My sweet boy,

How do I put into words the joy you bring? I’ve been fumbling around, just staring into space, trying to figure out how to tell you all that I feel. I guess the fact of the matter is, you’ll never actually know until you have a child of your own. It’s a weird truth, but a truth nonetheless.

Summer is in full swing which means we are outside a lot and have been trying out new parks in the area (so as not to get bored), splash pads, the pool, and our own outdoor activities here at home like your water table and inflatable pool. You like both, but they can’t compare to the allure of the garden hose. We go for walks both with the stroller and your wagon (you like the wagon better; I like the stroller better) and you particularly love meeting any dogs along the way.

Speaking of dogs, you’re obsessed. It’s interesting to me because we don’t have any pets, but somewhere along the way you latched onto dogs and you think they are the treasure of the earth, along with any large-wheeled vehicles (city buses, school buses, construction trucks, garbage trucks, food trucks, UPS trucks, etc.). Whenever you see any of the previously mentioned, you let out this reeaaalllly high-pitched squeal of excitement. Luckily for you, we live in a neighborhood that has plenty of everything and our neighbor two-doors down has a bright orange food truck which lights up your life to no end. It’s easily your favorite sighting.

Being chased in your favorite sport and you’ll go tearing into our bedroom closet and hide until we come get you. It brings out the biggest shrieks of joy. You’re very shy around new people and people you don’t see all the time. The best way to get you to warm up is just to leave you alone and let you do it on your own. I’ve discovered that pushing you onto someone never works; you just cling to me even more.

A few random things: you love brushing your teeth and get so angry when we make you put your toothbrush away. You love pushing the buttons on your sound machine. It’s your favorite toy. You love dairy of any kid, but particularly cheese and milk. Sharing is a hard concept for you, probably because you don’t really have anyone to share with here at home. We’re working on sharing skills with your friends. When we ask how the bunny goes, you sniff your little nose and it’s so cute! You think saying “piu” is hilarious; it’s the best way to get you to laugh right now.

Summertime means more sink baths and laundry. It means more snacks and water and sunblock. It means a delicate balance of outdoor play while also getting inside to refresh because this heat index lately has been killer.

Summer also brings my busy wedding season with it so I’m working a lot. We’ve found a pretty great balance though with help from your nanny a few mornings a week as well as your continued rock-star naps. I can’t say it’s perfect, but it has allowed me to be able to get my work done as well as spend time with you, which is pretty ideal!

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I have absolutely loved becoming friends with Cortney & Christian over the last year. From our first meeting to their engagement session to that evening shoot, I have always said good night with a big smile on my face. They have that affect on you.

Their wedding day was bright and sunshiny, a bit warm, but with a cool breeze. Their church ceremony was downtown Iowa City at Zion Lutheran Church with their reception a close drive at the Iowa Memorial Union. They chose pale blue with “lots of sparkles” for their colors. One of the unique parts of their wedding (that I had been looking forward to for a long time) was their breakfast dinner. Christian is a fire fighter and Cortney works a regular day job so their schedules cross in the morning when he’s coming home and she’s leaving, thus their breakfast is most people’s dinner. To celebrate that, they chose to serve the most delicious breakfast buffet at their reception, including waffles, yogurt parfaits, fresh fruits, gravy & biscuits, and quiche.

We began our day at the church where the girls were meeting after hair & makeup to get dressed. Cortney’s stunning Badgley Mischka heels were as stunning as her Maggie Sottero gown.


Cortney, her bridesmaids, the flower girls, attendants, and mothers all had custom blue robes to wear before they got dressed.

Cortney & Christian chose to have a First Look before the ceremony. Our timeline the day of was rather hurried so this allowed us to maximize the time that we had for photos.

I wrung an extra 10 minutes out the schedule somehow and had the couple make a pit stop over by the Old Capitol before the reception. I’m sooo glad we were able to do that!

As the dance floor got busy, I snuck Cortney & Christian outside for a few quick photos, the absolutely icing to the figurative cake.

