chris + kelsey MARRIED!! Black Hills elopement photographer
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Elopements and small, intimate weddings have really been on my heart lately. Probably because of Chris + Kelsey’s ceremony + picnic near Keystone this summer. They met at the Sturgis motorcycle rally over seven years ago, and they came back every year as an anniversary getaway. One of their favorite stops on their drive through the Hills is along Iron Mountain Road, so when they decided it was time for them get married they knew it would be around Rally Week at their favorite stop.

I was lucky enough that their favorite stop was *so* beautiful, and that the rocks formed a natural ‘aisle’ for Kelsey to walk up!

As Kelsey was getting into her dress, Chris was standing on this rock, looking very calm and statuesque. I shouted up to him to remember exactly where he was standing so that I could get this image of him with his bride. I LOOOOVE photos of people surrounded by big trees!! 

Kelsey’s dad met her at the end of the aisle (since it was so narrow, only one person at a time could walk comfortably) to give her hand in marriage. Their families and close friends soaked up the ceremony (and morning sun) on the surrounding rocks.

After they were pronounced husband and wife, Chris + Kelsey walked down the path towards their picnic reception, and as I watched them walk away, I could almost see the bubble they were in. You know, that ‘I’m so in love with you, can you believe we just got married’ bubble. :-)

And so I coaxed them back up to the overlook for a few ‘just married’ portraits as their guests set up the picnic.

Chris + Kelsey – Thanks again for making my dreams come true by getting married here. ;-) And thanks for making a ‘rally wedding’ so beautiful. The love and excitement in all of your family and friends’ faces as they cheered for and congratulated you was so heartwarming! What a perfect day, to have had the people closest to your heart surrounding you as you promised the rest of your lives to each other.

matt + ashley MARRIED!! Black Hills wedding photographer
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After almost seven years of being together, Matt + Ashley are now officially husband and wife! I first met Ashley at her best friend Meghan’s wedding four years ago – she was her bridesmaid and roommate and I immediately got the feeling that these are some pretty great girls to know.

Fast-forward to nearly two years ago, Matt proposed on New Years Eve, and he and Ashley met with me in February to talk wedding details. Sitting across the table from these two, talking about their life and their love, I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. The conversation came so easily (I’m not sure how much we even talked about their wedding), and the way they looked at each other had me wishing their wedding was in two months, not two years! I couldn’t wait to photograph this lovely couple!

Their engagement session last fall was a blast, and their wedding is now (finally) at the top of my ‘favorites’ list (as I knew it would be).

The day started out foggy, and a crisp winter-like breeze whisked everyone inside the church for their short, sweet, and super-personal ceremony. Matt’s grandfather let them drive his classic Plymouth from the ceremony to their reception at Prairie Berry. As we got out of town and into the hills, the biggest snowflakes fell almost in slow-motion – it was like living inside of a snow globe!

Ashley’s gown was STUNNING (wait until you see Matt’s reaction!) and his ring was made with meteorite – how cool is that?!

I love love LOVE brides putting on their earrings, but a new favorite ‘getting ready photo’ of mine is the bride’s mom helping with her shoes. Probably because as a mom, I know these days of helping my kids put on their shoes will be over before I know it, and soon they’ll be all grown up and getting married. Seeing moms help their daughters into their shoes one last time really pulls at my heartstrings!!

Letter-writing feels like such a thing of the past. Physically sitting down and pouring out your heart and thoughts to your soon-to-be spouse is such a beautiful act of love. I think we should all write love notes more often!

Check out that reaction!!! This very moment was worth all those years waiting for this day to come! :-)

Could these two BE any more stunning?!

Yes, yes they could. And here they are proving it. (And yes, I did do a happy dance after taking this photo – I couldn’t contain my excitement!!)

Insert Matt + Ashley’s wedding party, and these guys are half the reason this day was so amazing and fun. I love seeing how bridesmaids and groomsmen act towards the bride + groom + each other on a wedding day, because they really set the tone for how the day will go. Judging by this photo (and many more that will be in their personal gallery), there were many laughs and shenanigans. :-)

Girrrrls, you look goooood keeping each other warm!!!

…and the guys were so excited to pose for their photos, I just *had* to share their ‘boy band’ look. Let me know when your first single comes out, would you? :-)

Doesn’t this car just scream ‘classic cool?!’ As Matt + Ashley drove off, I couldn’t help but think of how romantic it was that they were spending this time together. Alone, minutes after saying their vows, taking their first drive of many, letting the reality of what just happened wash over them.

And then THE SNOWFLAKES started!! We had already planned to stop for some ‘just married’ photos, but what we hadn’t planned on was this snow-globe effect!

Their reception was a perfect fall-meets-winter feel, with plated meals and a hot cocoa station. 

Matt + Ashley’s first dance was to ‘The Luckiest’ and I felt like not only were Matt + Ashley the luckiest to be married, but all of us watching were the luckiest to be able to witness the beginning of their happily ever after!!

