Brian is a planner. He sees forward 10 steps and acts accordingly. This is an admirable quality in any mate. For Jessica, it meant a perfectly surprising proposal. She was planning on a nice evening out with a friend from out of town. A friend of Brian’s. He’d texted her the day before, saying how much he was looking forward to seeing them both. And so Jess spent the early evening dressing and primping. Brian, meanwhile, was texting with that same friend, smiling at how his plan was playing out. The friend wasn’t in town. It was just a simple cover. He pulled the Champagne he’d hidden in the back of the fridge out, and plunged it into the ice bucket. Jess started to come down the stairs and he quickly stood in front of his surprise. “Ready?” she inquired. “Yes, and no.” he answered, a sly smile spreading across his face until it crinkled his eyes and turned mischievous. She paused, curious. “What do you mean?” He reached into his pocket. “Well, first you have to answer a question…”
Shawna and Trevor go together like jack and coke. I’ll reference a nice cocktail, because that is the sort of sauciness they exude. Both awesome and unique on their own, but something full of magic and chemistry when mixed together. They possess a certain style as a couple that is relaxed, exuberant and a touch old-school too. You’ll see it all through their wedding day. In Shawna’s stylish wedding dress (with stacked heel booties for shoes!), in the paper Trevor used for his vows, in their adorable brother serving as officiant, in the sweet way Shawna’s sisters surround her on the dance floor, in the all knowing glances between Trevor and his twin brother, and also in a visit from grandma via a monarch.
Venue: Lake Park Bistro
Floral: Impressions by Esther
Bride’s Gown: Blush by Hayley Paige
Men’s Suits: Joseph A Banks
Bride’s Shoes: Calvin Klein
Rings: A Trio Jewelry
Lounge Furniture: Canopies Events
Bride & Groom Chairs: Relics Vintage Rentals
Band: Dan Harvey Band
Makeup: Paulina Esthetics Boutique
Hair: Hello Brunette
Becoming a parent transforms you. It’s slow and subtle, and those nine months that you wait and wait, they work their magic on you slowly. By the time you are settled in at home, trying to figure out the rhythms of a new tiny human entrusted to your care – you are in the throes of it. There is still more change to come, more molding, more stretching, more becoming. But for Nikki & John, I smiled so broadly at how much they’ve already become parents to sweet Regan. She’s a joy, that’s clear. I think there were several moments during this session where we all caught ourselves just watching her and forgot to take pictures.
Okay, well there are like 10 things I would tweak. But there’s ONE thing that would have made a huge difference. This one simple choice would have solved so much of our stress, and saved Hubby a lot of sweat too.
Wondering what it is?
Admittedly, it was *almost* ten years ago, and first looks weren’t really a “thing”. But if we had done one – our day would have been so much smoother!
I had a big entrance planned (thanks to a childhood impression made by a cousin’s wedding). A grand staircase, a trumpet, a long and dramatic veil…it was going to be epic. And it was. I remember that walk, gripping my dad’s arm, the smell of jasmine wafting up towards me, the big white flower arrangements, the smiling faces, the music swelling, my tears getting stuck in my veil. And then there he was, waiting for me. Anxious, nervous…hot. (It was 80 degrees in May) He smiled a look I will never forget. But he was three feet away from me, and then our officiant started talking, and I was trying to take it all in, pay attention to the words, sneak a peek at my Mom. There wasn’t a moment to connect with him. The one I was there to marry. Here we were – about to promise forever, and I hadn’t even said hello yet.
Imagine if we had done a first look. We would have met hours before. Connected and set the tone for the day where it belonged – on us and our love. Walking down that staircase would have felt like a glide, because I would have been resuming what we had already started earlier in the day. A continuing feeling. The nervousness wouldn’t have been there. I wouldn’t have been fighting to hide my feelings because so many eyes were on me. Hubby wouldn’t have been sweating quite so hard because he would have felt that continuance too. I’m confident I would have thought to hand off my bouquet and grab his hands even. Which would have been awesome. (Oh, there’s so much you don’t think of!)
