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Nick & Malea’s Wisconsin Autumn Wedding at West Bend Country Club

Fall Weddings in Wisconsin, there’s something so magical about the brisk air on a special day! At Kara Reese Photography we love putting you at ease during every step of your Wedding process. It was such a pleasure working with Malea and Nick, their images are spectacular. Malea took so much care in every detail of the day, I am so excited to share her perspective and advice with you in this post. Do you have a fall wedding in your dreams? Let’s make it a reality! Book a consultation, let’s grab a pumpkin spice latte and start this storytelling journey together! Do they have PSLs in February?

How did you two meet?
Malea and Nick first met in dental school at Marquette! Separate clinic groups and opposite ends of the alphabet kept them apart at first! But, through mutual friends they continued to meet up more and more at dental school functions and became closer as friends. Finally, at their Sophomore year Winter Gala, they really hit it off; Nick asked Malea to go out for dinner with him that next week!

How did he pop the question?
After graduating from dental school, Nick knew Malea was the one and had a plan for a summer engagement. After sneaking the ring past the metal detectors at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills and managing not to lose it in the fescue, Nick proposed on the golf course, hole #2, with Holy Hill in the background! Malea’s family was all there; it was an incredible day! Unbeknownst to them, a professional photographer and journalist covering the tournament spotted them and managed to capture the moment!

Tell me about the dress? How did you know it was the one?
This is a special story! My mom surprised me with a trip to NYC! I was able to take my mom, maid of honor and my aunt on a weekend trip I will never forget! We met one of my best friends from college out there who lived in New York! AND yes – we went to Kleinfelds!!!!! My consultant was fabulous! I tried on probably 5-6 dresses (in a style I thought I really wanted) and I didn’t really LOVE any of them.
Brandi (my consultant) pulled one final dress that had a couple components I told her at the beginning I didn’t think I liked… I looked at it on the hanger and did have a couple doubts… but she convinced me to try it on anyway! I put it on, looked in the mirror, and immediately started crying. This was the one!!! I went out to show my gals and everyone else started crying! I absolutely fell in love with the detail – both front and back, beading, mermaid style I never though I would wear! AND right then and there I “Said YES to the dress” 🙂 A moment I will never forget!!

Did you chose to see each other before the ceremony?
YES! We did a first look and bridal party pictures prior to the wedding ceremony! Kara was the one who talked me into this decision, and I am SO glad she did! It was a moment for just the two of us! A moment to take one more deep breath before committing ourselves to each other with all of our friends and family! It made the actual ceremony much more relaxing!!

How would you describe your overall wedding experience?
One for the books! It took a lot of planning, but every effort put into the day was so worth it! I had fantastic people helping me throughout the process and the day itself was almost flawless.

What advice would you offer other couples planning their wedding?
Have fun with it! There are going to be stressful times during planning, but always remember the big picture! It is about you and your significant other – your special day – and nothing should get in the way of that! Take your time when deciding on your vendors – at the end of the day they are the ones you have to trust to make your day go smoothly and make your vision come true!

The colors of the trees were perfect for this fall wedding!
Couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day for this sweet couple!

What photography advice would you give to an engaged couple?
Make sure to make a shot list of all the formal pictures you would like to get! On the day of things get a little crazy – you don’t want to miss any pictures that you really want for memories! Trust your photographer! 🙂

Any tips for preparing your bridal party for photos?
I did not prepare them at all – we ended up walking into the woods under fall colors – this wasn’t really organized! But we made it work with the time we had! And we had a very fun bridal party! If I were to do it again – I would have allotted more time for bridal party pictures – especially with my girls – it takes longer than you would think for everyone to get ready! It would help if you knew what kind of pictures you wanted with your bridal party as well! – It’s all about timing – if you have enough time I don’t think it would be an issue!

How was your experience working with Kara Reese Photography?
I truly never had to worry about a thing on the day of the wedding! Kara and her assistant were on top of it! We stuck to our previously planned schedule and everything ran very smoothly! Sometimes I didn’t even know where she was – but looking at our finished pictures – she captured every single moment in a very natural way!!

Any tips on preparing for your wedding photos?
Do your research on style of photography you want – I am all about the in the moment candid photos and capturing the emotion! Kara nailed it! I loved that we had many different areas that we took Bride and Groom photos – the lake view ones were my favorite!

