Childhood friends are a true treasure. Even though Kelley and I haven't talked in seven years since graduating high school, everything felt exactly the same as when we last spoke! Kelley followed my work through the years and I couldn't have been more honored to be a part of her and Matt's big day!!
August 26 was a happy and fun day filled with love and infused with so many sentimental accents. Matt & Kelley first met as interns for Georgia-Pacific in Virginia. They both work in Mississippi now where she makes cardboard boxes and Matt makes diapers. I mean, how cute is that? It's truly God's provision that brought this Indiana girl and Virginia boy together!
We gathered at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church for their beautiful wedding ceremony. Their first look seriously melted my heart as they exchanged sweet letters, kicking off what was sure to be a beautiful wedding day. Their relaxed, caring, goofy, and affectionate personalities put everyone around them at ease to truly enjoy the day and have fun.
One of the best elements of the day was an amazing trolley with its own decorated floral seat for the newlywed Parhams. With beers in hand and music blasting with the windows down, everyone's hands were already in the air and ready to dance at The Montage for their reception. I loved a sign they had with every state that had significant in their "love story." Their bridal party broke it down with some of the most incredible dance move entrances EVER.
We ended the night with sparklers to send off Matt & Kelley in style to their honeymoon in Costa Rica (incredible)! So much love for these two, and thank you again for having me & Steven as part of your wedding day.
Cheers to the Parhams! Way to #ParhamUp and make August 26 one of the most memorable nights for all guests that night :)
On a beautiful sunny day in Niles, MI, Jake and Andrea gathered to be wed. You may remember them from our lovely engagement session a few months ago at the Morris Estate.
Andrea is organized, loyal, and exceedingly dedicated to everything she sets her mind on. Jake is her perfect complement, the king of silly faces and a faithful companion. Together, Andrea and Jake are an energetic, fun, and loving couple. They meticulously planned so many thoughtful details for the day: a sunflower toss to honor Andrea's grandfather as they were his favorite snack. Popcorn seeds as wedding favors because they love popcorn. The list goes on and on.
True joy filled every moment of this intimate Morris Estate wedding. Their first look almost had me in tears as they read heart warming letters to one another and exchanged gifts right before going down the aisle to say "I do." I loved this wedding as it brought together so many of our Indiana University and Cru friends.
#AndreaAndJakeCutTheCake. That they did, and so much more. May this wedding day be but the start of a healthy and happy marriage for you both! Your wedding day was unique, elegant, and memorable, and you have both touched the lives of so many around you as evidenced by the MoH and Best Man speeches.
When I moved to Ann Arbor, MI after college, I found myself in a new city needing to rebuild community and friends. Luckily, I didn't have to wait long as I found HMCC, my new church home after a few weeks. I joined a "life group," or small group that lives life together. That life group met at the Homewood's home, and became my family gathering I'd look forward to every week.
Since then, I've gotten married, moved to Chicago, and the Homewoods have had another beautiful baby girl named Madeleine! It was such a joy getting to reunite with the Homewoods and celebrate this exciting new season in their lives as a family of four.
We met at Navy Pier and took pictures in the nearby park and beach. With the help of tickles, hugs, and laughter, we had an unforgettable time! Thank you for coming to Chicago, and enjoying the day with me. Much love to the Homewoods!!
Two years ago, Meredith and Hunter got married in Jacksonville, FL. Steven and I were dating at the time, and I remember being so excited to attend one of our very first weddings together and also visit Jacksonville! Hunter and Steven studied abroad together in Vienna, and have stayed in touch ever since.
It was a joy getting to gift the pair an anniversary session for their 2 year wedding anniversary! Hunter is studying to become a pastor and makes a mean blueberry muffin (it's true, we ate them all) while Meredith is a math wizard and could school us on that any day.
We took photos at the gorgeous Kraft Azalea Garden at sunrise. Kudos to Hunter & Meredith for waking up early and embracing the sunrise with us! It felt extra special as Steven and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary that day.
Thanks for being such gracious hosts to us in Orlando. From floating on inner tubes in the Orlando springs to being tourists at Downtown Disney and unashamedly visiting million dollar open houses together, it was a weekend to remember. Happy 2 year anniversary, Hunter & Meredith, and thank you for your friendship!
