Playing with Good Light


Gorgeous light and good company at the UW Arboretum

Caitlin is the first Instagram friend that I met in real life (Instagram friends are a thing, did you know that?!) She's a wonderful photographer, a small business owner, and most importantly, a super neat human. We had fun taking advantage of the lovely weather at the UW Arboretum this weekend for photos, and Caitlin made a great model (even if we did quite a number of awkward laughs, because it's hard for photographers to get used to being on the other side of a camera). Enjoy the photos, and if you live in Madison, get yourself out to the Arboretum this fall! 



Taking the Training Wheels Off


Ben learns to ride his bike 

So, my son hates doing anything he's not already good at. (I can't imagine where he gets it from...) Which is probably why he's been so loathe to learn how to ride his bike, and has barely ridden the thing (with training wheels) more than a handful of times in the last few years. This Labor Day, we finally said enough was enough, and took the training wheels off his bike, and went outside to help Ben learn how to ride his bike! Boy was he mad at us, but ultimately, our plan worked. Adam was showing him bicycle riding technique, and we spent the next hour outside. By the end, Ben was able to ride down the block (albeit a little wobbly) and we have some pretty sweet first bike ride photos to show for it. Good job, kiddo! 



Guest Post: Carla + Dylan on Self-Officiating Their Wedding


From Carla + Dylan: 

When we started planning our wedding we had a few priorities, the most important being that we were not going to have anything there we didn’t find meaningful or fun. Our idea of a wedding was the two of us entering together on equal footing to declare a shared decision to spend the rest of our lives together in marriage. We wanted our wedding to be a reflection of us.

We did not start out thinking we were going to self-officiate our wedding. There was someone we had in mind, but life happened, as life often does, and plans change. We found ourselves in need of an officiant.

We’re not sure where we first came across the idea of self-officiating. Carla was following numerous blogs during the planning process, and the most likely contender is Offbeat Bride. Something about self-officiating resonated with us. We were marrying each other, why should we need someone to marry us? In this very personal matter, whose words could be more binding than our own?

There was a fairly brief discussion and we decided it felt right. We were doing this.

Then came the hard part: figuring out how to have a wedding without an officiant. We were already planning on writing our own ceremony. There’s a lot of information out there on that, with the rise in popularity of having friends or family officiate. We just hadn’t planned on writing a ceremony on hard mode.

As people often do these days we turned to the internet. There is a shocking dearth of information about how to self-officiate your own wedding! Hours of strategic Google Fu yielded next to nothing and led back to the same few blog articles and forums we’d already poured over. What we wanted was detailed information from another couple who had successfully done it. What we found was the same repeated legalities.

We even tried messaging people from online wedding planning forums who had asked about self-officiating and who hadn’t received any good answers. A few replied, but those that responded didn’t have any information we hadn’t already found and none of them had gone through with their wedding yet. It was… frustrating.

With the help of A Practical Wedding’s guide to writing your own ceremony, we sat down one sunny morning on our deck and wrote our script. Their guide laid out very nicely the different parts of a “typical” ceremony. We took the parts, scrapped almost everything we knew or had seen before, and created the wedding we wanted. The words were all us, our voices coming through in the writing. We managed to narrow down our readings and we divided up the script between the two of us, turning it into a little bit more of a conversation than a proclamation. We rehearsed the script a couple times together and it felt so right.

We’re happy to share the script with any other couples out there interested in self-officiating! (And have done so already with a few online searchers who, like ourselves, reached out on forums to find more information.)

It should be noted here that neither of us are shy people. We both loved doing theater in high school and have no problem with an entire room full of people listening to us speak at great length. (Just ask anyone who has ever heard Dylan hold court when telling stories.) This approach to self-officiating may not resonate with those who hate public speaking, but there are other ways to do it. Some couples have an emcee to guide the ceremony while they speak what they deem the important words only.

The only words spoken by others in our ceremony were a reminder before the procession that The Happy Couple would be sad if they saw any phones or cameras, five readings (yes, that was after we narrowed down - when you write your own ceremony there’s no one to tell you that you put in too many readings, not that we feel we did of course), and brief responses from our parents.

We could gush over our script all day, but here’s a few highlights:

  • Asking each other’s parents for their joyful support of our marriage.

  • Asking each other to take one another as spouses.

  • Pronouncing ourselves as husband and wife.

  • The closing line (which Carla is particularly proud of): “We’re going to kiss now.” You have to picture her saying that just before we tossed our ceremony scripts over our shoulders and went in for a kiss. (Note from Rob + Sam: This was epic, check out the link to their wedding pictures below!) 

