The weekend before and the weekend after were both filled with rain, down-pouring rain. Planning an outdoor wedding in April takes the same sort of courage that it takes of winter brides hoping to escape snow storms. My husband and I got married in April and we had the most beautiful weather on our wedding day and then barely made it out of Iowa for our honeymoon due to snowstorms. So, you know, Iowa weather is fickle, especially in the spring. But Shanna & John had the most wonderful sunshine beaming at them the morning of their wedding and we all breathed a sigh of relief that rain plans could be forgotten.

Shanna & John had a short-term wedding planning season (only 12 weeks!), but Shanna was the most hands-off bride I’ve ever seen, and I say that with the utmost delight! When they decided to forego a courthouse wedding she had wanted, they knew they wanted their wedding to take place soon due to some family health issues so they let their very best friends and family surprise them by planning this wedding for them.

Shanna enlisted Brenda (Town or Country Event Design & Coordination) to plan the wedding. “I trust you, just do what you do and surprise me!” she told her. Brenda immediately got me on board and went to work with Zephyr Weddings to get all the paper details and designs nailed down. They designed the stunning wreath logo that became a main theme in the wedding decor and got everything set up from invitations and placemats to programs and seating charts. It was such a collaborative effort and I was so honored to be part of it.

Shanna & John were the first wedding this year to happen at the brand new Rapid Creek Cidery venue at the stunning Wilson’s Orchard in Iowa City. Not only was the staff there so accommodating and kind, but the food was equally amazing! I’m so excited to return several more times this year for more wedding fun!

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Anyone who has gone bridal dress shopping knows that there’s no such thing as a “short-order wedding gown.” Most gowns, after being ordered, take 12 weeks to get in before any final alterations have been made. Brenda had nothing but great things to say about Hope’s Bridal, who pulled an array of dresses together in Shanna’s size that could be purchased off the rack, same day. This stunning gown was perfect for Shanna; it fit her like a dream and had the perfect amount of beading and soft draping overlay.

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The jewelry bar was a really fun idea! In the bridal suite, there was a bunch of jewelry that the bridesmaids could pick from. This is like dress-up except for adults. And with better jewels. 😉
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John & his daughter, Kamryn, shared a special first look before John saw Shanna. Kamryn also served as their flower girl and the cutest, most eloquent reader for their ceremony.
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Despite the sunny day, there were still patches of mud from the week leading up to the wedding so we kept their first look simple and in the reception space. This photo also shows you a preview of their stunning tablescape.
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Shanna’s dad passed away several years ago so she had her brothers walk her down the aisle.
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After the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktail hour. Since we had done all of the formal photos beforehand, Shanna & John were able to mingle with their guests and relax! That’s one of the huge, most unknown perks of a first look + photos before the ceremony.
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And when the couple was done with dinner, while guests were still eating, we snuck them outside for some evening photos. These are always, always my favorite photos of the day and this is no exception here.
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Back inside, we enjoyed the rest of the evening toasting and dancing and celebrating. Celebrating their marriage, first of all, but also the enormous feat of teamwork it took for so many vendors and family members to pull off this event in less than 3 months. It was perfect in every way and it was more than Shanna could have ever dreamed. I know that because she said so. If there’s ever a case for hiring people you trust and letting them do what they do best, this is it right here. Cheers to the perfect beginning of your lives together as husband and wife, Shanna & John.
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Wedding Coordinator: Town or Country Event Design & Coordination

Florals: Bobbie Peiffer

Cake Artist: Brenda Miller

Venue & Catering: Rapid Creek Cidery

DJ: K-Jo DJ Service

Makeup: Michaela Kiefer

Hair: Lissa J’s Salon & Shear Image

Paper Suite: Zephyr Weddings

Bridal Gown: Hope’s Bridal

Maids’ Gowns: Bill Levkoff & Vera Wang

Suits: Skeffington’s Formalwear

Rings: Phillip’s Diamond Shop

Their wedding day was the absolute perfection of Iowa fall. It was crisp and cool, without being cold. You could hear the rustle of the tall grasses, the crunch of leaves, and smell that slightly smoky fall air that hints of burning leaves mixed with cool air. And even though it’s April now and the trees are boasting their unending seasonal circle of life and giving us fresh blooms, I love looking back at Jenna & Andrew’s wedding and reliving the joy of their day.

On that note, I’m so pleased that their wedding is being featured on Blushing Bells Iowa today! Head on over and check it out!

Rose & Paul just got married 2 weeks ago in a stunning wedding clouded with rain. I’m so excited that they were now husband and wife; they are the sweetest couple who cares not only for each other, but genuinely cares about and takes care of people around them. They are such a perfect match and I’m so excited to see their marriage flourish. Back as they were planning their wedding, we got together while Paul was back in town one weekend for their engagement session. Today that beautiful session in the gorgeous Midwestern fall season is being featured at Blushing Bells Iowa!

They first met in June of 2015. It was a few weeks into their summer-long mission trip in South Carolina. One Sunday afternoon, they ran into each other and started talking. “After our first conversation, [he] definitely caught me eye and I knew there was something special about him,” Kristen says.

