PalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0046.jpgHe moved to the U.S. in 2007 and just a few years later, she made a 1-year commitment with her job to transplant to New York. It was there, in the upper corner of the states, that they met at work. He says he knew she was the one because she was always open with him and didn’t hide her feelings. When she introduced him to her parents a few months later, he fell in love with them and, in some ways, the rest is history.

After dating for several years and moving back to Iowa, where Brooke is from, they planned a trip overseas to visit Zhas’ family. Zhas decided they should stop in Europe for a few days before heading into Central Asia so they chose London as their vacation destination & extended layover stop. He took along the engagement ring he had picked out for her and proposed to her at the London Tower Bridge.

I met Brooke & Zhas for their Palisades engagement session and loved seeing their friendship, love, and respect for one another.
PalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0047.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0048.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0049.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0050.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0051.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0052.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0053.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0054.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0055.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0056.jpgPalisadesEngagement_EmilyCrall_BZ_0057.jpgBrooke’s mother passed away several years ago and gave her wedding ring to Brooke. Brooke asked that I photograph it along with her engagement ring.

They met at Augustana College when he was running for student office and asked her to run with him. They lost the race, but won with their friendship. She says they casually dated their junior year, but went their separate ways. During that time, she realized how much she missed him. “We began dating again our senior year and the rest is history. Throughout our 7 years together, there have been so many moments that have made me love him even more and more.”

It was only fitting that they were married in Augustana’s Ascension Chapel with their closest friends and family celebrating with them. Their Davenport Country Club wedding reception was equally beautiful; I always love how the light just pours in the large windows into the reception area there!

DavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0086.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0087.jpgJessica’s gown was so perfect for her and I absolutely adore all the fluffing of the tulle in this shot. There wasn’t a space inside that was perfectly beautiful for photos so she graciously accepted my suggestion of getting dressed outside. The light, the stone, the foliage in the background…it was perfect!
DavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0088.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0089.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0090.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0091.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0092.jpgUm, handsome.
DavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0093.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0094.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0095.jpgI’d love to say that we strolled around Augustana’s campus, but we were actually on an extremely tight timeline so we power walked it, but it was every bit worth it. What a gorgeous place!
DavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0096.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0097.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0098.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0099.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0100.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0101.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0102.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0104.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0105.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0106.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0107.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0108.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0109.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0110.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0111.jpgJessica & Jordan put a lot of thought into their wedding day and incorporated a lot of unique touches (see the drum line when you scroll down), but this had to be one of my favorites. They had an artist come and paint a canvas during the ceremony. He did two; one for each of their parents. I love this unique perspective!!
DavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0112.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0113.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0114.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0115.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0116.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0117.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0118.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0119.jpgAs a surprise for their guests, they had gotten a drum line to come exit them out of the church as a married couple. I’ll admit, it was pretty spectacular and definitely unique!
DavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0120.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0121.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0122.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0123.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0124.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0125.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0126.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0127.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0128.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0129.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0130.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0131.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0132.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0133.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0134.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0135.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0136.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0137.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0138.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0139.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0140.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0141.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0142.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0143.jpgDavenportCountryClubWedding_EmilyCrall_JJ_0144.jpgThe sun sets early in the fall so during cocktail hour, I pulled Jordan & Jessica outside for some quick photos on the golf course.
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Hair: Royal T’s Beauty

Bridal Gown: Gigi’s Closette

Maids’ Gowns: Lela Rose

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Florals: Staacks Florist

Cake Artist & Catering: Davenport Country Club

Band: Orchestra 33 

Invitations & Paper Goods: Watermark Corners

Chair Rentals: I Do Events

Ceremony Venue: Augustana College Ascension Chapel

Reception Venue: Davenport Country Club

KentParkEngagement_EmilyCrall_CC_0002.jpgThey both admit that they have always known they were meant to be together. Christian said, “I think deep down I always knew. When you  meet somebody as young as we were [in high school], you tend to go through growing pains…and we had ours. Through a few break-ups though, I realized I had never been in love or loved anyone like I do Cortney. That never changed.” She added, “I knew when we first started dating in high school for sure! I knew because he was so much more than my boyfriend. Christian was my best friend even before we started dating.”

