styled ELOPEMENT!! Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park elopement
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When Sarah from The Vintage Lease asked if I would be interested in photographing a styled elopement, I said YES without any hesitation for a few reasons:

  1. Her work is so lovely and thoughtful, and I know her enough to trust her vision completely.
  2. Elopements are small, so recreating any part of this shoot for a real wedding would be so easy and realistic!
  3. SUNRISE IN THE BLACK HILLS, need I say more?

On the day of the shoot, I was so excited for what Sarah had put together, but I also wanted to be super intentional about making this look as real as possible, so we had our already-married models do a first look. They were so sweet to play along with all of our ideas, and I hope this styled elopement can provide plenty of real inspiration for anyone out there planning their own elopement. :-)


The groom then surprised his bride with some new earrings to match her wedding ring.The gorgeous ceremony site provided by Custer State Park, and lovely dress from Freckled Fox in Spearfish.The next ‘set up’ that actually turned more real than any part of the day was the couple meeting their officiant – Mary Maisey Ireland from Your Joyful Wedding. I have had the honor of working alongside Mary at many weddings, and she always has a way of putting everyone at ease. Yes, this was an awkward morning (a married couple pretending to elope), but Mary did what she does best and greeted the couple with warmth and sincerity, gave them an overview of what was about to happen, then led them to the spot we picked for them to ‘get married.’Even for an elopement you can walk down an aisle (or grassy pathway)! Again… yes, these are staged photos, but this couple, as well as Mary, were so sincere that I was about ready to sign a marriage license to make this elopement official!! Another thing Mary does that I LOVE is that she gives couples some space for their first kiss as husband and wife.  Even already-married couples can’t stop kissing once they’re pronounced husband and wife!! ;-) Also, I love how the sun is peeking over the Hills, embracing Jake + Tessa for this moment!Now, I’d like to brag on Jenny’s Floral for a bit. Her business in downtown Custer is full of fun home decor, including several items made by local artists, and there is always a happy helper behind the counter, oftentimes Jenny herself. Every time I photograph her bouquets, I fall more and more in love with her work. Every single wedding we’ve done together is a ‘favorite!!’ And this ring from Riddle’s Jewelry? SOOOO BEAUTIFUL!!!! I love that morganite has become so popular – the faint hint of pink is so subtle and sweet, I couldn’t help but stare!Jake + Tessa, our models, also own Ebony & White Design, a local woodworking business. They make the most impressive custom furniture, as well as personalized wooden signs, such as this! How perfect!!
Finally, Sarah’s masterpiece. While we walked around taking portraits, Sarah set up this lovely table just a few feet away from the elopement site (on more level ground – haha)! She grew up collecting antiques with her parents, and has recently turned that passion into a business, renting and styling anything vintage (sofas, chairs, glassware, everything you see here) for small weddings and events. Again – this ring!!! The rose gold wedding bands really highlighted the morganite. Who doesn’t love blush?! Another local find was this gigantic caramel roll from Calamity Jane’s Mercantile in Custer. I *might* have picked up a few extra for all the behind-the-scenes vendors who came out before sunrise for this amazing day.

So, what do you think? Does any part of this styled photoshoot make you want to elope? Or get out to watch the sun rise? Or eat an enormous caramel roll? If the answer was yes to any of those, I think we’ve succeeded. ;-)

 

A huge thank you to the following vendors for putting together this styled elopement:

The Vintage Lease – Sarah had the vision to put this together and style the table

Your Joyful Wedding – Mary, the master of ceremonies and life in general (yes, she’s that good!)

Jenny’s Floral – Jenny puts together the most amazing bouquets ever!

Hubbard Visuals – Nick and Kaylee put together a lovely video of the occasion

Riddle’s Jewelry – provided the gorgeous gems

Freckled Fox – Beth and Amanda (a mother and daughter team in Spearfish) provided Tessa’s lovely dress

Ebony & White Design – Jake & Tessa Wolter – the wonderful models and woodworkers

Calamity Jane Mercantile – the caramel rolls!!!

Emily Costopulous – elopement announcement

Studio LB – I had the honor of photographing all this beautiful-ness!

styled PROPOSAL!! Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park engagement
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“Let’s go for a sunrise stroll, I found a new spot in the Black Hills that you’re going to love!”

