2018 WRAP UP!

We can’t believe we are writing this wrap up post for 2018! Where has the time gone? Once again, we’ve been stretched, challenged + inspired creatively. We’ve met new families, added to our own [Cassie is pregnant with #2 + Alexa is engaged] + caught up with some of our favorite clients as their children have grown over the year.

What can we say? We are grateful. Grateful for the thousands of images that freeze in time joy, happiness + love for years to come. Grateful the challenges that have made us better business women + have helped to improve our photography craft. Grateful for our clients who have become friends. Grateful for some tears here + there + places where we had to stop, revaluate + determine ‘what’s next’? Grateful for the for the support, encouragement + cheer section of those we love most.

All in all, we have full hearts of gratitude for all of God’s blessings including our health, families/friendships, roof over our heads + our Heaven Father who continues to provide for our every need. Since the new year always makes us feel nostalgic, take a peek at 2018 in review!

Cheers to 2019!

MITCH + SHALISSA | WEDDING

We love a good non-traditional wedding. What made Mitch + Shalissa’s day unique? For starters, it was on a Thursday. Such a brilliant idea if you ask me…start your weekend early, a bit more cost effective + take a day off work ;) What a WIN!

Maybe one of the most memorable parts of this day was the bride + groom’s first look in downtown Stillwater. The bride left her groom speechless + there may have been some sweet tears of joy. Mitch took Shalissa’s hand, gave her a twirl then stepped back to admire his beautiful bride. It was funny when he pulled out his phone to take his own photo of her. So proud of his beautiful wife-to-be!

The Loft at Studio J in Stillwater provided the most fun, downtown feel for their wedding ceremony + reception. SIDE BAR: If you haven’t been to Stillwater to stroll the streets, eat at one of their cute restaurants along the river or visited the historic sites of downtown, then do it! I’m giving you the most perfect day date idea right here…wink wink! Anyway, Studio J has the most glorious bridal sweet, huge windows on the main street + plenty of stunning areas for your wedding photos. We loved Mitch + Shalissa’s choice to host their big day downtown Stillwater!

This Thursday evening party in celebration of the Dean couple was everything perfect. We swooned over Shalissa’s florals + her dress, adored their bridal party + ooo’ed and awww’ed at how sweet/natural then couple was together + in front of the camera. We will vote to make Thursday weddings a trendy thing in 2019 for sure!

JOE + BRITTNI | WEDDING

When I first met with Brittni for coffee, we hit it off right away. I remember we chatted through wedding details, our commonalities, her vision for their day + then something strange happened…she asked me questions about MY life….+ instantly I thought ‘girl, let’s be friends!’ Fast forward a few months we shot Joe + Brittni’s engagement photos + they were so natural in front of the camera; it was effortless + beautiful!

Then October 6th arrived. We are driving up to Wisconsin + all we see is fall boasting its spectacular color — rust, gold, burnt orange + crimson. Let’s just say it was like nothing we’ve ever seen before. You can imagine our anticipation was we drove 2 hours to the Heartwood Conference + Event Center in Trego, WI to photography the Kuduk wedding, hoping we’d see a similar backdrop for their big day.

And it was nothing short of our imagination. The colors on the lake were extra spectacular + doubled as the trees reflected off the water. The bridal party got ready in their separate, cozy cottages in the woods before the couple would rendezvous on the dock for their first look. The gals sipped mimosas as they had their hair + make up done while the men had a chill morning by the fire, watching football. The bride’s florist extraordinaire [also her MOH] put in extra hours to make the bouquets, centerpieces + wedding arbor everything that is spectacular for her bestie + let’s just say her work was out of this world.

We are always fans of first looks but when a row boat is involved, we become super fans! Scroll through the epic boat/lake photos to see why we fell in love with fall over + over again! PS October always proves to have the PEAK of colors. After an hour of snapping photos of a couple that should probably be on the cover of a wedding magazine, we met up with Brittni + Joe’s bridal party. Just when we thought the day couldn’t get more beautiful, they introduced us to 12 of their closest + dearest gorgeous/handsome friends. HEART EYES! They were a special bunch, all ‘yes’ people, braving chilly temps for the photos.

