Carrie and Steve: Chicago, IL Engagement Session

I am a crazy romantic.

That is why I loved hearing the story of how Carrie and Steve met. It was a dark, stormy night and two strangers were alone at Cosi cafe in downtown Chicago. They exchanged furtive glances and finally got to talking. After chatting for several hours, they ended the night with a plate of smores. How cute is that? They are an adorable couple and were so snuggly and sweet that I couldn’t help but smile from behind the camera. We visited the South Pond at the Lincoln Park Zoo, the gardens in front of the Lincoln Park Conservatory and finished with so many gorgeous pictures at the Albert Caldwell Lily Pond. I am so excited to be shooting their wedding next July in Chicago, I can already tell that we are going to have a great time!

 

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Photowalk: Summertime in the Big City and Big Waves

Chicago sure is a wacky place to live when it comes to weather.

The winters are abysmally long and the summers, especially this summer, can’t seem to make up their minds. Two weeks ago it was nearly 100 degrees; yesterday, it felt like autumn and I had to dig out a jacket. The beau and I went for a bike ride to Montrose Beach to check out the kite surfers who were taking advantage of the massive waves plummeting the beaches. It was amazing to watch these guys not only get in the frigid water, but to sail up into the air to heights that blew the mind. Luckily I had my new best friend, my 70-200, on hand to capture the action. What I did not have was a tripod or monopod so it had to fight hard against the winds that were whipping sand up in a frenzy at our feet.We later learned that the guys were part of Fresh Coast Kiteboarding, a local company that does lessons, sells gear and whatnot for those not afraid to fly above the water.

To end the night, Mikey read my mind and my stomach and suggested that we go to Little India. Reason #840 why I love him and why he is so sneaky – the man knows just when to suggest Indian food despite the fact that we are supposed to be eating out less and cooking in more. All in all, it was a great end to a chilly summer day in Chicago.

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Kids Do The Darndest Things…At Weddings

I realize that not everyone is a fan of kids.

However, I am a HUGE fan and cannot get enough of them, especially at weddings. They just always seem to do the cutest things and if I am lucky enough, I am there to witness it and – click! – capture it with my camera. Last weekend I shot a wedding in Milwaukee and I could not get enough of the two flower girls and the ring bearer, who was also the son of the bride and groom. The three of them kept me entertained for hours, along with the rowdy gaggle of guests and family that came together to celebrate the marriage.

If you are debating having kids at your wedding and/or ceremony, I would give a wholehearted yes. If only just for the fact that if you have a really cool photographer like moi, you are going to get some beautiful pictures afterward that will make you smile. Below are just a few of the images that made ME smile, and appreciate my job even more.

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Share the Love and the Wealth With a Donation-Based Wedding Gift Registry

For as long as I can remember, I have been of the mindset that it is better to give than to receive, especially when it comes to charity.

When I was just a young girl, my mom brought me to the soup kitchen to help those less fortunate in our community. I organized a book drive in junior high for our local shelter and spent all four years of college volunteering at a high-poverty elementary school. While I have not had much time in my adulthood to spend doing charitable deeds, I try to make a difference with financial donations when possible. That is why I love when I hear stories about people giving a portion or all of their wedding gift monies to charity. What better way to share your love then to ask your friends and family to support your favorite cause? If you are thinking about raising money for a charity, there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Gift versus Charitable Donation: While it would be nice to ask for a gift AND a donation, you will have to make the decision of what is more important. If you are not desperately in need of the standard newlywed gifts, you can give your guests the choice of donating to your charity or buying you a gift. Make it clear on your website and save the date cards about how the guests can give money or buy gifts. You can use a website like Razoo to set up an easy method of online payments for your fundraiser.

2. Donation Box: If you do not want to set up a website to collect funds for your charity, you can find and jazz up a box for donations. Place a sign by the box and allow people to slip their envelopes into the box discretely, placing less pressure on people who do not give to your charity of choice.

3. Percentage Option: Rather than asking people to donate money themselves, you can announce that you will give a portion of your gift monies to your charity.

4. Purchase charity-minded favors: Another option is to purchase party favors that directly support the charity. You can include a small note about how the items support your charity and how your guests can also support the charity after the wedding if they wish.

While these are just a few ideas for charitable weddings, you can find so many more and real stories at The Charity Wedding. Just have a box of tissues handy to read some of the truly moving stories posted on the website!

Claire and Aaron: Oshkosh, WI Wedding

I was lucky enough to work with Let It Rain Studios to shoot the wedding of the beautiful Claire and handsome Aaron last weekend. After being wed at the newly renovated Most Blessed Sacrament church in Oshkosh, WI, the wedding party moved to the campus of Lawrence University for some fun outdoor shots and then inside the Warch Campus Center. Even though it was a very hot day, everyone had a fantastic time and shared in the love of Claire and Aaron.

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Everything Old is Cool Again

I admit it: I love old stuff. As a kid, I grew up around so many antiques that my friends often called my house a museum. Not in a dusty, creepy way, because my mom had some serious style, but to the point where I craved anything modern. I swore that when I grew up, my house would be whitewashed with stainless steel accents, not  a hint of anything old. Of course, now we call old things vintage and people make a living out of finding cool old stuff and selling it for crazy prices. I don’t know when I started liking old stuff, but I sure do have an appreciation for it now. Last weekend the beau and I went to the Elkhorn Flea Market in Wisconsin, a massive event that attracts over 500 vendors with an assortment of goods. While I would not actually buy some of the stuff being offered – hello sexy dancing doll – it was awesome to take a walk back through time. For anyone throwing a vintage-themed wedding, the Elkhorn flea market and others like it are awesome places to find unique centerpieces and table accents. In true vintage style, I present some of my favorite finds in Instagramish square format:

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