There are many moments during the wedding celebration that are special: walking down the aisle, exchanging vows, the first kiss, the first dance. Those are part of almost every wedding and definitely important. And as a wedding photographer, I certainly make it a priority to capture all of those essential moments.

And yet there are also those magical moments when it “gets real”. Typically these moments aren’t planned. These moments don’t necessarily have to be large or grandiose. They can sometimes be the littlest or seemingly insignificant things. They’re those times that in spite of all of the waiting and all of the craziness of the day that can drive brides and grooms a little nuts, truly capture the essence of the couple’s emotions and feelings about their marriage and one another. These become the touching moments that define the celebration and the couple. These are the moments that we as photographers live to and love to capture. They are the “It doesn’t get any more real than this!” moments.

Love this moment of realization captured during the Rahe wedding at St. Francis Catholic Church in West Des Moines, IA.

Love this moment of realization captured during the Rahe wedding at St. Francis Catholic Church in West Des Moines, IA.

The above moment was captured at a recent wedding at St. Francis Catholic Church in West Des Moines, IA. The look on our bride expresses the whole realization that they truly are married now as she and her new husband look down at the ring on her finger while the priest recognizes the moment and smiles at them in a shared realization of the joy of their becoming one. Love these moments.

It doesn’t get any more real than this!

Location: Iowa State Fair Grounds

Photographer’s Notes: Stephanie & Zach’s engagement session. The fairgrounds made for a visually intriguing backdrop to these fun engagement photos. While my focus is always the couple, it was a treat to photograph at the fairgrounds as it offers a variety of settings and fun looks all in one location.


Locations: Honey Creek Resort State Park (Moravia, IA)

Photographer’s Notes: Adding touches of your favorite hobbies or interests is a great way to personalize your wedding. Tiffany and Andrew highlighted their love of baseball in their engagement photos and again at their wedding by incorporating aspects of the game, such as a baseball bat and a home plate in lieu of a guestbook. They also embedded rings in baseballs. Fun ideas!

Clients Olga and Stephen have a unique love story. Olga is from Russia. Stephen is from the U.S. They quite literally lived on opposite sides of the world — yet they somehow ended up in the Cayman Islands at the same time. They met, they fell in love, and the rest is history.

Stephen and Olga were married in the Capitol Hill Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa. Olga’s family from Russia flew in for the celebration, including her sister who was the maid of honor. The ladies spent the morning at Salon Spa W getting their hair and makeup done, while the men got ready at the church.

The couple shared a special moment together in the sanctuary for first look photos before walking down the aisle to say “I do”. After the ceremony, guests made their way to the Willow Creek Golf Course for a reception, complete with cultural dances dedicated to Olga’s Russian heritage.

That’s not where the story ends, though. Following the wedding, I had the privilege to work more closely with Olga than I do with most brides. While each of my wedding collections includes an album, a majority of brides will choose which pictures to include and leave the rest to me. Olga had specific ideas about how she wanted her wedding album to look — and I was more than happy to accommodate her.

The photos in this post are excerpts of actual layouts from her album. She customized everything from the photos used, to page designs, to the style of the cover.

After several meetings and various revisions to the album, we were able to create a finished product that Olga was extremely happy with. Being able to accommodate a client like this is very rewarding. It’s a pleasure to be able to assist a bride in making something special for her that will be treasured for years and years to come.




Simplifying the job isn’t about the photographer. It’s about you, your spouse-to-be, and your photos. A photographer that doesn’t have to deal with unexpected issues can spend more time focusing on the couple and ensure a beautiful end product. (Not to mention, it makes your day much less stressful.)

Here are a few ways to ensure your wedding photography goes smoothly:

  1. Provide a detailed shot list. Hate the jumping pose? Note it. Want a first look with your father? Write it down. The more details you give your photographer the better the results.
  2. Discuss your wedding day schedule. Your photographer will be able to provide expert advice and point out if your time allotments are off.
  3. Relay important rules from venues and vendors. Some churches won’t allow photographers past a certain point in the sanctuary. Communicating that ahead of time ensures your photographer has the proper lenses or equipment.
  4. Disclose any strained relationships. If, for instance, your mom and stepmom can’t stand to be near each other, let your photographer know. This will prevent the unwanted drama of being incidentally placed next to each other in a photo.
  5. Put someone in charge of grouping people. Photos will be more efficient if someone outside of the wedding party is there to help. They will be able to point out who’s who or run and grab people if needed.
  6. Keep libations to a minimum. Photographers understand: It’s a big day and you want to celebrate. But moderation is key. Stumbling bridesmaids or rowdy groomsman make it harder for the photographer to capture the photos and quality you expect.
  7. Ask guests to limit personal photos. Guests trying to snap a photo can get in the way of your paid photographer. Many couples will simply leave a polite note in their wedding program.
  8. Point out VIPs. If you’d like your extended family members or other close friends to be in the candid photos you’ll have to point them out or make note ahead of time.
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