Erin & Josh: The Wedding with a 1920s Gangster Car by Bolla Photo

Erin and Josh are a super sweet couple. They wanted their wedding day to reflect the seriousness of their commitment to each other. But they also have a light-hearted side. Their transportation from the church to the reception was their 1928 Dodge gangster-style get-away car. It is often used for shows down in Branson, Missouri and even came complete with its own bullet holes and tommy guns. Such a fun addition to the day!

Before doing the First Look with her soon-to-be husband, Erin wanted to do a First Look with her father. Both Dale and Josh were, of course, thrilled with how beautiful Erin looked. Taking these few moments together also gave the bride and groom time to spend in prayer, reflecting on the importance of the day.

The ring bearers walked down the aisle as security guards, complete with security badges and a safe for the rings. They were just too cute!

Instead of lighting a unity candle, Josh and Erin opted to put together  a unity cross, symbolizing the different roles they will play in the marriage.

As mentioned above, Erin and Josh really wanted to keep the focus of their big day on their relationship. So after a few fun photos with the wedding party at the church, just the three of us spent some time doing photos at a nearby park.


The ballroom at the Regency was decorated for fall with a variety of centerpieces at the guest tables. And Eckert Florist in Belleville made gorgeous bouquets, staying true to the fall burnt orange and purple theme.

One of my favorite parts of a reception is when the couple has a live band playing. I definitely recommend St. Louis Big Band. The singer's Sinatra-like crooning had all the ladies swooning! (Yes I just said that! haha) I wanted to bottle up his voice and take it home with me! <3

Congratulations, Erin and Josh!

Wedding Ceremony Venue: Sterling Baptist Church, Fairview Heights, IL
Wedding Reception Venue: Regency Conference Center, O;Fallon, IL
St. Louis Videographer:
Jason Gibson Films, St. Louis, MO
Live Band:
St. Louis Big Band
Floral Artist: Eckert Florist, Belleville, IL

Shannon & Justin: A Subtly Nerdy Wedding by Bolla Photo

Shannon and Justin met at Archon, which is a science fiction and fantasy convention held every fall at the Collinsville Gateway Center. Yes, they are nerds! (I can say that because I am also a nerd. I have surprisingly not been to Archon yet, but I have been to GenCon...more than once, which totally adds to my nerd cred.) Naturally, Justin and Shannon wanted to incorporate a few subtly nerdy touches into their wedding. Harry Potter had the most influence, followed by Pathfinder/D&D and Dr. Who.

When Shannon asked me to be in her wedding, the next thing she asked was "But how are you going to be my photographer too?!" Oh, we got this! When your two best friends get married, you do whatever it takes. It made for some challenges but it was worth it. As Shannon knows, I'm entirely too OCD and controlling to allow someone else to be in charge of her wedding photography...qualities that thankfully also come in handy when helping to plan a wedding. ;-) I also had the help of two outstanding photographers who helped me to still enjoy the day and be fully present during the ceremony. (Thanks again, Mary Kim and Katie! Couldn't have done it without you!)


Shannon's wedding day gift to Justin was a book of photos from a boudoir session we did a few months back. He was completely surprised and definitely happy with his gift. :-)

Below is one of my favorite images from the day. Emotions ran high the entire day (we're all a bunch of crybabies!) but I think the peak was just before Justin saw his bride for the first time. I got him in position for the First Look before Shannon came outside and it all sunk in and he broke down. The raw emotion on his face gets me "in the feels" every time!

The ceremony took place outside the home of Shannon's parents, Jean and Perry. Jean worked all summer long literally creating the space for her daughter's wedding. And Perry hand-made the bridge and bench. They started out with an ordinary backyard (on a hill) and turned it into the perfect site for an intimate garden ceremony.

*Nerd Love* The signs naming all of us in the wedding party also had our (fairly accurate) character alignments (Pathfinder RPG or D&D, anyone?).
*Nerd Love* The paper heart streamers were made from the pages of Harry Potter books.


*Nerd Love* More recycled Harry Potter pages made up the head table's banner, as well as the heart confetti scattered on all of the tables. The newlyweds' champagne flutes were even engraved with "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" and "mischief managed."
*Nerd Love* The cake knife gave a nod to Dr. Who with the engraved quote "hello, sweetie."
*Nerd Love* For favors, Shannon thought it'd be great to give everyone a 20-sided die (which is used in RPGs like Pathfinder and D&D), since she and Justin met at Archon. Most of the guests would have no clue what to do with a D20, so instead they went with a pair of regular D6 dice, personalized with their names and wedding date.

Congratulations, Shannon and Justin! I love you guys so much and am so honored to have such fabulously nerdy friends like you and to have been part of your big day!

Sometimes photographing adults is even more challenging that working with babies *and* pets! The expressions we all make without realizing it. Freezing someone in between those expressions. Goofing around during photos. Intoxicated adults....It all makes for some entertainment while editing the photos. Below are a few "outtakes" that are, even according to Shannon and Justin, just too good not to share! Enjoy!

Wedding Ceremony Venue: Bride’s Parents’ home, Beaufort, MO
Wedding Reception Venue: Jesuit Hall, St. Francis Borgia Church, Washington, MO
Cake Artist: cupcakes by 222 Artisan Bakery, Edwardsville, IL and top tier by Cakes by Sabrina

Personalized Dice Favors: Chessex
Invitations, Programs, Reception Welcome Sign, Reception Cocktail Sign: Simonne Bolla (Hey! That’s me!)
Pretty much everything else: DIY or Etsy. ;-)

Jessica & Ben: An Autumn Wedding by Bolla Photo

Jessica is an elementary school teacher. Ben is a PC Analyst at Wells Fargo. Together they add up to one super adorable couple!

