With their wedding coming up next month and both of them working busy schedules, we had a very limited time to get their engagement session in. Thankfully, we had the most beautiful sunlight (!), but it was incredibly humid and hot outside and we were all sweating so much and batting at bugs between every shot. As I type this, it’s 30 degrees cooler outside and it feels like we made a quick switch from summer to fall.
Diana & Lee are planning a quick wedding (less than 3 months from engaged to married!), for the primary reason that when they were struggling to find dates for next year, Lee said, “Why wait? I want to marry you right now!” And, really, how can you turn that down? They’re utilizing the help of Jennifer from Harper Hadley Events to get everything lined up and pulled off in time. It’s going to be such a beautiful fall wedding and I’m so excited to see it all come together!
Look at this hazy little rainbow in the left corner! I didn’t notice it until I was editing the images later on the computer.
When we were finished at Wilson’s Orchard, they requested going downtown to the rooftop of the Van Allen Hall building where they had shared one of their first dates, at the Van Allen Observatory. There was going to be a public observation event that night, but the door was locked when we got there, several hours before public access. Lee went on the hunt for someone and ended up running into one of the astronomy grad students, who was kind enough to give us rooftop access for a few minutes for some photos.
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 high school; her a freshman, him a senior. “He was in the classroom that I always went into during my study hall to finish the newspaper for school. We both were dating other people, but I thought he was very cute. Three years later, we both became single and he wrote on my Facebook wall for my birthday. I said, ‘Oh, I remember him! He’s still so cute.’ And I started up a Facebook chat with him.”
Cody is admittedly shy, but where he was quiet, she says she made up for it on their first date. “He spoke in a soft tone the entire time. He took me to a comedy movie and I talked his ear off and he smiled at me and whispered answers to my questions.” This was right around the time that Danielle was first going off to college. “He was always there for me when times were stressful and rough,” she says. “I knew within the first year [that he was the one for me]. I didn’t have a car [for school] so he would pick me up and then wake up at 5:30 AM to drive me back to Iowa and then drive all the way back to work by 8:30 AM. He genuinely wanted to spend time with me and we always have fun together. He can make me laugh so easily. He would sit there and spend time helping me study and run through flash cards or take me to a cultural event for a class. He has always been there for me.”
So when it came to the proposal, it was just as unique and delightful as they are. I absolutely adore this story. “Cody is not a traditional guy. He told me he was going to propose to me in his own way. When we were on our second vacation to Las Vegas, we had gone shopping at one of the biggest malls there. As we were walking around, we saw a Kay Jewelers. I was the one who had been telling him I wanted to get engaged for a long time and when we walked past I said, ‘Oops, I guess we’re going in!’ and walked in.
“We looked around and I saw a Vera Wang engagement ring that I had seen on Pinterest two weeks before. I told him I had to try it on because it was there. I fell in love with it and said to him, ‘Whenever you are ready, this is the ring I want. It’s perfect.’
“Now, Cody is a huge joker and knows how to push my buttons. He kept saying, ‘Oh, if it’s that perfect I guess we have to go back and get it.’ I didn’t think anything of it because I didn’t think he was ready. A couple days later, we were on the bus headed down the strip and the stop for the mall came up and he said, ‘This is our stop.’ I looked at him confused and told him that wasn’t right. He said, ‘It is because we are going to get your ring. You love it and I love you and want to marry you so we are going to go and get it.’ I was so surprised and I started crying happy tears. We got off the bus and went into Kays and got my dream ring. It was something that was so him and that made it so perfect.”
Danielle & Cody are getting married next year and I’m so excited to spend their wedding day with them. We met at Wilson’s Orchard for their engagement session and sheltered under some trees since it was raining when we started. It stopped for a while so we strolled the grounds before finishing up with some of their famous apple turnovers.
They had wanted a few photos outside of Kinnick Stadium so we left Wilson’s and headed into Iowa City. On our way there, the skies opened up with torrential rains that had the streets covered in a matter of minutes. We got to the stadium and couldn’t even get out of our cars so I called them in the next car over and said I’d drive around and see if there were any overhangs that we could make use of.
I found one nearby so using the bus station as my shelter, I had them run out into the rain. Thankfully, just as that happened, the rain slowed down and actually stopped for a couple of minutes. We were able to grab some quick photos before the rain started again! It was an adventure, to say the least.
Some would say they met by chance. It was in February 2012. They were both in graduate school at the University of Iowa. His brother and a friend had come to visit him that weekend and they headed downtown to Bo-James. She was sitting inside with a friend. They began talking and, he says, “we’ve been together ever since.”
Kristen & Tim both knew from the beginning that theirs would be a lasting relationship. He proposed last December and they are planning a beautiful late spring wedding this next year. I loved every bit of their engagement session earlier this week at Wilson’s Orchard. They are kind & sweet people…and really cute together as well!
Kristen tells more about the proposal: “We had recently adopted our cat, Baby, and I was admittedly a little obsessed with her well-being and needed to check on her right away when [we got home from eating out with some friends]. She was in the bedroom and Tim told me to go see how she was doing. I went in and petted her for a few minutes and put on my pajamas and walked back out to the living room. Tim turned on my favorite song (“King and Lionheart” by Of Monsters and Men) and got down on one knee. I was very emotional and honestly surprised at how emotional I was while he asked me to marry him. I said yes.” Tim adds that they were so excited and happy, they immediately called all of their family and friends.
t was senior year of high school and she was the new girl. She was different than the other girls he knew. And he would know since he was the school flirt. She never took his remarks, smiles, or winks seriously because he was like that with everyone.
For some reason, they always got paired up together in the P.E. class they had together. Laci had started to develop a crush on him when they got paired up again…this time for learning the waltz. She says this is one of her favorite memories of their early days together and sometimes they still try waltzing in the kitchen.