Jordan and Matthew. My heart is so happy thinking back to your early morning engagement session on the lake and dreaming about your wedding this coming spring. It’ll be the first wedding we’ve photographed back where Tim and I got married. I can’t imagine photographing anyone but you two in a place that is already so special to us.

Jordan and I went to high school together – she was one of those girls I admired from afar. She embodies grace and beauty and confidence. And she always has – even in high school when most of us were trying to figure out who we were, Jordan already seemed to be so rooted. She is just as beautiful on the inside, and if you know Jordan, you know the depth of her love and care for all those around her. You know that she is one-in-a-million – genuine to her core. And somehow she and Matthew found one another. Matthew – if it’s even possible – matches her deep, loving, gentle character.

Together they love deeply. They breathe life in and soak it up with every fiber of their being. It’s rare to find a couple that lives life as wholeheartedly as Jordan and Matthew. These two are something special. We are so very grateful we get to tell their story.

We arrived at sunrise to Jordan’s grandparents’ little lakeside cabin. We sipped coffee and enjoyed the foggy morning together. We laughed and chatted and took photos. Then Matthew and Jordan made breakfast for us. And we drank lots of coffee. And ate so much good food. And then we went to church and worshiped together – at the church where Jordan and Matthew met. It was a privilege to worship alongside them in a place that is such a huge part of their story.

Jordan and Matthew – we are so grateful for you two. Thank you for inviting us into your lives and into your story. It’s hard to express how excited we are about your wedding this spring without sounding like little kids anticipating Christmas morning. It is such an honor that we get to walk alongside you through this beautiful and sacred season.

JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-1JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-2JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-3JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-4JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-5JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-6JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-7JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-8JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-9JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-10JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-11JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-12JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-13JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-14JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-15JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-16JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-17JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-18JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-19JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-20JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-21JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-22JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-23JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-24JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-25JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-26JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-27JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-28JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-29JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-30JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-31JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-32JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-33JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-34JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-35JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-36JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-37JordanMatthew-LakesideEngagement-38

We are so thrilled to announce that we are participating in the Weddings for Freedom SET | RAISE | MATCH campaign this month. We are teaming up with wedding vendors across the United States to raise awareness for and combat human trafficking right here in our own backyards. If you don’t think modern day slavery has anything to do with you, we urge you to read on.

promo - 0001

Why should I care?

Reason #1:  At least 100,000 children are sold into sex trafficking every year in the United States

Reason #2:  There are fewer than 250 beds available for underage victims

Reason #3:  13 is the average age of entry into prostitution in the US

Reason #4:  The United States sex trade is a $9.8 billion industry

Reason #5:  The average American lives within 19 miles of daily sex trafficking

WFF-Blog-4

 

So how does it all work?

We have SET a goal of $1000 to be raised for Wellspring Living, an organization in Atlanta that provides safe housing and holistic restoration programs for victims of sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. We’re asking you to help us RAISE that money and reach our goal through various means (read more below). And we are personally going to MATCH each donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $1000 for a final total of $2000 (or more!) in support of Wellspring Living.

How can I participate?

Give directly! Go to the Weddings for Freedom website to learn more and give to Wellspring Living with us. Every dollar helps, so whether you can donate $10, $50, or $500, we so appreciate you taking a stand alongside us. Don’t forget that each dollar you donate will be matched by us until we reach $1000!

Book a wedding! For the month of February, we’re giving each couple that books with us $100 off their wedding deposit if they’re willing to make a $100 donation to Wellspring Living. It’s a win-win!

Spread the word! Use the hashtags #weddingsforfreedom and #setraisematch to spread the word and take a stand with us. Know other wedding vendors who might like to start their own SET | RAISE | MATCH campaign?? Send them to www.weddingsforfreedom.com to learn more and sign up!

WFF-Blog-2

Photos courtesy of Paper Antler

2014 for us could be summed up by a few words – refining, stepping into the unknown, and adventure.

This has been the year that we’ve done the most refining of our business. What do we want Grain & Compass to be, where do we see ourselves in 5, 10, 20, 50 years, how do we want to leave a lasting impact on each and every one of our couples we work with, how are we different from the other photographers and filmmakers out there, how to we tell stories in a way that is honest and beautiful and honoring to each person’s story? These are all questions we’ve wrestled with and begun to find answers for this year. We’re stoked about where those answers are taking us.

