Archive: ‘Weddings’

Summer Picnic-Inspired New York Wedding: Andrew & Amanda – Part 1

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Amanda and I met what feels like a lifetime ago when we worked together at the Pulmonary Hypertension Association in the Washington, DC area. She was smart, driven, but most importantly, she was the definition of grace — always available to lend an empathetic ear, thoughtfully help solve a problem, offer up a kind word and a smile, and she wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty, as the saying goes. As a colleague, she was top notch, and we quickly became work buds. At the time, Amanda and Andrew were in the process of falling in love, and every once in awhile she’d regale us with stories of her handsome sports writer with the crazy work schedule. Being with him made her undeniably happy, and several months after we’d both moved on from PHA and I had moved away from DC, I was thrilled to learn that Andrew had finally popped the question.

When Amanda and Andrew reached out to ask me to photograph their wedding, I was both honored and humbled — and crazy excited!!! On this chilly December day, I’m so excited to warm things up by sharing with you part one of their gorgeous summer wedding. (Check back tomorrow for part two.) Everything about their summer picnic-inspired day was perfection, from the thoughtfully planned details to the picture-perfect Lake Lodge setting. But the absolute best part of the day had to be all the joy and warmth in which the entire day was steeped…way more refreshing than even the tallest glass of iced tea!

We kicked off the wedding day with morning hair appointments at Salon 96 for all the lovely ladies.

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Amanda’s mom Bev played the part of proud mama to perfection, and it was clear that mother-in-law Dinah had embraced Amanda as her own. Look at the lovely hand-stitched veil she made!

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After the hair appointments, we headed over to Amanda’s aunt’s home — which incidentally was the home where her father, aunt, and their siblings had grown up. Their rich family history could be felt in every room. I ducked out on the beautiful wrap-around porch to photograph Amanda’s dress and stunning details while Amanda, Dinah and the others finished up some last-minute flower arrangements.

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I should note that Amanda made her own bouquet…STUNNING!

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Once the details were photographed and the final flowers had been arranged, it was time for Amanda to get dressed.

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Paying tribute to Andrew’s family’s rich history, Amanda wore the Lavalier, a family heirloom that had been worn by generations of women in Andrew’s family on their wedding day.

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Andrew and the guys spent the morning at Amanda’s family home helping with final preparations for brunch the following day, and it was finally time for them to get ready.

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Before Andrew and Amanda’s first look, we set aside a few minutes for the bride’s dad Den to hug his beautiful daughter. The way he embraced her and then stepped back to admire his little girl was beyond beautiful, and I’ve decided that a father/daughter first look is a must whenever possible.

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Andrew and Amanda’s first look was tender and emotional and incredibly touching.

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I loved that Andrew and Amanda were fully committed to being “in the moment” and soaking in all the emotion of the day. And their commitment to “being present” was contagious — the family photos were filled with emotion, too.

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Let me just say…Amanda and Andrew sure do know how to pick awesome friends. Best bridal party EVER!

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And I’ll leave you with this little sweetie pie ring bearer…adorbs!

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Be sure and come back tomorrow for part two of Amanda and Andrew’s beautiful wedding, including the gorgeous, emotional ceremony and super-fun reception.


Bridal Trivia: Old, New, Borrowed, Blue

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

Ever wonder WHY we celebrate certain wedding traditions? I’m a huge trivia fan, and I recently got to wondering where one of my favorite wedding traditions originated:

Something old, something new,
Something borrowed, something blue,
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

As it turns out, this rhyme — and thereby tradition — hearkens back to the Victorian Era, and each item mentioned in the rhyme is meant to bring the bride good luck. If she carries all of them on her wedding day, the marriage will be filled with happiness.

Something Old represents the bride’s family and helps her carry a piece of her family’s history into her future.

Something New is a symbol of hope and joy for the bride’s life ahead.

Something Borrowed usually comes from a happily married friend or family member, whose good fortune in marriage it is hoped will spill into the bride’s life. It also serves as a reminder to the bride that she has family and friends she can count on to help her, counsel her and guide her as she learns what it is to be a wife.

Something Blue represents fidelity, purity and love. Throughout history, blue has been connected to weddings. Brides in ancient Rome wore blue to symbolize love, modesty, and fidelity. In Christianity, the Virgin Mary is often depitcted in blue, associating the color with purity. And prior to the late 19th century, blue (not white) was the color of choice for wedding gowns, inspiring proverbs like, “Marry in blue, lover be true.”

"Something Blue" by St Louis Wedding Photographer Christa Donald Photography

And finally, the Silver Sixpence represents wealth or financial security, likely dating back to an old Scottish custom of the groom putting a silver coin under his foot for good luck.


If trivia is your thing, you might want to check out the post on why traditionally a bride and groom choose not to see each other on their wedding day before the ceremony!

Simple & Elegant Autumn Wedding | Elliot & Ginger

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

It was a perfect Autumn day…the sun was shining, the air was crisp, and there was a slight haze of dust hanging in the air, signaling that it was indeed harvest time in Central Illinois. And on this most simply perfect of Fall days, in a rustic country church surrounded by family and friends, Elliot and Ginger finally tied the knot.

I first met Elliot and Ginger late last Spring for their engagement photos. The spring had dealt us lots of rain — and accordingly a few complications with scheduling their engagement session — but when I finally had the chance to meet these two in person, it was obvious that they were perfectly in love and following a destiny that had been laid out for them to bless the world with their togetherness. They just fit…a casual, comfy fit where each of them felt free to embrace their inner selves — goofiness and silly inside jokes included. And their free, easy way with one another just has this effect of making everything with the world just seem right when you’re with them. And at the end of our engagement session, I was all the more thrilled to have the honor of photographing their upcoming nuptials later in the Fall.

