Wedding Pictures Sneak Peek

What?! Two posts in one day? Whoa, Ashley, what’s gotten into you? Our wedding, friends. Our wedding is on my mind today and I MUST share this post with you. Right. Now.

Our wedding was the thing dreams are made. I am still in awe of how beautifully powerful the entire day was, and I will forever hold the memories made during that celebration as one of the best days of my entire life. One of the worst parts about your wedding day is how quickly time passes. It seemed one moment I was eating breakfast with my bridesmaids, then I was nervously standing in front of the altar holding G’s hand, and then I was walking through a tunnel of sparklers leaving the party. The day could have moved a fraction of the pace it did to allow all those memories to have more time to form in my memory bank. But alas, it did not.

Fortunately, our amazing photographer Staci of Dear Olive Photography is a goddess in her trade and documented our day flawlessly. Seriously, guys! Look at these sneak peeks she leaked on social media this week:

I just… I can’t, ya’ll. I teared up when I first saw these because they are absolutely perfect. The man is ridiculously handsome. The background is ridiculously gorgeous. The bride doesn’t look ridiculous at all.


Excuse me while I go find a tissue…

Real Wedding: Rachel + James

When I think of my childhood, there is one smiling face that shows up in more than half of my memories and that is the face of my friend Rachel. Our friendship has been nothing short of adventurous: from riding ATVs up north with no helmets and watching her cousin bite worms in half in order to “fish better” to staying up ungodly hours of the night to watch trash TV to cruising the Caribbean twice to witnessing drug busts in the nation’s capital to acting as one another’s wedding Plus One’s to surviving puberty, high school, and a number of break ups, we have done so much together!

Needless to say, when Rach texted me one January morning to tell me she was now engaged to her high school sweetheart, my heart was bursting! Not only because IT WAS ABOUT TIME, but also because our conversation turned to wedding plans and logistics. As an event coordinator at the Winery still, I started to cry when she took me up on my offer to host her intimate nuptials at my venue AND allow me to help coordinate the Big Day.

Rachel and Jimmy began dating our senior year of high school. Like most early relationships, they did wander from one another after graduation, but it didn’t take long for their hearts to call them  back together. What is meant to be will always find a way! They both have adventurous, wanderlust hearts (traveling the world is one of their shared passions) and have enough differences to balance one another in a strong partnership.

Jimmy proposed to Rachel on Christmas Day.  As his family watched, a beautiful solitaire gold ring was found by Rachel tied with a ribbon around the collar of their new puppy, Hopper. Jimmy fell to his knee and the rest is history…

Having discussed their wedding ideals prior to the engagement, both Jimmy and Rachel knew exactly the kind of celebration they wanted: an intimate affair surrounded with their closest loved ones. Both fearing the crowds of a large to-do, they opted to spend their expenses on a month-long honeymoon to explore the world together rather than a lavish party. Perhaps a reception sometime in the future, but for now they were seeking somewhere small, cozy, and preferably rustic.

Cue me!

When Rachel told me what sort of venue she was seeking and her budget, I knew exactly where (and who) should “run this show.” My Winery’s special event space boasted an adorable fireplace ideal for a ceremony’s backdrop, wood beams for a rustic feel, and all the wine imaginable. Plus the rental fee was exactly within the bride’s margins! Without much persuading, Rachel came, saw, and placed a deposit on the space for a date only two weeks in the future for her wedding. And so the preparations began…

The wedding would host both the groom’s and bride’s immediate family. This meant grandparents, parents, siblings, and nieces and nephews only. The group planned to go out for dinner following the ceremony, so only light hors d’voures were needed. As for decor, Rachel’s mom and I worked with the most simplistic of tools to bring a light, airy feel to the venue: tulle, organza, Mason jars, and baby’s breath were all it took.

With less than two weeks to prepare, Rachel’s savviness was impressive! She found her wedding dress (a gorgeous ivory lace gown) at a local bridal shoppe. The gown was a floor sample and just happened to fit this bride like a glove! Seriously! Look at this stunning bride!

Rachel dressed and prepped in my office upstairs as Jimmy took residence in the office across the hall. Skipping tradition, the two met before the ceremony to capture the “first look” and share a bottle of wine. When time, Jimmy took Rachel arm-in-arm and they entered the ceremony together down the staircase; the guests were silent as the beautiful couple cascaded down to say their vows.

The ceremony was officiated by the couple’s friend and tattoo artist. What felt like eternity for the couple was actually only about five minutes worth of stating vows, exchanging rings, and making the announcement of husband and wife.

Then it was time for the festivities! The couple toasted the beginning of their future with a bottle of 2016 Dablon Sparkling Chardonnay  and a beautiful naked cake created by an amazing pastry chef (and high school friend) to provide a sweet treat for guests and couple alike. The vanilla cake with raspberry filling paired well beside other bottles of wine being sampled by the family as all present celebrated the growth of their families.

The after-ceremony celebration involved a lot of mingling, hugging, and well-wishes for the newlyweds.