First Looks are so much fun! The look on Ben's face when he first sees his bride proves he's more than ready to turn Miss Hagen into Mrs. Hughes!


The couple decided to make their grand exit inside the church foyer instead of having all their guests stand around outside in the heat and humidity.


All of Jessica's flowers were absolutely stunning. Also, calla lillies! My favorite! <3

I stole the couple away before sunset so we could snag a few photos and the colors in the sky were phenomenal!

More gorgeous flowers! I loved the variety that florist Jill put together. Every table had several mason jars full of different blooms. Talk about fabulous!

Pastor Downs forgot to announce the newlyweds' first kiss after their vows, so before blessing dinner, he let them have their formal kiss for all to see.

DJ Chris McMahon of McMusic DJ kept the party going all night long. He even got a soul train line going so everyone could show off their moves!

Congratulations, Jessica and Ben!

Wedding Ceremony Venue: Zion Lutheran Church, Belleville, IL
Wedding Reception Venue: Champagne Hall, Hidden Lake Winery, Aviston, IL
DJ / Photobooth: Chris McMahon, McMusic DJ, Photobooth, and Uplighting Services, Fairview Heights, IL

Cake Artist: Cakes by Marla, Smithton, IL
Floral Artist: Jill Batchelder, family friend

Jamie & Mike: A Garden Wedding by Bolla Photo

When I met Jamie and Mike for their initial consultation, we instantly clicked. I could tell right away from their fun-loving, laid-back manner that they were my kind of couple. Jamie knew it too and as we were saying good-bye that evening, she said she just had to give me a hug. Even MORE my kind of couple! ;-) A big thank you goes out to Haylie Sullivan who referred Jamie to me! Haylie was one of my 2013 brides and is now mom to the super adorable miss Harper. She is also Jamie's hair stylist at BJ Grand Salon and did an incredible job on the big day.

Mike proposed to Jamie at the top of Washington Park's carillon (a musical instrument made up of cast bronze bells housed in a tower). They climbed to the top and when Jamie looked down below, Mike lit up remote-controlled lights that spelled out "Will you marry me?" and set off fireworks. When they decided to do a First Look before the ceremony, it was only natural to choose the same location, especially since it is only a few blocks down the road from Mike's parents' house where everyone got ready. Mike stood exactly where his illuminated proposal had been as Jamie walked around the carillon to meet him.

After the emotional First Look and a few photos in Washington Park, it was off to Monticello. This was my first time back there in years; my first apartment after high school was in Monticello. My, oh my, how time has flown! 

Allerton Park's Sunken Garden provided the perfect backdrop for Mike and Jamie's wedding. It was evident that a lot of thought went in to every detail of the day. The programs were printed on fans for the guests to use on the warm summer day, and the box holding them even had a charm engraved with the coordinates of the ceremony location. One of my favorite details was the inclusion of Mila, Jamie and Mike's furbaby Boston Terrier, who also made an appearance during their engagement session! Mike's nieces and nephews were another adorable addition.

After their first kiss, the new Mr. and Mrs. Metz released a box full of Monarch butterflies. One of them even landed on Jamie for a while and then later took up residence on bridesmaid (and sister of the groom) Betsy's bouquet.


Family photos were also in the Sunken Garden. Then we took just Mike and Jamie around the various locations of the park for more photos. My favorite spot was the "House of the Golden Buddhas" overlooking the Vine Walk and Fu Dog Garden. I am totally in love with its heart-shaped archway!

Back in Springfield, we took a few more minutes to drive up to the top of a parking garage with a great view of the Capitol Building.

Jamie and Mike are not fans of pop music, so they had their own playlist for the evening and gave away homemade CDs to their guests as party favors. Mine is actually in my car CD player now. :-) Thanks for the excellent tunes, guys!

Jamie showed off one of her many talents after the cake cutting...Mike tossed several pieces of cake to her and she caught them in her mouth every time.

Congratulations, Jamie and Mike! We had such a blast celebrating with you!

Outdoor Wedding Ceremony Venue: The Sunken Garden, Allerton Park, Monticello, IL
Wedding Reception Venue: Arlington’s, Springfield, IL
Hair Artist: Haylie Sullivan, BJ Grand Salon, Springfield, IL
Makeup Artist: Holly Dallavis, BJ Grand Salon, Springfield, IL

Cake Artist: Specialty Cakes, Springfield, IL

Nicole & Matt: An Outdoor Summer Wedding by Bolla Photo

Summers in the Midwest can be quite warm, to say the least. Thankfully, Nicole and Matt were well prepared with programs that doubled as fans, personalized bottles of water, and lots of welcomed shade from the massive trees at the Latzer Homestead.


Absolutely love all the gorgeous rose bouquets and boutonnieres by Widmer Floral.

Nicole and Matt spend a lot of time out at Spindler Park, so it was an obvious choice of locations for portraits after leaving the homestead.


Since Matt is the tennis coach at Highland High School, of course we had to let these two serve up some love over on the tennis courts.

Tree seeds are such a cute idea for wedding favors. "Let love grow!"

A ping pong tournament (complete with trophies!) at a wedding reception? Yes, please! But the highlight of the reception was the phenomenal entertainment provided by the guys of Spanky Entertainment and their dueling pianos. They sure can play!


Just before the sun went down, we snuck away from the reception for a few final portraits of the evening.

Congratulations, Nicole and Matt!

Outdoor Wedding Ceremony Venue: Latzer Homestead, Highland, IL
Wedding Reception Venue: Lindendale Park Ballroom, Highland, IL
Floral Artist: Widmer Floral, Highland, IL
Dueling Piano Entertainment: Spanky Entertainment