Fall Wedding at Concorde Inn, Clinton Township, MI: Samantha + Brent

As a tall, beautiful, young woman walked into the room with her brown wavy hair falling softly around her face, framing her green eyes, Brent thought to himself, "Oh yeah, she's in my league," speaking of Sam and not long after that they shared their first kiss in the basement of the Theta Chi fraternity basement. Sam is one of the warmest, most lovable people I have ever known and I think Brent, who is funny, kind, and laid-back, is lucky to call my Chi Omega sister his wife.

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The day Sam and Brent exchanged vows was a perfect September day in the fall at the Concorde Inn in Charter Township of Clinton, Michigan. Sam was surrounded by her closest friends and family as she prepared for the ceremony with the movie "Animal House" playing in the background on the TV - so fitting for this greek bride and groom I think! - as her cheeks were swiped with blush and her lips blotted. Brent started the day off at home with his groomsmen and family and while tying his bow tie and figuring out the complexity that is cuff links, the family's cute Brittnay Spaniel danced around everyone in excitement for the upcoming vows.

Although Brent loves it when Sam wears flats, on your wedding day, shoes are almost as important as the dress and Sam wore Anne Klein heels, customized by the bride herself with a little shout out to her Chi Omega sisters. Sam walked down the aisle with her father to "Can't Help Falling in Love" and happy tears were shared by all as this couple took their marriage vows and exchanged their bling. Then the celebration really began as guests, all family and close friends, danced the night away enjoying the personalized M&Ms and shot glass favors, got silly in the photo booth, tossed bean bags in games of corn hole, and as laughter and an out pouring of love permeated the air.

Sam and Brent...you are two of the nicest, most kind, and lovely people I've had the chance to work with and call friends. Your families are amazing and I can't thank you enough for allowing me to document your love. The love you share makes those around you better. I wish you nothing but the best together...and enjoy Jamaica!

Love Always,

Courtney Carolyn

5 Lessons from Dating my Boyfriend of 4 years

Today, October 23rd 2014, marks a historical day in my personal life. I have officially been dating my boyfriend, Scott, for four years. We celebrated last night by going out to a nice dinner at Red Lobster and I only managed to embarrass Scott and myself once.

Our first big date at the Theta Chi Formal in Canada - Courtney 19, Scott 21

Our first big date at the Theta Chi Formal in Canada - Courtney 19, Scott 21

After we ordered and started digging in to the heavenly garlic butter biscuts, our waitress, Jennifer, asked, "Are you two dining in tonight for any special reason?" and me being me said, "Yup! It's our 4 year anniversary." She wished us congrats and went about to her other tables and we didn't really think it was that big a deal until she returned to announce, "As a special congratulations, we are going to complimentarily give you any of our sharable desserts tonight.", with a very friendly twinkle in her eye. Scott and I sat there looking at each other and then thanked her for that nice offer and said we'd order something once we had finished eating. But then the manager came over.

The manager came out to wish us a happy 4 year WEDDING anniversary. She said, "Wow married for four years congrats!." I quickly corrected her by saying, "Oh no not wedding anniversary, dating anniversary." The words sort of fell lamely out of my mouth, as suddenly it seemed like dating for four years wasn't all that big a deal. It felt this way to me because the manager quickly followed up with an "Oh, Well. Congrats on your four year . . dating . . anniversary. Enjoy your evening.", and she hurried away, but not before I saw her face contort at the word "dating" and the way she slowly stumbled over her response. Scott and I sheepishly hid our faces behind our water glasses and decided we were too full to accept the dessert, and even to full to take it home with us.

Just hanging out at an Adrian College football game - our alma mater

Just hanging out at an Adrian College football game - our alma mater

Scott said, "There's always something with you," referring to me and my incapacity to just have a boring, uneventful evening. I replied, "I said four year anniversary! I didn't say wedding anniversary and besides our hands are sitting right here - no rings. They assumed marriage and now we feel bad."

The whole evening I began reflecting on my and Scott's relationship over the last 4 years - has it been that long? - and what I have discovered about dating the same man for four years and about relationships in general. I have summed these thoughts up into lessons for every year I've been in this relationship (plus 1 for the year I new Scott before we became "official").

