My 2019 was one of my busiest seasons so far. I had the opportunity to photograph a destination wedding, work with some talented, local vendors, and check out quite a few of Southeastern Wisconsin’s best wedding venues. I also had the honor of working with some of the sweetest couples. From small and intimate to large and lively, I covered just about every type of wedding. Except a brunch wedding, I definitely want to photograph a brunch wedding! Here’s a run down of some of my favorite moments of the 2019 wedding season.
3. The Sanger House Gardens. As a little girl, I was a big fan of the movie & book, ‘The Secret Garden.’ This is kind of what this place reminds me of. John and Millie had a very small and intimate wedding reception here, hosting mostly family and a few very close friends. I can honestly say this was the only wedding that I’ve photographed where I actually cried. I’m pretty good at keeping my emotions in check! Millie’s touching speech about John and her daughters really hit home for me. If you’re looking for a mansion style wedding, definitely check out The Sanger House.
4. The ‘Til Death sign at The Ivy House. This place offers so many “Instagramable” photo ops but this one is by far my favorite. I’m so excited to be back at the Ivy House this May!
5. Dog-friendly venue spaces. When Kyle and Ali told me that they wanted to include their pup, Jax, in their wedding at Birch, I was all for it. I love dogs and I really do love when couples incorporate them into their wedding. I photographed two weddings this year where the couples incorporated their pups and I love that Birch is a dog-friendly venue!
6. Villa Filomena. Another Milwaukee mansion that doesn’t disappoint. I loved everything about Dave and Alexis’s wedding. The day was absolutely perfect and personal in every way. From the handmade hair piece to the game themed reception decor, this couple put their personal touch on every aspect of their wedding and they did it in a very tasteful way.
7. Carving out time for sunset photos. There are a few reasons I love when your wedding timeline allows for sunset photos. First, it’s my chance to pull you away for just a few minutes to really soak up your time as husband and wife. It gives couples a chance to check in with one another and make sure everything is going well, and many couples appreciate the “breath of fresh air” after visiting with lots of loved ones during the day.
8. Brides with a sense of humor. Cassaundra contacted me a few days before her wedding and explained to me how she wanted to play a practical joke on Craig, her husband to be. They were planning on doing a first look, but instead of seeing his bride when he turned around, Cassaundra worked with Craig’s best man to give him a good laugh and relieve any nerves he might have about seeing Cassaundra for their first look. The two enjoyed a “real” first look afterward and it was perfect.
9. Dessert Bars. Not everyone loves cake (I get it, but I don’t…). When you’re not big on wedding cake, hosting a dessert bar is another great option and Miss Molly’s does not disappoint. These brownies were the best I’ve ever had. I’ve worked with Molly for a styled shoot and now for a real wedding and I hear nothing but great things from anyone who eats these delicious baked goods.
10. Vingettes and champagne parades. When your mom owns a rustic and chic decor and home furnishing store in the Third Ward, you better be ready for an amazing wedding day set up! Terry set up vignettes around their property for Alex and Garrett’s gorgeous backyard wedding. When I was photographing the details, I kept thinking about how I wanted to put some of the decor into my new home! This wedding was so wonderfully done in many ways, I can’t wait to share more from their day. Alex and Garrett also did something I’ve never seen any couple do before. They led a champagne parade from their ceremony site to where the guests were to enjoy cocktail hour! That’s definitely a parade I want to be part of.
When I ask couples if they’re doing a first look, they either fall into one of three categories: A definite “NO!”, a “Maybe, we haven’t really thought about it”, or “What’s a first look?”
So what is a first look anyway? A first look happens usually a few hours before the ceremony where the bride and groom see each other for the first time, instead of waiting until the bride walks down the aisle. It’s usually prearranged by the couple and the photographer and is built into the timeline of the day.
But Maria, why would we want to see each other before the wedding? Wouldn’t that ruin the tradition? I get it! Trust me, my husband was very traditional that way as well and we did not have a first look at our wedding. But do you know where that tradition stems from? Back in the day, when arranged marriages were common, the bride and groom were not allowed to see each other at all before the wedding. The ceremony symbolized a done business deal between two families. The father of the bride feared that if the groom found his daughter unattractive, he would call off the wedding, bringing shame to his daughter and the family. So the two were not allowed to meet until the day of the wedding. And the wedding veil over the face? That was so the groom couldn’t see what the bride looked like until the officiant announced, “You are now husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.” Romantic hey?
If I could do it all over again, I’d definitely have a first look and here’s why.
3. You get to enjoy your entire reception! This one is huge and probably one of my biggest regrets. About 50% of your entire wedding budget goes to the reception, you literally owe it to yourselves to be there for it. To this day, I still hear so many great things about our cocktail hour, but we barely got to experience it between we chose to take our pictures between our ceremony and reception. Enjoy your cocktail hour and those who are there to celebrate you!
4. You will still get your walking down the aisle moment. Every couple (grooms especially) say they’re so happy they decided to do a first look and that it took nothing away from seeing their bride come down the aisle. You will still be just as excited to see one another and you won’t have the urge to give each other a big hug and kiss after being apart all day.
No client of mine has ever told me that they regretted doing a first look. I’ve always gotten the response, “I’m so glad we did that!” I understand that first looks aren’t for everyone but it’s something that you should really consider doing. It frees up time in your day and makes the wedding schedule a little less hectic. Chances are your marriage isn’t arranged, you two know what the other looks like and you’re not backing out of anything.
Did you decided to have a first look? Comment below!
Amanda and Jim had the most perfect day for a wedding at Boerner Botanical Gardens. Their ceremony was small and intimate and very much about them, as they both wrote their own vows to one another. There was barely a dry eye in the audience. After their ceremony, the two hosted a fun, casual and laid back reception at one of my favorite places, Camp Bar in the Third Ward. Congratulations Jim and Amanda! I wish you nothing but the best for your life together!
