Superwoman does exist…Read More
Darren & Lauren’s wedding day highlights…Read More
Outdoor weddings are a dream for many couples (and photographers ;) ). However, when weather anchors have a difficult time predicting weather 2-3 days into the future, trying to plan an outdoor ceremony a year or more in advance is always going to involve risk.
Statistics show that rain and storms are more likely to land on the weekend (there's scientific theories for this, if you want to learn more about that, I encourage you check it out), making the probability of a wedding day of precipitation more likely than one of dry, clear skies.
Tyler and Kaitlyn experienced this first hand. On a positive note, it didn't end up raining all day like they predicted, however, by the time the forecast changed, they'd already made the decision to move everything indoors. Better to be safe than sorry - and, I will say, air conditioning is a nice perk to staying indoors. :)
Ceremony and reception were both held at the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and Convention Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa. A great option, especially for couples who are having a lot of out of town guests as they can check into their room Friday, leave Sunday and never have to leave the property if they don't want to. However, if they do, it's just a short drive from some of the main shopping establishments and restaurants in town. An anxious/introvert (like myself) travelers dream. Haha!
Kaitlyn started her day with hair and makeup at Jiva Salon and Spa off of Main Street in Cedar Falls before making her way to the bridal suite at Hilton Garden Inn where we met her to start the detail portion of the day.
I think one of my favorite parts of the getting ready photos is seeing the bride in her element. Just her, her mom and a few of her closest friends/siblings. The stress that often goes along with being a bride on her wedding day hasn't quite set in. The anticipation of the first look aids in building the excitement. Stories and laughter is shared, tears are shed, hugs are exchanged. If I had to choose a favorite part of the day, getting ready photos, sunset photos and the first dances would all be tied for first. Haha. (yes, my husband would be happy to tell you that I am the worst at making decisions -- especially after I've changed my mind on what I want to drink for the 27th time.) ;)
Tyler and Kaitlyn had their first look in the south west conference room, secretly witnessed by friends and family from the lobby, and Tyler's reaction is definitely in my top 5 favorites so far. Pure joy and excitement over seeing his bride for the first time that day. The photos, from that point on, speak for themselves. <3
Event Planner: Leslie (Hilton Garden Inn)
Dress: Bridal Connections - Ankeny, IA
Bridesmaids dresses: Affinity Bridal - Indianola, IA
Tux: Palace Clothiers
Hair/Makeup: Jiva Salon Spa
Rings: Roth Jewlers
Dessert: Hansen Dairy (Ice cream bar)
DJ: Ultimate Entertainment (Beardface)
Rentals: Special Occasions (Arch)
We switched things up this quarter, with this being the first event held in Waverly (my old stomping grounds), as well as some of the ladies even showing up a little early, to Prairie Links Golf Course, to play a round prior to the event starting. I mean....why not? :)
Today we heard about:
Cedar Valley Friends of the Family
Make a Wish Foundation - Iowa Chapter
House of Hope
As well as an update from last quarter's winner, Retrieving Freedom.
Cedar Valley Friends of the Family is a private non-profit agency serving 15 counties in Northeast Iowa. Our mission is "to provide safe shelter, confidential services, and housing assistance to individuals and families affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness." Our vision is "through prevention education and community engagement, we seek a future free of violence and homelessness."
Make a Wish Foundation grants wishes for children fighting for their lives. Although not all cases are terminal, a lot of them are and these wishes offer a magical experience to kids and families that have spent far too long in the sadness that tends to go along with diagnoses and treatment for life threatening illnesses / diseases in children. -- on a personal note, I can't imagine what it would be like to be in a situation where your child would be considered a candidate for such a gift, however I'm so thankful that it exists. (If you'll notice, I get pretty sappy when it involves kids dealing with anything that keeps them from being able to just be kids).
House of Hope provides homeless mothers with individualized support and transitional housing to achieve secure families and permanent homes. Their vision is to end the cycle of homelessness for mothers and children in the Cedar Valley with respect, empowerment, stewardship and accountability as their core values.
A recap on what 100+ Women is, for those hearing about this group for the first time. Every quarter, we gather at an event sponsored by local businesses. The only thing you need to attend is a check written out for $100, with which, you will receive a charity nomination ballot and two drink tickets. At the beginning of the event, they will draw three nominations. Those who are drawn then have 5 minutes to prepare a small presentation on why they believe their charity should receive the $10,000+ donation. Once all 3 speakers have presented, everyone votes. The charity that receives the most votes then receives a check for the full donation amount.