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Videography: Nepo Productions

Wedding Coordinator: Memories in the Making Events

Makeup: 100% Pure Pro

Hair: Hair & Makeup by Kailee

Bridal Gown: Maggie Sottero from Heart to Heart Bridal

Suits: Ewers Men’s Store

Florals, Backdrop, Linens: Covington & Company

Cake Artist: Classic Cakes by Design

Catering: University Catering

DJ, Lighting, Modular Bar, Photo Booth, Chiavari Chairs: Unique Events of Iowa

Paper Suite: Zephyr Weddings

Ceremony Venue: Zion Lutheran Church, Iowa City

Reception Venue: Iowa Memorial Union, Iowa City

Elmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0164.jpgThey’ve been together for a long time–since they were young highschoolers–and if you’ve spent any amount of time with them, it’s easy to pick up on their deep level of friendship and love for each other. They first spotted each other when she was a freshman, he a sophomore. “I was quite smitten with him because he was a cute, older boy,” she said.

It happened to be on Valentine’s Day when he first asked her out. One of Carolyn’s friends invited her boyfriend, Carolyn, and Marc over after a basketball game on a Friday evening. “It’s hard to remember, but I’m fairly certain Marc and I had never hung out or even talked much before this night. The house had a mini movie theater downstairs and we were hanging out when Marc asked me to go upstairs with him. He grabbed a few things from behind a chair and asked me to be his girlfriend by giving me a rose and a burned CD of Tim McGraw’s greatest hits. He actually made his own cover with the songs handwritten and the cover colored with blue crayon because that’s my favorite color.” Her parents came later to pick them up in their minivan (“Ah…young love,” she said) and Marc added, “That’s as close to a ‘date’ as we could have at that age.”

I absolutely adore these two. We spent the evening at Elmcrest Golf Course for their engagement session and we spent a considerable amount of the session laughing, which just goes to show how easy is it to make friends with them. I’m so thrilled to be part of their wedding in the spring and I already am itching to get them back in front of my camera because, duh, look at them and also, I can’t wait to hang out with them again.
Elmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0165.jpgElmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0166.jpgWhen I asked how he proposed, Marc filled me in. “This part was stressful, but I nailed it. After 13 years of dating, I had to do this right and I wanted to maintain some element of surprise…but she didn’t make it easy. She told me she didn’t want me to propose on or near a holiday or in front of anyone. She also has a soy allergy, so restaurants/trips are pretty much ruled out. I got the ring in November of 2015, just in time for crappy weather and the holiday season. On top of that, we had only been back in Iowa for a few months so we didn’t have any ‘special’ places that weren’t associated with high school.

“So, I let the holiday season pass. The first week of January I contacted one of her friends at work and had her plan ‘to get drinks’ with Carolyn on Friday night. We checked out a couple wedding venues in the area already and we both really liked the Palmer House Stable in Solon, but it was going to be too small for our party. So I set up the proposal there. Carolyn’s friend picked her up that night to get drinks at the Solon brewery down the road from the stable. They pulled up to the stable and I was waiting for her.”

Carolyn added in a few details from her perspective: “My friend, Sarah, picked me up and we went to get pedicures before heading to Solon. I told her I wanted to show her Palmer House Stable because it was right down the road from Big Grove Brewery. As we passed it, she pulled over and stopped and I was like, ‘Okay, that’s weird. She really wants to see this place.’ There was a man standing on the corner right in front of us, but I didn’t pay attention to him at all. Side note: I lived in NYC for 3 years and in the time learned to master blocking random people from view, so honestly, had no clue who the man was. Until…my friend said, ‘Carolyn…look!’ And it was Marc. Dressed in a suit. Standing outside on one of the coldest nights of the winter. He opened the door and I stepped out, completed shocked. Sarah was like, ‘Byeeeeee’ and took off.”

