I honestly don't even know where to start...
I've known Derek, my husband Kyle's older brother, for over seven years now. Just over a year and a half ago in February of 2014, Derek told Kyle and me that he wanted to visit us and take us to dinner. He had someone that he wanted us to meet.
Kyle and I were thrilled and beyond happy to be meeting someone that Derek was dating. We knew this woman really had to be something special if he was driving all the way to Jacksonville from Mahomet on a weeknight to have dinner!! Let me just say this, our dinner lasted much longer than your normal dinner, and we felt like we had known Erin forever.
Fast forward to July 4, 2014, we all were anticipating a fun day of family, food, and fireworks at the lake. When we arrived at the lake house, Derek and Erin had an announcement... They were engaged!
If I remember correctly, the first thing Erin said to me after telling me of their engagement and showing me her ring was something like, "okay, so now I need a photographer"! [Hint, hint!] You see, even over those five months of knowing Erin, we bonded and were already beginning to feel like sisters. Things were finally going to be official ;) I was honored to be asked to be their engagement and wedding photographer. It gave me a different role throughout the wedding planning process as I wore two hats - the soon-to-be sister and photographer - but it gave me the opportunity to help my bride and groom all the way leading up to and throughout their wedding day. Even though wearing two hats was crazy at times, I loved every bit of it and wouldn't change it for the world.
This past June, Derek and Erin hosted a bachelor/bachelorette party weekend at Erin's father's home near St. Louis, and it was so fun to be a part of the weekend! I loved getting to meet the members of the bridal party that I didn't already know and spending time with the bridal party before the wedding. I definitely think that it made the bridal party more relaxed and comfortable on the wedding day because everyone knew me!
In the months leading up to the wedding, Erin and I have talked so, so much about their day. From decorations, cake, shoes, and jewelry to the DJ, venue, vows, rehearsal dinner, and more! I loved truly being on the "other" side and seeing the behind the scenes planning unfold. I also loved being able to offer advice to the couple based on my experience as an engagement and wedding photographer.
On the morning of their wedding after hugging Erin and already tearing up, I could easily tell that Erin was simply ready to be Derek's wife. Her demeanor was relaxed, calm, and at ease. She truly took time to enjoy the moments throughout the morning leading up to becoming Derek's wife. As soon as I saw Derek, I knew that he was a bit nervous and hoping for everything to flow smoothly. He was sure to ask me how Erin was doing and if everything was going as planned. Even through his nerves and excitement, Derek wanted their wedding day to be perfect for his soon to be wife. I loved being around for these sweet moments!
Derek and Erin opted for a first look after getting ready, and it was so sweet! Derek's face lit up as soon as he saw his bride, and I know they will cherish that moment of first seeing one another for years and years to come. After the first look, the bridal party joined us and we took many photos of the bridal party with the bride and groom.
Then, it was time for the ceremony, their union. After tucking the bride and groom away from arriving guests, I prepared for the ceremony. As I saw guests arriving and the ceremony venue filling up, emotions were flooding me. I was so genuinely happy for Derek as he had found someone to share his entire life with forever. I started to get tears in my eyes, and let me tell you, it is hard being the photographer and being emotional on wedding days, but these two and their love was well worth the struggle! I so often find myself crying tears of joy on wedding days for all of my couples.
After the beautiful ceremony included personal vows and a unique unity ceremony, it was time to relax, let loose, and celebrate! Derek, Erin, and their bridal party allowed me to take a few more fun photos of them altogether during cocktail hour, and then I had a few more minutes of photos with the bride and groom.
At the reception, Derek and Erin let loose, had fun, mingled with their guests, and danced. Erin loved dancing at her bachelorette party, so I knew that she would keep the dance floor alive at her wedding reception! I was happy to see them celebrating their wedding day with their family, friends, and loved ones.
Derek and Erin - Thank you! Thank you for sharing you love, life, and wedding with me! I am so happy to have been able to photograph your day. I love you both! XOXOX
P.S. Thank you to Danielle Ochs, one of my past #bridesbykara, for second shooting with me!
Bride's Attire: Bridal Elegance in Bloomington, Illinois | Bridesmaid Attire: Alfred Sung | Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Lindsey Lane Bridal | Hair & Makeup: Kelli Walker | Ceremony & Reception Venue: Spruce Street Studios in Shelbyville, Illinois | Florist: Joy Hupp | DJ: L4M Entertainment | Cake: Martin's IGA | Catering: Pioletti's Spaghetti Catering