We had a trifecta of elements working against us, all of them out of our control: downtown Jazz Fest traffic, construction road closures (including a major bridge between the ceremony and reception venues), and intense heat & summer humidity. But I promised Brooke you wouldn’t see any cranes in the background of her wedding images at Hancher and the spot that I picked for their downtown images was easy enough to shoot around the pedestrians. The heat? Well, we worked fast. At one point, Brandon asked if there was any way to get out of those outdoor photos and I promised him that I would be faster than he imagined. And I think I surprised all of the guys with how quickly I got them back into the air-conditioning.
I hope that looking back on the day, no one remembers the heat or the uncomfortable shoes or the tight timeline to get everything done. I hope all you see is the beauty of a perfect day for the beginning of a marriage. Brooke and Brandon have been a joy to work with; both filled with such fun and laughter and Brandon especially cracking jokes from start to end.
When Brooke describes Brandon, she says she admires “how hard of a worker he is and how he can just befriend everyone he talks to.” She also said that he is positive, energetic, and dedicated. He said he admires “her drive towards being a teacher and helping kids learn” and that she is caring, loving, fun and adventurous, and persistent. In the short time I got to know them both, I would complete agree!
Back before their engagement session, I had asked them both what they looked forward to most about their wedding day. Brooke said, “I’m looking forward to celebrating with all of our closest friends and family. Also, I’m excited to get to start our new life together and become Mrs. Smalley!” Brandon added that he was also excited to be “celebrating with friends and family about finding the perfect partner and combining our lives together for the best future!” And truly, it was such a joyous celebration that I believe their wishes came true.
Brooke & Brandon chose not to see each other before the wedding, but they did want to exchange letters so they did a “first touch” outside the church. It was a tender moment that had them both in happy tears.
The u-shape of First United Methodist Church lends itself to the most beautiful photos. It also provides really great access to photograph different perspectives fairly unobtrusively.
My absolute favorite thing about these exit photos–which I didn’t even notice until I was editing them later–is both of Brooke’s grandmas beaming at them as they came out of the church.
Brooke was living her Cinderella dream all day. She looked like a princess.
You’d laugh if you knew the struggle we had with this stunning veil. I love long veils and they are usually so easy to photograph, but the wind was working against us so much during all of these pictures. I was determined to get at least ONE photo showcasing her gorgeous veil–and I did–but we had to work pretty hard to get it!
This cake was just as delicious as it looks. I joked that I chose my profession based on the cake, but, really, it is an excellent perk of the job.
It was getting dark quickly, but we ran back outside to grab some evening photos (the sun had already dipped so we missed “sunset”, but just look at these and you’ll know why I’m not even a little mad about it)!
It was the weekend before July 4th and Brooke and Brandon decided to surprise their guests with a fireworks show! I had never photographed a couple with fireworks before–and told them that beforehand–but I did my research and ended up getting a great assist from the videographers and I love the images I was able to get!
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography
Videography: The Vine Productions
Florals: Every Blooming’ Thing
Cake Artist: Tip Top Cakes
Catering: University Catering
DJ: Unique Events
Makeup: Melissa Banes
Hair: Eden Salon & Spa
Paper Suite: Allegra
Bridal Gown: Casablanca from White Willow Bridal
Maids’ Gowns: Bill Levkoff from XOXO Bridal
Ceremony Venue: First United Methodist Church
Reception Venue: Hancher Auditorium
My darling girl,
A few nights ago, we were busy and you missed your late afternoon catnap, the one that gets you through the evening until bedtime. You were so tired and grumpy that I finally just rocked you, trying to hold you off until bedtime. But you fell asleep in my arms, cuddled so close to me that our breaths mixed, your face tucked into the curve of my neck. If there is anything perfect in this world, that was it.
There’s a lot of ugliness in our world and I won’t burden your sweet, young soul with the details, but not a moment goes by that I don’t think of how lucky I am to be with you. To have you in my arms. To watch you giggle at Henry. To tuck you in every night. To kiss your chubby cheeks a thousand times a day. To tickle your tummy. To hold your innocent gaze. (And by the way, locking eyes with a baby is another perfection in this world. Adults don’t lock eyes anymore; we somehow become self-conscious to hold a gaze for too long, but babies don’t have that self-consciousness yet and I can get lost in the depths of your eyes.) To see your beaming smile when I wake you up from a nap.
