Fire in the Sky: Autumn Engagement Photos at Picnic Point

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Fire in the Sky: Autumn Engagement Photos at Picnic Point

Heather and Robert really wanted engagement photos in Madison with a little fall color, but the weather wasn't cooperating. It was pouring rain on a recent Sunday afternoon as we loaded the car to get to PIcnic Point at UW-Madison with a forecast for rain to end by sunset, but our alternate date a few days later was looking like a frigid, grey day also with the chance for rain so we decided to hope for the weather to clear, at least a bit. 

But at least the trees were turning, with rich yellows and reds and oranges towering over us on the paths of the UW Lakeshore Nature Preserve, and Heather and Robert were game for anything. So we started to shoot as the rain began to lighten up a bit, capturing some of the color while avoiding most of the rain. 

When the rain finally quit for a minute, we got a few images with their cute little doggies, who were a bit more interested in smelling everything around than posing for us. Nothing new there! We even brought our own little bit of sunshine via our Profoto B2 strobes and a warming filter--you can't control the weather, but you can control the light! 

We worked our way into the preserve, stopping here and there to capture a moment or some color, the sky still grey and foreboding, until just before sunset. At that point, it didn't matter that I was soaked and dirty from laying in the mud because the clouds had begun to part to reveal the richest, reddest sunset I have seen in some time. It was as if the gods were paying us back for our faith in the beauty of nature or something, and we raced to the western edge of the peninsula to use that beautiful backdrop. 

But nature wasn't done with us. To the north was a stunning double rainbow that stretched over the entire lake. We didn't need to make it to the end of the peninsula, but rather felt like we had found the pot of gold already in the stunning beauty of nature and the infectious love of another amazing couple. We love it when a plan comes together. Thanks, Robert, Heather, the dogs and the handlers, who showed great trust and patience in us! 

 

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Powerful Emotions make this Rex's Innkeeper Wedding Fearless

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Powerful Emotions make this Rex's Innkeeper Wedding Fearless

 

We have been eagerly anticipating Mike and Danielle's wedding ever since our engagement session with this down-to-earth couple in the spring. It's not just that they're lovely people (they are), but what we saw during our first session was their honest, open nature and complete comfort with who they are. Mike's a big, burly guy with the kind of square jaw and piercing gaze that could intimidate a person...that is, until Danielle makes him crack a smile. 

So we knew that this would be a wedding that really showcased a bunch of genuine people experiencing all the emotions that come with a big day. From the touches honoring Danielle's late mother, who had been married at the same church many years ago, to Bucky Badger's arrival to kick off a spirited night of dancing, we knew we were experiencing the best kind of celebration. 

And the rain, which threatened all day? It probably made the day better, giving us a bit of time to stop in at the Lone Girl Brewing Co. in downtown Waunakee, and pushed us to improvise and adapt. 

It certainly helped that all the vendors made our day easy. Special thanks to Rex's Inkeeper. St. John's Catholic Church, videography by Stacy Bruner, flowers by Pocket Full of Posie, cake by Craig's Cakeshop, music and photobooth from Sound Solution Mobile DJs, hair and makeup by Malia Wood, and the gorgeous dress from Brandi's Bridal

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A laid back pig roast | Madison Wedding Reception

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A laid back pig roast | Madison Wedding Reception

You might remember this stunning couple from earlier this spring. We posted the story of their intimate Wisconsin Capitol Wedding several months ago, but instead of a big reception, Sam and Jessica had a quiet meal on the square. Sam was in the midst of rotations for medical school, but the April 30 wedding date was very important to Jessica due to some beautiful family history with her grandparents. 

So they compromised--They'd get married in the presence of family but when Sam had a bit more control over his schedule, they'd throw a pig roast at the family home near Belleville. Last weekend, Sam and Jess invited family and friends to dance, enjoy the beautifully crisp fall weather, and celebrate. 

Sometimes, thinking outside the box works the best, and instead of the downpours we faced in the spring, we got a gorgeous evening spent around a fire, sipping beer and telling stories. Here are a few of the portraits we snuck in during the party. 

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A Charming Autumn Backyard Wedding

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A Charming Autumn Backyard Wedding

We knew this was going to be one heck of a wedding when the groom, Ken, rolled in on his Harley Sportster at the home of his future bride's parents in Mount Horeb a few hours before festivities began. Joan and her parents had spent months turning their lush backyard into the most festive wedding site possible, complete with a beautiful arbor, a s'mores station, and a cannon to announce the couple as they arrived for the reception. 

