This photo has nothing to do with this post. It's just pretty. And makes me think of spring.

Anywho. . .

My sister and I were married less than a year apart. She got married in October, and Ryan and I got married in September the following year. If there's any chance you can arrange something like this, I highly recommend it. Just make sure you're the one that gets married second. Why? Because I learned so much from her experience.

One of the biggest things we learned from my sister's wedding. . . no RSVP cards. Whhhat? No RSVP cards? But how did we know how many people were coming? Without a head count how did the caterer know how much food to make? How did the baker know how many servings to make the cake?

After my sister's wedding we learned RSVPs just aren't accurate. Typically RSVP cards are to be returned 3-4 weeks prior to the wedding date. That gives vendors enough time to work with the final head count. But in the world of life, 3-4 weeks is a long time. People who RSVP'd and said they were coming to my sister's wedding didn't. And people who said they weren't actually showed up. You can't fault people for it. Things come up. Life happens. Not much they - or you - can do about it.

Matter of fact, the last wedding I RSVP'd for was wrong. At the time I RSVP'd for 2.5 (although adorable, Owen doesn't exactly count). And the week before the wedding the weather changed Ryan's plans, and he wasn't able to attend.

My recommendation - trust your vendors. They know what to expect. If you give them the total number of people you invited, they'll be able to estimate the number of attendees based on a percentage.

And it might just save you some stress in the process. Especially if your guest list is approaching the maximum capacity for any of your venues. If most people RSVP saying they're coming you may panic thinking you won't have enough room, when in all actuality some of those people won't be able to make it last minute. In some aspects of wedding planning, ignorance is bliss.

Not to mention, it saves you money on printing, paper, and postage!


Rural Route 1

I grew up in the middle of no-where. Okay, not really. My playground was 11 acres in northeastern Iowa. We were about 10 minutes from our small town and 20 minutes from a fast food place or a retail store. It took an hour to get to a mall.

And get this. . . the gravel road that ran in front of my house didn't have a name. I didn't have a cool street name like Adams or Maple. . . or even the somewhat less impressive numerical streets.

Nope. My address was:

RR1 Box 65

Rural Route 1.

I rode bikes and horses along that road. I dug tunnels in the drifted snow along that rural route. I considered the ditches my Terabithia and built bridges over the water in the spring.

When I was in middle school our street was named. A requirement of the 911 system. And then I lived on Crystal Road. Looking back. . . RR1 was way cooler.

*Note: this barn is not at my parents place, but rather my aunt and uncle's who lived just down yet another name-less road.


Wedding invite

Two. The number of weddings I will attend this year and not photograph. I'm kind of excited. As much as I *love* photographing weddings, it will be a nice change of pace. Just for a couple though. And it's not like they can make me leave my camera at home.

We got an invitation in the mail for the first one, and my obsession with stationary means I have to share! This invite is very traditional. There's a second envelope with metallic purple lining. The invitations themselves were on a beautiful silver card stock. The semi-abstract hearts and design looks like it might be hand drawn.

Additional information included a reception card with details for the party and an RSVP card. The font matched the flowing artwork, and the purple matched the envelope lining.

Doesn't it look very elegant together? Really looking forward to J & A's big day!


. . . of my son's eye lashes.


Amber and Dan: Part II

And now Part II of Amber and Dan's fabulous wedding. . .

The handsome fellas. . .

I'm so fortunate in that ALL of my couples opt for a 'first look.' It's really common here in Iowa. Makes for really great photos.

The gorgeous ladies. . .

Anti-photo ring bearers make for some pretty cute pictures. . . whether they want to or not! Kyler walked out on us. ;-)

The groom helping his grandpa with his boutineer. . .

Hello beautiful. . .

Ending on a good note. . .

Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Wetzel! Here's to many more years of pizza and beer on Wednesday night. :-)


Amber and Dan: Part I

Amber sipped her coffee while she chatted with her girls. If you listened, it was almost as though they were sitting around someone's dining room table on a Saturday morning. But if you looked around, it was obvious this wasn't any run-of-the-mill Saturday coffee. A wedding dress hung from the ceiling. Amber's wedding dress. The dress that would bring her to tears when she put it on and that day. . . their day, finally became real.

Dan hung out with his guys, Mountain Dew in hand. He was relaxed. Calm. Quiet. You'd never know this was a big day, quite possibly the biggest day. When the clock struck quarter til, he put on a tux - as if he did so every morning. That day was just another day. Because he'd spend the rest of his life loving Amber even if that day never came. Because to him, they had been real. . . for a long time.

Amber and Dan, I feel so blessed to have been able to play a small part in the biggest day of your lives. I hope you had a great time soaking up the sun on the seas on your cruise. Enjoy your 'Part I".

Amber bought two pairs of shoes... one because she thought they would photograph better. And. . . that is why I love her. :-)

Her 'something old, something new, something, borrowed, something blue'. . .

Mmm, the candy bar was amazing. . . to photograph and taste!

Amber's sister made the cake. Impressive! It was so pretty. And it tasted even better!

Part II coming soon!!


I heart... Ruffled

Oh my gosh. I just discovered Ruffled. And it is by far one of the coolest wedding blogs I. have. ever. seen. Not even kidding. I've spent the last 45 minutes going back further and further to read more posts.

Why do I love it so much? Let me count the ways.

