They had planned for an outdoor ceremony by the pond, but in the days leading up to Danielle & Cody’s wedding, the forecast predicted rain and thunderstorms. On Friday, they made the call to move the ceremony indoors. In a strange, but great twist of fate, we ended up not getting any rain in North Liberty on Saturday, though areas around got hit with not just rain, but hail. It was warm and humid out, but we got glorious cloud coverage and were able to take all of their photos outside!
The most important thing to Danielle was that she was married under the arch that her grandfather made. So moving the ceremony inside was fine, so long as the arch was inside as well. It was beautiful (and heavy!) and made the perfect spot for their vows.
Danielle & Cody shared a first look and we were able to do all of their photos before the ceremony.
Their flower girls and ring bearer were all kids whom Danielle had nannied for in the past!
And you know I adore when the bridesmaids all get to pick out their own dresses. These were so perfectly coordinated without being matchy!
With minimal rearranging, the space was quickly switched from ceremony to party!
And during the later hours of the evening, as the sun started getting low in the sky, I pulled the newly wedded couple outside for some last photographs.
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!
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!
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!
I loved that all of the bridesmaids had different gowns and each one fit so perfectly!
The dessert table was a huge hit and guests quickly devoured everything after dinner.
That evening as the sun dipped low in the sky, I pulled them out for a few more minutes of photos.
In the weeks leading up to their wedding day, the forecast was dooming. Thunderclouds, lighting bolts, and a 70% chance of pouring rain the entire afternoon and evening. It wasn’t until the day before that things started changing. The thunderclouds and lightning bolts disappeared from the graphic and the chance of rain went down to only 20%. Still, we prepped some backup plans for photos just in case, including a quick shipment of umbrellas. As it turned out, we didn’t need them at all! It rained that morning, but by the time we needed to go outside for photos, the rain had stopped and the greens in the grass and trees were nearly vibrant from the fresh drench.
Xiaoni & Jung met several years ago in the same lab at the University of Iowa. They were introduced briefly, but didn’t really become friends until about a year later when he was doing a rotation in the lab she worked in. Since that time, they have weathered many ups and downs, including both taking on huge educational workloads and her moving to Connecticut to attend Yale while he finished up medical school here in Iowa. The distant has made their relationship stronger though and it’s clear how much respect they have for each other as well as how deeply they love the other. It’s a joy to witness this next step in their relationship and it’s made even better by the fact that Jung just graduated the week before their wedding and will be doing his residency in New York, just a little over an hour away from Xiaoni! They are getting geographically much closer.
Xiaoni & Jung’s color palette was perfect for a May wedding: blush pink, champagne, mint green, gold…it was soft and gorgeous.
They both got ready at the Iowa House Hotel, which was perfect since it was a short walk uphill to where we were going to take photos and another short walk from there to the church. All of their wedding day events would be happening within 3 blocks of each other!
They chose to do a first look before the ceremony, which allowed us plenty of time for photos as well as getting all the formal photos done beforehand!
Every bouquet should have ribbons in my opinion. They are my favorite!
During cocktail hour, we went back outside for a few more photos, this time with Xiaoni’s stunning cathedral blusher veil.
I am gearing up for Maddie & Matt’s wedding in just a few more months, but absolutely loved shooting their engagement session earlier this spring! We had a relatively nice day as far as warmth goes for March in Iowa, but it was very overcast. That ended up being a huge blessing though because we were able to shoot everywhere and anywhere we wanted downtown without any iffy sun speckling that sometimes happens in the pedestrian mall.
Just as I was emailing Maddie with the first draft of their wedding day timeline, I got notice that their engagement session had been featured on Blushing Bells! Seeing it makes me so excited all over for their wedding day. I love seeing perfectly compatible people fall in love and choose to make a life together.
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!
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.
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. 😉
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.
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.
Shanna’s dad passed away several years ago so she had her brothers walk her down the aisle.
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.
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.
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.
They first met in June of 2015. It was a few weeks into their summer-long mission trip in South Carolina. One Sunday afternoon, they ran into each other and started talking. “After our first conversation, [he] definitely caught me eye and I knew there was something special about him,” Kristen says.
At the end of the summer, they went back to their homes; he to Minnesota and her to Iowa. Towards the end of September, he came down to visit her for the first time. “We hadn’t seen each other for over a month since the mission trip had ended. 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,” she says. Chad adds, “I asked her to be my girlfriend the second I got there.” They spent the rest of the day walking around downtown Iowa City. “I was excited to finally be with her in person and to officially start dating.”
Chad moved to Iowa to be closer to Kristen last summer. “I knew Chad was special since the day I met him. But it wasn’t until this past 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.
The proposal itself was a complete surprise to Kristen. “Chad and I had planned to spend most of the day together. He knew that it was a weekend where I didn’t have much studying to do so we cleared the schedule to have a nice date day before he started his job as a sheriff deputy. We made brunch together, watched our favorite TV show, and just hung out. We planned to go for a walk and then go out to dinner. I went home to change, and somehow Chad convinced me to wear nice clothes for a walk in the woods (I wanted to wear a tee and shorts) without me being skeptical at all. He picked me up and we went to the Coralville Lake. We were walking and reminiscing about when we first met in South Carolina when Chad asked to go off the trail so we could take a picture together. He always wants to take pictures and selfies together so his request for a photo wasn’t unusual, but being the rule-follower that I am, I didn’t want to go off the trail. Nevertheless, he finally convinced me and when we got off the trail a little ways, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I was so incredibly surprised–freaking out about how it was even possible because in the days & weeks leading up to it, he had intentionally thrown me for a loop so that I would be surprised.”
Chad fills in a little of the backstory, “We had planned to get engaged in summer 2017, even though I wanted it to be sooner. One day she told me she was ready to be engaged and in two weeks I had to plan everything. I had to figure out how to use Pinterest to figure out her dream ring, find a photographer [to photograph the proposal], and talk to her dad. I did it all in that timeframe and told her that I wanted to go for a walk before dinner. I brought her to the lake and pulled her off the trail saying we were going to take a picture. I then said I wanted to make her bucket list come true (she had told me the first time we hung out on the mission trip that her bucket list was to get married and have kids) and I got down on one knee and proposed.”
Kristen & Chad are two of the sweetest, kindest souls. It is clear that Chad adores Kristen and that she flourishes in that love. To witness the two of them together is to see pure, gentle love. I have loved getting to know them and am so excited to celebrate with them this summer at the start of their marriage.