Their friendship is so evident when I met up with them last week for their Kent Park engagement session. A relationship founded on friendship is so solid it’s hard to miss.

I asked them about their first date and Christian said, “Where does any 16-year-old take somebody? Panchero’s! I picked her up in my sweet station wagon and she was wearing a white skirt, pink top, and pink shoes. The meal was going great until my burrito fell apart and my friends crashed our date. I was just stoked though to be taking her out.”
KentParkEngagement_EmilyCrall_CC_0003.jpgKentParkEngagement_EmilyCrall_CC_0004.jpgKentParkEngagement_EmilyCrall_CC_0005.jpgI’ll never forget the first time I heard about their engagement. It involves a mullet and I’ll just go ahead and let them tell you:

Christian: “We had been to Hand’s to look at rings and fortunately had the same taste. I ordered the ring without letting her know. At the time, I had long hair and wanted to do something fun with it, like a mullet. She had one stipulation about my proposal; I couldn’t have a mullet. So while the ring was being put together, guess what I did? I got a mullet. Imagine her surprise!

Cortney: “I was so mad. He is known for growing out his strawberry blonde mustache to ridiculous lengths, wearing inappropriately short jean shorts, and doing anything to make himself and other laugh. [When he told me he wanted to have a mullet], I told him to do whatever he wanted, but I wouldn’t say yes to a mullet. When I came home from work and he had a mullet, I was so mad. Maybe bummed is a better description because to me that meant we weren’t getting engaged anytime soon. And the mullet stayed…for an entire month.”

Christian: “After a month, I had the ring in my possession and was ready to get rid of the mullet.”

Cortney: “I came home from work and he said he was getting kind of sick of the mullet and asked if I would buzz his head. I, of course, said yes, but told him I thought we should get photos capturing the mullet in appropriate attire–his jorts and a wonderful purple t-shirt with a wolf on the front. He seemed reluctant to my photo shoot idea, which was strange because, again, he normally lives for that kind of stuff! After taking several photos, we went downstairs to the bathroom and I proceeded to joyfully get rid of the mullet. As I was almost finished, I left a rat tail and asked if he wanted to wear that style for a little bit. He said no and, again, I was surprised because he normally would’ve loved that. I finished buzzing his head and he asked me to trim up his neck. He said the trimmer was in the drawer. I opened the drawer and saw the ring box. I think my exact words were, ‘What that?’ I was so shocked! He got on one knee and said he knows that he changes things about himself all the time, but the one thing that has never changed in him is that he has always loved me and would I marry him?”

Christian: “She said yes and I finished my laundry (there was hair everywhere!). What a Tuesday.”

Christian and Cortney navigated several breakups through the years, but I love this: “I kept a ‘Chris box’ for years after high school with photos, notes he wrote me, cards he gave me, even some dried rose petals. I even took it with me to college and brought it back to Iowa City after I graduated. But about a year after college I finally got up the courage to throw it away. We had broken up and gotten back together so many times and I finally said, ‘I need to get rid of this and move on.’ Which clearly I could never really do, but nevertheless, I was convinced I was going to and the first step was to throw the box away. This is probably my biggest regret because I’ll never be able to replace the items in that box. Recently though, Christian’s mom gave us some photos from when we dated in high school (prom photos, birthday pictures, etc.) and they mean so much to me!”

KentParkEngagement_EmilyCrall_CC_0012.jpgWe got the most stunning light for their session and I just love how sun-drenched these photos are!

Wedding Day Timeline Management

Previously on mompreneurship:

For every wedding I photograph, there’s a detailed wedding day timeline that goes along with it. This includes everything from my start time to the addresses for the various locations (getting ready, ceremony, reception) to which family photos the couple has requested to how many are in their bridal party.

This wedding timeline is something the couple and I have agreed upon beforehand and we both have access to it. On the wedding day, I obviously encourage the couple to enjoy and let me handle the timeline and the clock. I keep two physical copies of the timeline with me as well as an online copy in case I need to pull it up on my phone. (Though I prefer not to because seeing a vendor on their phone–whether or not it’s work related (because how would you know?)–is always a bit off-putting.)