Eesha's 1st Birthday | Chicago Event Photography
June 10, 2017
Every little girl dreams of becoming a Disney princess one day. Eesha had the amazing luck of becoming Belle for her very first birthday! From the moment her mother, Nanthini, told me her daughter would have a Beauty & the Beast themed birthday, I had to say yes! Her parents decked out the Golden Platter Ballroomall by themselves for this glorious occasion.
The ballroom filled with family and friends, gathered to celebrate Eesha's life. It was nothing short of magical! An amazing chandelier backdrop made for a natural photo booth. Nanthini baked and decorated the cake smash cake all by herself! Ah-mazing.
It was such a privilege to share in this memorable birthday for Eesha - thank you for letting me celebrate with you!
Andrea & Jake | Michigan Engagement Photography
April 30, 2017
This fateful romance started in Bloomington, IN, where many love stories start. Many love stories, however, do not start in Calculus class…the fateful course where Andrea and Jake first met during their freshman year at Indiana University.
Over the course of years as friends, a sorority formal, and dinner dates at The Owlery, their ensuing romance kindled a flame.
Steven and I knew Andrea and Jake separately through our involvement in Cru for years. When I saw they were engaged (and watched Jake’s super cute proposal video during ice skating), my heart melted! It’s always exciting to see two people who love the Lord commit to loving each other.
Andrea & Jake’s love shone so bright during our spring engagement shoot at The Morris Estate in Niles, MI.
The Morris Estate is situated in the heart of the woods. We waited until end of April for these engagement photos specifically so we could see more spring leaves on the trees – I am so glad we did!
Jeremiah 29:11 says “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
Around the corner of the white chapel, picturesque pine trees lined the walls. Love!
For our second outfit, we changed shortly before dusk…also known as *golden hour*! Boy, was it golden. Andrea & Jake worked the camera like none other as we ventured into the woods. The sun illuminated the leaves and we even got a little creative with pine branches. Steven helped hold up a fallen pine to make it look like I was peeking out of foliage to capture the photos. Epic.
Absolutely loved this session with Andrea & Jake! They were a dream couple – simply being themselves as I captured this special time in their lives. Thanks for choosing me to share your engagement with you and soon to be wedding in August!
Love's Baby Shower | Chicago Event Photography
January 22, 2017
Love's baby shower exuded sweet anticipation for baby Anderson, coming in 6 weeks! I first met Love through our small group at Park Community Church. She and her husband Matt have been married for 9 years and have been looking forward to growing their family. I couldn't wait for this event, as it's a huge milestone for their family, and my first ever baby shower!!
Love's friends helped plan an adorable "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" themed celebration, where 30-40+ people showed up to celebrate Love! How loved is she :)
From a macaroon tower to cute mini quiches, cheesecakes, and cheese boards, beautiful finger foods lined the tables. Activities like decorating a onesie for baby Anderson, trying to avoid saying the word "Baby" to win a prize, and writing encouragements for Matt & Love also abounded.
It was extremely sweet to see people from all walks of Love's life show up at the baby shower. Friends flew in from LA and Texas while others drove in from Urbana and Madison, WI.
All in all, such a sweet celebration of Love, Matt, and baby Anderson. Can't wait to meet him or her!
Jess & Jeff | Indianapolis Family Photography
November 26, 2016
Jess & Jeff moved to Indiana from Texas, so it seemed only fitting to feature boots in our early winter shoot! They're a vivacious and hospitable couple looking forward to welcoming a baby to their family in early 2017!
We met at Holcomb Gardens, located on Butler University's campus. Even though I've lived near Indianapolis most of my life, I never knew such a pretty place existed! We caught the last glimpses of fall for this lovely afternoon shoot.
I loved spending time with Jeff & Jess and hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them! Cheers to this lovely couple & little one on the way!
Gabrielle & Ryan | Indianapolis Wedding Photography
October 29, 2016
The Stephens family holds a special place in my heart. I photographed Gabrielle's sister's engagement and wedding a few years ago and Gabrielle has been friends with my younger sister since middle school. It's truly an honor to be able to partake in this family's journey through these milestones in life!
Ryan is chivalrous, generous, and caring. Gabrielle is enthusiastic, joyful, and radiates joy. Together, they are a dynamic power couple: fast on their feet from their days running at Johns Hopkins University together, and ready to take on married life in Chicago together by storm! It feels like just yesterday we were walking through Fort Harrison State Park taking their engagement photos, and yet their days of waiting have come to a close.
