fabian + alysse MARRIED!! Big Horn wedding
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If I could describe Fabian + Alysse’s wedding in three words, they would be: colorful, heartfelt, and dancy (like fancy, only full of dance). While it’s been one of the greenest Septembers around here, their details were full on fall – we basically had the whole rainbow represented in their decor, plus the Big Horn backdrop!

These two also wore their hearts on their sleeves. No poker faces here! Fabian beamed as Alysse walked up the aisle towards him, while Alysse tried to hold back some tears, and they both sneaked a few smiles at each other during the ceremony.

Still wondering about ‘dancy?’ Everyone danced in to the ceremony. The wedding party had their own song, Fabian had his own song, his daughter had his, and they all showed their best moves as they made their way up the aisle! So, so fun!

Check out those sweet moves!! Like father like daughter. ;-)

Fabian said he was most excited to have all his close friends and family in one room, Alysse wanted photos to go fast… so all the portraits of just the two of them were all taken within seven minutes!!!

Then, as soon as we got back to the reception, the dancing continued, and I’m not sure it ever stopped!

Ok I guess it did stop for a moment while everyone gave their speeches. The highlight of the night was Fabian’s daughter’s speech – talk about wearing your heart on your sleeve!! This girl is clearly so strong and loved, to give such a beautiful, honest speech straight from the heart!

And more dancing. This time a bit more romantic. I love how couples just melt into each other during their first dance – every movement is all natural, all them, and it’s such a beautiful thing to witness.

Fabian + Alysse, thank you so much for bringing me all the way to Montana for your beautiful wedding! I hope your first week of marriage has been wonderful!

dustin + cahri MARRIED!! Custer State Park wedding
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A couple months ago, I asked Dustin and Cahri what they were most looking forward to on their wedding day. They said, “Not thinking about anything else besides how much we love each other, and celebrating that with all our favorite people.” And that’s exactly what happened on the first day of their marriage.

Witnessing a couple see each other for the first time on their wedding day is always a treasure. Their biggest smiles, sometimes tears in their eyes, the tightest hugs, and the stepping back to really get a good look at each other – all of it is so genuinely beautiful!

Just before the ceremony, Cahri’s nephew shared a goldfish cracker with Dustin – he thought he might need a little snack. :-)

Dustin and Cahri were able to have their pastor from Bismarck come down to Custer State Park for their wedding, and him being there to officiate made their ceremony the most memorable part of the day.

Dustin + Cahri’s pastor invited them to turn and look out at everyone gathered for their wedding, and I could see the feelings of love and gratitude wash over them.

Another wonderful thing their pastor did was paint this painting for them. He explained how when he paints, he starts with the darkest darks and the brightest lights, which resembles their lives in the most beautiful way. Having been through some of the darkest darks, we are able to appreciate the brightness of the light in our lives. There was not a dry eye in the crowd.

One moment I love to wait for and watch unfold is the ‘just married’ hugs after walking back down the aisle. And of course, the hugs from loved ones.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it agin – photographing sisters’ weddings is one of the greatest honors for me as a photographer! These two beautiful ladies had the most perfect-for-them wedding days, and they, along with their husbands and family hold a very special place in my heart.

Dear Cahri + Dustin – Thank you for sharing your beautiful relationship for all of us to witness. You, my friends, are a light for all of us to follow.

dan + chanda MARRIED!! Sylvan Lake elopement photography
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“Real but also silly.” My favorite kind of people, and those are exactly the words Chanda used to describe herself and Dan! They brought their parents and their daughter to the Black Hills to witness the first moments of their marriage, then they all went out for some old-timey photos. A pretty great blend of ‘real and silly’ if you ask me! :-)

They started off their elopement with a first look, giving them a chance to soak it all in and enjoy the beauty of the Black Hills (and each other). ;-)

Since their little girl was all smiles, she joined in on the little love fest for a few family photos before the ceremony.

Mary Maisey-Ireland of Your Joyful Wedding does a fantastic job organizing and creating the most personal ceremonies!

Dan + Chanda’s heartfelt vows had us all a little misty-eyed!

After exchanging vows and rings, their little girl joined in for a feather ceremony, which Mary put together the most beautiful words for:

“Feathers have been used in our homes and on our bodies since we first caught birds. They decorated our hair, our garments, our hats. They warm our bodies in the form of down jackets and soften our beds as pillows, mattress toppers and comforters. Some of the world’s greatest literary works were penned using feather quills.

“For some cultures, feathers represent our connection to the spirit world. Native American tribes believe that hawks and eagles carry our prayers to the Great Spirit. The Iroquois used feathers to express gratitude for the bounty of the earth. Christians imagine that angels’ wings are made of feathers.

“Feathers can be about inspiration, about surpassing our limits, taking flight as it were. They can be used to tickle, and they can even remind us to take ourselves lightly.

