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Libby & Mark – Wedding in Peoria, Illinois – August 20, 2017

It’s Libby & Mark’s one year anniversary! Inevitably, my weddings during busy season don’t make it to the blog (which is such a shame and kills me), because I’m so busy keeping up with my editing timelines. I am so close to being caught up at the moment, that I wanted to take the chance to blog this beautiful wedding on Libby & Mark’s anniversary.

From our initial e-mails back and forth, I could tell that photography was extremely important to Libby, which made me super excited. Some people feel like photography is just a necessary part of the day, that it is just one more box to tick, but not Libby. She worked with me to create art in her photographs, by allowing enough time in the timeline and providing me with enough creative freedom to truly capture her vision for her wedding photos. It was a complete joy to work with her, Mark, and their family & friends. Throughout the course of time before the wedding, from our initial meeting to their engagement session (and later a family session with their sweet cat, Moira), Mark and Libby became my friends, something that’s invaluable to me.

Happy anniversary, Libby & Mark!

Ceremony Venue: St. Vincent’s in Peoria, IL
Reception Venue / Catering: Kickapoo Creek Winery in Edwards, IL
Hair: Teddi at Natural Concepts
Makeup: Brooke from Loft Bridal
Wedding Gown: Ellis Bridal from Bridal Elegance in Bloomington, IL
DJ / Entertainment: Adam Sitton
Linens: Kickapoo Creek Winery
Decor: Bride & family/friends DIY
Cake: Courtney Swan
Floral: Georgette’s Flowers

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Photo Locations – Near Downtown Peoria

ICC Parking Deck – Downtown Peoria

ICC Parking Deck – Downtown Peoria

ICC Parking Deck – Downtown Peoria

Gazebo near Peoria Zoo

Gazebo near Peoria Zoo

Red & white brick open air space near Commercial & State St – Downtown Peoria

White/red brick open air area near Commercial/State St in downtown Peoria

Brick building w/ arch & vines – Commercial St in downtown Peoria

Brick building w/ arch & vines – near Commercial St downtown Peoria

Brick buildings near Kelleher’s

3030 Coffee – Brick wall with vines

The Roundabout area at the intersection of Washington & Harrison street

Under the I-74 bridge overpass (great rain option!)

Riverfront Park – to the north of the RiverPlex

Riverfront Park – up on the rocks by the river

Rachel & Andrew – Wedding in Columbia, Missouri – Part Two

I’ve said quite enough on Part One of Rachel & Andrew’s blog post, but I’ll preface this just a bit. These were some of the most epic, heartfelt, and touching toasts I’ve ever heard in all of my years of photographing weddings. I hope that translates through these photos. I love this family so much. And with that, here are the party photos from Rachel & Andrew’s wedding day.

Thanks again to Rebecca Allen Photography for taking such fantastic images as my second photographer at this wedding.

Reception: The Club at Old Hawthorne in Columbia, Missouri

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Rachel & Andrew – Wedding in Columbia, Missouri – June 3, 2017 – Part One

From our first meeting at a local coffee shop, I knew that I was going to love Rachel and Andrew.

Flash back to eight (eight?!?) years ago, I was getting ready to marry my husband Andrew, who was taking my five-year-old son Olin on as his family as part of our marriage. I have a huge place in my heart for families coming together. Rachel has four amazing children, and Andrew is now (and has been for awhile) a wonderful father to them. These kids’ love for Andrew was obvious and clear, and this day made perfect and complete everything that had been in the works for some time. It was absolute joy.

I always ask my brides for their a few of their “must-have photos” … to get an idea of if there’s anything in particular that I might not be aware of during their wedding day, an item in particular that they would like me to photograph, etc. Rachel’s response to this question was “lots of candids and fun photos of family and friends.” I had the good fortune of having the extremely talented Rebecca Allen with me to photograph Rachel and Andrew’s wedding day, and together we photographed the heck out of Rachel and Andrew and their family and friends. I really wanted to tell the story of the day for them, giving them memories of all the bits and pieces that are too fleeting in our busy minds, and I hope that we did that.

There are so many photos that I want to share from this day, that part two of this blog post (the reception!) will be coming in the next day or two.

Rachel and Andrew started their day getting ready at their church in downtown Columbia. Their first look was incredibly sweet. Their pastor Charity was their officiant, and I loved how she placed her arm around Andrew as Rachel was walking down the aisle. After the ceremony, we went to one of their favorite spots at Mizzou, and then to the golf course at Old Hawthorne, where their reception was taking place.

My heart grew this day, as it does on almost every wedding day, and left me feeling like their friends and family were now my friends and family too. It’s cliché probably to say how lucky and blessed I am to be able to photograph days such as this one, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Thank you, Rachel and Andrew.

Second photographer: Rebecca Allen of Rebecca Allen Photography
Hair: Sarah Opie – Revelation Salon
Makeup: Renita Dement
Wedding Gown: David’s Bridal
DJ / Entertainment: Complete DJs
Cake: Edith Hall Cakes
Ceremony Venue: Missouri United Methodist Church in Columbia, Missouri
Reception Venue: Club at Old Hawthorne in Columbia, Missouri
Floral: Kent’s Floral

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Hanna and Carter – Wedding in Columbia, Missouri – May 28, 2017

Moving to a new place is a little scary. It’s exciting, sure, but with a job like wedding photographer, you never know what to expect. What are the other photographers in the new area like? Is there any room for me? So many questions, and so many unknowns. This is why I’m so thankful. Last summer, when I moved to Columbia, Missouri from central Illinois, I had the amazing good fortune of meeting some kind and welcoming wedding photographers who befriended me as if they had known for years. One of my best new photographer friends sent me this dear person, Hanna, when she was already booked on her date. I was so nervous to meet Hanna because I was so excited at the potential of actually having my first -Columbia wedding- … and after we had our first meetup at Panera, a few days later Hanna called me on the phone and gave me the news that she chose me for her wedding photographer. I was beyond elated, and immediately texted all of my closest friends and family the good news. Hanna was the start of my Columbia wedding photography experience, and I’ll be forever grateful to her.

But enough about me, I am so excited to show the world these photos.

Hanna and Carter chose to get married at their church that means so much to them, The Crossing, in Columbia. That morning was full of excitement and joy as their friends and family helped them to get ready.

Their first look took place on both sides of a curtain in a sanctuary. Having this “no-look first look” helps so many couples feel immediately more at ease, their nerves calmed, and lets them exchange “I love you,” “I’m so excited,” and whatever else they would like to say to each other. I love that they were able to hold hands, and that Carter kissed Hanna’s hand around the curtain, without seeing her at all.

During the ceremony, Hanna and Carter joined their guests in singing worship songs. The joy in the room was palpable. It was a beautiful moment.

After the ceremony, Hanna and Carter chose to retreat, alone (with myself and the videographer) to the classroom in the church where they had first met each other. There, they read personal vows to each other and sealed them with a kiss.

