Spring Lake, Michigan | August Wedding at Trillium Event Center | Janelle + Scott

Janelle and Scott's wedding in Spring Lake, Michigan was absolutely beautiful and full of love! Now let me give you a little backstory on these two and their crazy (and beautiful) love story. When I met Janelle to talk about their wedding and picking a wedding photographer, she was living in Grand Rapids and Scott was down in Nashville. The two of them are from the east side of Michigan and they met at work, and moved down to Nashville for a few years. They then moved to Grand Rapids a few weeks BEFORE their wedding! The first time I actually met Scott was in Nashville when I took their engagement pictures. Let me just tell you these two are amazing people, just the afternoon I spent with them I felt like we had been friends for years. I could definitively see this during their wedding day when friends from every point in their life (even current) were their to support them and their marriage. 

Their ceremony was at Spring Lake Presbyterian Church, with Pastor Dan who is always one of my favorites to officiate weddings. He knows how to make the ceremony fun, but also important to the couple giving great real advice. I love that the girls getting ready room has a live feed of the sanctuary; I walked in the room and Janelle laughed and said "I saw you talking to Pastor Dan, did he tell you a few jokes?" Janelle and Scott had a unique first look, with having their families there to witness. It ended up being super sweet, and you could just feel the love for the two of them from everyone. 

After the ceremony we hopped on a pretty awesome party bus and headed to Vander Mill  for a drink and some pictures. Janelle and Scott both love the Blue Gold cider, which is a mix of blueberries with the apple cider (it's quite amazing if you haven't tried it!) From there we headed to the beach for a few pictures, and then to Trillium for the reception. Their reception was A BLAST and filled with a ton of love and tears. Janelle danced with her mom, which was just so beautiful and fun. We did sneak out for a few pictures after the dances, which was just a ton of fun we did some twirling and jumping and of course a ton of laughing. 

All in all, it was truly a perfect day; the weather couldn't have been any better! Together, Janelle and Scott completely compliment one another. They are a perfect match, and I am just bursting with joy that I got to document their love. Janelle and Scott, I am so happy that I was there to witness the beginning of your marriage. Thank you so much for being so incredible, from the first time I met with Janelle, to your engagement session and your wedding day. I hope this new life together in Grand Rapids gets better each and every day. 

Photographer: Sydney Marie Photography

Planner: Little Luxury Events 

Make-up Artist: Sam Klug

Florist:  Posh Petals

Ceremony venue: Spring Lake Presbyterian Church

Reception venue: Trillium Events

Transportation service: Limos by Lilly

Caterer: Trillium Events

Cake/Bakery: Ryke's

DJ/Band: Movin Music

Engagement Ring: Minor Jewelry

Wedding Bands: Waterfall Jewelers

Wedding Attire Bride: White Arbor Bridal

Wedding Attire Groomsmen: Men's Wearhouse

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5 Things I would have done differently when planning my wedding

Not everything during your wedding day is picture perfect, and like most of us this is the first time planning a wedding/planning something this big! Things happen and looking back, there are a few things that I would have done differently. Here are five things from my own wedding that I wish I would have done differently. 

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Hair and Makeup

I actually liked how my makeup turned out for my wedding, but I would have rather had an air brush style. But the main thing I was disappointed was my hair. Mind you, I have pretty awesome curly hair when it air dries, but I was in a hurry and used my blow dryer. My hair would not hold a curl (or I was doing it wrong, whatever.)

Thinking back, I wish I would have been more clear with my bridal party and had a place and time for all of us to get ready together. I had one bridesmaid that went to get her hair done and she didn't get ready with us, and my mom went to get her hair done as well. I love seeing the fun pictures of all the girls together, and I just didn't have that. 

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Flowers delivered to venue vs. my house/getting ready location

I had the flowers delivered to my house because I thought I'd want my flowers for my first look. Well, my photographer said I didn't need them, so I didn't grab them. Guess what happened when we were in a hurry to get to the ceremony? WE FORGOT ALL OF THEM. The only one that had any flowers was Jesse (I had my bouquet too, since we did some pictures with my parents before hand.) Luckily my house is just down the road and my parents are awesome people to drive back and grab them (but of course they forgot my vase and the flowers for the pies so Jesse and I had to drive back to our house to grab them after the ceremony, taking time out of our portrait time together) 

It would have been a lot easier if the flowers were delivered to the ceremony site and given to the correct people. It would have saved two trips back and forth to my house and a lot of stress. Another option, if you have two different getting ready locations is to talk to your florist about dropping off at both. It might be a little extra money, but if it saves stress and time why not! 

