angela + curt

Last summer a few friends from high school got together to catch up. On that day we asked our friend Angela if her and her fiancé had set a wedding date. She giggled and didn't answer right away, so we knew something was up. Turns out she was planning on getting married the following week! 

She and her fiancé Curt didn't want a huge ceremony, so they decided to get married and celebrate with the couple that had set them up. They then spent the following weekend up north. 

Soon after they were married, Angela asked me to help her with invites for the reception. I gladly obliged and created the following invites for their fall reception in Madison. 

The reception was held at The Bayou, a New Orleans inspired restaurant in Madison. It is one of Curt and Angela's favorite restaurants. I arrived early to help them set up some autumnal decorations which included vases filled with pumpkins and pinecones, leaves and awesome slabs of wood that Curt and his son Owen cut and finished. There were also little matchbook paper crafts that Angela had made, each which held a mint inside. 

The afternoon was filled with friends and family talking and drinking. Many of the kids hung out upstairs running and jumping around. 

Dinner was amazing. Eric and I got to choose different meals so we could try each other's. He got the chicken pasta in creole sauce while I got the crab stuffed salmon. 

After dinner the couple showed a slideshow which included pictures of both Angela and Curt over the years - both their individual lives growing up until the time they had spent together over the past couple of years. Unfortunately the slideshow kept going silent every now and then and since my husband Eric was sitting next to it, he was in charge to fix it. Every time the music would stop, you'd hear Angela and others yelling across the room "ERIC!" to remind him to get the music started again. 

After the slideshow, Angela's three brothers gave speeches. Each speech was very heartfelt, especially her youngest brother Jordan, who probably made everyone cry. 

I'm glad we were able to celebrate with this wonderful couple. Angela and Curt are perfect together. They are going to have so many fun adventures together! 

sam + drew get married, part 4

My last post left off with Samantha getting ready for the ceremony. Here, I pick up where Sam and Drew have their first look. 

My brother Ben arrived in town just before this was about to take place and was given a video camera which he'd be in charge of for the day. Ben and I led Drew down towards the lake [where the ceremony initially would have been held if not for the high water] to wait for Sam. 

Ben stayed with Drew, as I went to get Sam. Here are the moments that followed.

After their first look it was time to head to Memorial Park in Washburn, where the ceremony would take place. Sam's niece Capri, and Drew's niece Natalie were to proceed the couple down the aisle. Instead of flowers, however, they held little driftwood signs with "Here They Come" and "To Have and To Hold" written on them. For just meeting moments earlier, you will see they were fast friends.

The ceremony started with Sam's parents walking her across a bridge. From there, Sam met up with Drew as they walked down the aisle together. 

A Bayfield county court commissioner officiated the ceremony. The couple read their own vows, exchanged rings, and united the sands gathered days earlier. 

After everything was official, we took a few more pictures while the kids played on the playground before heading over to the restaurant for dinner. 

Everyone headed over to Good Thyme for dinner. Before everyone sat down for the meal, there were some family photos taken outside. 

Once inside there was lots of great conversations and a wonderful meal. The bride's brother gave a toast and her Grandma gave a sentimental gift. 

The night ended with some gambling at the hotel. I am not sure how much others spent, but Katie, Andy, and I used the free $15 given to us [for staying at the resort] to see what we could win. I think I walked away with $9 and a little change while Katie and Andy hit it big time [as seen in their expressions below] and combined won less than a dollar.  

The couple couldn't have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect and it was apparent everyone had a wonderful time celebrating the newly wed couple! 

sam + drew get married, part 3

I thought I would be able to put Sam and Drew's entire wedding day into one post, but I guess not. There are too many pictures to share! So be prepared for many pictures and a few more posts. 

Katie, Andy, and I started out the day at The Egg Toss [thanks for the recommendation, Rachel!] for breakfast. It is a popular place! Also, their egg white omelet is huge. Even when your waitress warns you it will be huge and you think you understand, you really don't until it arrives [sorry I have no photographic proof]. 

After breakfast it was time to head to Ashland since a few of the ladies had hair appointments at Escape by the Lake. I had fun hanging out at the salon capturing these moments.

The appointments took a bit longer than expected, so we needed to quickly return to the hotel to finish getting ready.

While Sam was changing into her beautiful dress, with the help of her mom, our Grandma and uncle arrived. The room was filled with smiles and excitement until we found out the hotel had given away our Grandma and uncle's room.