And then Ashley danced with her father and we were all the luckiest all over again, seeing how Ashley has two wonderful men who love her with all their hearts… I’m not crying, you’re crying!

Whew! Matt + Ashley, your day was beyond perfect and I’m so thankful to have you in my life – both as clients and as friends. I loved every moment and every detail of your day, and I can’t wait to share all the rest of your pictures with you! Thanks for allowing so much time for photos – we created some great images, and I hope you enjoyed all the time to yourselves (with me there telling you where to walk and stand). ;-)

Meghan + Ashley – You girls are the absolute sweetest!! Thanks for being my ideal brides – fun, relaxed, beautiful inside and out, and level-headed. At both of your weddings I felt so comfortable and creatively energized. Maybe it’s your nurse vibes (you handle stressful situations really well, while making others feel at ease) or maybe it’s just how you were raised (your parents are all role models), but you were both destined to have great husbands and great marriages and I’m so so lucky to have been invited to share in this part of each of your stories!

jean-guy + sylvie MARRIED!! Custer State Park elopement
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Jean-Guy and Sylvie drove their motorcycles here all the way from CANADA! They made their way here in time for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and had a few other stops in the US before heading back home. Their wedding day forecasted rain, but the clouds parted just in time for them to get married alongside Sylvan Lake as originally planned. We started the ceremony as the last raindrops fell and I *love* how the rings in the water will remind these two of just how lucky we were that Mother Nature cooperated with us! :-)

Mary from Your Joyful Wedding proved once again that hiring a professional officiant makes a wedding ceremony the most unique and memorable part of the day.

Second to the raindrops trailing off at the beginning of their ceremony was their vows – READ IN FRENCH. Why is everything more beautiful in French?

This first kiss makes my knees weak – the tightest hug, the biggest kiss, they are so excited to officially be married!!

I wasn’t aware that a group of bikers had stopped to witness the ceremony, so when I heard cheering during Jean-Guy and Sylvie’s first kiss as husband and wife, I turned around to see this sweet group of guys!

 

evan + megan MARRIED!! Custer State Park wedding
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Evan + Megan’s fall state park wedding had me feeling more like spring! Showers in the morning, sunshine in the afternoon, and lovely pink details. Just ignore all the leaves on the trees being yellow/orange/red. ;-)

I loved the details Megan had picked for her wedding day – especially the pin from her great-grandmother that she wore in her hair!

First look (in the rain)!!!

‘Merica. ;-)

Mr. and Mrs.!!! Woop woop!!

We took engagement pictures at this lake, so I just *had* to take a couple more on their wedding day. 

So… I might have been a *little* excited that the sun decided to come out for the evening… I can’t resist sun flare!!

If you’re around Custer State Park ever, you know the buffalo like to hang out in the meadow next to the State Game Lodge. This guy and a few of his friends were the official ‘welcoming party’ for Evan + Megan’s guests. :-)

Evan + Megan hired DubBus for transporting their wedding party, plus Koda for their photo booth, and both were a huge hit! For those planning their Black Hills wedding, Kevin and Melina are super kind people who know how to treat a wedding party right!

Evan + Megan – Thanks for having me photograph your wedding! I still can’t believe we lucked out with the leaves still on the trees *and* the sun coming out after your ceremony!! What a beautiful, perfect day for you to look back on. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek – I can’t wait to show you the rest of your images!

arek + jori MARRIED!! Black Hills wedding photography
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Arek + Jori’s wedding honestly made me want a do-over on my own wedding (seriously, you 2017 brides are really stepping it up!!)! Jori’s gown had an illusion neckline, sleeves, and buttons down the back, with those oh-so-lovely lace scallops at the bottom. And her bridesmaids? GORGEOUS in mixed gold. So, so good.

They also had an amazing team working for them – Black Hills Receptions, Victoria’s Garden, Black Hills Video, Bakehouse and Occasions by Cory.

However, all the lovely (and tasty) details aside, what made Arek + Jori’s wedding truly wonderful was their love for each other and from their family + friends. Their wedding party was so kind + helpful + cheerful all throughout the day, and their family and friends stood up to give the most lovely advice at the reception.


Instead of doing a first look, Arek and Jori did a ‘first touch’ instead. They squeezed hands, tried not to cry (along with us behind the cameras), and told each other how excited they were to see each other and to get married. It was so, so sweet!

Arek, I hope you don’t mind me sharing this. This deep breath that you took when seeing Jori walk up the aisle was everything. Cool, collected, and “WOW!” :-)

ALL THE CAKES!!! 

Okay, so not all speeches are created equal. Jori’s maid and matron of honor put together a little something to the tune of ‘Goodbye Earl’ and it was cutest, most hilarious ‘speech’ I’ve ever witnessed. Jori – you are seriously blessed with the best family!!

Arek + Jori – Oh man, I can’t thank you enough for having me at your wedding! What a beautiful, wonderful day! Also, I can’t wait for you to move here because I’m totally holding you to that coffee date!! ;-)