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I’d never found myself getting emotional at a ceremony before Monika and Chris’ wedding. There was something about the orthodox Coptic ceremony that felt so connected to history, so rooted in story and tradition. It was beautiful, and it moved me more than I was expecting. The priests, the choir, the robes and crowns, and the sheer length of it made such a distinct impression, especially when you compare it to the casual, efficient ceremonies we often see in the northwest. Neither is better than the other, on the contrary, I see them working hand in hand to highlight the vast beauty the humanity of our world holds. Our separateness as people is so often a negative, just watch the news. That being said, I found myself drawn into a community I wasn’t a part of, but was invited to enjoy, quite literally, in fact. I was given strict (and stern) instructions from one of the priests before the ceremony about never stepping up on stage, and any time I went back stage, beyond the threshold of the pulpit area, my shoes must be removed. I’ve photographed orthodox ceremonies, so this was no problem, and I never get on stage during a ceremony. I removed my shoes for the whole ceremony, problem solved. Then, to my surprise, the eldest priest waved my up on the stage during the ceremony. I enjoy being as invisible as possible at weddings, so this was far outside my comfort zone, and I hesitated. He locked eyes with me and insistently waved me up. Up I went, an outsider, a firm hand on my shoulder from a man I’d never met, who didn’t speak a word to me in my language, and I forgot all about the lack of invisibility for a few short moments.

The father of the bride sent me a wooden cross in the mail, and it sits on the stand to my monitor, along with school pictures of my kids and polaroids of a couple friends who run a local dance studio, as well as one of me and my wife that my daughter took. I keep it there as a reminder that you can build your chosen family out of whomever you invite in.

It’s quite possible people read these posts and wish I would shut up and tell me about her dress, and which caterer they used. I wouldn’t blame you if you felt that way, it just seems like there are so many large wedding blogs that cover those kinds of details already. For me, I can’t help but tell wedding stories from my own perspective. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to hear the same “OMG WHAT A GORG BRIDE AND OMG I CAN’T EVEN WITH THESE FLOWERS Y’ALL” over and over again. Ignoring the fact that it would be beyond disingenuous, seeing as how that isn’t how I talk, it feels boring and sterile. I see so much vibrancy in the couples I am fortunate enough to photograph, and I always want to do them justice.

The couple planned an immaculate wedding, and Detroit did not disappoint. Both elegant and regal, Monika and Chris have an undeniable magnetism, a gravity that is hard to escape or ignore (not that I even tried). You can see it in the faces of their friends and family, and most certainly in the way they look at each other. I was an outsider for only a short while at this wedding, welcomed into the extended family made up of siblings, parents, and friends. It still gives me hope when I think about it… we all have the opportunity to show hospitality to each other on a daily basis. We don’t even have to be particularly magnetic personalities.


WORDS OF ADVICE FROM THE BRIDE: The paradox of choice is something that is very real and can become paralyzing—but only if you let it. The choices and decisions a couple makes during wedding planning are no exception. This is probably obvious, but keep the fact that you are choosing one another at the forefront of every decision you make. At the end of the day, your marriage is what will make the rest of the day perfect. Surround yourself with people who will listen to your tantrums (be it the bride or groom), supply wine and chocolate on command, or bring you back to earth when appropriate. Find an outlet other than these people to release your stresses, because these people are feeling stressed too (see: MOB, MOH(s), bridesmaids, in-laws, siblings, etc.). Don’t let crazy wedding-brain get in the way of showing these people how much you love them; it is very easy to take these people for granted. You know they love you, so show them you love them.

That being said, it is your day. Let your relationship with your fiancé and your shared (and separate) tastes design what your day will look like. Sure, some things will maybe make the day ‘more perfect,’ but nothing will overshadow your love for each other and all the love that people are sharing with you. It is a remarkable feeling and one that you cannot be prepared for. The time spent planning will pass quickly. Be fully present with yourself and with one another. Don’t underestimate how much you can grow as a couple during this phase. And remember -it is a phase! After all, you will be married.