Here's where I should state that this information should not be given to a bride on her wedding day. Don't let the bride know about these issues! [Yes, I'm also talking about the restaurant call Sam received that stated there needed to be a change with one of the meats being served that evening.]

Everything worked out in the end, but a bride has enough to worry about, and there are plenty of other people willing to help out with issues that arise the day of. 

Anyway, back to the pictures. 

Enjoy some of my favorite pictures of Sam getting ready!

sam + drew get married, part 2

On the second day up north, it was time to leave St. Germain and head to Washburn. Katie, Andy, and I met bride-to-be Sam at Memorial Park where the ceremony was to be held. There, we picked some flowers to make a bouquet and had a little rehearsal to figure out the logistics for the ceremony. 

After the rehearsal, Sam took us to the little beach where the wedding was initially going to be held. There was a last minute change because the water was too high and there basically wasn't any beach left. 

Katie and Andy, sand collecting pros that they were at this point, collected more sand. This is the sand that would be mixed with the sand collected from St. Germain.

By now it was time for lunch so we we went to downtown Washburn and had lunch at Cafe Coco. We walked around for a bit before heading to Good Thyme Restaurant to set up for the dinner that would be held there the following evening.

Good Thyme is a restaurant set in what looks like a very old home. The grounds are beautiful. We were lucky enough to be able to set everything up the day before and take a look around this beautiful property. 

Here are the decorations. The boats were made of driftwood that Sam's aunt collected. The sails were made from some old handkerchiefs from our Grandma, as well as burlap. 

After decorating, we took a break at our hotel before heading out for supper. Katie, Andy and I were going to try Maggie's but the wait was ridiculous. It mainly appealed to us because of the pink building and the fact that there were flamingos EVERYWHERE inside. Real kitschy, but funny none-the-less.

Instead we headed to Morty's Pub for a fish fry.

Before sunset we started getting ready for the meet and greet campfire. Since the families of the bride and groom had yet to meet, this was a good chance to get everyone together before the big day. 

Sam let me put together s'mores bags for everyone. I had a lot of fun screen printing Meet, Greet & Eat bags which Katie and I filled with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate.

It was a perfect evening to be near the water eating s'mores around a campfire and meeting new people. 

sam + drew get married, part 1

Over the next few posts I have quite a few pictures to share from my cousin Samantha's wedding. Sam and her fiancé Drew got engaged in northern Wisconsin so that is where they decided to get married, among close family and friends. 

I was thrilled to be asked to help with her invites as well as photograph their wedding! Below are the Save the Date postcards the couple sent out. 

Unfortunately because of work obligations my husband was not able to attend. Instead, I spent 5 days being the third wheel with my cousin Katie and her husband Andy. We drove up the Thursday before the wedding to spend our first night at Katie's family's cabin in St. Germain, WI. Growing up, my family would join Katie's and we'd spend some time at the cabin almost every summer. It had been quite a few years since I had been there, so it was nice to be back.

We arrived and immediately saw a deer! Best welcome ever.  

Before setting off for our first big adventure, we took our luggage inside and showed Andy around as he had never been to the cabin before. 

What was this big adventure, you are wondering? Sand collecting. 

Collecting sand sounds easy, correct? Yes. But not when there is only wet sand and you need it to be dried within a day. Because the couple had been engaged in St. Germain, they wanted sand from the local lake to use in the ceremony [to be poured together with another sand, instead of a unity candle]. 

As we went to collect the sand, we realized there was no dry sand to be found. Being the good sister Katie is, she collected said wet sand. We then headed back to the cabin where Katie and Andy laid it out on paper bags in hopes it would dry. 

This may have seemed like a good idea if it was around noon on a very hot day, however, it was not. Since the sun would be setting within an hour or two we thought there'd be no chance of the sand drying in time. 

Our next plan was to go find dry sand, even if it wasn't from the specific beach we were told to gather it from. So, off to another lake we went to get dry sand. 

Did I mention that Katie is a good sister? Of course, and that's why even though we now had the dry sand that we could have EASILY said was from the correct beach, Katie couldn't do it. 

We went to get supper and discussed our next move. Upon arriving back at the cabin, Andy tried to use a hair dryer to dry the sand. As you can probably guess, this was a mess.

