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

Kristy and Matt’s wedding day was pure joy. These two invited us into their story, gave us their full trust, and let us capture each intimate moment of their day from beginning to end. The love these two have for one another is absolutely radiant. We’re so grateful they invited us to capture this day.

We love that this “job” of being photographers allows us to be witness to so many intimate moments in our couple’s day. Kristy has the sort of joyful spirit that’s completely infectious – we got to witness her joy and laughter as it spread to her bridesmaids and sisters-in-law-to-be. They poured over Matt and Kristy’s story book, one filled with photos and the tale of their friendship and love.

I asked Matt’s mom if she fell in love with Kristy the first time they met her. “We knew,” she told me. “We knew she was the one Matt was going to marry. They were just friends then, but when my husband and I went to bed that night, we both cried because we knew.” And Matt’s dad, his best man, told a similar version of the story during the reception – he told it with laughter in his voice – and he looked at Matt’s younger sisters, “Keri and Anna – I think we should choose who you marry too!”

We got to witness the sweet prayers Kristy’s bridesmaids and Matt’s groomsmen prayed over them before the ceremony. And the story Kristy’s mom shared with the girls, tears in her eyes. She shared some of her worries and fears about when Kristy left for college, and told them how she had prayed for a group of girls who Kristy could be friends with – girls that would love and support her. She pointed around at all the girls in the circle and shared how very grateful she was for each of them, how very grateful she was that her prayers had been answered and that they were seated before her, ready to stand alongside her daughter as she said her vows.

We held back tears during Matt and Kristy’s ceremony – the love and excitement between them was absolutely palpable.

Matt and Kristy decided not to do a first look, but they so valued having time for just the two of them. They were completely onboard with our vision and let us “do our thing” during that time before the reception. We see that “bride and groom portrait time” as so much more than just a time for taking photos. We aim to create a space for our couples to soak up the day together, to breathe for a moment and fully take in the sacredness and beauty of their day. It’s all too easy to allow that time to get swept away into family photos and bridal party portraits and then feel rushed to move along to the reception. Kristy and Matt made a point to tell us how important that time would be to them, and it made all the difference in their photos. We’re so very grateful for couples like Matt and Kristy who just “get it.” We left their wedding feeling refreshed and reminded of all the reasons why we love this thing we’re so blessed to call our “job.”

Enjoy Matt and Kristy’s day, as seen through our lenses.

 

Vendors:

Ceremony Venue: Hope Presbyterian Church

Reception Venue: Winmock at Kinderton

Coordinator: Jamie Southern

Hair/Makeup: Amy Gatewood – Updo’s Studio

Florist: Jennifer at Green Bee Floral Designs

Officiant: Josh Lindstrom

Ceremony Pianist: Brian Haskell

Programs and Table Numbers: Mackenzie Connelleen (friend of the bride)

Caterer: Triad Community Kitchen Catering

Cupcakes: Lauren Hoolehan

DJ: Mike Steffan at High Impact Entertainment

Photographer: Grain & Compass

It’s hard to put into words how immensely special it was to film this day for Juliana and Jeremiah. Their day was filled with pure, overwhelming, and overflowing joy.

Tim and I worked at summer camp with Juliana several years ago and I had the privilege of being her “unit leader,” essentially a mentor for her and several other girls over the summer. It was so meaningful to celebrate and join in the joy of Juliana and Jeremiah’s day. I sat for a few moments with the other girls from my Unit during the reception, and we just looked across the table at one another, joy and happy tears filling our eyes at the beauty of this day.

When you’ve been in the trenches together – even just for a season, when you’ve served together, prayed together, rejoiced and grieved together, when you’ve walked alongside one another through joy and through pain – it makes a day like this one that much more meaningful.

I love the words that Jeremiah’s dad shared with the two of them during the ceremony. He gave them three important things to remember as they enter into marriage. 1. Believe that you were formed for one another. 2. Be best friends forever. 3. Treat each other as equals. These three things together form such a beautiful picture of what marriage should be.

The love that Jeremiah and Juliana have for one another is so sweet and intentional. Each piece of their ceremony reflected this intentionality – we chose to open the film with their vows because of how carefully thought-out they were. Juliana and Jeremiah’s words simply set the tone for the rest of their day.

These two got married against the backdrop of Detroit – a city they’ve fallen in love with. They had their ceremony in a gorgeous historic church and the reception at the classic Detroit Yacht Club – a beautiful space out on Belle Isle, overlooking the Detroit skyline. And that reception. Man oh man did we have a celebration on our hands. I have never seen a dance floor fill up so quickly before – you’ll see it in the film – a little surprise choreography and then BAM everyone else joined in. Epic is the only way I know how to describe it. The feeling of being in that room and experiencing that overflow of joy was unbelievable.

All that being said, I pray this film reflects even just a fraction of the beauty and depth and joy of Jeremiah and Juliana’s wedding day.

Jeremiah + Juliana // A Detroit Wedding from Grain & Compass on Vimeo.

Hair + Makeup: Detroit Glam

Ceremony Venue: Hope Community Church

Flowers: Viviano Flower Shop, Eastern Farmers Market

Officiant: Jeremiah Lepasana Sr.

Reception Venue: Detroit Yacht Club

Caterer: Detroit Yacht Club

DJ: Matthew Sakdalan

Photography: Robert Tunberg Photography

Videography: Grain & Compass