Just two days before their first anniversary, Melanie & Dan got to relive their wedding all over again with a beautiful feature on Corridor Wedding Guide. Their wedding was visually beautiful, but also a beautiful culmination of their upbringings, a blending of a tradition Hindu ceremony with a traditional Christian ceremony. This couple was and has continued to be so sweet and kind and it was such a honor to document their wedding.

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For August, the weather on their wedding day was surprisingly cool. I mean, it was still warm, but August is typically the hottest month of the year in Iowa and this year has been strangely cool in comparison. Kristen and the ladies were on the second floor in the church, in a room filled with cozy chairs, music playing through someone’s iPhone, and windows that looked out over the street below, filled with people enjoying Saturday’s nearby farmer’s market. Veritas Church in Cedar Rapids is very industrial and it made me so excited because I’ve been longing for a modern-industrial wedding location for years.

Chad & Kristen met in 2015 on a mission trip in South Carolina. At the end of the summer, they went their ways, her back to school at Iowa and he back to Minnesota, but it didn’t take long for him to make a trip to Iowa to see her. “We hadn’t seen each other for over a month since the mission trip had ended,” she said. “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.” Chad added, “I asked her to be my girlfriend the second I got there.”

They dated long distance the remainder of that school year and then last summer, he moved to Iowa City to be closer to her. “I knew Chad was special since the day I met him. But it wasn’t until [last] 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.

And their wedding day was filled with all the anticipation and joy of two people finally starting their lives together as husband and wife. Their ceremony was filled with their love for Jesus and their respect for each other. It was a beautiful start to their marriage and it was an honor to not only witness it, but document it for them.

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The commentary provided by Kristen’s sweet grandma’s was so fun to listen to as they reminisced about their own wedding days and the difference between then and now.
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The back of Kristen’s gown was so stunning and the dress fit her so perfectly!
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We went to a nearby park for photos and this was the first time that day Kristen and Chad saw each other. Their first look was so sweet and filled with the most tender, genuine moments.
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After their wedding at Veritas Church, we drove to the Celebration Farm for their reception.
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Kristen & Chad, I wish you all the blessings in the world as you begin your marriage. The wedding day was just the beginning–and what a beginning it was–and it only gets more wonderful and more meaningful from there.

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Florals: E’s Florals

Cupcakes: Scratch Cupcakery

Catering: Dostal Catering

DJ: Twisted Mics Music Entertainment

Makeup & Hair: Salon Voche 

Paper Suite: Wedding Paper Divas

Bridal Gown: Stella York from Bucci’s Bridal

Maids’ Gowns: David’s Bridal

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Ceremony Venue: Veritas Church

Reception Venue: The Celebration Farm, Timber Frame

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The thing about yogurt is that it always sounded really intimidating. Like, one must really know what they’re doing if they can make yogurt in their own kitchen. But I tried it last week for the first time and it was surprisingly EASY and, even more surprising, absolutely delicious. So many people have asked for the recipe after I posted about it on Instagram so I thought I’d type it out, simple style, because so many recipes online for yogurt are so overly typed out that it makes it more difficult than it should be.

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon milk (I used plain old store brand 2%)
  • 2 tablespoons starter yogurt (simply put, already-made yogurt; I used Yoplait’s Oui vanilla yogurt, but you can use any kind, just make sure it’s a high-quality yogurt containing milk and live active cultures, nothing more)
  • 1-2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract, optional
  • Sugar, optional

Additional kitchen items to have: 

Directions: 

