They first met in Ames while she was attending Iowa State University, though technically, she says, they met in Iowa City a few years prior, but never really talked at that time. He was visiting with mutual friends and they hung out briefly for the two days that he was in town and then continued texting until they went on their first date a few weeks later.

“I wouldn’t say I remember a specific date or time that I knew he was the one,” Anna says. “Over the first year, I could tell our relationship was real and completely different than any other that I had ever been in. After my first year of optometry school (we would have been together around 2 years at that point), I knew that if we could make it through that, we could make it through anything. [That] first year was so trying on our relationship because of my school schedule. We managed to see each other about twice a month and text/FaceTime when we could. He was (is) my biggest cheerleader and continually supported and motivated me throughout my schooling when I doubted myself. I’m sure he repeated the same speech multiple times a week and he did so without complaining. During my first year, we found our relationship getting stronger while most of my friends at school were breaking up with their long-distance significant others. I know many people would not have held on and made long distance work for five years.”


Travis proposed last Christmas Eve. “She was getting close to graduation from optometry school. She was either going to come home to work or do a residency outside the state. I knew I wanted to propose but wasn’t exactly sure when or how. I went to look at rings for fun and little did I know I would spend 3 hours in the store deciding between rings. After picking a ring, I needed to decide how to do it. The first thing I did was ask permission from her parents and brother (they said yes, of course) and then I needed a plan. Annie was coming home 3 days after I bought the ring and I decided I would propose while she was home for the holidays. Her parents and I came up with the idea to ice skate at her family pond/cabin (she had wanted to ice skate together for some time now). I organized a photographer to be there, who was set up in an ice hut on the pond (with a heater). I also informed close family and friends to gather at a local bar to celebrate afterwards. The day came and I was able to convince her to ice skate and that we should try on the pond, and she somehow agreed despite the light sleet. We ice skated for a little bit and then I got on a knee and asked her to marry me. She said yes and we proceeded to have dinner with our families and then celebrate at the bar with everyone.”

We had to reschedule this session once due to nasty weather and, even though it ended up being cold for this too, the sun brought us the most magical light and we found some shelter from the wind. I’m so glad we were able to find some color left in the trees (look at that orange and red!) and this couple brought all the love in the world for me to photograph! I have way too many favorites from this session, but I consider that a wonderful problem to have!


I always ask the couple a few questions before their session, including what they love most about themselves (e.g. eyes, hair, smile) so that I can make sure to highlight that in their images. Travis’ response to that question was simply, “Annie.” But with her eyes, cheekbones, and smile, you can see why he’d say that!


This is my second pregnancy and I have some new things that I am loving this time around. (Here’s what I loved last time. I still advise the TempurPedic, by the way!)