Ginger — you and your mom put together a beautiful, rustic Autumn-themed wedding. Everything, from your dress and flowers to the ceremony details and reception décor reflected the spirit of your and Elliot’s relationship perfectly — casual but refined, simple but elegant.

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Elliot and Ginger decided not to see each other before the wedding, but they did manage to take some time to pray together before walking down the aisle. It was a special and powerful moment.

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Upon the announcement that they were officially “Mr & Mrs,” Elliot couldn’t contain his excitement, dancing back down the aisle with his gorgeous bride. PURE JOY!!!

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The ring bearer and flower girls were picture-perfect…so stinkin’ cute!

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What an awesome bridal party…so much fun — and so thrilled for their friends. LOVE!

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Elliot and Ginger had the brilliant idea to head to a local B&B, The McGrady Inn, for the bridal party and couple portraits following the ceremony. The Inn was formerly a church that has been lovingly restored and converted to guest space, and it is phenomenally cool. And with the amazingly huge, beautiful picture windows, we were able to take advantage of some killer window light.

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Ginger, your smile can light up an entire room…and add an extra sparkle to Elliot’s eye!

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The reception was beautifully styled by Ginger’s mom. She took special care to incorporate so many fun, rustic details — like the burlap seed bags that served as a backdrop for the wedding favors — that reflected not only the season, but also Elliot’s family history of farming. And that cake — it tasted every bit as good as it looked. Yumm-o!

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And we’ll end on a note of gratitude…thank you so much, Elliot and Ginger, for inviting me to be part of your beautiful wedding day. I wish you an incredibly blessed future together, and I thank you for touching my heart with your kindness, generosity, and grace.


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A special thanks to the wonderful vendors who helped make Elliot & Ginger’s day so very special!

Caterer: Smoky’s House BBQ | Florist: Noble Flower Shop | Cake Artist: Randy Coonce | Officiant: Ben Hoerr | Wedding Gown & Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal | DJ: The Rockin Tater Show Mobile DJ Service | Assistant Photographer: Kelsey Rundle

Love in Black & White :: Downtown Champaign Engagement Session

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Sometimes you meet two people and you just know that they are SUPPOSED to be together. The way they look at each other. The way they laugh together. The confidence they inspire in each other. And the passion they share for serving others. It’s all right there in black and white — plain as day — the universe intended for these two to end up with one another, because together they are going to move mountains and make this world a better place. Those are exactly the thoughts I had after spending time with Marie and James during our first meeting, so I thought it only fitting to share my favorite images from their engagement session in Downtown Champaign in plain ol’ black and white. After all, with a timeless, classic, “love for the ages” like theirs, you don’t need color to tell the story!

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Wedding Trivia: Why Do Brides Do That?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

I am not a believer that there’s any one “right” way to do a wedding, but let’s face it. There are certain age-old traditions and customs that when you put them all together, you have yourself a wedding. White dress…check! Bouquet…check! Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue…check! I’m a lover of random trivia and factoids, but the WHY’s behind most wedding customs and traditions are knowledge that had escaped me…until now. My curiosity recently got the best of me, and I hit up Google in search of answers. I’ll be sharing those answers with you in installments, the first of which is today! So fellow trivia lovers, may the information contained herein provide you with the ability to one-up the other team(s) at your next quiz night!

Custom:  Traditionally, the bride and groom choose not to see each other on the wedding day prior to the ceremony.

The Why:  Back in the days of feudalism, way before people got to marry for LOVE like we do today, marriage was considered a business transaction. Lord So-and-So wanted to earn the king’s favor, so he’d make an agreement with Lord Such-and-Such that his daughter would marry Lord Such-and-Such’s son. In exchange, Lord So-and-So would get perhaps a parcel of land, or additional men-at-arms, or maybe Lord Such-and-Such would get a new title. Many times, these marriages were arranged without the bride and groom ever having met. (I know, so romantic, right?) In spite of the fact that marriage was simply a business deal, that didn’t stop Lord Such-and-Such’s son from preferring a fair maiden, as opposed to one of Cinderella’s ugly stepsisters. So to ensure that everything went the way it was supposed to on the wedding day, the bride and groom were often not allowed to meet beforehand. After all, if the bride wasn’t comely, it certainly wouldn’t be advantageous to give the groom a reason to back out of the wedding before all the I’s were dotted and T’s crossed. In fact, some marriage ceremonies took place without the groom seeing the bride until afterwards, when he was finally able to lift her veil! The tradition of the bride and groom not seeing each other prior to the wedding eventually just became one of those things you do when you get married, as did the bride wearing a veil. Interesting, huh?

For our own wedding, Kirk and I stuck to tradition for the most part. But this is one tradition we did buck. We opted to have a “First Look” and see each other before the wedding ceremony so we could exchange gifts, admire one another in our wedding finery and steal a couple of kisses before the big show began. Untraditional? Yes. Do I regret it? Not for a minute!!! In fact, that’s the part of our wedding day that I remember best — after the ceremony began, the day seemed to just fly by and although I know it was one of the most wonderful days of my life (matched only by the births of our children), it’s mostly a blur!

Our "first look." (Photo by Richelle Brown Weddings)

Our “first look.” (Photo by Richelle Brown Weddings)

How about you? Will you (or did you) stay traditional or will you (did you) choose to spend a few moments together before your wedding ceremony? And what other wedding traditions would you like to hear about? Leave us a comment below!


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