Kelsey & John: Winery Wedding by Bolla Photo

John and Kelsey had the perfect day to say "I do."
The morning started at Kelsey's parents' house with all the girls getting their hair and make-up done. The bridesmaids presented Kelsey with a book they put together of photos and letters each of them wrote to her. She laughed. She cried. Then the tears really began to flow when she got to the end of the book where she found a letter from John. (They smartly made sure to give her the book BEFORE her make-up!) I'm pretty sure she squealed in delight when she next opened her gift from John: a new FitBit tracker.  Kelsey is a bit of a fitness guru (she and I compete against each other in weekly FitBit challenges!) and is a Plexus ambassador. If you've ever been interested in trying or learning more about Plexus, contact Kelsey. She will happily fill you in. (Does this make me a Plexus ambassador ambassador?)

Al, from Villa Marie Winery, officiated the ceremony. The couple exchanged vows and rings and were quickly walking back down the aisle hand-in-hand as man and wife. 

Kelsey was well prepared for the possibility of rain on her wedding day. She bought all of her bridesmaids umbrellas and she had rain boots for herself. Thankfully, we didn't need them. It turned out to be a beautiful day! The sun just couldn't make up its mind though...One moment the sun would be behind a cloud (Yay! Look at the camera!); the next it would be full brightness in everyone's eyes (Ok, now look at the bride and groom!...Ok, now everyone turn their backs to the sun!).

Aren't these two just too stinkin' adorable?!!

After dinner we stole Kelsey and John away for a few minutes in order to get some photos before sunset. We positioned them right at the edge of the lake when, all of a sudden, one of the swans loudly fluttered across the lake just behind them, startling us all. However, I wasted no time getting them back to smooching. ;-) (Yes, I definitely like the kissy photos!)

The cake Kelsey picked out was simple, yet elegant and mimicked the lace of her dress. The rest of the decorations similarly echoed the lilac bridesmaids' dresses and baby's breath bouquets.

Chris from McMusic DJ kept the dance floor packed all night long, as usual. Later on in the night, he even broke out some bride/bridesmaid favorites, like N'Sync's "Bye, Bye, Bye."

Congratulations again, Kelsey and John!

St. Louis Wedding Venue: Villa Marie Winery, Maryville, IL
St. Louis Reception Venue: Villa Marie Winery, Maryville, IL
DJ: McMusic, Fairview Heights, IL
Hair and Make-up Artist: Ravishing Bridal, St. Louis, MO
Floral Artist: A Wildflower Shop, Edwardsville, IL

Heather & Eric: A Spring Wedding by Bolla Photo

Heather and Eric are just one of the sweetest couples! I remember meeting them at their initial consultation and Eric describing Heather and their relationship to me. He talked about her love and faith and kindness. He said how they could be on opposite ends of a room and could instinctively know where the other was, and then, with just a glance, know exactly what each other were thinking too.

Just after exchanging their marriage vows, they sang “I Found Love” to each other in a beautiful expression of their union:
“When I found you, I found somebody who cares.
When I found you, found my most intimate prayer.
When I found you, I found what every heart dreams of.
When I found you, I found love.”
The touching ceremony was followed by an evening of dinner and intimate conversation.

Even though Heather and Eric have requested their photos remain private, they have graciously allowed me to share the above photo. It is one of my favorites from their wedding day, as I feel it captures that special connection they share.

Congratulations again, Heather and Eric! Thank you for letting me witness such a special union.

Ceremony: Gracepoint, Granite City, IL
Reception: Villa Marie Winery, Maryville, IL

Meredith & Ben: A Metro East Summer Wedding by Bolla Photo

“A wedding is a wedding…they’re all the same.” I have heard that from others so many times. To a certain extent, it’s true. Two people get married with the same typical flow of events as any other wedding. But one of the things I love the most about being a wedding photographer is getting to see how each and every wedding is different, whether it’s just some of the “little things” or extra special touches that are full of meaning.

One of the special touches at Meredith and Ben’s wedding was the music.  Ben’s sister (one of the bridesmaids) sang during the procession and again later in the ceremony. And let me tell you, she has a positively beautiful voice! (Bailey, we wish you all the best as you continue your studies at Peabody Conservatory!)

How absolutely adorable are these two?!!

Congratulations again, Meredith & Ben!

