Ava’s First Birthday Cake Smash

Happy First Birthday Ava Rae!!

This girl right here is one of the sweetest, most gentle babies I’ve met. It’s been so fun to watch her grow and change at play dates and get-togethers over the past year.

Studio Cake Smash_0001.jpg

We started off the session with photos of Mama and Ava. As mamas it often seems like we are the ones behind the camera, taking photos, rather than the ones in front (I’m sure you’ve heard that a time or two). I wanted to devote some of this session to capturing Taylor with Ava and the undeniable bond they share. The beauty of maternal connection demands to be captured in photographs.

Studio Cake Smash_0005.jpg
Studio Cake Smash_0006.jpgPeople say “moms just know,” which is something I didn’t understand before becoming a parent. I was worried that I wouldn’t “just know”. To my surprise, when I became a mama I also developed an intuition that came along with it. I bet Taylor would say the same. I think it comes from our connection to our babes which starts long before meeting them.

Studio Cake Smash_0007.jpgA first birthday is a milestone; not just for Ava, but also for her parents. Ava is transitioning from baby to toddler, while Taylor and Aaron are transitioning into a whole different world of parenting. This involves reflecting over the last year while looking forward to the future and all that is to come. Some of the questions that came to me when my daughter turned one were:
• How have you grown as a parent?
• How have you and your partner grown as a couple?
• How have you grown as a family?
• How has your baby grown?
Just when it seems like we had the caring-for-a-baby-thing down, they grow up! Now they’re movin’ and groovin’ and havin’ lots of big feelings. We better buckle up!

Studio Cake Smash_0004.jpg

Now you know we had to get some photos of just the birthday girl.

Studio Cake Smash_0002.jpg
Studio Cake Smash_0003.jpg

Then we brought out the cake!

Studio Cake Smash_0008.jpg

Ava started out a little shy and made one attempt at running for the hills. After some reassurance from mama, she was intrigued. She ended up thoroughly enjoying her cake, starting with little tastes of frosting then moving onto bigger handfuls. Towards the end she was going in for some big chomps, making for the most memorable photos!

Studio Cake Smash_0013.jpg
Studio Cake Smash_0010.jpg
Studio Cake Smash_0009.jpg
Studio Cake Smash_0012.jpg
Studio Cake Smash_0014.jpg
Studio Cake Smash_0011.jpg
Studio Cake Smash_0015.jpg

Taylor –

I’m so glad we were able to get together and celebrate Ava’s birthday a little early with this fun photo session. Thank you for choosing me to capture it. I’m thankful beyond words that LC and Ava are friends and I’m grateful to have you as a friend, and fellow mama. Being able to watch our girls grow together has been so rewarding and I can’t wait for what’s to come.


Want gorgeous images like these? Contact me! Let’s book YOUR session!


Whispering Pines Wedding Reception

I’m so excited to share this Whispering Pines Wedding Reception with you today!

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0001.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0002.jpg

Last September Carly was searching for a photographer to capture her spring wedding reception and one of her bridesmaids (shout out to Cassie!) thought of me. Cassie and I follow one another on Instagram, chat from time to time, and just generally keep up with one another. (The lesson here is never underestimate the power of connections made through social media!)

While wedding receptions aren’t typically what I photograph, Carly and I got to chatting and after discussing her vision for the event photography, I felt I could serve her well. Towards the end of April, Carly and I got together in person to chat through the particulars of her event, timelines, details, shot lists etcetera. Our meeting felt effortless; like chatting with a friend. I loved Carly’s vision for the reception and all of the special details. I left our meeting inspired and giddy over the idea that I was her photographer and the next time I would see her would be at her dream reception.

Now you may be thinking – what about the wedding ceremony? Well, Carly and Andrew tied the knot last year! While they didn’t initially dream of a two part wedding, the pandemic challenged them to reimagine what their wedding day looked like. Knowing they could not wait to begin their lives as husband and wife, they had a lovely, intimate ceremony on May 15, 2021 and planned for their celebration to continue at the big reception they imagined, a year later.

It’s poetic that Carly and Andrew chose to have their reception one year after their wedding ceremony. Weddings represent the union of two people committing to one another and starting a life together as husband and wife. Anniversaries represent the continued commitment to one another day after day, week after week and year after year. Anniversaries are a time for reflection to consider the path you’ve traveled together, the accomplishments, good times and hardships. By choosing to host their reception leading into their first anniversary they get to celebrate both their union and their anniversary with all of their friends, family and loved ones. What’s even more exciting is that they also get to celebrate their growing family. Thats right! On Valentine’s Day Carly and Andrew announced that they are expecting Baby Schwartz this August! So much to celebrate!

