the pros + cons of a cold
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My favorite part about having a cold is drinking lots of Sprite + orange juice. And taking lots of naps. And eventually getting better.

After having a stuffy nose for a while, all I can think about is of how great it would be to just breathe normally. That’s all I want.

Life is so simple in those few, cold-medicine-induced days.

The day finally comes when I’m feeling better. I’m so excited to breathe through my nose again! And instead of taking a morning nap (yes, moving from the bed to the couch makes it a nap, not ‘extended sleep’) I take time to enjoy the few of inches of snow before it melts away. Because snow here has a shorter life-span than my cold. :-)

laura loves… january edition
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Welcome to the thirteenth edition of ‘laura loves!!!’ Now that I’ve been posting these for over a year, it’s fun to look back and see what I was enjoying this time last year. And apparently I am a new year’s workout resolution junkie… but this year I have real motivation – looking great in a wedding dress!

1. The one thing I am most loving this month is Ryan + Terra’s wedding featured in the Black Hills Bride magazine!!! I had no idea their wedding was going to be featured until I attended the BHB launch party earlier this month and saw it IN PERSON!! It was such an exciting experience to see the wedding featured AND to see several other images I had taken throughout the year scattered in the magazine. It was like a scavenger hunt – sitting there, going through the magazine page by page, recognizing images even before reading the photo credits. :-)

2. Sarah Fit videos – mmhmm I started working out. again. But this time I’m actually enjoying it! Maybe it’s because I have all those cute workout clothes from last year. Or maybe because I’m on day thirty-something and I can actually SEE that I have muscles!! Or maybe because ‘sarah fit’ is super nice in her videos, and most are workouts I can do in my apartment without bothering my neighbors by jumping around.

3. Canon Professional Services – I take every precaution I can to not get dust inside my camera, but after changing lenses so often, it’s only a matter of time before the insides need a little t.l.c. And the eyeshadow buildup on the back of my camera? It’s almost unsightly after a year!! So now that I have a bit of time between weddings, I just sent one of my two main camera bodies in to get cleaned and serviced. The exciting part? I had it back within ONE WEEK!!! I love quick turnaround – especially with my beloved camera bodies! Now, to send my other baby in to get cleaned before my next wedding!

4. Almond Milk – tastes way better than soy milk. And it makes awesome coffee drinks. :-)

best of 2011 WEDDINGS
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The first thing my clients tell me after they’ve just seen their wedding photos is, “I love them!” – and then immediately after that they say, “How am I ever going to pick my favorites?”

And now I have an idea of how they feel. It took me HOURS to go through all my blogged wedding images to pick my top favorites. Every time I blog, I post my favorite images from the day. So picking favorites out of my favorites? It was like going to Cold Stone – wanting every single flavor and topping that will fit into my cup, but having to decide on the Coffee Lovers Only. There are SO many good flavors… um… images, but these are the ones I kept coming back to.

So here goes… my top 75 (!!!) wedding images from 2011 starting at the beginning of the year…

Dan + Kalina | February 18 | Brookings, South Dakota

Matt + Gladys | March 12 | St. Louis, Missouri

I *love* shy little flower girls! :-)

First looks are the best – even when it’s down the aisle! :-)

John + Rachel | June 12 | Rapid City, South Dakota

Brent + Laura | July 16 | Beresford, South Dakota

Ryan + Sarah | August 19 | Rapid City, South Dakota

Alan + Paige | September 16 | Brookings, South Dakota

I still get butterflies over this image. It was seriously just like a moment out of a movie. :-)

Mitch + Tawni | October 7 | Spearfish, South Dakota

Jerry + Laura | October 14 | Salem, South Dakota

Ryan + Terra | October 21 | Custer, South Dakota

Ken + Brittany | November 12 | Aberdeen, South Dakota

Darin + Michelle | November 19 | Wheaton, Minnesota

Tyler + Lindy | November 26 | Battle Lake, Minnesota

I think this was the largest AND most fun wedding party I have ever photographed. You are all awesome. :-)

Brent + Kelcey | December 30 | Sioux Falls, South Dakota

To all my wonderful couples who got married this year – THANK YOU for sharing your day with me. You guys make my job so great by being so in love! I am super excited to see where life takes you (and who will start the next round of studio lb babies. :-D) Happy 2012 and enjoy your first year as a married couple!! :-)

best of 2011 ENGAGEMENTS
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 I LOVE January and all that it brings. Planning for the next twelve months, setting goals, and making lists to make sure those goals happen. It also means looking back on the past year, seeing what worked best, and reflecting on my weaknesses and strengths.

