Meika's Bat Mitzvah

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A Community Coming Together to Celebrate a Coming of Age

For a non-religious person, I’ve always had a tender spot in my heart for Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. I think there is something so solid, supportive, and loving about a community coming together to celebrate a coming of age, and helping a young adult to understand not only their place in their community and in their faith, but how they contribute positively to the world at large. These events are always a highlight in my year and Meika’s Bat Mitzvah was no exception.

Meika celebrated with friends and family on April 6th, and the party following the ceremony, held at the Hillel Foundation on the UW-Madison campus was a blast! Also, check out the donut wall, hand-made by one of Meika’s grandfathers!

Congrats to Meika and her family on such a joyous occasion!

-Sam

 
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Rob Stars in 'A Collection of Lighting Tests'

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Lighting Tests are an essential part of any wedding day, and rob is always happy to oblige

Sometimes it’s testing lighting setups for dancing, sometimes it’s testing how people look on a specific background prior to formal photos, and sometimes it’s checking that window light is as good as it looks for couples photos on rainy days.

So without further ado, I present Rob Dutcher in “A Collection of Lighting Tests”!

 
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Rachel + Trevor: A Sunny and Intimate Evansville Wedding

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Rachel + Trevor had a laid-back, intimate, and kid-friendly Spring wedding and it was awesome!

When I met with Rachel before the big day, she impressed on me how excited she was about the kid-friendly nature of her upcoming wedding day, particularly given that her three kiddos, and many others would be enjoying the festivities as well. And indeed, there were legos and coloring supplies aplenty!

Rachel + Trevor had that easiness about them that I love to see in couples who are truly comfortable with one another, and truly partners in life (and parenting). They chose to walk up the aisle together, which I always see as such a powerful sign of equality, and had their children and closest friends and relatives stand up with them at the altar. There were two moments so tender they brought me to tears; One small moment during the hand-fasting ceremony in which Trevor was running his thumb over Rachel’s forearm in that kind and loving way folks do when they’re alone. The other was just following the first kiss, when Trevor comforted Rachel, during an emotional moment. Rachel’s mother passed just a few short months before the ceremony, and when the joy of a special occasion stands in sharp relief to the pain of missing a beloved family member, joy and pain can be mixed equally in those moments and that small gesture of comfort was so sweet to see.

The wedding day was lovely, real, and simply a blessing to get to capture. I am so honored to have been able to celebrate with Rachel + Trevor and their kids and friends and family. Congratulations you two!

-Sam

Here are the vendors (with links) who helped make the day wonderful!

Ceremony + Reception Venue: Emma’s Table at John M. Evans Hall

Florist: Deo Gloria of Evansville

Bridal Gown: David’s Bridal

Engagement Ring: Rogers & Hollands

Catering: El Vallarta of Evansville

Cake + Desserts: Sweet Velvet Cake Co of Janesville

 
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Wedding Traditions You Can Skip - The Fancy Dinner

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WHY THE fancy dinner IS OPTIONAL 

It’s easy to stress out about the wedding dinner. You want folks to eat, drink, and be merry, but catering is a big cost, and to be perfectly honest, most fancy dinners at weddings aren’t all that amazing (from my experience attending hundreds of weddings). It’s okay if you want to go super fancy, but if you’re stressing out about it, it’s also okay not to go super fancy!

Cake and punch receptions are gaining popularity again for a reason. Wedding dinners are super expensive, and as lovely as they are, if you're on a tighter budget, or wanting a more casual wedding day, don't be afraid to opt for the cake and punch or an hors d'oeuvres only reception, OR go with something casual but delicious, like tacos, BBQ, or pizza from your favorite local pizza place, all of which will likely go over well with your guests!

