maggie + johnny invited me over for a cozy engagement session in their home with their cutiepie daughter, emilia [ who they also call emi ! ].  we ate jimmy john's at their kitchen table + talked mostly parent things as emi danced around with her sandwich.  i got a tour of the house including the 'peach room' + was introduced to the beloved 'blue kitty.'  after sandwiches, the lovebirds walked hand-in-hand with mason jars of beer + cider, showing me their favorite things about their home - the apple tree out front, the wooded trails in the backyard + the blueberry patch across the street with a huge weeping willow beside it.  getting to know these two in such a special space was truly a gift - and i can't wait to continue our friendship over the coming months before their wedding next year.



i want to share this wedding preview with you because it is a set that i feel particularly proud of // attached to // emotional about.  this day was just very special + made me feel something artistic + energetic which sometimes gets lost.  this does not imply that all of the other weddings are 'less than', of course, it's just sometimes certain people + situations really just kinda bring you to a unique space as a creative + i still can't really wrap my mind around it all, to be honest.  and putting into words right now is already sounding very garbled and weird but bear with me.  

sara + jerrod are artsy, folksy, intelligent, hilarious + incredibly down to earth.  sara is an incredible artist herself [ dear ollie ] + found my photos on instagram last year.  she reached out to me regarding their unconventional sunday-brunch-wedding at bell's brewery + i was immediately on bored.  she spoke of how important photos were to them + how she wasn't going to spend a lot of money on typical wedding things but on things that meant a lot to her [ photography, being one ].  i think we were on the phone for at least an hour that first time - talking wedding + non-wedding things, alike.  i knew we would be fast friends.

i really admire this pair for crafting their wedding day only with the things they really wanted to do.  i love traditions as much as the next guy - but sometimes i think tradition can overpower creativity + personalization.

i met sara in her hotel room in the morning - where she was quietly + casually getting ready with her maid of honor, danielle.  her close friend was doing her hair + makeup, and they spent the morning laughing, talking + sipping champagne from little bottles.  i'll admit, i even got in on the little girl sleepover vibe + sat on the bed sipping coffee with them.  from the get-go, she made me feel like part of the group.

sara designed their entire invitation suite by hand - as well as her bouquet which she put together that same morning after perusing the floral department at horrock's + picking flowers at random.  i feel as if maybe she has a calling in the wedding industry - we should probably chat about that.

they were married in crane park in kalamazoo which they specifically selected because of its cozy, almost hidden-feel + its lush greenery + gardens.  it was a particularly hot day + also called for rain, but that didn't deter them.  one of the moments i truly admired was when i suggested they move their ceremony spot a little bit - so they could be married under a large tangled tree with low, willow-like branches.  it was shaded, and would provide better light for photos + also a little relief for them from the heat.  this suggestion could freak a bride out [ and nobody would blame her ] but sara + jerrod listened to me explain my vision + immediately jumped on board.  the flower petal aisle was redirected, the ceremony table was moved + we were only minutes away from the ceremony beginning.

that rain they called for delivered on its promise ten fold + sent a sudden downpour on the wedding guests casually mingling in the park [ myself included ].  we grabbed what we could + ran for cover beneath a large pine tree which doubled as an umbrella.  the wedding guests, comprised mostly of family + best friends, huddled snuggly together laughing as our hair + clothes were slowly drenched with water.  it didn't last long + we were able to emerge from the tree mostly unscathed - laughing, picking out pine needles from each other's hair like a chain of monkeys. 

everyone regrouped, took their standing places on either side of the aisle, and the ceremony started only three minutes off schedule.  looking back, i'm so glad there was no plan b because the rain only made it a better story to tell.

the second half of the day was spent at bell's brewery in their cozy concert space in the back of the pub.  it was decorated with sara's beautiful handwriting on everything - from the polaroid camera instruction manual to the quotes elegantly written on glass at each table.  i mingled with the guests, drinking a bell's amber, taking candid photos along the way.  i learned about sara as a little girl, speaking with her mom + maid of honor as they retold funny stories.  the background music was of jerrod's own creation - and i sang along to most every song.  i still need to get a link to that playlist...

we ate breakfast for dinner at family-style tables with no name cards or seating assignments.  when sara learned that my husband + girls were sitting in the restaurant on the other side of the event space - she insisted that they come in for dinner + dessert donuts.  emilia [ my youngest ] called sara the wedding girl + complimented on her beautiful dress.  my girls ate their donuts while watching me shoot a first dance, for the first time.  i am tearing up as a write this because it was such a strangely emotional moment - watching them, watch me.  to have them experience what i do, what i leave them at home for - for countless hours + countless days, was a gift.  a gift that never would have happened had it not been for sara just doing the unconventional + being awesome + loving + open-hearted + inviting strangers to her wedding.  i cannot thank her enough.

the day ended with a stroll around the vacant beer garden + red sunset photos alongside a railroad track.  we danced, ate popcorn, and drank more beer as if sunday was the new friday.  we hugged + exchanged words of sentiment - thanking each other over + over for finding one another.  i didn't want to leave but couldn't wait to get home to look through the day's memories.

as sara so eloquently stated, 'it's like each photo radiates this warmth that i didn't even know was possible.'

i hope you too, feel the same.  

thank you sara + jerrod from the bottom of my heart, for letting me be + feel like an artist like you.

xoxo - t