Rustic Winter Wedding in Monroe, MI: Brooke + Ben

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.

Love Always,

Courtney Carolyn

(Want to see more of their complete wedding story? See the full slideshow here.)

Brooke prepared for the day at her family home, where her faithful (and adorable) dog, Fred, kept watch by the door.

Brooke prepared for the day at her family home, where her faithful (and adorable) dog, Fred, kept watch by the door.

Wearing comfortable shoes was a must for their wedding day, and their Converse shoes were one of a kind, adorned with their last name, which the Mother of the Bride hand stitched herself.

Wearing comfortable shoes was a must for their wedding day, and their Converse shoes were one of a kind, adorned with their last name, which the Mother of the Bride hand stitched herself.

I had to contain a laugh when Brooke placed - or should I say smacked - her hands over Ben's eyes during the first look, although Ben didn't seem to mind.

I had to contain a laugh when Brooke placed - or should I say smacked - her hands over Ben's eyes during the first look, although Ben didn't seem to mind.

Brooke told me during the wedding planning,   "I still can't believe I am going to marry this man, who two years ago I never believed I'd even get to see him again."

Brooke told me during the wedding planning, "I still can't believe I am going to marry this man, who two years ago I never believed I'd even get to see him again."

It's hard to believe Ben's first pick-up line to Brooke wasn't,   "You have beautiful eyes,"   but instead he lead with,   "So, do you have a microwave?"

It's hard to believe Ben's first pick-up line to Brooke wasn't, "You have beautiful eyes," but instead he lead with, "So, do you have a microwave?"

"I absolutely love Courtney's style. The quality is exceptional and I love the soft and sweet feel she gives to the photos."

"I absolutely love Courtney's style. The quality is exceptional and I love the soft and sweet feel she gives to the photos."

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."

"We found our homes in the wrinkled corners of each other’s souls."   - Sarah Schwab

"We found our homes in the wrinkled corners of each other’s souls." - Sarah Schwab

Many (many) thanks to the talented team who were a part of creating this beautiful wedding

Ceremony Venue: Redeemer Fellowship Church, Monroe, MI

Reception Venue: Stone Creek Banquet Hall, Flat Rock, MI

Cake: Cakes by Stephanie

Music: DJ Andrew

Photographer: Courtney Carolyn Photography

Yellow and Grey, Wooded Wedding at Oakhurst, Clarkston, MI: Tiffany + Frank

Tiffany and Frank's Clarkston, MI wedding was such an honor to be a part of. From the moment I arrived, camera in hand, I could see all the time and planning that Tiffany had put into the whole celebration. Yellow roses and billy ball flowers filled the bridal bouquet, soft burlap, candles, and natural accents were laid on every table, and the sweeping view from the balcony of The Oakhurst Golf and Country Club looked over tall, sheltering trees reminiscent of Up North/Northern Michigan.

After the family pearls were placed around Tiffany's neck and Frank and his groomsmen toasted the day, friends and family gathered outside for the romantic ceremony beneath a birch tree alter. Emotions were high and tears flowed freely as the couple said their vows and exchanged rings. The sound of a Scottish bagpipe cut through the air and singled the time to party! As the cake was cut, toasts were given, and dances danced, there was one final surprise for guests that Tiffany and Frank planned - roasting marshmallows for s'mores out on the deck beneath the stars.

Tiffany and Frank, thank you. It was an honor to capture your beautiful day. I wish you nothing but happiness and adventures as you begin your life together!

I met Tiffany + Frank while freelancing my photography skills for Fairytale Productions(All photos were captured by Courtney Carolyn, but are copyright to Fairytale Productions. To read more about why I collaborate and work with other photographers, check out this post.)