Don’t get me wrong. I adore our wedding and all the memories that go with it. But seeing over 300 other weddings play out through the last 10 years has shown me – there’s always room for improvement.
From a more practical side:
-We would have had our photos already accomplished too. Which means I would have pictures with our grandmothers and my godfather – who all left quickly after the ceremony because of the heat. Those people are gone now, and we can’t get those pictures back. We all would have been less sweaty too, which can’t hurt.
-We could have felt relaxed instead of rushed afterwards (because….our day of coordinator started the ceremony 30 minutes late), knowing we didn’t need to run off for pictures with our wedding party.
-We would have been able to attend our own cocktail hour and party with our guests and dear family and friends. We’ve heard so many stories of this time, but we didn’t get to experience it.
So there you have it – my #1 thing I would change. If you are wondering if it takes away from that feeling of seeing your bride for the first time – the grooms included in this post are all seeing their brides for the second time that day – hours after a first look!
It’s exceedingly romantic to get married at the end of a season. To start a new life, a new version of yourself, just as the world is letting go and transforming. So, they partied away the last warm rays, the last colorful swirls of leaves that autumn had to offer with their wedding day. The biting cold wind just served to prove it was the absolute tipping point from one season into the next, and Sandy & Cain had positioned their first day of marriage just perfectly.
Venue: The Enchanted Barn
Florals: DIY by the Bride
Stationer: Wedding Paper Divas
Bride’s Gown: Martina Liana
Bridesmaids: Bari Jay & Alfred Angelo
Groom’s Suit: Tommy Hilfiger
Macaroons: Nikkolette’s Macaroons
Band: Milwaukee Hot Club
DJ: Ignite Entertainment
He was the cute guy wearing a flannel and holding a football in his profile picture. She was the girl tired of the misses on eHarmony. So, she threw caution to the wind and tossed him a line out of her usual norm: “Happy Hump Day! I hope that’s not too aggressive”. It turns out it wasn’t, and before she knew it she was breaking more of her own rules and stepping into his car for their first date. Hours slid by rapidly that night as they talked. They realized they had been missing each other’s passes for years – living parallel and never intersecting. They had been at the same parties, flown to Chicago on the same weekends, even lived in the same building. It was a tale of narrow misses with your other half. Until now.
I thought you might enjoy a little behind the scenes peek into the how and why of our new website. This new site is just the first piece in a brand refresh you will see unfurling across all our platforms in the coming months. What you see from me from now on will be aimed at a classic, personal, sophisticated look with just a touch of gold and sass.
This is year 10 for m three studio. (I know, can you believe it?!?), and it was time to polish things up a bit. We’ve come a long way in 10 years and over 300 weddings. I have it all saved in archive – from that first (now cringeworthy) wedding in 2007, the old logo, the old business cards (multiple versions), the rebrand in 2009, and now a refresh on that in 2017.
(A little peek at the past incarnations of m three studio)
My brand and my work have always been side by side. Sometimes one jumps ahead of the other and we have to do some leveling off. Such is the case now. The old website was lovely, but it didn’t fit as well anymore. The sleeves were a little shrunken, the neckline had lost it’s shape. It was comfortable, but I’ve never been a big fan of comfortable artistically.
I wanted a site that touched on a lot of my “Why”. For me, being a photographer is such an honor. I’m asked to record special moments in someone’s life story. But I’m also asked to be part of that experience to a certain extent. It’s an honor I don’t take lightly. We put a lot of work into crafting that experience, and the photographs we create. I know my work becomes part of my client’s family history – and so the site is a nod to that. I’m shooting for the silver frame with every click of my camera.