We've been photographing a lot of backyard Madison weddings lately, and they offer some real advantages from our perspective. What we love the most is that the place itself is a character in the story, and it's something we try to capture for clients. But it also means a level of comfort for the families that doesn't exist when you're at a banquet hall or hotel or other kind of venue. 

But they do have their challenges in terms of coordination, planning, and preparation! Joan's parents literally re-graded their yard to fit the tent, and Ken was out back sealing wood with tongue oil until just before the guests started arriving. 

In the end, it was all worth the effort, as Joan and Ken were able to revel in the joy of marriage with their adorable toddler, Jordy, and everyone had a blast. 

A special thanks to all the vendors who helped make this wedding so much fun: 

Florist: Victoria's Garden

Decor: Everything Under the Roof Improvements LLC

Tent: Bucky's Rentals

Catering: Gristle Catering

DJ: Tom York

Wedding Dress: Vera's Bridal by David Tutura

Bridesmaid Dress: Lulu's

Officiant: The Rev. Amy Gile

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Polka, craft beer, and family: Classic Wisconsin Wedding Reception

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Polka, craft beer, and family: Classic Wisconsin Wedding Reception

Kayla and Adam met at a home brewing event years ago, and while their careers have taken them out west and back, when they decided to get married, they knew just what to do: A small ceremony in their beloved mountains of Colorado followed by a big shindig at Adam's family farm outside of Mineral Point. 

Nestled into the rolling hills of south central Wisconsin, the family farm served as a perfect backdrop for a day to celebrate with family and friends. As a photographer, we love it most when the locations are personal to our couples, and all night long we heard stories about life on the farm from the family and friends who attended. But we were doubly blessed with Kayla and Adam. Not only were they fun, relaxed, and looked stunning for the reception, but we got share in their love of the natural beauty of the land and the gorgeous textures of the buildings on the property. 

Craft brews were on tap, but there was plenty of Hamm's (a family favorite) as well. And a first for us: A polka band brought out all the dancers, both young and old, in the barn after the sun set. 

We spent some time doing portraits that captured the farm's charm--acres of rolling prairie bursting with fall color, a weathered machine shed, the barn converted into a dance floor, and the spectacular vistas on the back 40. We couldn't be more excited to share the day with Adam and Kayla. 

Thanks, Kayla and Adam, and we wish you all the best in your new married life together!

Venue: Family Farm near MIneral Point

Catering: Stoddard's Market and Catering

Band: The Mike Schneider Band

Cake: Carl's Cakes

Dress: Vera's House of Bridals

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Special Events by Sound Haven: A Hidden Gem

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Special Events by Sound Haven: A Hidden Gem

I have a soft spot for old-fashioned, Midwestern towns. I grew up in one—Waverly, Iowa, population 8000—and I must say I hated it there when I was a kid. But now, I look back on the peculiar charms of my town and smile. Roy’s Place, where you got the greasiest burger and best milkshake in town. The Waverly Bakery’s warm glazed donuts on a Saturday morning. And on Sundays bells rang out across town from the towers of every neighborhood church. 

Pulling up to Special Events by Sound Haven in Lake Mills brought back all that nostalgia. Nestled among the trees a block off downtown, this quaint space offers a host of photographic possibilities for your small wedding, party, or bridal shower. 

Laurie Allison, event manager

“It’s very intimate,” says, co-owner Laurie Allison. She and her husband, audio engineer Michael, bought the former St. Paul Lutheran Church in 2013 and opened for events in 2014. 

It serves double duty as both an event space and a sound school, where Michael teaches the finer points of sound engineering he's learned during years touring with bands as varied as the Rolling Stones and Beyonce. 

The church was built in 1913 to serve the local Lutheran community and has all the charm of an older church with a grand, towering main hall, beautiful windows, and some unique spaces great for photography. There’s a cute bridal suite, a great bar in the former sanctuary built from the church’s former modesty rails, and ample parking on the property. 

We decided to start showcasing local venues because we are still relatively new to the Madison wedding industry, but also because, as photographers, we might see a venue differently than the clients or other wedding professionals. Our wedding photography approach is to personalize the day as much as possible, so taking advantage of the interest and beauty of each venue is central to our images. 

Soundhaven has a few unique features. The main hall features beautiful soft light streaming from the towering windows on each side, which are a mix of classic stained glass and clear to provide enough natural light for ceremony images. The massive cast-iron central chandelier makes for a nice feature in wide views of the space. 

We also love the alcoves in the stairwells to the balcony of the venue. The cathedral windows give photographers beautiful wraparound lighting and architectural detail that make the space a supporting character in photographs. 

