It’s hard to find the right words sometimes. This day meant a lot to me for many reasons. It was a small wedding, which means that as a photographer you don’t blend into the background quite as much as you can at a larger wedding. You feel much more aware of the fact that you are a part of the day and not simply an outside photographer brought in to capture the events. I always feel privileged to witness each wedding we photograph, but sometimes the size of the guest list does have a huge impact on how the wedding feels. For Courtney & Mark I truly believe that this feeling was a perfect choice - it felt so sincere and meaningful and filled with family. It felt significant and rich. It felt like bright sun, and blue water, and colorful flowers. It felt like a deep commitment. It also felt extra special for me because I grew up in Ann Arbor, just a short drive, or run, or bike ride away from Courtney - and we’ve been friends since we could count our age on our hands. My heart fills up with days like this. I am SO happy for this family and I’m beyond happy to share this preview today!
The longer I have been a wedding photographer, the more I have come to realize that I’m really here for the marriage. I’ve talked about this many times, but as much as I love the details and the party and the flowers, I love the couple more. I love that they’re making an enormous commitment to each other. I love their relationship with their family and friends. I love that they’re saying “yep, I realize that we both have flaws but we’re gonna stick together on this ride”. I just love that I get to play a small part in capturing that. And ya wanna know the best part of reframing my job as a “marriage photographer”? I get to work with people for years. Sometimes I get the privilege of being asked to photograph their life again. At a sibling's wedding. For an updated couples session. Or for a baby. Kathy & Simon, I am SO happy that I got to see you and meet sweet Brian. This session made my heart so happy - I am very grateful. Cheers to this random Tuesday!
We kicked off our 2019 wedding season in such a wonderful way with Breanna and Lucas. It never ceases to amaze me that clients open their lives to us with so much sincerity and generosity. It is truly a privilege to do this work. Breanna and Lucas are high school sweethearts! Each of them are also the youngest sibling in their family. With all of the other siblings already being married, there was such a palpable emotion from the families. It was truly sweet to witness. The rain held off, and with a bit of misty weather coming in and out, Bre and Lucas were able to say their vows at the top of the chairlift at The Homestead with gorgeous Lake Michigan views. The whole day was full of big smiles and the laughter only continued with a great party and some truly memorable dance performances ;) Cheers to Breanna & Lucas!
If I have clients as fun loving and awesome as Sarah and Travis for the rest of my days I will be one happy camper. They brought a 6 pack of Stella, their crazy lovable pup (also named Stella), and multiple hat options to their engagement session. We hiked the Empire Bluff Trail and headed down to the beach where the ice formations were just unbelievable! It was brutally cold, but the sun came out giving us some gorgeous light to work with. I certainly can’t complain. Cheers to Sarah & Travis!
If you are really, really, lucky you will have a couple friends who have been there for your whole life. Who you played power rangers with. Who you spent months with in the summer living out of your bathing suits and throwing fishing lines over the side of old pontoon boats. They grew up with you and witnessed your adolescent shenanigans and still love you. They aggressively rooted for college sports with you. And then when everyone had graduated from college and moved onto other adventures, and moved long distances, there was always that phone call, that random text, that email, just checking in. I’m so so grateful to have a couple of these people in my life, and now we’re all “grown up” and either married or about to be married.
Even though we don’t always see each other as much as we might like, when we are together it’s pretty special. Last Summer we found one weekend that worked for all of our schedules. We went camping and made meals over the fire. We passed around bottles of beer and bubbly. We ate snacks on the beach and fell asleep in the sand. I almost got hit in the face with a frisbee - instead I ended up with a welt on my collarbone. We all laughed so hard we cried. We took a kayak out into Lake Michigan and the early Summer water was crystal clear. We watched the sunset and then made our way back to the fire. The best part? We were unplugged. If you only have a couple days out of the year to spend uninterrupted with some of your favorite people, I highly, highly, recommend doing something like this. Find a place where your phones don’t work - it will be great.
Forget everything else. Forget the discussions about money, family dynamics, and logistics. It’s hard, I know. But try for a minute. Forget the decor, the menu, the venue. Forget the magazines and blogs (ironic, I know, since this is a blog post). Definitely forget the awards, and features, and pins, and posts. Take everything away and your wedding is about your marriage. Your marriage is about you and your partner. This is where the magic in the portraits live.
These are the amazing partnerships we photographed last year.
We worked with an unbelievable number of talented people this year. I hope I’m not missing anyone!