Their reception was out of this world. I’d had the pleasure of second-shooting with my friend at the reception venue, Alpine Park and Gardens, so I had some idea of how epic it would be. The firework show during the reception was a surprise to the guests, which was so much fun. I am so thankful that Hanna and Carter gave me so much time to take photos of the two of them, and that they were willing to spend five minutes away from their reception to get some sunset photos. They’re some of my favorites ever.

Congratulations and all the very best always, Hanna & Carter!

Ceremony: The Crossing in Columbia, Missouri
Reception: Alpine Park and Gardens in Columbia, Missouri
Makeup: Tori Crosby at Salon Nefisa
Wedding Gown: Allure
Floral: Addie Jane Originals
Videographer: Marissa Anz
Cake: Michelle Gortmaker
DJ: Dan Moore

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Abbey & Garret – Wedding in Kewanee, Illinois – May 13, 2017

Family first. It’s something we say, and often mean sincerely, but I saw it on display firsthand at Abbey & Garret’s May wedding in Kewanee, Illinois.

Shortly after I photographed their engagement session last summer, Abbey & Garret found out that they would be blessed with someone joining their family shortly before their wedding. Their joy was evident from the moment they found out, and it was incredibly touching how they involved baby Major in their wedding day. Garret held Major in his arms the entire time that he was at the front of the church with Abbey. They also had a surprise for their guests – they had planned with the pastor to have baby Major baptized during the wedding ceremony, with all of their closest friends and family there to witness it. It was perfect.

During their engagement session, I learned that Abbey & Garret have very unique style that they fully embrace and show the world. Their boot collection is fantastic! I got a hint of this at their engagement, but I was able to see the collection on full display at the reception, as they used boots filled with various wildflowers for their centerpieces.

One of my favorite things about Abbey & Garret’s wedding is how they made it personal, choosing to keep traditions that they felt were important, and creating new traditions. It was a fantastic day spent celebrating their beautiful family.

Ceremony: First United Methodist Church in Kewanee, Illinois
Reception: Parker Run Vineyards’ Big Red Barn in New Windsor, Illinois
Florist: Garden of Grace Florals by Lisa Knobloch
Hair/Makeup: Courtney Wagenbach
Wedding Gown: Adore Bridal in Morton, Illinois
Ceremony Musician: Sami Pearson
DJ / Entertainment: Jason Musselman
Cake: Cindy Bainter

Dorothy and Brad – Wedding in Columbia, Missouri – April 28, 2017

This was the day, Friday, before the day that it rained. all. day.

I’m so glad this wedding happened on Friday and not on a Saturday.

It rained all morning Friday though, and as I watched out the window of my dining room, preparing my batteries, cameras, flashes, and bags, I wondered if it was going to break at all for us to have the outdoor ceremony for Dot & Brad’s wedding. When I had asked Dot what her rain plan was, she had told me, “umbrellas.” It was going to be an interesting one. 🙂

We got lucky.

It broke just in time for the ceremony to take place, with the most moody, gorgeously overcast skies overhead.

When a couple describes their wedding day to me, I get pictures in my head of what it might be like. All of the pictures in my head of what Dot told me about from our initial meeting could not have prepared me for the actual beauty, colors, laughter and love that I saw that day. She described her mother’s home, the memorial for her late father that was there, the pergola that her father built with her groom-to-be, and all of the special things there at the home that meant so much to her and her family. When I arrived at the house that day, I was completely overwhelmed with the visual stimuli. Enraptured, I began to photograph and take it all in. It was heaven for a photographer, and it was even better because of how special the connections between these people are.

Dot and Brad have a fantastic story. They met at a Petco, where Brad was training Dot’s beloved pup. Dot slowly worked up the courage over time to buy Brad a coffee, and the rest is history. It was perfect and so fitting for their pups, Bentley and Riley, to be their flower girl and ring bearer. Brad’s cousin Lisa created the amazing bouquets and floral arrangements, and I think this might be the most beautiful bridal bouquet I’ve ever seen in my life, hence the flower overload in these photos. They’re epically amazing.

From the moment I met the girls at the hotel where they were getting ready, and the mothers were dancing to Nelly, I knew this was going to be a great wedding. I have never had mothers dance like that before! It was such a great way to start the day.

Dot’s twin brother, James, walked her down the aisle. The music for the ceremony was performed by a fantastic live band made up of Dot’s extended family members – they were so great!! I didn’t even know that they were family until it was time for the family photos, and they all jumped in. The toasts given that evening by several of their closest family and friends were emotional, hilarious, and so right for this amazing occasion.

Dot and Brad, thank you so much for having my husband Andrew and I photograph your wedding day.

Hair & Makeup: Colissa Nole at Salon Nefisa
Wedding Gown: Breeze Bridal Boutique on Broadway
DJ: Safari Sound
Linens: The Broadway
Cupcakes: The Broadway
Ceremony: Family home in Columbia, Missouri
Reception: The Broadway Columbia
Floral: Lisa Brown of Jazzy Flowers in Chicago, Illinois

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Anna and Pete – Wedding in Peoria, Illinois – March 25, 2017

Anna and Pete got married on a very rainy spring day, with light that enhanced the navy blues, greens and whites that she’d chosen for her palette perfectly. Throughout the day, their friends and family told stories of how they always knew that Anna and Pete would be great for each other over the years, and one day they finally realized it themselves. There were so many emotions throughout the day, and the ABCs would be sung upon getting tearful in an attempt to prevent crying. It sometimes worked. Anna used her grandma’s garter around the base of her bouquet, and I loved her grandma’s reaction to noticing it in Anna’s hand during the photos of the girls. So much love and laughter, just the way a wedding day should be.

Hair: Beth Graichen
Makeup: Loft Bridal
Wedding Gown: Cloud Nine Boutique
DJ / Entertainment: Top Hat Productions
Cake: Shae Wrage
Ceremony Venue: Northminster Presbyterian Church in Dunlap, Illinois
Reception Venue: Holiday Inn at Grand Prairie in Peoria, Illinois
Floral: Bride / DIY

Maria & Pete – Winter Wedding in Peoria, Illinois – December 3rd, 2016

Now that our recent strangely warm midwestern weather has returned to its normal winter state on this chilly Sunday, it feels like the perfect day to share Maria and Pete’s winter wedding with you. Maria made stunning choices with her colors, flowers, and decor, and just peeking at her Pinterest board before the wedding had me extremely excited for their big day. The dusty winter blue bridesmaid’s dresses, the eucalyptus leaf bouquets, Maria’s cream and peach peonies … it was all a photographer’s delight! There was no question that their hearts were focused on the right things that day, as there was so much love overflowing from both of them, for each other, for their families, and for their friends. There were so many amazing moments that had me tearing up behind the camera, in awe of the love that I had the honor to witness that day.

