Chrystal & Josh – Valley Lake Campground Wedding – June 16, 2017

This wedding came off beautifully!  And you know why?  Because planning, detailed, beautifully executed planning by an amazing group of people.  Chrystal, Josh and a phenomenal group of family and friends who love them came together and took Chrystal’s dream and made it real!  I love getting inside details on wedding planning from my couples, and with Chrystal I gladly exchanged texts and Facebook messages for hours and was simply giddy with excitement as I saw her vision coming together bit by bit.  From the longtime family friends who re-opened the amazing Valley Lake Campground to my own family’s adopted Aunt Kim (who holds the same position of honor to Chrystal as well because she is that awesome) custom mixed drink menu and plethora of Jello-o shots (yeah, I now know there is a such a thing as Jell-o shot racing) to the many, many hands who prepared food, help decorate and so many other touches.
The reason why everyone came together to celebrate is the simple, but clear love that Josh and Chrystal share for each other and the daughters that Josh has taken into his heart as his own.  Josh was prepared to be a bachelor for at least another 14 years, but was powerless to resist the charms of three lovely ladies!

We began our day at Chrystal’s salon, His & Hers Salon and Barbershop, where everyone was beautified from hair to nails to make-up in a sweet, rustic setting.  We met up with the Groom in Garretsville, where these two grew up and where we had held their engagement session.  Their First Look moved everyone to tears and Josh’s…ahem..dance moves on the gaudy yellow pole someone I am cross with installed in the past month made everyone fall about laughing (yep, you’re about to see that photo).   And finally we headed to Valley Lake Campground for photos under the willow trees that dot the shoreline and which were the inspiration for Chrystal’s entire dream wedding.  To me this is not at all by chance; the willow’s deep strength and stubbornness allow it to grow and thrive in the strange and challenging area where the land meets water and yet it remains so flexible,  sheltering and also beautiful.  To me this is just a natural reflection of both Chrystal and Josh.

 

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Mary & Lennie – Quail Hollow Engagement Session

Sunday morning at 9am you will usually find me happily abed and snoozing.  Same with 10am and sometimes 11am.  I am not a morning person; just a fact.  But of late, out of necessity, I’ve had a few early AM sessions and I have to say there is something rather beautiful in the freshness of morning.  I could do without the dew and all, but it does have its own special beauty.  And after having spoken with Mary a few times and within minutes of meeting Lennie I knew this is a couple I’d get up in the wee hours to spend time with any day.

We’d decided on the gardens of Quail Hollow State Park which has been a favorite spot of mine for years, but with these two and the flip from sunset to morning it held a whole new glow and we took advantage and then some!  They really enjoyed a little time taking off their parenting hats and just enjoying each other as a couple.  And it may sound odd, but seeing that they share the same 14″ difference in height as myself and my husband was such a treat!  I love to be able to cuddle every couple up and large height differences are seen as tricky to pose, but not to me because I live it and love the special ways we get to make it magical.

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Chrystal & Josh – Eagle Creek Engagement Session

I’ve been pondering all day about what to say here.  How do I put into words how this couple has touched my heart and tickled my funny bone?  They came to me via a wonderful woman who has become like family to me and in a very real way they too feel like they fit my family.  And since my family, which with me being the youngest of seven is large to begin with,  loves adopting magical people into it and never runs out of room there is plenty of space for these two and their adorable daughters.  No worries, Chrystal, this doesn’t mean Kylie can’t marry Braden someday 😉
Chrystal and I have spent hours talking, well..texting and not just wedding planning, but life as well and I can say she is just as beautiful in mind and spirit as she is in appearance.  And a night owl who is a Doctor Who fan as well, can I get a malto bene!  And having only met Josh yesterday I can say he is just the same and his lightness of spirit is what sparks Chrystal to lay aside the stress that is ever present in the last month before a wedding day.  And yes, it is less than a month until these two say their vows and begin to write the next chapter of their family’s story so how perfect was it to go back to their hometown where their friendship first took root and they started on the path that leads to June 16th, 2017.   It’s going to be amazing!

 

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Emily & Quentin – Virginia Kendall Engagement Session

Emily & Quentin are my clients because of one reason exactly – my Mom loves me.  She loves me, she is proud of me and she will spot an engagement ring on a total stranger, talk to them for a minute to see if “they’re nice and not crazy” and then offer up one of my business cards.  Seriously, don’t I have the best Mom ever?  Shout out to her awesomeness this day after Mother’s Day!  And because my Mamacita is lovely and nice and likewise not crazy (well, not in a bad way) Emily took a chance and contacted me and poof, here we are only a few weeks later taking her and Quentin’s engagement pictures!  We had to sneak them in ASAP because these two are moving out to the Las Vegas area at the end of this month!  They’re so excited to be able to snowboard, hike or run in the coolness of the mountains by day and come home and bake in the golden glow of a desert sunset at night.  So, of course, we had to try to bring a little faux mountain magic to their session by hitting up Virginia Kendall Ledges.

