Category: Real Couples

I personally think winter engagement photos make the most gorgeous pictures, and this real engagement photo shoot of Michael and Kamrin is no exception. Michael and Kamrin got engaged and married before he was deployed to Afghanistan. Once he returned to his base in Anchorage, Alaska, they couldn’t wait to have a wedding celebration with their friends and family.

A special thank you to B. Weiss Photography for capturing these amazing shots of the happy couple!

Michael and Kamrin Engagement Photo

Michael and Kamrin Engagement Photo Michael and Kamrin Engagement Photo Michael and Kamrin Engagement Photo Michael and Kamrin Engagement Photo

Blake & Maurina's Military Wedding
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we’re featuring a real wedding — military style! Meet Blake and Maurina Rondeau. Their friendship began in eighth grade band class. After being friends for quite some time, Blake asked Maurina to be his girlfriend in the stairwell of their high school. The two would remain good friends through high school and post secondary endeavors.

In 2010, Blake came home to Minnesota from being stationed as a Marine in Camp Pendleton, California. While home on pre-deployment leave, he asked Maurina to coffee at the Caribou Coffee shop they had often visited throughout high school. They were only supposed to talk a couple of hours, but the hours turned into an all-day event. Later that night they went to Wild Bill’s and danced the night away until finally they had to separate. Blake leaned in and kissed Maurina as the snow fell and they said their goodbyes.

Blake was deployed overseas for ten months while Maurina finished college. They Skyped and sent letters to one another as often as they could. She kept him motivated with care packages from home and he would try to call whenever possible. She was waiting at the airport with his family when he made it home from deployment. They had managed time and distance and made the pledge to never separate themselves again.

Blake & Maurina's Military Wedding

They were married on an unusually cool day in July of 2013. They ran in and out between rain showers to capture as many pictures as possible. The ceremony was held in Eagan, Minnesota and the reception was held at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center. They had just over 250 guests attend and it made for a loud and joyful reception.

Thank you to Meg Ann Photography for sharing photos of Blake and Maurina’s beautiful wedding.

Rustic Wedding Details
There are few wedding venues as romantic as the vineyard, and we absolutely love this intimate vineyard wedding photographed by Melanie Soleil Photography.

Molly Manning and Nick Guisinger planned a northern California destination wedding at her family’s vineyard in Grass Valley. The decorative details are adorable! And, of course, the setting was gorgeous.

Molly and Nick's Vineyard Wedding

Gray and grapevine purple make up the color scheme for this vineyard wedding. Pops of brilliant colors like pink, red and orange create an unforgettable wedding bouquet.

Romantic Vineyard Wedding

Rows upon rows of grapevines become the backdrop for this simple but elegant wedding ceremony. The whimsical arch of tangled wooden branches is stunning.

Rustic Wedding Details

The rustic wedding decorations sprinkled throughout this vineyard wedding reception are fabulous. Canning jars, burlap, lace and wooden crates create the perfect atmosphere for romance and relaxation.

Thank you to Melanie Soleil Photography for providing these beautiful photographs.

I love wedding planning – anything and everything about it. I’ve always been the person my friends would come to for wedding planning advice, so when I got engaged, I was so excited it was finally my turn!


The Planning
We were engaged for about 15 months, giving me plenty of time to plan (or so I thought!). I was still in college, which meant school, an internship, work, and wedding planning kept me plenty busy! I’m pretty organized, so I didn’t get too stressed out. Plus, I had the greatest help I could ask for — my parents. Yes, BOTH of my parents. You don’t see too many dads get involved with planning but I’m a “daddy’s girl,” so he jumped at the chance. He came to every vendor meeting from decorating to catering. It helped that I lived only 30 minutes away from home.

Brooke and her parents

The hardest part of the wedding planning was the food. My family loves to eat, so naturally it was hard for us to decide what we wanted to serve our guests. We went with a buffet style because it satisfied all of our wants and it accommodated our guests with food allergies. We saved money by not having to pay for a plate service. We also saved money by having our host and hostess serve the wedding cake.

Food at Brooke's Wedding

Brooke and Travis' Wedding Cake

The easiest part of the wedding planning was choosing our photographer. I met Jenn, owner of ElisePhotography, at college. She was a senior when I was a freshman, and shortly after she graduated, she started her own business. Jenn had taken photos of Travis and I before, and we loved the way they turned out. She has such a neat and unique vision, which made our photos stand out from “traditional” photos. Plus, she’s got such a great personality! The day of the wedding, she told me she “always cries at some point at every wedding” she shoots. To me, that shows she truly cares about her clients.