  1. Pour the cold milk into a cold Instant Pot (IP) bowl and place the lid on the pot.
  2. Press the “yogurt” button on the IP pressure cooker and then the “adjust” button until the display says “boil”. This will take somewhere between 60 to 90 minutes so don’t expect this to be done in 15 minutes. When it’s done, it’ll beep and the display screen will change from “boil” to “yogt”. This process hasn’t been pressurized so you can immediately remove the lid.
  3. Use a whisk to stir the milk (to get an accurate temperature reading and avoid hot spots) and then immediately check the temperature of the milk with a digital thermometer. You want the milk temperature to be at least 180 degrees. (It’ll set up even better if you can get it to 181-185 degrees.) Be patient. You may need to run another boil cycle to get it to 180. (To help it get to temperature on the first try, you can stir it every 30 minutes or so while it’s heating up.)
  4. Take the IP pot out of the cooker and set it on a wire cooling rack (so air can circulate around it) and allow the milk to cool to 110 degrees. This will take roughly 2 hours so feel free to go on with your day in the meantime. When the temperature reaches 110 degrees, you can add your yogurt starter.
  5. Take 1 cup of milk from the IP and pour it into a separate small bowl. Add the yogurt starter and whisk together, mixing well. If you are adding vanilla, now would be the time to do that as well. Pour this mixture back into the pot and stir.
  6. Place the IP pot back into the pressure cooker. Push the “yogurt” button. The display will show “8:00”. This means 8 hours. Do a quick check to make sure the option on the IP for “less, normal, more” displays “normal”. Put the lid back on and let it go to work! (The timer will count up, not down, in the yogurt function so just note that in your brain.)
  7. When the 8 hours is done, you are ready to strain it! I put my nut milk bag inside my strainer inside a bowl in order to keep it lifted out of the liquid (whey) as it strains. (You can save the whey to use in smoothies, salad dressings, etc for added probiotics if you’d like.) A fun fact about yogurt is that unstrained yogurt is just regular yogurt; Greek yogurt is yogurt that has been strained. I love Greek yogurt so I let mine strain for a good 3+ hours! The first time you do it, just strain it until it gets to the consistency that you prefer and then make a note of how long it took so you can just set the timer for next time. It’s fine to leave it on the counter during this time unless it’s really hot in your kitchen. If it’s hot inside, just put it in the fridge instead.
  8. Once it’s strained, just put all that delicious yogurt into a bowl. I like to add a bit of sugar to mine, but used only about 1/2 cup for the whole batch. You can certainly leave the sugar out completely if you’d like. You can just keep it in the bowl in the fridge and dish it out to eat or if you want a quick breakfast/snack, you can separate it out into small glass jars. (I love these jarsand these lids.)

Notes:

  • You can use this yogurt now as your starter for your next batch. The easiest way is to put some in an ice cube tray and freeze it.
  • Some people do this whole process in the evening and let it cook overnight. I found it worked really well for me to do it during the day. I did steps 1-2 at 7 in the morning, steps 3-4 around 8:30 right before we left for the gym, and then by the time we ran some errands and came back home, it was 10:30 and I could go right into steps 5-6. It was ready that night around 6 PM, which meant I could strain it for 3 hours and finish it all out before going to bed that night. Fresh and cold yogurt for breakfast the next morning!

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With all of Rachel & Max’s wedding events happening in downtown Iowa City, we had close proximity (albeit tricky parking!) to all of the locations we needed to be at. We started the day at Hotel Vetro, where Rachel and her girl friends were getting ready (this hotel is the best in the area for natural window light in the rooms!), then went to the Pentacrest for photos, then took a quick walk down the street to the Englert Theatre for their ceremony, and finally circled back to Hotel Vetro for their reception.

Rachel & Max first met in high school when she had decided to take an auto maintenance class. It wasn’t long before they had their first date. Their relationship had its ins and outs during the next several years, as most relationships do. She moved away for undergrad, but she says she knew he was the one when he came all the way from Iowa to Virginia to be at her graduation. People who saw them assumed they had been dating for a while, even though they weren’t even officially dating at that time. She continued to medical school and he visited her there as well, only reinforcing the feelings she already had for him.

They got engaged in early 2016 while on vacation. “Max planned a surprise to Cancun. When we go to this beautiful resort, he planned a romantic dinner on the beach, but it got rained out. This happened 2 other nights as well. Finally, on the last night, the weather was perfect and the dinner went as planned. After we finished dessert and our after-dinner drinks, he asked the waiter if he could take a picture of us. He had me stand up to pose for a photo, then took my hand and dropped to a knee and proposed. The picture shows my genuine surprise. He told me had had had to wait 3 nights to do it and have been so nervous, which is cute because Max isn’t really the type to ever get nervous.”

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They shared their first look over near the Old Capital and we were able to do all of their photos there, with the bridal party joining us a few minutes later!

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It was a quick walk back to the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City for the ceremony. The Englert has such history and it was fun to see a wedding done in there!

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Their reception was held at Hotel Vetro, with the cocktail hour being perfectly situated up on the rooftop terrace.

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It was starting to sprinkle outside so we only managed a few minutes on the rooftop terrace for sunset photos, but I’m so glad we snuck out anyway!
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And then it was back inside for dancing and more dancing!
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Florals: Hy-Vee Coralville

Ceremony Venue: Englert Theatre


Reception Venue & Catering: Hotel Vetro

DJ: Unique Events of Iowa

Makeup: Katlyn Steufen

Hair: Kaylan Tadlock

Paper Suite: Zephyr Weddings

Bridal Gown & Maids’ Gowns: Heart to Heart Bridal

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Leading up to the wedding, we had been having some typically brutal summer heat here in Iowa. But that Saturday, the heat lifted and we were blessed with high-70’s and a little breeze. It was exactly what you’d wish for on a wedding day, especially one in the summertime.