You can probably guess why a timeline is so important. Here are just a few reasons:

  1. All family formals/groupings are requested ahead of time and time is allotted based on how many there are. This is really, really important because on the wedding day, it would be nearly impossible for the bride, groom, or parents to have the head space to know which groupings they want. They’d miss some, they’d spend precious time on duplicates, and they’d be stressed. I can’t tell you how many times it’s happened where I’ll photograph the bride & her father, for example, and then 3 minutes later have her ask if I can get a photo of her and her dad together. She has been smiling and wrapping her arms around so many people that she doesn’t even remember what photos have been taken. This is okay. This is why I’m here and why I’m using the timeline to manage the craziness that is portrait time.
  2. Everyone knows ahead of time when they need to be ready and where they need to be. This is especially important for bridal party and family. Since most of my couples have a first look, they are the first to have their photos taken. Then we add the bridal party, then we finish with the family. There’s no need for sweet grandma to be ready for her photo 3 hours before the ceremony when we only need her about 45 minutes before.
  3. It clears up any confusion beforehand and ensures everyone is on the same page. This goes both ways. The couple knows where I’ll be at any given time and I’ll know where they will be. This happens a lot when a bride is getting her makeup done elsewhere, but is meeting me at the church to get into her gown.
  4. It relieves the couple because they are given permission to not be in charge. By me providing them with a detailed timeline, they can say, “Emily’s got this.” If their bridal party has questions, they can show them the timeline (before the wedding day) or send them over to me (on the wedding day).

A timeline is important. Now, how do I manage all the timelines?

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CornellCollegeEngagement_EmilyCrall_0226.jpgAs a freshman in high school, she remembers having a crush on him. He was a senior and she was sure he’d never notice her, but you remember how high school was. Fast forward several years and they are states apart, but both on Facebook one late night. (Facebook: creating marriages since 2010.) The next time he was back in Iowa visiting his family, they reconnected in person and have been together ever since. They’ve moved states away together, then lived states apart, and now are together making their home in Iowa.

I was so excited to meet up with them last weekend in Mt. Vernon (where they grew up) at Cornell College (a stunning, small-town campus) for their engagement session. Try not to smile as you scroll down. They just make me so happy. I am already counting down to their May wedding!

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CelebrationFarmwedding_JB_EmilyCrall_0044.jpgBeth & Jim’s Celebration Farm wedding day was a perfect celebration of their many years together and their perseverance through long-distance and college then grad & med school. They are both brilliant people and yet they have such genuine hearts and a quirky sense of humor that makes them both adorable and also incredibly lovable.

Beth had made sure to have all of her wedding garments hung and ready for me when we got to the farm. The flowers were carefully laid out, her Badgley Mischka heels were resting on the bench in the bridal suite, and her stunning Rivini bridal gown was hanging on the hook, just waiting for her to step into it.
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CelebrationFarmwedding_JB_EmilyCrall_0053.jpgCelebrationFarmwedding_JB_EmilyCrall_0054.jpgCelebrationFarmwedding_JB_EmilyCrall_0055.jpgThis was a moment that I treasure. Beth’s grandmother had passed away before the wedding day arrived, but had made this stunning veil for Beth to wear. Beth was completely dressed and the veil was the last thing before that “ta-da” completed bridal moment. Just prior to putting it on, Beth broke into tears, missing her special grandmother who couldn’t be there in person, but was definitely there in spirit. I love this moment that Beth and her mom shared.

The weather could not have been more perfect; there was a beautiful breeze stirring the leaves on the trees and the sun was dipping over the treeline. The temps hit the high 70s and it smelled of fall.

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During dinner, I had grabbed Beth & Jim for some quick photos outside. It was the most spectacular timing because the sun was just dipping over the horizon, but the last few rays snuck through the trees surrounding the pond.


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Photography: Emily Crall Photography
Makeup: Jade Engler
Hair: Casey Turner
Bridal Gown: Rivini from Bella Bianca
Bridesmaid Gowns: Bill Levkoff from Weddings by Design
Suits: Men’s Wearhouse
Florals: Wolf Floral
Cupcake Artist: Scratch Cupcakery
Catering: Bread Garden Market
DJ, Uplighting, & Photo Booth: Unique Events of Iowa
Ceremony & Reception Venue: The Celebration Farm Amphitheatre and Double Round
Live Music: Jesse Drtina & Emma Drtina
Officiant: Frank Harris