We then decided we would bake it. I asked the Twitter world for help and no one out there had suggestions for me. [Thanks for not being there for me Twitter!]

Finally Katie just set the oven to 300 degrees and what would you know? DRY SAND! It took a few batches and the cabin ended up smelling a little bit like fish, but otherwise, SUCCESS! 

I really should think about putting that on my resume. Assisted in drying wet sand in a time crunch. 

jeff + kersten

Last May, the week after my wedding, I was lucky to attend another wedding. This time it was as a photographer for Jeff and Kersten's wedding. [I'll admit it was great to be behind the camera again and not in front of it!]

Their wedding was held at The Barn at Harvest Moon Pond in Poynette, WI. It was a fantastic venue - the barn has been renovated very beautifully and the grounds around the barn are just as spectacular. The decorations the couple put together fit so perfectly and looked great in the space.

The weather was perfect - although maybe a tad hot during the outdoor service, but I think once the service started, no one was even concentrating on the heat, but rather on the couple confessing their love for one another. 

I can safely say, the highlight of the ceremony was that Kersten wrote her vows and that Jeff SANG his as a surprise for his bride. It should also be mentioned that he not only sang, but played guitar. 

I'm trying to refrain from saying 'it was so sweet' or it was so awesome' up above, since I think I've already used my quota of fantastic, beautiful, perfect [etc.] adjectives in this post...but let's be honest, it was such a GREAT wedding. 

I feel lucky to be part of this day and to capture this wonderful couple and all their family and friends who came to celebrate. Thanks Jeff and Kersten! 

[Also, a HUGE thanks to my friend / cousin Sam, who was my second shooter.] 

whale tie clip

Can you bear with me for ONE MORE wedding post? I guess you have no choice unless you stop reading at this second...

The last story I wanted to share was of Eric's tie clip. I had the great idea to buy him a tie clip as a surprise. The morning of the wedding, I gave the gift to our best man Brian to hand to Eric.

Everything went as planned, EXCEPT - Eric had already bought a [different] whale tie clip to wear to surprise ME. 

Here is Eric laughing while opening the gift. 

PHOTO BY ESTER B PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO BY ESTER B PHOTOGRAPHY

Afterwards, he swapped the tie clips - he put the clip from me on his tie and put the one he had bought in the box and handed it back to Brian to bring to me. [Are you still following this?!]

I was confused why I was getting the box back. I was still confused when I opened the box to find a different whale tie clip in it until Brian told the story that Eric had bought himself a clip. 

Here I am laughing at this whale tie clip situation. 

PHOTO BY ESTER B PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO BY ESTER B PHOTOGRAPHY

In the end, Eric wore the clip from me and Brian wore the one Eric had bought. Worked out perfectly! 

This was probably one of my favorite memories of the day. 

[Below: TIE made by my mom  |  WHITE WHALE clip I bought  |  TWO WHALES clip Eric bought]

fiess gallery

The day before our wedding we had a few hours to decorate the Fish Hatchery, where we were holding the reception. 

It almost felt as if we were moving into the place, we we had to bring / supply so much. There were tables, chairs, and of course decorations. Most of the decorations were handmade items. When we were about halfway through decorating, a couple showed up at the door. They said they were looking for the Delafield Art Gallery. A friend of my parents told them wrong building, there was not an art gallery at the Fish Hatchery. However, I still think we should have charged them to take a look at some of the homemade items we had! 

I'm very thankful for my creative / talented family. Here's some of the items from the Fiess Gallery. 

My mom sewed a lot. A LOT. See all those table cloths in the first picture? She bought unbleached muslin and made them. She also made the burlap table clothes that were on some of the tables upstairs of the Fish Hatchery. Granted all this really means is that she cut the fabric / burlap and sewed the edges to make them look pretty, but don't let it fool you - it's a lot of work! 

She also made the banner that was hung in the church [and later above the appetizers as seen in the picture below.] 

PHOTO BY ESTER B PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO BY ESTER B PHOTOGRAPHY

I have already shown some of the work my dad did - he made both the picture stands and the wood that was on the bottom of the light-up signs. However, he also made some amazing bowls. These were not made specifically for the wedding, but I brought them along because I like them and we needed some bowls to hold Dum-Dums. 

I may not be as skilled [or as fast] of a sewer as my mom, but I did my best and made the little favors filled with candy for everyone to take home. I used unbleached muslin, made up my own pattern, and sewed about 100 bags. Afterwards, I added string so they could be pulled closed. I also stamped a little saying on each one and filled with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a Dum-Dum sucker.

