I have had the honor of photography all 3 Connor Sisters weddings over the past 8 years. Each wedding unique in its own way. Jes told me years ago, she was having a destination wedding and she didn't disappoint! My whole family joined me at The beautiful Barcelo Bavaro Palace for an extended weekend of tropical fun. The Connor's family invited us to join in all the fun festivities and treated us like part of the family. I can't believe how hospitable and amazing my clients are! Look at this beautiful place! This classic white wedding on the beach, Jes's amazing open back dress and those palm trees. Take me back!
Do you take time to reflect in the New Year? , how did that year go? was it a good year? could I do better? Did I overcome something? Do I need a change? I think it's a healthy moment for humans to reflect and try to improve their lives. Even if you do not set goals, resolutions or make lists of changes that need to be made. If nothing else, it's a time of new beginnings. I've taken on my word of the year, Intentional. I hope that it can set the tone for 2017 in every aspect of my life, how I spend my time, what I eat, where I go, how much work I take on, my relationships, my health, my children, my marriage. It's a big word to take on. But I am up for it.
So, as I reflect I think to myself 2016 was a good year, a great year in fact. There were no tragedies, no (true) heartache, no struggles, nothing intense, nothing dire. So I reflect back and think 2016 was a "smooth" year, a year of joy, happiness and ease. I loved it. It was magical.
I am sharing a photo of each of my 16 beautiful couples of 2016, I chose a simple photo with a natural backdrop intentionally. I wanted you to SEE the couple, not the venue or background, or decor or style, vision. Just the couple, together on their wedding day. See the magic that happened between them. I love these couples, these weddings and what I do.
Another reflection that comes to mind is just how long I have been doing this. NINE years. It's not because I am advertising, or really pushing social media. It's not because I am doing a ton of power networking or collaboration shoots. I'm a busy mom, I wish I could put more effort into those things, but I do not and it's been a blessing because the right people are finding me. Either by word of mouth or fate I am not sure. But I feel very lucky and blessed to continue to have a calendar full of amazing, genuine people who want me to show up to their wedding. Thank you Past, present and future couples!
Happiest of New Year's to you all!
Stacy and Shane- Eau Claire, WI
Carrisa and Alex, Hartland, WI
Alysa and Tyler, Hillsdale, WI
Jes and Zach, Johnsons Creek, WI
Desiree and Jake, Appleton, WI
Kasey and Brad, Elkhart Lake, WI
Amy and Cam, Poynette, WI
Brianna and Ethan, Lyndon Station, WI
Meghan and Adam Mount Horeb, WI
Meghan and Alex, Hillsdale, WI
Taryn and Doug, Stevens Point, WI
Lorraine and Mark, Black River Falls, WI
Brianna and Paul, Stoughton, WI
Jordan and Ethan Stoughton, WI
Sara and John Michael, Greenbush, WI
Keely and Dean, Arena, WI
Ah! We're 10 days till Christmas!!! My favorite time of year. We all know CHristmas is so much more than gifts but I absolutely LOVE to give, it makes me happy and shopping is my favorite. I know so many people who stress over the holidays, gift giving and money, but there are so many ways to get great deals and you do not need to spend loads of money to get great gifts!
So, my packages are beginning to arrive, I thought I would share a peek into my gift-giving list this year, some of my favorite products and what's on MY wishlist this year. Plus how I save money!
Outside of this list, I found some amazing Handmade gifts at Cranfest and on Etsy, and we are making a few special DIY ones too!
First, Always great to give to a good cause, I found a few places that give back and have amazing products!
Give Back Sites:
Toms- One for One. Every pair of shoes goes to a child in need. Plus they have other Giving adventures like Water, safe birth, kindness and sight. Bonus, they are my favorite shoes. So on my list for sure. Got my boys and Niece a pair!
Love Your Melon- At first sight they are insanely adorable hats for winter but go inside and read their cause. Love your Melon is an apparel brand dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer in America as well as supporting nonprofit organizations who lead the fight against pediatric cancer, seriously, sign me up. What if your child was diagnosed with this? Thank God for companies like this, also when I checked out, I got to CHOOSE where my donation went! LOVE that. It went to UW Madison. Definitley on my wishlist!