The new website also touches on my storytelling focus. I’m a former filmmaker and animator. Storytelling has always been there for me as an artist. It’s another “why” for me. It’s what drives me to photograph. It’s what drove me to draw, to print, to paint. There was always a story to tell. There still is. This is why you see a set of full wedding days to peruse in the galleries – not just a collection of my best pictures.
I’ve added a fun page introducing you to my AH-mazing studio photographer Melissa. She’s been photographing for m three studio for years – picking up dates I was already booked for. You should check out her page, and her sweet pup Phoebe too.
There’s much more ahead! Next up is a new and shiny blog – which has been a long-time coming, as we outgrew that look and threw it in the “too small” bin years ago. After that, we will be full steam ahead on an Anniversary celebration of sorts. Because 10 years is amazing! I’ll for sure pull some more out of the archives to share and embarrass myself with too.
We are also adding a newsletter! I’ll be featuring some stories on there that you won’t see elsewhere from me. But it will also be a great way to keep up with all we do and create. There might be a recipe or kiddo picture in there from time to time, and some other randomness. You just never know. Newsletter subscribers will be the first to know about special sessions, sales and other events. You can sign up here, I hope you do!
He fidgeted in the pew, trying to find a comfortable position. His bible slipped off his lap onto the floor and he leaned over to retrieve it. It was just beyond his fingertips and he stretched a little farther. Just as he got a grasp on it, a beautiful song started to fill the air. He looked up to see who it was. A girl he hadn’t seen before, with long brown hair and a clear command of her spirit, was leading worship. He sat there, a bit in awe for a moment, taking in her song, the sound of her voice. The last chord on the keyboard brought a half-embarrassed smile to her face and he noticed she looked up towards him briefly. A feeling washed over him. This was his wife. Wait, what? He looked down, shook his head a bit. No, that is clearly what had just been whispered in his mind. He looked again at Kelsey. He sat with the thought a moment, feeling it warm slowly inside his chest. He smiled, and blinked. Kelsey was standing again, about to sing. So he set his eyes on her and allowed himself to get caught back up into the service. Months later, he had asked her on a date, and then another, and she found herself falling despite the reservations of her independent spirit. She hadn’t really been looking, and that was clear since Dan had been right under he nose and yet somehow completely un-noticed by her. She wasn’t sure she was ready and so she figured it might be best to put this in someone else’s hands. So, she started asking for clear, undeniable signs from God. She requested detailed, specific things – conversations she felt they needed to have, concerns she held deep, worries she was afraid to discuss. Over and over again, there would be another date with Dan the next day, and much to her surprise and delight, he would bring up these same concerns and lay them bare for examination. The signs were large, lit in neon and sometimes even blinking. And so, on a chilly fall day, on a hike, Dan asked the final question, and Kelsey said yes.
It’s been a long time since I’ve just chatted on here. Let’s catchup!
What a crazy winter it has been. Mother Nature has lost her ever-loving mind and given us everything from 70 degrees to icy and below freezing, often in the same week. While few would complain about a mild winter – I am missing the snow. I had a few couples who were hoping for snow engagement shoots this winter, and it doesn’t look like that will be happening. *sigh* The kiddos are a little sad too, as each time it shows snow on my weather app, Mini gets excited, only to be let down by the ‘dusting’ we get that melts by the end of the day.
I’ve been reminding myself it’s still winter though, and trying to hammer away at the “off-season” to-do list. There’s a long string of unfinished projects to tackle, which I’m happy to say I have been, little by little. Things like hanging artwork in Squeak’s room and photographing the girls’ artwork. None of it takes much time, I just have to do it. There’s one very large project happening too – painting all of the woodwork in our house white. I want it all done by June. So far the girls’ bedrooms, their hallway and their bathroom are done. That still leaves 3/4 of the house (likely more, but I’m telling myself I’m 1/4 done), much of which is stair railings. But I’m doing it! This is something I’ve been talking about doing for years. We’ve been in this house for 10 years now. It’s time to stop talking and start doing.
