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

They met during the summer at Texas Roadhouse (home of the best rolls & butter ever!). “She trained me, which is probably not something she’ll want to take credit for considering I was easily the worst server of all time,” Griffin said. “After falling out of touch for many years, we reconnected via Facebook with her living in Denver and me in Indiana. Our first date was lunch at Jimmy John’s in Colorado after she picked me up at the airport on my first visit. She’ll probably tell you it was dinner that night, but this is 2016. Lunch counts as a date.”

“He was kind of the ‘one that got away’ in a sense,” Jamey said. “Whenever I looked at my life after a failed relationship and thought ‘who is right for me?’, it was always Griffin that I thought of. We had been really good friends, we could talk about anything, we had a ton in common, and he had always been very protective of me. Even though we had never dated, I always pictured myself with someone like him and I always strived to find someone like him. So once we reconnected, it was just kind of obvious that he was the one.”
Oakdale_Campus_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0202.jpgJamey & Griffin are two sweet souls who have such great respect for each other. They were such a pleasure to get to know and I’m so excited to photograph their wedding this fall. They were back in Iowa over the weekend and we met up at the Oakdale Campus in Coralville for their engagement session. Despite the wind, we were lucky to have a rain-free day.
Oakdale_Campus_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0203.jpgOakdale_Campus_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0209.jpgHe proposed a few months ago when they went to Michigan for the weekend with two other couples who they are close friends with. “By the time we got there, it was well past dark so we decided to just grab some pizza and stay in for the evening. We ended up just sitting around playing games for a bit. Well, we broke out Telestrations, but my friend had let her marker dry out so we played a round or two with great frustration trying to get the markers to work.

“Finally, Griffin said, ‘One more round and I quit.’ So we did one final round and I am horrible at drawing so I chose something easy like ‘parking lot’. My book was passed around and then we it came back, we all took turns going through each book as a group. I held my book up and showed that my word was ‘parking lot’, then my picture of what I thought was a fairly good rendition of a parking lot. I flipped the page and my friend Jimmie had guessed ‘will.’ Confused, I flipped to the next page and rather than a drawing it said, ‘you.’ Next page ‘marry’, next page ‘me’, last page would have been Griffin’s ‘Jamey.’

“He got down on one knee, held out a beautiful ring that he had designed, and said what I’m sure were really nice and meaningful things, but I have no clue what they were after, I’ve thought long and hard about this and it’s clear to me that you are the one for me.’ There was an awkward silence when I totally forgot that I was supposed to answer him and he said, ‘Well?’

“And then I said, ‘Do I have to?’ But what I meant was, ‘Do I have to write out an answer?’ since the markers sucked. He gave me a funny look and said, “Well, I guess not.” I realized then how that had sounded and said, ‘Sure, I guess!’ We still have the book.”

Doesn’t she look just like Pippa Middleton? She said she’s never heard that before and I just can’t understand how I’m the first one to notice this!


On the second day of the Walk Through a Wedding workshop (read about day 1 here), a few of us met out at the lighthouse before the workshop started to get some fresh air and explore a bit. We met at Justin & Mary’s house mid-morning to start the final day of the workshop.

After a morning of classroom time, we headed out for another styled shoot, this time in harsh, overhead sunlight. This is one of the scariest lighting situations that photographers deal with and yet we have no choice week after week at weddings. The entire photography timeline revolves around the ceremony time and we, as photographers, have little say in when photos can take place. Our ideal time of late afternoon with the sun setting doesn’t work on a wedding day. So this was a perfect chance to practice in harsh conditions and figure out how to make it work.


That evening after a late ending to the workshop, we hung out roasting s’mores and laughing at the “oh no that didn’t just happen” stories from our own wedding experiences. We may have thrown in a little YouTube humor as well. 🙂

I got about 3 hours of sleep that night before my alarm went off and I had to drive back to the airport. The workshop itself was absolutely phenomenal and I feel so refreshed and ready to this wedding season. Being away from my boys? The definite downside to traveling.


It was the summer of 2010. They were both camp counselors at an overnight youth camp. “I had gotten there a day early and was sitting in the camp office when I first saw him,” she said. They started dating July 11th. “I consider the day before we started dating as our first real date, even though we didn’t call it that. We had stayed up the entire night before just to prove we could. We ‘stole’ the camp pontoon at 4 AM and rode it out on the lake. That morning we went on a road trip to a Tiger’s game with some other counselors, but we were inseparable. He explained all the different stats and the players to me. We shared an iced lemonade. We sang girly songs the whole way back to camp. … I knew from the beginning that he was a wonderful person, but I’m learning every day that we make each other better people.”