 A few games we had on the game table had a lot of pieces to them. In order to keep everything together, I made a few more bags for things like Memory, Pick-Up Sticks, and Dominos.

Downstairs at the Fish Hatchery there were a few pictures that I wanted to cover up, so I needed to figure out a way to do so without violating any building rules. I ended up enlarging some of my photos from our Seattle / Orcas Island trip [where we got engaged] and hung a couple on each floor.

For our guest book, we decided it would be fun to get a picture of everyone and have them leave a message. [At some point I will put the pictures / messages in a book.] My cousin Samantha [although not a Fiess, but still a creative family member] was kind enough to go around throughout the night and take the pictures using an Instax mini camera. 

Upstairs we had a table where people could write their messages. I had placed a wire camera my brother had made in college on the table for decoration, but I'm happy to see how people ended up using it by putting their notes on it! 

Finally, there are the bowls that my brother made. If you haven't checked out his fantastic work yet, do so now and then come back to finish reading this. 

I asked him to make a few bowls for the tables and he ended up making many more - so each couple / family could take one home with them. We love how they turned out and how they really added a special touch to the table decor. 

Once again I just want to say how grateful I am for all the help we had with our wedding. We did a lot of DIY projects which took some time, but I would not have had it any other way. 

wedding attire

My dress hunting started in the beginning of the year. I had a few dresses in mind, but it meant I would need to travel to Chicago to try them on. My mom, cousin and I picked a day to head to Chicago to look at wedding and bridesmaid dresses. 

Our first stop was at J.Crew. I tried on quite a few, including a cotton one which I hesitated to try on [it was on my list, but not until I saw it did I realize it was cotton]. 

After J.Crew we had a bit of time before heading to our appointment at BHLDN. We ate lunch and stopped to pick up some Glazed donuts to take home to our guys.

After both of those stops, we still had some time to kill. It was February, but luckily it wasn't too cold out, so it was nice to walk around the windy city. On our way to BHLDN, I saw a sign reading "SPRINKLES CUPCAKE ATM". I had heard of the cupcake atm before, but figured my mom hadn't and would get a kick out of it as she works at a bank.

My cousin tried to buy a cupcake out of the machine but broke it - err, I mean it got stuck. We eventually went inside the store [boring] and bought a cupcake that we all shared. 

We finally made our way to BHLDN where I tried on three dresses - only one which I deemed to be a possibility. 

After that day in Chicago, I think I knew in my mind which dress I wanted but I still showed a few friends the pictures of what I tried on to get opinions. In the end I choose the cotton dress from J.Crew which I almost didn't try on! But in the end, it felt the most "me". Also, it had pockets.

PHOTO BY ESTER B. PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO BY ESTER B. PHOTOGRAPHY

Eric's journey to find a suit was a little bit easier. He ordered two different suits online to try and he also tried one on at J.Crew. He ended up with a suit from Bonobos. His shirt was from Banana Republic Factory.

PHOTO BY ESTER B. PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO BY ESTER B. PHOTOGRAPHY

Katie, my matron-of-honor's dress was also from J.Crew [we had already decided on that during our trip to Chicago.] Unfortunately I can't tell you much about what Brian was wearing, except we bought him the tie! We just wanted him in a suit, looking sharp, which is exactly what he did. We are pretty easy-going that way. 

PHOTO BY ESTER B. PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO BY ESTER B. PHOTOGRAPHY

As for other little details, my necklace and his tie clip were from J.Crew. There's a story to go along with his tie clip, but I will save that for another post. [Tie shown below is a tie my mom made with material that belonged to my Great-Grandma. Eric wore it for rehearsal.]

My belt, earrings and hair clip were from Anthropologie

Eric's shoes were Original Penguin Brogue wing tip while mine were B.A.I.T. Hailey in yellow. 

Oh yes, and I should also mention my make-up was done by my good friend Rachel! Kind of wish I had her on hand daily. 

[Of course this post was not sponsored by any of the places mentioned. Do you really think that many people read my website that I would get a spiff for mentioning them? Well, except Rachel. She may have paid me to say she's a great make-up artist...]

PHOTO BY ESTER B. PHOTOGRAPHY

PHOTO BY ESTER B. PHOTOGRAPHY