KYLE AND STACY // A GRAND RAPIDS WEDDING

 

I am beyond excited to finally be sharing Kyle and Stacy's wedding with you! Some of you may remember this wedding I photographed back in March. Today, you will see it featured on Magnolia Rouge too! This wedding carries a lot of significance for many reasons. After Kyle and Stacy booked me to photograph their day, we made plans for me to go to Chicago to shoot their engagement photos where they live. Just a few weeks before that was planned, I received a phone call from Stacy with information that greatly affected their wedding plans. Below she has written their story and I encourage you to take the time to read it! I'm so thrilled to have met these two and their entire family and it was an incredible honor to capture these memories for them. Also, a huge thank you to my dear friend Rhi, who stepped up to help this deserving couple in a time when they really needed it. 

Kyle and I met on my birthday back in 2010 after I had just relocated to Orlando, Florida. Mutual friends took me out for a night on the town and we celebrated and danced the evening away. We instantly connected. It was so easy, as if we had known each other our whole lives, and we quickly became inseparable friends. About a year went by before we finally admitted that we were actually in love with each other and to this day I still consider Kyle the best birthday gift I ever received! 

Together, we moved to my home-state Illinois and into our first apartment in Chicago. Kyle had lived in Florida his whole life so he was ready for a new adventure and thankfully, he fell just as fast in love with the city as he did when he first met me. Three apartments later, we bought our first home together and got engaged on a mountain top in Colorado. 

We were truly living out our fairytale as we set the date for our dream fall wedding in October 2017. As most newly engaged couples do, we began checking-off our wedding to-do list, hiring vendors, finalizing decisions and getting excited for the big day! Our fairytale took a dark turn in January when my father was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. Our blissful hearts were shattered and planning turned into chaos as we scrambled to move up the wedding date to fit within the time frame given by the doctors. This type of devastation really put things into perspective for me. I remember thinking "Even if the wedding isn't perfect, or the flowers are a different color or not everyone can make it, the two most important things about this day are the man walking me down the aisle, and the man waiting at the other end."

I was determined to have my father walk me down the aisle and give me away, so I began reaching out to our vendors. I called the venue first to see if they had any dates still available within the next few months. They had one weekend left to host the rehearsal dinner and the wedding - March 11th. I was overcome with relief which quickly turned into panic as I realized that meant planning a wedding in one month. The next teary eyed phone call I made was to our photographer, Samantha James Photography. The stars seemed to align yet again as Sam was available to photograph the wedding for that date! Talking with Sam gave me a sense of comfort as she reassured me that she was there help with more than just photography. Shortly after our conversation, Sam reached out to her colleague and dear friend Rhiannon Bosse who is an expert at wedding planning and design. Rhiannon graciously offered her services to help us and was adamant that we would still have our dream wedding, even if there was only a month to plan.

Rhi and Sam took everything they could off of our plates to ensure Kyle and I could spend every second enjoying time with my father and our family rather than stressing about the wedding. As Rhi began to reach out to her industry connections, the love and compassion that followed was simply awe-inspiring. There was an overwhelming willingness from everyone to help out, provide services, resources and donate products to make our day perfect. It seemed as though every time I answered the phone, I was left speechless by the generosity and kindheartedness or every individual. 

March 11th came around and we entered the green house at the Downtown Market for the big reveal with Rhi and we were overcome with emotion looking around at what had been brought to life. I still get emotional thinking about it to this day. My entire body was covered in goosebumps, the kind that almost hurt as if to reassure you that you aren't daydreaming and the moment is REAL. I remember the lump in my throat looking around the room and making eye contact with everyone who had volunteered to spend their Saturday helping out on our big day. 

Our fantasy garden wedding was actually happening and it was more amazing than we dreamed it could be. As I sat with my father, waiting for the ceremony to begin he told me that he didn't actually view my two older sisters as adults until the day they got married and he admitted that he had wondered if it would be different with me being the youngest. As his eyes welled up with tears, he whispered that he was having the same reaction, seeing me in a wedding dress and getting ready to give me away. I was no longer his little girl. This moment meant the world to me and I will never forget it. I hugged him tightly as I reflected on how blessed we were to be sharing that moment together. 

