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Hannah and Keith's Wedding at Stonegate Glass Chapel

A Romantic Winter Wedding

Spring had arrived very early in the midwest. Buds were already appearing on trees. Flowers were starting to bloom. The grass was turning green. Temperatures continued to spike in the 60s and 70s. As Hannah and Keith’s wedding day approached, an arctic blast from the north was predicted. Temperatures plummeted below freezing at night. Hovering in the 30s during the day. On the day of their wedding. The sun was shining, but it was deceiving. The high was 32 and the wind made it feel even colder. It felt like we took a step back into the heart of winter. Even though it was cold, I knew this day was going to be wonderful! Hannah and Keith are such a kind, down to earth couple. Their wedding day would be special no matter the weather!

When Alex and I arrived we were the only ones there, but there was a calmness in the air. Things were just destined to go smoothly. We chatted with Allie, one of the staff members at Stonegate. She raved about how kind the family was during the rehearsal dinner. I was excited to start the day. Alex and I decided to head down to the chapel and bridal suite to take photos before the wedding party arrived. I photographed the chapel, small organic details, and the getting ready rooms. Before I knew it, I saw two people walking down the walkway towards us. It was Hannah's mom and her grandma. They arrived before Hannah did with all the details. Her dress, her shoes, jewelry…you name it. Her grandma proudly showed me the lace that she took from her own wedding gown that Hannah would be tying around her bouquet for the ceremony. I chatted to both of them about how the one thing that I regret is how I no longer have my wedding gown anymore and to make sure Hannah kept hers. This was the message that Alex I both passed along to Hannah later on in the day. You never know, while that dress will sit in the closet most of the time, there are going to be moments in the future where it will feel like the most important thing in the world.

I got to work photographing the details. Hannah officially arrived. When she got there, it was just her and I in the getting ready room. Plus Alex every once in a while. Hannah mentioned how she was grateful for some quiet time because she knew that once everyone arrived it was going to get a little crazy. One special detail that I got to photograph was Hannah's gift to Keith. She had ordered a custom box with a ring that he had picked out, but he didn't think that she was going to get it for him. The last detail I wanted to photograph was her dress. Hannah mentioned how much she would love to have a photograph of her dress on the chapel doors and Alex and I tag teamed to carry her beautiful ball gown down to the chapel and back. I was so nervous because the skirt was so big. I was afraid I was going to ruin it! But we made it safely to the chapel and back. Once I finished photographing details, we had heard that Keith and his groomsmen had arrived. At this time the bridal suite was starting to fill up. Bridesmaids had arrived as well as the ring bearer (the ring bear definitely stole parts of the show during the night, he had such a big personality).

I told Hannah I was going to go photograph Keith getting ready and then I would be back to get her in her gown. The groom’s suite is quite a bit smaller than the bridal suite. When I walked in it was completely full. All the groomsmen were dressed and ready to go. Keith was busy putting on his tie. Sometimes this takes quite a few tries, but I think he's got it in about three three attempts! That's pretty good from what I've seen in the past! I dragged him outside to do a few pictures on the porch and had Alex go and get the boutonnieres. When they arrived, I picked up the one made for the groom and got really excited. This was the first time I had ever seen a boutonniere with a magnetic clip before. Usually boutonnieres require two pins and it can be kind of tricky to attach them to the jacket. I excitedly told Keith about the magnet, but his face dropped. This was not going to work. Keith's situation is unique. He has a pacemaker and can't have anything magnetic near him. So, we made the best of it and took one of the groomsmen's boutonnieres and just made sure that whoever ended up with the boutonniere designated for Keith, took out the extra Greenery. Keith's dad attached the boutonniere to his jacket. He nailed it on the first try. I asked Keith to take a few last photos in front of the chapel before I headed back to Hannah to get her into her dress. I let Keith know that I would be stealing him in a little bit for his first look.

I made my way back to Hannah's getting ready room and she was ready to get into her gown. While they got the dress down, I snuck the rings one last time to take some photos on top of her bridal bouquet. Once back inside, Hannah was officially in her gown. It was absolutely perfect for her big day. The weather in March can be a bit of a gamble. You could have sunny and 70°, a thunderstorm, snow, basically anything that you could think of. You just don't know what you're going to get. Fate must have known that it was going to be cold because she chose a long sleeve gown. Buttons ran down the back into a giant tulle skirt. I knew this dress would photograph beautifully. Her mom helped button up the back of her gown. Once buttoned, we moved Hannah to the couch to put on her shoes. Her older sister suggested that she have her mom get dressed to help her put her shoes on, but Hannah was already on a mission to do it herself. Even if it was a bit of a struggle. I dried off her bouquet and got her Grandma's lace ready to be tied on. Her mom sat down next to her and the two of them worked together to tie the lace onto the bouquet. It was time for a first look with her dad.I ran to get her dad and put him in position, and then went to get Hannah. Smiles lit his face when he saw his daughter for the first time. We snapped a quick photo of the two of them smiling together and then it was time to go get Keith.