  1. I’m still loving this Mother’s Special Blendoil. I used this during my first pregnancy and it was the first thing I ordered again this time. It claims to help prevent stretch marks and that has been true so far for me, but the real benefit here is that it helps prevent the itchy, tight skin that pregnant women complain about! I use this after every shower or bath. I added 10 drops of Frankincense and 10 drops of Gentle Baby to it as well to help keep my skin healthy as it continues to stretch and expand.
  2. Here’s a roundup of some of my most-used essential oils during pregnancy (I use Young Living oils): Gentle Baby, Frankincense, Lavender, Peppermint, Ginger, Sleepyize, and Lemon. I forgot to add Thieves, but I also use that because no pregnant woman has the time to get sick and if you do get sick, there’s pretty much no medicine you can take while pregnant anyway. So here’s a quick breakdown:
    1. Gentle Baby: this one is probably one of my favorites! It’s super versatile as it’s both a calming oil as well as a healthy skin oil. It helps reduce stress and it’s the most wonderful smell ever (it has Rosewood, Geranium, Palmerosa, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Lemon, Jasmine, Bergamot, and Rose in it sooooooo basically your all-star lineup). It reduces stretch marks and scar tissue and is super soothing for chapped skin. It’s great for babies too (thus the name; it was designed for pregnant mamas and newborns) so it’s a good one to have on hand for after your baby arrives!
    2. Frankincense: supports beautiful, healthy skin so you can just go right ahead and apply a drop to your face after you wash your makeup off. (It also reduces wrinkles and helps prevent stretch marks and fades scars so there you go!) This is one I’m planning to use after labor as well as it is a mood booster and increases focus and concentration.
    3. Lavender: it’s the everything oil, but I love it most for it’s calming scent. Diffuse at night or rub on the bottoms of your feet. Put a drop in your mascara for some lovely lashes. Add a few drops to your unscented body lotion. Drop some in a 1/2 cup of epsom salt for a relaxing bath. Use as a skin moisturizer. Make a linen spray with lavender, witch hazel, and water and your bed will smell like a spa.
    4. Peppermint: this one is generally not advised for use in the third trimester, however, it is powerful during the first 2/3 of your pregnancy, especially for morning sickness! Also great if you get a craving for peppermint brownies.
    5. Ginger: again, morning sickness
    6. Sleepyize: this is in the kid’s essential oil line, and it’s just as great for adults. I diffuse this at night to help get lots of rest (and to help me go back to sleep after I get up to go to the bathroom for the 408th time). (The Tranquil roller is also amazing for sleep!)
    7. Lemon: morning sickness (the fresh citrus is amazing) and it’s also great for later on when acid reflux hits! Just rub a drop on the front of your neck/sternum in the evening. (I also love to add a drop to my water!)
    8. Thieves: build your immunity. There’s no time for getting sick.
    9. DiGize: morning sickness and acid reflux! This one is a game changer when it comes to eating food and not regretting every decision you just made.
  3. Ningxia Red for energy and boosted immunity! Just 1 ounce has the same antioxidant power as 100 oranges, 814 blueberries, 22 medium carrots, 10.85 pounds of spinach, 59 broccoli florets, 73 strawberries, and 93 apples. Drink it plain (I like it cold; not room temperature!) or add it to a smoothie! I prefer the 2-ounce packets because they’re easy to take on the go, but if you’re a pour and drink kind of person, you can grab the bottles of this magic juice.
  4. This Deep Relief roller is so great for those achy muscles. I have worked out during both of my pregnancies so there’s been a lot of general exercise aches as well as growing aches (evenings seem to be the worst). Deep Relief is great for pounding temples as well as any tender tension areas like shoulders, low back, and neck.
  5. I didn’t have a pregnancy pillowduring my first pregnancy and I didn’t really need one until I hit about 30 weeks in my second pregnancy. And by “need”, I mean “want really, really badly.” If you don’t have one, you can obviously make do with a fort of about 8 pillows around and under you, but a pregnancy pillow just makes sleep life so much easier. I especially like to have some pillow support under my belly and between my knees.
  6. Longline, basic tank tops are so great in normal life and I’ve been using these from H&M for my whole pregnancy (they’re not maternity, but they are stretchy!). They are slender enough to easily wear under sweaters or as layering pieces and are also perfect for bedtime!
  7. Super B vitamins are a life saver! My doctor recommend vitamin B6 to help with nausea and then I started taking Super B. Folate is essential for the healthy development of the fetus, especially in early pregnancy and Super B contains Orgen-FA, which is a naturally derived source of folate from lemon peels, plus all 7 other essential B vitamins! I take it in the morning because it gives me a huge energy boost (which is especially helpful since I ditched caffeine) and if you need another boost, take a second one at lunch.
  8. AlkaLime is formulated to neutralize acidity and maintain desirable pH levels in the body so, you know,  bye-bye reflux.
  9. Gin-Ginswere a lifesaver during the first trimester and I bought them in bulk so I still have plenty left for car rides.
  10. Find yourself the most comfortable maternity leggings and wear them every day of your pregnancy. My favorite are these Isabel Maternity ones from Target. They are just thick enough that you can’t see through them, but are not too thick that they’re hot. They also have just enough spandex in them that it’s easy to brush off crumbs and other things that you will inevitably spill on yourself.
  11. As you can tell, I’m all about basics this time around. I’m already a mom so my priority for clothing has been minimalistic, affordable, and comfortable. I’m on the floor playing, I’m cleaning up potty accidents, I’m cooking meals…I need an easy wardrobe. I grabbed this white maternity tee on clearance at Target when I first found out I was pregnant and actually hated it at first because it seemed too long. It wasn’t until I got bigger that it fit exactly how it should and now I wear it several times a week; as often as I can throw it in the laundry! Since I alternate between being cold and hot all the time (hello, third trimester!), I often wear this with my leggings and layer a cardigan over it.
  12. Progessence Plus serum helped me a lot with nausea. I put a roller on the top of the bottle and did a swipe on the back of my neck every morning during that first trimester.
  13. Pregnancy is not the time for buying a ton of new bras. You change sizes quickly and you’ll probably change a few more sizes up or down before it’s all over (and afterwards!!). But if there’s one thing I can recommend, it’s finding a really comfortable bra (no underwire!! It’ll hurt so bad once your belly is big enough to press up against your boobs!). I adore these from True & Co and bought several because I wear them every day. They have them in regular sizes and also in larger sizes for those of us who got more than we bargained for. The wide straps help distribute weight so there’s less back and shoulder pain and it’s an easy pullover design with no weird bulges.
  14. I just recently got Claraderm. It soothes dry and itchy skin and is great to massage onto pre- and post-pregnancy bellies. And in other news, it’s great for promoting healing to stressed skin before and after childbirth.