Congratulations, Cedar Valley Friends of the Family, for being chosen to receive this quarter's donation!
If anyone else is interested in donating, there's still time. Head to their donation page to donate online, or contact any of the board members (or myself, if you wish), and we'll get you the information you need to send in a check.
Also - a shout out to this quarter's sponsors:
Prairie Links Golf Course
Walsworth Family Dentistry
Design 360 - Decorating Den Interiors
We ended the night with a little fun - last photo courtesy of Bethany Benner - board member for 100+ Women Who Care CV. ;)
Brittney and Jason's September wedding took place at Prarie Links Golf Course & Event Center in Waverly, Iowa.Read More
Big changes and big plans for 100+ Women Cedar Valley in 2018! Between welcoming a few new board members, to planning their first meeting in Waverly, Iowa at Prairie Links Golf and Event Center, there's also some planning going on for 100+ Women and Men event this fall that I'm pretty excited about, but because every engaging story involves a little suspense, you'll have to wait for the next event, May 10th if you're curious, for those details. ;) (Click here to check out last year's 100+ Men and Women event, held at SingleSpeed in Waterloo.)
Recap on Thursday's event:
Last quarter's recipient, Knox Blox Foundation, spoke about how they were able to utilize our donation to supply more local babies with Owlet Smart Sock Monitors, infant health and oxygen monitors, to help give parents peace of mind, especially those with preemies or other high risk babies. Owlet even matched donations 2 to 1, so for every owlet purchased, Owlet donated 2 more. A huge blessing to local moms of newborns. To make your own donation to this amazing organization, you can access their donation page here.
We also heard from Junior League Waterloo-Cedar Falls, an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.
Black Hawk Grundy County Mental Health Center offering mental health services to those in need. (they didn't go into a lot of detail on this group Thursday and I can't find a website with more info - if anyone has more information about this non-profit, please share in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!)
And our donation recipient for the first 100+ event of 2018, Retrieving Freedom. Retrieving Freedom, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to training service dogs to help people. Their three primary focuses are training dogs to serve the needs of veterans, children with autism and individuals living with diabetes. They breed and train chosen dogs that exhibit specific traits necessary to perform tasks to help these individuals, and they believe in matching the dog to the recipient... [read more about Retrieving Freedom on their About Us page.]
Due to weather, we did see a lower attendance than usual. If you are one that was unable to make it that night or are hearing about this group for the first time via social media or otherwise and would like to be a part of this quarter's donation, it's not too late. Donations will continue to be collected up until the official check delivery, date TBA. You can donate online or contact me or one of the board members for an address to send a check. Also, mark your calendars as we'd also love to see you at the next event, May 10th at Prairie Links Golf and Event Center in Waverly, IA!
As of the last year or so, I've begun to feel like session blogs start to all sound the same. I love making each blog post unique, however with as many as I write a year, it gets difficult to do. So, I got to thinking that, instead of making everyone read a million of them from my, limited, perspective, why not let the bride be a part of telling their story from their own perspective? Sara was my first contact in attempting this new idea and she did an amazing job. I loved reading parts of her story that I'd never heard before. She was able to add an angle that I never would have been able to and I love it. Keep reading to hear about how Sara and Spencer met as well as his proposal and their wedding plans.
"We met at Simpson College. Spencer played soccer and I played volleyball. Spencer spotted me in the weight room and identified me as “the gray shoe girl”. He thought I was very cute and wanted to know my name. Eventually through social media he found me and my roomie at that time, a female soccer player, got us in touch.
I love Spencer’s kindness. He has a really big heart and he is one of the most understanding guys I have ever met. He rarely gets mad and I don’t think he’s ever raised his voice at me, and for being together for 5 years I think that’s really impressive.
He proposed on April 15th 2017 (tax weekend for Spencer the accountant). We were having an Easter egg hunt for my niece and nephew at my parents house. We were just finishing up and Spencer said “wait there’s one more” and disappeared with Jaxson and Ryder (nephew and niece). A few moment later they came back with a big gold egg in Ryder’s hand. She handed it to me and as I opened it Spencer got down on one knee and took the ring from me and asked me to marry him in front of my family.
