Featured

Featured on Big Day Made- Blaine & Jordan's Romantic White Wedding in Springfield, Illinois

I am so excited to share with you this beautiful white wedding at Springfield House of Prayer and The Rail Golf Course in Springfield, Illinois. There is a lot I could say about this wedding day, for example:

1.) This is the perfect example of a budget wedding done RIGHT

2.) These are color scheme #goals... all that white made everything so bright & airy and fresh.

3.) I can't believe those flowers are fake

4.) The CONSTANT outdoor rain and freezing temps during the entire day made outdoor pics of the entire party not possible, however, the pictures were still stunning. 

5.) I can't believe she MADE HER DRESS! 

Each of the carefully selected pieces that adorned their venue can only be described as timeless and elegant. This wedding made for one of the most simple-romantic designs I’ve ever seen. But this perfect decor was NOTHING in comparison to the love and joy that quite literally beamed from the faces of not JUST the bride & groom but from ALL who attended this wedding. In fact, I don’t know if i’ve every been to a wedding quite as joyful as this one. Why? Because Jordan and Blaine had their eye on the prize, their marriage. Since their relationship was long distance the ENTIRE time (Him in Illinois, Her in Tennessee), they were just so happy to finally be together and it SHOWED.

Jordan and Blake grew up in the same friend & church circles, about 3.5 years ago they began noticing each other differently. Their relationship began by mentioning each other in casual conversations with mutual friends until eventually Blaine decided to do this thing FOR REAL! Because they were dating with the intention of marriage, he decided to take a visit to Jordan’s family farm in Tennessee. After this trip, he was certain about her, their relationship, and their future. So, he began putting a plan together to make this thing official. His first move was to call Jordan’s dad and ask him if he could pursue a relationship with his daughter (Cue all the “awwwwwww’s…..) whoever said “chivalry is dead” has NOT met Blaine! But Jordan’s father made Blaine sweat a bit by making him wait and wait for a response…. until finally he gave him the green light.

But there was still one problem, there were 425 miles of Midwest Farmland between them.

They committed to seeing each other every two weeks until 6 months later, Blaine proposed to Jordan on her birthday. And 5 months after that, Blaine & Jordan stood together, hand in hand, in front of God and their family and friends, and put to words what their hearts already knew for so long.

Blaine & Jordan, from the moment I met you, Jesus’s love and light burst through you both. You’re kind and sweet, warm & loving, and SO MUCH FUN! You are truly as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. Never stop, and never change.

There are a lot of discouraging things in this world. But a couple like you guys bring hope to all. The only thing more powerful than the way we love people is the way that we love people together. And my prayer is that anyone who crosses your path, feel the same love that I and many people were blessed enough to experience on your special day.

God bless you both and congratulations on your newest adventure! It was such a privilege and a true pleasure to get to document your first day. I’ve photographed a lot of couples and a lot of weddings… but you two TRULY took my breath away!

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Spotlight Feature: Cloud Nine Bridal Boutique in Peoria, Illinois

A while back I had the pleasure of meeting & photographing the ladies over at Cloud Nine Bridal Boutique in Peoria, Illinois.

While stepping into the doors of Central Illinois’ first exclusive bridal boutique I was taken aback at how exquisite this boutique was. Every square inch of this place made you feel like ROYALTY. The bright and airy atmosphere, the soft and elegant French furniture for families and friends to watch, the ceiling to floor mirrors, the STUNNING crystal chandelie… the warm and friendly faces of their employees, their dressing rooms fit for a queen… not to mention the BEAUTIFUL assortment of bridal gowns, bridesmaids dresses, and bridal accessories (I know this is the longest run-on sentence EVER…. but really… this place is stunning!)

I am confident that this boutique is the PERFECT place for any bride to find that perfect dress.

These ladies get it… they do! They KNOW how long you’ve been dreaming of this day. Just interviewing them, I could feel their level of commitment and their passion in ensuring that each and every bride who walks through their doors has the PERFECT experience. That they leave feeling confident, beautiful, and encouraged.

Cloud nine is an amazing boutique for brides who cherish individual style and a one-of-a-kind experience. Schedule an appoint HERE or by calling 309-693-3830.