For my couples at Stonegate, I love to do first looks near the chapel. It's hard not to want to photograph everything by the chapel because it's so gorgeous. :D I put Keith in position and went to get Hannah. Hannah required the help of her sister to walk down the hill. Her sister held her train while they slowly made their way towards Keith. The wind seemed to become stronger near the chapel. Poor Keith must have been held in suspense as we tried to get Hannah's veil to stay down. Eventually he was given the go ahead to turn around and his face exploded in joy. The dress was exactly what he thought Hannah would choose. They know each other too well. After the first look we immediately jumped into some portraits. Hannah had a long veil embellished with small pearls. I was excited to take veil shots, but due to the wind we were on the struggle bus. I'm so sorry Hannah and Keith, I think you two stayed nose to nose for probably 5 to 10 minutes while Alex and I struggled with the veil in the wind. LOL That will definitely be a memory from your big day. After their portraits we went to grab the wedding party. I knew we were going to have to work fast because the bridesmaids did not have sleeves on their gowns and it was very cold. I huddled them all into the chapel and told them the game plan. We would do a photo outside the chapel doors, do a photo in the chapel, and do one last photo over by the swing and then they would be free to break.

The ceremony went absolutely perfect. Her dad officiated and her grandfather was in charge of communion. I managed to sneak up right before they had communion to get some special photos from a different angle. After communion, her dad said some closing words and they sealed their marriage with a kiss. They made their way back down the aisle and prepared for a bubble exit from the chapel. Guests lined up along the pathway. The bubble machine was turned on and everyone was instructed to blow bubbles as Keith and Hannah walked up the path. Hannah made me smile as she made sure to tell guests, “we just want this for the picture!” :D and I think Keith got his perfect picture at this moment. He opened up his mouth to catch some bubbles and by some fluke circumstance, I caught a picture of him with a bubble right in front of his mouth. I told Hannah that was going to be my first sneak peek I showed her. That's going in their final gallery for sure LOL. Family photos followed the ceremony and then we snuck a few more portraits in with Hannah and Keith. Alex was most excited about the donuts and I told him to run up to the reception hall to get some so we could take a photo. He brought some extras and I even got to try one! Those mini Donuts were absolutely delicious.

At the reception hall, the wedding party lined up with Hannah and Keith outside the main doors. The wedding party was announced first, followed by Hannah and Keith who went straight into their first dance. The staff made sure to plate a meal for both Hannah and Keith and it was ready at their table once their dances were done. Tables were dismissed for dinner and Hannah snuck out to change out of her ball gown into her reception dress. Her reception dress was equally beautiful. A chiffon gown that flowed in the wind and was perfect for sunset photos. Once back at the reception hall, Hannah and Keith made their way around the tables to greet their guests. After a while they cut their cake followed by speeches from the best man and maid of honor. After the speeches, they had an anniversary dance. I agree with the DJ when he said that he hadn't seen this many married couples on the dance floor in a long time. It was a special moment. After the anniversary dance it was time for sunset photos. The sun was shining through the woods and I thought we might be able to take advantage of that light before heading to higher ground. I dragged them into the woods behind the reception space, unfortunately the light was not quite right and we ended up just walking the back of the building (which probably looked really weird to guests but actually ended up being an easier walk than the other way lol). We headed across the street. I was inspired by how beautiful the sky was. It was partly cloudy, highlighted in pink, purple, and blue. It was at this moment that the bright orange light chose to shine from the other direction and I flipped them around for some gorgeous golden hour pictures. I'm just so happy that we timed that just right. A complete fluke, but it worked out just the way it was meant to. We took these photos very fast because it was so cold and made our way back to the reception.

It was almost dark. Guests started to pull out glow wands and the dance floor filled with people. Two of my favorite moments from the reception was Jackson's (the ring bearer) big moment during Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 song. He stole the show while family gathered around him and sang the song. Second favorite moment was when the dance floor was completely full and then the song Cotton Head Road came on. This is not a well-known song and I think the guests agreed. They completely abandoned ship. With the dance floor empty, one guest decided to be brave. He got out his phone and started watching a YouTube video on how to do the line dance. It became a solo performance where he was eventually joined by two other brave souls near the end. Hannah later told me that she missed the whole thing because she was in the bathroom! Hopefully other people recorded it for her.

Hannah and Keith, your wedding was absolutely wonderful. Thank you so much for allowing Alex and I to capture these memories. We had the best time. Both of you have such wonderful families. I wish you both the best as you begin your journey of marriage. I hope Big Cedar was a blast and I'm going to be on the lookout for pictures of your epic honeymoon. I'll have to let you know how our big trip goes at the end of the year too! Hugs and lots of love, Christina and Alex

Hannah + Keith

Dream Team

Tux/Suit: The Black Tux

Make-Up: Makeup by Ashley Nicole

Hair: Nicole Swarengin

Grooms Ring: Northern Royal

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