I knew from talking to Emily on the phone (and from doing a wee bit of Facebook stalking) that she and Quentin were fun and easygoing and definitely had a fair dose of silliness in them.  And also that they have been together for 6 years – since they were in high school which makes my awww-o-meter go off the charts. All of these things made our session so much fun to shoot – laughter, silly faces and that weird incident where Quentin thought picking Em up and kissing her meant grabbing handfuls of her waistband and horking her in the air.  Fortunately he was gentleman enough to warn her he thought she was in for quite the wedgie.  No worries, we sorted that out in the end and as you can see these two made some beautiful photo magic happen!    Only 460 days until they say ‘I do’!

 

 

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Ocea & Dave – North Park – Pittsburgh Wedding

The forecast was not so good – the radar looked like an invasion of Pikachus was on its way.  But nothing would, could or did dampen the spirit of the day that Ocea & Dave said their marriage vows.  I joined them as they were finishing spiffying up and donning their wedding gown and suit and their faces when they saw each other for the first time made all of us tear up.  And as the first drizzle of rain started coming down we headed out to North Park.

Upon arrival a thunderstorm was lighting up the sky which moved their ceremony under the pavilion.  But as they performed their self-marriage (go PA for nifty non-officiant needed ceremonies!) before their Witnesses, friends and families the turbulence of the weather was pushed back by the glow of joy radiating from everyone in attendance.   We delayed taking their Newlywed portraits in the hope the weather would clear up and it did so spectacularly that by the time everyone was done with the delicious meal the sun was breaking through the clouds.  Nice little bit of symbolism right there.   Every bit of the day from the fairy lights created by Ocea to the stunning and unique blooms in the Bride’s bouquet reflected the care and detail Mr. & Mrs. McCarty put into their amazing “party in the park”!

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Katie & Luke – Canton Public Garden Engagement Session

What can I say about these two?  I don’t think I have any words that can fully capture how warm, kind, loving and also just absolutely witty they are.  There is a reason I  mainly”speak” through photographs and I hope that I captured their spirit well enough that you can bask in their glow and enjoy their amazing presence as I did.  Katie and I clicked from the first time we talked (and talked and talked!) on the phone and watching the weather and forecast be nothing but icky leading up to their brief visit to Ohio was quite nearly unbearable because we were all so looking forward to finally meeting and making some photographic magic.  So we put our heads together and had several possible locations and times depending on what weather ended up coming our way and while it was still literally freezing during their session they never let that show and seeing Luke take Katie’s hand in between shots to warm them up was one of those sweet gestures that lets you know these two have the love, friendship and soulmate package all wrapped up.

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Melissa & Paul’s Engagement Session – Glamorgan Castle

Melissa and Paul love each other.  I only state that so plainly now because these words will appear before their photos and to state it afterwards would be redundant to the point of ridiculousness.  It’s in there every moment together; a nearly visible sparkle around them that intensifies the longer I shut up and let them do what they do so naturally.   So, that’s what I am going to now…no need for me to say anymore as I am sure we’ll have plenty to say in words and photographs after their wedding next month.

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Kelsey & Nick – Gervasi Vineyard Engagement Session

One of the main things I love about Kelsey & Nick is that they know what they want and they have their own “mutter language” that they use to communicate quickly and decisively and honestly I don’t know that they even need that because there are constant quick glances and little smirks that I know they can each read like a book.   And they don’t let an opportunity pass them by, like when Gervasi Vineyards in Canton granted us rare permission to hold their engagement session there with the caveat that it be in the off season of February or March.  In Ohio that can mean -15F or apparently 60F+ . This wise couple kept an eye on the forecast and called me based on a promising 7 day forecast and nature delivered with a sun as bold and bright as you might see in Tuscany itself.   Check it out.

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Betsy & Marshall – Kent State University Engagement Session

I have to face the truth; I’ve seen a pattern and I am cool with it.  I am popular with out-of-state couples.  Fact.  Like Betsy and Marshall who hail from Nebraska (though Marshall is an Ohio native). And it does make things a little trickier when planning the engagement session because whatever the weather we’ve got to make it work.  Fortunately this has been one funky non-Winter here in Ohio so when Betsy and Marshall said it’s gotta be the second weekend in February I had hope…and an indoor backup plan.   I always love a chance to shoot at my alma mater, Kent State University and boy howdy does the atrium of the Fashion Museum make a grand place to duck into in inclement weather.  And since it was a wee bit chilly we began indoors and then ventured out on campus.  Marshall is also a graduate of KSU so we found a few of our mutual favorite spots and showed off some of the campus to Betsy.  One thing I have to say about these two is that no matter what crazy stress they had going on, and whistle stop wedding planning is always crazy stressful, they set it aside for an hour and simply enjoyed being with each other in front of my lens.

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