Gabrielle & Ryan got married in Zionsville, Indiana on a beautiful fall day. Their bridal party breathed excitement and fun. Their wedding had so many endearing elements, like throwing leaves at the newly married couple on their recessional out of the church. A surprise dance by the bridesmaids during the reception. Bouquets of flowers to thank both sets of parents. Horse drawn carriage rides for the couple and their guests.
All in all, it was a magical day full of thankful hearts, expectation, and joy. I couldn't be happier for Ryan & Gabrielle. Congrats on making it to the very beginning of a new love story. #EverAlvarez.
October kicked off the first sensations of fall weather and also marked a delightful photoshoot with the lovely Wright family. Erin reached out to me as a fellow Ann Arbor Googler who remembered seeing my work from a Women@Google newsletter. I'm so glad she did!
We scheduled this photoshoot months ahead of time and had fun debating locations about the weather. Fun fact: Erin's husband, David, is a meteorologist and helped confirm what time of day might work best. We ended up taking them indoors at the newly designed Google office, which has changed so much in the past 4 months I've left.
From hideaway libraries to Faygo soda rooms and a spectacular gym, the Ann Arbor office is iconic and true to its Michigan roots. Oliver is but 7 months old, but handled the photoshoot like a champ until the end when the hundreds of photos wore out the little guy. His parents had lots of tricks up their sleeves to keep him smiling though, which helped make the shoot a success.
Cheers to the growing Wright family and little Oliver. It was so great spending the morning with you and reuniting in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor!
Janelle & Tom | Chicago Surprise Engagement
September 2, 2016
Tom and I work together and had never met each other prior to the first week of September. We both signed up for an activity called "Lunch Ninja" where a system pairs you with another co-worker with the hopes of meeting more people in the office!
Lo and behold, our calendars scheduled us for a lunch on September 2 when I saw an email from him to the office requesting a photographer. I responded since I knew he would be my lunch buddy soon and said I did photography.
With excitement, he explained he planned on proposing to his girlfriend, Janelle, that Friday. Oh my gosh! I've always wanted to photograph a surprise proposal, but never had it work out with my schedule. Janelle's favorite spot in the city is Buckingham Fountain, because of its intersection in the heart of Chicago and the lake.
Throughout the next few days, Tom strategized and I helped support. Janelle's best friend, Katie, brought the largest, most beautiful bouquet of flowers to my apartment on Friday afternoon to surprise Janelle with once Tom proposed.
Steven and I stealthily acted like tourists and hid behind recycling bins as we gathered intel from Tom that he had successfully picked up Janelle from Chase, where she works. They then enjoyed wine at the Chicago at a nearby patio before strolling towards the fountain. The rest is history!
Read Tom & Janelle's perspectives of the day below :)
TOM: There were so many thoughts running through my head on the big day. I was both excited and nervous at the same time. The first thing I checked was the weather and just as forecasts predicted (a first for Chicago), it was going to perfect on Friday (75 and sunny). Second thought was regarding clothing. The plan was to meet Janelle in the loop after work, grab a drink, and go for a walk near the lake, so whatever we wore to work was going to be our outfits for the special day. I was able to dress up and avoid suspicion by making up a white lie that I had a meeting with my director. As for Janelle, she's beautiful and always looks amazing for work so I wasn't worried about that.
During the day, I couldn't really focus at work and took about 10 walks around the office. It was reassuring to have lunch with Ivana to finalize our plans for the big surprise. I left work in the early afternoon to meet Janelle at Chase tower and we decided to grab drinks at the Chicago Athletic Association. As we were grabbing drinks, I was able to stealthily confirm that Janelle's best friend was able to drop off a beautiful bouquet flowers to surprise Janelle with at Buckingham Fountain, which is the where Ivana and Steven were secretly hiding out waiting to capture the big moment.
After we finished our drinks, I was feeling amazing as we left the Chicago Athletic Association ring-in-pocket holding hands and heading toward Buckingham Fountain. As we approached, we noticed the fountain was roaring higher than we've ever seen it before. This was the perfect diversion tactic, since I initially told Janelle that we were going to walk to the lake, which was a block the other way. As we approached the fountain, I found the spot that Ivana identified as having the best views for photography. I grabbed Janelle's bag off her shoulder and took my backpack off and expressed my admiration and love for Janelle. I got down one knee and the rest is history!