Ceremony: First Presbyterian Church, Edwardsville, IL
Reception: Villa Marie Winery, Maryville, IL
Hair and Makeup Artists: The Mane Attraction, Collinsville, IL
Floral Artist: Grimm and Gorly
Cake Artist: Bailey Cakes

Jennifer and Andrew 06.08.13 by Bolla Photo

At their engagement session, I prompted Andrew to “whisper sweet nothings” in Jen’s ear.  His idea of “sweet nothings” was Darth Vader-like breathing. Being the dork that I am, I totally loved that…especially since it made Jen burst out laughing, resulting in a fabulous photo!  I knew their wedding day would be no less entertaining.

The day started with the most perfectly puffy white clouds against an azure sky…and thankfully stayed that gorgeous all day! Jen was wonderfully laid-back as her hair and make-up were done. She even relaxed with a glass of wine as her friend Nikki set up a make-up assembly line for the bridesmaids. Andrew was getting ready across town with the help of his parents and groomsmen after an afternoon of hanging out with the guys. Meanwhile, the final reception preparations were being made. Jen’s aunt, Diane Young of Elegant Seating, polished off the dark red and ivory decor by adding coordinating covers and organza sashes to each chair. Jen was even surprised by the delivery of an entire old-fashioned ice cream stand…too bad it didn’t stay for long. (It was at the wrong winery! Oops!)

Jen was escorted down the aisle by her father and brother. Andrew was overwhelmed by the sight of his beautiful bride. As Andrew and Jennifer took turns reading the vows they had written to each other, they both alternated between wiping away tears and laughing. The laughter and tears continued on into the reception, starting with five lovingly heartfelt speeches.  During the mother-son dance, Andrew once again had tears streaming down his cheeks.

Congratulations again to such a sweet, fun-loving couple, Jen and Andrew! We had a fabulous time spending the day with you and your entire bridal party!


PS. Keep on the lookout for Jesse, one of the groomsmen, who will make a return appearance to our blog when he gets married in September.

(To see more photos from Jen and Andrew's winery wedding, watch the video slideshow below.)

Ceremony & Reception: Villa Marie Winery, Maryville, IL

Hair and Makeup: Nikki Martin-Lawson, friend of the bride

Cake and Cupcakes: Jen’s fabulous bridesmaids

Gown: Oleg Cassini design from David’s Bridal, Fairview Heights, IL

Haylie and Chris 05.25.13 by Bolla Photo

 Every bride wants to look amazing on her wedding day.  But when that bride and her friends work at a salon, she takes it even more seriously. I arrived at the girls’ hotel room in the morning and found Haylie doing her own makeup, as well as Crystal working on Michelle’s hair, Rachel doing her own hair, and Keetra getting her makeup done by Haylie’s mom, Terri. All the while the girls entertained each other (and me!) by speaking in British accents and occasionally singing along with Pandora. Through tear-filled eyes, Haylie read the absolute sweetest letter from her soon-to-be husband, as her talented matron-of-honor attended to her hair. (Chris: Kudos to you on writing such an amazing letter to your bride…and also picking out the gorgeous infinity ring for her!) Meanwhile, Chris received his own wedding-day gift, dashing personalized cufflinks.

Haylie and Chris had planned on having an outdoor ceremony between the two ponds at Villa Marie Winery.  However, as Haylie arrived to the winery, she was greeted with raindrops and the news of possible tornados. Not exactly the news any bride wants! But she took it in stride and soon decided to move the ceremony to the patio, under the protection of the upstairs balcony. The staff of Villa Marie and Flowers by Mary Lou moved the entire ceremony setup to its new location and before long Haylie’s much-anticipated moment arrived.  That moment of wearing the perfect dress, holding a beautiful bouquet of flowers, walking arm in arm with her father down the aisle to her patiently waiting groom.

Despite the rain before and during the ceremony, thankfully there were no tornadoes!  And it even dried up enough for Haylie and Chris to venture out by the lakes for some portraits overlooking the lakes and vineyard.

After visiting with all of their guests, the night continued with, as the bride put it, "dancing their faces off!"

Congratulations again, Haylie and Chris!

(To see more photos from the day, watch the video slideshow below.)

Ceremony & Reception: Villa Marie Winery, Maryville, IL

Florist: Flowers by Mary Lou, Sprinfield, IL

Cake Artist: The Cakery Bakery

Gown: Mori Lee design from Elegant Brides, Edwardsville, IL