by the altar. I get goosebumps just thinking about this memory!

Nick: My favorite memory is when Marial came down the aisle towards me.

What they would have done differently:

Marial and Nick: If we were to do anything differently, if would be to try and set a few minutes aside for ourselves and close family members. The day FLEW by and we both wish we had more time to take a couple of pictures in the photobooth with one another and celebrate with our close family.

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms:

Marial and Nick: Don't sweat the little stuff, because in the end it will all be worth it! Also, try to plan and prepare for everything far in advance if possible so that you do not have much to do close to the wedding.

Honeymoon:

We went to an all inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, called Valentin Imperial Maya. It was absolutely paradise and we loved every second of it!

Final Reflections:

Marial and Nick: Don't regret a single moment, because the day will be over before you finally know it!

The Hollows, Cary, IL Engagement Photography | Joe & Missy

From my very first communications with Missy, I knew I was going to love spending time with her, and my engagement session with her and Joe further confirmed my initial thoughts! She's bubbly and adorable and I think it may actually be impossible to be around her and not smile. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Missy and Joe wandering around The Hollows and getting to know the two of them more, and I simply cannot wait to photograph their wedding next month!

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Hotel Baker, St. Charles, IL Wedding Photography | Sang & Brenda

I jumped into my wedding season with Brenda and Sang's wedding at the beginning of June, and it was probably the most refreshing beginning to a season I've ever had. Brenda and Sang are two of the kindest people I've ever worked with. Every interaction I've had with Brenda and Sang, from my initial meeting with them, to their engagement session, then their wedding, and all the communications in between has been a joy. They're the kind of people that make you feel really good about yourself, which in turn makes you want to make others feel good about themselves. They had smaller guest list, about 60 people, and it was about 60 people who are just as kind and caring as Brenda and Sang are, so I left feeling like a million bucks. I never expect to be anything more than a vendor to guests, because that's what I am and it's totally cool (For real! This introvert has no problem with being a fly on the wall!), but some of their guests engaged me in some genuine, interested conversation during the cocktail hour and it really meant a lot to me! So thank you to Brenda and Sang, and their guests for making me feel so cared for!!!

Now on to what you really came here for. ;) 

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Congrats again you two!! Blessings!!! <3

Rockford, IL Newborn & Family Photography | John, Jackie, Dylan, & Lucille

Rockford, IL Newborn & Family Photography | John, Jackie, Dylan, & Lucille

I just photographed this family back in the Fall, and it was great to see them again as they welcomed darling Lucille into their family on May 17 (which is a pretty darn good day to be born, if I do say so myself!  ;) ). Lucille was just 8 days old when I photographed her, and she was such a content little babe!! 

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Isn't Jackie absolutely radiant for just having a baby?!?!? AND they were moving literally the day after our shoot! Talk about a supermomma!!

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Dylan cracks me up. He was all about these pictures, as you can see. 

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I also photographed John & Jackie's wedding. I love being able to follow these family from their very beginnings!!

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To John & Jackie, congrats again!! You're great parents and it was so good to see you again! <3

Sugar Grove, IL Family Photography | Brandon, Amber, Ava, & Ella

Sugar Grove, IL Family Photography | Brandon, Amber, Ava, & Ella

About a year and half ago, I posted a blog about our good friends Brandon and Amber and their 5 year struggle to have a baby, which led to them adopting their daughter Ava as a newborn. Well, about 5 months after I posted that blog, we found out that Amber was expecting!! Sweet Ella was born December 19, 2017, about two weeks after Ava's 2nd birthday. I'm so happy for these guys and in awe of God's redemption of what was once thought to be impossible. <3

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North Ave Beach, Humboldt Park, Chicago Engagement Photography | Mike & Caroline

North Ave Beach, Humboldt Park, Chicago Engagement Photography | Mike & Caroline

Spring in the Midwest was its usual unpredictable self this year and got off to a chilly and snowy start, so I was very thankful when my shoot day with Mike & Caroline for their engagement session rolled around and it was sunny and in the 60's! Of course, depending on where you are in Chicago, sunny and 60* means windy and 50* (I'm lookin' at you, North Ave beach), but there was no snow, rain, or sleet, so I was content. 

It was a pleasure sharing that day with Mike & Caroline, photographing them and getting to know them more before their wedding day this September. We hopped around the city and hit up a combination of special and iconic locations from the place that started it all for these two (Benchmark in Old Town), to the North Ave skyline and Humboldt Park, and ending on their rooftop (with another amazing view of that Chicago skyline I might add!) where we were joined by their adorable pup. (Thanks again for driving, Mike, and to you as well Caroline for your navigating skillz!!)

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Algonquin, IL, Engagement Photography | Daryn & Lillian

Algonquin, IL, Engagement Photography | Daryn & Lillian

Kicked off my 2018 engagement season with these two cuties, and it feels so good to be back behind the camera! This is actually the third time that I've snapped pictures of Daryn & Lillian, although it's technically the first official time. D&L were guests at both Geoff & Stephanie's and Mike & Erica's weddings last year (Daryn is Geoff and Erica's cousin!)! I'm pretty sure this is the most I've ever gotten to photograph one side of a family before and I'm LOVING it!! It's actually going to feel a little strange next year if I don't get to photograph someone from this family!

Daryn and Lillian did so great for their first official time in front of my lens, and I can't wait to photograph their wedding this September!! 