But my favorite part? Going through all my sessions and picking out my favorite images from the year. I feel like an iPod stuck on replay, but seriously I photographed some truly AMAZING couples this year!!

So here are my top 40 engagement images of 2011!!!

40. John + Rachel


38. Tyler + Lindy



35. Brent + Laura



32. Mitch + Tawni


30. Ken + Brittany


28. Brent + Kelcey



25. Jerry + Laura


23. Darin + Michelle


21. Mike + Emily




17. Ryan + Terra




13. Jeff + Alissa



10. Craig + Rebecca




6. Trevin + Audrey



3. Zack + Betsy


1. Brent + Kelcey – THE PROPOSAL!!!

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank all my 2011 couples. Thanks for blessing me with your love stories. Thanks for sitting/laying on the ground in your nice clothes. Thanks for helping me grow as a photographer. I wouldn’t be able to do what I love if it weren’t for you being in love!! So cheers to love!! And a big virtual hug from me to you. :-)

brent + kelcey MARRIED!! sioux falls wedding photography
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My oh my. What a WONDERFUL year it has been!! I have had the most amazing journey with Brent + Kelcey this year – from photographing their proposal to their official engagement session and now their wedding!! Despite there being no snow outside, Brent + Kelcey’s wedding was full of  all kinds of wintry details. White roses wrapped in satin. Bows perfect for presents. Centerpieces glowing like mini fireplaces. Even Kelcey’s bright blue eyes sparkled like snowflakes on a crisp, clear day!

I love, love LOVE it when couples do this! So much goes on during the wedding day, most couples don’t even get a chance to fully express how excited they are to be getting married. I think giving each other a hand-written card or note is the absolute perfect way to remind each other how special this day really is. And to be able to re-read that card in the future… *sigh*… I melt!

Kelcey. You.Are.STUNNING!!

Kelcey had her mom and sister help her get ready so that she could do a first look with the rest of her bridesmaids. And their reactions were priceless!!

And of course I love it when couples choose to have a first look!!

Yeah. That’s right. Green grass. On December 30th. In South Dakota!!!!


p.s. Since their proposal, I have nicknamed this ‘the Brent kiss.’


Another detail I loved!! Instead of a unity candle or sand ceremony, Brent + Kelcey had their guests pick up a stone on their way in.

“Please pick up the stone as you enter in, we have a special way for you to help our new life begin.

Please take a moment to think about what you will say, a blessing upon the stone we want you to pray.

During the ceremony we will be coming down, please place your stone in the bucket when it comes around.

These stones will give our marriage a firm foundation to start, especially knowing that your blessings come from the heart.

We want to say thank you and we are glad you could come, to help make this an extra special ceremony, when two become one.”

The Museum of Visual Materials was the perfect location for Brent + Kelcey’s winter wedding. With the stone walls and hardwood floors, it reminded me of a cabin – but big enough for all of their family and friends to celebrate! :-)

ceremony | Hillcrest Baptist Church, Sioux Falls, SD

reception | Museum of Visual Materials, Sioux Falls, SD

wedding gown + bridesmaid dresses | David’s Bridal

groom + groomsmen tuxes | Men’s Wearhouse

flowers + catering + cake | Hy-Vee

glow vessels | Glow By Design, Omaha, NE

dj | DJ Jer, Matt Gappa

Brent + Kelcey – What an awesome journey it’s been!! I’m sitting here thinking of all the wonderful memories I’ve been a part of! Quickly (and somewhat awkwardly) introducing myself immediately after you got engaged and then giving you a great big ‘congrats’ hug. Then spending time together taking photos on the HOTTEST day of summer (and you still looked amazing). And now, you’re MARRIED!!!! I am beyond excited for the two of you and I feel SO blessed to have been your photographer. I hope you have a wonderful honeymoon in the Bahamas and make sure to give me a call whenever your next big life event happens! ;-)