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Been more involved with my vendors (photographer, videographer, officiant...) 

Being a wedding photographer you'd think I'd be on top of everything and have everyone up to date on what I want and all that. Well, life was crazy and I didn't. I didn't talk to my photographer about what was most important to me and what people/things to focus on. I gave my officiant a passage I wanted read, and that was it. I just let my vendors do their jobs, I just didn't have the time to sit and request what I wanted. 

The best thing to do with your vendors is to let them know what is most important to you. I wish there was more pictures of my reception and my family instead of my friends and details before hand. Before (and even after) booking your vendors, check out their work and look at a few full galleries so you get a feel of their style and what locations and areas they prefer to photograph in. 

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Had my rehearsal dinner not at my house

Call me crazy, but the idea of having the rehearsal dinner at my house wasn't a bad thing. It just added on A LOT more stress than I wanted. I DEEP cleaned my house since the guys were getting ready there, and then to have everyone over and cook/clean everything before leaving to my parents house was a lot to handle. 

It did save us a lot of money, and like I said I do live down the road from where my ceremony was, so it made sense. If I would had more time it would have been neat to set up dinner at my ceremony site (since there was room) or to just say EFF IT and pay the extra money for a decent dinner. I didn't want to go the pizza route or anything like that I wanted something comfort food and relaxing. I also really love to cook (and I make pretty amazing pulled pork) so that was another reason why we went that route. 

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Bought real garland/flowers for reception

This is me trying to save money and do something different, using wood flowers. It took a while to find the right boxes that I was envisioning, but we found it and I actually liked how it was turning out. THEN LIFE HAPPENED. I didn't have a whole lot of time to put them together, and I didn't really have enough for what I originally wanted to do. It was just very last minute and my friend got us some garland that wasn't really what I wanted and I was pretty bummed about how everything looked together. It was simple, but not what I really wanted. 

I wish I would have taken the money that I put into the centerpieces and put them towards real flowers. I spent right around $200 for everything, which could have at least gave me some good garland or something with my florist. 

4 things I learned from my wedding as a wedding photographer

Being a wedding photographer, I've witnessed hundreds of couples share their love for each other with friends and family. Being on the other side of things as a bride, I learned tips I can give couples as well as things I can do as a photographer to help your day be the best. Here are four things I learned from my wedding day as a wedding photographer. 

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Details are great, but don't stress over them.

I'm not a fan of Pinterest, but I love seeing detail shots of other photographers. With my wedding I felt like I wanted all that, the styling board, vintage stamps and everything else. But, to be honest at the end of the day they don't matter enough to stress yourself out. I ended up in Home Depot trying to figure out what tile I wanted to use as a styling board and bought a few just to see what would look right. Ask your photographer for ideas, or let them do their thing and figure out something fun to do with your details. Some photographers have ring boxes and styling boards already that they can bring with. I personally love going out and exploring the grounds of the venue/getting ready site to find a unique place for detail shots, but I also love simple locations like a chair or a window sill. 

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Don't be afraid to let loose and laugh.

I actually see this a lot at weddings I've photographed, everyone is so serious and sometimes stressed (which I totally understand, weddings can be A LOT) I always tell my couples the planning is done, stop worrying about everything and trying to make everything perfect and just let it be, enjoy the day and HAVE FUN! I was stressed when I was getting ready, my hair wasn't curling right and time was ticking away but some good tunes and my matron of honor got me through it! (also, my mom is quite amazing and always makes me laugh and relax) 

Bride Tip: Plan a little bit of time with just you and your mom after getting ready, it can just be five minutes but it is SO worth it. You'll probably need some tissues, but I LOVE the pictures of me and my mom they are so special. 

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It's okay to tell your photographer/planner that you need to take a break to get a drink/snack.

