I received one of the best compliments after 10 hours of capturing Molly & Chris' amazing wedding day. Their wedding was held at the iconic Colony Club and at the majestic Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, MI. At the end of the night, while dancing was well underway, I walked up to Molly and gave her a big hug goodbye and said one last congratulations to her on her marriage to Chris! Molly smiled and because the music was so loud she leaned in closer to me as she said, "We had so much fun with you today! It felt like you were just our good friends here celebrating all day while taking the photos." After hearing those words, the soreness and longness of the day just melted away from my body. Molly's words made all of my hard work throughout the day of looking for the best locations, the best light, anticipating moments, and staying on schedule so worth it! . . .Read More
On Ericka's wedding day, she planned a special surprise for her Dad. After Ericka's Mom and her Maid of Honor helped her into her stunning, blush colored wedding gown, she took a deep breath and gathered herself for her Dad to enter the room. Ericka's Dad saw his beautiful daughter and at first he could only muster a smile and two thumbs up! Ericka and everyone in the room burst into laughter and then quiet tears at her Dad's reaction! . . .Read More
I arrived at the historic Packard Proving Grounds for Melissa and Jeremy's wedding day with so much joy and excitement in my heart! I had the opportunity to get to know Jeremy and Melissa at their engagement session last fall and they both are just so much fun, laid-back, and are always making each other laugh. Their amazing energy is palpable so I knew their wedding day was going to not only be heartfelt, but so much fun!Read More
Anna and Michael's wedding day in Hartland, MI began with bright sunshine and not one cloud in the sky. Anna prepared to marry Michael in the bridal suite of Waldenwoods Resort while Michael put on his navy suit and fastened his bow tie along side his groomsmen in a charming, almost southern style, house on the property called the Sunshine Lodge (which was so fitting for the beautiful weather!).Read More
There I sat with the smell of coffee and the hum of conversation in the air and I thought to myself, "Wow, I really liked them!" I remember listening to Rachel tell the story of how her and Steve met in high school and eventually became engaged. She had the biggest smile on her face and at one point Steve grabbed her hand during the re-telling of the proposal.Read More
As I walked into the bridal suite at the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center the stormy clouds that had been dominating the morning sky had finally started to dissipate. Lindsay breathed a sigh of relief at the news of a rain-free wedding day and she finished up with her hair and make-up styling. The Detroit skyline and river were the backdrop on this dreamy day, with elements of the city finding it's way onto the invitations and reception decor.Read More
The air was heavy and hot as we journeyed to the top of the lower peninsula for this Up North wedding in Tustin, Michigan. Diane and Nick both wanted a very laid back wedding celebration with family and friends and planned a whole wedding weekend where everyone camped, swam, fished, enjoyed cool beverages, and enjoyed the summer days together. The bridal prep, the ceremony, and the reception would all be taking place at the secluded woodland retreat, The Kettunen Center, which also had a beautiful lakefront view. Throughout the morning family and friends enjoyed this hidden, off-the-beaten-path retreat and also prepared for the afternoon celebration.
The flowers for the centerpieces and decor were assembled by mothers, grandmothers, and cousins during the morning of the wedding day while Diane and Nick began to get ready. As a friend sang and strummed her ukulele, Diane seemed to glide down the aisle towards a beaming Nick, in a blush-colored and crystal embellished wedding gown.
So much love surrounded this fun couple as poems and pretty things were spoken at the ceremony and as Nick and Diane recited their vows to each other through teary eyes and ecstatic bursts of laughter. After some quick family portraits, the bride and groom took a few moments to be alone and to cherish this very special time in their relationship. As the sun began to set, we then took Diane and Nick down by the water to capture some beautiful and romantic pictures of them before they headed to join family and friends at the reception.
The yellow lightning bugs buzzed and cries of laughter rang through the air as this outdoor reception continued on the beach. Some younger guests took to the glassy cool water to swim, canoe, and fish while others enjoyed people watching from the beach or from around the bonfire. Once the sun had officially gone down and the sand was cool, ladies and gents kicked off their shoes and danced the night away barefoot on the beach beneath an inky black sky full of twinkling stars.
I want to wish Diane and Nick so much love and happiness and congratulations on being MARRIED!
***I met Diane and Nick while freelancing my photography skills and secondarily assisting Brittany Alies Photography and I enjoyed capturing all the amazing details of their low-key up north wedding in Tustin, MI!***
(To read more about why I collaborate and work with other photographers, check out this post.)
(All photos are Copyright to the wonderful Brittany Alies Photography but were captured by Courtney Carolyn.)
Many (many) thanks the talented team who were apart of this beautiful wedding
Venue: The Kettunen Center, Tustin, MI
Cake: Zehnder's Bakery, Frankenmuth, MI
Hair + Make-Up: Family friend
Brooke + Ben's Monroe, MI wedding began our 2015 wedding season on a snow covered March afternoon while the warm sun streamed through the skinny tree branches. Brooke and Ben's love story began in high school and 7 years later the ones that got away, came back together more in love than ever as they were truely meant to be. 10 years to the day from Brooke and Ben's first date, this reunited couple stood up in front of their close family and friends and promised to be there for each other for the rest of their lives.
Brooke + Ben you both have beautiful hearts and your love (and silliness) for each other was reflected in all the details and moments throughout your wedding at the Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe, MI and at the reception at the Stone Creek Banquet Facility in Flat Rock, MI. I am honored to have been among your close family and friends on this very special day in your life and relationship.
(Want to see more of their complete wedding story? See the full slideshow here.)
Photos aside, how do you envision your wedding to be like?
"Since it is going to be towards the end of winter, we decided to embrace the cold weather and do a snow/forest theme. Lots of candles, spruce and pine cones with artificial snow. I imagine a very simple and sweet ceremony, and quirky but fun reception. We are a couple of goofs so don't expect anything super rigid and uptight."
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.
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!
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.
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.
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").
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!
What are some things you've learned about dating or marriage? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!