Wedding Ideas: Unity Tree

For an alternative to the ceremony's unity candle, try a unity tree. Perfect for an outdoor ceremony. The bride and groom each fill a vase with dirt and a bottle with water from their childhood home. The tree symbolizes the roots of their relationship and the continued growth of their love. Plant the tree at your first house as a married couple. To see more from Whitney & David's vineyard wedding, click here!

Wedding Ideas: Bridesmaid Dress Color Spectrum

Choose a color spectrum and have every bridesmaid pick out any dress they love in that palette. Either make a mood board by cutting out shades from magazines, or drop by a paint store to grab some swatches. Then copy and mail it to each of the girls and let them go shopping! Make sure to have everyone text you a photo of their winner before cutting off the tags – just in case two girls choose the same dress. We loved how the flowers pulled all the colors together perfectly. To see more from Elizabeth & Marc's rustic wedding, click here!

Feature: Professional Photographer Magazine

We just received our July issue of Professional Photographer Magazine and we're excited to share that our engagement imagery is featured as the cover story! The mag called us a couple months ago for an interview so we know we would be published in some capacity, but we didn't know that we would be getting the cover until recently. You can download a pdf of the story here. We must give a giant thanks to our engagement couples for letting us into your lives to create imagery!

Jocelyn Part 1

It's no secret that working with musicians is one of our favorite things to do. There isn't much of a scene in central Iowa, so when an Iowa band comes along that's kicking butt and taking names – it's pretty darn exciting. Jocelyn is headquartered in Iowa City and is on the verge of releasing their first EP. You can hear their first single on their Facebook page. We got a sneak preview of the EP and it's gonna be good! It's We photographed promo images for the band in 2 parts, the second of which will be released down the road. Enjoy part 1 and make sure you check out their tunes and share the love!

Jay & Holly (married)

We've had the privilege of getting to know Jay's family over the past few years so we were extra excited when Jay and Holly got engaged and wanted us to be their photographers! Their December wedding ceremony took place in the chapel at Hope Lutheran Church in West Des Moines. Thanks to the extremely mild winter this year we were able to photograph most of their portraits outside. Holly's Ivory dress with fur coat and Jay's tan suit looked stunning against the golden browns of winter trees at sunset. It was a treat to witness their joy. Their reception took place at the Foxboro in Johnston. It was immaculately decorated by Jay's parents Sheri & Stan, two wonderful people that have the gift of touching the lives of everyone they come in contact with. They sprinkled the ceiling with snowflakes and filled the room with Christmas trees, lights and decorations that transformed the room into a winter wonderland. It was the perfect end to a wonderful wedding day.

Kelly & Nick (married)

Kelly & Nick did an outstanding job incorporating their favorite places and things into their wedding day. The couple has deep roots at Iowa State University. (If you recall their engagement session, we photographed around campus town and inside the bar where they first met.) Being Cyclone alumni and fans ourselves, we were very excited to receive access to photograph some portraits inside Jack Trice Stadium! It's safe to say the experience was a dream come true for everybody involved and we learned that girls rock at football (see below). Kelly & Nick tied the knot right next to the stadium inside the conservatory at the always beautiful Reiman Gardens. A favorite moment was when Kelly's adorable niece decided to take a nap in her daddy's arms prior her moment to shine as flower girl. After the ceremony the ISU theme was continued when we boarded a CyRide bus for a romantic cruise before the couple's introduction to their reception at the Knapp Storm Dinning Complex. The reception was decorated like a night club with moody purple and blue lights and Kelly & Nick put on a show cutting their zombie wedding cake , which read "Til death do us part..."

Megan & Kyle (married)

Megan & Kyle's wedding took place on a crisp autumn day in Atlantic, IA. We can't remember a moment when Megan didn't have a smile on her face and it was such a joy to document her relationship with Kyle! We loved Megan's peacock feather theme and the bright touches of teal and purple carried throughout the garments and decor. Their ceremony took place at St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church with reception following at the Cass County Memorial Building. Megan & Kyle's engagement session was also quite memorable and you can see highlights from it here. Please enjoy a few of our favorite moments from the day:

2012 Brides Choice Award

Whoohoo! We just received this press release from Wedding Wire:

{Ames,IA} – January 26, 2012 – WeddingWire, the nation's leading wedding Marketplace, is excited to announce McClanahan Studio has been selected to receive the prestigious WeddingWire Bride’s Choice Awards™ 2012 for Photography!