Hair: Molly Haefli – Marvella Salon
Makeup: Jill Andrews – Dunlap, Illinois
Wedding Gown: Allure from Bella A’more, Taylorville, Illinois
DJ / Entertainment: Top Hat Productions
Linens: Heaven on Earth
Decor: Heaven on Earth
Cake: Linda Dressen – Pana, Illinois
Ceremony Venue: St. Philomena Catholic Church in Peoria, Illinois
Reception Venue / Catering: WeaverRidge Golf Club in Peoria, Illinois
Floral: Bridal bouquet by Heaven on Earth, everything else done by family
Custom signage, invitations, wedding programs: Nicole Ely Creative

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Karleigh & Shayne – New Year’s Eve Wedding in Kewanee, Illinois

This year, I had the pleasure of photographing my first New Year’s Eve Wedding, and Karleigh and Shayne were absolutely the perfect couple for this. They were so laid back and fun, and simply focused on the fact that they were celebrating getting married to each other. It was freezing cold, but we had some gorgeous sunlight around golden hour and happily this was the time that we got to run outside for a few photos. Karleigh and her family and friends did an amazing job on the reception decor – it was so beautiful and perfect for the holiday. The black and gold table arrangements were very well-done. Congrats to Karleigh & Shayne!

Ceremony: First Baptist Church in Kewanee, Illinois
Reception: Best Western in Annawan, Illinois
Hair: Rory Moraski, Tasi Manley & Tj Northrup
Makeup: Cari Neubert
Wedding Gown: Bridal Elegance in Ottawa, Illinois
DJ / Entertainment : Tony Westefer
Linens/Decor : Bride
Cake: Stacy Brackett
Floral: Ann Crofton

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Lilly & Billy – May 29th, 2016 – Peoria, IL Wedding

This sunny, warm day in May was spent absolutely full of love for Lilly and Billy with their friends and family all around them. Their first look took place at the top of the deck stairs at Lilly’s parents’ home that overlooks the Illinois river and bluffs. It was gorgeous!

Billy made several custom items for the wedding, including the giant-sized adirondack chair for the guests to sign and the chalkboard background sign at the ceremony. Talk about crazy talented!

Ing’s Event Planning worked with Lilly and Billy to make their design ideas come to life, and together they had an amazing vision for the decor at the ceremony and reception. Check out the golden wheelbarrow and the canoe that held drinks outside for the guests, and all of the other amazing details. I also can’t say enough about Brittney Mernick Jones from Something Old Event Rentals. So many of the decor pieces are from her … and it seems like almost all of my brides are utilizing rentals from her – and they always look amazing in real life and in the photos. Please get in touch with Brittney if you’re needing decor for your upcoming wedding – she is wonderful.

The “appetizer buffet” spread created by Chef Kristen Delbo was hands down my favorite wedding food ever. Kristen is a crazy good chef. There was a taco bar, chicken & waffles, and even a mashed potato bar. If you’re someone who likes food like I do, it was heaven!

Lilly and Billy are two of the most kind and genuine people I’ve ever met. Their focus on their wedding day was not on traditions or doing things that they were “supposed” to do … instead it was on having a great time with each other and with their closest friends and family, and truly celebrating the love between them. I loved everything about their day, and getting the opportunity to spend it with them and know them better.

Makeup:  Melissa Fravala – Monarch Beauty
Ceremony and Reception Venue: Unitarian Universalist Church in Peoria, IL
Catering: Kristen N. Delbo – Chef & Caterer (contact)
Cake: Trefzger’s in Peoria, IL
Floral: Le Fleur Floral Design in Washington, IL
Decor: Something Old Event Rentals / Ing’s
Event Design: Ing’s
Entertainment: Extreme DJs and Lighting

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Rachel & Josh – May 21, 2016 – Minooka, IL Wedding

Josh & Rachel got married on a perfect spring day in May. Andrew and I woke up bright and early to make the trek up to Minooka a few hours north of Peoria, and I told him the entire way about how special Josh & Rachel are, and how fun this day was going to be. After having an engagement session full of laughter and great conversation with them at Starved Rock last fall, I had learned a lot about them and their story. They are absolutely perfect for each other and both so genuinely kind and caring, both for each other and for everyone around them.

The antlers decorating the head table at the reception were from Josh’s grandfather’s fallow deer farm. Josh’s wedding ring is also partially made from antlers, which is obviously awesome.

I couldn’t stop smiling the entire day, even at the end of the night when we were driving back to Peoria. So much love to you, Rachel and Josh – we wish you both the very best and I’m so happy that our paths crossed.

Hair: Hayley Pope at Tantress Salon (Bride and Maid of Honor hair).
Assistants: Nichole Nyalka and Sara Fleming
Makeup: Nicole Roberson
Wedding Gown: The Bride To Be in Fort Wayne, IN
Ceremony Venue: Minooka Bible Church in Minooka, IL
Reception Venue / Catering / Linens: DiNolfo’s Banquets in Homer Glen, IL
Cake: Domino’s Pastries
Floral / Decor: La Petite Fleuriste
Entertainment: Answer Back Entertainment
Video: R.E.M. Video

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Justina & Jaeson – Wedding

Justina & Jaeson are two very special people, and you realize this the minute you meet them. Justina is the most genuinely happy, bouncy, joyous person, and you can see in Jaeson’s eyes his love for her. This was so evident at their engagement session that happened last year, and I couldn’t wait to spend their wedding day photographing the love between them. Justina speaks French, and the two of them have a love for all things France, so it was very appropriate that they had a French-themed wedding. The reception details were mostly DIY, and everything looked amazing.

There were several unique and sentimental objects in place at the reception. The wedding cake was a replica of the five-tiered cake that both Justina’s mother and Justina’s grandmother had at their weddings, and the cake topper was the exact same one that has been used each time. The tablecloth that adorned the head table was also the same table cloth that has been used for three generations. The curly willow used in the centerpieces was from Justina’s mother’s wedding. Justina’s mother, Anne, took the curly willow, planted it, and then used more branches from the same tree for Justina.

Ceremony Venue: Harvest Bible Chapel in East Peoria, IL
Reception Venue: Metamora Fields
Hair: Kelly from TM Hair Design (bride, bride’s mom, bride’s sister) and The Loft Bridal (Bridesmaids)
Makeup: The Loft Bridal
Entertainment: DJ4U
Floral: Mona Halverson from Kroger in Morton
Linens: Create A Scene
Wedding Gown:
Decor: A mix of bride’s DIY, Create A Scene, and Something Old Event Rentals
Cake: Tammy Woodmancy – Cake Crumbs Ltd
Wedding Planner: Katie Minehan

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Lauren & Ryan – Anniversary

These two beautiful people are my friends Lauren and Ryan Anderson. They also happen to be two amazing wedding photographers here in Peoria (Photography by Elkay). These photos are from a styled anniversary session that recently took place in honor of Lauren and Ryan’s second anniversary this March 29th. The gorgeous bouquet and flower crown were created by LeFleur Floral Design in Washington, Illinois. They really blew us away with their beautiful creations! The people that design and create at LeFleur are also super nice people (Amy and Valeri – thank you so much!).

