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  • Writer's pictureRYLIE

A Wedding in the Woods: Part 1

Growing up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has made it very natural for my two favorite settings to be either near some body of water, or in the woods. Something about being in nature is cathartic and relaxing. Moving to the big city (as Eric and I refer Indianapolis as), was really hard because it just doesn't provide us with many opportunities to be in nature in a real and raw way. So when Kalu and Jonny introduced me to their wedding site, and I as I learned about the details of their day and the decor I was so excited to embrace the woods with them.

I love marriage - my heart rejoices over celebrating the union of man and woman, even if it's 10 years into their marriage. To me, marriage is one of the greatest ways we can bring glory to God. Now the funny thing about me as a photographer is that, I don't always love wedding photography. I'd much rather do anniversary photos rather than a wedding - but it is so funny because for my first four years into photography, I thought I had to be a wedding photographer to be successful and so I was! I'm not sure what it is, but I really only enjoy doing weddings now if I know for certain that a) my clients could be friends, b) my clients sought me out specifically and C) my clients want photos that have the same style as my other work. Maybe you'll read that and think I'm pretentious, I hope not, I'm merely just protective over my time and talent and I want to be sure my clients and I are the right fit before I'll say yes to photographing a wedding.

When I did Kalu and Jonny's engagement photos and they approached me about doing their wedding photos, I knew they were going to be the exact type of couple that I save my "yes" for - we were going to be a great fit! Now it's extra special, because Kalu was actually there for the birth of my Son. She was an apprenticing midwife that cared for me throughout my latest pregnancy and who attentively was there for me during my homebirth. Getting to serve her in this way, felt like an expression of my deeply rooted thanks and appreciation for her and her family. It made this wedding extra sweet.

Getting Ready

Kalu and Jonny opted for a Friday wedding on the grounds of their church, Horizon Christian Fellowship in Lawrence, IN. Leading up to their wedding date, I had visited the campus several times to really get a lay of the land, time walking distances, and and see the site in different weather. My favorite thing about preparing for their day was the fact that they asked me to do two things: make their photos intimate, and get creative. Done! I was so excited to push myself, and curate a great plan for us.

When the day of the wedding finally came and upon my arrival, I first stopped at the reception site. When the ceremony and reception are all on the same site, this is something I often do. I do this so that I can have the opportunity of capturing the details of the decor before guests are seated. When I arrived, a great deal had been accomplished; drapery and lights hung from the rafters, tables were set, warming dishes ready for food, however, due to the wind, most of the decorations were still boxed up.

This wedding was such an incredible act of love, as many of Kalu and Jonn'ys loved ones worked up until the last possible second to perfect all the details of the celebration. It still warms my heart to reflect on the community surrounding this couple.

It was only a three minute walk from there to the buildings where the ladies and guys were getting ready. I made the short walk praising God for dreamy thundery skies that lacked rain but brought so much drama.

When I entered the studio with the ladies, I was met with smells of hairspray and essential oils - very on-brand for what I'd expect for a Kalu wedding. The girls were warm and welcoming, the air was filled with comfort and ease, peaceful. Not the typical energy I've experienced on most wedding days. It was light and excited, ready and eager.

While the ladies worked on the final touches of their hair and makeup, I grabbed Kalu's accessories and bouquet to get some detail shots. Another special touch, was that Kalu's Maid of Honor, Laine, made all of the girls Bouquets using Trader Joe's florals - another on-brand moment for Kalu. Throughout the details of their wedding, there were touches of velvet (obsessed!) so when I noticed the rust colored billiards table, I freaked!

Once I snagged the detail shots I wanted, I met the guys in the cafe where they were getting ready. This group of guys was low-key and Jonny had minimal accessories. They were more concerned about the torches for the sparkler send-off then much else, they too were comfortable and eager to get started. Jonny the entire time I've known him, has always been an ear to ear smile. This was no different on their wedding day, only bigger and much more giddy to get the ball rolling. He was so genuine in his excitement to meet his bride and make sure he knew each step of the plan for their first look. While with the guys, I found some velvet chairs that perfectly fit the vibe so I snagged some ring shots.

Neither Jonny or Kalu had known that the other both had chosen Patchouli as their cologne for the day. Kalu had chosen it because she loves the smell and to wear it as perfume. Jonny chose it because he knew how much Kalu loved the smell. I was gushing because at that point, I was the only one who knew of this tiny "coincidence" - I was smitten with these little glass bottles.

The thing about weddings is that in every nook and cranny, you'll find a story, you'll find attention to detail that surpasses all, you'll find an intricate depiction of how these people steward their new covenant, their friendships, their family, and their values. It's a complex representation of their beautiful story, and I can't capture it all - both in pictures and in my words. There's simply too much to share, and honestly it isn't all meant to be shared, or even mine to share. So as you scroll through this post, keep that in mind, just like social media, this is just a glimpse into the day.

Stay Tuned for Part 2!

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