john + natalie MARRIED!! Black Hills wedding
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John + Natalie are such an inclusive couple. They spoke to each other and their kids and their guests during their vows, and they insisted on spending as much time with everyone gathered as possible. Still, they managed to stay connected to each other through glances, inside jokes, and a hand on the other. Natalie’s grandfather’s wings – I love little details like this!!Natalie *loves* the rain, and was so excited when the clouds came over and dropped a few raindrops on them on their wedding day! Some of those loving glances right before the ceremony! :-) When John proposed to Natalie, they were surrounded by cairns. John didn’t notice (he just kept walking until they found a secluded spot), but Natalie asked asked if he picked this spot for a reason. When he asked why (and what was a cairn, exactly), Natalie explained, “A cairn- the rock formations hikers build for each other to tell other hikers they are on the right path, they are going the right direction. A cairn is a symbol of balance and kindness in doing good deeds for others.” The cove was full of them.

In the days leading up to their wedding ceremony, John, Natalie and their kids each found a rock to stack into a cairn for their unity ceremony. To remind the children that John and Natalie will always guide them on the right path, to help them find balance in their hectic lives, and to know that there will always be a hard and steadfast foundation in their home for the kids to return to. Such a lovely, personal touch! We had the perfect window of time before their reception started to grab just a few more photos. These ended up being some of my favorite from the day! (I love a good overlook!) When we came back, everyone sat down for dinner and their kids each said a little something to them. It was sweet and funny, but my favorite part was John’s hand on Natalie’s back as they looked at and listened to the kids. Again, so inclusive towards others, while still staying connected to each other. The two photos above were pretty much the only sweet/romantic dancing photos of the evening. The rest of the dance looked a lot like this.. crazy moves and multiple dance-offs!John + Natalie – thank you so much for including me in your special day! You and your family are so kind and fun, and I loved watching all of your interactions throughout the day. I hope you had a lovely time in the Black Hills for your wedding and the surrounding days! :-)

ethan + gina MARRIED!! Black Hills wedding
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One of the biggest honors for me as a wedding photographer is to be hired by two sisters. It’s so fun to see the similarities between the two weddings, which in this particular case was familiar faces, borrowed details, and super-sweet personalities.

My favorite similarity is that both Gina and her sister Kayla have married such kind, caring men. Ethan made sure Gina could feel a breeze from the fan during their ceremony, and he tossed rocks into the tall grass to scare any snakes away from where we wanted to take photos.
Gina’s favorite part of the day: seeing Ethan for the first time on their wedding day!Doesn’t she have the best smile? The weather on their wedding day was over 90 degrees, and I was afraid to ask them to step out into the sunlight for some photos, but they said “let’s go for it!” So we did. But we went quick. ;-) I love that Ethan’s dad was his best man – they even have a secret handshake!!! Another similarity that I forgot about until it was happening, was when Gina + Kayla’s grandfather blessed the meal in English and Norwegian.Kuchen!!!!!!! Here is where Ethan was oh-so-chivalrous for both Gina and myself. There have been so many rattlesnake instances around the Black Hills this summer, so Ethan, being the outdoorsman that he is, picked up rocks and tossed them ahead to scare away any possible snakes so we could take photos in this tiny forest at sunset! Thanks Ethan and Gina for traipsing through this meadow to have a moment to yourselves.

Also, Gina said the first look was her favorite part of the day, but as we walked back to the car after these photos, she said she changed her mind and this her favorite part. Spending some quiet time in the beautiful Black Hills with her husband. :-) Ethan + Gina – thank you, with my whole heart, for having me photograph your wedding. It didn’t feel like work at all, because you were so kind and calm. Plus, I feel like we kinda bonded with how much we all sweated throughout the day, but still persisted for the sake of lovely photos. :-)Kayla + Gina – Thanks for being sisters!! And for having such great taste! ;-) I loved both your weddings so much, and I loved meeting Elliott, and I can’t wait to watch both your families grow!!

nick + melanie CELEBRATED!! Rapid City wedding reception
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Nick + Melanie had a quiet backyard wedding in January, and then invited their friends + family to celebrate with them this past weekend at Hay Camp Brewery. They were showered with both love and rain.