Logistically speaking, we got married at Blue Mound State Park’s amphitheater. We brought in our own sound equipment and had two microphones set up next to each other on the stage, one for each of us to use. After those standing with us made their way in we walked up together and took the stage. Entering together, on equal footing, to declare to our friends and family we had made this decision.

Self-officiating is not that common around here and we don’t personally know anyone else who has done it. What we were prepared for, but didn’t happen, was a lot of questions from our family and friends. We didn’t build an explanation about self-officiating into the ceremony as we had read about some couples doing, and we didn’t have programs to talk about it either. There was simply a sign upon entering which listed everyone who would be appearing in the ceremony. It listed Carla and Dylan as “Officiants”. We did field a few questions in the planning process, but most of our friends and family are pretty open-minded and no one really questioned our decision.

What others have told us about their impression of and experience at our wedding aligns exactly with our goal: it was the most “us” it possibly could have been. Everything there reflected who we are in some way and looking back it’s really hard to say we would have done anything differently. No regrets, especially about self-officiating. We can’t help but smile when we look at the pictures and remember it all. It was perfect.

From Rob + Sam: 

Carla + Dylan's wedding was a joy to photograph! If you'd like to see our favorites of their wedding photos (and we strongly encourage you to check them out!) click here

If you're thinking of self-officiating, make sure to check with your local registrar of deeds in the county you're getting married for any legal requirements you'll need to comply with. This post is not intended to give legal advice. 

Lastly, if you have any weddings that you've seen of ours where you'd love to hear the couple's perspective, email us at to let us know which ones! We'd love to have more guest posts and would love your input on which ones you want to see! 



Carla + Dylan: An Outdoor Amphitheater wedding


A DIY WIsconsin wedding at blue mounds state park

Carla + Dylan had exactly the kind of wedding they wanted, organized by themselves (they're whizzes at spreadsheets and planning!) and some very helpful friends. They were married in the outdoor amphitheater at Blue Mounds State Park, with the reception to follow at Brigham Park. 

One of the most unique aspects of Carla + Dylan's wedding (besides that the fact that the bride handmade her dress, and she and her friends and family hand crocheted the bouquets and boutonnieres for herself, Dylan, and their wedding party pals) is that they self-officiated. Yep, you heard that right, they not only married each other (yay!) but they married each other, which was really cool, and something Rob and I had never seen before! 

These two, both former theater kids, weren't shy in front of the camera, and we had a great time following them around for the day, as they danced, laughed, joked, and kissed their way through their wedding day. 

Carla + Dylan have written a guest blog post about their experience and decision to self-officiate, which you can check out here!



Tiny Dinosaur


Tiny Dinosaur at the Hot Summer Gays event at ROBINIA Courtyard

I got to experience three firsts on 8/19/2017; I got to check out Robinia Courtyard for the first time (it's awesome!), got to attend my first Hot Summer Gays event (if you're in Madison and you're queer and you haven't heard of Hot Summer Gays - click here for more info!), and got to see my friend's band, Tiny Dinosaur, play for the first time! 

As I was telling Allison, the band's guitarist and song-writer, after the show, going to see a friend's band for the first time is always nerve-wracking because, well, what if you don't like it?! Well thankfully, that was not a problem. They killed it with lyrics like "It takes a tiny amount of effort not to be a shitty person" (so true) and the beautiful song Hello Neighbor, which threatens to make it onto every mix make in the next two years. #sorrynotsorry

You should definitely see them live, and check out their work here:

Here are some pics from the set, and of the scene at Robinia Courtyard! 


p.s. Check out the cutest doggo pride shirt at the end!


A Trip To Nebraska


A long weekend in the big om'

I know no one really calls it that. Let me have this. 

We took a trip to Omaha, NE a few weeks ago for some much needed rest and a nice change of scenery. We rented the world's most awesome but still affordable AirBnB and bummed around the Henry Doorly Zoo (objectively rated as the World's Best Zoo) for hours, watched movies, ate pizza, and goofed off in our host's yard. It was so nice just to BE for a bit. I didn't answer (or even check) a single email while we were away, didn't even bring my laptop, and while I was sadly still pretty under the weather during this trip, it was great to really take some time to put aside work.

Ben even got to practice photographing moving objects, and took some great photos of Adam and I, plus the cartwheel pic! (Takes after his parents *so proud*) 

If you're looking for a neat place to visit within a day's drive (6.5 - 7 hours), Omaha is a great place to check out both for families and adults.