2014 was also the year of stepping into the unknown for us. We thought the day we both stepped into working full time for our business would come with great fanfare and perhaps even a dramatic Tim-standing-on-his-desk-and-giving-a-passionate-speech-to-his-students-about-following-your-dreams scene on his last day of teaching. But it didn’t happen that way. I’ve been full time with our business for a couple years now, and we’ve been praying and waiting ever so impatiently for the day when we could work side-by-side full time, not just on the weekends. We wanted God to give us a big sign that said “it’s time to quit your day job!!!” but for some reason he just doesn’t always work the way we want. He’s a little more subtle, a lot more mysterious, and this year He let us learn through the craziest circumstances. In the end we had to make our own decision about whether we’d trust Him to provide us with a few more weddings to round our our year, or wait in fear, clinging to what we already knew. After some paperwork mixups and a whole lot of frustrating miscommunication from our school system’s county office, it became clear that it was time for Tim to step away from teaching and bid adieu to the school and people that truly supported and loved on him for the last three years. It was a little bittersweet for him to leave, and a grand mix of terrifying and exciting for us to leave the stability of a consistent paycheck. But we can sit here at the end of the busiest fall of our lives, with gratitude and the knowledge that going fully-full-time with our business was the best decision we made this year.

Between shooting weddings and visiting friends and family, we traveled away from home more than 100 days this year – nearly a third of our year. We sat down last night and counted all the adventures we had and the places we visited for the first time this year. This year held our first time to Detroit where we discovered fantastic brews at Great Lakes Coffee and we filmed the most epic dance party ever seen at a wedding reception. A week-long inspirationcation with my best friend – we locked ourselves away in a cabin in Asheville to work on her writing and my photography. Next up was a trip to Arizona to visit friends and take Tim to Sedona and the Grand Canyon for the first time. Tim’s first time in Green Bay where we attended my cousin’s wedding, got to tour Lambeau Field (my family will turn Tim into a Packers fan yet,) and Tim’s first trip to Door County. In September and October we embarked on a three week road trip to attend, photograph, and film Tim’s cousin Mallory’s wedding on Martha’s Vineyard, and two gorgeous weddings outside Chicago. Along the way, we visited New York City for the first time – a day packed with over 12 miles of walking, hitting up a few touristy spots, discovering amazing food throughout the day, stumbling upon the Chelsea Market, and a stroll along the High Line, to name a few. After Mallory’s wedding we had a whole day to explore Martha’s Vineyard, stayed with dear friends in Massachusetts, camped near Niagara Falls – my first trip there, and then hop-skipped our way to Chicago, visiting friends and family along the way. This fall we found ourselves traveling for numerous weddings and engagement sessions across North Carolina, and we took one more trip to Chicago to photograph one of our dear friend’s weddings – it’s always a treasure for us to capture a friend’s wedding day, and I’ll have a hard time putting words to how special it was for us to photograph this one.

We’ve still got so much we’re working on and excited to share from this past year, but for now, here’s a look back at a few of our favorite photos from this year – some you’ve seen and some you haven’t!

Our dates are booking up quickly for 2015 and we’re beginning to book 2016 weddings as well – if you’re getting married or know someone who is, send us an email to inquire about our availability! Along the lines of refining our business and our vision for Grain & Compass, we know that we’re not the photographers and videographers for everyone. And we’re okay with that. We know that the couples whose stories we capture best aren’t just looking for someone to take pictures and video of their day. The couples we want to work with are passionate about storytelling, they’re looking to have beautiful photographs and video of their own day, and they’re not afraid to open up to us and let us into their story. When a couple trusts us, when they let us into their lives, when they are curious and genuinely interested not only in having great photos but in the why behind what we do – that’s when we’re able to capture the most genuine, beautiful images. If this sounds like you, don’t hesitate to contact us. And if it sounds like someone you know, please send them our way! We’re always on the lookout for a good story.

