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February 15, 2018

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

I first met Christina back in high school. You know how most people are a little embarrassed about their high school selves? Like, we’ve all improved since then, right? Well, what I remember about Christina is how funny, caring, and selfless she was. Her smile was magnetic and her personality was all-inclusive and warm. She needed no improvement; she was a rare find in a sea of typical high schoolers. Fast forward all these years later and I am feeling so honored to get to photograph her in this season of her life, where all those beautiful, sweet, funny, warm traits are meshed so perfectly with Cam’s that they are just pure joy to be around. Witnessing and documenting their love makes me smile so big. You’ll see why when you keep scrolling down. Fossil_Gorge_Winter_Engagement_EmilyCrall_Photo_0980.jpg


After having met online and spending a few weeks in contact email and texting conversations, they met for sushi. “I just thought it so sweet that we both arrived early and he waited at the front door to greet me with a ginormous smile and a friendly hug,” she says. After a little mishap with the appetizer order, they spent the evening hanging out, talking the whole time. “I had a blast with [him] and wasn’t sure if it was too good to be true.”

Cam recalls knowing very early on, “like within the first couple of dates”, that she was the one, but she was still a little hesitant. “He waited patiently and it sure paid off for both of us! He’s my love and life long partner!” Even during the dating stage, things moved so naturally and effortlessly between them and just a couple of months into their relationship, Christina also realized this was the one she’d spend her life loving.

When asked what he admires most about her, he says, “She is a lady of faith, integrity, and honor. I can always count on her and she is everything I look for in a lady. She has the biggest heart. She is extremely intelligent and gifted, yet humble and empathetic towards others. She is lovely.”


She had been suspicious of a pending proposal a few times, but knew it would happen at the right time. So when she planned a birthday trip for Cam to La Crosse, Wisconsin for their Rotary Lights show (because she loves Christmas lights!), she wasn’t initially suspecting anything, even though he kept dropping hints throughout the week leading up to it. But she was finally clued in when she asked him if she should get her nails done and he simply said, “Yep, thank you for figuring it out.”

“Friday morning December 15, I was antsy to just get engaged so we could relax and enjoy the day! God is so good though, right? I was reminded that in due time it would happen and sitting back, patiently, waiting and enjoying the moments would be far better than anything else,” Christina says.

“We stopped in Decorah, Iowa and just enjoyed the beautiful scenery along the drive. The Rotary Lights are apparently a huge deal, so we were lucky to arrive before traffic thickened up. Cam was hoping to drive over to Grandad Bluff and stop at this dive bar, Apine Inn, before the light show. We would have been stuck in traffic, so we sipped a drink at the hotel bar instead. Alpine Inn got bumped to possibly before or after dinner.

“Fast forward to the horse-drawn carriage through the Rotary Lights. I wondered if he’d propose then knowing the ring box had to be burning a hole in his pocket (likely, although I never did a pocket check).

“Cam requested we go to Alpine Inn before dinner. At this point, I realized we were about to get engaged. Being a go-with-the-flo guy, Cam doesn’t usually request much. We drove right by the Aline Inn and up to the top of Grandad Bluff. We were all alone up there, overlooking the city. It had started to flurry, the beautiful kind of snowflakes that keep their unique shape on your eyelashes and coat. Cam talked about our mutual love for God and creation/nature. He said a few more nice things of which I can’t quite remember. It’s crazy, even knowing the proposal was coming, it’s hard to remember alllll the details! The ring was so sparkly and huge! Holy smokes, he outdid himself! Cam even worked with the jeweler to design the ring. It seriously seemed to glow in the dark! Surreal– the ring, on my finger, my finger?! I was officially getting engaged to marry my love and best friend, Cam! What a lovely night!

“We stopped at Alpine Inn for fried pickles and sips of champagne (the bartender couldn’t believe we just got engaged!) and we called our parents and siblings.

We parked the car at the hotel and walked in the freshly falling snow to dinner 7 blocks from our hotel. The hostess seated us in a love seat (how perfect!!!). I wasn’t even hungry, just so excited! We shared a delicious dinner, seared tuna on cous cous with raisins and roasted veggies. In all the excitement Cam shared about our engagement, and they served us a delicious piece of chocolate cake with a candle. My cheeks hurts so much from smiling and laughing! What could honestly be better?!”


They are just a little over 2 months away from their wedding day and I am so excitedly looking forward to spending the day celebrating their love and commitment to each other! Christina & Cam, you guys are a true joy to be around!






November 7, 2017

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

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.

