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!!

lex + heidi MARRIED!! Custer State Park wedding photographer
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In my mind, mid-September has always been the perfect time for a wedding. Even before I was married, I was photographing weddings at that time and thinking “this weather is perfect – not summer, not fall, just right.” Then, my husband and I got married mid-September because it was the only date that worked for the photographers I wanted. Now, I get to share an anniversary with this lovely couple you see here!

Lex + Heidi traveled down from North Dakota for a perfect South Dakota September wedding day. The morning was foggy, but by lunchtime the sun came out and shined so bright for these two!
After the ceremony, we had a full hour before Lex + Heidi were needed at the reception, so we went on a little adventure! :-)  Lex + Heidi – Thank you so much for having me at your wedding! I loved being able to create beautiful wedding photos that you will hopefully treasure as much as I treasure my own photos from September 15th a few years ago! :-) Thanks for letting me take you on a little adventure as well! I hope you had a fun couple of days here, and enjoy your honeymoon this winter!

david + marcy MARRIED!! Sylvan Lake Wedding
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David + Marcy could not have planned a more perfect September South Dakota State Park wedding. The details from Timeless Weddings & Events were so beautiful, as were the flowers from Jenny’s Floral. But my favorite part of David + Marcy’s wedding came from up above – the clear blue skies providing warm sunshine and the perfect breeze to keep everyone comfortable.

Also my favorite was David + Marcy themselves. After having photographed them twice for engagement pictures (because we just had so much fun the first time around and wanted to do it again), they were so at ease in front of the camera. So many last-minute wedding day details can be stressful, but the photo portions of the day were a breeze.

Can we take a moment to talk about Marcy’s dress? You see, she had ordered a beautiful mermaid-style gown with a tulle overskirt, but after alterations were made, she could hardly breathe, let alone sit down in it! So this beautiful number was off the rack, and the veil was made specifically for her. Marcy was comfortable and so she practically radiated beauty and confidence!! And her amazing updo by Tancy at Elite Hair Design helped boost that ‘beauty level’ up an extra notch. ;-)Memorial Day weekend at Sylvan Lake is nuts. Thank goodness for Photoshop! ;-) I loooooove stolen glances anytime throughout the day – especially during ceremonies when the officiant has said something that pulls a heartstring. Mary from Your Joyful Wedding creates and delivers the most beautiful ceremonies – it’s always a treat and an honor to get to work alongside her!! The plan for photos was to climb this rock immediately after their receiving line. The light was perfect, the amount of time before we had to get back to the reception was perfect, and the breeze was BEYOND perfect. Just you wait and see. :-)

Also, Marcy purchased her wedding shoes based on the fact that she would be climbing a rock for photos. My kind of bride right there!!! Poor David was stuck with slippery rental shoes. Oops!!
It’s very possible I shed a tear when I took this photo, and I know it has caused many other tears to fall since sharing it online a couple days ago. This is exactly what wedding photographer dreams are made of!!!
Okay so one more favorite thing about this wedding – the rock candy geode on the cake!!! David + Marcy – Oh man, how do I even begin to thank you for having me photograph you? I loved every minute of your wedding day, and I tried to savor it as best I could because I didn’t want it to end! Don’t be alarmed if I print up a few of these photos and put them up in my own home. Love you both, and I hope these first few months of life as newlyweds go smoothly with the move. Text friends forever, mmkay? ;-)