Outside, there’s a stunning aqua door for couples or bridal photographs, and the very charming downtown—with a central park and great small town brick architecture—is just a short walk away. Take a look at this quick gallery to get a better feel for the space and contact Laurie for more information! 

Special Events by Sound Haven


Event Manager: Laurie Allison
Address: 412 W. Madison St., Lake Mills, WI
Phone: 920-945-0092
email: events@soundhavenlearningcenter.com
website: https://www.soundhavenevents.com/
Capacity: Varies depending on setup, but anywhere from 50-150

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Allen Centennial Garden Engagement Session | Dani & Mike

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Allen Centennial Garden Engagement Session | Dani & Mike

Not everybody is comfortable in front of the camera, so we do a variety of things in our Madison engagement sessions to make them feel less self-conscious and forget we're even around. But that wasn't the case when we met up with MIke and Danielle to capture their engagement images in downtown Madison. 

Mike said simply, "this is me," when we went over wardrobe for the session, and that's exactly who we love to have in front of the camera. We don't really care what you wear, but we care very much that it represents your true self. We do give out a detailed wardrobe guide, though, and Danielle wasn't sure which of her many outfits would work best. In the end, she was most comfortable in jeans as well, and so we were off. 

Engagement sessions are about capturing what is unique about you and your fiance--the way you act together and the things you love doing. So it's most important that we go places that you love and that you simply be yourselves! Almost any location can help us produce great photographs so long as you two are being authentic and having fun. 

We spent a couple of hours hanging out, laughing and enjoying the beautiful spring weather in Allen Centennial Garden, on the lake at Memorial Union, and a final shot looking down State Street to the Capitol. Contact us to schedule your engagement session today!

 

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Sam and Jessica’s Historic Madison Wedding

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Sam and Jessica’s Historic Madison Wedding

On April 30, 1944, a stunning young Wisconsin couple, Rose and Duane, got married. The date wasn’t coincidence, but rather a way to honor Rose's parents, who married the same day in 1917. So when Rose’s granddaughter Jessica and her fiance, Sam, started planning their wedding, they already knew the date. 

But Jessica had a lot more in mind. She knew the dress, and the ring she would wear, and she knew the most important guests, Rose and Duane, both of them now 97. She re-imagined Rose’s dress. She wore Rose’s ring. And she was determined to celebrate the wedding On April 30, 2017, a hundred years after her great-grandparents tied the knot and 73 years after her grandparents did. 

Every wedding we photograph is special because it represents something truly joyous, an affirmation of love and commitment. But this one, with this amazing couple and their families, was exceptional in more ways than history. Sure, it was cold and wet. Like every wedding, things didn’t go exactly according to plan. But none of that mattered. 

What mattered was simple: Family. Sam and Jessica got married at the Wisconsin State Capitol building, flipping in 1917 silver half dollar to decide who would recite their vows first, a nod to the great grandparents who married 100 years ago that day. Rose and Duane sat in the front row, surrounded by both their family and friends. 

I have to admit, I was nervous. I’m always a little nervous before a wedding, like an athlete before a big game or an actor waiting in the wings on opening night. But this was our first Madison wedding, after moving back last summer to be closer to our own family. And Jessica wasn’t simply a bride who found us online; she’s my own lovely daughter’s best friend. 

Thanks so much to Sam and Jessica for trusting us to document this historic moment, and for being the bravest couple ever when they were up for heading out to Olin Park in the cold and rain and wind after more than 12 hours of preparation and celebration, for just one more photo. We hope you love these images as much as Olga and I have loved making them. 

Ceremony: Wisconsin State Capitol

Getting Ready: Edgewater Hotel

Dress: Grandma Rose, assisted by bride and seamstresses Themis Flores and Kate Compton

Hair: Marissa, Anaala Salon

Makeup: Mel Stafford, Kneaded Relief

Florist: Lisa Larsen of Sunborn Gardens

Videographer: Stacy Bruner

Music: Andrew Nath

Officiant: Aaron Owen, friend of the groom

 

 

 

 

 

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Brittany & David's Milwaukee Engagement Session

Brittany and David came to us wondering if we could do something a little different than your typical engagement photographs. Oh, and she said, we have a mastiff I'd like to include. Sure, we said. We love dogs! 

So we spent a beautiful spring afternoon in downtown Milwaukee, walking their lovable doggie and documenting their relationship. It was a blast! 

One of the great things for us about moving to Wisconsin is being able to photograph such a wide variety of settings, from Lake MIchigan to the beautiful lakefronts of Madison, to the city lights and varied architecture of this wonderful state. Here's a little sample of some of our favorites!

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