Another photographer also shot this session, my dear friend Brooke of Brooke Alaina Photography. I can’t say enough about Brooke and Lauren and how grateful I am to have these other photographers as my friends and in my life. There is another photographer in our little group, and she would’ve been here if she could’ve been I’m sure, but she lives in North Dakota now. (We love you, Erin!) I met these three ladies as we carpooled to a photography conference last year. We really clicked and had a great time together, and we’ve been meeting monthly ever since then to get together and share our questions, our joys in life and in our profession, and lots of laughter. These girls mean so much to me, and really filled a gap in what can be a very solitary career. The idea for this session came up at one of our meetings, and we jumped all over the chance to photographer our Lauren.

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Justina & Jaeson – Engaged

Justina & Jaeson are getting married … tomorrow! We had their engagement session last summer, and I wanted to share a few of my favorites as I am getting ready for their big day. There was so much joy and exuberance at this session, that I can’t help but be super excited about what is going to take place tomorrow. The night before my people get married is a big night for me too! I’m so excited for them, for tomorrow, and for their future.

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Morgan & Brad – Engaged

Snow can transform the bleakest of winters into a magical wonderland. I’m one of these people that detests the cold but loves the snow, and I can’t explain how excited I get when I meet people that feel the same way. Morgan was brave about the cold, but shares my love of snow, so we decided to photograph their engagement when we had some! We waited, and waited, and finally it was the right time for all of us to go out and do their session. We laughed, played in the snow, and then warmed up at one of my favorite local coffee shops. Brad and Morgan brought the game that they always play together, Wahoo, and showed me how it worked while we were drinking our lattes. I loved hanging out with them, getting to know them, and taking these photos for them. They are so much in love, so happy together, and I can’t wait for their wedding in November.

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Opal – Eight Months Old

Baby Opal! One of my favorite babies in the world, for many reasons. She belongs to one of my best friends, Katie. She is also the first and only baby (other than my own) that I’ve ever experienced watching (and photographing) her being born. So our connection is more than a little bit special … watching someone take their first breath of life does something to you. 🙂 She is now eight months old, smiling, crawling, snuggling with her mama, watching her big brother Silas … and I loved capturing all of these things at her home on a cold January day with some beautiful sunlight. Silas is four years old, and I love seeing the person that he’s becoming too … He has so much personality! Check it out.

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Tia & Austin – Engaged

I got to meet Tia & Austin in December at one of my favorite coffee shops, and we discussed how much we love coffee. Starting their engagement session at this same coffee shop was an obvious choice, and a great way to get us warmed up for the chilly outside weather that we had. We had several spots picked out for their session that they liked, and we had a great time at each one of them. I can’t wait for their wedding in Peoria in December 2016! Here are some of the photos from their engagement session.

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Kira & Joe – Wedding

Joe found me through a guy that he works with who has a cousin that was a groom in a wedding I photographed last summer. Hehe! I love when that happens! When I first met with Kira & Joe last year, they told me they’d get in touch with me in the fall for their engagement session, and that was that. I was not prepared for how at ease I would feel with them at that session, and them with me, and for how well we would just click. I love it even more when that happens. These two make me laugh and smile, and I feel like I’ve known them forever, when we have really spent very little time together.

So when this chilly but sunny December day came around, I was more than excited for what it might bring. Kira and Joe both spoke multiple times in casual conversation about how thankful and awed they are that so many of their family and friends traveled such great distances to share in their wedding celebration. They were both focused on the most important things that day – their union and their celebration with loved ones, and I was more than happy to capture the moments as they happened. I told Kira many times that she was so gorgeous, and I meant every word of it. She was radiant with happiness and love for Joe.

Here are some of the images that I’ve picked to share from their wedding day.

Venue: The Packard in Peoria, Illinois
Hair and Makeup: Alter Ego
Entertainment: David’s Bridal (Melissa Sweet)
Decor: DIY
Desserts and Cake: The Cake Shoppe
Food/Catering: Packard Plaza/One World Catering

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First Lego League Tournament – 2015

This is personal … I’ve documented a large chunk of my oldest child’s day today, at a tournament run by First Lego League (#FLL). My son Olin’s team of fellow sixth grade students has been working hard, weekly, all semester, on several things. They had to build attachments for a Lego robot, and then program the robot using code to accomplish several tasks that score points for the team. The robot runs happen on a large table. This is only one aspect of the tournament though. The whole idea is to focus on core values, which include teamwork, gracious professionalism, the idea that the discovery is greater than the solution, and that it’s important to have fun. The team also came up with a presentation (a skit written by one of the team members – Cassie!) and had to perform it in front of judges, and then answer interview questions. The tournament lasted the entire day, and the kids were fantastic. I couldn’t be more proud of them all … they are a wonderful team.

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Maria & Charlie – Wedding

Maria and Charlie! This day was so amazing for me. Their wedding ceremony was actually held prior to this day, but this beautiful day in June was a celebration of that with all of their family and friends. Maria and Charlie are people with huge hearts, and Maria had this vision that I was more than happy to help bring to life with photos.

Venue: Contemporary Art Center of Peoria
Wedding Planner: So Chic Events
Hair and Makeup: B. Loved Stylists
Entertainment: Felixico
Floral: Gregg Florist
Linens: I Do Events
Wedding Gown: Nordstrom
Decor: Etsy and Save-on-crafts.com
Popcorn: Garrett’s Popcorn
Desserts and Cake: Aunt Dena’s Bakery
Food/Catering: On The Go
Photography: Sharon Guillotte Photography

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Ashley & Sean – Wedding

Ashley and Sean got married in Galena at Eagle Ridge Resort. I had never been there before, so I was super excited to check out this place I had heard great things about! The location and venue did not disappoint … the buildings were gorgeous and the trails were perfect spots for Ashley and Sean’s first look and for tons of photos later! They got married on a deck overlooking the lake, and later during the reception, they went back out to the same place and shared their personal vows with each other privately. At the end of the reception, they even had an ice cream sundae bar with their guests. Ashley told me at one of our meetings that they had ice cream on one of their first dates, so they wanted to incorporate this into their celebration.

These two are probably the most in love people I have ever met. They are always holding hands, smiling at each other, and they are absolutely at their most happy when they are together. Sean does this thing where every time he kisses Ashley’s lips, he then follows with a kiss to her forehead. He did this so many times that day, and it was so “them” that I started trying to photograph it every time. Ashley is so used to it then she even leans her head in for the follow up kiss. I loved it!

Ashley did the wedding reception decor, and it was simply amazing. Their theme for the day was gold, blue, and glitter glitter glitter! Glitter everything everywhere. 🙂 Their cake manifested the theme perfectly. Everything was simply beautiful, and their guests had so much fun dancing the night away, that it was really difficult to choose just a few photos for the blog post.