You are my child, a brand new person who started your life inside my own body, and to know your absolute trust in me takes me breath away. You have no fears. You have no doubts in my abilities to care for you. You have unwavering faith that I’ll get you from your bed, that I’ll feed you, that I’ll change your diaper, that I’ll sing to you and talk to you and hold you and play with you. You trust me with absolution. One of my biggest fears in life is breaking that trust, even non-intentionally. To have something happen to prevent me from being able to meet your needs and be with you. I say all this because that ugliness I mentioned? It’s my worst nightmare happening to other loving parents. And the events that are playing out in history right now make me all the more aware of every blessed moment I have with you and Henry. When I say I’m lucky, I know how true that is. I don’t take a moment of it for granted.
I read this recently in a book, “There’s just something about daughters. From the very beginning, I felt a rush of wisdom that I wanted to impart to her about womanhood: how to be brave, how to build real confidence, and fake it when you have to, how to respect yourself without taking yourself too seriously, how to love yourself or at least try to and never stop trying, how to decide who opinion to value and whose to disregard quietly, how to believe if yourself even when others don’t.” (from What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton) That paragraph resonated so deeply with me that I returned the iPad ebook to the library and bought the hardcover just so I could highlight the physical pages.
You’ve just recently started sitting on your own. You still have some spills when you get excited or tired from sitting too long, but you’re getting visibly stronger every day. We have reached this magical, unicorn stage of babyhood where you can independently sit, but you can’t yet get anywhere. We have a very limited time before the baby gate will need to go up and Henry will have to put his small toys out of reach. (I can imagine how mad he’s going to get the first time—or several times—that you get into his stuff.)
I can’t believe how fast time is going and I’m not just saying that in cliche mom-talk. You’re eating food like a ravenous girl (like, you will aggressively try to pull the spoon if I’m not getting to your mouth quickly enough), you are learning how to drink from a sippy cup (how are you old enough for this?), you are sitting up, you’re funny and adorable and interactive and incredibly curious about what everyone around you is doing, mostly Henry. Your smiles are bright and big for your daddy. You have moved from the carseat-in-the-stroller to just sitting in the stroller like a little girl. You can sit in a baby swing now and you love it! You are so cuddly and not just because you are squishy (you do have the most amazing rolls!). You are cuddly in that you actually love to snuggle close. You like to take my face in both your hands and then just head butt me to get your head tucked against mine so that my lips are lined up with the top of your head, perfect for kissing. You giggle when I kiss your cheeks and neck and then snuggle back in for more. (Similarly, when Henry’s in a snuggly mood, he asks for “nineteen four twenty” kisses, a number whose origin I don’t know, but it’s consistent every time. “Nineteen four twenty”.) In so many ways, the things that I had been looking forward to—longing for—back when you were first born are already here. Bam. You’re a half a year old and when we do the same amount of time again, you’ll be walking.
What a joy to be your mama. What a great responsibility—and I mean that not as big, but as wonderful—to have your trust in me to provide for your needs, to be there for you always. The way you look at me is filled with pure, undiluted love and I echo that right back to you. “There’s just something about daughters…”
I love you with abandon.
This smile…it’s the most angelic whole-face smile I’ve ever seen.
Arts Fest downtown…
…and Tractorcade with Grandpa
My friend saw this picture and said, “She looks at you like you are absolutely the only thing she loves in the entire world.” <3
Loves: your jumperoo, music & singing & reading, sitting up, swinging, stroller rides, eating food, having people talk to you/getting attention, “talking”, your pacifier, being in just your diaper
Wears: 3-6m in clothes, moving into 6-9m, size 3 diapers
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 3 naps a day (two long ones and one shorter one in the late afternoon)
They, quite literally, ran into each other a few years ago. They both were out on the town–Bryan with his brother and Caroline with her friends–on a summer evening. “It was a busy night and it was difficult to maneuver through the crowd and the big goof that I am ran into Caroline…or maybe we ran into each other. I forget what I said, but it was enough to get a laugh out of her,” Bryan says.