What were your favorite moments from the day?
It’s so hard to pick favorites! 🙂 We loved having all of our friends and family in one place to enjoy our special celebration together. It was a beautiful fall day, fabulous colors on the trees, NO RAIN 🙂 – we couldn’t have asked for anything better! I think one of our favorites was being surprised by Malea’s parents with a fireworks show right after dinner – JUST AMAZING, what a surprise – it was the perfect time to take a breath away from everything, take in the moment, and appreciate how truly blessed we really are – only us! (Well and of course our great photographer capturing it all 🙂

What were you most nervous about going into the big day?
Making sure we talked to all of our guests that made the trip to come and celebrate with us! I think we did a pretty good job! And of course we prayed for a beautiful fall day!

What were your first dance songs?
First dance: “Forever Like That” – Ben Rector
Father Daughter: “Butterfly Kisses” – Bob Carlisle
Mother Son: “Have I told you Lately” – Rod Stewart

Vendor Love

Dress – Kleinfeld Bridal (New York City)
Flowers – Melissa at Bank of Flowers (Menomonee Falls, WI)
Paper – Robin Dorwak (Cedarburg, WI)
Cake/Cupcakes – Delicately Delicious (Cedarburg, WI)
Bridesmaids Jewelry – Julie Schnoll Designs
Venue – West Bend Country Club
Band – FM Rodeo

Honestly all of our vendors made our vision com true! I couldn’t have imagined it any other way!

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Let’s Go Up North

Jared & Molly have a special place in the woods, and I felt fortunate to be included in their magical day with family and friends. Being a photographer is the best because I get access to unique venues and places I have never explored. I also get to capture the most special days for my clients.

These two met back at St. Olaf college and have been writing their love story for 5 years. Molly & Jared were such a wonderful couple and I think the images are stunning. The trees and the lake were the perfect backdrop for their unique wedding portraits. Do you have a family cabin that could double as a wedding venue? I’m there!

How did he pop the question?
Jared proposed at the end of a long day of moving into our first apartment together.
What was your favorite moment(s) from the wedding?
We loved the ceremony, the boat ride with our bridal party, the speeches, and dancing with everybody on the dance floor!
Tell me about the dress. Where did you find it & how did you know it was the one?
My dress came from Posh Bridal in Wayzata, MN. Ideally, I wanted something that would be light since I had an outdoor wedding. I was also looking for an a-line so that I would feel comfortable all day but also flatter my body type. My consultant at the bridal shop picked out my dress for me and at first I was doubtful. It did not look like what I had pictured myself in. However, I felt really good in it. Maybe because the details were unique. Certainly the lines were flattering & it was super comfortable. Even though it was unexpected, it looked like me. It was the first time my family and I teared up at a dress. Because of the confidence the dress gave me and the reaction it gave my family, I knew it was the one.
How would you describe your overall wedding experience?
The planning was definitely stressful, but we felt so grateful for all the support around us. It was a lot of work to plan and organize a wedding that we also had to host, but our family went above and beyond to help us in every way. It was so worth all the work that went into it and the love and support we felt on our day will never be a feeling we will take for granted.
Any advice you would offer to other couples planning a wedding?
Don’t spend too much time fussing about the small details. You spend the whole day enjoying the company of all the people that came out to support you and your fiance, that you won’t even notice if something wasn’t just right. In the end, what matters is that you are marrying the person you love – trust that everything will turn out just that it is meant to be.
How was your experience taking photos/working with me on your wedding day?
It was great!! You were so nice, patient, and flexible even though we were so unorganized. You knew what we wanted, and spent time on details we cared about, but you were still efficient with the photos that were not as important. Kara Reese Photography is so creative as well, finding opportunities for unique and fun photos & we LOVE how they turned out.
What were you most anxious about for your wedding day and what was the outcome?
I just wanted all the guests to have a fun day . We didn’t want them to worry about anything! Really, I just wanted to host a good party with the best drinks, food, and music we could. As far as I know, the outcome was great. I thought everything went well – we had good feedback on our drinks and food and our dance floor was full the whole night. My husband and I had the best time. Once the day got started, it was relatively stress-free. As a result, we owe that 100% to our friends and family who were working all day to make sure everything went smoothly for the guests.
Other Vendors that you loved, shout them out!
Vendor Love:
“I Do” Wedding Design – flowers and decor – St. Paul, MN
Billy’s Grill and Catering – catering – Bloomer, WI
Brigg’s Tent and Party Rental – rentals – Eau Claire, WI
Estilo Salon – hair and makeup – Eau Claire, WI
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The internet is a very powerful tool, to be honest we can’t image Kara Reese Photography without it. In addition to it bringing Kara’s work to the world and connecting us to clients it also has the power to create families and love stories. Nicole and Tommy met online (after some encouragement from their kids…) — we love it!