I met up with both of them last week on the front steps of the church they’ll be married in next month. I can’t wait to be visit some of these same spots again on the first day of their marriage.


I asked how Mitchell proposed and he filled me in: “We were staying in a cabin in the mountains of Tennessee. I wanted to get her onto the deck at sunset. We had taken pictures of the place we stayed at in Orlando on a previous vacation so we could show our families. I suggested doing a video tour of our place.”

Emily added in some details. “After hiking all day, we were famished so I suggested we just go somewhere to grab a bite. Mitchell obliged and we stopped at Olive Garden. Then we needed to get groceries for the week. By the time we got home, I was exhausted. Mitchell suggested we take a video of our cabin to send home. I agreed, but when he started to change into a nice shirt, I got suspicious. He videoed me walking around the cabin, showing off the different rooms. We got to the deck at sunset and he put down his phone. He got on one knee and started talking about our future life together and how he loves doing even the simplest of things with me. He asked me to marry him with tears in his eyes (they didn’t fall so it ‘doesn’t count’ as crying). Of course I said yes.”


Uh, gorgeous!! Emily, your smile is magnetic!


This has to be one of my favorites. I just love seeing them laugh together.



Believe it or not, I’ve been putting off this blog post for a few weeks now because I still don’t feel like I have really had the time to sit and wrap my head and heart around all that I learned at Justin & Mary‘s Walk Through a Wedding workshop in April. I already posted about a tiny bit of sight-seeing that I was able to do both at Yale University and at Lighthouse Point Park, but that was literally just minutes in the course of the two days in Connecticut. The bulk of the days were spent in the workshop.

I flew into Connecticut on Tuesday. After picking up my rental car and driving an hour to New Haven, I got settled into my hotel and met my roommate, Morgan. All the workshop attendees were invited to a dinner at Justin & Mary’s home that night. I wish I would’ve taken photos, but I forgot. Their living room was transformed into a beautiful styled tablescape with fresh flowers, place settings, flickering candles, and jazz music playing in the background. We mingled, laughed, and sipped cocktails before sitting down to dinner. Mary said that since we’re all in the wedding industry, we don’t get to be wedding guests; when we’re eating at a wedding, it’s fast and vulture-like (I added that, but it’s true). Tuesday night was our chance to be treated to a full course dinner, the kind that we usually don’t get to partake in. After helping with dishes and rearranging furniture to flip the living room into workshop mode, we all went home for some shut-eye before Wednesday morning arrived.


Day one of the workshop started in session, learning, discussing, and dissecting our “why”. Why do I work weekends away from my child, long hours, physically exhausting work to do this job that I love? We dove into nitty-gritty stuff like goals and “why”s to lighting and posing. We put it into practice and tried it out right there on the spot.



In the late afternoon, we traveled to Bill Miller’s Castle to really work through a wedding day. One of the things I appreciated most about this workshop was that it wasn’t easy. What I mean is that we didn’t have soft, amazing lighting to work with or perfect backdrops at our finger tips. It was real life. This is how a wedding really is. We had to think on the fly and figure it out. It’s easy to take photos in perfect light. But that doesn’t help me learn. The hands-on experience was invaluable.


We finished up the evening at the castle around 9 PM, which was great because my mental capacity had reached its limit about an hour before and I just didn’t know how much more I could take before completely shutting down. #overloadoverload

With day 1 under our belts, we all tried to get some rest before hitting it hard Thursday morning.

I‘m still getting around to putting all my thoughts together from my time at Justin & Mary’s Walk Through a Wedding workshop in Connecticut earlier this month. In the meantime, it’s easier to show you the pretty pictures from the brief moments that weren’t spent in the workshop.

On the first day of the workshop, my roommate, Morgan, and I did a quick walk around Yale before the workshop started. Because both workshop days were really long and went late into the nights, the only other time I had for more exploring was the morning of the second day of the workshop. A few of us decided to go check out Lighthouse Point Park and it was absolutely beautiful! I could get really used to living on the coast…except for those winters.