Josh + Chris / Kalamazoo Michigan Wedding Photographer

I cried a lot at this wedding.

Like a lot.

You would think that being a wedding photographer means that you get used to it, but you don’t. I felt this one deeply for a million reasons. Because I went to kindergarten with Josh and still remember playing tag on the playground. Because when I met Chris for the first time, he hugged me like he already loved me. Because after 12 years of love, they deserve marriage.

When the courthouse unexpectedly closed on their wedding date, Josh and Chris invited their closest friends and family to their home for the ceremony. They celebrated the next day with a backyard reception full of drinks, amazing barbecue, dancing, and JOY.

Weddings like this remind me of why I’m a photographer. I see what makes these two perfect for each other, and I want to share it with the world.

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The Whittingtons / Benton Harbor Michigan Wedding Photographer

Jaime and Nate have known each other since Elementary school. Their kind of love is the kind of love that is real and deep and comfortable. It is the kind of love that spills over onto others and allows them to feel loved too.

Ever since it opened, I’ve wanted to photograph a wedding at Sundance Studios. When Jaime told me that she and Nate were getting married there, I about lost my mind. It is incredibly fun to take pictures there, and Jaime and Nate were down for any of my weird ideas. We never had to leave the venue, and it made the day feel “easy.”

The decor was amazing. The dancing was crazy.

I hope you can feel the good good vibes from this day through your computer screen.

Dress: Memories Bridal and Evening Wear
Florist: Crystal Springs Florist
Venue: Sundance Studio
Cake: Baker’s Rhapsody
Drinks: With a Twist Bartending
Caterer: Radisson Catering
DJ/MC: Bee Entertainment

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The Pecks / Kalamazoo Michigan Wedding Photographer

According to my mother, Kevin and I go way way back. When we were three, we had a play date at a local park and I gave him my stuffed animal. I’d like to think it was then that I solidified my reservation as his wedding photographer. I say it that way because even though I was a hired professional, I was truly the lucky one. The day was so fun and beautiful it was the kind of wedding photographers drool over. Branda and Kevin trusted me totally. They let me be creative. So it wasn’t just the wedding that made me so happy, it was them.

I mean, the venues didn’t hurt though. Their ceremony was at one of my favorite places in Kalamazoo. As soon as I heard the words “Brewery Wedding,” I was IN. Arcadia Ales has amazing food and amazing beer and amazing atmosphere. It’s industrial but somehow homey. They have lawn games and you can paddle your kayak up to their boat launch overlooking the Kalamazoo River.

And for the reception, we danced the night away at Monaco Bay, a dueling piano bar. Because it is part of the Entertainment District downtown, we also had access to Loft 310, Gatsby Night Club, and SkyDeck. Everything was gorgeous, and the staff coordinating the night were incredible.

I love being a Kalamazoo wedding photographer. We’ve got some super cool places to get married and even cooler people.

Branda and Kevin are the kind of people that I love to sit down and share a drink with. Branda has the best laugh, and Kevin has a way of making you feel heard and valued. They have been together for a long time, and I know that their love and kindness will continue.

Dress: Azazie
Flowers: Stems Market
Venues: Arcadia Ales, Monaco Bay
Hair/MUA: Avante Salon

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Bloom Workshop / Leland Michigan Photographer

Michigan summers are magical. Our state has some real hidden gems and Leland fish town is definitely one of them. I never would have discovered it’s historic wooden shake covered shanties without Brooke. She, the creative force behind Stellaluna Events, is another one of those Michigan gems.

We were in the area for a super sweet girly workshop on floral design and hand lettering (check out the Bloom Workshop site here). And after driving three and a half hours up to Northern Michigan, we were not disappointed. The workshop was fabulous… SO MANY PRETTY FLOWERS… and when we finished, getting sandwiches from the Village Cheese Shanty was well worth seven collective hours in the car.