When looking back at Dan and Amy’s wedding day, we must first acknowledge the weather. It was… unexpected, to say the least. Earlier that week we were exploring a local forest preserve with these two for their engagement session – it was around 80 degrees and I think I got sunburned. Saturday rolled around for their outdoor morning wedding and I peeked out our hotel window to see tiny snow flurries fluttering by in the glow of the early morning moonlight.

On very hot and very cold outdoor wedding days, we usually expect that lots of guests simply won’t show up due to the extreme weather. That couldn’t have been further from the truth for Dan and Amy’s wedding. I have never seen a happier group of wedding guests gathering for a ceremony – they completely packed the pavilion.

Think about most wedding ceremonies you’ve attended – usually everyone gathers beforehand, very quiet and solemn-like, right? They all find their seats and sit, whispering to one another and quietly looking over the program. Not Dan and Amy’s wedding guests. They were loud and gregarious, full of laughter and JOY. Instead of complaining about the weather, everyone bundled up – they dug out the winter coats and hats and scarves and gloves, and they brought blankets to keep warm and snuggle with their friends and family. They stopped by the coffee table on their way into the ceremony, filled their cups with warmth, and snuggled into their seats, sipping coffee, their cheeks and noses rosy.

It became quite clear to us that Dan and Amy are LOVED, truly and deeply loved by their friends and family. A little freezing rain, snow flurries, and gale force winds couldn’t keep Dan and Amy’s people from joining in their joy and fully embracing the celebration of their day. It makes sense, if you know Dan and Amy’s full story. I imagine many of the people gathered in that pavilion have seen their relationship grow from the beginning – from the very first inklings of interest when Amy and Dan were in middle school and high school. I imagine most of the guests who gathered that day have cheered their relationship on, through thick and thin, through awkward high school years, and challenging college ones. I imagine each person there has their own story of Amy and Dan, their own piece of their love story, perhaps a part they like to take credit for or a conversation they’re certain had some influence in their relationship. Dan and Amy’s day truly felt like a coming-together of many different parts of their story, all converging to celebrate with them as they committed the rest of their lives to one another.

Enjoy the story of Dan and Amy’s wedding day through our film and photos. Enjoy the Frank Lloyd Wright house where the girls got ready (our architecture-loving selves were in heaven). Enjoy the letter Dan wrote to Amy, spoken in his own words – it brings tears to my eyes every time. Enjoy their sweet first look. Enjoy the details – Amy’s BHLDN dress, her flower crown, her fur coat. Enjoy that guest book – a gift Dan gave to Amy when he proposed to her. It’s a story book of their relationship, full of photos of the two of them, even photos from the awkward early years. Enjoy the happy tears, the laughter, and the joy. In fact, to fully get into the spirit of their day, you should probably wrap up in a blanket, cozy up with someone you love, and grab a cup of coffee before diving into their photos and film.

Dan + Amy // An Illinois Wedding from Grain & Compass on Vimeo.

 

Vendors:

Ceremony + Reception Venue: Good Templar Park in Batavia, IL

Pastor: Rev Rick Allnutt

Flowers: Joanne DeGroot at The Tree House

Ceremony Musician: John Herpolsheimer

Caterer: Suzette’s Creperie and Moveable Feast

Donuts: Kuipers Family Farm

Coffee: Starbucks

Videography: Grain & Compass

Photography: Grain & Compass

Take a moment to imagine yourself standing in the sand, feeling the warm breeze in your hair, smelling the sweet salty ocean, hearing the seagulls call to one another. This is the scene for Michael and Mallory’s wedding day.

They spoke the vows they’d written themselves on the sand at Martha’s Vineyard. It’s the island that has become so special to Mallory – she grew up traveling there with her mom whenever they could. It’s the island she shared with Michael after they started dating – a quiet getaway from the bustle of the city. It’s the island they dream of moving to one day – the place where they feel most like themselves.

Michael and Mallory’s closest friends and family traveled from far and wide via car, airplane, and ferry. The method of simply getting to the island was an adventure in and of itself. Flying over the sparkling blue water or standing on the deck of the ferry, the ocean air washing away the stress of the mainland.