At the end of the summer, they went back to their homes; he to Minnesota and her to Iowa. Towards the end of September, he came down to visit her for the first time. “We hadn’t seen each other for over a month since the mission trip had ended. We had just been talking on the phone and FaceTiming so I was pretty nervous. When he got here, he got out of his car and gave me flowers and had this sweet video he had made for me right before he had left South Carolina the month before,” she says. Chad adds, “I asked her to be my girlfriend the second I got there.” They spent the rest of the day walking around downtown Iowa City. “I was excited to finally be with her in person and to officially start dating.”

Chad moved to Iowa to be closer to Kristen last summer. “I knew Chad was special since the day I met him. But it wasn’t until this past summer that I for sure knew he was the one. He had just moved down to Iowa City and while the transition was a little shaky of being in the same place for the first time, there were just some moments that I was like, ‘Wow, he came all the way here just for me and I can’t imagine life without him.’ He is so selfless and caring and while I can’t pick out one definite moment of when I knew, it just kind of happened.”

Chad had known for a long time, perhaps giving him more reason to uproot his life and move to Iowa. “On my birthday about half a month [after meeting her], I wrote her a note about how I felt and that I knew she was the one.” He gave that note to her the day he proposed.

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The proposal itself was a complete surprise to Kristen. “Chad and I had planned to spend most of the day together. He knew that it was a weekend where I didn’t have much studying to do so we cleared the schedule to have a nice date day before he started his job as a sheriff deputy. We made brunch together, watched our favorite TV show, and just hung out. We planned to go for a walk and then go out to dinner. I went home to change, and somehow Chad convinced me to wear nice clothes for a walk in the woods (I wanted to wear a tee and shorts) without me being skeptical at all. He picked me up and we went to the Coralville Lake. We were walking and reminiscing about when we first met in South Carolina when Chad asked to go off the trail so we could take a picture together. He always wants to take pictures and selfies together so his request for a photo wasn’t unusual, but being the rule-follower that I am, I didn’t want to go off the trail. Nevertheless, he finally convinced me and when we got off the trail a little ways, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was so incredibly surprised–freaking out about how it was even possible because in the days & weeks leading up to it, he had intentionally thrown me for a loop so that I would be surprised.”

Chad fills in a little of the backstory, “We had planned to get engaged in summer 2017, even though I wanted it to be sooner. One day she told me she was ready to be engaged and in two weeks I had to plan everything. I had to figure out how to use Pinterest to figure out her dream ring, find a photographer [to photograph the proposal], and talk to her dad. I did it all in that timeframe and told her that I wanted to go for a walk before dinner. I brought her to the lake and pulled her off the trail saying we were going to take a picture. I then said I wanted to make her bucket list come true (she had told me the first time we hung out on the mission trip that her bucket list was to get married and have kids) and I got down on one knee and proposed.”

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Kristen & Chad are two of the sweetest, kindest souls. It is clear that Chad adores Kristen and that she flourishes in that love. To witness the two of them together is to see pure, gentle love. I have loved getting to know them and am so excited to celebrate with them this summer at the start of their marriage.
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It rained all day, little water droplets clinging to the windows, gray covering the entire sky. But the weather didn’t stand a chance at bringing down Rose or Paul or any of their guests. The day was a celebration, a joining of two people as one new family and it was filled with such joy and happiness.

Rose, her bridesmaids, and her and Paul’s mothers were all in the hotel suite. Rose sat on the floor by the couch, using the coffee table to finish handwriting her vows for the ceremony. People were in and out, questions were asked as final details were put in place, but she sat, pen in hand, copying over her vows from her laptop to a pretty piece of paper.

Rose & Paul had their beautiful ceremony overlooking the Mississippi River at the Grand River Center in Dubuque. The ceremony space itself was floor to ceiling windows and had the most beautiful natural light, especially helpful in the grayness of the day. If we were going to have a rainy wedding day, I was so thankful to have such wonderful windows!

I loved Rose’s unique wedding band! I’ve never seen one like it and I love it!!

Ahhhh, she is the most beautiful bride!!!

During their First Look, Paul & Rose prayed together. I couldn’t hear what he prayed–I didn’t need to–but I loved witnessing the tender moment between them.

They were surrounded by their closest friends, a group of such wonderful human beings. They were gracious, kind, and so wonderfully supportive of Rose & Paul. Before the ceremony, they each took some time to pray over the couple, the ladies over Rose and the guys over Paul. It was so beautiful to see.

In the break during cocktail hour, they changed into traditional Korean wedding clothes. I love that full pink skirt!!!

Rose & Paul, thank you from the bottom of my heart for inviting me into your lives to celebrate and document your engagement and your wedding day. It has been so wonderful getting to know you both and even more wonderful to get to know your families and friends, the people who have made you who you are today. I wish you all the blessings in the world as you begin you marriage.

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Venue: Grand River Center

Videography: Joe Kim

Florals: Every Bloomin’ Thing

Cake Artist: Le Gourmet Bakery

Paper Suite: Minted

Bridal Gown: Brides by Jessa

Maids’ Gowns: Azazie

Menswear: Formally Modern Tuxedo

Musicians: Childhood friends

Emily & Mitchell’s wedding was a beautiful day at Old Brick in Iowa City. They had the most gorgeous color scheme with blush pinks and navy and their ceremony was set up with soft draping and fresh flowers. During cocktail hour outside on the lawn, the entire church was transformed for the reception.

Their wedding is being featured today on Blushing Bells Iowa and it’s making me very excited for spring, green trees, and fresh flowers!

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