Sure, everyone came to celebrate Nick and Melanie, but their sweet daughter was really the star of the show! :-) I was so thankful that they were willing to walk around the block, ducking under awnings for photos here and there. :-)
Nick + Melanie said their vows to each other on January 11th and were officially married that day. However, I wanted them to have a special moment honoring that day on their reception day. With the help of Melanie’s friend Kristina, I was able to get a copy of their vows for them to re-read to each other, and it was so, so beautiful.

My favorite part was “I promise to love you when the sun shines and when the rain falls.” So fitting for that day!!
Nick + Melanie – thanks so much for having me at your reception!! What a lovely group of friends you have to surround yourselves with. I hope you had a wonderful night full of as many memories as your wedding day! :-)

thomas + alicia MARRIED!! Grand Forks wedding
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This, my friends, is the result of a ‘friend zone’ relationship having been through a successful ‘re-zoning.’ That’s right, when Thomas first asked Alicia out, she didn’t think of him in that way at all. But then, she thought about it and prayed about it and realized that Thomas didn’t belong in the ‘friend zone’ category. So they dated, became boyfriend and girlfriend, got engaged, and here they are now, promising to be best friends forever. Shoutout to Alicia’s bridesmaid who saw this and called me down the stairs to capture this. We were using the lovely window light above, while Thomas walked in those bottom doors to get his flower pinned on for the ceremony. :-) The first time I went through the photos from the day, this next one stopped me in my tracks. The gentle breeze blowing Alicia’s veil and hair, and the sweet smiles shared between them made my heart leap!  Thomas told the ‘friend zone’ story very well – from his point of view, of course. Which means the version where Thomas was so charming, he got Alicia to change her mind and ask him out without any prompting. :-) Father-daughter and mother-son dances are always such a fun way to see another side of the bride and groom’s relationship. How they hold and act with each other is one thing, but when they dance with their parents there is so much honesty in what kind of person they are and how they were raised. It’s like putting on ‘future goggles’ and being able to see how these close bonds will hold them together in the future.

I cried all throughout Alicia’s dance with her dad, and Thomas’s dance with his mom I couldn’t stop mirroring the grins on their faces! So much love and laughter in these families!

Thomas + Alicia, thank you SO much for having me come all the way to ‘almost Canada’ for your wedding! It was such a treat to photograph you as well as enjoy some family time. As always, the time goes too fast, but I hope these photos will bring you right back to how you were feeling that day!

sam + kelsey MARRIED!! Keystone intimate wedding
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Sam + Kelsey’s wedding day was full of glamour and surprise. ‘Surprise’ is not really something that one can hope for or plan on for their wedding day, but Sam + Kelsey strolled through the day like a walk in the park.

The first two surprises – Kelsey’s dress had to be fastened with a safety pin because a hook was missing, and Sam had to wear some boots he found in the back of his truck because his wedding shoes were two sizes too big! Another surprise was the 1880 Train’s departure just as Kelsey was walking towards the ceremony. All eyes turned to her, and the train blew its whistle, and this was her reaction! Everyone laughed and cheered, and it was such a fun memory for everyone!! Any chance we could get, we snuck in some photos with their little man – he was so busy running around, but after the ceremony he was tired and cuddly (for about a minute) so we finally got some sweet photos with him! After Sam + Kelsey’s first dances, JD Productions welcomed all of the married guests out to the dance floor and slowly narrowed the couples down to the one who has been married the longest – Sam’s grandparents! After those first few dances, I whisked Sam + Kelsey away for another little dance in the beautiful evening light. I could tell they were more in their element (without everyone watching). :-) Sam + Kelsey – Thank you so, so much for having me photograph your wedding! It was so fun to meet you and to hear about your upcoming adventures!