We arrived at the barn prior to the ladies. Only other fellow vendors were there, finishing up centerpieces, prepping food, and making sure things were set to go. Because we had a quiet start to the day, I had plenty of time to photograph all of Anne’s stunning details, which she had made sure to have all laid out for me in the bridal suite. I love when wedding days start out this like; it’s the perfect calm before the storm, as it were.

Thankfully, there was no storm on Friday as predicted, but the humidity was pretty extreme, fogging over the camera lenses every time we stepped outside. But a little sweat never hurt anyone and so we had fun anyway.

Anne & Jim wanted to get married at The Celebration Farm because they fell in love with the venue. They had their entire wedding there, from getting ready to ceremony to cocktail hour to reception. It made their day stress-free being able to settle in and not have to worry about transportation. When Anne & Jim saw how their reception came together, Anne commented how one could plan and plan, but until it’s all together, it’s hard to imagine exactly how it’s going to look. And it was stunning in every way. Scroll on down to see.
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Anne had her grandparents marriage certificate booklet along; I love when brides include sentimental pieces, especially if they are generational family pieces.
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Anne & Jim shared a first look and we were able to do all of their photos before the ceremony, which meant they could enjoy cocktail hour with their guests and family. The rain kept spitting off and on during photos so we stayed near shelter for the necessary quick dash.
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And they’re married!!!
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They held their cocktail hour in the timber frame barn where guests were treated to hors d’oeuvres and drinks.
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Their reception was held in the double round barn with tables decked in navy linens, stunning florals, and unique vintage plates.
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WE stepped back out for a few minutes during their reception to grab just a few more photos. It was worth every short minute!
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Congratulations, Anne & Jim! It was such an honor to be part of your wedding day and I hope you cherish the memories these photos help provide! Xo.

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Florals: Waterfront Hy-Vee

Cake Artist: Waterfront Hy-Vee

Catering: Waterfront Hy-Vee

DJ: Unique Events of Iowa

Hair & Makeup: Haus of Heir

Paper Suite: Minted

Bridal Gown: Anne Barge from Kleinfeld Bridal NYC

Maids’ Gowns: Bari Jay

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Linens: Celebration Linens

Plates & Chargers: Borrow My Vintage

Harvest Table: Unique Events

Venue: The Celebration Farm

The church was quiet when we entered. A faint bustling could be heard in the adjacent halls, but the sanctuary was peacefully void of noise. The girls were hanging out in a nearby room, their dresses hanging up and their bags spilling over with shoes, accessories, and makeup. There were sandwiches and snacks to munch on and Bridget, the bride, was calm and happy as she waited.

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Bridget & Jason opted for a first look, which meant we could photograph all of the family photos before the ceremony as well. It was a great way to break up the photos (I shot the bridal party afterwards) and maximize the time.
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This shot below left was right after the priest warned Jason that sometime in the future, Bridget WILL become her mother.
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Just down the street from the church was this beautiful brick road, which not only provided a beautiful backdrop, but also some much-needed shade relief from the hot August sun.
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I did not tell them to can-can, they said, “Hey, let’s all stand on one foot.” Okay!
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Bridget & Jason’s reception was held at the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. And while the reception itself was lovely, of course, one of my favorite parts of the night was taking Bridget & Jason out on the golf course for some extra photos.
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Inside, the dance floor stayed hopping and the guests were having a great time.
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Bridget & Jason, thank you so much for allowing me into your lives on the first day of your marriage. What a true honor and I’m just so thrilled to have been able to document your wedding for you. Xo!

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Ceremony Venue: St. James Catholic Church

Reception Venue & Catering: Riverside Casino & Golf Resort

Florals: Wolf Floral

Decor: Dixie Singbeil

Cake Artist: Ann Lewis

DJ: Spike on the Mike

Makeup & Hair: Serenity Salon

Bridal Gown: Hope’s Bridal

Maids’ Gowns: David’s Bridal

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Invitations & Paper Goods: Abby Smith

Musicians: Heather Greiner & Matt Greiner

Carrying on a generational tradition, Caitlin and Brad were wed in the same church–St. Patrick’s Catholic Church–that her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were married. While that alone made their day a special tribute, Caitlin added in some more special details like this Bible that has been carried for generations. In the back of the cover is a list of names and wedding dates and I love that Caitlin & Brad will be added to that list now.

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Caitlin and her maids got ready in the church. There was a beautiful bridal suite for them and Jenn had it filled with food, water, and everything they could possibly need. For me, from a photography standpoint, it had some big windows that let in natural light (as most people know, a really hard accomplishment in old churches!) and I was so glad to have the space to photograph all of Caitlin’s details.

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Caitlin & Brad shared a first look and read letters to each other they had written. While I couldn’t hear what was being read, their smiles said all that I needed to know.
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After the ceremony, we went to The Celebration Farm, where the reception was being held. While guests enjoyed cocktail hour in the Timber Frame barn, I grabbed the bridal party for some photos outside.