I value silliness and dancing every bit as much as solemnity and romance. A world without all four would be a less inviting world, and an incomplete picture of the family life in my own household. That said, not everyone is a silly person, and certainly not all of the time. Balance is key. Welcome to one of the most balanced weddings I have ever had the privilege of photographing. Lauren and Ben have an amazing connection to each other, and their friends… which, for me, is often the highlight of full weddings. A stark contrast to the airy solitude of an elopement, love as a community is equally beautiful to me. What an honor it is to see so many people join their lives together among friends and family. This one will stick with me.

A few of my favorite highlights: Their wedding hashtag is one of the best I’ve seen. BEN + LAUREN + KO = #BELOKO. Dinosaurs always go with weddings, whether a tie clip or stuffed friend… it’s science. Voodoo doughnuts will drive to your wedding and serve guests right out of the truck, if you’re in their delivery zone. Inflatable donuts just feel right at a reception, don’t ask me why. The dancing was woven throughout the entire day, it might as well have been another member of the bridal party. The coordination was top-notch, Alyssa and her team made my job easier (a nice change of pace), and I am not easily won over by coordinators, and I do not suck up. Most importantly, I will remember this wedding most for the looks Lauren and Ben gave each other. It’s all in the eyes.

A massive shout out to my homegirl Tara for shooting with me and covering for my friend who bailed on me last minute for a really good reason, not that I will never ever ever ever let him live it down. ALSO, if you’re into pie, baking, or Tasty videos… check Lauren’s work out, she’s amazing. HER INSTAGRAM, and HER NEW TASTY VIDEO.

Long live love, silliness, and dancing 🙂

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  • January 16, 2015 - 4:29 am

    Daron Aliya Sabri - 100% awesome

  • January 20, 2015 - 5:32 pm

    Jennifer Lindstrom Miller - Magical, fun, festive…party! Gorgeous images!

  • January 20, 2015 - 7:33 pm

    Judy Miller - What a fun wedding and adorable couple! I’m glad you had a great photographer who seemed to be everywhere and capture your special day. Best wishes for a long and happy marriage!

Start with an engagement session hike to a waterfall, and end with a laser show at a historic Sugar Mill. Sounds like a winning combo, right? It’s easy to get caught up with the locations and details in this industry, it practically force-feeds Pinterest-worthy moments to you, at times. Hell, it’s easy for brides to feel so much pressure over the perfection they view online that the process can feel like a weight due to comparing your day to someone else’s, and not an airy nimbus ride to happily ever after. Don’t misunderstand, the details and location are not UN-important… they are as much a part of making the day as anything else, but they are secondary to the lasting stuff. The vows, the relationships, the family, the memories. Plan your wedding, your way, absolutely. If you love being on-trend, own it. If you’re looking for something minimal and uncommon, don’t feel the need to justify it to anyone, just do it well and the people who appreciate your work will mean all that much more for looking outside of the box with you. And for the traditional bride, who wants all the classic accouterments, remember there is a big difference between being #basic and being timeless (not sure who gets to decide being”basic” is bad, after all).

I’ve had a few conversations with burdened brides lately. I get it. You want everyone to have the best time of their lives, feel taken care of, sidestep any drama, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a few friends walk away just a little bit impressed with your hard work. Here’s some unsolicited advice: make a really good plan, put in the work ahead of time, then hold on to it loosely the day of and be present. Your wedding should be a time where you allow yourself to have the time of your life, and be taken care of, do your best not to start any drama, and if you’re feeling particularly sassy…

walk away just a little bit impressed with your own hard work.

Jessica and Jared had an amazing wedding, full of perfect and imperfect moments. Some moments went better than planned, and some plans had to change. Weddings, and life, are like that. We only get so many spins around the sun, enjoy them with the people most deserving of your time. Weddings are beautiful, stop and smell the roses. Or lasers, whatever you’re into.


WORDS OF ADVICE FROM THE BRIDE: The advice I would give to any bride-to-be: To the DIY brides, choose your projects carefully, start early and utilize your helpers (and fiancé!). For the organized brides, write out a schedule and contact list for your vendors and helpers, it will help you feel prepared. And for every bride, this day is not about the details. Focus on having fun every step of the way, from trying out caterers and cake tasting to getting ready with your bridesmaids and of course dancing the night away with your best friend.