Here are some of our favorite moments from their wedding day, along with Nicole’s own reflections on the day. Are you planning your dream wedding? Do you know a couple as fun as Tommy & Nicole? Reach out to me, we’d love to meet them!

Tell us about your dress! What is the story?

I found it at David’s Bridal. Nick and Izzy where with me to look at dresses. Izzy was emotional when she saw me in it and Nick said it made me look like a glass of Champagne!

Did you chose to see each other before the ceremony?

Yes. We took Kara’s advice on this one and it definitely calmed me seeing Tommy for the first time. We had a very special moment together. I will remember it forever.

Where was your wedding ceremony?

We got married at the Delafield Fish Hatchery.

What were you worried/anxious about before your big day?

The weather, with it being an outdoor ceremony. It turned out to be a beautiful 80 degree day! I also worried if the kids and everyone would have a good time. Everyone had great moments and made fun and special memories.

What was your favorite part of the day?

Seeing each other for the first time and getting ready with the kids before the ceremony were my highlights. I loved seeing our kids so happy and dancing along with our friends and parents.

What advice would you give to other couples?

Take time to enjoy the special moments don’t worry about the things you can’t control. Don’t stress about every picture being taken instead focus on the moments being captured. Just be yourself, be real! These are the moments that are precious so you will want to feel natural.

What was your First Dance song?

The Cure by Lady Gaga

We also did a Mother & Son dance to Lauryn Hill’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You

The couple wants to share some vendor love to Tuscan Hall in Waukesha 

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Jen + Jake

Ceremony: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Reception: Hawk’s View Golf Club

Date: September 2nd, 2018

Tell us about your dress:

Buying my dress was a little different than most brides! I live in Washington and didn’t have enough money to buy a plane ticket to come home to WI just to look for a dress with my mom, sister, and bridesmaids. Instead, I found a bridal consignment store in Seattle called Blue Sky Bridal. I saw a dress on their website that I was interested in so I booked an appointment.

The girl that helped me was so nice! She helped me pick out a few dresses to try on, including the one I had seen online. I didn’t really love any of the other ones we picked out but I put on the last dress (the one online) and loved it! I really loved the back of the dress. I stood in it for probably 45 minutes while I called my mom, sister, and dad (I think) and sent pictures to my bridesmaids. I walked out of the store with the dress and the veil!

Describe your favorite moments from the day:

 It's so hard to pick specific moments and say they were my favorite because honestly the day as a whole was amazing.

Did you chose to see each other before the ceremony?

We did not see each other before the ceremony. If we had to do it again, I think we would do it the same way! Our ceremony was at 1:30 so we were still able to spend the majority of the day together. Plus, I think we both enjoyed spending time with our bridesmaids and groomsmen separately.

How did you two meet?

A mutual friend introduced us. The first time we met, all three of us went bowling and then to Applebee’s for half-prices apps. Jake’s opening line when he got in the car was “Hi, my name is Jake. I didn’t learn how to tie my shoes until the 5th grade.” That pick up line currently has a 100% success rate 🙂 Jake and I met on December 29, 2013 and officially started dating on March 22, 2014. It’s hard to believe that it’s been just over four and a half years already!

How did he pop the question?

In September 2016 we moved to Washington. We only spent about 10 days together before Jake had to leave on a two and a half month deployment. On December 23rd, Jake’s ship (the USS Sampson) returned home and I was waiting on the pier with other family and friends to welcome them home just in time for Christmas.

I noticed that Jake was the only one in his uniform and I had a feeling something was going to happen. Jake was the first person off the ship and I met him with a big hug. Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! It was pretty neat because the entire crew on the ship was watching and cheered! And it turns out that Jake bought the ring in Auckland, New Zealand while he was on deployment.

How would you describe your overall wedding experience?

