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emily crall blog

July 10, 2018

We had a trifecta of elements working against us, all of them out of our control: downtown Jazz Fest traffic, construction road closures (including a major bridge between the ceremony and reception venues), and intense heat & summer humidity. But I promised Brooke you wouldn’t see any cranes in the background of her wedding images at Hancher and the spot that I picked for their downtown images was easy enough to shoot around the pedestrians. The heat? Well, we worked fast. At one point, Brandon asked if there was any way to get out of  those outdoor photos and I promised him that I would be faster than he imagined. And I think I surprised all of the guys with how quickly I got them back into the air-conditioning.

I hope that looking back on the day, no one remembers the heat or the uncomfortable shoes or the tight timeline to get everything done. I hope all you see is the beauty of a perfect day for the beginning of a marriage. Brooke and Brandon have been a joy to work with; both filled with such fun and laughter and Brandon especially cracking jokes from start to end.

When Brooke describes Brandon, she says she admires “how hard of a worker he is and how he can just befriend everyone he talks to.” She also said that he is positive, energetic, and dedicated. He said he admires “her drive towards being a teacher and helping kids learn” and that she is caring, loving, fun and adventurous, and persistent. In the short time I got to know them both, I would complete agree!

Back before their engagement session, I had asked them both what they looked forward to most about their wedding day. Brooke said, “I’m looking forward to celebrating with all of our closest friends and family. Also, I’m excited to get to start our new life together and become Mrs. Smalley!” Brandon added that he was also excited to be “celebrating with friends and family about finding the perfect partner and combining our lives together for the best future!” And truly, it was such a joyous celebration that I believe their wishes came true.

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Brooke & Brandon chose not to see each other before the wedding, but they did want to exchange letters so they did a “first touch” outside the church. It was a tender moment that had them both in happy tears.
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The u-shape of First United Methodist Church lends itself to the most beautiful photos. It also provides really great access to photograph different perspectives fairly unobtrusively.
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My absolute favorite thing about these exit photos–which I didn’t even notice until I was editing them later–is both of Brooke’s grandmas beaming at them as they came out of the church.
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Brooke was living her Cinderella dream all day. She looked like a princess.
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You’d laugh if you knew the struggle we had with this stunning veil. I love long veils and they are usually so easy to photograph, but the wind was working against us so much during all of these pictures. I was determined to get at least ONE photo showcasing her gorgeous veil–and I did–but we had to work pretty hard to get it!
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This cake was just as delicious as it looks. I joked that I chose my profession based on the cake, but, really, it is an excellent perk of the job.
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It was getting dark quickly, but we ran back outside to grab some evening photos (the sun had already dipped so we missed “sunset”, but just look at these and you’ll know why I’m not even a little mad about it)!
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It was the weekend before July 4th and Brooke and Brandon decided to surprise their guests with a fireworks show! I had never photographed a couple with fireworks before–and told them that beforehand–but I did my research and ended up getting a great assist from the videographers and I love the images I was able to get!
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Videography: The Vine Productions

Florals: Every Blooming’ Thing

Cake Artist: Tip Top Cakes

Catering: University Catering

DJ: Unique Events

Makeup: Melissa Banes

Hair: Eden Salon & Spa

Paper Suite: Allegra

Bridal Gown: Casablanca from White Willow Bridal

Maids’ Gowns: Bill Levkoff from XOXO Bridal

Suits: Ewer’s

Ceremony Venue: First United Methodist Church

Reception Venue: Hancher Auditorium

May 1, 2018

On her handkerchief, she had their names monogrammed as well as their wedding date and “Colossians 3:12-17”, which reads, Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselveswith compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 

From the very start, their day was filled with such joy and love. Christina & Cam have exuded grace and happiness since I have first seen them together and it has made every interaction with them so much fun.

When we arrived at Price Creek Event Center in Amana, it was quiet and calm. The ladies were still at the salon finishing up hair, but all of Christina’s accessories and her gown were there, just waiting to be photographed. It was the perfect way to get my creative juices flowing for the day. The weekend before had been freezing cold, incredibly windy, and rainy so I was sooo excited to have milder weather, still chilly, but not uncomfortable.

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These flowers were some of my favorite! So springy and pretty, while also not being too “fussy”. They were just perfect.
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There was a grassy area outside of the venue that we used for their first look before we hopped in the car for a short drive over to an area I had scouted out beforehand that I knew would be a dream to photograph them in.
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Their bridal party was such a riot! I loved photographing this crew!
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Look at these handsome guys!
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It was cloudy all day so we didn’t get a true “golden hour”, but I still think the 10 minutes of photos later on in the evening are important. It’s the chance to get away from the noise, the hugging, the congratulations, and just savor a few breaths together, alone.
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Wedding Coordinator: Rachael May
Cake Artist: Stephanie Coons
Catering: PHAT Daddy’s
Hair & Makeup: Thompson & Co
Paper Suite: Minted
Bridal Gown: Brides by Jessa
Maids’ Gowns: Azazie
Suits: Menguin

August 8, 2017

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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June 20, 2017

It’s June in Iowa and we are in the midst of wave upon unending wave of heat. In the week leading up to Liz & Zach’s wedding, we knew it was going to be really hot outside…with full sun (no clouds at all!) and no shade for the ceremony. The more concerning factor to me was the wind. While it was great to move some [hot] air around, it proved really tricky to do photos working against three major natural factors: full sun, intense heat, and gusting winds.