I'm going to stress again how important it is to keep hydrated and not go for long periods of time without eating on your wedding day. Specifically for portrait time with your bridal party and also your new spouse. You just got ready, had your beautiful ceremony and went through the stress of family pictures, you deserve a drink...of water! If you have a party bus, make sure that there are some bottles of water besides alcohol in the coolers (yes, I know that's what the party bus is for, but take it easy, you have all night to drink) and also make sure there are bags of chips or some little snack that will help you not get too drunk too fast and hold you off till dinner. If you don't have a party bus, have a few bottles of water and snacks on hand in the vehicle so it's convenient to stop for a few minutes or while you are driving. 

For my wedding, we had water but didn't have any food, I didn't even think about it. Neither of us had ate since the morning and we didn't get done with portraits till 6pm when our reception started. Looking back, I wish I would have thrown something in the car for us to munch on the way to where the reception was and also took like 5 minutes to eat during our portraits. It would have made for some silly pictures of us stuffing our faces, but it would have made that last half an hour of portraits so much better. I know Jesse was really feeling hangry but he kept going because of how important the pictures were to me. 

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The best locations don't always look/feel the best.

Photographers come up with some odd spots for portraits, and in your mind you're like "WHAT ARE THEY THINKING, I'M NOT GOING THERE!" Hear them out, amazing photographers have an eye for things that most of us can't see. This goes for poses as well, sometimes your photographer will have you in a pose that feels a little funny, don't be afraid to ask to see the back of the camera. It might feel awkward, but the angle the photographer took the image probably looks gorgegous and makes you look like a million bucks. My photographer had us climb into the abandoned delivery door area (which was a task for me, only being 4'9) but they are some of my favorite images from my day! 

 

 

Fall Fun at Bethke Farms | Grand Haven, Michigan

It's fall ya'll! Looking for something fun to do this fall with the whole family? One of my favorite fall activities to do in October is the Bethke Farms pumpkin patch in Grand Haven.  Included with the pumpkin patch is a corn maze with a fun quiz and also a hayride! The hayride and corn maze are only $3 a person, and with the corn maze children under 5 years old are free!

Tips and info for your visit to the pumpkin patch:

Wear boots or some kind of shoe you don’t mind getting dirty or muddy. Since we’ve haven't had much rain the last few days the ground is very dusty in the patch. As the month goes on some pumpkins do start to rot, and you don’t want to step in that.

Bring gloves and some garden snips. There are a few different varieties of pumpkins out in the patch and some of them are rough to handle or are hard to get off the vine. From small, medium, big to extra big, there is the perfect pumpkin in the fields for you! If you don’t want to pick your own pumpkins they do have a large section of pumpkins already picked.  

Wanna bring your dog? No problem. Dogs must be leashed and are not allowed on the hayride but are welcome in the patch as well as the maze! There is also a large play area for the kids, including a large pirate ship and a pumpkin cut out for pictures!

Bethke Farms does take credit cards as well as cash and personal checks. Pumpkins are 40 cents per pound. They have a weigh station that weighs your pumpkins right in the cart, and there are always free trunk liners to get your pumpkins home safely! 

Address: 12124 136th Ave Grand Haven MI, 49417

Hours: Monday-Friday: 4pm to 7pm | Saturday-Sunday: 10am to 7pm 

The corn maze and Hayride operate during open hours. Hayrides run approximately every 30 minutes, the last hayride leaves at 6:30pm. 

 

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Grand Haven, Michigan | Beach and Downtown Michigan Senior Session | Emilie Class of 2018

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Working with Emilie and her mom was seriously a dream! Their session was very last minute, due to their original photographer having some health issues. We made their session work, and it was seriously beautiful! I met with them at the Grand Haven State Park and then we finished the session downtown Grand Haven! 

Congrats to Emilie on her senior year of high school, I hope it's amazing! 

 

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5 Wedding Day Tips From A (now) Past Bride

It's been two weeks since my big day, and boy do I miss it. Being a wedding photographer you'd think that my wedding day would have been a breeze and I would have been totally prepared and all that. NOPE. Being on the other side of things as a bride and actually planning a wedding was completely new to me. So here are my five wedding day tips!

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Don't sweat the small stuff.

