You know that feeling when you've looked for 15 minutes for something...really looked for it...and then it shows up right in front of your face? That's how I felt when I discovered there was a woods and secluded path literally minutes from our house. I'd spent hours trying to think of a fun place for our family portraits that would be close to home, would have great light and still have some autumn colors. And then I realized that we lived only minutes from 26 acres of undeveloped land that was technically deemed a city park. We've lived in our home for 2 years and didn't have a clue! What a find, right in the middle of suburbia!

I'm blessed to have a very talented sister (two talented sisters actually!) who are not only alike in the fact that we have curly hair but can also trade taking family portraits - what a gift! Kara and Lloyd were patient enough with our portrait requests and with our hungry little person (you can see below that Lloyd ended up winning Emma's affection with goldfish) and I was able to take their portraits too! I shared a little about Lloyd's proposal to Kara on instagram a few weeks back and how grateful we are for the man that he is. If you know Kara, you've probably heard people say "is anyone good enough for Kara?!?" because she is just that wonderful. And it's been a joy to see Lloyd be the perfect fit for my sister (and her for him!) . And if you can't tell from the images below, he's got a pretty rad sense of humor. Love you, Kara and Lloyd!

Ethan and Claire are early risers.  Like, very early risers.  The nature of their jobs gets them up before the sun, but they genuinely enjoy being awake before most of us have opened our eyes in the morning.  So it made sense that the first thing they did on their wedding day was go to breakfast together at the place where you can get unlimited bacon at 6am - Waffle House!  A lot of people might spend their wedding morning with friends, getting ready and putting the finishing touches on the details of the wedding, but Claire and Ethan spent the start of their morning with their best friend - each other.   And if there are two things that their family and friends know about them, it's that 1) they love Jesus and 2) they really, truly delight in being with each other.

Ethan and Claire go to our church and Jeremy has been able to get to know him better since Ethan became an intern last year.  So you can imagine, it was a church family affair to see these two get married!  They are the type of people who care more about their marriage than they do about the rings, the dress or the reception.  They care more about keeping their vows than what people will think about their vows.  And they care more about how their marriage honors the Lord than they do about special their wedding day looks on Instagram (but let's be real, their wedding day was full of BEAUTIFUL details).

From the laughter as they got ready with their best friends to the happy tears as they committed to each other before God and precious family and friends, to the SNOW that started just as they left the ceremony, Ethan and Claire's wedding day was full of powerful emotion.  Jeremy and I felt so privileged to witness their commitment to one another and to photograph the joy of the day.  As we wrapped up the evening with dancing while the DJ played "We are Family" I couldn't help but tear up, thinking of how much we love these people and how our church family truly is family to us.  Ethan and Claire, we are honored to know you and excited to see you set an example for others as you model selfless love for one another in your marriage.

Dress: David's Bridal

Hair: Hair by Maddie

Floral: Amy Tompkins (Mother of the Bride)

Venues: Oak Park Baptist Church and The Calumet Club

Catering: Dre's Dreamy Delights

DJ: Spin Around Sound

In honor of Valentine's Day, today is #MarriedMonday and a tribute to my incredible husband and our happy wedding day. I'm always surprised by how little I remember big days - the moments pass by so quickly that you forget to take it all in.  In our favorite show "The Office", I love how Pam and Jim take "mental snapshots" of the special moments of their day - that wedding episode makes me cry every time!

The 10 things I DO remember vividly about our wedding day:

1. Not sleeping the night before (aka telling myself every hour YOU NEED TO GO TO SLEEP with no luck)

2. Getting ready at my parents' house and thinking "this is the last time I'm going to take a shower, walk downstairs, eat breakfast etc. as a single woman!" (can you tell, I was REALLY excited)

3. My sister breaking out her mini Bluetooth speaker and iPod to play music while we got dressed at the church (it was 2013 and I still had a flip phone)

4. Realizing that we had totally forgotten to get lunch for the bridal party, when my dad walked in with sandwich trays for everyone (what a hero!)

5. Getting to see Jeremy for our first look - I'm so glad we did this so that we could spend the majority of our wedding day together (and that's part of why we love to recommend this to our brides!). We had so much fun!

6. Waiting for the 5 minutes before the ceremony where the nerves kicked back in!

7. Walking down the aisle to meet my fiancé and leaving the altar with my husband!

8. My dad beautifully improvising at the altar and saying in response to the "who gives this woman" question: "it is with great honor and joy that her mother and I do"

9. The 10 minute drive from the ceremony to the reception with just me and my HUSBAND

10. Driving away from our reception knowing that everything was different in the very best kind of way <3

I'm so grateful for these photos that Haaken Magnuson took for us. They help us remember the moments we might have otherwise forgotten with the busyness of the day.