(occasionally, I include updates on these projects in my Instagram stories…)
That’s sort of my philosophy for this whole year. I’m staring down a big birthday in December, and I’ve adopted a “moving mountains” attitude for this year. I’m hoping it helps me to stay motivated and feel very accomplished by the time 2018 rolls around.
The girls are growing like weeds. Mini turned 5 at the beginning of the year, and we found out she is far-sighted and so we now have a bespectacled little girl. She’s eagerly awaiting Kindergarten and still surprises us with her maturity regularly. Squeak turned 2 last fall, and is gaining vocabulary and personality in leaps and bounds. I’ve always loved the age of 2 – they are still so sweet, and not quite sassy yet, and it’s such fun to watch them learn and develop skills.
I found a new app recently that has been helping me record our everyday lives in a fun way. It’s called 1 Second Everyday. Basically, it asks you to record a one second video each day, and then it compiles them into a video for you at the end of the month, and end of the year. It’s really fun to look back and see all we’ve done in a month. And, for a photographer who often forgets to photograph her own kids, it’s nice to get a reminder!
Hubby launched a beer festival in February! The Keg Killer Outdoor Winter Beer Festival. I was able to help out quite a bit with it, which was good fun. We lived in a world consumed by buffalo plaid, beer, and all things lumberjack themed for a few months there. The festival went off beautifully with temperate weather, sold-out status and tons of happy beer drinkers. I am still so proud of him for making his vision come to life! Now, it’s on to the next beer event, Summer Untapped.
Wedding season started a month ago for us, with a wedding in February. I just posted a sneak-peek of their photos on my Facebook page last week. Check it out if you missed it! We have another wedding this weekend too. At the moment there is snow on the radar for Saturday, and I have to admit, that would be lovely….
(this weekend’s couple, Kelsey & Dan, who did get the *tiniest* amount of snow for their shoot)
One of those big projects for the off-season has been an overhaul of the website and blog. I’ve spent a lot of late nights slaving away at the design and functionality for them both. Designing, redesigning and then tweaking some more. The blog is still under construction (as you can see), but the new website will be launching this week! I can’t wait to share it with you!
I’ve been crushing on a new easy dinner recipe I stumbled upon at a wedding show. It’s so easy and crazy good, and it only takes me about 20 minutes to pull together. So, you layer chopped up grilled chicken over a bed of mashed potatoes (sub out rice for something healthier), then drizzle with balsamic vinegar (my favorite!) and top generously with tomato bruschetta (pre-prepared makes this super easy). The flavor is awesome.
I discover new television not because I get to sit in front of our tv (which rarely happens), but because I “listen” to tv while I edit. The ability to watch whole seasons of television at once hasn’t helped this addiction. ;0) This winter I’ve already enjoyed “The Crown“, “Mozart in the Jungle” and I know I’m super late to this game, but I discovered the hilarity that is “Arrested Development“.
It’s parent participation month at Mini’s school, and I’m teaching an animation lesson this week – so I better go and pull that together. It’s gorgeous outside today in Milwaukee – get outside!
Sometimes, love strikes twice. Such is the luck of Sue & Justin. They’ve both weathered the loss of their beloved spouses, and in that strange new world after – found each other. The homily from this sweet little elopement has stuck with me. The priest talked about how Sue had called and left a panicked message, asking him to call back immediately. Worried something was wrong, he did so. “Oh no!” she laughed at him, “Something is right! We can’t waste any time!” And so it was, and here they were. He also spoke about how their deceased spouses and the love they shared with them – it was all part of this new love. It was such a lovely perspective – that love continues and flows. What a lovely new beginning! Adding an extra sweet layer to this day are the energetic grandkids (one who you will see, adorably refused to have her picture taken) and Sue & Justin’s wonderful children. Like the practiced and wonderful grandparents they are – I was taken with how they put the needs of everyone else before theirs on this, their wedding day – even juggling tiny toys alongside bouquets.