I want send a special thank you to Ivana and Steven who captured this moment and stuck around to take pictures afterward. Everything went as planned and we love that we have beautiful pictures to relive the moment forever.
JANELLE: My perspective on the day is short as I was completely surprised and blown away with such a beautiful proposal! It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon in Chicago and I have never seen Buckingham Fountain shooting as high as it was as we walked up. I actually commented on it and asked Tom if he thought might be broken, now moments from proposing he was totally non coherent, so I said "Hello do you see this fountain?!" As we walked up to the railing Tom took my bag and set it aside, told me in so many wonderful ways how much he loves me, and then asked me to spend the rest of our lives together. From there everything was truly a blur of love and happy tears; we couldn't be more thankful to Ivana and Steven for capturing it all so beautifully! We will treasure these pictures forever.
Vivian | Carmel Senior Portraits
September 11, 2016
Vivian and I recently got to know each other better at the GRACE Conference this past winter, and I'm so glad we did. We met up one of my favorite places in all of Carmel, the Kawachinagano Japanese gardens behind Carmel City Hall. It's such a gem and the most lovely place to take a walk, picnic, or in our case, take senior photos.
I can't believe Vivian will be graduating this year, but then again, I can see her facing college with ease because of her hard-working, independent, and confident spirit. She's even great at rocking the serious face in pictures -- a skill I absolutely lack!
After the garden, we headed to the Carmel Arts & Design District and strolled around downtown, pausing to take photos by fountains and the painted mural walls of Carmel. Lastly, we had a surprise location in store: taking photos in the pool of the Carmel Aquatic Center, or the CHS natatorium.
Vivian has swam for over a decade now - a feat that requires dedication and commitment, especially in Carmel. I watched in admiration as fellow swimmers swam laps and Vivian easily navigated the pool. She works there and swims on the team. Vivian in her natural habitat = wicked cool.
All in all, I had an amazing time photographing Vivian and look forward to hearing all about her adventures in the coming year as well! Cheers to Vivian, a woman with hopes, dreams, and the determination to chase them. Stay rooted in Christ and finish out your senior year strong!
Tang Family | Carmel Family Photography
September 10, 2016
There are families you grow up with when you're young and families you stay in touch with for life. The Tang family fulfills both of these for me and I was honored to be able to spend the first half of Joyce's senior photoshoot with their lovely family and two dogs!
They recently added a new member to their family -- a toy Australian Shepard named Mochi. Both clingy and very sweet, her name matches her perfectly. Their white beauty is named Candy, and has been with their family for years now.
It's always a joy to get family together, especially after a few members have flown away from the nest to college. We spent time in the Carmel City Center, one of Carmel's newer developments for some gorgeous family photos.
Thanks so much for spending your morning with me! I loved their navy and baby blue hues against the falling waters of the fountain. Cheers to the Tang family, whose kids' journeys into adulthood are just beginning. And to their little pups, who fill their lives with boundless energy and raising the ruff.
Joyce | Carmel Senior Portraits
September 10, 2016
I've known Joyce for so long I can't parse out an exact date we met. We've attended the Chinese Community Church together since childhood and it's been so fun watching Joyce grow up in the youth group and use her musical talents to serve the church!
Joyce is spunky, fun, and sharp. She plays guitar, banjo, and violin in addition to singing, which is phenom! Even though senior year is just beginning, she has already committed in her heart to the greatest college of all time, Indiana University. I mean, who could blame her?
It didn't surprise me when she creatively thought of integrating smoke grenades into our shoot. Such a cool idea! The weather forecast predicted rain all day, but we managed to find a dry hour in the morning for an amazing shoot in the Carmel City Center.
Cheers to Joyce -- a girl with a loving family, two cute pups, and the world ahead of her. I pray for a God-centered dependence as you finish out your high school years and embark upon the greatest four years of your life thus far!
Rohan's 1st Birthday | Chicago Event Photography
September 3, 2016
Few things in life make me happier than little babies, and what is more joyful than a baby turning one? It's moments like these that remind you life is worth celebrating, each and every day.
Sandeep, my co-worker, reached out to me about joining their celebration both as a guest and photographer a few weeks ago. I, of course, had to oblige! In other exciting news, Rohan will soon be joined by a younger sister or brother in early 2017 -- so much excitement for this family!