Venues: The Inn at Bay Harbor, Shanahan’s Barn, Ciccone Vineyard, Starry Night Barn & Studios, Brengman Brothers Winery, Sojourn Lakeside Resort, The Garvey Family Wedding Barn, The Cathedral Barn, Aurora Cellars , Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Ecco Event Space, Pierce Stocking Drive, Sleder's Family Tavern, Blue Bridge Event Center, Bay Harbor Yacht Club
Hair & Makeup: M.O. Hair & Beauty, OnSite Bridal , M Salon, Simplicity Hair & Makeup Studio, Pavlova Salon & Spa, Bliss Salon, Signature Salon TC, Brittany, Elegant Bridal Designs, Jess Klaas, Mario Tricoci, Lysette Nazworth, Northern Michigan Beauty
Floral Design: Sweetwater Floral, Bloom Floral Design, Field of Flowers North, Hooper Farm & Gardens, Lilies of the Alley, Martin's Flowers on Center, Premier Floral Design, Omena Cut Flowers, Blue Bridge Floral
Favors: A Signature Welcome
Videographers: Mandie Forbes
Video Assistance: Sawyer Harris
Last week Ray and Mike headed to Northern Michigan for a little getaway and I was thrilled that the timing worked out so that I could join them for a photo session! The weather, as always, was unpredictable and we ended up with a cold day that felt absolutely frigid the moment the wind touched you. When I stepped out of my car at the beach in Glen Haven, the wind was whipping up huge icy blue waves and I was a bit worried. Despite conditions that make you want to curl up on the couch under a blanket, Ray and Mike were absolutely up for the adventure. Those blues of Lake Michigan came through, we walked through green forests with fat snowflakes coming down, and explored the vast expanse of sand at the dune climb - Northern Michigan’s color palette really came through for us. But the most important part was, of course, Ray and Mike. Their sense of humor and laughter was contagious. We were chatting and laughing as we walked down trails and hopped back in cars to warm up. Their smiles stole the show and I had an absolute blast. Thank you Ray and Mike for an awesome afternoon!
Time passes so quickly, which is one of the main reasons I find so much meaning in being a photographer. I can’t encourage you enough to capture your life as it is right now. There will never be a “perfect” moment - your haircut might not look the way you want it to, you might question your outfit choices, your kid might not behave exactly how you hoped they would, or maybe you’re thinking that only people with kids take family portraits. Nope - c’mon this is real life. Nothing is ever going to be “perfect”, but I hope that you come away from your session with at least a handful of images (hopefully more) that make you feel like life is pretty freaking awesome.
Despite being chilly and windy, it doesn’t get much better than this. The Miller Family and I definitely took advantage of the Fall sunshine. I had a great time photographing this beautiful and super sweet family out on Old Mission peninsula last week.
On Saturday Michael and I headed to Mackinac Island to document a surprise proposal - and then engagement session. It was so special and sweet, and we also got super into pretending to be covert spies as we hid microphones and tried not to be obvious while pretending to nonchalantly photograph and film the grounds of Mission Point Resort. Matt and Dawn were wonderful and after the proposal we spent some time with them exploring Mackinac Island on a moody early Fall day. I have to say, if you’re considering a trip to the Island, this time of year is a great time to go. It was so beautiful and way more laid back than it is in the height of Summer. Congratulations Matt & Dawn!
Special thanks to Mission Point Resort for advice and assistance in coordinating Matt’s proposal!
August was a full month for us and now it's hard to believe that September is here already! On the very last day of the month - in between unpredictable late Summer weather - I fit in an engagement session with Amelia and Chris while they were in town visiting from the East Coast. I'm so glad we could make it happen! They were hoping to sun and water views. Check and check. Cheers to you two! Meeting our 2019 couples always makes me excited for what's ahead.
Leslie & Bob are former wedding clients of ours and so I was super excited to hear from Leslie about a family trip they had planned in Northern Michigan! They were coming up north with her brother and sister-in-law whose baby was born within months of their new little one. Bob also proposed to Leslie at the Old Mission Lighthouse, so that made these photos extra special. What a sweet time for this family. I was honored to capture some shots for them!
As I was sorting through Carolyn & Dan's wedding photos I was really struck by two things. First was of course the natural beauty of Northern Michigan and the striking portraits we were able to take of the two of them in that landscape. But the second thing I was really struck by was the number of great "in between" moments that I wanted to include in this preview. The photos that probably won't be the hang-on-the-wall or "frame-worthy" photos, but are priceless none the less. No, you probably won't frame the photo of your parents making ham sandwiches and hummus roll-ups for the wedding party, but that moment is special and it's definitely worth documenting. I never want to be so caught up with seeking "perfection" that I miss moments like those. Cheers to Carolyn & Dan! What an absolutely spectacular wedding day.
Venue: Aurora Cellars // Ceremony: St. Mary's of Lake Leelanau // Hair & Makeup: Memorable Occasions // Florist: Premier Floral Design // Transportation: Great Lakes Party Bus // Caterer: Bayside Gatherings // Dessert: Grand Traverse Pie Co. // DJ: 2 Bays DJs // Bride's attire: Bianka Bridal // Groom's attire: Calvin Klein
I've said it before - but I'll say it again. I love extended family sessions. I love the fact that families are gathering along the shores of Lake Michigan to vacation together. To eat meals together, explore a new area, take in the lake views, enjoy the late sunsets and just be together. Cheers to this beautiful family and their time together.