Sally & Erik live in Colorado, but they met at the University of Iowa so it was only perfect that they get married back here where it all started for them. They had mutual friends and had been introduced briefly one time, but they didn’t first actually meet until New Years Eve. Sally says, “I was going to Chicago with some girlfriends to celebrate downtown and heard that some of our friends from college would be joining. My girlfriends and I had booked a room at a hotel for the night and decided everyone in the group would meet there first and then go out to the celebration. I’ll never forget when Erik walked in the door with his friends. I was instantly curious about him and wanted to get to know him more. He was wearing a black suit and looked very handsome.

“After Erik and his friends (some of whom were mutual friends) arrived, we were all reintroduced and decided to head out to the event which was being held downtown. I’ll never forget how cold it was that night! When waiting for a car, Erik offered me his jacket which I was giddy on the inside about. What really stood out to me that night was how polite, kind, and gentle Erik was. He took the time to open doors, listen and ask questions about where I was from, and find out what my interests were.”

At some point during that evening, they strayed from the group to find a quiet corner to talk. Those initial moments gave way to a real relationship, a mutual move to Minnesota (where he proposed), and another move together to Colorado last year. They’ve been planning the wedding long-distance, though Sally had the best help with her family living here in Iowa City and her cousin, Julie, being both her matron of honor and her wedding planner.

Everyone who knows Sally & Erik says they are both so giving, so selfless, and incredibly loyal. The toasts that were given later in the evening included genuine and beautiful stories of how they’ve blessed the lives of those closest to them and it was such a joy to see the start of their marriage, a union of two kind and generous people.

The ladies arrived at the church, hair and makeup done, but in their comfortable street clothes and ready to place a lunch order for delivery. Meanwhile, I grabbed all of Sally’s bridal details to photograph them, along with her stunning Bella Bianca gown.

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Before getting into her gown, Sally read a note that Erik had written to her.
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A quick walk up the street to the Pentacrest was the perfect spot for photos. Sally & Erik shared their first look and then we breezed right into the rest of the photos before the ceremony began.
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He pulled her in and whispered something in her ear and I care about nothing but her amazing reaction to whatever he said.
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I adore this color combination and their bridal party made for the most wonderful photos!
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Sally’s grandfather walked her down the aisle and it was the sweetest moment to start the ceremony.
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After the ceremony, we headed over to the new Hancher Auditorium for their reception. The space is beautiful, a stunning feat of architecture, and it made for the most wonderful views. I will always and always take floor to ceiling windows, white walls, and beautiful architectural lines.
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The reception was held on the second floor, but before guests went up for dinner, they enjoyed cocktail hour down below.
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I pulled them out of the reception for a few minutes to both grab sunset photos as well as some extra photos of them outside of Hancher.
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Sally & Erik, it was an honor to spend your wedding day with you. I hope these images provide you with the most beautiful memories of the happiest day of your lives.

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography
Wedding Coordinator: Tweedt Weddings
Florals: Every Bloomin’ Thing
Cake Artist & Catering: University Catering
DJ: Unique Events of Iowa
Makeup & Hair: Tru Salon
Paper Suite: Zephyr Weddings
Bridal Gown: Bella Bianca Couture Bridal
Maids’ Gowns: Vera Wang from David’s Bridal
Suits: Skeffington’s Formalwear
Ceremony Venue: First United Methodist Church
Reception Venue: Hancher Auditorium

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It’s been almost 6 years since I photographed their wedding  (theirs was, I think, the eighth wedding I had photographed) and I still remember every detail from that day. Her lace dress, the white tent at her family farm, the candy apples, the perfect ceremony location under the overhang of the barn…it was all so beautiful and perfectly them. And now, after living their vows for years, they are so excited to welcome their daughter in the next few weeks.

Lisa & Andrew’s story has had ups and downs, including struggling through infertility. They would both say that it has been worth it, every injection, every doctor’s appointment, the egg retrieval, the embryo transfer. It is already worth it and it will be even more so when they hold little Vaida in their arms for the first time.

It was such an honor to be asked for document this part of their journey; the joyous, expectant part. The part where sadness is a memory and happiness is the present.

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Lisa, girl, you are gorgeous!!!
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