The first thing Nikki said when she got out of her car was – “I’m SO nervous!” I can’t tell you how many times I hear this from couples (I’ve had a few couples take a shot or two before coming – I don’t hate that idea!). But really, you have NOTHING to worry about. As long as you like hanging with your fiance – and you probably should because he/she is your fiance – everything will be juuuuuuuuust fine. Two minutes later, Nikki + Grant learned that lesson. I coached them through everything, got them comfortable, and from there – the genuine smiles just came out. And they look beautiful, don’t they?! I think so 🙂 Nikki + Grant, I had a blast with you guys! I don’t shoot around the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum often – but I might have to make it one of my regular spots. The light, all that nature, the crazy squirrels, and THAT red dress. It was all perfect. Loved getting you guys behind my camera – can’t wait for the wedding in November!
Three years ago I photographed Kailey + Rob’s Engagement Session. Two years ago, I photographed their wedding. This year, we went back to the Adler Planetarium (where they got married) and I photographed their Maternity Session. They’re expecting a Baby Boy this October (names still to be decided!) and it really was SO special to see them again, catch up on life, and help document this next phase in their lives. Being with couples throughout the milestones of their lives is so important and meaningful to me. It’s the part of this job that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Kailey + Rob, you’re going to be great parents – I just know it 🙂 It was so much fun spending time with you again – best of luck to you with the baby boy – he’ll be here soon!
As most of you know, last week I was went on an Alaskan Cruise with my boyfriend’s family. His grandmother brought us all on a cruise with her to experience one of her and her late husband’s favorite adventures. This was Granny’s FOURTH time cruising through Alaska and this time, she brought the entire family with her (20 of us could make it, and we missed everyone that couldn’t be there!). Hence the name and t-shirts ‘Cruisin’ with Granny.’ I’m so thankful that I was included on this trip, as you’ll see in the photos (and video coming soon) it was a BLAST. Thanks, Granny and Bo!!
We started with a day in Seattle. I’d never been there as an adult – and I really wanted to explore the Public Market. We did the Savor Seattle Tour, which I HIGHLY recommend. The market gets super crowded, so the tour was perfect as we got to hit all of the best stops, cut the lines, and get a small tasting of everything rather than having to pick one or two spots to taste. We got to try: hot cinnamon donuts from Daily Dozen Donuts, delish greek yogurt from Ellenos (I know you might be asking yourself, how good can greek yogurt really be? But this stuff is no joke. It is SOOOO good and healthy. It was so good I questioned it being healthy. It could’ve been a dessert. Try it.), cherry treats from Chukar Cherries, some reeeeeeal good cheese curds/cheese and crackers/mac and cheese from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, THE BEST CLAM CHOWDER EVER from Pike Place Chowder (seriously, this was delicious. And I’m not even a huge Chowder fan. But this place won 1st place in the chowder competition so many years in a row that they were banned from participating for a few years so that other people had a chance. If that doesn’t convince you how good it is, I got Dan to wait in line for 45 minutes the next day so we could have it again – and if you know how much Dan hates lines, you know the chowder must be good), Russian pastries from Piroshky Piroshky (I’m sure these were delicious and I ate them, but by this point I was starting to enter my food coma and also couldn’t stop thinking about that chowder that I couldn’t focus. Dan really liked them though), Crab Cakes from Etta’s Seafood Restaurant, and finally salted caramls from Jonboy Caramels. Sorry there aren’t any pictures of the delicious food – I was too busy eating to have my camera out 🙂 Seattle was a blast, we even had an Uber driver that sang and gave us a puppet show – if you missed the videos on my Insta story… ask me the next time I see you – oddest experience ever.
After a quick day in Seattle, we left Sunday for the cruise. It was my first cruise ever, so I was super nervous about being seasick the whole time. Once I got over that and got my sea-legs though, it was awesome. Our first stop was Ketchikan where we did the Deadliest Catch Crab Tour. This was really cool as we got to take in the views, learn about crab fishing, hold Box Crabs aka Transformers, and we saw 4-5 eagles fly around and dive down/catch fish. Pretty cool stuff.
Next we cruised towards Juneau as we explored the Tracy Arm Fjord that was filled with glaciers and towering cliff walls. We also go lucky the entire trip with clear weather as we were able to see the tops of the mountains, which usually aren’t visible.
When we arrived in Juneau, we hopped on a quick bus to the Mendenhall Valley in the Tongass National Forest to canoe 2.5 miles to the glacier for the hike. This was my favorite excursion of the trip – the canoe was beautiful, fun, and a total team effort; and the hike was pretty cool, too! If you follow my blog, you know that I hiked the Tasman Glacier in Mt. Cook, New Zealand earlier this year – but this was a totally different experience and cool in it’s own unique way! Thanks to our guides, Josian and Micah, with Liquid Alaska for being fun, informative, and for keeping us safe 🙂
And then I had the BEST CRAB LEGS OF MY ENTIRE LIFE. One leg per person was enough to fill you up (I probably could’ve eaten two if I had to). How insane was that?? At $25/leg, I thought it was a little pricey – but after realizing how much meat is in one leg, it’s totally worth it. Worth the wait in line. Worth going to Juneau for. Tracy’s King Crab Shack, you’re doing it right.