Rohan's first birthday party took place in the private dining room and rooftop patio at the amazing Little Goat restaurant in the West Loop, started by award winning chef, Stephanie Izard. She started a few restaurants in the area including Girl & the Goat as well as Duck Duck Goat. Notice a trend with the names? ;)
The sun shone bright and laughter, hugs, and smiles spread across the outdoor patio as guests arrived. Rohan's teary eyes greeted each new face until his parents decided he needed a nap. Appetizers of amazing crab dip, thick cut pita chips, homemade hummus and Tzatziki sauce accompanied by a mimosa and bloody Mary bar set the stage for a wonderful brunch party.
Divya's parents hailed from Ann Arbor, MI and Sandeep's parents drove from St. Louis. Cousins from Canada and friends from California also traveled in for the special occasion. There were even bowls of customized M&M's celebrating Rohan's birthday :)
For lunch, they built a custom menu of kohlrabi salad, veggie grilled cheese, sloppy joe's, mini veggie sliders, smoked fries, and Little Goat mac & cheese. These may sound like ordinary foods, but their taste was extraordinary. My favorite: the veggie grilled cheese, which was grilled to perfection.
Rohan eventually woke up just in time to greet the dessert bar, which included buttermilk cupcakes with jam, devil's food cupcakes, "wookie" pies (delicious!), mini cookies, and a honey graham birthday cake. Once his parents delicately placed the cupcake in front of him, he confidently stuck his hand in it and proceeded to smear it across his face and mouth. I guess when it's your birthday, you can have your cake and eat it ;)
All in all, such a special celebration with family and friends from across the continent. I absolutely loved celebrating with the Shroff family and feel honored to have been able to experience this milestone in Rohan's life. Cheers to many more birthdays to come and the little Shroff on the way!
Jonathan | Chicago Senior Photography
August 7, 2016
I walked from the metro stop to Luxbar to meet Jonathan and his mom, Kate for their senior portrait session on a bright sunny Sunday in downtown Chicago. Seeing the Roberts family is always a joy. If you've followed my work, I took family portraits of them in the past and also Jonathan's older sister's photos before she went to college.
Jonathan smiles naturally and easily slips into conversation. He's easy-going and intelligent, and will no doubt have many awesome choices ahead of him as he embarks upon the journey of applying to college.
For the portrait session, we walked around downtown, starting in a fairly quiet neighborhood with lots of trees and brownstone homes. As we ambled, we found amazing brass doors and old architecture in the heart of the city before ending our time together at Oak Street Beach.
Cheers to Jonathan - a senior in the Class of 2017. May the odds be ever in your favor as God opens up the perfect college door for you :)
Lauren & Derek | Chicago Wedding Photography
June 11, 2016
Lauren and Derek are one of the most fun loving and family centered couples I've ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with. They're both incredibly giving, intelligent, and beautiful! Lauren will be starting her residency at UCLA in Pediatrics while Derek is also pursuing his residency at UCLA for Oral and Maxillofacial surgery. So impressive! They will be beginning their married lives together in Los Angeles after they get back from their honeymoon in Hawaii.
The wedding felt like a storyboard out of Pinterest. The bridesmaid dresses dazzled with their sequins and the men looked dapper in their bow ties. Sunshine streamed through the Chicago skies and for Lauren & Derek's big day.
The day started with mimosas for the girls and a cool barber shop setting to get ready in. The men had a cool pool room where they got to eat and play poker. We took gorgeous photos at a park across the street and then some beautiful photos in the Cathedral room of the University Club. It's such a hidden gem right in the heart of Chicago!
Lauren and Derek read heartfelt letters to each other during the ceremony and enjoyed a cocktail hour in the Library room before starting the reception off with fun dancing to the live band. Lauren got everyone on their feet! The two maids of honor and best men shared funny stories, poignant memories, and plenty of teasing and well wishes for the new Dr. and Dr. Derek & Lauren Vajda.
All in all, it was the perfect day and I'm so excited to see what the future holds for Lauren & Derek! Congrats again :)
Ivana & Steven | Our Carmel Engagement
November 28, 2015
To tell the story of me and Steven, I have to turn back the clock.
Steven and I started off as friends, as many couples do. We said hello, we said adieu. At church, with friends, all in high school.
