You’re officially a year and a half now. I don’t know how that happened. In my mind, you’re still a baby, but then I see you running around, trying to catch your brother, and pulling out the coloring books and Crayons because your favorite thing to do is “coyor” and following multiple-step directions and…you’re just so big.
But you still fit on my hip, tucking your legs around my waist, wrapping your arm around my shoulder. It’s one thing I distantly remember savoring with Henry, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before I wouldn’t be carrying him around anymore. And now I find myself treasuring the same way you fit on me, knowing just as before that it doesn’t last long.
Your hair is growing in (yay!) and the curls in the back of your head are bopping everywhere in the heat and humidity. Just last week I was able to make a teeny, spiky little pony tail on top of your head—that’s the hair that’s been the slowest to come in—and it made me smile all over again that my lifelong wish of having a daughter came true. One of the things I have looked forward to most about having a daughter is doing your hair—braids, curls, twists, pig tails, the whole bit—and though it’ll be a while yet before anything more intricate than a single, pointy ponytail can be done, knowing that we can spend time together doing your hair someday makes me so excited.
You continue to be a daddy’s girl and you shriek with joy when he comes in the door. You can hear the garage door from anywhere in the house and immediately go on alert, “Daddy? Daddy?!”
While you still love to read books and will gladly bring an endless string of them to us to read to you, you have also picked up a love for coloring. The shelf with the colors and books is easily accessible to you and barely an hour goes by that you’re not dragging everything out. Your fine motor skills blow me away because you hold the colors, skinny or chunky Crayons, in your right hand exactly as I hold a pen to write. I don’t know how you learned that, but when I first saw you do it, I actually took a picture to make sure I wasn’t imagining it.
Last fall when we did their engagement session, we were having the worst luck with weather. We had rescheduled twice already and by the third time, they just decided to go for it even though it still wasn’t ideal weather, including terribly gusting winds that honestly nearly knocked us over. I remember at the time that we joked that we’d better have better weather for their wedding day given that Alex is a meteorologist. I mean, wouldn’t that just be terrible luck to be a weatherman and get nasty weather on your wedding day? But last week, leading up to the weekend, Saturday was looking gloomy. Not only gloomy, but filled with rain and thunderstorms. Every day when I checked the forecast, it had changed. Ninety percent thunderstorms. Thirty. Twenty. Fifty. I gave it one last glance Saturday morning when I woke up. Fifty percent chance of thunderstorms starting at 1PM, just when we would be getting ready for photos. Outside.
But something strange and amazing happened. The clouds covered the sky in the most beautiful, soft box way and the rain…well, it never came. Mallory and Alex chose to go ahead with the outdoor ceremony plan and I’m so thankful they did! The space outside at Rapid Creek Cidery is so, so beautiful and I’m so glad they were able to get married under the lush trees and open sky!
Strictly as a side note, it is incredibly helpful to have your very own meteorologist along on a wedding day. At one point, I was trying to determine if the sun was going to peek through (to decide where we wanted to end up for the best light for photos) and Alex explained to me how the clouds were actually moving in two directions at once (I’m using layman terms, obviously) and we found the best spot for photos as a result!
Alex proposed last year when they were in Arizona and this wedding was beautifully and carefully planned ever since. “Tucson is a special place for Alex because he used to go there every spring growing up to visit his grandparents, who would snow bird there during the winter months. Prior to booking the trip (and really from the time we started dating), Alex would talk about how great the area was and how much he wanted to take me there. I had never been to Arizona so I really didn’t know what to expect. One of his favorite parts of Tucson is the amazing sunsets they have. So on our first night at the resort, we were enjoying the truly amazing sunset that was happening and he turned to me, got down on one knee and asked me to spend forever with him. Needless to say, Arizona has a special place in my heart now because it’s where I got to say yes to my best friend,” Mallory said. And now this beautiful little orchard in Iowa City, Iowa will also forever have a special place in their hearts: it’s where they started their forever together as husband and wife.
What an amazing Friday afternoon it was for Kristin and Bryce’s wedding! The weather was warm, almost hot, and the bugs were fierce, but the sky was blue and the sun brilliant! If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you know that Friday weddings are my favorite. I may be partial being a Friday bride myself, but Friday weddings generally feel a bit more relaxed and uniquely special in that they sort of feel like you and your guests are in your own world. While everyone else in the city is finishing up their work week, going to Friday night sports games, and grocery shopping for the weekend, you are getting married!
Sticking with being non-traditional, Kristin & Bryce did something I’ve never experienced at a wedding before (shocking, I know! I’ve seen a lot over the years, haha!): they did a family meal together with their bridal party and immediate family before the ceremony, serving appetizers and desserts later at the reception in lieu of the traditional reception meal! Because they were having an evening ceremony, it worked out perfectly and made that early dinner with just their families and bridal party so special and relaxed! Which, as I recall, was their goal. They wanted a wedding that celebrated their love and their close-knit relationships, and was also relaxed and laid back. I hope it was everything they dreamed of as it certainly felt that way from my perspective!