The esteemed annual awards program recognizes the top local wedding vendors from the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism within the wedding industry. While many industry awards are selected by the organization, McClanahan Studio was selected based on its stellar reviews from past newlywed clients.

McClanahan Studio is recognized as part of the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire local vendor community, comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout the United States and Canada. The Bride’s Choice Award recognizes the best local wedding vendors across 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their overall professional achievements throughout the past year.

“WeddingWire is thrilled to honor the success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Community,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Since the launch of the Bride’s Choice Awards™ program four years ago, thousands of outstanding wedding professionals have been recognized by the bridal community for their supreme service and dedication to the wedding industry. It is with great pleasure that we congratulate McClanahan Studio for their continued professionalism and commitment to enriching the wedding planning experience for engaged couples.”

We are happy to announce that McClanahan Studio is one of the very best Photographers within the WeddingWire Network, which includes leading wedding planning sites WeddingWire, Project Wedding, Brides.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee.

We would like to thank our brides for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. Your positive feedback made it possible for us to receive this recognition and we absolutely wouldn't be able to do what we do without you! Check out our WeddingWire page here: http://www.weddingwire.com/reviews/mcclanahan-studio-ames/a48c1e1dc2f99dc2.html

-Dan and Alex

Mackenzi & Kyle (married)

Mackenzi & Kyle's wedding day began at the Adam's Street Bed and Breakfast in Carroll, IA, where Mackenzi and her bridesmaids were getting ready. We want to give them a shout out for being some of the most fun bridesmaids we've ever met! (If you haven't seen the images from their crazy photobooth yet, click here right now). Once Mackenzi donned her charming birdcage veil and mermaid gown, we met up with Kyle for some portraits, including some intimate moments and an image inspired by American Gothic. The entire event was held at Santa Maria Winery. The weather was gorgeous and the ceremony took place outside on the patio, followed by cocktails and a reception inside the winery. It provided a wonderful scene for dancing and formalities to unfold. Mackenzi & Kyle presented a special cupcake and led the guests in a rousing "Happy Birthday" for their nephew's first birthday. The ring bearer (Mackenzi and Kyle's adorable son), busted some killer dance moves with his teddy bear and rockstar sneakers (see below).

Alana & Mike (married)

Alana and Mike's wedding day started at her parents' acreage in New Vienna, IA. The location provided gorgeous outdoor scenes for portraits. This was further accentuated by Alana's choice of colors. The bridesmaids dresses, flowers and tan suits looked striking against the browning prairie grass and changing leaves. Alana's father Robert, AKA "The Stove Nut," has a fantastic museum filled with restored antique stoves, barber chairs and other things that provided a one–of–a–kind scene for some sweet shots. After photographing portraits we headed into town for the ceremony at the beautiful gothic Saint Boniface Catholic Church. The reception followed in Dyersville (home to the Field Of Dreams) at the Commercial Club Park Pavillion. Autumn centerpieces and a white light chandelier provided an elegant backdrop and even the drinks were jazzed up with personalized can koozies. Alana's dance with her father was a favorite moment at the reception. The photograph of it (below) is one of those images that you just feel. Big props to Alana for creating one of the most well–branded weddings we've ever seen! We're glad you chose graphic design as a profession ;)

Elizabeth & Marc (married)

Elizabeth & Marc's wedding took place at her parents' acreage in Strawberry Point, IA. Personal touches abounded and every detail accentuated the natural setting with rustic elegance. These included wildflowers in shades of blue and purple, an intimate backyard ceremony under the birch trees and programs printed on fans to keep guests cool. Elizabeth's uncle even made tree trunk centerpieces. The atmosphere was relaxed and jovial, a mood enhanced by the beauty and informality of the outdoors setting. The property had several beautiful locations to photograph portraits, which you'll see below. The day was wonderful and we're thankful we got to be a part of it!

