a very prairie wedding

'Twere a warm sunny day at Prairie Gardens...  While some might automatically associate Prairie Gardens with a Corn Maze, it's really so very much more.  My family makes the pilgrimage out there at least once every fall.  We do the spider web, eat succotash, hit up the petting zoo, and always always fire pumpkins from the cannon.  

This year, our pilgrimage was prompted a bit early in the season because this was happening:

Cue the bridal party.  I met this sassy bride in January of 2016 through my favourite make-up artist, Kali.  Chanel is, amoung other things, a nail tech who came and did a mini-marathon of gel nails for a group of kids (I'll post pics for that later!)

It was stinkin' HOT, and when we all arrived in the afternoon we were already melting.  Which is why you need a pre-wedding shot, of course, while the kids goof around in the shade out back...

Chanel was stunning - vintage make-up, a classic fascinator, and her beautiful dress...

After Chanel was cinched into her dress, the junior bridesmaid (Chanel and Matt's gorgeous daughter) and the two flower girls got their dresses on.  They looked like tufts of cotton candy in layers and layers of champagne tulle.  I could have shot about 9 million pictures of nothing but these sweethearts in these adorable dresses!!!

And can we just take a minute and admire these incredible brooch bouquets by Elite Brooch Bouquets?  How perfect for a country wedding!!!

Dad was a dapper fellow...

And these little girls - they were so playful and silly - my heart was bursting!  That doll in the middle?  Chanel and Matt's gorgeous daughter.

Meanwhile, over by the ceremony site...

Matt was chilling with the groomsmen and the handsome little ring bearer, their son.

We somehow crammed all 86 of us into 2 cars to make the short trek from the house to the wedding site.  I sat in a baby seat.  I am pretty sure my liability insurance would not have covered me... But we all made it safe and sound and the nuptials commenced.  Those dandelion puff dresses, though... gahhhhhhh!

Matt and his Mom were both fixated when Chanel came around the bend from the tree stand.

It was an intimate group of family and close friends sharing Chanel & Matt's special day.

Their vow and ring exchange was perfect.

And once the register was signed and some hands were shaken...

We took a whole schwack of family pictures.  More than I normally do.  And, normally, the extended family photos don't make the "blog roll" but Chanel and Matt are so close with their family, excluding this images would be an inaccurate portrayal of the day.  Such a tight-knit family - especially Matt's Gramma, who seemed to hold a special place in everyone's heart but especially in Matt's!

Sometimes, when there are beautiful people and they are in love with each other and their family, and they are dressed up, and then the skies cooperate and make amazing scenes for me to capture these lovely, well-dressed people, well - I don't even have anything to say here:

Or here:

Or here:

Or even here:

I can say something about the bridal party, though.

The ladies were nothing shy of gorgeous in a collection of stunning pastel Grecian bridesmaids gowns.

They were perfectly accompanied by these fellows in champagne and crisp white.

(geeky photographer side note: this was kind of like a dream come true where lighting and subject matter is concerned... wedding party? broody skies? open field? wheeeeee!!!!)

But I digress.  Behold, the wedding party:

And then these two:

I wish we had had hours more time to spend taking photos all over Prairie Gardens... but I think even without a full hour of Chanel and Matt alone, you're falling in love, too.

We were running a few minutes late but that was OK - I got to take a couple of pictures of my friend and colleague Kali (the aforementioned make-up artist) being MC as this charming reception kicked off.

Congratulations to Chanel and Matt (and their sprogs) and THANK YOU for letting me be a part of your day, even if the most important thing I contributed was my husband getting a replacement liquor license at the last possible second...

Welcome, Gunnar

I actually can't think of a better way to open the new blog on the new website than with a birth story.  Or perhaps a birth saga is more like it.

My husband's best friend wasn't terribly interested in maternity or birth photos.  It was only with a lot of encouragement (and threats of regret) that we finally convinced Dad that it wouldn't be so bad.  As he was going to visit family in Sweden over Christmas, we snuck a quick maternity session in 2 days before his flight and it was agreed that on the off-chance that the baby decided to show up before his January due date and Dad was unable to get back to Canada in time, birth photos were a back-up plan. Of course, the temperature had plummeted to - a bazillion with a wind chill factor of you will die of exposure, so why not go outside for a couple of shots?  From start to finish, we managed this session in under 20 minutes...  

Fast forward a few days, and the texts coming from Mom had us convinced that this baby had no intention of waiting until 2017 to put in an appearance.  A few short days into Sweden, Dad was scrambling to find a flight home.  Which, at Christmastime, can be not only next to impossible but require taking out a second mortgage.  The planets, however, aligned ever so nicely and for a cool $65 Dad was able to get on a flight and was picked up at the airport on December 23rd at about 10:30pm.  By 1:30am on December 24th, Mom had convinced a sleep-deprived Dad that birth pictures were a good idea and would be happening shortly as she was definitely in labour.   So everyone, including my husband (who had to drive me since I had been enjoying Christmas spirits) headed to the hospital.

Once the epidural was in, Dad took a much-needed nap and Mom laboured like a champ.

Around 8am, their neighbour (who had let the dog out) came by and dropped off a bag of things that had been left at home along with a "baby's first Christmas" stocking - an item they didn't think they would need.

Soon after this, Mom's labour kicked into high gear and before we knew it, it was time to push.  I loved that she had her toenails freshly painted.

In the first image below, I believe you can actually see the exact moment Dad's mind is completely blown. 

There was so much love in this room.  

Because sweet Gunnar was a few weeks early, he was placed on Mom's chest for skin-to-skin contact for a full hour and Dad had to admire him from nearby.

Clearly, it was worth the wait.

I think Dad was in love, though as a first-time Poppa, he has a steep learning curve ahead of him - it took 3 of us to convince him that giving Gunnar a taste of orange was not a good idea...

Christmas was put on hold until New Year's Eve for Mom's extended family, and before they gathered up the rest of the kids and headed out for some overdue holiday festivities, my husband and I headed out for some baby squishing (and photos) bright and early in the morning.

My husband and I cannot begin to describe how exciting it is for us seeing his best friend experience the joy of becoming a father, and we can't say enough how happy we are to have Mom and her other three (camera shy) children join our weird and wonderful circle.

How can you not fall in love with this face?

Can you find all the pictures of a small teddy bear?  That was a special gift from Gramma, who was in Sweden when her first grandchild arrived.  I imagine Gunnar's adventures with the little brown bear have only just begun.

Welcome, Gunnar.