Kristin and Bryce first met in college, within the first couple of days, as their groups of friends collided into one collective group. (Now, years later, it was extra fun to see so many of their fellow Luther grads at their wedding!) First semester ended and Christmas break happened and it wasn’t until they reconvened back at school for second semester that they sensed a shift in their feelings. “I knew I wanted to ask her on a date and I was pretty confident she would say yes, but I was still pretty nervous,” Bryce said, with Kristin adding, “I remember being pretty nervous, but because we had been friends within the big friend group for a while, we did know each other already so that was nice!”
Later, when it came to the proposal, Bryce said the day he proposed was the best day of his life so far. (He said this prior to the wedding so he may have changed his mind by now.) “I had had the engagement ring for about four months and was just waiting for the right time. I knew we were going back to Luther for homecoming and figured that would be the perfect time; the place where we started our journey together seemed like the right place to begin forever together. It was one of those situations where I knew she was going to say yes, but I was still incredibly nervous.
“We went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants in Decorah for a nice brunch. I wasn’t hungry as my nerves had the best of me. Then Kristin suggested we get mimosas, and, not wanting to come off as something being up with me, I agreed. I had to really work to get that down along with my whole breakfast because I didn’t want to tip off that something was going on. I had the ring in my pocket (it was in it’s box) of my coat the whole time and I purposefully had that pocket away from Kristin the whole time so she couldn’t see it.
“As we left the restaurant and were driving home, I suggested we go to Phelps Park to a lookout area that we had gone to lots of times to have life conversations while eating ice cream; it was one of our favorite spots in Decorah. I figured we had spent enough time in that spot that it should be where we also got engaged. I kept conversation going for a little bit and it was some of the lamest topics ever, but I was nervous and wanted to ease into what I was going to say.
“A lot of times, we took a picture when we were up there, so I suggested we do that. But this time I turned on my video camera and set it up and began talking about all the things that being back at Luther had reminded me of, and one of those was falling in love with her. That’s when I got down on one knee and asked Kristin to marry me. I got her whole reaction on video!”
“Of course I said yes,” Kristin added. “Only getting a tad emotional, mainly just like omg-omg-omg and so excited inside I didn’t really cry.”
They first met at the College of Dentistry. They are in the same class, but had never hung out until they were randomly assigned as partners that first year of dental school. Being paired up meant they were each other’s first patient. Malachi says “the rest is history”, but I doubt it’s as easy as doing a dental cleaning and then falling in love. They started dating the summer following that first year of dental school and are now planning their wedding following their graduation, on the gorgeous lawn of the dental college!
Now, as you can imagine by their story so far, their relationship has evolved throughout their career path to becoming dentists so it really only makes sense that the proposal would bring everything full circle. “It was literally the most perfect, planned out day. I had no idea,” Olivia says. “A year ago, the College did a story on Malachi and he told me they were doing a follow up story. The school even emailed me asking to be his mock patient for the interview as a photographer would be there. They added that we could pick any unit, and so we, of course, picked the unit 10 where we first met. We met the photographer, had the unit all set up, and then after a few staged pictures, he sat me up in the chair and was holding the most beautiful engagement ring, telling me, ‘You know how I told that the first person I say “I love you” to, I am going to marry?’ And (that is when I knew) he looked at me and said, ‘Liv, I love you. Will you marry me?'”
Malachi had been planning the proposal for 4 months. No one knew and he designed the ring himself and wanted it to be a complete surprise. “I just kept telling her we would wait until May of our 4th year.” (Which is now when they will actually be getting married instead of engaged!) Olivia laughs, “Honestly, I couldn’t pay Malachi any amount of money to use a planner, or even follow a weekly schedule, but he outdid himself planning the engagement.”
Olivia and Malachi share so much picture-perfect laughter together (I mean, come on, Olivia has the perfect laugh!), but they also are so sweet and genuine. Olivia hates (“hate hate hate hate HATE”) winter and Malachi says he knew she was the one when he realized what he was willing to do for her happiness and her endless battle with the cold. “I got her a Canada goose coat; the poor thing is always cold.” He also adds that she is incredibly selfless and nurturing. “She puts everyone else before herself.” And, because discovering your partner is going to be yours forever doesn’t always have to be a huge moment (in fact, it’s almost always the small moments that make you aware), Olivia says she knew a few weeks before they even officially started dating. “I was talking to him in the car and told him I had just arrived at his place, but it was pouring rain so I was going to wait for it to stop. He said, ‘Okay, sounds good! See you soon!’ And then two minutes later, he was outside with an umbrella to walk me from the car to his apartment.” From the very beginning of their relationship, “he takes such great care of me. He is always Team Olivia, no matter what. He wants me to be happy and does everything with my best interest in mind.”
We were all praying for a break in our rainy spring and the forecast kept changing in the entire week leading up to Kira & Derek’s wedding. It was supposed to be thunderstorming all day, then only 10% chance, then back to 90%, then, on their wedding day, the skies cleared completely and it was humid and sunny! But despite the weather really showing up for them (which we were all very thankful for!), there were a few other hiccups that none of us could have seen coming.