Nothing was going to bother Leah and Shayne on their wedding day. A little rain? Who cares? Move the wedding under the tent and guess what?! It's going to be gorgeous. The cloudy skies created slightly moody lighting, the tented ceremony was intimate and beautiful, the toasts were hilarious and the party was rockin'. Above all else, Leah and Shayne were happy. They were loving each moment and we were so honored to be there capturing it. Cheers to Leah and Shayne!
Wedding Planning and Design: Sincerely, Ginger // Venue: The Inn at Bay Harbor // Hair and Make-up: Memorable Occasions // Floral Design: Bloom Floral Design // Officiant: Crystal Yarlott // Day-of Stationary: Kelsey Malie Calligraphy // Rentals: 307 Events, La Tavola, Monstrey Macdonald // Caterer: The Inn at Bay Harbor // Dessert: Tom's Mom's Cookies // Entertainment: Brena Band
"I hear babies crying, I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll never know
And I think to myself what a wonderful world
Yes I think to myself what a wonderful world"
Megan's dad learned how to play the ukulele so that he could play this song at her wedding reception. It was a beautiful moment to witness. It was a reminder of just how fleeting and special wedding days are. The love that is poured into one single day so that a couple can begin their married life together surrounded by the people who love them the most.
Wedding Design, Planning & Coordination: Tableau Events // Hair & Makeup: Northern Michigan Beauty // Florist: Stems & Sprigs // Papery Design & Event Branding: Tableau Events // Calligraphy: Leah Moss // Prep Locations: Private Residence & The Inn at Bay Harbor // Church: St. Francis Xavier // Venue & Catering: Bay Harbor Yacht Club // Dessert: Simply Sweet by Jessica // Transportation: Bay to Bay Shuttle & Affordable Limo // Band: Simone Vitale Band // Photography Assistance: Chelsey Granger // Videography Assistance: Sawyer Harris // Videography by us coming soon!
Winter weddings are kind of a novelty for us. A rare gem. We don't get very many inquiries for them, but I'm hoping that more people will start to seriously consider getting married at this time of year. The sky and the lake were bright blue. Despite a warm up that melted most of our snow pack, the remaining cover was bright white and dramatic. And these two. I can't express enough just how much we loved working with them.
I'll share one story before I let the photos tell the rest: While Kathy was dancing with her dad at the end of this amazing day, I looked over to see her mom tearing up. Simon came over to stand next to her and give her a hug. Pretty soon Kathy's maid of honor came over and ended up crying right alongside her mom. Then another bridesmaid... then an aunt. Before they knew it they were all laughing at the fact that they were all crying. Their arms were wrapped around each others shoulders as they cried and laughed and cheered. That combination of intense emotions - the joy, the nostalgia, the sheer happiness of gathering with all of your favorite people - those are the things that make me absolutely love this job.
Event Planning, Design, Coordination & Styling: Every Little Detail // Prep & portraits: The Inn at Bay Harbor // Venue: The Bay Harbor Yacht Club // Hair & Makeup: OnSite Bridal // Favors: A Signature Welcome // Floral: Stems & Sprigs // Stationary: Silver Fox Calligraphy // Rentals & Decor: 307 Events, Gigi and LaClede, Special Occasions West, Taylor Rental // Entertainment: Simone Vitale Band // Photobooth: Motion Booth // Dessert: Simply Sweet by Jessica // Transportation: Blue Lakes By The Bay // Accomodation: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Petoskey // Videography: US! (Stay Tuned) // Photo Assistant: Chelsey Granger // Video Assistant: Sawyer Harris
We hit a perfect Fall day for Zack, Laura & their two pups. The golden light was just right and the session kinda flew by because we kept finding new places to explore. It was one of those times where I'd just pull over on the side of the road and say "I just had to stop - that field looks like a perfect spot right now". To top it all off we witnessed a cotton candy sunset at Pyramid Point... doesn't get much better!
It's not often that you meet a couple who has been together since the 8th grade. Throughout the day it was honestly hard to tell who was on "Anthony's side" and who was on "Kim's side". I had a bridesmaid and groomsman say to me, "take our picture! We have pictures of us together since 7th grade!". The time that Kim and Anthony have already spent together as a couple created such an amazing bond between them and everyone attending their wedding. Talk about an incredible atmosphere surrounding them - and we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to photograph it. Cheers to Kim & Anthony!!
Venue: The Homestead, Hair & Makeup: Lily Jade Salon at The Homestead, Florist & Decor: 307 Events, Paper products & design: Holly Thomas Design, Ceremony music: Festival Strings, DJ: 2Bays DJs, Catering: The Homestead, Cake: Cake Connection, Bride's Attire: Stella York from The Bustle Del Mar, Groom's Attire: Jos. A. Bank.
Chicago was really showing off for us this past weekend with comfortable weather, gorgeous sunshine, and an absolutely lovely couple: Cory & Mark. They read very personal vows to each other, created a time capsule of their relationship during their ceremony which they plan to add to every year, and they are just so visibly calmed by being around each other. It was such a privilege to travel to Chicago and document their wedding! The big city is a change of pace from our work & life in Northern Michigan, but that's exactly what can make this job so great. Cheers to C & M!