June 30, 2016

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

They first met several years ago in a University of Iowa lab that she worked at. “We were introduced briefly, but didn’t see each other again for a year,” she said. “In the summer of 2011, he began doing a research rotation in my lab and we became friends quickly. … We were friend first so it’s a little hard for me to recall when our official first date was, but I do remember details from the first time we hung out together alone out of work. He was helping me study for a very important exam and I remember thinking, ‘How can someone be so smart?!?!’ I was also very impressed at the time because of the exam and…he was very patient and understanding. I felt encouraged and confident.”

Fast forward to 2016 and they are planning their spring wedding while also juggling very busy lives apart from each; Xiaoni now working on her PhD at Yale and Jung finishing up medical school at the University of Iowa. This past weekend, she was back in Iowa City visiting and we quickly coordinated our calendars to make this engagement session happen. It was a perfectly beautiful Sunday evening for a session and we started downtown before making our way out to the lake.

One of the things that struck me the most while chatting with them was when Jung talked about Xiaoni and his career. It was very clear that, though he loves his chosen career path, Xiaoni comes first. This matched perfectly with what Xiaoni had told me previously, that one of the things she admires most about him is that he puts family first. While their futures are a bit unclear, with residency coming ahead and a job search after earning her PhD, they are both committed to being together, wherever that may be. I’m so thrilled for them and am so excited for their future together.


These two are so natural in front of the camera and I think I kept making a fool of myself gasping at every image I was taking. Aren’t they so beautiful together?

Xiaoni! You look so happy!!!

One of my favorite images ever.

I asked Jung if he always dresses so smashingly; he said that Xiaoni tells him what to wear. 🙂

We went out to the Lake MacBride area for the second part of their shoot, where Xiaoni also showcased this stunning dress! We went for a bit of a walk into the grass and it was beautiful.

October 13, 2015

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0248.jpgThey met in person for the first time at Backpocket Brewery on a Tuesday night. They were both busy and had a hard time finding a coordinating time when they were both available. “I was out of town, then he was out of town. We exchanged texts in the meantime. Nothing major–small talk, really–but I remember saying to a friend, ‘I really kind of like this guy over text. I hope he doesn’t turn out to be lame in person.’ He did not.”

“We had a couple of drinks and that was it. On our first dating anniversary, we went back there and say at the same table and talked about what we remembered about that date. It was interesting because Corey remembered more specifics like what we talked about and that I had to sit by the fire because I was cold. I remember how I felt. It was easy, comfortable conversation. I had a feeling he was really genuine and kind and I knew I wanted to see him again. That was unusual for me. I didn’t just want to give him one more try; this time, I was actually hoping for a second date.”

I met Sara & Corey for their Lake MacBride engagement session and the fall colors were starting to peak. They brought along their dog, Lucy, and she was thrilled to be adventuring on such a beautiful evening.
LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0249.jpg LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0250.jpg LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0251.jpgI asked them both when they knew, you know, this was the one. I loved their differing responses. Sara said, “I can’t pinpoint an exact moment when I knew. Over time I came to realize that life was always better with him than without him. When I was with Corey, I was more relaxed and less stressed. We had fun all the time–with each other, with our families, and with our friends. It was exciting to make plans for the future together.” Corey added that he knew when he found himself singing Billy Joel with her in the car. “I don’t sing in front of anyone.” 

LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0252.jpgThey got engaged in March on a trip to Scotland. “Since we were flying out of Dublin, we decided to spend an extra day in Ireland and I talked Corey into driving across the island to the Cliffs of Moher. We arrived in Dublin late so we visited some little pubs and decided to go to the cliffs in the morning.

“The next morning we got an early start and after getting lost a few times, finally found our way to the cliffs. It was a perfect day. Rain had been in the forecast, but it turned out to be sunny and clear. We walked along the trail and the entire time, we only met one other person. When we were standing out on one cliff, Corey put his arm around me, turned me to face him, and started his proposal. I remember him saying, ‘I want to spend all of life’s adventures with you.’ But after that when I realized what was happening, my mind went blank and I can’t remember anything else he said except when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.”
LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0253.jpg LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0254.jpg LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0255.jpg LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0256.jpg LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0257.jpg LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0258.jpg LakeMacBrideEngagementFall_EmilyCrall_SC_0259.jpgAt the start of every engagement session, couples are always a little stiff, not of any fault of their own, but because it’s a new experience being in front of the camera like this. Sara & Corey absolutely nailed it however! As the time progressed, they just kept getting better until at the end, I actually asked if they often take photos together because they seemed so comfortable. Some of my favorites were near the end when the sun was dipped over the horizon, leaving this beautiful orange glow over the trees.