After a long day in Juneau, we set out overnight to Skagway. We didn’t spend much time in Skagway though, because as soon as we got there we took a ferry to a small fishing town nearby, Haines (45min trip). If we just took the ferry and back I would’ve been happy as the views were beautiful. Haines might have been my favorite little town we visited. It wasn’t super touristy, and it felt like the real Alaska. We went on a fishing tour with Heather and Asanti of Skagway Salmon Fishing (yup, that’s them on the homepage of their website). They were AWESOME. I highly recommend finding them and hanging out with them if you’re anywhere near Haines. They spend their summers in Alaska and winters in the Bahamas doing fishing tours. They live on the boat we fished on. They are the real deal. Good times. Great people.
Looking for Mountain Goats…
Probably my favorite picture that I took on the trip – if you know Chip (my boyfriend’s Dad), you know how much this photo sums him up.
I caught a little baby salmon (above) compared to the one Rick caught (below)…. fishing is a team sport though, right?!
On our way out to go salmon fishing, we also through some crab pots in and caught a few on the way back! CRABS CRABS CRABS!
Picking wild raspberries on the way back to the ferry.
Switching things up a bit…
This is granny!
Family picture time on formal night… this was fun 😉 Despite all the amazing things we did on the excursions, some of my favorite moments were spent on the cruise ship with the family. Hanging in the hot tub/pool, playing cards (who knew Oregon Trail was a card game now), gambling in the casino hitting 24 three times!, hanging at dinner and sitting with someone new every night, happy hours with alaskan mudslides, seeing the cruise band Starship play while I guzzle down another Passionada, eating ice cream/pizza/burgers/chicken sandwiches at all hours of the day and night, watching Alice play piano at the lounge with the piano guy – just spending time with family and getting to know everyone was really special.
They showed movies under the stars on the cruise ship – Guardians of the Galaxy 2 played so we HAD to watch it. I AM GROOT!
Cruisin’ with Granny t-shirts! These babies got us lots of attention the entire trip. Thanks again, Granny – I had a blast!
It was the two year anniversary of Tori + Ryan’s first date. They had originally planned to go to the same restaurant (Cooper’s Hawk) – but first Ryan took Tori back to her old apartment complex. Sounds random, but it was the first time he saw her. Two years prior, he had gone to pick her up for their date, and when Ryan pulled up, Tori was outside playing with her new puppy. It was in this spot that he met the love of his life, and this very same spot is where Ryan asked Tori to marry him.
Tori + Ryan, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to not only work with you – but get to know you better. From our first meeting, to the Engagement Session, to the wedding – it was all a pleasure. I loved seeing how much you both love each other through it all. The excitement to marry each other was evident in BOTH of your tears throughout the day. Your love for each other even made me tear up a little bit behind the camera 🙂 Thanks for choosing us to capture your wedding day – we love how the photos turned out and hope you do, too!
VENDOR CREDITS // Wedding Dress Designer: Winnie Couture | Bridesmaid Dresses Designer: Bebe | Tuxedo Designer: Formally Modern Tuxedo | Wedding Coordinator: Kacie Benjamin, The Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms | Videographer: ojo Creative | Florsist: Erin Stoffregen, Event Floral | Cake Artist: Terrell Cole, Dark Horse Pastries | DJ: Frankie Novak | Paper Goods: Wedding Paper Divas | Ceremony Venue: Church by the Side of the Road | Reception Venue: The Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms | Caterer: Henrici’s Catering | Photo Booth: Luxe Productions
Melissa + Alex got engaged along the gorgeous tree-lined path along Lake Michigan/in front of the Field Museum/Shedd Aquarium. What better place than that to start our Engagement Session than to take it back to where it all started. It’s a meaningful place to them, since they live in the area, and have walked the trail a few times. It’s one of my favorite views of the city, as I shoot there often – but I love finding new nooks and hidden gems that I’ve never photographed before. This time, the path along the Shedd/garden area was my favorite. We started along the north side of the Shedd/Field Museum – and walked along the lake, all the way to behind the Adler Planetarium to the hidden beach that is quickly becoming a hot spot (it was filled with people and I’ve never seen that before!). Melissa + Alex, I had so much fun with you both during the session. I loved getting to know you, chatting about life/grad school/traveling, and watching you get more and more comfortable throughout the session. You’re going to be pros come wedding day – and I am so excited for you to see photos from your session – but even more so I can’t wait for the wedding! See you next year 😉