Steven is cool, laid back, social, and never stressed. He loves reading about web design and website hosting. He's always cracking jokes and making blunt remarks that make you say, "what?!" He styles his hair to perfection and finishes every bite on his plate. When you need anything from him, he diligently serves you until the task is done. He's loving, he's caring, and always willing to change.
My most distinct first memories of our friendship arise from our time on the Evangelism team of our youth group together. I planned a ski trip my senior year and I couldn't have done it without his help. College apps filled my mind and time, but Steven didn't let me suffer alone, helping me coordinate the event and design the flyers. What a guy, what a friend. During high school, we also attended two mission trips together, in Cairo, IL and Chicago!
I ended up at Indiana University and Steven followed a year later. Leftover meal points from my freshman year gave us many opportunities to dine together and fall for each other. We ended up going to my sorority formal together and dating for a whopping 15 days. Parental disapproval and unreadiness for a mature relationship placed us back on the road of friendship.
Throughout the next three years, we remained friends. It wasn't always easy, but we matured a lot and learned how to depend on God and deepen our relationship with Him. In those three years, our adventures included a missions trip to East Asia with Cru, a visit to Milwaukee during my internship with Kohl's, a visit to Chicago during his internship with JP Morgan, multiple Skype sessions while he studied abroad in Vienna, a trip to visit me in Berlin during another missions trip, and finally a trip to Ann Arbor over the summer I started working at Google.
Fast forward to October 2014. He asked to have a Skype talk with me on Sunday, Oct 19. During the week leading up to it, he texted me every day, making me think we weren't just friends anymore. He confirmed my suspicions by telling me he wanted to pursue a romantic relationship with me and it had been on his heart for a while. Luckily, I had already been praying all week and felt at peace. Thus began our relationship. :)
Throughout our 1 year of dating, we had many ups and downs, the kind that make you grow a lot in a long distance relationship. I wouldn't have it any other way though and celebrate all of the adventures we shared.
On Nov 28, 2015, our relationship took the next step of engagement. This is the story of that special day. :)
Steven rarely arrives on time to pick me up. He arrived right at 10:15am that Saturday, with a bouquet of roses in hand. My mouth dropped in shock - he clarified the roses served as an apology for all of the other times he showed up late. Very sweet!
We re-enacted the activities from Valentine's Day earlier in the year. We headed to Yolk for brunch (we now have matching "We <3 Yolk" stickers on our laptops). He used the bathroom many times that brunch; later I found out, to text our families to make sure the proposal plan was underway.
The Indianapolis Museum of Art served as our next destination. We both love art and appreciate pretending to be art critics. Normally, the museum costs $18/person, but we just so happened to visit on a "Community Day," so the visit was free! What a miracle! Even Steven had no idea.
Since Christmas time is right around the corner, we took a special Christmas Tour of the Lilly House and visited the green house in the back. They had unique Christmas ornaments on the tree for sale, so we bought a glittery ear of corn to always remind us of our Indiana home and this very special day. ;)
To warm us up, we drove back to Carmel for coffee at Soho. So far, the day was a total repeat of our Valentine's Day. The next step deviated. He asked to take a walk on the Monon Trail. Whoa, it was really cold that day! I was quite surprised, but I like walks, so I easily obliged.
He put his arm around me and walked really quickly. At one point, he asked, "Why aren't you drinking your coffee?" I said, "I can't drink my coffee when we're walking so fast..." He replied that we *might* be seeing a show at the Palladium (like we did on Valentine's Day) and had to hurry. However, we ended up passing the Palladium, so I figured that was a farce.
As we walked, we stumbled upon the red bridge leading to the Kawachinagano Japanese Gardens next to Carmel City Hall. It's one of my favorite spots in all of Carmel. I asked him to turn there and he said yes. Right at the entrance was a group of bikes for the Carmel bike share. He asked me to download the app to look into renting them.
I looked at him in disbelief because 1) he doesn't like biking that much and 2) it had rained that morning and the seats were all wet. Regardless, I started searching and he focused on his phone as well. Little did I know this garden was the spot he planned to propose as I thought I came up with the idea to visit the garden and he was in the midst of plotting with our families!
He ended up saying, "Never mind, let's just walk through the garden." We walked along a path to the edge of the lake. Earlier that day, he mentioned he wanted us to list promises and visions of what we wanted our lives to look like 10 years from now. He asked me to close my eyes, face the lake, and list them.