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Lake Tahoe, California Wedding Photography | Mike & Erica

Lake Tahoe, Truckee, CA Wedding Photography

If there was ever way to send out 2017 with a bang, flying to California to shoot Mike & Erica's wedding was the way to do it!! This wedding brought about a few firsts for me...first time flying for a wedding, first time going to California (which was AMAZING), and first time photographing a couple in the mountains (ALSO AMAZING)...all experiences I'd love to repeat and made me even more thankful for this crazy wonderful job I have! Erica found me through Geoff & Stephanie (Erica is Geoff's sister), whose wedding I just photographed in July, and being able to photograph two siblings' weddings in the same year is another rare opportunity that I could get used to (and I get to hang out with them all AGAIN when I photograph Geoff's cousin's wedding this September!)! 

Mike & Erica are a fun-loving, spontaneous, caring couple who make you feel like you've been friends with them forever. For planning a long-distance wedding without any family in the area of the wedding to help and oversee things (M&E live in Chicago), I have to say that their wedding was a dream. Every single aspect of the day went off perfectly, down to the weather (it was about 45*F for their outdoor ceremony!!), which is almost unheard of even when you're planning a wedding minutes away from where you live. And M&E are so laid back, that even if anything had gone wrong I can't imagine that it would have been met with anything other than a continued excitement that their day had finally arrived. 

Well, I think it's time to move on to the images, how about you?!?! ;) 

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Mike's dad was his best man. <3

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Oh hey there Geoff & Stephanie!!

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Hair & Makeup: Michelle DeeAnn, Christi Reynolds, & Lea Buehler

Ceremony/Reception: Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe

DJDJ Brock

Favorite wedding day memory:

We both think that our first look was our favorite memory.

What they would have done differently:

We can't think of anything that we would have changed!

Best piece of advice for brides and grooms:

Our biggest piece of advice is to make your wedding your own. Spend time and money on the things that are important to you and skip the things that aren't important or are causing too much stress (for example, we didn't have programs for our ceremony). We also really loved having a sweetheart table. Although we were both initially against it, we ended up loving it. It gave us time to be alone on such a busy day.

Honeymoon:

We spent 23 days in Australia and New Zealand. It was absolutely the trip of a lifetime.

Final Reflections

Our advice is to pick your vendors carefully and then trust them to do a great job. It will make your life easier not to try to micromanage every last detail and will allow you to have the most fun on your wedding day.

Rock Cut State Park Family Photography | John, Jacqueline, & Dylan

Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL Family Photography

Another sweet bride & groom turned mom & dad on the blog today!! I photographed John & Jackie's wedding back in 2015 but now they're back with Mr. Dylan!! Dylan is a sweet and gentle little dude with an old soul and I had a great time hanging out with him and his parents!

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See you guys next time!! :D :D :D

Rock Cut State Park Family Photography | Joe, Kelley, & Alice

Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL Family Photography

YOU GUYYYYYYYYYYSSSSSSS!!!!!!! I am SO excited to share these images with you all!!! This couple is very near and dear to my heart because Joe & Kelley's wedding was the VERY FIRST WEDDING I EVER PHOTOGRAPHED!!!!! They took a chance on me when I was wet behind the ears and I will be forever grateful! And I gotta say, after just scrolling through those images for the first time in awhile, I'm still incredibly proud of those images! 

So that was 7 1/2 years ago (!!!!), and now these two have a sweet little babe, Alice, who is absolutely darling and the obvious joy of their lives. It was so great to reconnect with these guys and photograph them in this new stage of life!!!  

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DeKalb, IL Family Photography | Dave, Sarah, Ben, Danny, & Isabel

DeKalb, IL Family Photographer

Another year, another shoot with this crew!! I'll never tire of getting to see how much these kiddos grow, and my oh my, have they grown up!! If you feel like taking a stroll down memory lane with me, just check out their previous shoots!! (2011, 2012, 2013, 2016) This year they were joined by their newest family member, Mylo and he is such a sweetie!

We shot out at Camelot Christmas Tree Farm this year and it was nice to change it up from my usual places. The property is so peaceful with the trees and the little lake, and paired with shooting at my absolute favorite time of day, I left our shoot feeling recharged from beauty of it all. 

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Ben (who is a freshman IN HIGH SCHOOL NOW!! What is life!?!?!?)

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Danny

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Isabel

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See you guys next year!! :D :D :D 

DeKalb, IL Family Photography | Dan, Beth, & Hannah

DeKalb, IL Family Photographer

This gang is back on the blog, and it was so fun to photograph them in one of my happy places: The DeKalb Public Library!!! Since their wedding alllllllllll the way back in 2011 (WHAT?!?), Dan & Beth have lived all over the world (Austrailia, the Netherlands, and now Texas!), which means when they visit home it's usually around Christmas (i.e. it's really cold). They wanted to change things up from their indoor session at Grandma & Grandpa's house a couple years ago, and the library was a great WARM option! Little Hannah is a budding book worm (yeah girl!!), so we grabbed some of her favorites and got to work. Grandma & Grandpa joined in after a bit, and I can tell you right now if Hannah ever doubts how adored she is she'll only need to look at these images. 

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Dan, Beth, Hannah, Gary, & Jan, thanks again for a fun time and see you in a couple years!! <3 <3 <3 

Rockford, IL Wedding Photography | Ryan & Katie

Rockford, IL Wedding Photographer

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

Sycamore, IL Family Photographer

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

Sycamore, IL Family Photographer

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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