Love Always,

Courtney Carolyn

Many (many) thanks to the talented team who were a part of creating this beautiful wedding

Ceremony Venue: Oakhust Golf and Country Club, Clarkston, MI

Reception Venue: Oakhust Golf and Country Club, Clarkston, MI

DJ: Fairytale Productions

Photography: Fairytale Productions, primarily shot by Courtney Carolyn

Collaborating with Other Wedding Day Creatives

I pride myself on being a lifelong student. I was always that kid who loved the first day of school and I was always eager to learn new things. Heck, I was even voted "Most Studious," by my senior classmates - you know those fake titles they label people with for the yearbook, yep. But it is a fact that I love to learn. As a wedding photographer, I work with not only other creatives such as florists, cake decorators, and wedding coordinators, but I also often work with other photographers. And it is an awesome learning and growing opportunity for myself as well as them.

Courtney Carolyn Photography

(Hey look! - There's me.)

I approached starting a photography business from a "I'm here to learn and grow" perspective. In college I took many classes on the art of photography and developed my understanding of light, composition, and of the digital editing side of photography. After graduation, and in between submitting resumes, I found myself being pulled towards photography blogs. I would read about how a photographer used off-camera lighting or laugh with one photographer as a hilariously split in her pants during a wedding resulted in a run to Kmart. They say in life that you should do what you love and not just work at a job. I made the choice to pursue photography as a profession because I love it, and what I have found out thus far is that this is one profession that is not for the faint of heart, but with help from those already in the industry you can grow so so much.

Courtney Carolyn Photography

(Here I am working for Fairytale Productions with Angela and Brian. I was a little obsessed with all the leading lines the bridge produced.)

In the whole one and a half years that I have been a working and learning photographer I have learned a LOT but there are some key things that I think are worth noting in this particular post.

1. I recommend attending some photography workshops if you can.

There are a lot of photographers out there who set up discussions for photographers of all skill levels to come and learn from them. I personally have attended one of Bob and Dawn Davis's Real Wedding Workshops in South Carolina last year (read more about that here), I rode the train all the way from Michigan to New York City to hear Fred Marcus and Clay Blackmore speak, and I just recently drove to Chicago to spend two days with Jasmine Star. (More on this particular adventure here!)

I have found this is a great way to hear some really inspiring creatives speak about the art of photography as well as business and an opportunity to practice techniques.

2. Network with photographers in your area, or who shoot how you shoot or how you aspire to shoot. 

I have personally worked with a few different photographers and it was a way for me to really get my feet wet with capturing weddings. It was so overwhelmingly mind boggling to me that some one was entrusting me to take images for them on their wedding day. Images that would be looked at one day by their grand children. I did not want to screw that up, so until I got comfortable with shooting a wedding day I decided that I would work as a second shooter or assistant to an established photographer or two.

Over this past summer I had so much fun and great learning experiences with Brittney of Brittney Ailes Photography. Brittney is hilarious and so motivating to be around. It was such a wonderful learning opportunity as we each pushed each other to shoot better to see things a different way to perfect techniques to a new level.

I also currently freelance as a primary photographer as well as second shoot for Tom of Fairytale Productions. Tom is a really amazing guy who runs his company like a champ, and he saw it upon himself to not only invite me to photograph weddings on a part-time basis for his photography studio but to also to give me a job as a photo editor and retoucher during the week for all the weddings Fairytale shoots.

3. Explore the web - or I as I like to refer to it as, my online university - as there are tons of FREE learning resources.

As I mentioned above, the internet is a mecca of knowledge and you can pretty much as Google any question under the sun, but there are also a ton of blogs, websites, and videos dedicated solely to photography.

A few I frequent are Creative Live, an online live broadcast of photographers preaching their photography gospel and business models, Fstoppers, which has well written (and not overly technical) articles on everything from gear to industry innovators, and Sue Bryce's Blog, because well she is just a really driven, mesmerizing woman and she has the cutest little puppy, Cookie.

So hit the books - just don't hit them too hard as that might hurt,

Love Always,

Courtney Carolyn

Courtney Carolyn Photography

(Beautiful wedding second shooting with Brittney Ailes Photography)

Want to collaborate on something? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please send any questions or collaboration requests to courtney@courtneycarolynphotography.com.