We make goofy faces . . .   a lot.

We make goofy faces . . . a lot.

Lesson 1 - You know you have a keeper when your boyfriend doesn't scare easily.

When I first met Scott, I didn't have as clean a break from my ex-boyfriend as I might have thought or that I had hoped for. Scott was there for me at a time that was very stressful and he always reassured me that he wasn't going anywhere and that he didn't care about my past with this guy. A lot of guys don't want to deal with potential "drama" of ex-boyfriends, but Scott said I was worth the inital drama to get to a place where we could just start fresh as "us" Courtney and Scott. (I think I heard Nicolas Sparks typewritter chime in approval of these sentiments.)

Lesson 2 - You know you have a keeper when your boyfriend is good in an emergency.

Remember Scott's thoughts on me never having a dull moment? Well in our second year of dating, my off-campus apartment complex caught fire and basically burnt to the ground. Thankfully I was blessed and my particular apartment mostly only sustained water damage and structure collapse damage.

Scott showed up during this blazing event to help calm me down and also really stepped up in helping me figure out where I was going to live - because I was basically homeless - how to get my stuff out of the building within the alotta 5 hour period the firemen gave us access, and just proved how much of a giving heart he has and that when shit goes down he doesn't run away, he sticks it out.

Lesson 3 - Communication is one of the most important factors in a relationship.

Scott hates it when I say this, but I can talk to him like I talk to one of my closest girlfriends. You have to be able to communicate with your significant other and cannot be afraid to talk about the big stuff; religion, marriage, politics, money, and life goals. You don't always have to agree explicitly with the other person on this stuff, but you have to know where their philosophy on these topics rests. Scott and I are good communicators but as in every relationship, romantic or friend, there are times when you have a difference of opinion and fight. As long as you both can communicate to each other your thoughts and feelings without being hurtful or unfair fighting (low blows like name calling) you are well on your way to having a satisfying relationship.

Lesson 4 - In every relationship there is an inevitable friction point that will make or break you.

In marriage, they call this friction point the first year. While still dating I believe this takes place around the 3 year marker. At this point in the relationship you have to evaluate how the relationship is or is not working and your goals and dreams moving forward. You will inevitably have to have the hard "talk" with yourself and your loved one. Where are we going? Are we happy? What do you want out of life? What do I want out of life?

At this friction point all of the previous lessons/abilities come in handy as your significant other will most likely feel scared, like your relationship is in a state of emergency, and that they need to communicate their thoughts and feelings.

Lesson 5 - Celebrate your love.

As a wedding photographer I get to spend my days around couples who are so in love and then make the ultimate commitment to spend their lives together. Marriage is a big deal and celebrating your years together is something you should cherish, but I also think celebrating your years together in general is something you should cherish married or not.

After our night at Red Lobster I told Scott, "It's a big deal to make it four years in the dating world. Why was that manager any less impressed with it because we weren't married?." I in no way undermine the importance of marriage or relate it to dating in anyway but I added to Scott, "Why shouldn't we celebrate this four years? I mean if we get married we have to start back at the 1 year anniversary again and it's almost like we loose these 4 or whatever years."

Scott replied with, "Well, babe, you're right and that's why I love you - even though you are a disaster sometimes."

Cheers to us Scott! And I hope you enjoyed a look back on a small glimpse of our four years together!

Love Always,

Courtney

Our first Chi Omega Formal - Courtney 20, Scott 22

Our first Chi Omega Formal - Courtney 20, Scott 22

Journeying to Kentucky with Scott's church on a mission trip in 2012

Journeying to Kentucky with Scott's church on a mission trip in 2012

A trip to the Binder Park Zoo! I think I'll pet a giraffe.

A trip to the Binder Park Zoo! I think I'll pet a giraffe.

Attending numerous Michigan State Football games together, including this one from 2009 - Go Green! Go White!

Attending numerous Michigan State Football games together, including this one from 2009 - Go Green! Go White!