Thankfully, I found a shaded spot for some of Liz & Zach’s photos and we’d pause then shoot really quickly when the wind quieted down, then break when it picked back up. Also thankfully, the front porch at Zach’s grandmother’s home (where the ceremony was held) was gorgeous and large. It provided both shade and a wind block so we used that for their bridal party and family photos.

Their ceremony was held outside by the double pond with a beautiful flowered archway. Their reception was held in downtown Cedar Rapids at the DoubleTree by Hilton. Despite the heat, it was the loveliest of days and I loved seeing them surrounded not only by their best friends, but by their families and loved ones as well.

When we arrived, the ladies were getting their hair and makeup done in the kitchen, while the guys were all hanging out downstairs. I love being able to ease into the day with hellos and then photographing all of the bride’s lovely details, including this Morilee gown that Liz wore.

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Liz & Zach had their first look on the porch. They wanted to try going out to the prairie for some photos so we decided to make it easiest to see each other at the house so we could all drive out together, without needing to keep them hidden. This also proved great because the wind did a number to Liz’s veil out in the prairie and a first look out there would’ve been nearly impossible. 🙂
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See this gorgeous front porch?? It was a lifesaver!!

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There’s a long, winding driveway leading up to the house and it was lined with large, white balloons. Guests parked a ways away and were driven in by golf carts.
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I adored the backs of these Vera Wang bridesmaids gown! Look at those adorable bows!
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We got to the DoubleTree and immediately started photographing the reception setup in the ballroom while cocktail hour was enjoyed outside the ballroom.

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Right after their grand entrance, Liz & Zach cut their cake and enjoyed their first dance together as husband and wife.
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And then after dinner, I snuck them outside for a few minutes for just a few more photos.
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Liz & Zach, thank you so much for having me be part of your wedding day! I have so enjoyed getting to know you both leading up to the big day and am so thrilled for you to finally be married!! Congratulations!!

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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Wedding Coordinator: Mostly Becky

Videography: Nepo Productions

Florals: Pierson’s Flower Shop

Cake Artist: Jules Bakery

DJ: Unique Events of Iowa

Makeup & Hair: Jo Sweet

Paper Suite: Andi’s Invites

Bridal Gown: Morilee from Brides & Weddings

Maids’ Gowns: Vera Wang from David’s Bridal

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Ceremony Venue: Private Residence

Reception Venue & Catering: DoubleTree by Hilton

SaveSave

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June 6, 2017

I love Sunday weddings. There’s something relaxed about a non-Saturday wedding day. Add to that having a Sunday wedding when the following Monday is Memorial Day and suddenyl the extended weekend felt like a treat to the guests!

It was perfectly sunny and warm that Sunday. When we arrived at Rapid Creek Cidery, all was quiet and calm. It was just a few of us vendors getting set up and working. It was a treat to be able to take my time getting all the detail shots of Carolyn’s wedding gown, shoes, jewelry, and their invitations. I knew the rest of the day wouldn’t be as calm, a fault of no one, of course, that’s just part of the game of weddings.

Carolyn & Marc met 14 years ago, in high school. She was a freshman, he was a sophomore. There aren’t a lot of high school relationships that last this long, let alone lead to marriage. As homage to the longevity of their relationship, they used photos from their lives together as their table numbers; so year one was Table One, etc.

One of the major perks to having gone through half of your life together before even being married is that you deeply know the other person. You’ve been with them through awkward life phases, through big college decisions, through exams and finals, through moving and moving again. Her friends are his friends and vice versa. Not many people get that lucky, to find love that young and to hold onto it. But Carolyn & Marc did and it was a joy to see them finally wed!

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Without knowing it, Carolyn picked out her wedding perfume that just happened to be in a bottle the shape of an apple, which was especially lucky since they got married at an orchard!
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Carolyn & Marc had their first look before the wedding and we were able to do all of their photos before the ceremony. I loved seeing them laughing and talking with their guests during cocktail hour!

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I loved that all of the bridesmaids had different gowns and each one fit so perfectly!
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The dessert table was a huge hit and guests quickly devoured everything after dinner.
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That evening as the sun dipped low in the sky, I pulled them out for a few more minutes of photos.
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Photography: Emily Crall Photography

Wedding Coordinator: Unveiled Event & Design

Florals: Mint Julep

Desserts: Bread Garden Market

DJ: Unique Events of Iowa

Makeup & Hair: Flip Salon & Spa 

Bridal Gown: Tara Keely from An Elegant Affair

Maids’ Gowns: Joanna August from Bella Bridesmaids

Suits: Men’s Wearhouse

Venue & Catering: Rapid Creek Cidery

Musicians: Cameron & Andrew

Officiant: Groom’s aunt, Deb Gladson

Earrings, Engagement Ring, & Groom’s Wedding Band: Siebke Hoyt Jewelers

Bride’s Wedding Band: Helen Ficalora

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April 18, 2017

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

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