Being a photographer is easy in Leland. There is so much texture and visual interest. Taking pictures at Bloom- surrounded by intentionally lovely things, was obviously a breeze as well. I hope you enjoy living vicariously through these images.

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The Leisters / Kalamazoo Wedding Photographer

Harshini asked me to be her wedding photographer when we met through Airbnb. It was a moment of absolute serendipity. It didn’t work out for me to rent her beautiful home for a photoshoot at the time, but I was able to photograph it nonetheless on her wedding day. The previous owners of the home were married there too, and I have to say, it felt like the perfect place for a celebration.

Harshini and Lewis balance each other so well. She, the petite spitfire from India, and he, the gentle giant from the Midwest. Together with their family, they crafted their wedding with care. Flowers from friends, an arbor built by Lewis, and desserts made by Harshini, made the day feel both special and intimate.

When they laughed, I laughed. When they shed happy tears, I did too. It was a perfect day.

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The Schultzes / Mattawan Michigan Wedding Photography

I was dying to photograph this apple orchard, farm-to-table, brewery reception wedding from the moment Andrew told me he was going to propose to Ruth. Colin and I were sitting outside at Texas Corners Brewing Company on our first date night since moving back to Michigan. I’ve known Andrew for years from school and his family farm, but I had never seen him so giddy… smile crinkles dancing in place happy.

The whole wedding was full to overflowing with joy. From an outdoor ceremony with the orchard as a backdrop to the reception at the brewery and the best wedding band I’ve ever heard (seriously, their rendition of Up Town Funk was AMAZING), it was the kind of wedding I could have stayed at forever. At the end of the night, Ruth asked to take a picture with me because “You’re not just our photographer, you’re our friend!”

Folks, that’s what I live for.

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The LeFeveres / Holland Michigan Wedding Photography

“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.”
― E.E. Cummings

Emily and Drew live for adventure. They will do anywhere together and they are each others best teammates. Like, they should probably do the amazing race. They can handle anything together.

They were married on a bright day in early summer in Spring Grove Park where the sun was warm and the breeze was cool. They set off a rocket afterwards and danced the night away at Baker Lofts in Holland.

It was a good day. The best day.

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Rhian and Danny / Chicago Engagement Session

I’m always down for discovering new places and an engagement photography session at Morton Arboretum sounded like a dream. I couldn’t imagine a more perfect couple to explore with. Rhian is my husband’s little sister and although 7 years apart, they both have the Whitehurst gene for goofery. Danny obviously fits into the family very well. When Rhian asked if I would prefer to be a bridesmaid or the photographer, I felt so honored. It was an easy choice because 1. SHE’S SUPER PRETTY AND I LOVE TO TAKE HER PICTURE and 2. I’ll still get to spend all day with her. For their engagement session, we went on an adventure in the forest ending with a super sweet moment under a flowering tree.

Gosh, I love these guys. I can’t wait for your wedding. It’s going to be EPIC.

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The Grandlienards / Chicago Maternity Session

Maternity photography celebrates the strength of the female body and the hope of what is yet unseen. Spring is the perfect time for it, because we see the fruits of our hope manifested in nature. Emily and Jared are going to be great parents. They are compassionate and strong. Unwavering in love. The flowering spring trees in Lombard’s Lilacia Park are like them… rooted and beautiful. It was the perfect place for a maternity session.

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Lynsey and Jennifer / Kalamazoo Engagement Photography

In case you can’t tell, this engagement session was a ton of fun. Like a LOT. Lynsey and Jenny are who they are- no holding back- and who they are is a little goofy, and a whole lot of kind. I actually spent some time in a thesaurus trying to find a better word than “kind,” because it’s frankly insufficient. Their accepting authenticity freed me to be myself too. They have been through a lot, and rather than becoming hard and angry people, they have settled in to a give zero sh!ts and have fun regardless life together.

I wont be at their wedding (shout out to the amazing Paige for taking care of them while I’m in Denver), but I know that it’s going to be a rip-roaring good time for all.

Love you ladies!

-Rachel

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