I‘ve been antsy to shoot out at the new Little Lights on the Lane (if you’re getting married there, I have a special venue-love discount off your photography with me!) and this styled shoot ended up being a perfect, fun, low-key way to be able to enjoy the space. Ever since I saw the plans for this beautiful space, I’ve been thrilled to see it come to life! It is so perfectly situated right on the Cedars Edge Golf Course with the most gorgeous established trees and views! Every little detail from the getting ready suites to the hidden sprinkler system to the bar that opens to both the inside and outside has been thought out and executed with such precision. It’s such a masterpiece of design and I’m so excited that it’s right here in our backyard!
This particular styled shoot was very last minute and I give Emily with Soiree so much credit for saying, “Yes!” and making it happen so quickly. Within moments of my original text to Emily, we had Allegra on board with paper goods, Every Bloomin’ Thing pitching in with the florals, and Jocelyn Taylor Bridal & Prom loaning us a gown! To round it all out, Eden Salon & Spa graciously provided hair, makeup, and nails and M.C. Ginsberg loaned us the jewelry. We needed some models and absolutely lucked out with the cutest couple who is both newly engaged and getting married in December! Thank you, Breana and Cole, for dressing up and playing wedding with us!
All weddings have themes of some kind, a core design or color palette that decisions are bounced off of to see what sticks and what doesn’t quite go. So when two people who love all things Disney, even getting engaged at Disney World and taking a Disney honeymoon cruise in a few weeks, start to plan their wedding, the design board is immediately structured upon the perfect fairytale wedding, less Mickey Mouse and more “happily ever after”.
What I love about how their wedding turned out was that it was completely the dreamy fairytale they wanted while also staying true to exactly who they are as individuals and a couple, pulling many personal touches into the design. Ted is an artist and when Shannon told me the best gift she’s ever been given was a large pencil portrait of Walt Disney and her favorite Disney character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, that Ted drew for her for Christmas a few years ago–“It was so thoughtful and perfect, I cried when I saw it. The drawing has been hung up since and we get to look at it every day.”–I asked if she’d be willing to bring a copy of it to the wedding for me to use somehow in the detail photos.
Ted also pulled off the biggest (literally) reception welcome by making a 7-foot-tall hand painted storybook, the perfect custom “once upon a time” nod to welcome their guests to the party. Their cake was so magical it can really can’t be described, a true centerpiece that looked like it came straight from the forest and was decorated by magical little singing elves and woodland creatures with a great sense of style and frosting abilities. And all of that–and the dance floor–was under a sparkling chandelier.
Their wedding rings atop the pencil portrait Ted drew for Shannon.
In high school, she got a part-time job at Fareway, a grocery store. He was working there full-time, on the path to becoming a store manager. They became quick friends and ended up working a lot of shifts together. One Saturday morning in November, she walked back to clock in to start her shift and she saw Ted dropping off an invoice near the time clock. She told him good morning, clocked in, then asked him what he was doing that night. He said he didn’t have anything planned so she asked if he wanted to go out to eat pizza with her family. He had a big grin on his face as he replied, “Yes!” Later that day, he drove over to her apartment and they went to her parent’s home. From there, they drove to meet her aunt, uncle, and cousins for dinner. “He was meeting the whole family on our first date,” she recalls. “He fit right in and those two little boys [cousins] wanted to draw with Ted the whole night.”
It was the first date, that family pizza dinner, that solidified everything for Shannon. “I remember Ted leaving my apartment that night and I couldn’t wait to see him again. The way he was with my family and how well he interacted with everyone melted my heart. We had been friends for a while before our first date and so we new a lot about each other and enjoyed every minute we were together. The Monday after that first date, one of my friends texted me and asked how it went. I told her, ‘I think I found my soul mate.’ I still can’t believe how accurate that statement is.”
They met in Iowa City during medical/dental school–she’s now a surgeon and he’s a dentist–and they have family close to the area so even though they now reside in Texas, where Maria is doing her surgery residency, it made sense for them to come back to the place where it all started for them, right downtown in the heart of the university campus.
It was just a week after they first met that Austin says he knew Maria was the one. “I knew I loved her after a week. And when she stuck around after that, I knew she wasn’t going anywhere. Every day after that, she has shown me more and more how she’s the best person for me and we are meant to be together.”
Maria doesn’t pinpoint a date, but says it was a lot of little things that added up. “How he’d pack my lunches and leave little notes inside. How well we agreed on big things like our values and how we would want to raise kids. How well he supported me when I was upset. A big thing for us is how well we communicate; so I think how well we work through disagreements or difficult times in our relationship has made us both very confident that we’ve each found the one.”
Maria’s aunt is Brenda of Town or Country Event Design & Coordination so planning a wedding from out of state was a complete nonissue as every final last detail was planned and thought out. (My organized self loves working with another organized soul like Brenda Strief!) We knew we had very little time to photograph the details on the wedding day so we flew in and barely caught our breaths before taking as many shots as we could. Thankfully, Brenda had everything ready for us, including these gorgeous florals, and we worked like we were in fast-forward. These ended up being some of my favorite detail shots to date.
Aside from her scalpel skills, Maria is also a talented artist and made this beautiful map for their guests, including some of their favorite dining spots, the ceremony and reception locations, parking, and the medical and dental schools.
When we arrived at the church Saturday morning, it was overcast; a lovely respite from the intense heat in the weeks leading up to their wedding day. But the overcast clouds quickly darkened into rain that kept coming and going, not a downpour or enough to really water the parched grass, but just enough to cause me to look around for some backup locations for photos. Thankfully, Kaylee and Kile are two of the most relaxed and trusting people I’ve encountered and they were not even worried one bit. (I had a taste of this at their engagement session as we roamed around downtown Iowa City. It had been a rainy day and we were trying to decide if we should reschedule or not; we didn’t, and we had the best time!) As luck would have it, we had a few minutes of a break in the rain for their portraits and then it started sprinkling again just as we started bridal party photos so we buzzed through those faster that I could even talk. After heading back to the church for shelter, the rain cleared again and we were able to go back outside for family photos! It all ended up working out, including that the rain completely dissipated and out came the blazing sun for the rest of the day!
Kaylee and Kile had such a beautiful, family-oriented, faith-filled wedding and it was so much fun to celebrate with them! Kaylee’s gorgeous shoes (those block heels!) and mixed-metal rings (white gold engagement ring and yellow gold wedding band!) were some definite highlights, but nothing could outshine these two out in the wild flowers field! *swoon*
Anyone who has hung around here long enough knows that I have a special love for Friday weddings. Maybe it’s that I got married on a Friday or maybe it’s just that Fridays feel like special weekday-pre-weekend days that sort of make their own category, but, regardless, I love shooting Friday weddings! When I photographed Catie & Justin’s engagement session this winter (remember this magical snowy session?!), we joked that we’d be having the exact opposite weather on their wedding day and it was true! (Thankfully though not quite a hot as the weekend before!)
We arrived at the Celebration Farm before the hustle and bustle began; it’s a secret treat to be able to start detail shots before the bridal party arrives because we can dive right in quickly and then have more time to chat when they arrive! Catie and Justin had the most beautiful details for their wedding day, from their custom ring dish (a gift from a bridesmaid!) to their gorgeous invitation suite to Catie’s stunning unique gown with a detachable train. It was all so perfect and perfectly them.
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.