Jen & Sean (married)

Jen and Sean's wedding unfolded on a warm, sunny day at Santa Maria Winery in Carroll, IA. Their ceremony took place on the winery's beautiful shaded patio and their reception followed inside. Carroll's historic downtown was very photogenic and served as the perfect backdrop for wedding day adventures. Jen and Sean first met in Ballroom Dance Club at Iowa State so it was no surprise that the evening's dancing was quite the spectacle. (Jen and Sean were the fantastic instructors at the Ballroom Dance Class held last Spring at our studio) Their dollar dance was no exception since many of the guests and wedding party had ties to the ballroom club too. One bridesmaid exclaimed: "Dancing with Sean makes you feel like a princess!" Sean announced that he would dance with anyone who paid and knew a part, male or female, so many of his groomsmen took him up on this offer and entertained the delighted guests. Before the evening ended we were able to sneak Jen and Sean to the basement for a good night portrait with wine barrels. It has been a blessing getting to know this couple and we hope you enjoy this glimpse at their wedding day:

 

Linda & Jon (married)

Linda and Jon were rainy day troopers! It poured most of the morning during portraits, but we were able to find sanctuary under umbrellas as well as in our studio. We're thankful for their great attitudes so we could still take great portraits of them! Rain is no match for great chemistry, which Linda and Jon have in spades. Their ceremony took place at St. Malachy’s Catholic Church in Madrid with reception following at the beautiful new ISU Alumni Building. We took a party bus cruise with the wedding party while the guests enjoyed cocktails. The rain cleared up so we could make a stop on Iowa State's campus, where Linda and Jon first met, to burn off some energy and take some fun photos (see below). At the reception Linda decorated every detail with gorgeous shades of pink, creating a beautifully modern floral ambiance. Overall the day was a blast and we're honored we got to be a part of it. Long live Linda and Jon!

Alicia & Ben (married)

Alicia and Ben's knot-tying commenced on a beautiful day in downtown Des Moines, IA. Their evening ceremony was held at the historic Saint Ambrose Cathedral with reception following at The Scottish Rite (one of our favorite venues! currently featured on our web site). We photographed most of our portraits on the streets of Des Moines in-between the two venues (which are walking distance from one another). Alicia and Ben's mutual excitement was infectious and was a joy to behold! Ben's constant affection towards his bride and Alicia's ceaseless smile are definitely indicators that they've got something extraordinary going on. Alicia's little sister was a huge part of the day, helping out in any way she could, and is a clear case of 10 going on 30. Her lack of camera shyness also made her a blast to photograph (see below). Please enjoy a few of our favorite images from their wedding, and if you just can't get enough Alicia & Ben you can see a few of their engagement photos here.

Lissy & Daniel (married)

Lissy and Daniel's wedding day unfolded at First Baptist Church, a beautiful venue with great architecture in Ames, IA. The DIY decor was bursting with bright colors and charm, very much an extension of Lissy and Daniel's fun-loving personalities. Everything from the flowers to their post-ceremony balloon exit (brilliant, see below) was playfully vibrant. The reception (held in the basement following the ceremony) even had centerpieces with live goldfish swimming around in them! Their pastor's message was very personal, filled with both great Godly insight and loads of laughter - during the vows he accidentally said "Do you Lissy take Daniel to be your wife?" It was an occasion that you couldn't witness without smiling from ear to ear. We had a ton of fun being a part of this occasion and we wish Lissy and Daniel enormous joy in their new life together.

Heidi & Neal (married)

Heidi and Neal's pastor summed it up perfectly when he said "the wetter the rope, the tighter the knot" during their wedding ceremony at Swedesburg Evangelical Lutheran Church in Swedesburg, IA. Their day rained without ceasing from dawn till dusk, but nobody let it ruin the fun. Special thanks to Heidi, Neal and the entire wedding party for braving the drizzle and letting us take photos outdoors – it was a blast! To add sentiment to the occasion, Swedesburg Lutheran is the church Heidi grew up in and the church where both her sisters and her parents were married! Pink isn't a color many guys can pull off, but the Neal and his dudes made pink bow ties look downright debonair. The bridesmaids held their own with pink umbrellas that made playing in the rain look like more fun than a bucket of kittens. After the ceremony the wedding party rode a party bus into Mt. Pleasant for a reception at Iowa Wesleyan College Social Hall, making a stop for some group photos along the way. The selection of favorite images below convey the emotions of the day better than our words. Heidi and Neal were a fantastic couple to work with and we wish them many blessings in their marriage!

Ann & Chase

Ann and Chase had a beautiful wedding ceremony at First United Methodist Church in Mason City, IA. After the ceremony we photographed some couple portraits at the Clear Lake Central Gardens, which had beautiful post–storm light and color (it rained all morning). When the storm clouds passed the sky broke into a slew of radiant colors and made for some epic couple portraits with Chase's prized Camero SS. We loved how Ann's vintage attire fit with the feeling of the day (she rocked it). Festivities concluded with a hoppin' dinner reception at the Best Western Holiday Lodge. Ann and Chase were so fun to hang out with, we wish them the best in their marriage!