Overall, our wedding experience was everything we dreamed it would be. The day was great and everything went smooth. We had so much fun with our family and friends and we are just so grateful to have such a wonderful and loving support system!

What advice would you give other couples planning a wedding?:

Don’t stress about the little things! I spent time on a bunch of details that I didn’t even have time to take a look at. Don’t get me wrong, I was trying to take it all in and look at all the hard work that went in to planning the day, but there were some things that I would not spend so much time on if I did it again! Also, just have fun!

Remember that the day is about you and you choose how much fun you have! And on the same subject, don’t worry about whether or not your guests are having a good time. You can’t spend every minute of the reception with every single person, but your guests are just happy to be there with you! In general, your wedding is as fun as you make it (for yourself and your guests too!). Finally, if you set your expectations low, you won’t be as disappointed if something doesn’t go as planned. And on the other hand, you will be pleasantly surprised/happy when everything goes better than you had hoped!

What photography advice would you give another couple?:

If you can, schedule engagement pictures or a mini session prior to your big day! It helps a lot, especially if you’ve never been photographed before! You get a sense of how a photographer works and practice does make perfect!

How was your experience working with me?

Kara Reese Photography was amazing to work with! She arrived on time and was taking pictures right away! After the ceremony, Kara was so quick with the camera and our family photos went much faster than I thought. Kara also did a great job sticking with the list of pictures that we wanted.

One thing that really stuck out to me was that Kara was actually using the pictures I had added to a Pinterest board that I shared with her! This is a great tool for inspiration so I would definitely take the time to make a Pinterest board for Kara! Overall, our experience with Kara was awesome and I would highly recommend her to anyone that is looking for a photographer!

Kara was creative and organized. She was easy to work with and was flexible! Kara was also in a good mood and brought a positive energy with her that made working with her just that much better!

How did your wedding party do with photos?

The only thing we (the girls) talked about was how to hold our flowers (and I can’t remember exactly but I’m pretty certain that Kara helped with this!). Our wedding party was really easy to work with and they are all very close friends or siblings. We all just had a great time and group pictures went smooth (and turned out great!!!).

What were your first dance songs?

First Dance – “One More Day” by Diamond Rio Father-daughter – “Forever Young” by Rod Stewart Mother-son- “Up Where We Belong” by Joe Crocker & Jennifer Warnes

What were you nervous about prior to your wedding?

I don’t think I was nervous about anything on our wedding day! You get to a point where there is nothing more that you can do to prepare for the day. If I had to pick something, I think I was actually most nervous about pictures and that’s because I knew that I would look back on them for the rest of my life. But they turned out so beautiful!

Other Vendors Jake & Jen loved:

Dress: Blue Sky Bridal (@blueskybridal)

Hair/Makeup: Neroli Salon & Spa

DJ: A Personal Touch DJ

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Haley & Caleb had a beautiful warm summer wedding! Fireman’s Park in Lebanon, WI was the perfect setting for this fun couple, and their family and friends had a blast! I want you to hear from them about our experience working together and the magic of their wedding day. Read this post for valuable advice and sweet memories from clients I cherish. Thank you!

Tell me about your dress, how did you know it was the one?

I found my dress at Bliss Bridal in Brookfield. I tried on about 11 dresses total but the dress I tried on first was the one I picked. It just felt like the right one there’s no other explanation.

How did you two meet? How long have you been together

We met at our current place of work and have been together for 4 years.

Where was your wedding?

Lebanon Firemans Park, Lebanon WI

How did he pop the question?

Quickly approaching Valentine’s Day Haley had a special plan in place to surprise Caleb. Little did Haley know Caleb would have the best surprise yet! The day before, after working third shift, Caleb came home and told Haley he had to go pick up her Valentine’s Gift. Four hours went by and Haley stared to get concerned. Low and behold Caleb was picking up Haley’s ring and at her parents house getting her father’s blessing to ask. Haley called and scolded Caleb as they had to work that night and he needed to get some sleep! Fast forward to the next day…… Haley had planned to take Caleb to Chick-fil-a as a joke to use a gift certificate. ( It was cold enough for food to keep in the car) Then go to a fancy restaurant and a concert to see Datsik in Madison. Caleb asked if they could leave earlier to do to stop at a park and go for a walk. Haley and Caleb stopped at Elver Park in Madison on their way to Haley’s planned festivities! Being that it was February all the walkways were flooded with water and left over snow. Caleb was determined however and saw a small bridge up the way from one of the paths. The two tiptoed threw the flooded water and made it it the bridge. The view was nice from the bridge and Caleb asked Haley to look out over the bridge so he could take a picture ( Posted as section photo). When Haley turned back around Caleb was down on one knee with ring in hand! Haley could not believe it!! With  red cheeks and tears in both their eyes Caleb asked Haley to spend the rest of her life with him, and as you all know…. SHE SAID YES!!!!