“I took her inside…had ‘our songs’ playing, candles lit, and the champagne on ice,” Marc said. “We danced to a few songs and I popped the question on a knee. Then we went downstairs and I had a very nice candle lit dinner catered and served by The Bread Garden…soy free of course. I had our parents join us for dinner because family is very important to both of us, and we wouldn’t have made it that far without their love and support. I’m very proud of this night as you can tell. Gold star for Marc.”
Elmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0167.jpgElmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0168.jpg“Since we started dating when we were so young, I don’t know that there was one moment when I knew he was the one. More likely, there were a whole bunch of small moments that happened that led me to believe we would spend the rest of our lives together. I think a huge part of our relationship has been growing up together. We started out as 14 & 15 year olds who were just starting high school. … Each time our relationship overcame a challenging situation (college, traveling abroad, living in separate places), we became more solid and it was clear we were meant to be together. We have transitioned through one life phase to the next over the past 13 years. That’s how I know we’ll make it through the rest of our life phases together.”
Elmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0169.jpgElmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0170.jpgElmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0171.jpgElmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0172.jpgElmcrest_Golf_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0173.jpgI asked what they’re looking forward to most about their wedding day and Carolyn said it will be a culmination of 14 years together. “In many ways, Marc and I already feel married, but this is still a big step for us and will be a new beginning as husband and wife. I’m looking forward to marrying my high school sweetheart surrounded by our family and friends, old and new.”

“I’m looking forward to sealing the deal…[like] putting a stamp on everything we’ve been through together,” Marc said. “I will be celebrating our past and present relationship as much as our future together. I think we’ll both be thinking, ‘I knew we could do this.'”


They met in London and now live in California, but she grew up in Iowa and so they planned their wedding in her childhood backyard on a jetty into Lake Keomah under the oak tree that she used to climb as a kid. But as the date got closer, the weather forecast got worse. There was an 80% chance of thunderstorms all day long and she admitted to having a tearful meltdown two weeks before the wedding. Miraculously however, on the morning of the wedding, the forecast started to look better, still rainy, but better. By noon, when she needed to make the call for the backup plan, the chance of rain had dropped to 20%. They took the chance and I’m so grateful they did because their wedding was stunning, absolutely stunning. And you know what? It only sprinkled for about 3 minutes during a few photos after their ceremony. Otherwise, it was all blue skies and clouds. None of us, even in the midst of the day, could believe how it was turning out.

Chanelle & Nik are two of the kindest people I’ve ever met. They surrounded themselves with their closest family and friends on their wedding day and it was so evident how much they cherished their guests as well as their guests cherished them. People had traveled from literally all over the world: England, Sweden, New York, India… During the reception, Chanelle expressed her gratitude for people coming to share their day and that she was so happy to be able to show everyone where she came from, her tribe, her village, her home.

Chanelle mom and step-father had recently gutted their home for a renovation overhaul. (Bless them! They deserve a break now!) When we arrived, I found the most delightful palette I could have ever imagined; clean white everywhere! It was a dream to be able to photograph all of Chanelle’s details right there in the living room as the ladies finished hair and makeup and the guys started setting up chairs in the lawn.


Chanelle’s gown was my dream come true. Blush pink (check), intricate lace detailing (check), button-back (check), flouncy tulle layers (check), and a ballgown silhouette (check-check). There’s nothing that could’ve made this more beautiful.

Lake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0006.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0007.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0008.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0009.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0010.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0011.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0012.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0013.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0014.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0015.jpgThey shared their First Look in the backyard under the leafy trees.
Lake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0016.jpgLake_Keomah_Backyard_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0017.jpgThose florals though…Shelly, you’ve outdone yourself.
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Ceremony Venue: Private residence