The ceremony was short + sweet. The reception was classy + memorable. The speeches were touching + thoughtful. The dances were swoon worthy + graceful. It’s safe to say this all added up to be the most perfect day for the Kuduks + we were honored to have been a part of it!

Dress: A&Be Bridal

Florist: Eclectic Elegance 

Venue: Heartwood Conference Center + Retreat

Hair + Makeup: Beauty Bar By B

A DIY HOLIDAY DINNER PARTY

Congrats! You’re married! [Long pause] Now what?! Here was my story…can you identify?

We spent months planning, preparing + spending thousands on our special day! And it was everything PERFECT! Then we went on our honeymoon + that was glorious + we returned back to MN on a total high/wedded bliss! We settled back into our work routines, made a house our home + adjusted to married life. And then if I was honest, I went through a ‘wedding postpartum’ [is this a thing?]. What’s next? Wedding planning was stressful + fun but crazy. We have all these wonderful, thoughtful wedding gifts. And I asked myself one question… “What can I plan next?” #relatable to anyone? Sound familiar?

As we approach the holidays, my guess is you will be gathering with close friends + family + enjoying the best of the best meals. Maybe you are even hosting your first Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. If you’re feeling like the itch like I did to plan something unique but petite in size [by no means a wedding size], than keep reading! We have a fun idea for you!

Two words. Dinner party. Think small, simple + stunning. Think community, conversation + cocktails. With the Christmas season around the corner, why not invite 2-3 new couples over for a small dinner party? We see this as the perfect opportunity to get to know other newly engaged or married couples, breakout that wedding china you may not ever use again, create an [easy] dinner menu + focus on what is truly important this season.

Let us help you! Here are some simple steps + tips to follow to ensure that you + your new husband are able to host the most perfect dinner party!

1) USE WHAT YOU HAVE. So you have all these gifts you received for your wedding. This is the perfect opportunity to use them! Set a pretty table with all the fun pieces…salad fork, dinner fork, spoon + knife; chargers, placemats, dishes + REAL napkins. This doesn’t have to be complicated. See the example below for a pretty place setting perfect for the holiday!

2) CENTERPIECES. Again, this does not have to be stressful! We love Trader Joe’s…and this season they have the BEST greenery/florals for you to use for garland and/or centerpiece for your tablescape. Use a variety of greenery/textures - like evergreen + eucalyptus - add some red hypericum berries for a pop of color. Have any left over votives from your wedding centerpieces? Break those babies out + layer throughout your greenery. Have other festive, Christmas decor? Layer those in as well! As we learned from tip #1 simply use what you have. See below!

3) MENU. Think outside of the box. Not every Christmas meal needs to include ham, mashed potatoes + green bean casserole. But if yours does, awesome! To make this easy, we suggest you, as the host provide the main dish + have your guests bring sides. Allow them to be creative + bring their faves. Not only does this remove stress from your plate but it helps to create conversation. You’ll be surprised at how fun this turns out when your friends arrive with a yummy pomegranate + goat cheese salad or a twist on the infamous green bean almandine. Generally people ALWAYS want to help by bringing something. So why not make it easy + delegate the various courses! But of course, if you prefer to make the entire meal, here is one of our go to holiday meals/recipes that is sure to wow! Click here.

4) CONVERSATION STARTERS. Pretend you are having new friends over. What do you say? How can you create intentional conversation? We have some helpful questions to get anyone chatting around the dinner table. Start here with these chat packs ;)

5) FOCUS ON FELLOWSHIP. After all, isn’t this one of the main reasons why you are hosting a mini dinner party? Make decisions that will make this evening less stressful. For example, if baking is a stressor, buy the Harvest Cheesecake from Costco. If you don’t like the idea of salad, sides + a main dish, do an after dinner soirée with a cheese platter + cocktails. Or scrap the whole idea + order from your fave Chinese take-out place using paper plates + chopsticks! No shame in this! Whatever you need to do to keep things simple, focused on community + giving thanks for what is truly meaningful. FRIENDSHIPS! Who knows…maybe it will become a tradition!

Happy planning + Merry Christmas!

HOLIDAY DINNER PARTY MENU

When hosting a dinner party + sometimes even just for my family I always ask myself, ‘what can I make that is simple, beautiful, well rounded + tasty?’. Here is my go-to!