Like this…ahhh, Sara, you are stunning!

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Sara has perfect skin. Those freckles are an envy of mine. (Ironically, I had another bride this summer, Corrie, who also had perfect freckles that I wanted to steal.)


April 14, 2015

FILED IN: Engaged

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letter-it was during their Junior year of college at Augustana when they first met. They casually dated that year, she says, but went their separate ways at the end of the year. It didn’t take long, however, before she realized how much she missed him and just wanted to be with him. They began dating again their Senior year and “the rest is history! Throughout our six years of dating, there have been so many moments that have made me love [him] even more and more!”

I met Jessica & Jordan at the Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge for their engagement session and absolutely loved getting to know them! They had me laughing from the first moment and, even with their humor, they are also so genuine and caring. Ironically, after their shoot, I was rereading a little they had written about each other and Jess perfectly sums up what I can already concluded about both of them: “Jordan has a great sense of humor that keeps me laughing every day. He is a very hard worker and always strives to be and do the best he can. He’s very level-headed and easy-going.” When asked what he would say are her best qualities, she answered, “I think Jord would say that I am caring, willing to help others, and a great cook. (Haha, just kidding. But he better.)” (Jordan didn’t mention her cooking, but he did say that she’s compassionate and really goes above and beyond because she’s a very caring person.)

Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0189.jpg Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0190.jpg Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0192.jpg

Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0191.jpg Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0193.jpg Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0194.jpg Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0195.jpg Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0196.jpg Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0197.jpgJordan proposed a year ago when they were in the process of building a house. “Every day we would go to the property and check the progress. Jordan’s mom had texted us that day asking for some pictures of it so we drove over there. As we were walking around the foundation, Jordan said my name. When I turned around, he was down on one knee!!” I love that the start of their marriage plans happened at the start of their new home together.
Lake MacBride Fossil Gorge Engagement © Emily Crall_0199.jpg(Jordan & Jess, this shot! I die laughing because I love it and you two so much!!!) ^
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July 14, 2014

FILED IN: Engaged, Photography

It was 8th grade junior high. She was dating and he became the note messenger between them. That was the extent of their interaction outside of the math classroom. Fast forward to senior year of high school when they actually started talking to each other. She wasn’t a big fan of him, but they hung out with the same group of people each morning before school started. He eventually won her over and they became friends.

As their friendship grew, they transitioned from friends to companions. She describes the moment she first knew he was going to be the one she would marry: “[It was] when we were talking about having children because he had the exact same response as my dad did when my mom had asked him a certain question. After my mom gave birth to my older brother, my mom looked at my dad scared because they had just had their first child and said, ‘What do we do now?’

“My dad’s response was, ‘We just love him.’ Jared and I were talking about having children in the future and I was joking about how scared I would be after we had the baby and I said, ‘What would we do after we had him or her?’ Jared’s response was, ‘You just love them.'”

For him, a brief break up in 2008 made him realize just how much she meant to him. These two were made for each other.

Lake MacBride Engagement - CorrieJared © Emily Crall_0223.jpg Lake MacBride Engagement - CorrieJared © Emily Crall_0224.jpgCorrie loves Halloween so it was only perfect for Jared to time the engagement for late October. It was around dinner and she had just put in one of her favorite Halloween movies. She noticed Jared was very anxious for the trick-or-treaters to come which was unusual for him. She remembers asking him, “What is your deal? You are never like this.” He laughed and brushed it off.

The door bell rang soon after that and Jared told her, “There you go, Corrie! The trick-or-treaters are here. Better hurry up and get it.” He disappeared into the laundry room unnoticed while she opened the door. She look down to see his cousin’s young children and started to say hi, but stopped when she saw they were holding a sign that read, “Will you marry me?”

She yelled to Jared, “Jared, is this real?!” As the kids started walking inside, she noticed they were dressed as a bride & groom. She got confused because she didn’t know if those were their actual costumes or if a proposal was happening. “After feeling like a dork for not figuring out what was going on, Jared finally appeared with a pumpkin he had carved and the ring. I shrieked, ‘Is this real?!?’ He came over by me and the kids and got down on one knee and said, ‘Well, will you marry me?’ I didn’t answer right away because I was crying so Jared nervously said again, ‘Well, what do you say?’ I was finally able to muster out a yes. It took a bit, but the kids finally got their candy.


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