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0003.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0005.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0004.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0006.jpg

Ethereal, breath-taking and elegant are just a few words that came to my mind when I walked through the double doors of Whispering Pines Event Center in Poynette, Wisconsin for Carly and Andrew’s wedding reception. Throughout the day I heard multiple attendees commenting about how they wish Carly could have or could design their wedding or event, myself included. Carly did a phenomenal job planning and designing the event and nailed every single detail. Every selection she made perfectly complimented the next resulting in a cohesively elegant feel, perfect for their continued celebration.

The most exquisite periwinkle and seafoam water tones were chosen for her and Andrew’s reception, captivating guests, guiding them though the venue, creating a calm, relaxing experience similar to a leisurely river flowing on a gorgeous spring day. Walking in the doors guests were greeted by a gorgeous floating sign, with flowing script, over a beautiful blue/green background, hung on a white minimalist sign stand, draped in foliage leading to a lovely table complete with guest book, blooming bridal bouquet by Alluring Blooms, photographs of the bride and groom and framed pressed florals, preserved from the bride’s bouquet from part one of their wedding experience. The entrance hall was complete with many other special details: a reception timeline sign in the same style and presentation as the welcome sign, a wooden string art initial sign the couple created during their ceremony to symbolize their unity, culminating with a custom double arch seating chart board with a depth-adding, three-dimensional laser cut floral design on the bottom finishing with the couple’s personalized wedding monogram in the lower right corner.

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0007.jpg

Through the corridor guests are immersed in grand event space. The vibe was crisp, clean, glowy, dreamy, and flowing. To the right – a full bar with a Schwartz neon sign hanging overhead, complete with custom arch menus, cocktail stirrers, and a fun bartending crew; twenty-four foot buffet filled with traditional Italian fare from Upstairs Downstairs; dessert table, decorated with a precious cartoon wedding party illustration, florals, photos, candles and foliage placed alongside an arch dessert display filled with delicious white chocolate raspberry, chocolate chip and confetti bundtinis from Nothing Bundt Cakes. To the left – a dining area filled with round dining tables adorned with elegant florals, wooden vases and candlestick holders turned by Andrews father, luxurious blue and white pillar candles, tea-lights, golden lanterns, name tags, dinner menus, and place settings; a modest gifts table, rose gold mirrored card box, honeymoon fund turned baby fund bank, timeless canvas portrait and white pillar candles. As guests gaze through the room, in awe, they were slowly brought to the head table set for sixteen, embellished with gold-edged glass candle boxes filled with pillar candles, bridesmaid bouquets, and sprinkled with tea lights. The final detail, the piece de resistance – if you will – was a spectacular levitating floral ceiling installation meticulously crafted by Amanda from Alluring Blooms complete with floating tea lights.

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0009.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0008.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0010.jpg

I’m still swooning over the whole set up if you cant tell!

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0011.jpg

After guests arrived and took in the venue, the reception officially kicked off with a grand march to introduce the wedding party. Everyone made their way to their seats for a welcome given by Ryan, the wedding officiant and lifetime close friend of the groom. Tables then made their way through the buffet after taking a photo with the bride and groom. (This is an absolutely genius idea by the way if you or someone you know is planning an event.) During dinner three heartfelt speeches were given by the best man, Chas; bridesmaid, Jena and Carly’s father, John. Everyone joined in watching a beautiful slideshow put together by Carly and Andrew showing their separate life journeys through the years that their lives came together.

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0012.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0013.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0014.jpg

Dances kicked off first with the bride and groom sharing their first dance followed by a shared dance between the bride with her father and the groom with his mother. These dances are my favorite. Through my own experience I realized it’s a time to spend together, enjoying each other, the beauty of the event and slow down to reflect on everything leading up to that moment.

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0015.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0016.jpg

Then the DJ turned it up and the dance floor was hot. Guests jammed and danced enthusiastically to all the best Pop and Dance music. Then, just when I thought this event was the most perfect event I could have imagined, the Ben’s Soft Pretzel truck arrived. Now, if you’ve had a Bens Pretzel you know why this is a big deal, if you haven’t, you need to go hunt down the Ben’s Soft Pretzel truck and get one! I, myself have attended a Wisconsin Badger football game at Camp Randall for the sole purpose of getting a Ben’s Soft Pretzel. Go Sports!

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0017.jpg
Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0018.jpg

To close the evening, the bride and groom shared a dance at midnight celebrating their official first anniversary. Perfection!

Whispering Pines Wedding Reception_0020.jpg

As you can tell, I could go on and on, but I am going to take some advice that Jena shared in her speech, which was graciously given by her elementary school students. “It’s okay to just say “The End.” So without further ado, the end.

Carly & Andrew,

Thank you so much for choosing me to capture your wedding reception. I had such a great time!