It was so amazing to witness this intimate affair and see the happiness in my friend’s life. There were many laughs throughout the afternoon as we all mingled and shared stories of the past and dreams of the future.

And though I loved every moment of the ceremony, one of the most memorable moments of the day for me was when the photographer, the newlyweds, and I ventured around the Winery for a photo shoot. Anji, the photographer, and her assistant Andrew were an awesome team to witness.

First we went to the Winery’s barrel room. Anji had me cut the overhead lights and highlighted the couple using a lighting rod. Then we took to the vineyards and patio. Thankfully there was limited snow for a Michigan January! The weather was actually misting, but temperatures were not below freezing. The gray sky assisted in accentuating the colors of the photographer’s subjects. After a bit of fun outdoors, we moved into the tasting room for the finale — and a little wine.

The process Anji went through to capture these images was incredible — that woman is ridiculously talented — and her final products speak for themselves:

For a dreary Michigan Sunday in January, the love and warmth of this ceremony melted all coldness from the world. Ending their celebration with a wine tasting, the couple quickly and easily packed up their belongings and headed to a great dinner with their families…

And off into the rest of their happily married lives together.

I am so thankful to have been able to be a part of this momentous day for my long-time friend. I am even more thankful she was so gracious in granting me permission to her wedding photographs and freedom to write a little piece on this intimate affair. I love ya, Rach!

Venue: Dablon Vineyards
Photographer: Anji Monique Photography
Cake: Mandy Krause of Love and Macarons
Event Coordinator: Ashley Wall

Engagement Shots: The Woods

It is the end of the road for our beautiful photographs by Dear Olive Photography, but I could not be more thrilled to share this last location with you all, friends! As the snow falls outside my bay window, it is hard to believe these pictures were taken only a month ago. With the fantastic Fall colors and lack of parkas and sock hats, I think it’s pretty funny how I was complaining about the cold during the shoot. The day might have been overcast, but at least temperatures were above the frigid 25 degrees of today.

I’m going to take this last post as my own sort of escape from the cold and blistery weather outside and hope they will hold me until spring arrives…

woods1.jpgIt amazes what photography can do with landscaping. Looking around us during the shoot, I wouldn’t have said I was extremely taken by any of our surroundings. Actually, the majority of these shots taken “in the woods” were not done in the actual woods at all! They were taken in front of a small patch of trees still holding their leaves along the sidelines of Grand Mere’s parking lot. Goes to show what talent our photographer has by catching the perfect angles and making a small area so whimsical.

These pictures were before all out other locations. (Don’t ask me why I chose to finally reveal them last — I honestly did not have a thought concerning their order.) So looking through these brings a lot of warm, fuzzy memories for me. G and I were just getting into the swing of being the main attraction for the camera. Neither of us are particularly keen on acting front-and-center, but here we were taking the spotlight for our engagement shoot. We wanted to look natural, but also better than our usual-natural. Just like anyone would if they were having their pictures professionally taken, right?

Staci was a huge help in calming our nerves though. She told us to make one another laugh and not pay attention to the camera or herself. Act like we were alone. Sometimes giving instructions on how to stand or where to place our hands, overall we were free to be ourselves. Which ultimately made for the best experience either of us could have imagined!

I’ve had a few brides-to-be message me on Instagram and Twitter (I love to hear from y’all!) and asked how I narrowed my engagement attire to only two outfits. I’ll share my secret now: I had three outfits chosen for this shoot and wore none of them! An hour before G and I were to leave for the park, I was sitting on my bed almost in tears. I wasn’t feel too fit for a photo shoot and was hitting a very low point in my self-esteem.

G, bless his heart, tried to console me by saying he had never know a more beautiful woman. I remember dropping my hands to my sides and looking at the ceiling.

“I appreciate that but I just don’t have anything to wear for this!”

Looking to my walk-in closet and the multitude of clothes inside, G raised an eyebrow, “I’m sure we can figure something out.”

It is such a blessing to have a man willing to handle a woman’s crazy when it comes to clothing. Typically I stick to the same outfits on a weekly basis even though I have enough clothes to never shop again. (Why is that, by the way? Why do I buy certain things thinking they look good but then never actually wear them? I know I’m not the only one! It must be a criteria for finally hitting womanhood…) However, on this day in particular I couldn’t even picture myself in one of my “usuals.”

Somehow after cancelling nearly half my wardrobe from the acceptable options, I was left with a thought. I turned to G, who was witnessing my various outfits being paraded in front of him as he attempted to watch some YouTube video about machining, and asked, “Pick a dress and a shirt for me.”

That was how I came about choosing my dress from The Lake shoot — G chose the perfect option.

As for this little polka dot number, it was unashamedly from my dirty laundry basket. I had previously worn this while dressed as Lois Lane to G’s Clark Kent on Halloween only a few days prior to our engagement session. It was a staple to my wardrobe about two years ago, but as any woman can tell you, we tend to cycle in our weekly options. So it had been awhile since I’d actually worn this outfit professionally or socially. Knowing it was a good fit and neutral colors helped in my decision as well.