Our favorite weddings to document are the days that we’re invited to be a part of, truly invited to be a part of. We love when our bride and groom’s families and friends invite us into the intimate moments and stories of the day. With Mallory and Michael we actually are family, which made it that much more special to capture the day through both photographs and video. Mallory and Tim are cousins and it was so sweet for me to get to meet that whole side of the family that I’d not yet had a chance to meet. They truly invited me into their family. They let us stay with them at the beach house they rented, we sat around on the living room floor making wedding signs and eating takeout Thai food together, and after sunset we walked to the ice cream shop for a late night snack, laughing and telling stories the whole way.

Every detail of Michael and Mallory’s day had special significance for the two of them. They DIY-ed much of their wedding – a departure from the standard “Martha’s Vineyard Wedding,” so naturally each detail had a story. The jewelry was made from sea glass Mallory collected on the Vineyard as a child. And she collected the vintage glass bottles and the table decorations for her reception. The diamond in her engagement ring was a gift from Mallory’s mom – the same diamond her grandmother wore in her own ring. And Michael and Mallory surprised her mom Lauren by using the extra diamonds from grandma’s ring – they had a gorgeous “thank you” gift made to thank her for all the ways she contributed to their dream Vineyard wedding.

Many of the details were sourced by vendors local to Martha’s Vineyard – the watercolors used for table numbers were painted by local artists, the clam chowder served at cocktail hour is a local Vineyard staple, and the vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free options for dinner were all provided by a local restaurant. The flowers were hand-picked on the island from a local farm, and Mallory, her Maid of Honor, and their family friends helped arrange the flowers for the reception decor.

I can’t even begin to describe all the details of their day, so be sure to check at the bottom of this post if you’re curious about where their invitations were made or who created their gorgeous cake.

Take a deep breath (pretend it’s salty ocean air) and dive into Michael and Mallory’s wedding film and photos.

Michael + Mallory // A Martha’s Vineyard Wedding from Grain & Compass on Vimeo.

 

Vendors:

Venue: East Chop Beach Club

Coordinator: Joanna Fairchild

Invitations & Calligraphy: NooneyArt Designs

Hair: Katie Perkins

Makeup: Noel McKinnon – Makeup 2 Die 4

Bouquets: Krishana Collins – Tea Lane Farm

Officiant: Lauren Kroll (Mother of the Bride)

Flowers at Reception: Handpicked at Tea Lane Farm by Krishana Collins, Arranged by the Bride, Bridesmaids, and Family Friends

Caterer: Giordano’s Restaurant

Cake: Liz Kane

Beer + Soda: Our Market

Food for Cocktail Hour: Lauren Kroll (MOB) and Marilyn Blakeslee (MOH’s mom) and Joanne Raia

Clam Chowder for Cocktail Hour: Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co.

Cookies: Made by the Mother of the Bride, Lauren Kroll, and family friend Joanne Raia

Rentals: Seaside Celebrations

DJ: Kim Collins with Cape Tunes

Photography: Grain & Compass

Videography: Grain & Compass

 

Wearables:

Dress: Maggie Sottero – Purchased at Camilla’s Bridal

Shoes: Unisa

Sea Glass Jewelry: Daria Justyn Jewelry

Engagement Ring: Long’s Jewelers 

Wedding Bands: Long’s Jewelers (his) and Barmakian Jewelers (hers)

Mother of the Bride’s Ring: Long’s Jewelers 

Groom’s Cufflinks, Bride’s gift to the Groom: CB Stark Jewelers

Groom’s & Groomsmen’s Ties: Vineyard Vines

Bracelet, Groom’s gift to the Bride: Stony Creek Gifts – Aquinnah, MA

Bride’s & Bridesmaids’ Robes: Modern Kimono Robes

Bea’s Flower Collar: Made by the Bride

 

Decor:

Table Decor: Arranged by the Bride

Vintage Glass Bottles: Bride’s Collection

Bunting:  Anna Gaudet

Watercolor Table Numbers: Watercolor art by local Vineyard artists, Purchased at Kennedy Studios, Tables Numbers by StudioCee, Arranged by the Bride

Wooden Signs: Anna and Joe Gaudet

Menu & Love Story Signs: Asharae Kroll

Custom Calligraphy Place Cards: Made by the Bride