We switched off listing our dreams and hopes and then he asked me to pray. I held his hand and prayed for us. At the end of the prayer, he dropped to one knee and my heart came to a stop.
He told me he wanted all of those things for our lives and that he loved me and wanted to spend our lives together. He prayed as well and the rest is history :)
After I said yes, he yelled, "She said yes!" I asked, "Who are you talking to?" He replied, "You!" and proceeded to shout it again, louder this time. Our family ran out from under bushes, across the lake, and behind trees. I was so surprised!! They had been taking pictures the whole time and a GoPro was even hiding in the tree to document the event. Wow. Steven is quite the man!
The night didn't end there, but continued at Divvy, our Valentine's Day dinner spot. 24 of our friends and family entered the restaurant to surprise me and celebrate with us!! Oh my gosh, it was amazing and the most joyful night.
The food was spectacular and the ambience glowed with soft light and the happiness of our hearts. This is the story of me and Steven, now #Chengaged and ready for a life of #ChensEverAfter.
Thanks for reading :) Can't wait for the start of our forever this upcoming summer!
Photo credits go to the incredible:Eunice Huang, Elijah Huang, Karen Chen, and Elizabeth Huang
Kelley Family | Ann Arbor Family Photography
The first snowfall of the year greeted us when I got together with the Kelley family for their winter photoshoot. The snow rested on the pine trees, the boys donned ombre shades of blue, and even their two cute dogs joined in on the fun.
Despite the chilly weather, the family braved the cold and we even enjoyed some afternoon sunshine! John works with me at Google and was one of the very first employees at the Ann Arbor office - pretty grand :)
His wife, Nancy, acted as the shepherd for the boys, helping to herd them into adorable family formations and clearly loves the family very much. They grow up fast, and the oldest, Jack, will be heading to college next year!
Cheers to the Kelley family, a family with the world ahead of them and all the joy a family could enjoy now. Enjoy this time together :)
Gabrielle & Ryan | Indianapolis Engagement Photography
November 14, 2015
Gabrielle and Ryan have got to be one of the sweetest couples of all time. Their story begins at Johns Hopkins University, where they both ran on the track team. Gabrielle took notice of Ryan, an all-star who ran a personal best of 4 minutes and 11 seconds for the one mile run. If that doesn't impress you, I don't know what will ;)
Their first date took place at the Hopkins ball, a grand start to their beautiful love story. Gabrielle's sweet demeanor, intellectual passion, and generous outgoing spirit could charm anyone, and Ryan's servant heart, disciplined work ethic, and winning enthusiasm make him a perfect match.
My sister, Beth, and Gabrielle were best friends growing up and I also photographed Gabrielle's sister (Caroline)'s engagement and wedding last year. I feel a special connection with Gabrielle's family and feel absolutely honored to have shared this special time with her and Ryan.
They are a match made in heaven and the beautiful fall day we enjoyed was definitely gift from God. The sun shone its rays overhead and the remnants of fall leaves stayed on the trees, as if they knew we were coming. We took pictures in one of Indianapolis' hidden gems: Fort Harrison State Park.
Gabrielle & Ryan's love showed through so naturally and I'm sure you can see how dearly they cherish one another through the photos. Thank you, to Gabrielle & Ryan, for the opportunity to celebrate #AlmostAlvarez with you! Can't wait to celebrate your wedding in October 2016 with you as well when you become #EverAlvarez. :)
Meera's Mehndi Party | Carmel Bridal Photography
October 30, 2015
Meera and I go all the way back to days at Carmel High School. She started dating her now husband during our time there and it's such a joy to see them happily married now!
Before they got married, however, I had the honor of joining Meera at her bridal mehndi (henna) party 36 hours before her wedding. I arrived at her beautiful home in Carmel, where her family and friends greeted me warmly.
Fresh platters of Mediterranean food and fresh flowers covered the table. Apple cider, colorful pom poms, decorative cookies shaped like hands, lovingly made goody bags, and a cupcake tower filled the room as well.
At around 4:45pm, the mehndi artist began her work on Meera's arms. By the end, both sides of Meera's arms and legs would be adorned with the designs. It was absolutely stunning the amount of artistry and craft it takes to painstakingly make the dye and apply it. An eye-opening experience for sure!
