Look Your Best:  Engagment Session

Look Your Best: Engagment Session

I absolutely love the chance to shoot engagement photography for my clients.  It allows me a great opportunity to get to know my clients, the way they interact, what are thier favorite things to do and most importantly how I can offer them the most amazing service.


I like to start with the idea around casual and dressy.  My favorite sessions have included both looks but I think it is totally up to my clients,  If you would never find dressing up enjoyable by all means do not go that route.  Me?  I big time love to doll up and see my man in dressier garb (yep, bow ties get me word every time),

Always ensure your clothing allows you to move and be comfortable.  Think about footwear according to our shooting locations- heels in urban locations are great but not so amazing wandering a forest.  You can go for a couple looks by layering (sometimes changing can pose an issue). Girls can add jackets/scarves for a dressier look and reveal a casual top. Same with the guys – you can go with two looks by layering a tee under anther shirt. When it comes to wardrobe just think about what you love seeing him wear – it could be a jersey or a suit. We can go with both. I caution against really busy patterns and very bold colors. Something bold throws a color cast on skin in photos – think about tones that look great on you naturally. If you need help, let me know.


Here is a Pinterest board with some ideas  MY CLOTHING INSPIRATIONS

There are some cute shops in my town I like if you are in the Sycamore, IL. area - STOMP, Carters Cottage, and Cracker Jax.  

Some amazing places you can shop online:  Anthropologie, White House Black Market, or you can do my favorite and RENT a fancy dress from Rent the Runway.  


Weather wise I can handle pretty much anything with a small bit of preparation.  If it rains, I carry umbrellas for sprinkles. If it downpours we will need to get creative with some indoor or covered locations (coffee shops, indoor exhibits, museums, cafes, hotel lobbies, libraries, etc). Try to think of a few of these beforehand in case we have a poor weather day. 


Some girls will have their practice run regarding hair and makeup for the engagement shoot. This helps them feel a little more ‘done-up’ for the shoot and boosts their confidence. I’m not saying you should do this but it certainly feels great to be polished.  However, what I can say is that in my experience shooting engagement sessions, girls want to feel pretty and confident...and sometimes spending a little extra time getting ready achieves just that.  

Hope you are excited about your session and looking amazing!  Your photos are such a fun reflection of the moment that you are in as a newly engaged couple.  Enjoy!

Getting Ready to Get Ready!

The pictures of a bride being primped and prepared for the wedding are some of my favorite images.  The day is full a whirlwind!  Documenting the early moments are precious and will be cherished wedding memories for years to come.

Wedding days are full of amazing moments to photograph and it almost certain that you will want coverage of the start of the festivities.  What marks the start?  To me that would be dressing and preparing the bride for her day.  It can also include the preparations of the groom and others in the bridal party. 

What It Looks Like
Typically we are arriving at the hotel or bridal suite to see the bride and her bridesmaids in the midst of hair and makeup finishing touches. I like to arrive near the end of hair when makeup is applied - the bride will look lovely in her shots when she is 90% prepped.  Girls are usually in their robes (check out Etsy for adorable monogrammed gifts) or button up shirts (watch that hair ladies!).

After a quick introduction, I am going to working to find the details of the bride's wardrobe.   This includes dress, shoes, jewelry, and any special items the bride is including into her day or her look. I will find myself arranging and documenting details - this process takes approximately 20 minutes.  

Once details are down I take a photojournalist approach to the girls getting ready.  Hair, Makeup, gifts, drinks, and good times are all documented.  I like to advise to have bridesmaids and mother or anyone dressing the bride get their dresses on at this time.  They will be ready and looking ready when we photograph the bride dressing.

As long as the groom is nearby I will pop over and check in on the boys.  We can document his process which often includes putting on vests, ties, boutonnieres, coats, etc. Those nervous fidgets get me every time.   Sometimes I will deliver the groom's letter or gift from the bride.  Getting ready shots including the groomsmen and their personalities are a must at this time.  In total it should not take more than 15 minutes.

Now we dress the bride!  I am a modest gal so I don't shoot any birthday suits, but nice tasteful images of bride getting into the dress (zip up, tie bows, etc.).  



Putting on shoes, jewelry, perfume - all photo moments here.  Oh, and don't forget the handkerchief for those happy tears!

So the day typically can look like this for a bride:

11:00 Hair
12:00 Make up
12:30 Photography service begins
1:00 Final makeup touches
1:00 Bridesmaids Dressed
1:15  Groom Getting ready
1:30 Dress bride
2:00 See Father for first look
2:10 First Look
2:20 Bridal Party Portraits
3:00 Couple Private time
3:30 Return to hide for Ceremony and touch ups
4:00 Ceremony ...

I love ensuring we get some amazing photos during the early parts of the day.  As much time as I can get I will take because there will be so many more distractions later in the day.  Also, bride will look perfect - documenting early is a good idea if we are fighting the elements or emotions (yep, happy tears!).

Planning ahead to get your getting ready timeline set is crucial to a relaxed pre-ceremony atmosphere.  I feel there is no such thing as being too prepared and it helps you enjoy your beautiful wedding day the way you always dreamed to! 

ENJOY your day, and if you need tips, feel free to ask your wedding vendors.  We are here to serve and help you make your day simply the best. 