My father walked me down the aisle that day and handed me off to the man of my dreams. Everything about the day was more magical than we could have ever imagined and the outpouring of love from family, friends and vendors within the industry restored a lot of faith in God and humanity.

Photography // Samantha James Photography

Planning, Design and Floral // Rhiannon Bosse Celebrations

Makeup Artist // Alexandra Nicole

Venue // Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Calligrapher // Prairie Letter Shop

Videographer // Coastline Studios  

Wedding Dress // Hayley Paige  

DJ // Adrian Butler

Cake & Desserts // The Cakabakery

Rentals // West Michigan Rental Company

Linen rentals // Special Occasions West

Seed Packets // Floret Flower

 

WEDDING INSPIRATION // A ROMANTIC STYLED SHOOT

 

I have been so excited to share this beautiful styled shoot collaboration with Alyssa from Fleurology Designs. We had a lot of fun planning the details for this romantic wedding inspiration and there were so many incredible vendors that came together to make this lovely. We actually had a rainy day for this shoot but it didn't stop us from getting outside for some portraits in between the drizzle. I think this shows that even when the skies are grey, you can still have some really beautiful images. Happy Wednesday everyone! 

Photography // Samantha James Photography

Florals, Event Design & Coordination // Fleurology Designs

Venue // Aquinas College Holmdene Manor and Gardens

Stationary // Centennial Designs

Desserts // Ginger Bakes

Gown // Ali Nicole Bridal  

Rentals // Events by Icandy

China // Gigi & LaClede

Linens // Special Occasions

Shoes // Harriet Wilde

Earrings // Sara Garbriel

Rings // Handcrafted Gems

Hair // Sin Republic 

Makeup // Wonderfully Made Beauty

 

 

ERIC AND GRACE // A MATERNITY SESSION

 

I am so grateful I was able to capture these maternity photos for my dear friends Eric and Grace. Eric and my husband Brad are part of a group of friends who have stayed in touch through the years. I'm so happy to be a part of such an incredible group of people. When they asked me to take these photos for them I was so honored and I'm very excited to take pictures of their little one when he arrives! I hope you enjoy a handful of my favorite images from their session. 

 

HOMEMADE SOAP // A DIY GUIDE

 

Today on the blog I'm sharing another beautiful project I photographed with Rhi on melt and pour soap! These lovely bars of soap smell incredible and while this does take some time to make, it is a fairly simple process. I recommend setting aside a least an hour for the preparation and then it will need to cool of course which will take a few more hours at which time you're free to do whatever you like with the time you wait! 

This soap has a creamy cocoa butter base with a very subtle scent. Rhi also added in organic rolled olds and a little bit of this to emphasize that comforting smell of honey, oatmeal and milk. To start, cut the cocoa soap base into smaller manageable cubes and placed in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the chunks in 30 second intervals, ‘stirring’ the chunks in between until I had somewhat of a liquid consistency. By the time you get the soap melted to a desirable consistency it will be VERY hot.

Once the entire mixture is smooth and creamy you will add in your choice of scent. 1 tablespoon is enough but you can start by dropping in a few drops, stirring the scent in, and then smelling the mixture to see if it’s strong enough for you. Unlike baking, a slight deviation of ingredients or quantities isn’t going to mess up the end result.

For the particular soap, Rhi infused some variance in the color for the final product, a technique more suited for cold process soap, but Rhi still found a way! 

Because you need 3 pounds of the cocoa base (the base comes in 1 pound blocks) to fill up the soap mold, in order to add some color variance Rhi had to make two mixtures separate of one another. So one mixture was about 2.5 pounds of the cocoa butter base with the chosen scent, and then other was the remaining half a pound of cocoa butter soap which she then added 1/4 of a block of THIS too. A very tiny bit of the color block goes a very long way! Adding just a pinch of the block gave that creamy rose taupe hue!

Below are the two bowls of two mixtures Rhi was was stirring to keep the mixture from cooling too fast which would allow the surface to start ‘filming over’.