Pro Tips:

When asked what “her one piece of advice would be for brides getting ready to go wedding dress shopping would be,” Owner, Jennifer Hitchens, responded, “Have an open mind.” Always be willing to try everything. You might end up getting what you came in for, but you might be pleasantly surprised. :)

Me: “For a bride who wants a timeless wedding dress, what elements does that include in a dress?”

J.H.: “Ivory, a line, clean, lace, satin/silk”

Me: “For brides who want their wedding to be ‘trendy’ what all does that include in a dress?

J.H.: “Colored. Fit to Flare. Lots of Detail. Illusion Dresses.”

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The Future of Photography- Central Illinois Lifestyle Family Session

You know what’s better than fighting over outifts, threatening your kids, bribing them, doing the same thing with your husband, all to get a bunch of fake smiles? Not doing that.

As an artist it is important for me to do “creative projects” a.k.a projects that are unpaid, are completely my own, that inspire me, challenge my creativity and come straight from my heart… And that’s EXACTLY what this session was.

I approached my friend Shannon about doing this for me with her 2 year old son Judd and she was willing!

At first her objections were those that I hear most with these types of sessions… I don’t have a headboard… my house isn’t finished… my comforter isn’t “pretty”, etc. I told her that I thought headboards were distracting anyway. And that it would be perfect! I just told her dress comfy and maybe get a couple of throw pillows. (Which, shoutout to Walmart for having these AMAZING throw pillows below!) So she complied ;). Thanks, Friend.

The results were amazing. Pure joy, no frustration, playfulness, connection, interaction, bonding, gratefulness, and NO bribing!!!! WHAT!?!?! I know right. In fact, Judd didn’t WANT to stop playing with momma on the bed to get pictures.

My whole experience boasts of being a holistic one. Everything from the process before the session to the session itself, to photo delivery is designed to make you reflect, bring you joy, remind your heart to be grateful, and give you endurance to keep investing in these special relationships day after day.

I think this… lifestyle sessions--in your own home…  is the FUTURE of photography. Outdoor pictures are beautiful and you absolutely CAN get amazing and playful shots that highlight your connection while outside in these environments. But there is something about being in your home, not a studio, in comfy clothes that makes kids happy and bonus: cooperative. The whole vibe of the session is relaxing and truly fills you with an overwhelming thankfulness. I hope this session inspires you to do one of these for yourself. I would love to show you the beauty that exists in YOUR everyday life.

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Spotlight Feature: Spruce Rentals in Peoria, Illinois

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Details Create the Big Picture.

Sanford L. Weill

We’ve all seen them. Heck, we’ve pinned 1,349,321 similar pictures to our own Pinterest “wedding board.” I’m talking about detail shots. Your rings placed so perfectly on your white veil. Your glittery shoes sitting on that perfect table that makes their reflection pop. A close-up of the grooms hands trying to tie his bow tie ever so perfectly. You and your bridesmaids toasting those champaign glasses with those perfectly done nails. They are what make a wedding gallery complete. Without images like these any our wedding gallery, something feels like its missing.

These magazine worthy weddings aren’t just thrown together last minute. They are thought out carefully, strategized over, and planned. But hey… some of us don’t always LOVE planning all the details. In fact, we find it overwhelming. That’s why I went to Brittney at Spruce Rentals in Peoria, IL. I first saw her on Instagram posting all of these swoon-worthy photos of her inventory. Ya’ll… if you need some beauty in your life… FOLLOW HER! So, I contacted her to see if I could meet her, interview her and take some photos of her BEAUTIFUL stuff for my brides!

You guys, not only is she the sweetest lady on the planet. This lady is a magician. She can see & cast a vision for those who need help and then executes it to perfection all while matching that couples vibe PERFECTLY. She is currently located in a temporary location at the Mill in the Peoria Warehouse District while they are still searching for their forever home. But she serves brides ALL over the Central Illinois area.

Her shop is FILLED with decor of ALL styles, big and small. Couches, Tables, Dressers, Centerpieces, Pillows, Candles, Vases, Typewriters, Chandeliers, Chairs, Chalkboards, Table numbers and the coolest arbors you’ve ever seen! Bohemian, rustic, classic, timeless… she has everything!!! Literally, as I was walking through I was like, “I want this for my house, and this for my house…” hahahaha!

Now, before you go assuming things like, “Isn’t it cheaper to just drive around to all the targets all over Central Illinois and buy them myself?” Hear me out. This is not necessarily the case. Trust me, I’m a penny-pincher myself. Spending money physically hurts me, lol. But I do believe that money spent in the right place, is okay!