Reception Venue: Lake Keomah State Park

Videography: Diamond Label Films

Florals: Shelly Sarver Designs

Cake Artist: Cheryl’s Sweet Shoppe

Caterer: Grate Expectations & India Cafe

DJ: A Special Event DJ

Makeup & Hair: The Hair Designers Salon & Spa

Bridal Gown: Allure Bridals from Alegria’s Brides

Maids’ Gowns: Jenny Yoo

Invitations & Paper Goods: Minted

Linens & Tableware: Say Yes Rentals

Tent, Tables, & Chairs: Pella Rental

Transportation: Hawkeye Stages

Hotel_Kirkwood_Wedding_EmilyCrall_Photo_0112.jpgThe whole day we all kept commenting about the weather and how we couldn’t have gotten anything better had we tried. The weekend before had been unusually cold with winds and rain, but on Saturday, the sun shone bright and the breeze brought welcome cooling. It was the kind of weather where you wanted to be outside all day long.

It’s always a fascinating for me to meet the families and bridal party (who are presumably the best friends) of my couples. Since I met Jaclyn & Jake first, it was a treat to see the full-rounded background of their lives by filling in the pieces of so many important people. So, even though I had heard about Jaclyn’s long-time crush on Jake back in high school at their engagement session, it was  a hilarious treat to hear Jaclyn’s friend, Rachel, describe the true depth of that one-sided crush so many years ago.

Jaclyn & Jacob are a beautiful couple with such sweet, genuine hearts. I have absolutely loved getting to know them and am so excited for them to finally be married! With the preparations all laid out, we met at the church. Jaclyn had her mother’s wedding shoes cleaned and planned to wear them on her own wedding day!

Jaclyn & Jake chose to have a first look, which then gave us time to take some of their photos as well as all of their family photos before the ceremony.

And this magnificent field of flowers was right behind the church, which felt like a huge stroke of luck.

Their reception was at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, which is always a treat because the space is beautiful, but I truly love working with Mary and the staff there. They always take such great care of us.

During the reception, I snuck Jaclyn & Jake out for a few minutes to get some fresh air and take some extra photos. I commented over on Facebook about why I love to take couples out for sunset photos. The light is beautiful, of course, but it’s also about giving the couple permission and time to push the pause button and soak in their feelings. The whole day flies by and anytime I can try to slow it down for them, I do.

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Ceremony Venue: St. John’s Catholic Church

Reception Venue: The Hotel at Kirkwood Center

Videography: Nepo Productions

Invitations & Paper Goods: Zephyr Weddings

Florals: Hy-Vee Johnson Avenue

Cake Artist & Catering: The Hotel at Kirkwood Center

DJ: B.A.M. Productions

Makeup & Hair: Kayla at Tru Salon

Bridal Gown: Bridal Boutique

Maids’ Gowns: Heart to Heart Bridal

Suits: Holly’s Shop for Men

Linens: Spielman’s Event Services

Transportation: Black Diamond Limousine


I love finding new spaces in our area and Little Lights Events is definitely a charmer. I spent the afternoon there photographing a styled shoot, which is basically a way for us creatives to shoot for fun. I’m already envisioning how beautiful a reception here will be (keep scrolling, you’ll see!) and would love to get one of my couples out in the Herbert Hoover National Historical Park for their ceremony.

I’m a big sucker for botanicals and white walls and open beams so this was a dream. The industrial bulbs, wood tables, planter boxes, and flickering candles made for a romantic, classic feel while the exposed brick and hardwood floor brought a natural, historical element.


Eric & Rachel are a real-life married couple who were gracious enough to get dolled up and model for us. Aren’t they so beautiful?


This shoot was a collaboration of many vendors, all giving of their time and talents to pull it together. Thank you so much to all of them for making this work!


Venue: Little Lights Events
Planner: Amanda Remington with Little Lights Events
Plates, Glasses, Decor: Little Lights Events
Paper goods: Andi’s Invites
Cookies: Jaclyn’s Niche
Dress: Brides by Jessa
Tux: JCPenney
Florals: Nicole of Waterfront Hy-Vee
Cake: Tip Top Cakes
Calligraphy: Emelyn Letters
Hair & Makeup: Amanda of Zen Salon & Spa