They first met while serving in the Iowa Army National Guard. She recalls him coming in for a site visit with the chaplain and she greeted them and escorted them to the individual they were meeting with. “We had very short interactions with each other when we were both serving,” she says. Five years later, they had their first date. “I invited him to wake up early and come with us [to the Cedar Rapids Farmer’s Market], but then he ended up staying all day and I made dinner for the two of us. I felt warm and comfortable with him. He was easy and fun to talk with,” Elizabeth remembers. Seth adds that he “felt like I wanted to spend more time with her.”

They both knew early on that their relationship was the real deal. They wanted the same things and had the same values. They discussed a lot of that early during their first date and they knew they wanted to enter into a relationship with the goal of marriage.

He proposed earlier this year when they were in New York. “It was our last day,” she says. “We were packing up to go home. I was trying to make some room in our suitcases to take everything home and started unpacking his suitcase to fill with some of the items we had purchased. He quickly came over to assist me and removed the ring.” In a simple romantic gesture, Seth says, “She was digging through my luggage and found the ring. I asked her if she wanted it.”

Though neither of them are morning people, they agreed to a morning session since we had limited time to get it in while the leaves were still on the trees. Unfortunately, though we did get some beautiful sunlight that morning, it was incredibly windy and so, so, so cold outside! I’d definitely rank it as one of the top 3 coldest sessions I’ve ever done, including that blizzard wedding last December! Thankfully, they trusted me and we moved quickly and I just love how these images turned out! I’m so excited to join them and their two daughters this next spring as they get married under the [hopefully warmer] treescape out at Rapid Creek Cidery.





It’s always an honor to have one of my couples’ weddings featured on any blog, and I was particularly excited about this feature as it’s long been on my wish list to have a wedding on The Black Tie Bride! Alexa and Michael’s wedding was so much fun to photograph! It’s every photographer’s dream to have plenty of details to shoot and to have a relaxed, sweet couple to work with. Alexa and Michael fit that dream to a tee. Alexa actually requested we cut out some other photos that day to make extra time for just her and Michael’s photos and we were able to create so many portraits during that time!

We drove nearby to a beautiful timber area that looks like it’s straight out of the movies and then met back with the bridal party at a local park for the rest of the photos. But aside from all that natural beauty, the real stunner came at the reception when Alexa’s parents completely rehauled the look of her dad’s shop to turn it into the most elegant reception space she could’ve ever dreamed of.

Back in early 2013, Kaitlin rode with a friend to game night. Parking was challenging so her friend picked her up as well as another friend, Alec. “Alec and I bonded over our nerdy love of cardiovascular physiology while drinking our mutual favorite beer that night. I knew he was something special when he was leaving to catch the bus, but ran back to the doorway where I was waiting for my ride and told me that he hoped that wouldn’t be the last time we hung out.”

Their first date ended up being a casual “sweatpants” date since Kaitlin got a cold and didn’t feel good. “When I told Alec, he didn’t cancel plans, but instead offered to come sit around in sweatpants with me,” Kaitlin says. Alec adds, “I showed up wearing a red onesie, which her roommates found strange and Kaitlin found peculiar. I remember talking with her for hours while sitting on her couch. I was so relieved and thankful that conversation came so early and that–at least outwardly–found my words to be interesting.”

Kaitlin doesn’t recall a specific moment that she knew Alec was the one, but she does say, “Alec and I both value our families a ton and love spending time at each others’ homes. As the first year of our relationship progressed, I found myself feeling like a part of his family and I saw my family taking him in as well. In particular, watching him good around with my nieces and nephews made me heart melt. We both just settled into each other’s lives like we had been there all along.” Alec echoes this sentiment, saying that he knew when he had unsolicited approval from him mom.


The weather had been so finicky the weekend of their engagement session, but thankfully, we got slightly milder temperatures and no rain and wind for their session! I was especially thankful since Alec was in town and we had limited time to meet up before he had to return to med school. We met up at the Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge, which boasted a lot of leaves still clinging to the trees (yay!).

When it came to proposing, Alec went back to the place where they first met: outside her old apartment right before getting into their friend’s car. “We were planning on going for a walk in the old neighborhood (which is actually something I had suggested we do that day). We parked outside the apartment and I started walking. Alec told me to wait because there was something messed up with his sandal. (His sandals are always giving him blisters so I was getting annoyed that he chose to wear them again.) As I approached him, already down on his knee “fixing his shoes”, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring box. Anyone who knows Alec knows that he loves pranks and jokes so I honestly didn’t believe that it was true. But then he started saying some sweet words about bringing me back to the place where we first met four and a half years ago and I realized that was the real deal. I was in complete disbelief and honestly can’t remember what else he said. I just knew I said yes.”