We are going with an ‘elegant rustic’ theme for the wedding. This includes succulents, ivory details, and old liquor bottles for decor. Spencer is in charge of our honeymoon which will be later in the year (December) so that is unknown to me. We plan on having our fur baby (Chloe) being involved as much as possible. Right now she will be walking down the aisle with one of my personal attendants for the ceremony." - Sara
I'm a little behind, but "Welcome, 2018"! Last year was most definitely a great year. I learned so much and am excited to start implementing new strategies to help keep things smooth and consistent.
For those that follow me on facebook (if you don't, feel free to send me a friend request!) you might have seen that last fall I struggled a lot with finding reliable childcare which ended up setting me back a lot. I feel incredibly fortunate to have some amazing clients who were extraordinarily patient. I'm happy to be able to say, photo deadlines were all met, however, blogging and other design work took a big hit.
January is usually the month where I'm able to catch up on a lot of those 'behind the scenes' projects that were put on the back burner in the previous months. However, this January hasn't slowed much. January 12-17th, I attended Imaging USA, the annual Professional Photographers of America (PPA) convention, for the first time in Nashville and then a few days later, I took a much needed vacation with my family to my grandparent's home in Tucson, AZ. As guilty as I felt taking that time away, I also believe it's so important to be able to take time to invest in yourself, your education and your family. So often people can get so engrossed in their work that they often forget to take that personal time to grow and relax their body and mind and really focus on the true foundation of creating 'success' -- their support system. I had a great time, as did my family, and feel so much more energized and ready to tackle this next year!
The next few months hold the Professional Photographers of Iowa (PPI) convention, several design projects, new collections, new samples, new blogs and many new friendships. I’m very excited to start offering some amazing new products and having a nice collection of samples to show off some more current work.
Late spring through late fall are also looking to be some of the busiest months in my photography career. Forgive me as I put my heart on my sleeve for a moment, as I have to admit that when I decided to pursue photography, I was only doing so because I felt I had nothing to lose. Doing something was better than doing nothing. It was a dream, but not anything that I thought was going to go very far -- the term "starving artist" always came to mind when I considered pursuing a career in anything 'art' related. However, over the last couple of years, I've watched myself reach goals that I doubted would ever be reached. Today, when looking back on where I started to where I am and every little thing that, at the time, just felt like awful luck, and how it played a crucial part in that journey -- it's all very humbling. If nothing else, it's a nice reminder that God has a plan. We're all designed with gifts and dreams that help serve a purpose in His earthly kingdom. (Check out 1st Corinthians chapter 12) Listening to those dreams is the first step and making those dreams a reality won't always come easy, but with trust and persistence comes success. What does success look like to you? Leave your answer in the comments. I'd love to hear your story and vision of your own dreams. <3
With all of that said, I want to wholeheartedly thank everyone who has played a part in that journey, whether you knew it or not, and especially to those who have supported me through it all. Making me get up and brush off every time something knocked me down. I finally feel like I'm where I am supposed to be and a lot of the credit goes to you. Thank you.
Feel free to scroll below to check out some of my favorite images from our Tucson trip. A few of these captures will be my side projects for the year. A little more extensive editing to produce some really neat composites and imagery. Check out last year's projects here. It happened by accident last year -- this year was more intentional. I'm very excited to get the finished products printed. If you would like a copy, I'd be more than happy to chat with you, just contact me by filling out the form here.
I can't even begin to express how much I love these images. We lucked out with weather, lighting and location (permission to use private property)...on top of the fact that Chad and Marie are just, overall, beautiful people. I am so glad she called me up that day, followed by our coffee date. One of my favorite things about doing what I do, is when those client relationships blossom into new friendships. These two are amazing and I'm so excited for them in this new phase of their lives together. <3
Scroll down to see some of their favorites.
High school sweethearts, Derek & Ariana, had the most beautiful simplistic wedding that we've photographed to date. Taking place at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Lime Springs, Iowa with an intimate reception for their families at their home following. It was such an honor to be included on such an intimate day for their families.
Scroll below to see some of their favorite images. <3
It was an emotional night at the 100+ Women Cedar Valley Chapter 2017 quarter 4 event. Tonight we heard from last quarter's recipient, COTA for Evie's Freedom. Evie's aunt, speaking on Evie's mother's behalf, fought her way through tears of joy and sadness as she explained how much of a blessing the donation was, allowing Evie's mother to be present at Evie's side through her remaining days. Five, inoperable, tumors found on her brain. Many tears were shed. No words can express the broken hearts that were shared, while celebrating knowing that because of last quarter's donation, this little girl gets to enjoy snuggling with her mommy whenever she wants -- a right that all sick babies should have. <3
Tonight we heard from a local chapter of National AMBUCS. A charity that donates tricycles to disabled children and adults, allowing them to feel the independence of being able to ride a bike on their own, while also being therapeutic. All the while, also, hleping them to better develop motor skills, etc..