Doing the college spring break trip to Orlando in 2011

Doing the college spring break trip to Orlando in 2011

Our last Chi Omega Formal in 2012 - Courtney 22, Scott 23

Our last Chi Omega Formal in 2012 - Courtney 22, Scott 23

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What are some things you've learned about dating or marriage? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Boat Grand Entrance at Devil's Lake, MI Wedding: Laura + Peter

I was there from the beginning. Peter was one of my supervisors when I worked at the Adrian College Campus Safety and Laura had just become the new Greek Life Coordinator at Adrian College. Within the next couple of years Peter and Laura fell in love and after Peter proposed to Laura, they asked me to be their wedding photographer. (See their snowy engagement shoot here)

The night before their wedding, Peter and Laura invited me to attend their rehearsal dinner to celebrate as not only their photographer but as their friend too. That's what I love so much about Peter and Laura, they are two people who are funny, loving, and very warm, giving souls. Their family and close friends looked back on a slideshow of pictures of Peter and Laura through the years and took the boat out on Devil's Lake to watch the shooting stars. It was one of those perfect summer nights in Michigan at the lake.

The day started like any other day - except for Peter and Laura - they were followed around by a photographer all morning (me). Nestled in sleepy little cottages, the groom got ready with his groomsmen before making their way via trolley to the church and the bride and bridesmaids headed out to the salon for a morning of curling irons and laughs at the Bellus Salon in Adrian. As the day moved along, Peter and Laura stood up in front of all of their family and friends at the Adrian College Herrick Chapel and promised to love each other and to have fun along the way. The bride and groom's grand entrance to the reception at the Devil's Lake Yacht Club was not by horse drawn carriage or a fancy limo, it was by boat. In true michigander style, these two had a love for being at the lake and so a close family friend offered up his boat as their entrance chariot. How cool, right?!

Peter and Laura, I think you both are incredible and to stand amongst your family and friends is something I will never forget! I can't wait to hear about all the amazing things to come for you guys in the many undoubtably happy years yet to come. Thank you so much for allowing me to be your wedding photographer.

Love always,

Courtney Carolyn

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Peter got ready with his groomsmen at a lake side cottage and they toasted Jack Daniel's.

Laura took a moment to gather her thoughts before the ceremony and wrote a personal note for Peter.

One of the many cool modes of transportation that Peter and Laura used on their wedding day was a local trolley from Tecumseh, MI

After she put on her wedding gown, there were tears of joy and excitement as Laura read a few text messages from her husband to be before the ceremony.

The guests gushed with happiness after the bride and groom said their "I dos" at the Adrian College Herrick Chapel.

Peter and Laura wanted to have a very special grand entrance to their reception on the lake by catching a lift from a family friend who had a beautifully restored vintage motor boat!

Peter and Laura took a few moments alone at the end of the night to stroll down the dock and quietly celebrate their commitment to each other and to soak in the love their family and friends have for them.

Many thanks to the wedding day team that were a part of making this day memorable:

Hair + Makeup: Bellus Salon and Spa

Transportation: Tecumseh Trolley & Limousine

Boat Transportation: Family Friend

Ceremony Venue: Adrian College Herrick Chapel

Reception Venue: Devil's Lake Yacht Club

Photography: Courtney Carolyn Photography

Michigan Winter Engagement at Adrian College: Peter + Laura

The snow crunched as Peter and Laura walked towards the historic, red bricked theatre - a known proposal spot in many of the college's romances. The more modern buildings surrounding Downs Hall Theatre were unusually quiet without the russell of papers or the scratching of pencils as all the students were away on winter break.

The stillness of the Adrian College campus was perfect for Peter and Laura's afternoon stroll as they snuggled and laughed together. Adrian College was the backdrop to their first meeting and the beginning of Peter and Laura's love story while they worked here as college administrators. They decided to honor and commemorate this special place during their engagement and would marry at the college's Herrick Chapel in September.

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After a day in the cold, Peter and Laura decided to get dressed up and head to the nearby cozy little tavern. The Main Street Stable and Tavern, which is quite literally an old stable that has been converted, proved to be a unique restaurant and embodied the couple's love of dining out together and trying new things. Peter would tease Laura about the way she said something and she would laugh. Laura would tease Peter right back and they'd both smile while leaning in towards each other as if the small gap in their chairs was too much. 

Although it was freezing, Peter and Laura were champs as I captured some shots at sunset. I am so looking forward to their lake front wedding and can't wait to capture it in the fall!

Love Always,

Courtney Carolyn

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