Here are a few other perks of skipping or adjusting this wedding tradition: 

  • Cake and punch receptions, or going for more casual fare, is considerably less expensive than a fancy sit-down dinner, and in all honestly, people will probably like it more

  •  Going casual or making it an afternoon cake and punch reception makes it easier to accommodate a wide variety of dietary needs without breaking the bank or makes it almost a non-issue if you’re just doing cake and punch

  • Less to plan equals less stress for you, and I’m all for that!

So feel free to skip the fancy dinner, and whatever you decide, just make sure to let people know what to expect ahead of time via the invite!

--Sam 

Rad Photographers Retreat - Bathtub Boudoir

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You know you’re in a rad group of ladies when an impromptu bathtub boudoir session breaks out

But that’s just the kind of thing that happens with the kickass ladies who attend the Rad Photographers Retreat that is hosted annually by Natural Intuition Photography. Kailey + Krista were both game for some awesome bathtub photos in the AMAZING claw-footed bathtub (complete with skylight just above it) at the Rad Barn!

If you want to check out more thoughts on the Rad Photographers Retreat and the experience of attending, check out my review of the 2017 retreat here and the 2018 retreat here, and enjoy the photos of these two photography badasses!

—Sam

 
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Vintage Brewing Company - Styled Shoot

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Wood Violet Events + Styling planned a gorgeous and inclusive styled wedding shoot At the Vintage Brewing Company - Sauk Prairie and it was freaking awesome!

No seriously, see for yourself. It was amazing! I’ll let the images speak for themselves, but here are all the awesome vendors involved in this collaboration (with links)!

—Sam

Moji + Jory

Lyjya + Stephanie

Caity + Jason

Miriam + Paul

 

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Lyjya + Stephanie

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Caity + Jason

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Miriam + Paul

 

Krystal + Jake: A Lego-Themed Madison Winter Wedding

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Doesn’t this wedding seem wonderfully Frozen-inspired?

Krystal+Jake had a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L winter wedding day. It was cold as all get out, but so worth it, because just look at these first look photos and wedding party photos in that pretty February snow! Also, check out Krystal’s awesome use of a veil-turned-wedding-cape cuz holy smokes. <3

These two sweethearts also let us throw so much glitter at them to get that fun confetti shot, laughed and celebrated with their friends and families, and danced the night away. We loved how affectionate Krystal + Jake were with each other all day. They were so fun to photograph!

We are so honored to have been able to celebrate with Krystal+Jake, and take a look at their wedding day below!

—Sam

Here are the vendors (with links) that helped make this wedding awesome!

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Goodman Community Center

Officiant: Kayla Francis (friend of the couple)

Bridal Gown: Vera’s House of Bridals

Groom Tux: Men’s Wearhouse

Wedding Jewelry: TQ Diamonds

Wedding DJ: Aaron Jai

Florist: DIY

Wedding Cupcakes: HyVee

Catering: Blue Plate Catering

 
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Rad Photographers Retreat - Styled Shoots

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Not one but TWO styled shoots at the amazing Rad Photographer’s Retreat!

For the past two years I’ve been to the Rad Photographers Retreat (for more info, click here) each Spring, and I love, love, love it! The styled shoots are something else! Always really thoughtfully designed, and always using real couples or families (which trust me is a helluva a lot easier than trying to get two people who don’t know each other to have on-camera chemistry). Here are the two styled shoots from the 2018 Rad Photographers Retreat; One engagement, one wedding! If you want to check out more thoughts on the Rad Photographers Retreat and the experience of attending, check out my review of the 2017 retreat here and the 2018 retreat here.

—Sam

Styled Shoot Vendors: 

 

Gretchen + Jason

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Kayla + Ezra

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Feeling Yourself

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A great boudoir experience is one of the most empowering, sexy things you can give yourself

“I feel vain loving these pictures so much!" — M

Girl, I get it. We live in a world where women are bombarded with how much we’re either not enough or too fucking much. How we’re not pretty enough, or are too smart, too intimidating, or are not thin enough, are too bossy, are not confident enough (men love confidence!), or too confident (men hate women who are full of themselves), and the list just goes on and on and on until you die.