Things to Consider

  1. Transportation & Set-up (woot, woot)! Girl, your wedding day is going to be so busy and so eventful. Let’s not add the stress of worrying about how things are going to be transported, who will bring them, who’s going to set up, who’s going to take down, etc. Let the pro’s take care of that for you! You only get one wedding day…. you AND your family should ENJOY IT!

  2. Vision. Setting up a table is a true art. It really is. Not ALL of us can be Joanna Gaines, am I right? Trust these professionals to decorate your venue in the PERFECT way that matches who you two are as a couple all while staying in your budget.

  3. “The Regret”- This is what I call that phase after the wedding when you thought it was a really good idea to just buy all 75 centerpieces, signs, and backdrops instead of renting it and now you don’t know what to do with any of the stuff even though you have posted it to every “Buy and Sell” site that Facebook has to offer as well as craigslist and eBay and you still have all these boxes of wedding stuff taking over your house. Don’t do this to yourself. Instead just hire Spruce Rentals, have them deliver, set up, take down, and return so YOU can spend ALL your time enjoying your hubby!

So I encourage all you DIY brides out there to explore ALL options BEFORE officially deciding to DIY. And for all you other brides who don’t feel DIY-inclined… make sure you chat with Brittney at Spruce Rentals. I’m confident you will find just what you’re looking for for your wedding day!

MONEY-SAVING TIPS:

  • Focus on “Picture Points”- When deciding what to rent and what to save on consider what I call “picture points.” The Ceremony Stage, The head table, The Cake table, right behind the first dance floor, etc.

  • Instead of doing an extravagant centerpiece on EVERY table, do simple ones on every third table as “fillers.”

  • Go Timeless- For timeless looks. Focus on neutrals, and simplicity.

Enjoy these pics from Spruce Rentals!

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Kids are honest...

Friday Truth Time

Every Friday tune in on Facebook or Instagram for bits of my story 💗

Kids are honest. We all know this. If you want to know how things REALLY are.... ask a toddler. 🤣 The other day I had a realization...

My 3 year old was at church and someone said... "Wow... you look so beautiful in that dress. And look at that pretty curly hair!" 💗 Her response: "I know [with the biggest grin on her face]." 

I'll be honest, at first I totally laughed to myself. Clearly she just doesn't have manners. 😜 Doesn't she know that when somebody compliments us we are supposed to respond with a really awkward "thank you" and stutter around stating aloud some self-deprecating, humble comment. 

Person: "Wow you've lost so much weight." 
Us: "Thank you, I still have so far to go. Ugh..." 

Person: "Your hair looks amazing today." 
Us: "Really? Thanks. I hate it. I wish my hair was _________." 

And then it hit me. Maybe she's not wrong. Maybe I am. We have gotten into this habit of not knowing how to admire ourselves. We are quick to say something negative about ourselves in response. I don't believe this is because we are seeking attention, I believe its because we are insecure. Compliments embarrass us. We don't know how to handle them.

But ya'll, we are all worthy of being admired. We live in a culture where we are not allowed to admire ourselves, especially not publicly or outloud. If we do, we are at a risk of being considered vain or prideful. Why? Shouldn't we learn to unconditionally accept, approve, appreciate, forgive, trust and love ourselves? 

I mean... your not perfect... and neither am I. But I am good at some things. That's not selfish. It's honest. And yet, we are so reluctant to name and claim our own good qualities. But the more we practice speaking kindly to ourselves and about ourselves, the more powerful we become. When we speak out-loud the things we are good at, we give ourselves the freedom to live up to our full potential. We stop trying to imitate others and start living the life WE were meant to live. 

It's time. It's time to love yourself. Respect yourself. Admire yourself. Forgive yourself. Accept yourself. Trust yourself. Love Yourself. Nurture Yourself. TODAY IS THAT DAY. 

Let's start now... I want each of you to channel your inner 3 year old and name 3 things you admire about yourself. 

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Illinois Photographer, Central Illinois Photographer, Lincoln Illinois Photographer, Bloomington Illinois Photographer, Decatur Illinois Photographer, Normal Illinois Photographer, Peoria Illinois Photographer, Springfield Illinois Photographer, Photos by Ariel