All in all, I recommend going with outfits that are comfortable and simple. I did not go overboard with my jewelry and chose against wearing any bright colors. I think this had a wonderful effect in allowing the colors of our environment really stand out and make the photographs more dimensional and dynamic.

In the end, the pictures aren’t truly about what you’re wearing anyways. Always remember that and take into account the real purpose of having your engagement pictures taken.

I never want to stop making memories with you.

Every day brings a plethora of new memories, each one my favorite. I cannot wait to see where else we go and what more we do, G. Forever and always.


Engagement Shots: The Road

Round Two is here, friends! As promised, I’m continuing with the second post of three for our stunning engagement photographs taken by Dear Olive Photography, and I have to admit, I’m pretty astonished in my own ability to keep these little gems off social media thus far. G and I have already printed all our pictures over the past week, plus ordered a few specialty items such as a photo book for our coffee table. The Christmas season is the perfect time to receive your professional pictures back — all the online stores (Walgreens, Shutterfly, etc.) are having amazing sales! So I am attempting to keep myself reigned in on the buying front and simply enjoy all these images digitally.

This post should help!

The day’s dreary skies had us worried how these photographs would turn out. I’ve dabbled in photography for fun in the past and know sunlight can be a pest for the art as well due to shadows and squinting and what-have-you, but the clouds truly appeared as if they were going to open on us at any moment throughout the whole shoot. Seeing these vivid colors and how amazingly Staci captured our natural surroundings though, I am so glad we were able to take these shots when we did! Given another week the trees would have been bear and the wind would have been our worst enemy. We were blessed!

One thing G and I always make sure to have time for in the mornings is our coffee. How we take our coffees varies just like our personalities, but in the end we love coffee and it’s one of the biggest reasons we are able to make it through every day. Kind of a symbolism our relationship. How we make our coffees is a symbol of our personalities — we differ in many ways and are very strong on different fronts. However, the core of our beings — our values, morals, beliefs, goals, etc. — the coffee itself if you will, is the same. Having one another in each other’s lives pushes us forward each and every day. We make each other better people. Happier people.

We love coffee.

I could use some coffee, actually…

Anyways, thinking of different props we could possibly use, we happened to find these adorable mugs at Pier 1 Imports and came up with the coffee idea. We brought two thermos of our favorite coffees and served one another, an act which is common in our livelihood. The pictures couldn’t have come out any cuter in my opinion! And, please, do not judge me on my coffee habits — I tend to like just a bit of coffee with my butter pecan creamer.

All that you are is all that I’ll ever need.

Thank you for being the one thing in my life to remain constant and consistent, G. You make me a better person, in every way, every single day, and I am so proud to call you my fiance. Forever and always.

Engagement Shots: The Lake

We have our engagement photographs back and we are ABSOLUTELY AMAZED at Staci’s talent (of Dear Olive Photography) and cannot wait for our wedding to be documented by her come June 2018! I am going to /attempt/ to restrain myself over the next three weeks and stretch all her amazing shots out into three beautiful posts because there are just so many pictures I just have to designate this much time to making inspiration boards for each setting she had G and I pose for her.

This is going to be extremely tough for me, friends, and I already can tell you the blog will be the last place you’ll be finding these pictures posted unfortunately. Now that G and I have meticulously gone through the files, I’ll be uploading the pictures to Facebook and sharing them on Instagram over the next few days for my friends and family to see.

These first set of images were actually the last ones we took the day of our shoot. It was almost dusk and all three of us were pretty much done with the day as a whole. Sunday, November 5th was the first day in about a month that Michigan had decided to stop raining. Yet, even though Mother Nature had decided she’d hold off on the waterworks, she still threatened us with an ominous sky and very cold temperatures. As G and I had spent the previous hour in the mucky and muddy woods at Grand Mere smiling for the camera, we were already pretty wet and cold as was by the time we made it to the beach, and I for the sake of style had chosen to wear a thin dress with a slit. We wanted these pictures to go quickly!

Staci did an amazing job at not letting the audience know how freezing G and me were at this point in the shoot, didn’t she?! I am also personally relieved that she caught the cute-side of my crinkly-nosed-squinty-eyed-realer-than-real-smile. When you see me smiling that smile, you know I’m not faking it. And hey, Staci caught me smiling like that pretty frequently with G and I’m still ridiculously fanatic about these pictures! This woman is a rock star.

Pardon my language but… Damn. These. Colors. Are. Incredible.

Not only that, but have you SEEN my fiance? Holy cow, friends! On top of being an amazingly hardworking, selfless, appreciative, family-oriented, God-loving, strong, encouraging, and honest man, the person I am marrying is H-O-T. I am, hands down, the luckiest woman in the world.

“I crave a love so deep, the ocean would be jealous.”

With you, I have found such a love, G, and I relish making the waves jealous every day. Forever and always.