Caroline fills in that she had been waiting forever at the bar to get drinks and when she finally had them, she “swung around and ran into tall scruffy man. He smelled amazing and my eyes were level with his pearl snaps. I looked up and noticed his kind blue eyes right away. He said something funny and I laughed.” They exchanged numbers and he soon realized that the number she gave was legit and “we haven’t stopped talking to each other ever since.”
Shortly after their first run in, they went on their first official date. They spent hours talking and laughing and then, when it was time to leave, they walked to the parking lot together. “[We] stood outside my car,” Caroline says. “And I was perfectly prepared for him to give me a good night kiss. Bryan pulled me close and lightly kissed me on the forehead and that is when I knew he was different, special.”
Thirteen months later, Bryan proposed to her. “I had just gotten through a two-week process of picking out the band and the diamond. I am a very eager person and when I want to get something done, I try to accomplish my goal quickly. So, the day after I pick up the ring I made arrangements to go pick out our Christmas tree together. The whole way there, I made my best effort to be engaged in our conversation and also think through what I was going to say. When we parked the car I made an excuse to get back into the cab of the truck to ‘get my gloves.'”
“Bryan said, ‘Caroline come here.’ I impatiently said, ‘whaaat?’ He pulls me close and said ‘I love you.’ I said, ‘I know! Let’s go!’ and I grab his hand and pull him towards the rows of trees. He swings me back towards him and that’s when I see him lower to one knee. ‘Oh my gosh, it is happening,’ I think to myself,” Caroline says.
“I then called her back to the truck and I just spoke from my heart and told her I love her and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. I got down on one knee and after the tears and excitement settled down she said yes.”
It’s always most interesting to me to find out what a couple most loves and respects about the other. Caroline says, “His heart, he is so patient and kind. His ability to forgive his a great reminder for me. You can tell this just by looking into his blue eyes.”
“Her smile and her devotion to not only her work but her love for the children she teaches,” Bryan says. “She has so much passion that it carries through to my life. I would just be a lump on a log if she didn’t push me to be better and I really respect her for doing that for me.”
It was so quickly evident to me how much Caroline and Bryan love to laugh together and they were so much fun to photograph because they just oozed joy!
My sweet little Perrin,
You’ve been in our arms for five whole months. It seems unreal. The first few months were a blur and now that things are easier, I made the rookie mistake of thinking time would slow down a little bit. (Hint: it doesn’t.)
There are so many things I’m looking forward to with you, but I’m also treasuring the stage that we are right now. You are sweet and full of smiles—they are big, gummy, open-mouth smiles that take up your whole face. You are such a happy little girl, unless you’re tired or hungry. You love observing the action around you, particularly your big brother, and you wiggle yourself around to get the best views.
Speaking of wiggling, you are a professional roller now, but only from back to front. As soon as I lay you down, you pull up your little legs and swing them to the side, rolling herself over using all your momentum. Zip, there you go. Unfortunately, even though you’ve rolled from front to back before, you seem to have forgotten so then you get mad that you’re stuck on your stomach. (Although as I’m writing this, I see you on the monitor rolling everywhere in your crib so maybe you do know how, but you just don’t want us to know? I caught you, girl.)
When you were a baby, you refused your pacifier. You’d spit it out immediately. Over the last couple of months though, you’ve become attached in a big way and there are times during the night when we have to go pop it back into your mouth while you’re half-asleep crying. You immediately go back to sleep and, thankfully, so do we.
I started feeding you some baby food as a trial a couple of weeks ago and you immediately gobbled it down like you were starving (you’re not as clearly evidenced by your adorable chubby thighs). So now I offer it to you once or twice a day (lunch and/or dinner) and you loveto eat. Girl after my own heart you are.
Summer hit hard and we’ve been struggling through high-90s already in May. I’ve been dressing you in as little as possible to try to keep you cool when we are out. But all that also means that pool season is here and you have the darlingest little bathing suit. Given how much you love to splash in the bath, I’m hoping you’ll also love the pool. I’ve yet to manage our maiden voyage with just me, you, and Henry.