It would pay to make note of the weather at this point. We had one of the most humid, suffocatingly hot days of the summer. I have never shot bridal party photos so quickly because I knew everyone was just melting. Yet, surprisingly, just a few hours later when I took Caitlin and Brad back out for some evening photos, the humidity had lifted and suddenly it felt like a different day altogether! The best part of all of this is that everyone came with their A-game and best attitudes and even though we were all sweating buckets, we kept smiling and the photos don’t give away the discomfort at all. Aren’t they just the classiest??
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The reception itself was held in the Double Round barn and the decor was all Caitlin had dreamed of.
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While the guests finished dinner, I took Caitlin & Brad outside for a few more photos. Like I said, the humidity had lifted considerably and, though still a summer evening, it was much more comfortable! Love that we had this chance to slow down and relax a bit.
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While Caitlin was attending the University of Iowa, Brad was a few hours away at Iowa State. The in-state school rivalries are strong and Caitlin’s grandfather built these bean bag toss games for their wedding.
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Wedding Coordinator: Harper Hadley Events

Videography: Nepo Productions

Florals: Hy-Vee Davenport Utica Ridge

Catering & Cake Artist: Hy-Vee Davenport Utica Ridge

DJ & Uplighting: Unique Events

Makeup & Hair: Blaze Salon

Paper Suite: Zephyr Weddings

Bridal Gown: Liancarlo from Maggie Louise Bridal Boutique

Maids’ Gowns: Bella Bridesmaids

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Ceremony Venue: St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

Reception Venue: The Celebration Farm

She grew up in Iowa and they now live in Texas. So the heat of Iowa summers was no surprise to them. The rain circled elsewhere and we were left with bright sun and little breeze. In the late fall and winter, I always cater to the ladies because they are cold. For summer weddings, I cater to the guys (getting their photos done faster) because I know they are hot in their suits. In this particular case, we didn’t have to worry about that during the high noon heat of the day because their early afternoon ceremony was held in her childhood church, the same church she was baptized in, attended youth group in, and the one that she walked into every Sunday morning until she moved away.

Before arriving for the ceremony, I joined the ladies who were getting ready at the Marriott a few miles away. Stephanie is a Type A person much like me so while I was very impressed with her organized bag of items for me to photograph (bless you, Steph!), she was impressed with my detailed timeline. We had a good thing going from the start.

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Because the ladies were all crowded in one room finishing up makeup and hair, Stephanie suggested I go down to her parent’s suit to photograph her dress and she would just join me down there to get into her gown. The unknown bonus to that was seeing her grandma’s gift in the room and borrowing the card to use for this ring shot. It’s not an epic shot by definition, but I loved being able to combine her grandmother’s handwriting into the wedding day.
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There is this thing called “the window effect”. If I can get just 5 minutes with the bride near a large window, I can get bridal shots like this that I hope her grandchildren will treasure just as much as she does.
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After the ceremony, we went to the Brown Deer Golf Club for the reception. I gathered their beautiful bridal party together as well and look at how cool and classy they look!
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We had some lovely evening light so we grabbed a couple of golf carts and headed out onto the course for a few extra photos. I just adore these so much!
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Congratulations, Stephanie & Sam! You guys are a joy to be around and I’m so glad I was able to be part of your wedding day!

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Florals: Every Bloomin’ Thing

Cake Artist: Tip Top Cakes

Catering: Marriott Hotel

DJ: Unique Events of Iowa

Makeup & Hair: Eden Salon

Paper Suite: Zephyr Weddings

Bridal Gown: Justin Alexander from A Storybook Ending

Maids’ Gowns: Bill Levkoff from A Storybook Ending

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Ceremony Venue: St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Reception Venue: Brown Deer Golf Club

After getting settled in, water sliding, eating really gross smoothies, and zip lining (all in part one here), we were ready to go hiking on Saturday! Carla volunteered to stay at the house with the toddlers (Henry & Winston) while they napped so the remaining crew headed over to Old Man’s Cave. It was absolutely beautiful there with little creeks, a waterfall, and lots of foliage and rock formations.

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Back at the house, Winston napped like a champion and my typically great napper Henry woke up about 10 minutes after we left to go hiking. (Sorry Carla!) There was a stroller-friendly hike at Ash Cave so we went back to get Henry, Carla, and Winston and head back out for a quick, easy hike before dinner. Sadly, I left my camera at the house for that one, but really could’ve used it because there was a small wedding going on in the cave and there was no photographer. Had I had my camera, I would’ve taken some photos for them!
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After dinner Saturday, we headed outside for some much-needed updated family photos. Megan took the reins on it since she’s much more skilled with family photos, but I kept my camera handy so we could swap off. You know what’s really awesome about our family gatherings? Having two professional photographers on hand. I’m embarrassed to say our standard for vacation snapshots has gone way up.
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That evening, we started a campfire and pulled out the necessary ingredients for s’mores. I should mention that we had the most wonderfully perfect weather while we were there. It was warm (but not as hot as expected), but the nights were cool and I was glad to have thrown in a long-sleeved shirt.

As I mentioned before, the next-door property was a wild life hunting preserve. There were plenty of natural wildlife roaming around our house (non-threatening animals like deer, frogs, lizards, etc.), but beyond the fence were wild boars among other scarier animals.