Venue: Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa
Floral: Valley Perennials Florist & Greenhouse Inc
Decor & Linens: the bride
Hair and Makeup: Stonedrift Spa by Eagle Ridge
Videography: White Lily Productions
Entertainment: DJ Scorpio
Wedding Gown: Maggie Sottero
Photography: Sharon Guillotte Photography

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Jill & Evan – Wedding

Jill and Evan have known each other since they were five years old. How cool is that?! They picked an instagram hashtag appropriately … #5to25. These two had me laughing and grinning throughout their engagement session last fall, and their wedding day was no different. Jill is one of the sweetest people that I have ever met, and Evan is seriously the nicest guy. Thank you both for having me and Andy there to photograph your wedding day.

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Thanks to these awesome vendors!

Ceremony Venue: Unitarian Universalist Church in Peoria, Illinois
Reception Venue: Coyote Creek Golf Club in Bartonville, Illinois
Floral: Kathy Lippert
Linens: I Do Events
Hair and Makeup: The Loft Bridal
Entertainment: Memories Productions
Photo Booth: Trasured Memories and Sweets
Wedding Gown: David’s Bridal
Photography: Sharon Guillotte Photography

Sarah Zimmerman Family

Sarah found me through a wedding that I recently posted on my Facebook page, and I’m so glad she did! She told me that she wanted to get photos of her mom and dad, her family, and her brothers and their family. I had never met any of them before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when they arrived at the location. They turned out to be some of the nicest, most delightful people that I have ever met in my life. I truly enjoyed spending this time with them. I feel like you can see their happiness all over these photos. I think my favorite one is where baby girl Harper is making the same “surprise!” face as her dad.

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Karlix Family

Kendra and her lovely family came back for a full session with me, after we had fun at a mini session last fall. It was awesome chasing Audrey and Holly around the top of a parking deck downtown … I love all of their expressions here, all of their kid-ness that is on full display. It’s so them, and I hope that Kendra and Aaron love it like I do. We had beautiful sunlight peeking at us over the buildings, and I absolutely love the dresses and colors that Kendra chose. I am also in love with Holly’s little ponytail on top of her head – pure cuteness.

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Maria & Charlie – Engaged

Maria and Charlie contacted me a few months ago about their upcoming wedding … but they then decide to get married even sooner than they had originally planned. So they are actually married already, but we still wanted to do a photo session to tell their love story in a less formal way. I get to photograph their wedding reception that is taking place in June, and it sounds like it is going to be so amazing. I love hanging out with people and getting to know them. Maria and Charlie live in Chicago, and asked me if I would be open to coming up there for the session, and I told them I would love to. It was so. much. fun. to be up there shooting in a completely different environment from what I am used to. Don’t get me wrong, I love our Peoria area locations (I really do!), but it is just so invigorating to photograph in a new and different environment. It was amazing. We started at the gorgeous Bahai Temple north of Chicago, and made our way into the city to shoot at Galerie F in Logan Square (where Maria & Charlie bought some art for their new apartment), and we finished up downtown near the Art Institute, surrounded by blooming trees. It was so much fun to hang out with these two, and I really love the photos we were able to take at their session.

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Katie – Maternity

This is my wonderful friend, Katie. We did her maternity photo session a few weeks ago, when the flowering trees had just started to bloom, creating a perfect setting for these images. I am so excited to meet her baby girl, who will be arriving any day now. I love the moments that we caught for Katie to remember … I especially love the photo where her husband Joel dove into her lap, causing her and her son Silas to laugh. I love all of Silas’ expressions, and the love that is emanating from Katie. These are precious days.
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Abbie & Kevin – Wedding (Part One)

My first wedding of 2015 was filled with all kinds of beautiful, glowing light. Abbie & Kevin got married at Grace Church in Morton, and it was a gorgeous place for a wedding. It was an honor to witness their joy and love that day, and many happy tears were shed by just about everyone involved. All the best to you, Abbie & Kevin … and thank you for having Andy and I be a part of your wedding day.

There were so many photos that I wanted to share from this wedding that I needed to split it into two parts … the reception post will be coming soon!
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LeAmber & Aaron – Wedding (Part Two)

… And then we partied! It was absolutely beautiful. LeAmber and her mom Julie did a fantastic job making and collecting all of the pretty pink and white things for the reception decor. Aaron’s dancing was hilarious … he loves EDM (electronic dance music.) I walked around shooting the reception grinning the whole time. Later in the evening, Mr. Khoury entertained everyone by playing some music on his drum. The glowsticks on LeAmber’s crutches made me smile too.

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LeAmber & Aaron – Wedding (Part One)

LeAmber & Aaron’s wedding was so emotional and beautiful. They were married last year, but hadn’t been able to have the wedding that they’d been dreaming of until this year. They are both in the Navy and live in Virginia, but they had their at Funk’s Grove Chapel, near Bloomington. Their adorable son Caleb was also a huge part of their wedding celebration.

LeAmber had so many things happen that could have brought her down … only a few weeks before the ceremony, she fell out of a jet that she was working on for her job, and hurt her ankle so that she had to wear a cast for the wedding. She had such an amazing attitude about this … and they simply adapted by sitting on barstools for their ceremony. She also found out right before the wedding that she was pregnant with their next child, a true blessing, but as anyone who has been pregnant knows – this can make you feel very sick and tired … not ideal for your wedding. She handled all of this extremely gracefully, along with many bumps along the road to the “perfect” wedding … and when the day came, she smiled her beautiful smile and didn’t care about anything else except the fact that she was marrying (again!) her true love. It was an extremely emotional and heartfelt day, and such an honor to witness the joy that these two bring each other.

This blog post is only part one … stay tuned for their reception post, coming soon!

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Patrick – Six Months

Patrick and his brother Luke are so sweet. I loved meeting them and their parents when I went to their house to take Patrick’s six month photos. Patrick has the most gorgeous blue eyes! I loved all of Luke’s expressions … the way Rachel smiles when she’s looking at Patrick … this session was a dream for me. I also added one photo in this blog post that was completely unplanned, unposed, and natural – Luke’s dad reading to him while Patrick was having pictures taken. This photo truly captures what I love about lifestyle photography. It is a sweet, real moment in time … a fleeting moment that upon viewing a few years down the road will trigger all of the scents, sounds, emotions of being the parent of a young child … Something completely unlike any other experience in life.

Forgive my sentimentality, but it’s true.

Without further wordy ado, I give you Patrick’s six month photos, complete with the people that Patrick loves most.

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Bella – Nine Months Old

Bella’s nine month shoot last fall was filled with glittering sunshine and crunchy leaves, and of course her wonderful family. Cindy and Ben are good friends of mine, and Ben is a photographer himself. I’m super happy that they have me come take pictures of Bella every three months as part of the baby package that I offer. I love the photos of their whole family, with pups Charlotte and Stryder.

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Shannon & Steven – Wedding Style

These are some of my favorite photos that I’ve ever taken. Shannon and Steven are friends of mine who got married in the fall. She had hired another photographer to shoot the actual wedding, but she wanted me to take some shots of just her & her love in their wedding attire. I was more than happy to do this. Shannon had the idea of taking photos at several of their favorite locations around Peoria, and she picked some great unconventional spots.