With Kira’s permission, I’m going to share her own words: “I think we are finally coming down off the excitement of the weekend, and are really enjoying our new titles of husband and wife. As most know already, we had some problems Saturday, including that our broken down party bus was replaced with a semi and livestock trailer (special shout out to our groomsman, Colton, and all the other guests who frantically made phone calls to find a ride for us). Also, my beautiful wedding gown tore while giving my first hug of the day; causing us to spend most of the day trying to keep my modesty and make my dress right. While it wasn’t ideal, Derek insists that I still looked beautiful.
“Despite the bumps in our day, we had so many things that went perfectly. In fact, Derek and I have looked at one another multiple times and said we feel so humbled and blessed. The rain stayed away, and the beautiful sun was shining down on us. Neither of us had cold feet, and we were able to finally say our vows with our faith front and center. We missed our late loved ones, but we had a special piece of each of them with us; our favorite was the quilt block once started by my Grandma Jo and finished by her best friend, Wanda, and my mom, just for Derek and I. We just loved our bridal party! We could not be taking on life as a married couple without all of your support. Thank you for bringing the party!
“And to Derek, thank you for holding my hand, reminding me that the hiccups that happened didn’t ruin our day. We wanted perfection, but perfection isn’t what has gotten us through six and a half years. Trust and faith are our strongest features as a couple, and I know those are the things that will help us through life, along with a whole lot of help from our family and friends.”
They met in downtown Iowa City in a group of mutual friends. “To be honest I don’t think I took her one a real date for a long time after we started hanging out in the very beginning,” Kile said. But it wasn’t for lack of feelings; it was just that it kept happening that they were always together with their friends! “So I don’t remember the exact first date. I do, however, remember the first time we made plans to ‘group hang’ with a couple of her friends and a couple of my friends.” He recalled, “That day I had to drive to Illinois for my dad to pick up a four-wheeler motor. Kaylee had texted me, I think, about trying to meet up at Sports Column in downtown Iowa City. I was obviously excited for that, but knew that I probably wasn’t even going to get back to Iowa until 9 PM. But I told her I could meet up with her at 7 PM or something. Anyways, I was driving back like a madman trying to get back as quickly as possible. I was dressed in my grubby, gross work clothes. When I finally made it there, I met my buddies and we walked into the bar, which was pretty much empty except for a couple other tables. My buddies and I walked in and I saw that Kaylee was actually at another table with some other guys I had never seen before so immediately I’m a little irritated and mad I got there late. One thing led to another, Kaylee came over and talked to me. I just remember being so nervous and not knowing what to say to this pretty young girl (who I knew had a crush on me because her friend told me).”
Fast-forward to last May, years after that first time hanging out in the bar, and Kaylee got home from a horrible day at work. “I cried most of the way home,” she said. “I called my mom to vent and she told me to quit crying because it was going to be a good Friday (it was actually Good Friday that day!). I got home and relaxed on the couch. Kile got home and immediately put music on our speaker. It was annoying and I asked him to turn it off and he wouldn’t. Then he went outside! I was so annoyed that he left the music on inside knowing that I didn’t want to hear it. When he came inside, he put on ‘I Can Love You Like That’ by John Michael Montgomery. He sang it in my ear from behind the couch and when the line ‘you don’t have to wait anymore’ was sung, he came around the couch and got on one knee.” And indeed, in every sense, her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, was instantly turned into an extra good Good Friday.
I asked them both when they knew, in those early dating years, that the other was one. Kaylee said she knew he was the one when she could be herself and not hide anything. “I remember a day at my parents house that I had on no makeup and I could just feel Kile staring at me. I felt so beautiful.” (swoon) Kile said he thinks he always knew. “I always felt like she made me a better person and I always thought I have been her rock. Her passion for children has always been a big deal to me because I think she will be a great mother someday. But, to answer the question directly, it was probably a little after we moved in together, after the first couple of months getting used to living with someone else and seeing that we could do it and not kill each other, hah.”
Kaylee is gorgeous and strong and, as many women know, it can take years to become fully confident in who you are, but I love that Kaylee told me, “I finally feel confident about my personality. I know my truth and I live it each day.” (I know Kile agrees because he told me that what he most admires about her is passion, kindness, and intelligence. “She’s very passionate about everything in her life. She works very hard to be the best teacher she can be. She loves her parents and her family.”) Kaylee described Kile as being kind, understanding, and funny. “He works for what he has. He doesn’t take shortcuts and accepts if he fails.”
I just loved spending time with them in Iowa City for their engagement session! It’s one thing to see a couple’s love written on paper, but it’s ten thousand times better to witness it firsthand while also being able to photograph it! On the day of their engagement session, it had rained all morning, but the skies cleared to overcast in the late afternoon and we made the call to go ahead. We were battling lots of pedestrian traffic (it was the university graduation weekend and high school prom night) and the obvious street parking everywhere, but it made me think extra hard for every shot and I’m so so proud of how their images came out! (I’m also especially proud of this blossoming tree because I knew Kaylee wanted photos with a blooming tree and we made this one work, even getting a little help from a passerby!)