“All of this symbolism is so fitting for a family. May you use your love to warm and comfort one another, to inspire each other, to give thanks to each other and for the gifts in your life, to exceed any self-limiting beliefs you may have about yourselves, and to remember to always find something to laugh about.”

All of the beautiful-ness you see here was put together by Sarah from The Vintage Lease – she brought the food, arranged the table, and put together the bouquets (and even had extra raspberries just for Dan + Chanda’s little girl while they enjoyed their breakfast/scenery).

*clink!*

Soaking in that Black Hills view!

cody + justine ADVENTURE!! Custer State Park anniversary photos
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Cody + Justine had planned to go on a hiking adventure while they were here in the Black Hills to celebrate their second anniversary. Mother Nature had other plans. Just days before they arrived, we had 24+ inches of slushy snow, and the trails were still covered in ice by the time we had planned photos. Since we didn’t have any ice cleats with us, we opted for an adventure with less hiking, but we still had a great time!

Since Cody + Justine were nearing their second anniversary, I asked them to dance and asked what their ‘first dance’ song was. It took them a beat to remember, but it all came back to them and Cody even sang part of it to Justine.

We wanted to get some glow-y sunset photos (at the top of the hike that didn’t happen), and the sun was already much further North than I had expected, so we literally chased the light and scrambled up a hill to catch as much glow as we could!

Lastly, Justine brought this balloon ALL THE WAY FROM MINNESOTA for some special photos. Turns out even the slightest breeze makes photos with a balloon pretty tricky. And hilarious. ;-)

Cody + Justine – I hope the rest of your time here in the Hills was wonderful and that you got to do a bit more adventuring despite all the weather-related issues! I had a wonderful time getting to know you, and my husband and I have already adopted your mozzarella cheese analogy.

ALSO, thanks for being kind enough to entertain my trials as a videographer.

tane + elle MARRIED!! Rapid City chapel wedding
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One of the greatest adventures in life is marrying your best friend. Tane + Elle made the first day of their marriage uniquely them by planning a small wedding at the Chapel In The Hills followed by pizza. However, all the unplanned moments are what truly made their day an adventure – one they’ll never forget!

Let’s start with the kids – they’re always the most entertaining! ;-) Allow me to give a little commentary on the following photos… First, one flower girl got a little carried away with her duties and started tossing petals prematurely, but both girls helped pick them all back up just in time. Next, one ring bearer hooked grandma’s hand (while Tane’s twin brother guarded a bouquet), but thankfully someone realized it before causing any damage! Whew! Finally, it was time to toss the petals. And the littlest ring bearer of all got stuck in a crack.

The fishing poles were the perfect last-minute addition for Tane + Elle’s wedding. They were going to have ring pops on the end (just like how Tane proposed) but I think this way turned out just perfectly (even with leaving the hooks on). :-)

I LOVE the look of excitement/entertainment in Elle’s face as she rounded the corner to see the hilarity of all the kids ahead of her, and Tane waiting for her!

Shortly after the ceremony started, Tane + Elle looked around at all their guests, and I love how they are each having a moment with everyone there with them!!

When I first arrived at the chapel for this wedding, Elle wasn’t sure if they remembered the marriage license. Turns out, Tane had it packed. Whew! But then, right before the ceremony, Tane realized he forgot the rings. This moment is when he’s telling Elle that he borrowed his brother and his wife’s rings.

Such a beautiful moment made even more memorable!! :-) The pastor had just talked about how they will spend their lives asking each other for forgiveness, and Elle said, “I forgive you already!!” when Tane put his sister-in-law’s ring on Elle’s finger!!

Just after they were announced as husband and wife, and they walked down the aisle, Elle had to stop and hug her brother (and the flower girl who came rushing over)!

Elle’s next hug went to her father-in-law… as Tane’s brother helped with the bouquet again. He should really get a best man award – offering to hold flowers *and* let his brother use his wedding ring. :-)

These next few photos are ones that I usually reserve for the annual ‘best of MOMENTS’ blog post – the hugs shared between best friends and grandmas.

And of course, showing off ‘the ring’ that wasn’t actually her ring. So funny, and something they will all laugh about and remember for so many years!!

Waiting for that one last person for the group photo like…

Snuggle break!!!

Elle had Victoria’s Garden do the bouquets and they were SO SO lovely!!!

Fun fact: Elle and Tane are both twins!!!

Another fun fact: it SNOWED just days before their wedding… at the end of MAY!!! You can see some of it leftover in the shadows next to the chapel.

Couples who can laugh and have a good time on their wedding day are destined for a great marriage! Bonus points are awarded for awkward hugs.


Since they had their ice fishing poles for the wedding, we did a few fun, silly photos down by the stream (turned river because of all the aforementioned snow)!!

Tane + Elle – Thank you so much for having me document just a sliver of your marriage. It was such an honor to watch you truly enjoy every single moment of your day. I wish you all the best!!