Little did she know, this stroll would not just end at a beautiful view, it would be the beginning of the rest of their forever together. You see, he had surprise up his sleeve and a ring in his pocket.
After a moment of soaking in the view, he couldn’t wait any longer. He started telling her how important she was in his life and how he couldn’t imagine his life without her. He wanted her to be by his side forever, for all the ups and downs and sunrise strolls for the rest of their lives.He pulled out the ring, got down on one knee, and asked for her forever, because not a day less would do.She said yes. ;-)  While on their ‘life changing stroll,’ Sarah from The Vintage Lease had set up a lovely little celebration table, complete with coffee, champagne, and peaches and cream. A huge thank you to the following vendors for putting together this styled proposal.

The Vintage Lease – Sarah had the vision to put this together and style the table

Hubbard Visuals – Nick and Kaylee put together a lovely video of the occasion

Riddle’s Jewelry – provided the gorgeous gems

S&Co. Boutique – Sami provided Tessa’s stylish outfit

Jake & Tessa Wolter – the lovely models

Jenny’s Floral – Jenny put together the amazing bouquet on the table

Studio LB – I had the honor of photographing all this beautiful-ness!

grant + hillary ADVENTURE!!
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Grant + Hillary came to the Black Hills to celebrate their first wedding anniversary, and wanted to document their trip with a photoshoot. When I found out they would be hiking several trails along their journey, I asked if they would be up for hiking for their photos and was SO EXCITED when they agreed! We met at Sylvan Lake and hiked to the nearest overlook to watch the most beautiful blush sunset.  I love that they slow danced on top of a mountain at sunset, while thinking back on their wedding day a year ago. It seriously can not get any more romantic than that!!! I had been using the gorgeous pink sunset as a backdrop, but I didn’t want them to miss out on the beauty of it, so they took a moment to just soak it all in. Then, Grant soaked in the beauty of his bride. ;-) 
I love that among all the sweet, romantic photos, they were still quick to laugh with each other – a good sign of a good marriage, if you ask me! :-) Thanks again, Grant + Hillary for reaching out and for going on a little adventure with me! I can’t wait to see where you go for your next anniversary!!

laura loves… november edition
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‘Tis the season for Christmas cards to be sent out to family and friends! We used ours to make a very special announcement, but ever since we sent them, I’ve felt like we weren’t being totally honest, and have been wanting to share the whole truth. Finding the courage and the right words have been a challenge.

Long story short: we are expecting another baby girl in March, and we are also expecting our time with her to be very limited.

Longer story below..

The night we took these photos, we were so eager for the next day when we would find out if baby number three was a boy or a girl at our 22-week ultrasound.
We brought the kids with so that they could be part of the excitement, and Elodie could barely hide her smile when she found out she was getting a baby sister! Lance whisked the kids away while I finished the ultrasound, and I laid there for almost an hour, watching her spin and kick and try to suck her hand. Babies are such a miracle!
Then, after the ultrasound when my doctor came into the room, our lives turned upside-down. The doctor had tears in her eyes, and the first thing she said was, “I’m so sorry.”
It turns out that our beautiful baby girl has Trisomy 18, and if she does make it through delivery, her time with us will be very limited.
It’s been a difficult reality to grasp. We are trying to live life as normally as possible, but it’s just not the same. We’re not rearranging the house to make a nursery. I’m not searching for all the cute baby girl clothes. We’re just waiting to see what happens next, praying we’ll get to meet her alive. We savor every kick we feel and heartbeat we hear, but still we know we’ll have to say goodbye before we’re ready.
All we ask for this Christmas is a little prayer. A prayer of hope for the best possible outcome, and for the strength to make the most of these next few months. Thank you, friends!

 

Thankful 2018
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Looking back at all these wonderful couples, I’m instantly taken back to our time together and the moments that unfolded before my eyes (and camera).

A minute-long hug. A shooting star on a wedding night, just like on the night they got engaged. A quote from The Office (that I can’t believe I didn’t recognize right away). A morning hike in the clouds. KUCHEN! A glance up to her mom in heaven. The light in the eyes of a bride who is now a mother.

A few tears, a few laughs, but most of all, SO MUCH JOY!!

I’m so thankful to have met each and every one of the people in these photos. And also, Walter the cat. :-)