1. Today's post (and the first one I saw) happened to be about a wedding in Canada with a 4-H theme. And I heart... 4-H. I spent my childhood at the county fair. So I was smitten from the beginning. I realize this tid bit doesn't apply to many of you... but it is my list. ;-)

2. There's very much a vintage, indie, whimsical feel to the site. But they aren't all in your face about it. Some websites make it seem like if you don't have [insert cool new idea of the second] your wedding is less than perfect. Ironic considering they're telling readers to personalize the wedding as much as possible, and yet they're trying to mold every wedding into what THEY deem to be the hottest trend.

3. DIY. Ruffled is all about do-it-yourself. It's the focus of their 'real weddings' and they highlight the handmade aspects of every wedding they post. Not to mention they have an entire DIY section. Not only do they make it easy for you to find all of their DIY 'real weddings', but they also give you specific ideas, directions, and templates for all sorts of cool stuff!

4. Recycled weddings. This is BY FAR my favorite part of this site. This is what makes it completely different than any other site I've seen - granted I'm sure there are a lot of sites I haven't. So... what is "Recycle Your Wedding"? It's like Craigs List specifically for wedding stuff. Decorations. Invitations. Shoes. Dresses. Jewelry. It's fantastic!

If you're a bride, you need to check it out. If you're a groom, you should tell your fiancé about it. If you like looking at pretty pictures, take a look. If you like planning parties and love new ideas, definitely give it a once over.

And if you don't fit any of those categories, let me know. I'm sure I can come up with a reason for you to check it out.

P.S. Ruffled has NO idea who I am. Just wanted to make sure y'all know they aren't telling or paying (I wish!) me to say all these nice things about them.


Amber and Dan: Sneak peek

Mmm... sweet peek is more like it.

I am so excited about this wedding. Amber and Dan did a fantastic job with the details - a photographer's dream! More to come soon.


Multiple answer

I'm super excited. Guess why!

A. My first wedding of the year is in two days
B. I'm planning a new logo and website
C. I got a new camera accessory/lens
D. All of the above

And the winner is....

Are you ready?

You really wanna know?


I'm stoked about Amber and Dan's wedding this weekend. But I think I may have mentioned that... oh, a billion times.

A logo and an "official" website have always been a goal. And this year... this year they're going to come true, cyber friends. I have BIG plans. It's fun. And exciting. And scary all mushed up into one big pile of pure craziness.

And I made a fun purchase today. It was almost spur of the moment. I've wanted an extension tube since my friend Barbie let me borrow hers. It was more a of a "want" than a "need". And today it became MINE.

Most people know 'macro' in the photography world means taking pictures of very small things. Very small, like the veins of a leaf. As I rocked my son to sleep I saw macro photos of his eye lashes and fingers. Some lenses can get even closer.

An extension tube essentially turns almost any lens into a macro lens. Pretty cool, eh? And the devil's in the details. My new found ability to shoot super close-ups open up new doors when it comes to shooting the details of a wedding.

Like everything else, it's much easier to see for yourself.

This is as close as my 50mm lens will accurately focus on my wedding ring...

(If you love me, you'll ignore the dust bunnies.)

And THIS is how close I can get with an extension tube and my 50mm lens...

To my wedding ring... and my friends the dust bunnies.

Pretty cool, huh?!


185 years...

I just discovered the first photograph was taken in 1826. It took eight hours to expose the negative made from a pewter plate. According to National Geographic anyway.

Eight hours! Can you believe that? Now a days you can take a digital photo, download it, and upload it to an online lab in less than eight minutes.

Needless to say, photography has come a long way in 185 years. Wrap your brain around that! I don’t even think I can comprehend a time span of that length. Anywho. The role of professional photographer has changed a lot in just the past few years.

Previously photographers served a dual purpose. Not only did they take photos, but you ordered prints through them as well. Those prints were how photographers made their money. But technology has changed the situation. After digital cameras came out the number of photo labs exploded! Every grocery store, retail chain, and pharmacy has a photo lab these days.

And then came the Shutterflies and Snapfishes (or is Snapfish plural too?) of the world. Didn’t take long for someone to realize the costly overhead of a brick and mortar retail store wasn't necessary to sell photo prints. When they went online, photo labs started marketing to individuals rather than photographers.

Let me pause right here. I firmly believe there is a distinct difference in the quality of a photo printed at your neighborhood store and those printed at a professional lab. I’m willing to bet 90 percent of the time the techs working in the photo labs where you can also purchase hair dye and a frozen pizza don’t know anything about processing photos beyond the ‘start’ button of the machine.

But, I choose to offer digital negatives anyway. Why? Because my rock star clients hire me to take photos. Not print them. Who am I to say they pay $80 for a professional quality 8x10 when they would be perfectly happy spending $5 at Walgreens. Especially when most of the time they have access to the same photo labs I do.

The flip side of that coin - why do I offer prints at all? Because the sheer number of photo labs available can be overwhelming. And ordering prints takes time. For someone willing to pay a little extra, I’m more than happy to take it on for them. And I do mean, a little extra. The pricing of my prints is not designed for profit. I get paid to take pictures. I can count the number of times I’ve placed a print order on one hand. My rock star clients want the CD of images, to the point where I’m considering making it standard.

Long story short, I believe the days of photographers holding onto the printing rights of their images with both hands is coming to an end. But ultimately, it will determined by the rock stars who hire us.

This is the incredible light fixture in the main entry of the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City.