So as the evening turned to night and the conversations turned to scarier stories (why do we tell scary stories at night outside??), we started getting really jumpy. At one point a mouse ran across the brick and we all screeched. But it was nothing compared to when a cat jumped out of the bushes nearby (with those beady eyes!) and sent us scattering. It was midnight by then so bedtime was looming anyway, but that cat did it for sure. (My younger brothers had also gone to bed by that point and we were leery they had ulterior motives to sneak back out to scare us.)
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Vacation ended Sunday afternoon. We spent the morning slowly packing up, having a short devotional, and then playing games in the rec room. Henry went down for a nap and we waited to leave until afterwards. He had done really well in the car on the way out (albeit with an iPad in hand and Super Simple Songs on repeat) so we were hopeful for a successful trip back home as well.

We stopped for dinner about 2 hours into the trip, then he fell asleep around 8:30 that evening. Our plan was that if he fell asleep, we’d try driving the whole way back home (instead of grabbing a hotel room). Kevin blazed the trail (bless him and his driving skills) and we made it home around 11:45 Sunday night. I carried Henry in and laid him in his crib and the kid sprawled out with all the love of finally being in his own bed again.

The vacation I had anticipated for so long is over, but I’m truly so grateful for the wonderful memories with my family. I just wish we didn’t live so far apart.

My parents are celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary this fall. For over 5 years, they’ve been talking about doing a family vacation. We didn’t plan it soon enough for their 40th and it kept falling through the cracks with both my sister’s (also a photographer) and my wedding schedules and everyone else’s work. There are 22 of us total with 10 of those being kids so you can imagine how hard it is to coordinate 12 adult work calendars. Finally, over a year ago, we nailed down a date so we could all block our calendars. Since then, I’ve been looking forward to spending a long weekend with everyone.

My parents rented a huge house called Tanglewood Manor near Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. The house itself was out in the middle of nowhere with no cell service at all. (Our phones actually read “no service” up in the left corner where the bars usually are.) The house was equipped with wi-fi so we could have some access to the outside world, but the only way to call in case of an emergency was on the house phone in the living room. (Which was a little iffy since the next-door property was a wild life hunting preserve; we saw them haul in a wild bore at one point!) There were plenty of rooms (the house can sleep 40 people!), nearly all with private bathrooms, so we were able to spread out. It also came with 2 dining rooms (one for the kids; one for the adults), a large kitchen that was stocked with everything you could need (pots, pans, mixer, paper towels, etc.) besides food itself, a recreation room, laundry room, and a large living room.

To make the meals easy, we split up into families. The Sarvers had dinner Thursday night, Jordan & Payton (with help from mom) had brunch Friday, we had dinner Friday night, the Whipples took Saturday brunch, and the Millers took Saturday dinner. Snacks and Sunday breakfast & lunch were all leftovers and miscellaneous foods we brought along for sharing.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and spent some time unpacking and checking out the house. While everyone was spread out inside, there was also a lot of outdoor play area. There was a large cement pad with basketball hoops and a volleyball net as well as a 60′ slide in the side of the hill and a swing set. Henry’s gold mine was the huge shed nearby that housed all kinds of kid’s toys including his favorite Cozy Coupe car.

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While the kids got out the ride-on toys, the boys immediately picked up game of basketball (where they conveniently lowered the hoop for dunking purposes).
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After dinner that night, we got out the garden hose and turned the slide into a water slide.
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After the babies & littles were cleaned up and in bed, we played a disgusting Fear Factor-esque food challenge. Foods were color coded–sour cream, marshmallows, ice cream were white while peanut butter, prune juice, and chocolate syrup were brown, for example–and corresponded with colored paper in a draw bowl. We were split into 3 teams and one person from each team would draw a paper and the corresponding food item of that color that was next up in line would land in a blender. Some notable combinations were black beans+prune juice+sour cream, Ranch dress+mayo+beets, refried beans+avocado+corn chips, and ice cream+milk+green beans. (You cannot understand the level of disgusting.) The three people (one from each team) that drew the colors had to drink the combination and the first person to get it all down got a point for their team.
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On Friday after brunch, we headed over to Hocking Hills Canopy Tours to go zip lining. It was the first time most of us had ever tried it so there were some mixed feelings and nerves. I figured if I could repel down a building in Chicago, I could go zip lining. And, it turns out, it’s not scary at all. It was more awe-striking than breathtaking. It was absolutely beautiful out there and wasn’t nearly as much of an adrenaline rush as I had thought it might be.

There were several different courses, including a kids one that Kylie and Gavin did. The rest of us did the x-tour, which took almost 3 hours from start to finish. A few of us had GoPros with us to capture some video; the rest of these photos were taken by my sister Megan (we were split into two groups and she was in the next group that started half an hour later).
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Friday evening we were all exhausted and spent some more time outside before hitting the showers and then sprawling out in the living room until midnight reminiscing old memories and hearing even older one from Mom & Dad.

I’ll be back soon with part two of the vacation, which includes hiking and roasting s’mores and being scared out of our minds in the dark.

Note: my sister, Megan, and I took a lot of photos and pooled them together. This blog shows a lot of my photos, but some of hers as well.

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