Updated: Jul 20, 2021
As I drove down into the Montauk State Park on this rainy Mother’s Day, I instantly understood why Frank and Kim chose a venue almost 3 hours from their home in Willard, Missouri. The park was one of the most serene places I have ever been to. At times I forget how beautiful Missouri is and just how much it truly has to offer - especially when it comes to weddings. As you gazed upon the lush greenery contrasted by the dark wood of the historic Montauk Mill, you couldn’t help but appreciate the sound of the river gently roaring nearby.
The morning rain and the slight chill of the breeze caused for a small change of plans on where the ceremony was going to be held. They decided to have their guests sit in the pavilion and to say their vows right outside in front of the creek. As Frank finalized these details, I met Kim a short distance away next to the river. As I walked towards Kim I felt everything in me become calm. Even at a distance and having never met her before, I knew what a sweet heart she had. She was such a classic bride and my photographer heart was taking in every detail my camera was capturing. Her beautiful white dress with a lace bodice fit her perfectly. The soft pink ribbon that hugged her waist was a flawless compliment to the blush tones in her bouquet. Her veil matched her dress like they were made specifically for each other and it fell gently over her shoulders. Behind her veil she wore the softest, sweetest, and kindest smile one could wear - the perfect addition to the romantic image that she was.
While photographing Kim’s bouquet, I saw a small token glimmer in the light. With a closer look, this silver token read “I know you’d be here today if Heaven weren’t so far away”. This sweet token, along with having their wedding on Mother’s Day, was in remembrance of both Kim and Frank’s mothers. It was a perfect way to honor their memories and include them in this special day.
Once bridal portraits were finished, Kim started her walk to the ceremony site. Her father proudly met her at the end of the isle to give her away. As Kim let go of her father’s hand and joined hands with Frank you could tell they were both ready. Ready to promise themselves to one another forever and begin the next chapter of their lives as one whole. They said their sweet traditional vows and were pronounced husband and wife in front of their family and friends. They then completed a Unity Cross together. This was the second wedding I have photographed with a Unity Cross ceremony, and I love how it serves as a reminder that the couple is not only making these promises to each other, but also to God and how important it is to keep God at the center of their marriage.
As the ceremony ended, the recessional began and it was one of the most adorable sights I have ever seen. Family and friends created an isle for THE MAGGARDS to walk down and then proceeded to absolutely cover them in bird seed! The grins on every face present was priceless. So much joy was radiating in this little corner of the world!
I’m sure it also left a local bird or two pretty happy as well!
Once the bird seed was brushed off, it was time for bridal party portraits. The bridal party was small, but they were so much fun. I honestly don’t know that I have ever met a group of people who got along better than they did! We quickly finished up portraits and the bridal party and the rest of the guests headed toward the mill for some additional family pictures.
Before heading towards the mill ourselves, I stole Frank and Kim for just a moment and convinced them to trust me on a location for a few of their portraits. Before the ceremony I had scouted out a little stone bridge going over the creek and instantly fell in love with it. To most people, this would probably just look like an old stone bridge - nothing special. But it was special. Through my eyes I saw a romantic scene waiting to be created and captured. The end result was as beautiful, soft, and romantic as I had imagined and the images ended up being some of my favorite from the day!
When we made our way back to the mill, it once again amazed me. The dark old wood was almost black from the wet weather and contrasted so well against the lush greenery surrounding it. The size of the mill was massive and its history was intriguing. We took a handful of family photos and I dare say that Kim’s sweet nephew stole the show… he was the cutest little guy! After family photographs were finished we grabbed a few more of Frank and Kim next to the mill. We finished with a far off shot that captured the entire mill with the Maggards standing next to it. It was one of those shots that I could see being printed on a large canvas in their home - it had an epic and classic feel to it.
Moving into the reception, the Maggards were met enthusiastically by their guests. Everyone there was so happy and it was evident by the smiles they wore and the congratulations they proclaimed. The decor around the room was beautiful and thoughtful. You walked in under an arbor draped with tool and flowers. Directly to your left there was a table with multiple thoughtful details - signs, a cross, and my favorite - an advice box. This little wooden box was a place for their closest friends and family to leave their words of wisdom and encouragement. As I focused my lens on this little box I read the last card that had been carefully placed into it. It read “Keep God first, always”. Another reminder in a world that can at times be chaotic, to keep your focus where it matters. The rest will fall into place. Across the room you could see the handmade family quilt that was hanging as a backdrop behind the bridal party table. The time, effort, and love put into that quilt further solidified how loved this couple truly is.
As the finishing touches were put on their evening meal, the Maggards decided to go ahead and cut their wedding cake. Now, if you know me, you know that I love cake and sweets of all kinds… so naturally, cake cutting is one of my favorite reception activities! Their cake was almost too beautiful to cut. It was a small three-layer naked cake topped with a beautiful arrangement of flowers and a round wooden “Mr. & Mrs.” topper. The cake was placed on a crystal stand and was surrounded by pink and white cupcakes. As Frank and Kim cut into their cake, the encouragement from their guests to be ornery began to rise. As much as we all would have loved to have watched cake be smeared all over the newlywed’s faces, they sweetly fed each other a bite of their delicious cake.
I could go on and on about this beautiful day that I had the honor of capturing. The captivating simplicity and unforgettable gentleness of the day made it such a romantic occasion and left me with a feeling I will chase for the rest of my career.
They say that if you are genuine and true to yourself that you will find your ideal clients. I have struggled with this thought of who my ideal client is… because I truly love so many people. I love them in all different ways for all different reasons. I become invested in them, their lives, and their story. I’ve learned that my “idea” clients come in all different forms, they come from all different backgrounds and financial situations, and they have different goals in life… but they all share an incredible similarity.
They radiate joy.
They may scream that joy from the rooftops or they may express it with a soft smile - either way, you can see it in their eyes.
I am forever grateful for the joy I have had the privilege to capture and I can’t wait to capture more joy in the future!