There is probably an official perfect temperature you should wait for your mixture to get to before pouring it into the mold but truth be told we're not sure what that is. Just try to wait as long as possible before the soap starts getting too thick. The thickness of your base is called ‘trace’ and in cold process soap making the trace is what allows you to get really creative with swirls of color and fun textured soap tops. Since it’s harder to do with melt and pour soap this was a guess and when it felt right, poured it into the mold.

From there, wait a couple minutes to let the white base firm up a little before drizzling in the remaining taupe colored mixture. The intention here was to have the taupe mixture drizzled in enough so that once the soap was cut into the two colors would have a harmonious look together. Additionally, because this is a  taller soap mold (versus the standard wide one) It took the entire taupe mixture to help fill the entire mold and make a complete bar.

The heat of the mixture can make the silicone mold slightly expand, and here Rhi pushed two mixing bowls up against the side to hold the mold upright. As the mixture started to cool and harden, you can add the oatmeal to the top. Some of the oatmeal will sink deeper into the soap which is a nice exfoliating touch where as most of it stays on top for more of an aesthetic approach. 

After a few hours or a full day if you can wait that long, your soap will be ready to remove from the mold! Pull the sides and ends back away from the hardened bar and gently push the bottom to get the whole bar loose and it should pop out perfectly. Here’s what it will look like before you cut it into individualized bars. You can see how the taupe soap Rhi added in at the end really created a subtle but beautiful watercolor effect.

From there you can start cutting your soap into individual bars in whatever size you’d like. These bars of soap are great for giving to friends, family and neighbors as gifts. Alex of Prairie Letter Shop calligraphed the soap variety on the top of these sweet kraft boxes. Since melt and pour soap is very heat sensitive and a pretty creamy soap, Rhi would suggest wrapping each bar in a wax or parchment paper before placing them in the boxes.

Rhi purchased all of the supplies with the exception of the wavy soap cutter (you can find that here at Michaels), online at Bulk Apothecary. The craft boxes were purchased here.

These instructions are a modified version of Rhi's words. If you're interested in reading her post on the soap, click here. Have a great day everyone! 

 

ROB AND HANNAH // A GRAND RAPIDS WEDDING

 

I first met Rob and Hannah over coffee at Starbucks where they shared their story with me and all the plans for their 2017 summer wedding. I knew as I listened to them that I not only wanted to photograph their wedding day but I also wanted to get to know them more! We had a lot of fun during their engagement session and I was also fortunate enough to photograph pictures for Rob's family before the big day. These two seriously felt like great friends by the time their wedding day came! Everything was so beautiful and it was such a fun day. I'm so grateful for all of the incredible people I meet doing what I love. I can't wait until I get to photograph them again in the future! 

 

THE TROUVAILLE WORKSHOP

 

I'm so honored to have photographed three of the five Trouvaille Workshops and this last, farewell Trouvaille was no exception! Rhi's vision and execution of each one was so beautifully & intentionally designed. This last Trouvaille was hosted at the stunning Hotel Walloon! This was such an incredible experience and I'm truly grateful to have worked alongside so many talented women! Today you will see the fun and bright design dinner featured on the Every Last Detail Blog! I'm so excited to finally be able to share some of my favorites from Trouvaille! Grab a cup of coffee because there are so many photos it was hard to narrow it down. 

To read about Rhiannon's personal experience and her five Trouvaille takeaways you can see her post here.

Host and concept: Rhiannon Bosse

 Photography: Samantha James Photography 

Venue and catering: The Talcott at Hotel Walloon 

Linens: Nuage Designs 

Stationery and calligraphy: MM Ink 

Rentals: The Rental Company

Candles: Creative Candles

Floral supplier: Florabundance

Acrylic goods: Jenn and Jules

Ribbon: Midori Ribbon

Beauty: Onsite Bridal

Gowns and veil: Spring Sweet

 

JOSH AND SHELBY // ANNIVERSARY SESSION

 

Shelby and I have known one another for quite some time and we have watched one another grow both personally and professionally. She recently contacted me about having some photos of her and Josh taken to celebrate their 7th wedding anniversary! It's really fun to watch someone walk through the different seasons that life brings and being invited into it to capture and celebrate milestones. Of course, we had to have some fun and do something to make their session a little different while also incorporating Shelby's love and talent for florals. Scroll through this post to see what she did!