Travis and Brooke

Brooke's Wedding Party

The one part that we decided to splurge on was our DJ. I knew right away that we wanted our guests to be entertained all night, and picking the right DJ was very important to us. We loved our pick! We had an MC and a DJ, which was a little more expensive but they kept the crowd entertained! We played little games throughout the night, which were a huge hit.

I didn’t have a theme starting out, but with my choice in dress and decorations it turned into a “bling” theme of rhinestones and diamonds! If I would’ve had the time, I would have definitely gone the DIY route, but still being in school made that difficult. I would’ve spent hours that I didn’t have trying to make centerpieces, etc. Hiring a local decorator was affordable and saved us a lot of time. We were amazed with her work. She was great from start to finish. She took my fairy-tale dream and made it into reality. We got so many compliments on the décor.

Centerpieces for Wedding

Our ceremony decorations were done by one of my mom’s co-workers, which also saved us money. She doesn’t have any daughters so she really wanted to help! She was so great, she really should be a professional! Ceremony Flowers

We went to our local floral shop (right down the street from my church) and they handled all of our flowers. We had real bouquets and flowers for the whole wedding party, plus a few bouquets at the altar. We used fake flowers for the reception because it was less expensive.

Real Bouquets

The BrideWould I change anything about my day? No. Everything turned out as I thought it would! If you plan on having a big wedding, make sure you’re realistic about the big picture and costs, and remember, there are still plenty of ways to save!

Travis and Brooke's wedding
Travis and Brooke's wedding

I was first introduced to you about a month ago, when I shared my engagement pictures of Travis and me. Well, I just got my wedding pictures back and I couldn’t be more ecstatic! I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

Travis and I got married on May 18, 2013 (two days from my birthday!) at my hometown church in a small rural area. We both knew my pastor really well since I am very involved in my church. Although I’m from a small town, there was nothing “small” about my wedding. We had almost 300 guests, but that doesn’t mean we broke the bank! We found ways to save wherever we could, and we still stayed within our wedding budget.

The Big Day
We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The weather was perfect, and there were only a few minor slip-ups, which nobody noticed except for me. Our photographer, Jenn, did a great job of capturing our day. She knew from the get-go that I LOVE pictures, and I’m very detail-oriented. She wants to make your vision her vision when she’s photographing you — one of the many reasons we went with her. There were some specific shots I wanted (especially the scene from the movie Bridesmaids — my favorite movie!) and she was more than happy to do them.

Bridesmaids movie picture

Brooke's wedding dressdress hanging in churchYes, I did have my dogs in my wedding. I treat my family’s German shepherds, Harley and Chopper (can you guess that my dad is into motorcycles?), like my children. My pastor was so great about letting me have them there to take pictures. They clean up nice for farm dogs, don’t they? Harley and Chopper

German Shepherds and Brooke

Our reception was everything we could’ve hoped for. We had guests sign a photo board
(from Ann’s) along with a photo guest book that I made online. For Travis and I, we had the “I Do” toasting flutes (also from Ann’s) at the head table. They were really cute and added a nice touch to our reception. Guest Book Alternative

Wedding Toasting Flutes

Make sure to stop back on our blog tomorrow to hear about my planning process, as well as more pictures from the big day!

bride on the beach with bare feet
bride on the beach with bare feet

Planning details for a destination wedding, in my experience, is drastically different than a traditional wedding. Unlike most people in the States, Jamaicans are known to be laid back and go-with-the-flow, so that is how I eventually learned to be.


Our wedding package was very affordable, being that Kuyaba is a small, family-owned resort and it is located on a public beach. The $850 package included bridal flowers, a wedding arch covered in fresh flowers, a bottle of champagne, a reservation of half of the restaurant to have our dinner, a Jamaican minister, and all the legal paperwork. The wedding dinner was a separate charge. I used email and an occasional phone call (although we tried to avoid those due to sky-high phone charges) to do all my planning.


The most challenging part about planning was figuring out flowers for the bridal party, as I didn’t know what kinds of flowers were available. I ended up just telling them I wanted tropical flowers, with purple and any other colors, and they turned out even more gorgeous than I imagined. We were also able to pick our reception food off their regular menu, which we had tried (and loved) on our first visit there.

wedding flowers

In an effort to save money and at the same time be completely unique, I used Etsy to purchase my jewelry. I found a gorgeous hand-made necklace made with stone from my home state of Minnesota. It was a nice touch of home to incorporate into the wedding. I used my own skills and made earrings to match the necklace.

photos of wedding jewelry and wedding dress

I also found some adorable foot jewels on Etsy, and they went perfectly with the laid-back vibe of our wedding day. I didn’t want to mess with shoes at all, since I knew they would get filled with sand, A LOT of sand.

wedding jewelry for feet instead of shoes

I had found some local salons in the area, but decided this was an area where I could definitely save money. My bridesmaids and I all ended up doing our own makeup, and a good friend of mine did an excellent job styling my hair.