Knox Blocks. A charity started by Mark and Elisha Palmer - parents who lost their 3 month old son, Knox, to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Their mission is to supply new parents with Owlet Smart Sock baby monitors to help remove one huge stresser from parents' of babies day-to-day. As a mom of young babies, I can attest to the anxiety that surrounds sleeping babies. I can't even tell you how many times my heart would skip a beat because I woke up before they did, or I couldn't hear them breathing for a second. What an amazing gift these two have given to so many families.
Thirdly, we heard from Big Brothers, Big Sisters out of Waterloo. Providing positive people in the lives of children who have gone through trauma or just want a friend. The stories of kids who were both paired with mentors as well as those who were stuck on the waiting list due to limited resources/funding also resulted in some emotional moments.
Anytime you see a child struggle under circumstances they have little to no control over... I came home and snuggled my babies (way past their bedtimes...but baby snuggles > bedtime, and it was worth it. The world is a broken place, but it's through organizations like the ones we heard about tonight that make it a little less broken. I continue to support 100+ Women because they make such a huge impact on community based charities like these. Not to mention, you bring a bunch of community supporting women together in one place... and magic happens.
Next event will be held at the Beaverhills Country Club in Cedar Falls. Date to be announced.
Special thanks to tonight's sponsors:
Paradigm Benefits and Brown Bottle Restaurant
I loved spending the evening with Tom, Melanie and Petey...Read More
Another emotional night for another deserving charity. COTA for Evie's freedom went home with a donation of $26,000 between the 100+ women and 100+ Men Who Care Cedar Valley attendees and Black Hawk County Gaming Association. However, they are still accepting online donations, so for anyone who hasn't yet, but would like to donate to this great cause, you can do so here.
"The Children’s Organ Transplant Association (COTA) helps U.S. transplant families avoid financial ruin. Transplant procedure costs range from $100,000 to more than $800,000. Once the transplant is complete, families face significant transplant-related expenses, including medication; transportation to and from the center; lodging; and expenses while parents are out of work and often living with the hospitalized child far from home. These out-of-pocket expenses add up to tens of thousands of dollars annually for transplant families with lifetime totals exceeding $1,000,000. In cases where a shortfall exists, COTA helps bridge the financial gap."
"Evie is a 3 year old girl with limitless strength and resolve Diagnosed with stage 4 cancer one year ago & was later listed on the national transplant list.... The cancer, Hepatoblastoma, had spread from her liver to her small bowl and pancreas... Miraculously on July 4th she received a multi-organ transplant after doctors almost gave up hope."
What an amazing feeling to see such a huge blessing being given just by showing up with a $100. My son, also 3 years old, can hardly walk away with a scraped knee, and nearly hyperventilates at the thought of "pokeys". Before he was born, I rode along with a friend to her son's chemo appointment. These kids are warriors and I know (not even to the full extent), from my friend's experience, just how impactful charities like COTA are for families who are fighting through so many, aggressive, medical treatments for their babies. For those who want to give further, you can donate directly to COTA here.
Other charities we heard from last night:
Special 'thanks' to our sponsors:
Amy Wienands Real Estate
Veridian Credit Union
For those interested, mark your calendars for our next 100+ Women event, November 9th at the Waterloo Brown Bottle.
"I found myself Monday taking down our day. Having our wedding at Chris and my house quite possibly could have been the most stressful thing to do during the planning stages. However, looking back on it, it was the best thing to do for Mr. Sogard and myself. As I took down our decorations and looked through the numerous photos posted to Facebook on Monday morning, I realized how amazing our little home wedding was. Every part of Chris and my wedding had a personal touch, whether it was the mailbox from my father's parents farm, or my grandpa's plaid shirt I wore to get my hair done in. Every single thing we did had significant meaning to both of us. It helped us celebrate our pasts, embrace our present, and unite together for what we both know will be an amazing future.
"After working at a bridal shop for 6+ years I always heard the day of your wedding is a whirlwind and it truly is."