Life is Good: Know a dog lover? My mom LOVES Dogs. She has like 5 dogs so she loves these t-shirts with the dogs on them and a big plus is they also donate 10% of their profits to children in need.
Alex and Ani: Charity by Design, the little bangles are so cute and you choose your charity!
Bloom and Give: First off, the scarves are amazing! and secondly, every purchase helps send a girl to school. So yeah, kind of a big deal.
The Makers Collection: Big variety, great charity
The Giving Keys: WANT! Love these and on my list! But I have no clue how to choose just one. They employ those who transition out of homelessness.
Honey and Hive: Ok so I know two of the cute boys on their website but beyond that I know the great girl behind the brand, she is a past bride of mine and she is full of heart! Her products are adorable and a percentage of the proceeds go to the BEES!!! (Hello we need bees to survive, get on board) Great kid accessories!
BUY LOCAL! BUY SMALL! Other Swoonworthy Small Business Boutiques :
The Midwest Girl- I wouldn't want to be any other kind of girl! I have been oogling this insanley cute store for months! The Midwest Mama shirt needs to be mine! I'm not bias but the shop owner is a total babe and I get to photograph her in a few months!
Dani Stephenson: Buy a last minute Gift Certificate for a summer session or pay money towards your wedding balance! A perfect gift for someone who has everything.
Saturday Morning pancakes: If you're into gangster rap- DO.
Wild Plus Bear: If you follow me on Instagram you know I love boutique stores for my boys! This one is one of my favorites!
Little Adi + CO- More boys styles
Shop Born Savage- Because Kindess is so Gangster
Burts Bees- Softest cutest jammies around!
As for my shopping list for the boys:
1. Books (The book w/ no pictures, any Mo Willems, What to do with an idea, any Eric Carle)
2. Board Game (Star Wars Operation, Life Junior, Hot Potato)
3. Jammies (Burts Bees or Carters)
4. Movies (Harry Potter, Secret Life of Pets, Finding Dory)
5. Something they want! (New Bikes, Legos)
My oldest wanted the Harry Potter Collection of Movies $64.99, I got it for $24.99 on black Friday- do not underestimate the power of good sales. Seriously.
My youngest wanted an art easel, this time I got smart and went with the tabletop one that wouldn't knock a freshly painted masterpiece onto my floor. I went with the Melissa and Doug and watched prices fall on Amazon and got it for $19.99
I compare prices at Target and Amazon before every single purchase. I am the chick in the store using her phone to check the UPC and find out if I can get it cheaper. Not because I am a total cheap skate but because I LOVE the hunt of a great deal, and why pay more? I have it down to a science, I have saved HUNDREDS of dollars by watching Amazon prices fall (hourly sometimes) and using Target's great sales + Cartwheel + 5% off redcard! Plus, if you haven't hear of or used Honey, you're absolutely missing out. Install it ASAP.
For the Hubby:
Between mowing the lawn and cutting wood and zoning out on the job site, he loves listening to music, keeps him in a good mood and motivated!
Beat Wireless, Found at Best But for $99.99 (saved $100)
I always try to get him concert tickets and we can make a date weekend out of it! I found some good ones this year.
My sis wanted a new hand mixer, found the cutest one at Target on sale! $39 + 5% off
Grandparents get updated photos of the boys! PRINT your photos everyone, put them in frames, let people hold them. I gave discounts on Pixieset galleries this year so that everyone could have quality photos to share.
As for me:
If it's not Toms or LYM hat, I am LOVING:
Yoga DVD's: Because I can't drive back to town to attend right now.
Emily Ley- Recipe Binder, I am no great chef, but I actually love to cook, It's super relaxing and I feel like it clears my mind. I do not read recipe books instead I print them off so this binder would look WAY better than my messy pile of papers!
Lastly, ANYTHING from Artifact Uprising, I ADORE these products and that they are a small company and everything is made in the USA.