Friends, I love Jennifer and Brett and am honored to share their wedding day at The Barn at Hornbaker Gardens on the blog!
I connected with these two last fall when they were searching for a wedding photographer and hoping for an engagement session before winter hit. And then I quickly learned that one of Jennifer’s best friends, Cari, was one of my 2019 brides, too. I’ve gotta say, my brides are THE BEST!
It all started on April 20, 2013. I was a Freshman at Illinois State University and Brett was a Junior at the University of Illinois. I went to the Alpha Gamma Rho Formal with my friend Cole from high school. Brett and Cole happened to be in the same fraternity, and Cole introduced the two of us that evening. The second we met we instantly hit it off. The following morning I had a Facebook message from Brett picking right up where we left off. That summer, Brett had an internship that happened to be close to my hometown, and Brett would visit frequently throughout the summer.
When we returned to school that fall, we found ourselves making regular trips back and forth between Bloomington and Champaign. Finally, we made it “official” that November when Brett realized he actually had to ask me to be his girlfriend (over a text message). After Brett graduated that following spring, he returned to his family farm in Rochelle. We were long distance for the next two and a half years as I finished nursing school. After I graduated in December 2016, I officially became a Rochelle resident.
It was a rainy Sunday and Brett had been rained out of the fields for the day, and it was all on a whim that he proposed. He had had the ring for a few months but was working every day with harvest and hadn’t had a good chance or plan and didn’t want to propose super close to the holidays. I was working 3 PM-11 PM at the time. I thought that I would take voluntary hours for the day since we were low on babies and spend the day/evening with him. All morning I had told him that was my plan and then at the last second I decided that I would just save my voluntary hours for the holidays.
In the meantime, he had left that morning and went and hung up lights in one of the old barns on one of their farms and was planning to propose that evening and have his friend hide in the barn to take pictures of him proposing (literally my dream). I called him and told him that I think I was just going to go to work and he practically begged me not to go. I should’ve suspected something was up because he never tells me that, and I decided to go anyways. He was then calling me and trying to make excuses for me to stop by the barn on the way to work. He said he had gotten muddy and needed new shoes and clothes. I kept telling him just to throw the muddy shoes in the back of his truck and to drive home and clean the truck up later because it was such a far drive out of my way to work. He finally said forget it I’m coming home…
I was sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch when he comes home and all of a sudden I heard Bailey barking. I got up and turned around and walked in the living room and I was like why is she in the kennel? She isn’t ever in her kennel? He then said “I had this all planned out today and you just had to go and screw it up” and then I blacked out and don’t remember anything after that! I ended up having to go to work because it was too late to call in and I FaceTimed a friend on the way before either of our families knew and told her first. Then by the time I got to the hospital I was so excited and told the charge nurse I needed to leave at 7:00 and ended up having to spill the beans to her and a few of my best coworkers because they were so confused about what was going on. I then came home and we went and took pictures where he was supposed to propose and got to call all of our friends and family. It ended up being perfect because it’s so us!
On the morning of Jennifer and Brett’s wedding day, it rained – lots of rain – on our drive to The Barn at Hornbaker Gardens. Once we arrived though, the rain stopped and held off for several more hours… More on that later! The ladies were busy getting hair and makeup done while decorating the venue space and the guys were traveling to the venue at that time, too. We loved photographing Jen’s beautiful details and exploring the venue alongside the videographers at the start of the day.
Before we knew it, it was time for Jennifer to step into her wedding dress. I loved how Jennifer had so many of the special ladies in her life help her get dressed – her grandmother, maids of honor, aunt, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law. It was a joy to photograph these moments! Then, Jennifer read a letter from Brett as Brett read a letter from Jennifer before the first look.
Jennifer and Brett shared a sweet first look – complete with a few tears and the biggest smiles. The barn backdrop was the perfect setting for this moment! Then, the bridal party joined us for photos throughout the venue grounds. It was so fun to photograph this group of friends alongside Jennifer and Brett. They were fun, easy-going, and willing to work with the weather watch, too.
During bridal party photos, we had a special guest – Bailey! Bailey is Jennifer and Brett’s chocolate lab, and she is as sweet as can be. She joined us for some photos (heart eyes!) and was such a good girl. And she even walked Brett down the aisle at the ceremony. I always tell people that my biggest regret of our very own wedding day was that our pup Georgie hadn’t joined our family just yet… So you better bet I’m so happy Jennifer and Brett could share their wedding day with Bailey dog!
Now, remember how I said it rained all morning? Well, the ground was wet, we were watching the radar all afternoon, and ultimately Jennifer and Brett stuck to their guts of having outdoor photos AND an outdoor wedding ceremony. I was proud of these two for leaning into their wishes and overall wedding vision with a backup option to duck inside if needed… A light rain tried to threaten their outdoor ceremony as it was beginning, but it thankfully held off until just after guests were inside at cocktail hour. It all worked out! I think they say that rain is good luck on wedding days – if that’s the case, these two are gonna have so much good luck!
All throughout this day, I was also so in LOVE with all the details. From the dusty rose, navy, and gold color palette to the greenery and fresh flowers to the custom signs Jennifer and Brett displayed all throughout their rustic wedding decor to tons of candlelight and even more greenery. Oh, and I cannot forget how the gorgeous venue – The Barn at Hornbaker Gardens – brought all the details together. Plus, Jennifer and Brett’s wedding attire was just stunning, too. It was all so dreamy and romantic!
As the afternoon rolled into the rainy evening, I could not have been more thankful for this couple and their people. For trusting us to document the day no matter what the weather looked like. For sharing these sweet moments with us. And for letting their love for each other rub off on all their favorite people all day long!
Jennifer and Brett – Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us! We loved photographing you two and wish you many, many happy married years!
Bride’s Attire: Stella York at Brandi’s Bridal Galleria – New Glarus, WI | Bridesmaid Attire: The Dessy Group at Bella Bridesmaids | Groom + Groomsmen Attire: Seno Formal Wear | Hair + Makeup: We Only Do Pretty – Chicago, IL | Jeweler: Gruno’s Diamonds – Rockford, IL | Ceremony + Reception Venue: The Barn at Hornbaker Gardens – Princeton, IL | Wedding Officiant: Bobby Gardner | Florist: Lindsay Funderberg at The Barn at Hornbaker Gardens – Princeton, IL | DJ: Luxe Productions – Loves Park, IL | Transportation: Illinois Central School Bus | Reception Rentals: Tri-County Event Rentals + Marien Mae Bridal | Photo Booth: Selfie Station | Videographer: Bella Tiamo Photo & Video – Chicago, IL | Catering: Hy-Vee | Cake: Kelsey’s Kakes – Peru, IL | Donuts: The Donut Experiment | Cupcakes: Amanda Maltby | Food Truck: FRYbabies – Rockton, IL | Invitations + Paper Goods: Minted | Favors: Totally Promotional