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Owen – Six Months Old

Oh, sweet Owen and his cheeks! This shoot happened in late September …. but I have to share it because I love Owen and this little family so much. Lindsay is my cousin, and we went to a special place where they had some of their wedding photos taken a few years ago when they got married. The tree wasn’t changing colors yet, but it was still beautiful in the morning sunlight. Here are some of my favorite photos from this session.

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Nursery – Baby Sunshine

I haven’t been able to catch up with my blogging yet, but it will happen! I was extremely busy last fall, much more busy than I could have anticipated, and was only able to keep up with meeting the deadlines I’d set for delivering photos to people. That, coupled with being in my third trimester of pregnancy, left little time for blogging.

With all that said, there will be a lot of posts coming to show the work that I did in the fall, but for now I would like to take this moment to celebrate the baby girl that is currently “past due” to be born. My mother dubbed her “Baby Sunshine” early in my pregnancy, when we found out that she was a girl, and the nickname has stuck. Her name will be announced after she is born. Andy and I have been working hard to make her nursery the way that we would like it … and it has been so much fun for me. I’d like to share some photos I took yesterday and some notes about my favorite things in the room.

The first five photos are just shots of the entire room in a circle. It’s a tiny little square room, but it should be just fine for her. It gets a ton of natural light, so we lined the curtains with another layer of black curtains for nap and bed times. The curtains are from Target.

We decided to paint the room a very light grey color with white trim, and Andy did all of that hard work since we put it off until late fall and I was getting very big. (I love you, Andy!) I was originally thinking of painting her walls a lavender color, but opted for grey since it opens up so many colorful possibilities.

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The photo below is the ribbon board that I made to store her hair clips. I used a blank canvas that we had around the house, and we painted it with Annie Sloan “Old Violet” chalk paint to match the bookcase and coat hooks that we’d also painted the same color. The orange and green ribbons are from our wedding programs that we made. The pink, blue and purple ribbons are from a diaper cake that I made for my friend Chelsea’s twins. The ribbon board tutorial that I used is here.

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The fox hair clip below and the other beautiful embroidered hair clips (not pictured here) were made by my super talented cousin Sandie. She makes amazing things by hand and sells them on Etsy. Here is her Etsy shop – love, maude.

The right photo shows what I have done with her closet … The shelf organizer came from Target and the bins all hold clothes in the sizes that she will probably need over the next year.

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I made a headband holder out of an oatmeal container and an old calendar from Paper Source, one of my favorite stores of all time. The tutorial I used is here.

The photo in the frame is ombre zinnias from Laura & Andy’s wedding. I love the colors (and love the flowers) and wanted to share these two loves with Baby Sunshine.

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This is my starter cloth diaper stash. I have never used cloth before on any of my kids, so this will be a new adventure for me. I really love how pretty the diapers can be, even though they are (as Andy reminds me frequently) just diapers that will get really dirty. I still think they’re cute. I have followed the advice of getting a few of each different type (instead of a ton of one kind) so that we can try different kinds and see what works for us. The diapers shown here are mostly Goodmama fitted diapers. The grey with rainbow stripes on the top left is made by a work-at-home-mom (WAHM) whose shop is called Forward Thinking and I can’t wait to try it out. The other kinds randomly here are a Tots Bots Frugi rainbow dot diaper, a BuBuBeBe fitted, a Green Mountain Diapers workhorse, two Grovia All-In-Ones, a BumGenius pocket diaper and a Kissas fitted.

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We are also going to try prefolds and covers, as this is the recommended best economical option. I got Green Mountain Diapers Cloth-Eez prefolds to try, and my covers are an assortment of Flips, Thirsties, and Rumparooz.

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I only bought three “newborn” size Goodmama diapers since I’m expecting her to be a big baby like my boys were, but this is one of my favorites, for obvious reasons. So cute! Now that you all think I’m crazy … moving on …

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I’ve always loved the poofy tissue paper poms that you see at parties and in baby rooms, so this was a great time and reason to make some. They were super fast and easy to make, except for the multi-colored one. That took a long time! The tutorials that I used are here (multi-colored) and here (single-colored).

My glider is ten years old, from when I was pregnant with baby Olin, and the covers have truly seen better days. I really wanted to make slip-covers from new fabric to refresh the chair and make it fit better in the room, but this was a project that didn’t get completed. My wonderful Aunt Bud is going to work on it for me, which I am so thankful for. The tutorial that I was going to use to make the slipcovers is here, even though I think their finished fabric choice is pretty hideous.

Andy painted the glider with Annie Sloan chalk paint in the “graphite” color with clear wax. I love, love, love all of the things we have painted with the chalk paint. Thanks to my friend Katie Beale for making me aware of this stuff with her amazing furniture projects that she’s done. Our local retailer that sells Annie Sloan chalk paint (and tons of other fun stuff) is called Second Betty. They have so many pretty colors of chalk paint … the home projects that could be done with this stuff are endless.

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The prints in the frames are by the artist Katie Daisy. Her Etsy shop that sells prints of her paintings is called The Wheatfield. I absolutely love the color and feelings of her work. The first print is a floral sugar skull … which my mom thought was bizarre … but Andy loves sugar skulls so it’s very appropriate for us. I thought the butterflies were just simply pretty, and I love the pink farmhouse that is bursting with flowers. It reminds me of vintage childrens’ books and simple days in the summer sun.

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These shelves hold some of my favorite toys and other random things. The red furby is from my high school best friend Breanne. The vintage pink Fisher Price dragon on the other side is from my other high school best friend Jay. I love that I can bring elements of them and my history into this room too. The red owl was stuffed and sewn together as a gift to me from my dear Andy. The Care Bears are all vintage from my childhood, and I thought they fit perfectly with the rainbow/colorful theme in her room.

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This quilt … I don’t even know what to say about how special this is to me. My aunt Bud made this for me and gave it to me recently, and I love it so much. She made this from quilts that belonged to my grandma and her sister Vivian who recently passed away. Such a special gift.

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Last of all, I knew I needed a Baby Jives rainbow drop cloud mobile. Baby Jives is a small company run by a work at home mom, and I was happy to help support her and buy something super cute for Baby Sunshine. She makes a lot of different mobiles that are available on her site, babyjives.com.

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So, that’s the room for now! I’m very happy with how it turned out, and I cannot wait to rock and play and sing to my baby girl here.

becca & sarah – seniors

These two lovely girls are my cousins, Sarah and Becca. They are not only beautiful … but smart, talented, funny, and just all-around wonderful people. I remember holding them when they were babies (I was about 12) and thinking they were the coolest babies ever … and how fun to have not one, but two baby cousins to hold! I can’t believe they are seniors now, and I am so happy for them as they start a new adventure in their lives next year at college. It was so much fun to laugh with them and take their photos, even though it was freezing and windy that day.

I do not usually shoot on railroad tracks, but Sarah & Becca loved the metaphor of their very similar lives splitting paths … but they’re still holding hands. I love it.

