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!

Laura & James (married)

This post has been a long time coming, but it's better late than never! These are some of our favorite portraits from Laura & James' December wedding. Don't let the lack of snow fool you – it was pretty darn chilly, but the couple let us take them outside anyway! Laura is Dan's cousin, thus making James our new cousin–in–law, thus making this image series an extra special one for us. It's been a joy to watch Laura grow from little girl into beautiful woman and find a man worthy of becoming her husband. James has a sweet Mustang and he's disproved the "White Men Can't Jump" myth (see below), so he's doing a great job increasing our family's street cred! the following images were photographed at Brookside Park and our studio in downtown Ames. Enjoy!

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..."

Meredith & Matt (married)

Meredith and Matt first met in a nursing class at Creighton University in Omaha. Matt had been working up the courage to talk to her for a while so he asked his friends to be his "wingmen" and sit with him in the row behind Meredith during their next class. After Matt sat down, his friends filed into the row behind him, leaving Matt completely alone in his row. We were able to get into the very same classroom where it all started (see below) on Meredith and Matt's wedding day. Their ceremony took place at St. John's on Creighton's campus and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day. We photographed portraits on campus and downtown around the Magnolia Hotel, where the reception took place. Meredith's attention to detail was impeccable and her reception was no exception. We personally enjoyed the eye–popping, drool–inducing candy bar where guests were encouraged to load up a keepsake bag of sweets for the journey home. The candy bar also made for some creative craziness in their photobooth (which will be our next post later this week!). We feel blessed to have been a part of this magical day. Meredith and Matt — much love and success in your new life together!

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).

Christin & Paul (married)

Christin and Paul's wedding was a blast! The day started with pre–ceremony portraits at St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines, including some moody groomsmen photos inspired by the Rat Pack. The church provided a fantastic backdrop for the ceremony with its modern, but still awe–inspiring, art and design. Afterwards we took a quick limo cruise and stopped for a few more portraits on the way to the reception at The Marriott. Christin and Paul's chemistry was wonderful to capture. They savored their day to the fullest and it was a joy to watch them interact. Here are a few of our favorite moments from the day:

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!

Wedding Ideas: Mix up your cake

Instead of spending a fortune on cake that tastes blah, go for quality and have a variety of flavors. Decorate them to look appetizing instead of using fondant (which is really only for show.) The cakes pictured below were decorated according to their flavor, so everyone could easily pick their favorites. Utilize the natural beauty of fruit, nuts, and chocolate shavings for quick and easy decorating. You can also tie in a family recipe or two as a way to get more of the family involved. To view more from this wedding, click here.

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:

 

Whitney & David (married)

Whitney & David's wedding day unfolded at Prairie Moon Winery in Ames. Their day was one of the hottest of the year, but that didn't hinder morale. Whitney & David's excitement to marry one another was infectious and spread among everybody present. Both families and the wedding party were rock stars and let us take them outside for portraits (thanks guys)! Bottled water and fans were provided for guests to keep them cool through the late-afternoon ceremony, which took place on the fringe of the beautiful vineyard. The reception kicked off with a cocktail hour immediately following the ceremony inside the air–conditioned Prairie Moon reception hall. Whitney ensured that the day was chalked full of personal touches — everything from custom made wine bottle centerpieces to a locket on her bouquet containing photos of her late grandparents. After reception formalities we were able to sneak the newlyweds back into the vineyard for some sunset portraits to end the day.

Sarah & Lyle (married)

Sarah and Lyle's wedding day unfolded against the beautiful backdrop of Ocean Edge Resort in Cape Cod, MA. The occasion was intimate with approximately 50 close friends and family members enjoying an extended weekend together at the resort. The girls got ready at the Ocean Edge Mansion, and we photographed most of our portraits on the mansion grounds. Sarah was adventurous and did some tree climbing (see below) in the name of photographic awesomeness! We hit the golf course with the groomsmen, who's grey suits and cigars were a perfect combination of classy and fun. In the late afternoon everybody walked down to the beach for a barefoot beach ceremony. Sarah's youngest sister was one of the cutest flower girls we've ever met and performed her duties with excellence. The reception was held afterwards at the Linx Pavilion. After a healthy amount of dancing we noticed a heavy fog setting in outside so we ventured onto the golf course for an epic goodnight portrait to end the day. We couldn't imagine the day going any more perfectly and we're glad we got to be a part of it! Congrats Sarah and Lyle!

McClaniversary 3!

Salutations! Today is our 3-year wedding anniversary! It's insane how fast 3 years has gone by and how grateful we are that God brought us together. Simply put, marriage is the bomb. Mushy stuff aside, we recently completed creating our very own wedding album. A little belated, but we've been busy creating albums for our amazing clients and have gotten a lot of practice in the art - so the wait was probably a blessing in disguise. As part of the process Alex needed me to dress up in my wedding suit (from express for all you curious fashionable folk) so she could photograph me in her personal style for a spread in the album. If you recall 1 year ago today we posted a series of images that I photographed of Alex doing outrageous things in her wedding dress (in my style, which resulted in some of my favorite images ever). There's something particularly enjoyable about photographing your own spouse. For all you married folks out there - much respect from us! Keep fighting the good fight. We're inspired by the anniversary dance at each and every wedding reception and we secretly hope to someday be the barely-standing couple with huge denture smiles that wins the prize for being married the longest :) Alex's shoot with me was short and sweet, but here are a few of the resulting images:

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!

Emily & Mike

Emily and Mike's wedding unfolded on a beautiful Saturday in Minneapolis. Emily has an incredible eye for detail and filled the day with personal touches: everything from homemade wooden signs to a handkerchief made from both her grandmothers wedding dresses. Autumn vintage style emanated out of everything from flowers to reception venue and added immense charm to the experience. Emily and Mike's ceremony was at St. Peter's Catholic Church, where Emily attended school, and their reception was held at the fantastic Nicollet Island Pavilion. The pair was a blast to photograph because they have great senses of humor and chemistry. We captured a number of stellar portraits on the banks of the Mississippi between the ceremony and reception. We also need to give a shout out to the super cool wedding party (their lovely blurs featured below)! The dance floor was HOPPIN with energy and guests were given a show when Mike was iced by Emily as he went for her garter during the garter toss (it was epic)! At 10pm a gelato cart appeared next to the dance floor and guests were treated with Emily's favorite snack from her semester in Italy. We snuck out back with the couple for one last skyline portrait (below) at the end of the night.