How would you describe your overall wedding experience?

The planning and set up was a lot of work and there were alot of things that went differently than what we had planned but in the end we were the only ones that knew. We had an amazing day, our guests had a great time and despite it being over 90 degrees it was still one of the best days of our lives.

What was your favorite moment from the wedding day?

Pulling up in the Limo before the ceremony and seeing Caleb surrounded by his best friends waiting to meet me at the other end of the asile. The windows were tinted so noone could see me, I remember tearing up with happy tears. – Haley

Watching the love of my life walk down the aisle towards me while surrounded by our family and friends, I remember thinking “Wow, I am so lucky.” -Caleb

What were your biggest concerns/fears going into your wedding?

I never went to the park the morning of the wedding to make sure all the last details were completed. So I had to put faith in the people that were there to make sure everything was good. Sure some things went differently that I had planned but everything worked out. – Haley

I was most nervous about saying my vows during the ceremony I get super nervous in front of people and screwed them up sooo bad during the rehearsal. The day of the wedding though despite my nerves I said them perfectly!- Caleb

What advice would you offer other couples planning their wedding?

The planning process can be hectic, and it’s a lot of work. Take help where you can get it and don’t obsess about every detail being perfect because the reality is, when the day comes, every detail wont be perfect and that’s 100 percent okay!

Did you see each other before the wedding?

Caleb and I saw each other briefly before I went to the salon to get hair and make up done, but after that we did not see each other until I came down the aisle. We wouldn’t have changed a thing about how we planned the morning of. Seeing each other in the morning and discussing last minute details eased both of our anxieties, but not seeing each other all dressed up prior made seeing each other while walking down the aisle more special.

Any tips on preparing for wedding party photos?

Make sure to communicate with people in staged photos about the timeline so they know when they are needed for pictures. We told everyone during the rehearsal that immediately after the ceremony we would be starting pictures and it was our expectation that they all meet and stay in one area so we did not have to be looking for people. But also remember that everyone is different and the day can be overwhelming so try to just go with the flow!

Any tips on preparing for wedding photos you'd like to share?

Know what staged photos you want and really talk to the photographer before hand. Caleb’s younger sister Josie has Autism and that was a key thing we discussed prior as she can get easily overwhelmed with large events like that. Right after the ceremony we focused on pictures with her and got some of the best photos that we have ever gotten with her. Last but not least, relax and have fun with them, pretend that someones not even taking pictures and enjoy the moments together.

How was your experience taking photos/working with me?

Kara was absolutely wonderful to work with. She took time to meet with us multiple times and asked lots of questions to get to know us better it made for a really personable experience. Kara is super creative and likes to explore new styles and technique when taking photos, these photos usually turn out to be real stunning worls of art. Kara’s photos all look elegant and beatuiful, we have gotten so many complements on all of our wedding photos!

Additional favorite moments form the Bride & Groom:

I loved taking more pictures after a storm had rolled through just north of where the wedding was! The sky gave the photos such a cool effect.- Haley

Haley and I snuck away from everyone for about 10 minutes and sat on a hill where no one could see us and just talked and looked around at everything and everyone. The whole day went so fast it was nice to have that quick moment to take it all in. – Caleb

We love to hear about other vendors, who did you enjoy working with?

We chose Sweet Talkin Treats in Watertown, WI to do our wedding cake and cupcakes and everyone just raved about how amazing things were! They were super awesome to work with!

We opted for a live band vs a DJ and we were happy with the choice, the band we had at the wedding was called the Dylan Doyle Band out of Woodstock New York, it was a band that we have seen many times and it made the whole experience a little more personable.

What songs did you dance to?

Our First Dance was “Baby I love your Way”- By Peter Frampton, Father Daughter Dance was ” Just Fishin”- By Trace Adkins, and Mother Son Dance was “My Wish”- By The Rascal Flatts.

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