Brett and Jaclyn’s intimate backyard wedding was surrounded by fields of corn and close friends and family. Jaclyn wore two dresses that day – – a beautiful intricate gown for the ceremony and a sparkly short dress for the reception. But, I won’t lie, one of my favorite things about this day was seeing her two-year-old son be included in it all. He walked down the aisle with Jaclyn and she held him as they exchanged their vows. He snitched a bite of the frosting before the cake was served and had a kissing contest with the bride. I loved that she was a mother first and a bride secondly.
Bridal gown: Madison James
Reception gown: Kate Spade
Florist: Greenville Floral
Pew rentals: Fancy Fray
Wedding cake: Haans Bakery
Tent rental: Dad’s Tent and Party Rentals
Hair and makeup: Thomas & Company Hair Salon
Photo assistant: Maddie Chitwood
Grand Rapids, Michigan
I’ve covered my share of emotional situations during my 13 years as a newspaper photojournalist but I’ll admit that I fought back tears as I witnessed the most heart-felt wedding ceremony yet. I don’t remember all the words spoken during Erik and Ben’s vows to each other but I remember this line “sometimes I feel like you’re the only thing I’ve gotten right.” At that point, there were no dry eyes.
Erik and Ben have amazing friends and family that transformed Erik’s childhood home into one classy wedding venue. They came in on a boat, had their dog Ethel with them through it all, handed out hugs and ginger pear jam they made themselves. Erik’s sister made the cake and a close friend made special drinks. And later, the living room turned into one crazy fun dance party.
Erik and Ben, you have definitely gotten this love thing right.
Crystal Mountain, Michigan
I have a confession to make. You know the show The Bachelor? I watch it. I also watch sappy movies. What gets me more than Hollywood love, however, is REAL love. Emily and Ryan have had a long-distance relationship for years. She was in med school in Florida and Ryan was founding a tech company in San Francisco. From coast to coast, they always found a way to make it work. During their wedding vows Ryan said, “YOU are home to me.” No episode of the Bachelor or any Nicholas Sparks movie could top that.
I have another confession. Emily and Ryan’s wedding was one of my favorites. Besides the whole real love thing, they had amazing friends and family (I mean even Emily’s dad took the time to give me some sound business advice!) It might have also had something to do with that the pouring rain stopped in time for the wedding. It might have had something to do with the fact that one of my best friends in the world, Carrie Turner, helped me shoot this wedding. It might have had to do with the beautiful location and amazing staff at Crystal Mountain. It might have had to do with how much FUN Emily and Ryan are. I mean what bride and groom spontaneously decides to go down an inflatable slide after they get hitched?!
Ryan and Emily, may your love always feel like home.
Second photographer: Carrie Turner
Venue: Crystal Mountain
Videographer: Epic Motion
Florist: Field of Flowers Farm
Cupcakes: Cake Connection
Invitations: The Print House
Dress: Paloma Blanca
Wedding gown sash: Susan Brennan
Reception dress: Anthropologie
Bride’s boots: Ariat
Bridesmaids gowns: Jim Hjelm
Disc Jockey: Double Trouble DJ’s
Band: Mike Davis Trio
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Back in November, I was asked to photograph this really great wedding. That bride had a sister, Merrill. Four months later, it was her turn. Two wonderful celebrations done as uniquely as their personalities. With a March snowfall that dusted Grand Rapids, Chris and Merrill shared their wedding day with thousands of St. Patrick’s Day revelers. Joey, their dog, made an appearance, too. But my favorite part of the day was when Merrill surprised Chris (and Chris’s family) with a video from his sister who is deployed. And I must say, that this couple had the best first dance song of all time. Chris and Merrill, may happiness continue to follow you all the way to Japan.
Ceremony: Grand Rapids City Hall
Reception: Bistro Bella Vita
Invitations: Papers Plus
Cake: Rita Girl’s
Florist: Eastern Floral
Shoes: Kate Spade
Suit: Michael Kors
Musicians: Bob Thompson Jr. Entertainment
I’m not sure if I remember the officiant’s exact words but it went something like this, ‘Don’t focus on what is wrong but focus on what is right.’ I know the sentiment was meant for Lee and Lisa during their intimate, private wedding ceremony but I needed those words too. With changing careers, less time at home and life’s daily struggles, I know I can focus on what needs fixing. Don’t we all? I’m sure Lee and Lisa heard those words, too, and will use them as they start their new life together – – one that will include their future son that is due this May along with Lee’s young son, Zayden. Lee and Lisa, may you always look for what is honest, true and RIGHT with your relationship.
It was their love of botany and a rock collection on Becky’s windowsill that made these two “science people” fall in love. So, of course, it was fitting that the two graduate students be married overlooking Lake Michigan in Manistee surrounded by the things they love. “We both have an appreciation for the wonder of nature,” they told me. And so, with nature as their backdrop and good friends and family at their side, Jon and Becky said, “I do.” May your life always be filled with wonder.