photos by Ariel

My ALL-TIME favorite places to get clothes for photos

1.) Old navy

Here’s what I love about Old Navy. Everything is color coordinated. They typically have color themes throughout the whole store for each season. It might be navy and wine color or mustard and blue or whatever…. but either way, this makes coordinating clothes for family photos SUPER EASY. All of these options are available on their website RIGHT NOW!


2.) Harper’s Chic Closet

This children’s boutique is full of chic & timeless clothing options for little’s of all ages. They have everything you will need, accessories, headbands, leggings, outfit sets, dresses, rompers, hats, leg warmers, purses, and not a clothing item, but definitely worthwhile, they carry the world’s most adorable cloth dolls!!!! Get your wallet ready for this one! Visit their website HERE.


3.) Jane

You can go to their website HERE, or you can download their app (which is my method)! I love checking their site every night before bed and seeing what the new deals of the day are. I had one of my best clients introduce me to Jane and i’ve been hooked ever since. If you see something you like, buy it right then because the deals are constantly changing and you never know when it’ll be back. The thing I love about Jane is:

  • everything i’ve ordered has been AMAZING quality

  • it doesn’t look like it was bought at a chain store

  • They are unique and one-of-a-kind

  • They look expensive but aren’t outrageously priced

  • They look like you got them at a boutique!

  • Their pieces are usually timeless.

  • They get new items daily!

4.) Amazon

I’m not exaggerating when I say that 90% of my life comes from Amazon. Diapers, Wipes, Vitamins, Snacks, Coffee, Clothing, literally EVERYTHING! Here are some of my favorite clothing items for family pictures available on amazon.

5.) Bailey’s Blossoms

If you are looking for reasonably priced but STUNNING and GORGEOUS little girl clothes… look NO FURTHER than Bailey’s Blossoms. Also, make sure you follow their email list so you can find out when they have their $1, $3, $5 sale!!!

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6.) Target

Target always has amazing options that are the perfect amount of dressy and casual, trendy and timeless. I actually have a family photo session/branding session coming up in June and I went to Target this weekend and found every single person an outfit there all in under an hour!

Check out this replay of my LIVE video where I talk about my thought process behind the pieces I selected.

7.) Petals & Peonies

This adorable online boutique has some of the most timeless, beautiful baby items i’ve ever seen for both BOYS & GIRLS! I love their pieces because of the simple beauty of them. I love the textures in the fabrics, the designs, and the colors. All of their pieces make don’t steal our eye away from baby but instead just accentuate their beauty! Quality is amazing! I’ve NEVER been disappointed with ANY of my purchases from here! Follow them on Facebook or visit their website HERE.

8.) Bella Ella Boutique

This online boutique is dedicated to women and women alone because lets be honest… we NEVER treat ourselves and we SHOULD! Especially when it comes to picking outfits for a photo session! This boutique is committed to empowering women through the clothes they wear and this is a mission I can ALWAYS get behind. Make sure you check out their website HERE, or follow them on facebook and instagram!

9.) Bitsy Bug Boutique

This AH-MAZING online boutique is perfect for both boys & girls clothing. The owner is a mom who totally gets it! She offers adorable, one-of-a-kind clothing for kids without making us spend their college savings. Plus free shipping over $30 AND free returns for 30 days (thought I’ll doubt you’ll need it!) Follow them on facebook, Instagram, or visit their website HERE.

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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INSPYR Agency Branding Session

I recently did a branding session for Inspyr Agency located in Bloomington, IL. This AMAZING business is a marketing agency for businesses all over the USA!

They help local businesses with media planning, brand strategy, creative marketing, and social media marketing. They specialize in helping businesses in developing a customized marketing strategy because they know that each company is unique and that a one-size-fits-all approach will NEVER help a business reach its full potential. They analyze, research and create a media plan designed specifically for your company.

Their services include:

  • Media Planning

  • Media Buying

  • Digital Marketing

  • Social Media Strategy

  • Social Media Management

  • Event Planning

  • Customized Marketing Strategies

  • Brand Strategy

  • Creative Marketing

  • Website Management

  • Market Research

  • Reputation Management

  • and more!

Interested in seeing what they could offer your business? Book a free consultation with them today!

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Chris & Kaycee's Rustic Wedding in Beason, Il.

I knew Chris & Kaycee’s wedding would be nothing less than perfection. With her mom, Kathie Richert, being a former photographer and wedding planner I knew the day would be a dream come true for her daughter. And that it was.

It was intimate and personal held at the Bride’s childhood home and it was BEAUTIFUL! Everything from the brides dress, from this little bridal boutique in Bartonville (From Our Heart To Yours), to the receptions s’mores bar was absolutely exquisite. The ceremony and reception were held outside. The guests were brought in to the event in one of the most fun ways I’ve ever seen… on a hay bale ride. Once they arrived, the guests sat on hay bales while snuggling underneath flannel and knit blankets provided for them at the entrance draped across an adorable wooden ladder and in a rustic red wagon. Mums, pumpkins, sunflowers, and all things fall decorated the alter where the bride & groom said their I do’s under a perfect arbor made out of rustic buckets and tree branches inside of a gazebo that was made from the top of a grain bin that they transported 8 miles… built specifically for this event. The reception was held in a white tent, from Tri-County Rentals, and had heat lamps inside to keep us all nice and toasty. The reception tables were dressed with various centerpieces including rustic farmhouse lanterns, candles, and pumpkins made of burlap, from Rustic Love Rentals. The three-tier sunflower cake, made by Diana Hamblen, was so delicious I couldn’t resist having my own slice. The s’mores bar, icee machine, and the open bar were the perfect additions to the fun atmosphere created by the DJ from Woodworth Entertainment. This day was absolute perfection. One thing particularly unique about this reception was the mother-daughter dance. I have never seen this done before and it is something that I will be stealing for my own three daughters weddings. The Bride’s mom had cried off and on all day as she was giving the first of her four daughters away but it was during this first dance that she lost it. The tears of joy, the laughter, the desperate hugging. Ugh… it made my mom heart ache knowing that even though my girls are only 5, 3 and 1… time is deceiving and the years of motherhood are short.

All and all, this day was a dream. And despite the 40 mile per hour winds and BLISTERING cold weather. People were literally moving their trucks on top of the tent’s stakes that were in the ground to keep it from blowing over. The Bride & Groom couldn’t help but smile out of sheer joy. (Also, shout out to the ladies at Hair Plus and makeup artist, Katie Charron, for creating beautiful hairstyles and makeup that withstood this CRAZY weather.) The love between them couldn’t be hidden and was evident to each and every person there. Enjoy some of my favorite moment’s from Chris & Kaycee’s wedding!

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