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wedding – laura & andy

Laura & Andy’s backyard wedding was personal, unique, and super pretty. They live in Portland, but decided to have their festivities take place at Laura’s parents’ house in Brimfield, Illinois. Every year for the last 10+ years, there has been a large music festival that takes place at Laura’s parents’ house. This year, the music festival didn’t happen … but there was a music festival that day specifically for Laura & Andy and their guests.

In the bar area in the backyard, there was a large banner with the Princess Bride quote about “twue wuv”. There were also cups provided as favors for guests with the “twue wuv” quote on them. So fun! During the ceremony, Laura & Andy not only lit a unity candle, but jumped over a broom (a first for me to photograph) and started their own custom of releasing rubber ducks into a wading pool. Their family and friends were given the opportunity to speak during their ceremony, and it was beautiful to see all of the love that was shared.

The food was not only colorful but delicious, provided by A Matter of Taste catering. I highly recommend them! The flowers (which were absolutely gorgeous) were arranged by Laura’s cousin, Heather Lied. The vases were all provided by Laura’s mother! Amazing. The wedding coordinator, Amy, did a fantastic job keeping everything running smoothly all day. Brokentree Coffee, a local coffee shop in Peoria, IL, set up a coffee bar in Laura’s parents’ yard and kept everyone’s coffee needs met during the reception.

Music was a theme throughout the entire day, as Andy is a talented barbershopper (singer in a barbershop quartet) and Laura and her entire family are quite musical. Andy & some of his friends sang barbershop quartet songs during the happy hour in the backyard. The Packway Handle band made a stop on their tour for Laura & Andy’s wedding and played throughout the day. They are fantastic! Bluegrass/folk/I am not good at describing music, but I loved it. Another band played during the happy hour time, a duo called Powerkompany. Both of these bands are on Spotify if you would like to check out their stuff! The last band of the night is the Peoria-favorites, the Amazing Kill-o-watts. Both of Laura’s siblings, Marsha & Tom, play in the Amazing Kill-o-watts. They have named Laura as their honorary cowbell player though, and they provided bride & groom cowbells for both Laura & Andy so that they could play along and rock out. Laura’s dad, Larry, also got to sing with the band on one of the songs.

This wedding was so much fun, and I hope that you can see that reflected in the photos below. Thank you, Laura & Andy for allowing me to document and celebrate your wedding day.

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milo & mj – three months old

This is my lovely cousin Kate & her family! She wanted to do a three-month session for her twin boys, Milo & MJ (Michael James), and we spent most of the time just capturing them as they interacted with each other, which is the photo style that I absolutely love. My husband Andy was able to shoot this session with me, and he took some of the amazing shots that I’m happy to share with you in this post.

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wedding – jenny & mark

Jenny & Mark were married on an absolutely beautiful day for a backyard picnic wedding! Jenny put so much thought and time into planning the little details … Andy & I had a blast photographing everything. One of my favorite things included the time capsule part of the ceremony where each guest wrote a message for Jenny & Mark which the flower girls collected and put in a box for them. Another favorite part of the day was getting to take photos of Jenny & Mark on the specific bench along the riverfront where they had their first date and where Mark proposed – so awesome! Stay tuned at the end of this post for words from Jenny. Thank you to Mark & Jenny for picking us to document your special day!

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Flowers: Beck Florists supplied and Jenny’s friends Amy Smith & Heidi Smith arranged
Cookies: Goodness Bakery Shoppe – Morton, IL
Cake: Cracked Pepper
Chair Rental: I Do Events
Food: Friends and Family
Bride and Flower Girl Dresses: Country Bride
Coordinator: Pam Chism
Officiant: Pastor Steve Clason, the encounter church
Musicians:
Cellist–Christopher Adams-Wenger
Vocal–Mandy Pfeiffer
Guitar–Tracey Pfeiffer

Some words from Jenny:
“It was an amazing day and there were many great things which happened and we could never forget. Among them are our many friends and family because of them many things would have never happened; our flower arrangements, all of the new landscaping, the food which was served at the picnic, the cookies, our Guest Quilt, even our venue — Jenny’s parents’ home!

The thing we learned most from this experience; the assistance offered by friends and family is genuine and take them up on it!!! If it weren’t for Jenny’s old high school friend, Jen, we would have never taken our friends up on their offers!! They were rock stars and we love them for their blood, sweat and tears!!!”

engaged – staci & matt

Here are Staci & Matt … a beautiful couple that I met this year. They are getting married next spring, and we met up to do their engagement session a few weeks ago.

Some things I love about this couple & session:
– Staci plays the piano and wanted me to get some photos of her & this love of hers – awesome.
– Matt has a gorgeous red car … very fun to photograph!
– Their wedding is going to be wine-themed … hence the wine glasses! I can’t wait to see all the details that they are planning.

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eliza – three months old

sweet eliza and her family wanted to get some pictures taken this fall for their christmas cards, but after finding out about my baby package, eliza’s mom was all for it! so now, you will get to see this little girl at different stages throughout her first year on my website. i love it!

eliza & her big brother abe were so much fun to photograph, even though it was a warm evening and eliza was very sleepy. that is one thing that three-month-olds do well – sleep! she looks beautiful sleeping though, that is for sure. i am in love with the way the light looks through the trees in these photos.

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wedding – brittany and nick (part two)

Brittany and Nick’s reception was held at Sullivan & Sons’ Auction House in Carthage, IL, a short drive from where the wedding ceremony was held. I was just as impressed at the reception as I was at the ceremony. The amount of DIY hard-work that Brittany and Nick and their families had done to create a beautiful aesthetic at the reception was amazing. The furniture that you see in the some of the pictures was hand-made for Brittany and Nick as gifts! So cool. The burlap flowers and bird theme throughout all of the details kept me busy and highly entertained – I definitely love fun and unique details, and this wedding was full of them!

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wedding – brittany and nick (part one)

brittany & nick got married on nick’s family’s farm in bushnell, illinois. i was amazed at the amount of work that brittany and nick and their families has done in order to create an amazing atmosphere with beautiful details for brittany and nick’s special day. brittany & nick built the structure that they were married under – by themselves. it was amazing, and something special that they will have the rest of their lives. the best part of the day, of course, was witnessing how much love they had for each other.

there were many unique touches, such as the programs (with drawings done by nick – talk about a multi-talented guy!) and the tree planting unity ceremony. i loved it! once again, the evergreen is something that they will have to remind them of their day in the years ahead.

i am once again spreading a wedding blog post into two separate blog posts, since this is the second wedding that i’m posting this year (more to come soon!), so that future couples can see more of my work. the reception blog post will be next! brittany & nick’s wedding was shot by me and my friend jessica wallis, who did an amazing job, and was so much fun to work with.

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noah w. – six months old

noah is six months old! for this session, we wanted to go outside since we were inside on a rainy day for his three month session. we also went to one of noah’s parents’ favorite places in peoria, emack & bolio’s! i love the colors at both of the locations, but most of all i love noah’s face and his expressions. he had quite a few new ones for me this time, that kept me laughing almost the whole session.