We had your baby dedication at church on May 20th. Henry was most excited that he got to be up on the stage. We chose Zephaniah 3:17 for your dedication verse: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with joy. He will calm you in his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” And I pray that’s true for you throughout your life, Perrin. That you know God’s love in such a sweet way, calming and serenading while also strong and mighty. The juxtaposition of all His greatness in every marrow of your bones.
My darling, I’m so proud to be your mama. To show you the world, to guide you into it and through it. It’s such an overwhelming responsibility, but it’s equally an overwhelming joy. I’m so glad you’re mine.
I love you.
(You are sending me so many messages right here, but mostly, “Mom, make him stop.”)
Loves: your play mat, music & singing, being held upright, sitting in your bumbo, eating food, having people talk to you, cooing, your pacifier
Wears: 3-6m in clothes, size 2 diapers (size 3 overnight)
Sleeps: 8PM-8AM + 3 naps a day (two long ones and one shorter one in the late afternoon)
It was the most glorious day for their wedding. The sun was bright and the air was crisp without being cold. Lindsay and her ladies were getting hair and makeup done in the bridal suite at Bella Sala, while the guys relaxed in the reception hall. The waterfall outside splashed water down over the rocks, gurgling along the tiny little stream. At long last, it was their wedding day! And it was perfect.
Gideon surprised Lindsay with his proposal right before their one year anniversary in 2016. “We planned a trip to Des Moines the weekend before our anniversary to celebrate. We made reservations at a fancy Italian restaurant and before that, Gideon wanted to show me Gray’s Lake. He wouldn’t tell me where we were going and it made me so frustrated! It was freezing that night and me eyes were watering, my nose was running, and I wondered why in the heck he’d chosen that night of all nights to show me this lake. I was ruining his special plans by complaining. While we were walking, I realized he wasn’t standing next to me anymore. When I turned around, I saw him down on one knee. He asked me to marry him and I didn’t believe him! It felt so surreal! The bitter cold disappeared and all that I saw was him. Nothing else mattered. We kissed and hugged and then he looked at me and said, ‘So is that a yes?’ I then said yes a thousand times. To think I could have ruined such a beautiful night with my bad attitude.”
I asked what their dreams are for the future and Lindsay said, “To always be honest with one another. To always love and care for one another. To enjoy every trip, every milestone together. To have and raise beautiful, healthy, smart children of our own to love for the rest of our lives together.” I love that. I love seeing the special, beautiful bond they share.
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Their first meeting was at The Bluebird Diner back in 2014. They dated for 6 months before she introduced him to her daughter and the connection came easily, mostly because her daughter fell in love with his cat and determined that he was an okay guy because “only good people have pets.”
The part of their story that strikes me the most is the love that grew between Pat and Elise’s daughter: “As Eleanor came over more often [to Pat’s house], she started to get into more stuff. I knew the relationship with Pat was one I wanted to last forever when he researched ways to organize for autism and took pictures of what was in each drawer/pantry in his apartment so she didn’t have to open them all to get what she wanted. Seeing him take as much care as I do to meet my daughter’s needs meant a lot to me.”
Pat and Elise share an easy-going, complimentary love. It is clear to anyone around them that their family, especially Eleanor, is the most important thing to them. They like to laugh and have fun together. Elise described their interests as “I think the big thing is we like to laugh and anything that brings us laughter is something worth doing.” I love that outlook!! They have found their treasure and it has been such an honor to witness it and document it. I asked Elise what she was most looking forward to about the wedding and she summed it up absolutely perfectly: “I look forward to being old and looking through the wedding album and seeing how young we were, how much love we had for each other, and that feeling you get when you realize how much more love you have for your partner now.”
They requested doing a few quick photos at The Bluebird Diner, where they first met and it was absolutely perfect!
After that, we headed straight to Iowa River Power Restaurant, where they would have their ceremony and reception dinner. It was the most perfect, glorious Wednesday afternoon!
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