Well I’m over it. And although I don’t want to be one more person telling you what to do if you’re a lady, I’m going to lovingly suggest that maybe you should be over it too. No one can live up to those super sexist expectations, and if even someone like the lovely Miss M pictured here (who is basically the epitome of the western world’s beauty ideal for women and also like the nicest most humble person on the planet) wondered allowed who I had photoshopped her head onto because she could not believe these gorgeous pictures were of her, then we’re all screwed if we can’t just give up trying to be this perfect, impossible, does-not-actually-exist woman.

Boudoir doesn’t have to be about impressing a partner (in fact I’d argue that impressing a partner shouldn’t be the main goal at all), and it doesn’t have to be only for the young and perfect, because most of us aren’t. What it can be about is taking an hour or two to really feel yourself. To celebrate yourself in all your fucking amazing glory, exactly as you are right now. To feel empowered and sexy and just pretty damn cool.

So if the concept scares you, I get it. But I think there are some pretty compelling reasons to do it anyway and to finally give yourself an opportunity to impress the one person that matters most… you. After all, you’re a pretty impressive person.

—Sam

 
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Fiona's Newborn Portraits

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Miss fiona had some friends along for her newborn portraits

First, you might remember Fiona’s mom and dad from such weddings as this - check out this super fun wedding and dream of warmer Spring days!

Now, about the baby! Fiona was a gem for our photo day! She was wide awake (which almost never happens), and just looked so curious about the world, which I love. She also had some animal friends get curious about getting their photo taken too!

Welcome to the world kid! It’s crap sometimes but good family and good friends make it all worthwhile. I think you’re going to like it. :)

—Sam

 
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Alex + Derek: A Surprise Downtown Engagement

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Derek planned not only a beautiful surprise engagement, but stealthy photos as well!

As we waited for Alex + Derek to walk up to the designated spot at the Capitol Building, Ben was acting as my decoy photo subject, and Rob was a ways away with the telephoto lens. Once I made eye contact with Derek, I couldn’t really say anything to Ben without giving it away, so I continued to take photos of him, and then eventually motioned him to move over a bit, as Derek + Alex stopped on the steps of the Capitol, and Derek began his proposal (funnily enough, Ben didn't realize that the folks we were going to be photographing were there already, so he kept trying to get back in front of the camera!)

While I was too far away to hear any details, Derek’s words were clearly having an impact on Alex, and when he got down on one knee, her reaction was priceless. It was so wonderful to bear witness to this super special moment in the rich history that is their relationship, and to be able to capture that in a way they’ll be able to relive forever.

Check out the fun and super sweet photos below (and see if you can spot the moment Alex realizes they were being photographed)!

—Sam

 
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Lily + Aaron: A Lovely Wedding in the Park

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These two beat the pre-winter chill and had a sweet, simple, and intimate wedding in the park, followed by a fun night of celebrating at One Barrel Brewing

And boy was it cold! But Lily + Aaron were troopers, and the spiked hot cider didn’t hurt either!

Lily was stunning, surprising no one, and look at the detail on the back of her dress! Holy smokes was that pretty! I love details like that!

There were some beautiful moments (obviously!) but there were also the funny ones, like when Lily’s Dad was about to walk her down the aisle, and remembered he still had his camo hat on and tossed it into a nearby bush. There was Lily’s veil trying to hit Aaron in the face over and over again, and succeeding a few times too. ;)

Congratulations to Lily + Aaron, and thank you both so much for inviting me to come hang out with you and celebrate! If you’d like to check out their engagement photos (which I would recommend since they’re so darn cute!) click here.

—Sam

Here are some of the awesome wedding vendors who helped make their wedding day fabulous!

Ceremony Venue: Towne of Burke Park (Reiner Road)

After Ceremony Drink Venue: Brocach on the Square

Reception Venue: One Barrel Brewing

Florals: DIY!

 
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