Special thanks to these amazing vendors who helped make Jim and Amanda’s day extra special:
Hair & Makeup: Neroli Salon and Spa// Kirstin & Maggie
Ceremony: Boerner Botanical Gardens
Ceremony Music: Sound By Design
Reception: Camp Bar
Florist: Bloom Floral
Taylor and Kyle had the most perfect wedding day anyone could’ve asked for. It was so much fun hanging out with them all day long and I’m still so honored that they asked me to document their big day.
I had the joy of hanging out with the ladies at the salon before the bridal preparations took place. Because Jamie had another wedding that same day, she had to fit Taylor in earlier in the morning. Afterwards, we all had lunch together before heading to the venue.
One thing I learned about Taylor and Kyle is that everyone at their wedding had a long history with them. These two definitely make friends for life, which should be a given since they’ve known each other since they were kids themselves. It’s so amazing to see a couple that has grown up together and who are still so in love after all these years of really knowing each other.
Congratulations Taylor & Kyle! Thank you for asking me to be your wedding photographer and for making me feel like part of the family.
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
Cupcakes: Miss Cupcake Bakery
Bride’s Dress: Mori Lee @ Amelishan Bridal
Groom’s Suite: Men’s Wearhouse Navy suit
Florist: Rachel Block @ Reflections of You
DJ/Entertainment: On the Limiter Productions
Bridal Party Hair and Make up: Impressions
Timing played a key factor in the relationship between Ally and Nico. They met through mutual friends and upon getting together, they realized they probably should’ve ran into one another sooner: from being on the same dinner cruise as one another to visiting the same pick your own fruit farms as children. They kept missing each other but Ally said that they met when the timing in their lives was just right.
For their engagement session we headed down to the lakefront for some tandem bicycle fun. These two love being active and have participated in a number of races together throughout their relationship. They told me that they had gone down to the lakefront a few weeks prior to make sure they practiced for their shoot. I’ve heard these bikes can be tricky to ride, but these two were champs. We had so much fun!
Nico and Ally will be married next summer in an intimate wedding. They aren’t having a bridal party, so the day will be focused on just the two of them. I can’t wait to hang out with these two again and I’m so grateful they chose me document their day!
James and Nichole met in Denver back in 2014. They knew right away, after meeting, that they both wanted a future together. When James was offered a job in sunny California, the two packed up and started on a new adventure. Nichole is from Wisconsin and James is from Ohio so they knew with planning a wedding that people were going to have to travel regardless of where they would be having it.
They both knew they wanted a small and intimate wedding. They went back and forth for months trying to decide on a location until James’ mom suggested that the two elope and she told them it should be where they wanted to have their honeymoon, Italy. After they received their parents blessing, the two found a magical, beautiful little town called Ravello, Italy in the Amalfi area. It was the absolute perfect place for a honeymoon and wedding.
The two decided to host a celebration and marriage blessing here in Wisconsin. James said it didn’t feel official until they celebrated with their closest family and friends. When I first met Nichole the day of their party, the first thing she said to me was that she wanted me to focus on their guests. It didn’t take long to see how much their family and friends really meant to them. Everyone was so warm and loving and FUN!
Congratulations Nichole and James! I’m so happy that I was able to be part of your special day and celebration!
Donut Cake: Holey Moley Donuts
To find a love like Kyle & Taylor’s is rare these days. These two started dating the summer going into 8th grade. Kyle asked Taylor out three times before Taylor finally agreed. They were voted ‘cutest couple’ by their 8th grade classmates. A title that still proves to be true. These two are absolutely adorable together. The way they look at each other is how I imagine they looked at each other in those early days of dating, they are still wildly in love with one another.
Kyle proposed to Taylor with a unique engagement ring: a champagne sapphire stone set in a rose gold band. They had just come from fishing at the lake. Kyle claimed that they had forgotten something for his dad and that they had to go back. He got her back to the lake and popped the question! She of course said, “YES!” and the two will be married this July. I’m so excited for their wedding. I know the day will be wonderful.
Melissa & Victor have been on the blog before and this more than likely won’t be the last time you see them. Melissa is due with my NIECE in July and I can’t wait to photograph that little bundle of joy. For their maternity shoot, we chose Hubbard Park in Shorewood, WI. I couldn’t wait to photograph here and play around with the tunnel. A few weeks ago, Victor contacted me asking me for my opinion as to how he should pop the question. He threw around a few ideas, one being at her maternity shoot. I said it would be perfect and I knew exactly how I wanted to set up the shot. It took a lot for me to keep this secret and I did my very best not to let anything slip. I’d say I did a pretty good job 🙂 The ring is absolutely gorgeous and neither one could stop smiling all morning long. It was adorable. Congratulations Melissa & Victor! You both have so much to look forward to and I can’t wait to be there right beside you both.
Melissa and Victor. Two of my favorite people. Melissa is my younger sister and Victor is her boyfriend. Melissa has always been my biggest supporter and cheerleader. Whenever I have expressed any self-doubt about what I was doing in life, she was the one to set me straight. She’s honest, has the biggest heart of anyone I know, and is the greatest sister in the world.
I was excited when she told me that she and Victor wanted to a couples’ session in the Third Ward. We originally were trying to hold out for snow, but Wisconsin had a pretty strange winter this past season, so we worked with what we had. A couples’ session turned baby reveal (yay!) back to where they had their very first date: Milwaukee Public Market. I’m so excited that these two found each other and that they will be giving me a niece or nephew come late July!! They’re perfect for one another and they will make amazing parents. They are already a wonderful Aunt and Uncle to my two little ones and their baby is going to have the best smile ever.