Wedding Credit: Rayanne and Andrew 


First Look: Should We Do It?

Are you considering seeing each other before the ceremony?  It can be a weighty decision for couples to make.  Why?  Well, first off it bucks tradition that says the bride and groom should not see each other prior to walking down the isle. 

The traditionalists in your family might roll their eyes. 

I am not here today to talk you into one way or the other, but to offer you a view from both sides of the fence.  Perhaps some of this information will help you in choosing how to structure your day. 


  • Seeing  each other privately allows you to have an emotional reaction on your terms.  If you get really emotional you can retouch your makeup and such before your ceremony.
  • You get to have a quiet moment before you start the most whirlwind day you have ever had.  Family and friends will be everywhere - it will be much harder to steal a private moment later on.
  • You will have lovely portraits.  If you are choosing to do a first look I always suggest giving photography 30 minutes of time.  You are at your freshest, your makeup is perfect and it a wonderful time to have private portraits.  
  • If you do portraits at this time you will have more time at your reception and cocktail hour. 
  • You will be able to have secondary location in your images if you choose.  Many couples choose a unique place to have the first look that will not be used during the other events of the day. 
  • You can opt to do your wedding party portraits ahead of time.  If everyone is ready and in place.  You have to be firm in communication with the bridal party.


  • You might get dirty before the wedding starts.  First look in a forest?  Yes, sap (or something worse) might drip on your dress from trees up above.  It has happened.  
  • Your family won't be there.  Yes this can be a pro or a con depending how you're feeling.  Of course, you will have the pictures to share at a later date. 
  • You need to get ready sooner, and it is one more thing to schedule into your timeline.  So, the old story is that weddings are always running behind - and this is often true, so be aware a first look might squeeze your timeline a bit. 
  • You will not have the first look coming down that isle.  If this is important to you don't do a first look and plan your portraits for after.  It is that simple.

I am a huge fan of moments that reflect who the couple is authentically. You will choose to do a first look based on what fits your personality best.  Talk about what makes sense to you two and how you want the wedding day to unfold.  If you are having trouble deciding we can review together and see if we can you set up with a wedding timeline and images that are a true reflect of your day and wishes.

Cheers to planning!

[Local Exposure] Ristorante di Acquaviva, Sycamore IL.

You are about to find out what really gets me excited.  Finding amazing new places in my own backyard.  These are places I can spend time with my husband, friends, and family.  Just thinking about them puts a smile on my face.  You know when you can just envision the fun girls night out or the exciting date that you will have there and anticipation swells? 

Acuqua Viva Winery in Sycamore Il. is just my jam, and I think it should be yours, too! Wine tastings and samplings.  If you haven't been I am here to convince you to go.  If it has been a while, there is plenty going on to try out. 

Wine? Check. Amazing food? Check.  Friendly and fun atmosphere? Check. 

I am captivated by the location of Acquaviva in Sycamore because the best conversations seem to happen there.  Double dates, large parties, girls night out, or the occasional glass of wine solo.   This is my happy place. 


Pizza Alla Quattro Stagioni

Pizza Alla Quattro Stagioni

They offer a wide variety of specials nightly most of which are filled with the freshest seafood and seasonal produce offerings. The best fish I have ever eaten was at their restaurant, and this includes places I have visited on the coast.  It is delish. 

Oysters Rockefeller - Tuesday night special (and date night with thehubs)

Oysters Rockefeller - Tuesday night special (and date night with thehubs)

Here is a sampling of the specials at Acuqua

Raw Oyster Tuesday (hubby's five)

Nightly Seafood Specials

Ladies Night - $5 Martini Thursdays    

Lunch Thursday and Friday

Sporting Event specials
Sangria.  No need to say more.
Wine tastings and samplings
Seasonal specials using state garden on the Acquaviva Maple Park Property
Local Lamb - locally sourced and butchered onsite

Escargot Crostini

Escargot Crostini

Delicious and exciting flavored dishes severed up generously. 

Tables are close enough to encourage conversation with the ones nearby, and this is a regular occurrence. I meet a new neighbor, exchange a story, and discuss the yummy things we delight in.  .  The conversation is interesting and something happens when I am in this space.  It is hard to describe but it transports me.  I am not in Sycamore, I am not in a restaurant, but I am fully present in the moment.  My tablemates(s) are all that matters and I am fully vested.  This is a place you just don't want to put out the electronics and detach, it doesn't feel right here. 

Eating here means stretch pants when I get home, I just can't help myself it is just that good.  

Kale Frutta Salad - my favorite!

Kale Frutta Salad - my favorite!

And speaking of good we should probably talk chocolate.  I am not able to personally report on any desserts other than the chocolates.  If chocolate is your jam than it is important that you save room for the sweet offerings.  I am pretty sure I have almost lost my mind over a chocolate cake served warm.  I don't think it can be done better.

Chocolate Truffle.  Heavenly and decadent!

Chocolate Truffle.  Heavenly and decadent!

Time passes quickly, meals are served slowly, and wine is poured abundantly.  Yes I must recommend you give it a try- over and over again.  No need for an excuse, and if you need a dinner mate look no further {raising my hand}. 

Enjoy, and if you have a favorite spot you love share it here!