I love how he makes her smile.

They are currently separated by 4+ hours due to residency and med school, but I’m so excited to see them back in the same city again soon! They are both compassionate people with big dreams and lots of humor infused into their relationship. Seeing them together is a joy and I know that together, they will accomplish so much.

Their first date was at Olive Garden because she loves Italian food, but they had originally met at work. “They sat her next to me three years ago. At that point, I didn’t know I met my future wife,” Fernando says. He says he knew she was the one when she met his family for the first time. “Even though there was a language barrier, she blended in perfectly. And, of course, my mom loves her so, yeah, she passed the mom test.”

When it came to proposing, there was a bit of lying and heartbreak involved, but only with the best intentions of a true surprise. Terra says it was worth it in the end! Fernando says he “wings” everything, so the proposal was “a tactical, well thought-out plan. Not really.”

“We had gone to Greenberg’s just so he could get an idea of what I liked in a ring,” Terra starts. “We found one that I was in love with so they sent it to get cleaned and Fernando said I was no longer able to be involved so that he could surprise me. The jeweler had said it should be ready to be picked up on a Friday and when that day came, Fernando went on his lunch break to pick it up.”

“This was pretty much one of the biggest ‘wing it’ I had ever done. I had been thinking of proposing for some time. So when we found the perfect ring, we decided to buy it,” Fernando says. “The element of surprise was out the door so I had to come up with another plan. We sent the ring to get cleaned and polished (to stall for time). It was suppose to take a week so Terra had an idea when it would be ready to get picked up.

“On Friday, while we were at work, I received a call from the jewelry store to pick up the ring because it came back and was ready. I made an excuse that I was going to pick up some lunch and come back right away. I asked Terra what she wanted and she just wanted something to drink. I went straight to the store to pick up the ring and it was perfect. By this time, I have been gone for 20 minutes. Terra called me, worried, of course, because the restaurant is 5 minutes away from work, and when I answered I told her that I was a the jewelry store. It just slipped out. Then she asked if there was problem. I told her yes because they called and said it would take another 2 weeks because they failed to do their job (of course, it was a lie). I told her that I was made and told them if they don’t have it back within a week they should keep the ring and process a refund.


“Of course, this crushed her, but it was a necessary evil. They gave me the ring and I was already freaking out so I drove home to hide it. At this time, I was speeding just to get back to work as we’re only given a 30 minute lunch break and by now I have been gone for 45 minutes. I was about to pull up in the parking lot of our work when I realized I had forgotten her drink that she wanted. So I turned around to get her drink (you know since I already crushed her soul by telling her that she might not get her dream ring because the ‘didn’t do their job’). I made it through the day.

“That night I realized that I had given myself a one-week time frame to propose because I told her that if her ring was not back in one week that we will get a refund. I didn’t slept that night. My mentality was ‘how can it make her dress up without her having any suspicions?’ Then around 4 AM, I remembered the Sunday brunch at Iowa River Power restaurant. Then I remembered the pedestrian bridge and thought of proposing on the bridge.

“That Saturday we had our first snow. I realized if the snow stays until Sunday, it would be perfect. Everything was clicking into place. I invited her to get dressed up to go have a nice brunch. She agreed because she loves that place. I invited my two brother because I wanted them to be a part of it, but the main reason was to have someone to take pictures without being too obvious. Sunday came and I was freaking out. No one knew the plan, not even my brothers. We arrived at the restaurant and I asked her if we can take pictures on the bridge, because the snow had stuck and it looked awesome. She agreed and I told my brother to take pictures of us. As he was taking pictures, I was talking to Terra about how perfect the place looked. The I dropped ‘if i would have proposed, this would have been a perfect spot.’ She then told me stop telling her that and not to spoil it. But I kept going, ‘I would tell you how beautiful you look and that you made me so happy all these years. I would get on one knee like this’ as I was going to one knee. By then she was losing it. I took out the ring and I took her hand, then she started crying (a crazy amount). I asked her if she would marry me and she said yes. It was awesome and my brother was taking pictures to document the entire thing.”

Terra is a planner and Fernando is not so when he concludes that the moral of the proposal story is to never plan, just wing it, she rolls her eyes and says that’s not a good motto, even though it did work out for him that time. It only seemed fitting that we take their engagement photos back on the bridge where he proposed.

Iowa_River_Power_Bridge_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0466.jpgThe dam is loud and there was no way I could give them posing instructions from so far away so I decided we’d have to use our phones, something I’ve never done before, but it worked! I called Fernando’s phone and we put both of them on speaker so that I could tell them what to do from half a bridge away.

Terrraaaaaaa!!!!! You gorgeous girl!!!

The way they look at each other is magical.