In American weddings, a popular tradition is the garter toss, where the groom searches for the garter on his new bride's leg and throws it to the eligible men in the room. Indian tradition differs and incorporates an equally cool tradition where the groom's name is written in the henna of the bride's decorated body parts. Meera placed Adam's name next to a depiction of Krishna, one of the Indian gods. Pretty tricky and surprisingly difficult to find -- can you spot it in the pictures? :)
Throughout the 6 hour long application of the mehndi, Meera's adorable nieces kept everyone entertained while her mom and sisters assumed the roles of the most gracious hosts. Meera's mother even served authentic South Indian crepes for everyone accompanied by a spicy sauce with a kick. Quite delicious!
Another mehndi artist also provided henna for the night, with designs to suit every woman's imagination in the room. Beautiful and varied henna decorated each women's hand and arm by the end of the night, ready for the greatest celebration to come, Meera and Adam's wedding in 2 days.
I absolutely loved experiencing this fun, heart-warming, and beautiful mehndi bridal party. Thank you so much to the Chander family for welcoming me and allowing me to document this special day!
Cheers to Meera and Adam, Seattle's newest and maybe even happiest, newlyweds :D
Doss Family | Ann Arbor Family Photography
It was a crisp Saturday in November when I drove down a long winding path to a beautiful home housed in many acres of land. Tall lean trees created a canopy from the bright sun and baby Bomi's squeals filled the air.
Gabe and Karen showed up in style, rocking leather skirts and lavender dress shirts. Audre (also known as Bomy) sported a cute plaid dress with her cute curls. Gabe and Karen's enthusiasm was infectious and despite being hungry and tired, Bomy cracked open big smiles too. Her grandpa stood to the side and helped entertain her as well - so loved!
Karen's parents used to live in a suburb near Detroit, but have recently moved to this beautiful rural area in Chelsea. They own acres of forests in the back and even a strung up hammock. So relaxing and beautiful.
It was a lovely afternoon and I always love getting a peek into other people's lives. It's a really wonderful thing. Cheers to the new and growing Doss family :)
Schoen Family | Ann Arbor Family Photography
Cider mills. Leaves the color of burning embers. The crunch of crisp leaves on the ground. Pumpkin spice lattes. Sweater weather.
All of these things remind me of why I love fall so much. One day, I checked my email at the office and saw an email from James with the subject line, "Hello! Pictures please?" At that moment, I knew fall was about to get better.
I've known James since he started at Google earlier this year and met his beautiful wife, Lauren at a gala event at work. James is super courteous and a very talented drummer & graphic designer. Together, the Schoen's are candid, kind, and the perfect models.
We took pictures around one of my very favorite spots in Ann Arbor, the Nichols Arboretum. You can go tubing down the river, hiking along a wooded path, or have a picnic in the open field. In the spring and summer, there's even a gorgeous peony garden in bloom.
In Ann Arbor this year, fall is just beginning. We still found plenty of beautiful foliage that acted as a backdrop for our shoot. Baby Schoen is a girl who will be due at the end of December. The baby will be the first grandchild on either side of the family, so I can only imagine how excited everyone is!
I hope you all love the photos as much as I do. Cheers to the Schoen family of two, soon to be three :)
McClung Family | Ann Arbor Family Photography
It's a wonderful time of year to live in Michigan. The leaves are warming in color and the temperature is getting cooler. Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to join the McClung family for a family photoshoot at their home.
Little blonde heads peeked around the corner when I arrived. Enter Sadie, the older daughter, who is adventurous, independent, and carefree. She easily initiated conversation with me and showed me around the house.
Not to be forgotten, little Kate walked over as well. She stayed quiet in her father's arms for the first ten minutes before coming over to hug my leg. Halfway through the shoot, she even leaned up to give me a kiss. *Melting.*
Rob and his wife, Cyndy, exhibited their powers of parenthood that afternoon. Sadie and Kate ran in and out of the house, full of energy and spontaneous ideas. Rob and Cyndy kept up with ease -- not an easy task at all! They are humble, loving, and made me feel right at home.
With stone walls, gardens, wagons, and pumpkins abounding with hydrangea's in bloom, the photos came quite naturally. I loved watching Sadie & Kate swing on the swings and ride down the slide together. So precious! We even had a bubble blowing party to finish the afternoon.
All in all, I had a blast with the McClung family on this beautiful autumn day. Ann Arbor is a beautiful place to live and this family only added to the joy of the day :) Cheers to the McClung's!