Trader Joe’s is my answer when it comes to a fancier, out of the box home cooked meal that you don’t have to stress over! Everything below is found there to make your one stop shop dinner party prep the easiest EVER!

Throw Together Toss Salad. I buy the interesting spring mix with lots of color + lettuce shapes! Add some pomegranates for color + festivity [already peeled out of the fruit], feta cheese, walnuts with Trader Joe's Light Champagne Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, plate + serve. DONE!

Sides. I heart the los petites carrots of many colors available at TJ’s. These add interest to your plate, are delish + are a good alternative to the boring baby carrot option. I also love fingerling potatoes! Throw those tiny babies on a baking sheet with a little EVOO, salt + pepper, bake in a 450 degree oven for 20 minutes [with the carrots] + you are set!

Pork Tenderloin. I buy this in the meat section. It’s lean, often comes seasoned + adds variety instead of the normal chicken/beef routine. I recently bought a peppercorn garlic pork tenderloin. Follow the cooking instructions on the package. BOOM! Your main course ;)

Dessert. Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe-Joe’s. This will complete your menu. Just kidding. It would but I’d recommend this instead… Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie. It’s as good as you hope + pray + dream. Just buy it [trust me] + provide lots of forks for everyone at your party to dig into. And maybe don’t forget the French Vanilla Ice Cream to top it off.

Finally, did I mention that clean up is a breeze? You’re welcome!

Complete TJ’s Shopping List

  • Seasoned Pork Tenderloin

  • Los Petite Carrots

  • Fingerling Potatoes

  • Spring Salad

  • Feta Cheese

  • Pomegranate Seeds

  • Walnuts

  • Red Onion

  • Champagne Pear Vinaigrette Dressing

  • Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • French Vanilla Ice Cream

KIDS, CRAYONS + COCOA

Last year my sister Olivia put together the most fun idea! With her nephews in mind, she dreamt of a fun, engaging + interactive tablescape only fit for children! This resulted in the perfect mix of design, festivity + class. In the end, she created a table that even the adults would envy…with coloring placemats, extra ‘mallows in every hot cocoa mug + the cutest spray painted white winter animals. Even a 10 month old knew his place at this table. Can’t you see his delight? Who wouldn’t want to sit at the kiddo table this holiday season?!

And the best part? Not only will your kids feel so honored + extra included at your holiday celebrations this year but this was SUPER easy for YOU to put together! We used things we already had like the Christmas trees from Target + the gold reindeer candlesticks found years ago at a thrift store. This the perfect opportunity to use up extra wrapping paper scraps for small boxes as ‘gift centerpieces’; re-use old crayons and peel off the paper; spray paint a couple of your kids old play animals [they will never know, right?]; print a fun color sheet placemat like the one found here to keep your kids busy for a bit while you enjoy adult conversation at the non-kid table ;). So many thoughtful, intentional pieces to this tablescape - you can’t go wrong!

Thanks Olivia, for styling this perfect children’s activity table!

Did you create a festive, holiday kids table? Be sure to tag us so we can see YOUR creations!

- Love, Alexa, Olivia + Cassie

@cassieandalexa

@oliviaklingbiel

KURTIS + KRISTA | WEDDING

A day that started with crisp fall backdrop + ended in a complete winter wonderland. Can you talk about a total DREAM? It was the first real snow of the season that left a solid 6 inches on the ground and on our cars. Pictures so epic and romantic that you can only imagine and hope for! Kurtis and Krista couldn't have made a more beautiful couple.

After 10 years of dating, this perfect fall-winter 3rd day in November was a long time coming....a perfect culmination of everyone they loved, swoon worthy florals, the best of friends making up the bridal party, an elegant venue and a dance party for the ages.  Can we also talk about how holy gorgeous Krista's dress was? Also note how well all her gals pulled off the varied color AND style dresses. So fun + flattering! 

One of our favorite parts [+ most important IMO] of the wedding day is the ceremony. The part where you laugh, where you cry, where hear, see, experience all the love-y feelings. You see the bride walk down the aisle with her dad + all of a sudden all the work of planning a wedding unfolds. Details, plans, preparations. Everything wrapped up in a pretty little bow. Time stood still for Krista + Kurtis as they made promises to one another, worshiped + were announced as husband + wife. To top it off, you know it's a special, intimate wedding when both the groom and the bride's fathers perform the ceremony.  Krista + Kurtis' vows were simple, meaningful and original. "You're my best friend; I'll never stop trying to make you smile; I'll encourage you to chase your dreams and chase them with you." I'm getting teary thinking about it! Praying these words to one another are consistent reminders of your forever love for one another. 

