Have you ever been to a wedding in January in Minnesota?
Prior to Alyssa and Mike's wedding, I had been to one frozen January ceremony 6 years ago... And as most Minnesotan's know, committing to a January wedding here means you REALLY want to get married. Your chances of having a "nice" day, meaning, above -25 degrees with windchill are slim at best. That being said, Alyssa & Mike's wedding was a January dream.
I'll let you in on another secret. This beautiful day was planned in a 1 month engagement.
It is hard to summarize a backstory like theirs, but I will do my best. Before it was Alyssa and Mike, it was Alyssa and Kaia. Kaia is Alyssa's beautiful 2 year old daughter. Kaia has been the light of Alyssa's life since she made her appearance just over 2 years ago. Around this same time, Mike entered their world and couldn't help but fall in love with the two of them. Their beautiful family came together this January as Mike chose to officially adopt Kaia, however he has been happily accepting the title "dad" for much longer. They chose to carefully put together a small, intimate ceremony with close friends and family to share their love story and become one as a family. Even though it was a quick engagement and all about becoming a union, every detail was carefully selected together.
The Wedding Day
The day started early. Alyssa and I were off to hair and make-up, starting in Edina. We were charged up on coffee and reciting vows in the most ridiculous voices, ready to take on this day. The nerves hadn't hit yet. Alyssa was floating and I was so happy to be by her side, capturing her joy. I couldn't put my camera down.
After hair and makeup were complete, we faced the chilling cold and got in the car to head to the historic Lowell Inn in Stillwater. Once at the hotel, we had to take a moment and look around in amazement. Have you seen the Lowell Inn?? It's like dropping into a little capsule of early 1900s history. From the crystal chandeliers to velvet curtains, the antique wooden furniture to perfect crown moulding and gold accents, we were in awe.
Ok, so those of you who have gotten married, how did your timeline go? Nearly every wedding I have photographed or been to, no matter how well planned, the timeline became a complete timewarp (thats really my best word for it??). Time just seems to skip around when you're having fun getting ready. I focused on detail shots of jewelry, shoes, and all the pretty things while Alyssa finished touching up. With the weather being as cold as it was, we decided to grab a few bridal portraits of her in the hotel room instead of spending extra time outside.. and honestly, I am so happy we did! She's simply stunning!
We're ready for the first look. Mike called us about 15 minutes into the bridal portraits (yes, time really flew by!!) saying he was ready, and that it's time to go! We made a game plan for the first look to be in the hotel lobby, mike waited under that beautiful chandelier for Alyssa to walk down the staircase.
Now that we're together, we've got about 15 minutes for a few intimate couples portraits in the hotel! I believe that intimate was the right word.. many small hallways and low ceilings led us to the quiet hotel room where Alyssa and Mike had a moment to embrace in a moment of peace and quiet before they would encounter their guests. Luckily, the room was equipped with an emerald green, velvet, chaise lounge.
As mentioned before, its incredibly cold outside, but we still managed to catch a few outdoor portraits in natural light while waiting for Mike to pull up with the car. She is truly glowing, even in that crisp January wind chill.
Next we arrive at the venue. The event planner has carefully set up tables, benches and had an aisle made at one of Alyssa and Mike's favorite breweries.
Time is flying by at this point and we are ready to roll! These two cannot wait to get married! Alyssa's mom Kate, and her daughter Kaia, walked her down the aisle.
Mike and his best friend, Joe (who was their ordained minister) waited at the end of the Aisle. Kate and Kaia went to their seats. Joe proceeded to tell us the story of how Alyssa and Mike met. This story is truly original. I will just say that when they met, Alyssa was recently divorced and 7 months pregnant with Kaia. Mike was their waiter, and when he asked for Alyssa's number, she gave him her mom's number. HA! Anyway, it all worked out, here we are nearly 2 years later. Mike was there for all the important moments. Including the incredibly precious moment below that had us all in tears.
It was almost as if they had planned this moment on cue, but as we all know, with a 2 year old there is no planning. In the photo above, Joe is telling us what Mike had told him before meeting Alyssa. He wondered if he would ever become a dad. Even though Alyssa and Mike were just getting to know each other when Kaia entered the world, Mike is dad, and as soon as Kaia heard those words, she jumped out of her seat, went up to the front of the aisle and hugged mike as if on cue. What a perfect moment, are you kidding me?? I don't think a single person in this room wasn't moved to tears. She insisted on hugging on him for the rest of the story.
Husband & Wife!!! They did it!!
Now that cocktail hour has started, we decided to head outside for a quick photo of the wedding party and immediate family.
Reception time--but first, cake! Alyssa's friend Erica made this cake and did such an amazing job! There were so many personal touches to this wedding that made it even more special.
Alyssa gained a new little sister tonight, as well as a brother. Mike gained two new sisters.
The first dance. Kaia joined them at the legs, but they had a pretty special moment on the dance floor, I am so happy to have captured. The look of pure joy. This is why I do what I do, for all of the precious moments, the fleeting snapshots that are so fast paced on your wedding day. I love to capture those and can't wait to hear how you feel, replaying your wedding day through my lens.