photo of jackie looking in the mirror

I gave each of my bridesmaids a personalized compact mirror from Ann’s, which definitely came in handy during the warm day. Jason gave his groomsmen personalized pocket knives from Ann’s, which any man can find a use for.

bridal party gifts

The decorations were effortless, on my part, thanks to all the hard work the Kuyaba staff put into making it beautiful. The dinner area was already set up before the ceremony even started with bouquets of flowers to match the arch. I gave them some white lanterns I had ordered from Ann’s, and they hung them up perfectly for me. Guests were also handed program fans from Ann’s to keep cool during the ceremony and dinner. I stained the handles back home so they would match the style of my wedding.

wedding arch with flowers and wedding reception decorations

Our arch was adorned with fresh-picked local flowers, and the “aisle” was sprinkled with the same petals and lined with helconia flowers. We wrote our entire ceremony and vows, and made it extra personal by having Jason’s talented best friend sing and play “Is This Love” by Bob Marley on his guitar.

wedding arch and guitar soloist

We took a big risk for the dinner entertainment by waiting to plan it when we got to Jamaica. We knew there were always musicians walking up and down the beach playing for money, so we decided to ask one of them to come into the restaurant and play for our guests. We found a talented duo the day before and offered them $100, and they turned out to be a big hit!

wedding musicians

During dinner and music, our guests passed around signature mattes and frames from Ann’s and wrote personal messages to us. They turned out to be priceless wedding keepsakes and will be displayed in our home for many years to come!

signature mattes with photos and wedding reception sign

I still feel like having a Jamaican wedding was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! Despite travel costs, we ended up spending far less money on our destination wedding then we would have if we had gotten married in Minnesota. As long as you stick to simplicity and are willing to take some risks, your destination wedding can be a great bargain!

photo of jackie and jason in the ocean surf at sunset
wedding photo of jackie and jason

As a photographer, it’s probably obvious I would be super excited to get my own wedding photos back. Well, it has finally happened, and I would love to share my photos and Jamaican wedding experience with all the Ann’s brides out there! I am lucky to have some very talented photographers as friends, so I made a deal with my friend Steve from Steve Harvey Photography to pay for his flight and hotel if he would photograph my wedding. A win-win for us both!


Let’s start at the beginning… my now husband, Jason, first caught my eye at my friends’ wedding, of all places, as a groomsman. It took about half a year for us to start dating, and 3½ years after that Jason proposed to me at a lighthouse just north of San Francisco. We are both passionate about traveling, so it was no surprise we would be having a destination wedding. Jason also had developed a slight obsession with Jamaica after traveling there with his Jamaican cousin a couple times, and I had always wanted to go there, so it was a great fit for us.


A good friend of mine had gotten married in Jamaica a couple years prior, and had great things to say about her venue, Kuyaba Negril. So we decided to vacation there a year ahead of our wedding date to make sure it was right for us. Sure enough, it was perfect!


A year later, our big day finally arrived. We were overjoyed to have about 35 friends and family members from the States join us, as well as some of our friends who live in Jamaica. Our wedding party was small: two of my best friends from high school, Jason’s best friend since childhood and his brother.

photo of the wedding party on the beach

In true Jamaican fashion, the whole day was very laid back. We got ready in a friend’s hotel suite, and had our first meeting on the scenic Kuyaba grounds just outside of the room.

wedding photos at the resort in jamaica

Then we all crammed into a van and took a jaunt to the local golf club for more photos, and arrived back at Kuyaba just in time for the ceremony to start 10 minutes late…but nobody cared since we were in Jamaica!

photos of the bridal party at a golf course in jamaica

We had one of our good friends officiate our wedding, and a local minister was there to witness for legal purposes. The ceremony was beautiful, but the public beach posed its own unique distractions! Tourists in bikinis were watching the entire ceremony, and we had a pretty major disruption by one of the locals. All in all, none of that mattered much to us, but it is definitely something to keep in mind for anyone planning a beach wedding.

photos of the wedding ceremony on the beach

We dipped our feet in the water and took some sunset beach photos after the ceremony, and enjoyed an amazing dinner and drinks after sunset.

photo of jackie and jason in the ocean surf at sunset

dinner with kabobs, rice, veggies and other jamaican style food

When we got back to our room, we were surprised with a message spelled out on the bed in flowers (yes, those red fuzzy things are plants!) and a bouquet of fresh tropical flowers. A perfect end to a perfect day!

resort staff decorates the room with flowers

Make sure to stop back to our blog in a couple days to see more about our beautiful Jamaican wedding! I’ll tell you all about my experience planning a destination wedding and how I saved money, and I’ll share more photos and details from the big day.