We snuck outside to the snow covered greens. Backlit + beautiful we took some of our all time favorite portraits. We officially will take snow over sunsets [we can say this because these days winter is never ending in MN]. ;) Kind of like how the day transformed from fall to winter, the ceremony site quickly was turned over into the most heavenly gold + green reception - such class, such thought + so many heart eyes! Then the dance began + let us tell you, it was full of contagious energy + joy! In the words of the bride, "it was the time of my life"! Congrats + happy almost half year to the Koenigs! 

Dress: A&Be Bridal

Florist: Eclectic Elegance

Venue: Blackberry Ridge

Hair + Makeup: Locks and Lashes

Video: Blue Forest Films

CRAIG DAVID | FAMILY

My baby is ONE. "HOW?" is the question I still ask myself daily. Putting together Craig David's first birthday was a blast! I'd been thinking through his special celebration since the day he was born, February 1, 2017. I knew that it needed to be epic and memorable [at least for me] since it was his golden birthday. And you only turn ONE on the FIRST once, right? If you know me, you know I love to celebrate everything and anything. So obviously we made his first a weekend of events. 

Thursday, February 1, we woke up and got his fav treat at YoYo Donuts with Grammie and Papa and Auntie Liv. He wore his birthday boy shirt proudly as he enjoyed an ENTIRE chocolate raised donut with sprinkles. DUH! We met Grandad and Nonie at Chick-fil-a for a birthday lunch (they flew in from Texas that morning). After a needed nap that afternoon, we went to the Gold Nugget with the entire family for a special dinner complete with chicken tenders, fries and a molten lava cake he was eager to dive into. At 7:20 PM, this momma shed a couple tears thinking about the moment a year ago we met our sweet boy. 

Friday we continued our celebration by taking his ONE year photos with a smash cake! See below for the amazing balloon garland put together by my sisters and friends and pictures of a pretty cute ONE year old! As you can see, our boy doesn't love getting messy! 

Saturday was party day! Clearly our boy is a WILD ONE so our theme for his party was, you guessed it, WILD ONE! We kept party food simple with sandwiches [and a plethora of condiments], pickles, chips etc. Craig had to have cake so we ordered Nothing Bundt Cake's little mini bundtinis in ALL the flavors.  I also made black bear, moose and #1 sugar cookies to add to the dessert mix. You can never have enough dessert, am I right? Decor included the balloon garland, birch tree slabs, forest friend toy animals, lots of fresh greenery and a golden WILD ONE birthday balloon banner! Craig had a party of 30 people over to our house to eat cake, open gifts, visit and play his order-my-monthly-photos game. It was a perfect day to celebrate our wild, sweet, silly and deserving boy! 

2017 WRAP UP!

What an incredible year! We had the BEST couples, families + personal milestones! We are so thrilled to share with you all some of the highlights of 2017! And of course we can't wait to see what 2018 holds with the weddings + family sessions coming our way! Take a peek at just a snap shot of all a few favorites from this past year! Thanks to everyone who has been a part of making this year such a memorable one! Blessings on your new year! Goodbye 2017! Hello 2018! We are ready for ya! 

BRONSON + ALISHA | WEDDING

This was the wedding of the year. The one we had been looking forward to since Bronson + Alisha reached out to us over a year prior to their wedding day. Alisha was like a little sister to me [Cassie] back in the day. So you can imagine the real emotions I had as we served her + husband-to-be.  And I'd be lying if I say I didn't cry that day - because a) Alisha looked incredibly breathtaking + beautiful + b) Bronson's reaction to his bride EVERY time he saw her was as if he was seeing her for the first time. Like the things you see in movies but BETTER. I can't make this stuff up! You're love for God, for others + for one another was so palpable...it's how we know your marriage is going to be a great one! You two are gems.  A man + woman striving to honor Christ in your marriage + that's a huge part of what made September 30th so memorable. :) xxoo