It was pretty amazing being called one of the calmest brides by all of my vendors, but my day did not go smoothly. Let me start with I had issues with my hair, which lead to being late to the first look. I did my hair myself, and my curls weren't staying in because I suck at hair and whenever I blow dry my hair it just wants to be straight. I should have had my flowers delivered to my ceremony venue instead of my house. I thought I was going to need my flowers for my first look, but I didn't and no one grabbed the flowers so my parents drove back to my house and picked up the flowers except my vase and the flowers for my pie table. So Jesse and I had to pick those up after the ceremony losing about 20 minutes of portrait time. Also my parents wanted this specific picture (with their show car for a magazine article) but we were running late before the ceremony and my dad isn't the greatest with stress. I ended up calling my dad and telling him that it's not a big deal and wedding ceremonies always start late, and since the picture was important to them I wanted to do it (and what the bride wants she gets, right!)

I didn't freak out about any of these small hiccups, I just asked for help or dealt with them the best way possible. I made my timeline pretty padded with time (since the ceremony and reception sites were 45 minutes apart) so starting late didn't effect us too much, and my officiant was super cool and revised to catch us back up on time. But even with these issues my day turned out amazing and I couldn't have asked for a better day.

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Savor every moment.

They say that your wedding day is gone in a blink of an eye, and that is SO true. I was talking to my husband about it and put in in a perspective of a 9-5 work day. Most of the day is pretty stressful and busy, which correlates to the planning part of your wedding and then you get that lunch break. That 30-60 minute break in the day that seems to go by SO SO quickly and then you're back to the normal grind again. Your wedding day is that lunch break, it's a small amount of time in the grand scheme of things but is the best part of the day (besides going home from work at the end of the day, but that's different)

Okay, besides my cheesy analogy, I'm being totally serious about how quickly your wedding day goes. Everything is scheduled and fast pace that you're just moving from location to location, activity to activity that it's just gone so fast. Make time in your timeline for a first look, or some time after the ceremony that you and your new spouse can spend some time together and just enjoy a moment alone. Our first look was so amazing, we were a little bit behind schedule but it was still amazing just spending those few minutes together, and of course Jesse's look on his face when he saw me in my dress for the first time. First looks are also great if you are super nervous, Jesse can attest to that. He was shaking waiting for me to come up to him, but after he saw me he calmed down and relaxed a bit.  

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Eat and drink water frequently

I'm going to be honest with you, this is something both Jesse and I failed pretty miserably at. We did great at the beginning of the day when we were getting ready, but neither of us ate or drank right before or after the ceremony until we got to the reception. Jesse and I were talking and he admitted that he didn't feel great when we were doing couples portraits because he hadn't ate much and it had been a few hours since then. But he mustered through our pictures and did what he could because he knew how important it was to me.

Invest in good undergarments (seriously!)

This is probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give. If you plan on wearing any shapeware under your dress, do your research. Your wedding day is long, and you're in your dress at least 3/4 of the day. I ended up wearing my dress for about 11 hours, and the part I was most thankful about was the bathroom access hole in my shapewear. I'm not going to lie, going to the bathroom in a wedding dress (or really any dress) isn't the easiest (I've definitely had my share of helping out a bride get control of her dress to even sit down) but add in shapewear and it's a whole new challenge.

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Enjoy your reception and dance

I see this a lot at weddings that the couple is so focused on talking to people at the reception that they don't get to have fun and dance (before being well...intoxicated). I know both Jesse and I fell to this when we arrived at our reception. We only had family and a few friends at our ceremony so everyone wanted to talk to us about it and our volcano. Granted, our reception was only three hours and was really up to our discretion on when food was served, but it still effected how much dance time we had. 

One way to work around this is having a receiving line after your ceremony. A receiving line takes about 45 minutes depending on how many guests you have. If you are not having a receiving line after your ceremony (or if you were like me and didn't have all your guests at your ceremony) work with your photographer or planner to fit into the reception timeline a buffer for meeting and greeting with guests. I know for me dancing and having fun with my friends was pretty important (and even though Jesse isn't a huge dancer, I still made him go out to the dance floor with me) so I pushed for having that time and less mingling with guests. 

After having a year and a half engagement, everything is all said and done and I'm married! I hope these tips help future brides with their wedding day prep. You're wedding is a crazy whirlwind day, enjoy it! 

Photos by The Portos