It took me a few days to absorb all of the amazingness that was our wedding day. The thing I love most about our wedding was being around the people I love most. It was a honor to spend time with both of our immediate families and a blessing to have them all present for this long awaited moment.
"I keep thinking how blessed Chris and I are with the many people who gave us so much for our wedding day."
My sister, brother in-law, Graham and Oliver helped make my favorite cookies that were always the best and a tradition for Christmas, made by my dad's mom, Mary. My mom spent countless hours helping me select my dress, find the perfect accessories, and plan all of the little details of my wedding. My dad gave me the mailbox that belonged his parents to use as a decoration. Karen, Chris' mom helped me create the perfect look for our wedding with the most amazing homemade custom paper flowers. Chris' dad helped us set everything up and tear everything down. Kara, Chris' sister, Joe, Sawyer and Lylah brought their special recipe from their restaurant, The Noodle Zoo, and made mimosas for all to celebrate with. The pastor that married us Mark was the one that married my parents over 30 years ago. And, lastly, it was such an honor to have my grandma, Audrey, there to celebrate Chris and my union. I could list more details (flowers from my yard, the blue heart sewn into my dress from my old co-worker, Jody Runge, who did my alterations; the beautiful cake from Milkbox Bakery, a business I work with at my job; the jewelry made by a native Iowan, and so may more amazing details) that meant the world to Chris and I." -- Kathryn
Ben and Savannah's day was beautiful, tastefully unique, and a great representation of who they are as a couple.
In a simple reflection of the day, Savannah had the following to say:
"Our wedding day reflected exactly what matters most to us, many people who gathered from a variety of seasons in our lives to celebrate where our journeys merge together. From the details to the last dance, we truly enjoyed the process and the people. "
We started the day off at Jiva. Seeing Savannah, along with her mom and bridesmaids, the first thing I noticed was just how relaxed and in the moment she was. This was especially surprising to me as she began to tell me all about the issues she'd had in the previous weeks with bridesmaids/flower girl dresses and shoes.
As the morning progressed, the air became warmer, preventing us from getting the outdoor photos we'd previously talked about. Both Savannah and Ben, however, were more than happy to continue their formals indoors.
The ceremony at the First Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Iowa went flawlessly. Their plan for their unity candle was a beautiful representation of the amazing community of support that their friends and family are for them. I also believe this was the first ceremony that I've attended, in a church, where the pastor encourages the friends and family to hoot, holler and cheer at the end. :P
The reception at the Elks Club, also in Waterloo, was decorated in beautiful Elks Club style. The DJ was instructed to only play 60's music and Indy, and each table was topped with a "mix tape"(CD - but "mix disc" just doesn't have the same ring to it :P) of songs they each chose to share with their guests. I may have been slightly surprised that they weren't printed on 45s, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves. (I'm kidding - but, knowing Ben, it really wouldn't have surprised me if they were printed on 45s. Haha!)
I hope you enjoy the highlight of their day. Friends and family of the bride and groom can expect to see the full gallery within the next few weeks.
Dress: Modern Dress
Hair/Makeup: Jiva Salon & Spa
Flowers: Bancroft Flowers
Rings: Kay Jewelers
Caterer: Elks Club
DJ: Ultimate Entertainment
Second Photographer: Dan Phillips
Before each engagement session, I like to send my couples a quick questionnaire with questions about their vision for their session, what they would like to get from it as well as just some general information about them.
In one of the questions, Kathryn informed me that they weren't much for PDA (public displays of affection) and that "Chris hates taking photos, because he doesn't feel like he looks good in pictures." Lucky for him, he's not alone. However, come picture day, this guy who hated pictures, was easily one of the easiest men I've photographed to date. Very little direction needed and I was nearly convinced he had a secret modeling day job...though, still not entirely convinced he's not. ;)
My favorite moment from our session: walking back to our vehicles, I see a brick wall; reflected sunlight from an adjacent building. Deciding to set them up for one last image, "Chris, I'm going to put you in the front this time!"
"It's about time."
Mic drop. See his beautiful bride-to-be's reaction in the last image.
...and that grin. X-D
Ben and Savannah challenged me this year (in a good way!)...Read More
100+ Women Who Care Cedar Valley supporting local charities with 100+ $100 checks by women who want to support their community.Read More
Jason and Brittney chose one of the most beautiful days to have their session at Big Woods Park in Cedar Falls, Iowa...Read More