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noah w. – three months old.

this session took place in may, but i have been so busy editing photos for people, that i am very behind on my blog! this session definitely deserves to be posted though, because this sweet boy has the most fantastic hair i have ever seen. his parents are wonderful people, and i’ve enjoyed every session we’ve had since they purchased my baby package! contact me if you’d like more details about this package – it is a great value.

without further ado, i give you noah, with all of his three-month-old cuteness!

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the miller family.

this family rocks.

travis is one of my husband andy’s friends. i recently had the pleasure of meeting travis’ whole family, and they asked me to take photos for them, and i am so glad they did. these are some of my favorite photos that i’ve ever taken, and the beauty of it is that it was all mostly unscripted, my favorite way to shoot. we had a great night enjoying a walk along the peoria riverfront.

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wedding – maggie & dave (part one)

at long last, with great excitement, i give you maggie & dave’s wedding! this was the first wedding that andy and i got to shoot as ‘sharon guillotte photography’ – and that’s a little bit of a big deal to us! i can’t begin to explain how fortunate we are to have maggie & dave as our first wedding clients. they are so laid back and relaxed and fun to be around, we had a great time the entire day. maggie did an absolutely amazing job with all of the details!

maggie had planned an outdoor ceremony with a dinner following the ceremony on the deck at mt. hawley country club. due to the rain, the ceremony had to be moved indoors. however, our luck quickly turned around as we were blessed with beautiful weather for after-ceremony photos! the light and cloudshapes were amazing. the dinner was held on the deck as planned, complete with a beautiful double rainbow.

maggie’s two sons colton and logan were the adorable ring-bearers. i loved every element of their outfits, from their seersucker jackets to their grey toms on their feet. the happiness that was radiating was maggie and dave all day was beautiful to see – and it reminded me of why this is the best job in the world.

this post is part one of their wedding … from getting ready to post-ceremony photos. i am going to post part two in the near future. there are a few reasons for this. one is that there are so many photos that i love from their day, it is hard to pick only enough for one post. the other reason is that since they are my first wedding, i want to show off their beautiful photos to give other potential wedding clients plenty of examples of the work that andy & i do.

thank you maggie & dave for giving me the honor of photographing your wedding day. it was truly beautiful.

ceremony & reception location: mt. hawley country club, peoria illinois
florist: bloom
cake: that’s a cake?

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catalina – newborn.

this is one strong, brave, beautiful little girl. i loved being able to take some “pretty” pictures of her, while at the same time getting to document what it is really like to take care of a newborn. they cry, they need to be fed, they need to be held, and they need time to be loved. the love that abby & ryan have for cat is so evident in these pictures. the first few weeks in a newborn’s life fly by so fast for new parents, it is so nice to be able to have photos to remember this time when the parents and baby are first getting to know each other.

thank you, ryan & abby, for giving me the honor of photographing sweet catalina.

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the grimm family.

this beautiful red-haired girl is one of my favorite people … my dear friend andrea grimm. she and her husband isaac are celebrating their five year anniversary this year. with the apple trees in their backyard in gorgeous bloom, we decided to take some pictures of their family. their pups are kona, allie, and zoey. they are always so well-behaved and cute, even for photos. i love the soft evening light in these pictures, the way isaac & andrea look at each other, and these pups … beauty.

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maggie, dave & family.

maggie & dave are engaged and getting married so soon! maggie already had an engagement session taken, so we decided to do a fun family session with the kids involved. their whole family is beautiful, and i absolutely love these kids. this was such a beautiful spring session with the trees finally in bloom. stay tuned for maggie & dave’s wedding coming up in a few short weeks!

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baby face.

jackson has a multitude of facial expressions lately. when you ask him to make a happy or sad face, he will try his best to make his face fit the emotion. i was able to capture some of them with my camera, and i’m thankful to have these pictures of his sweet two-and-a-half year old self now, forever. i am sharing my favorites here with the hope that other people will enjoy them too. he makes me laugh so much.

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engaged – brittany & nick.

brittany & nick are getting married in july, and to say i am looking forward to this wedding is an understatement. i got to see the location for the ceremony for this session, and it is gorgeous. it overlooks a pasture and rolling hills. brittany is working on so many fun ideas to make the wedding unique and true to her vision of what their wedding should be, and it sounds like it will be truly spectacular.

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the o’neal family.

this pretty girl that you are about to see in the pictures below is kristy, one of my very best friends. i’m probably more sentimental than most, and i’m definitely feeling sappy as i looked through the pictures from this session. i had a smile plastered on my face the entire time that i was looking through them. one thing that i hold as a personal belief is that the people that are important in my life should know how much i love and appreciate them, and i would like to share a little bit about kristy with you.

kristy is an inspiration. she has raised her two beautiful sons into intelligent, kind, funny young men. she is gorgeous, obviously. her smile lights up a room. i was lucky enough to have the good fortune of working with her many years ago at caterpillar, and she brought smiles and laughter to my days previously filled with grease and steel – the glory of working in a manufacturing shop. since we met, we have been through many ups and downs of life together. through it all, she has been there for me, and i can’t express how much that means. she is tough, smart, hilarious, honest (which i appreciate, most of the time!), and loved very much.

i warned you that i was about to get sappy.

her oldest son, kioentre (known affectionately as kee), is a superstar sports player. he is good at every sport he plays, and he is sure to get some awesome scholarships in the next year or two. he has some mad styles, which i encouraged kristy to have him show in these photos. his personality shows through his creative and unique attire, and his joy shows through his bright, wide smiles and goofy faces. i definitely love to show people’s true personalities in their photos – not just posed & formal cookie-cutter stances – and i believe that kee did a great job of just being himself in these photos.

kyrese (or ky) is kristy’s younger son, and he is as sweet as can be. he is a year older than my son olin, and they have been friends since they were toddlers. ky is on the quiet side, but you can see his sweetness seeping through his chocolate brown eyes that melt me every time i see them. this child could always get anything he wanted by smiling at a woman.

enough talking – here are the photos. enjoy!

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lainie’s first birthday.

i don’t have any daughters … or sisters … or even female pets. i can’t explain how excited i was last february, when i became an aunt for the first time – and it was a girl! alaina lynn was born, and suddenly i was able to buy cute little girl clothes and toys, things i previously didn’t have an excuse for. this is why you see a lot of pictures of her here on my blog – because i adore her, and she is absolutely beautiful. lainie lives about seven hours away from me, so i only get to see her every few months or so, and she has grown and changed so much this year each time i’ve seen her. i love her to pieces. here are some photos from her first birthday party.

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meet lainie.

this sweet, wide-eyed, adorable little girl is my one and only niece, lainie. her full name is alaina lynn, but we lovingly refer to her as lainie bug, or “yay bug” as jackson calls her.

she lives about seven hours away from me, so i only get to see her every two or three months. i always have to take pictures of her, because i just can’t get enough of how sweet she is. here she is, at ten months old.

 

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