Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos

Missy and Nicole's Wedding Story | The Couples Point of View

Part 2.

Wedding Photographers in Iowa

Read Part 1 here!

Written by Nicole...with a little contribution from Missy... ;)

My favorite part of the experience is simple, knowing that we can get through anything together, and be stronger and better because of it.
— Nicole

When we first discussed our wedding, we had two very different ideas.  Neither of us wanted the huge, expensive fancy white wedding, but if Missy had her way we would have gone to the courthouse and had no one watching.  My then 7-year old daughter and I vetoed that idea immediately.  It was important to me that our family and friends have the opportunity to be involved in our special day.  In the end, I “won” because I gave the “sad eyes that always get me what I want” look.    

Once the courthouse plan was scrapped, we knew we wanted to have something fun, laid back, and non-fancy.  We love camping and being by the water, so our idea morphed into an event in which we had yard games, fireworks, and everyone came dressed casual and ready to have a good time.  

Over a year in advance we had our venue picked out and everything was taken care of for us.  We hadn’t a worry in the world when it came to our day, as everything was taken care of: tables, chairs, place settings, table cloths, decorations, you name it, it was included.  We had been envisioning the different places for our pictures and how our day was going to look for a full year. Things were definitely going smoothly, which should have been our first indication that Murphy and his law were going to step in at any moment.  

Our wedding was scheduled for Saturday, July 1.  At 9:30 pm on June 19th our worst fear came to life.  We received a phone call from our venue, letting us know that some things had changed, and long story short, we no longer had a place for our wedding.  We went from having everything under control and ready to go, to having to plan an entire wedding in 11 days!  We were extremely fortunate that Missy’s cousins had just hosted an outdoor wedding in late May.  Our only hope was to call them, and beg them to let us have our wedding at their place.  Thankfully, family truly stepped up and saved the day.  I have no clue what we would have done had Mike and Mandy not come through for us, we definitely didn’t have room at our house for 150 people to join!

The change in direction forced us to completely realign our preparations for our big day.  Now we needed to get decorations and get everything set up.  It was still going to be an outdoor wedding, but we lost the possibility of people being able to go inside and cool off, so we were going to need to rent a tent.  Again, our date was July 1…. let’s just say it’s not easy to find tents to rent so close to the 4th of July! Instead of one large tent we ended up with three smaller ones, their last three available, and took all the tables that were available as well, which technically still wasn’t enough!  With the change in venue, we also needed to adjust our catering and alcohol for the night, going from having it done to doing it ourselves.  We were quite the sight as we left Costco with a flat bed cart loaded up with ridiculous amounts of beer and wine!  Our theory was to make sure we had enough so no one felt as if they couldn’t have what they wanted, and for those of you wondering, Costco does take returns on alcohol.

Several nights we would be watching TV and random thoughts would be spit out,  “Shoot! Now we need to get plates and silverware!” or “Did you call the guy about renting the port-a-potties yet?”  Every moment became consumed with making sure we had everything ready and weren’t overlooking something we would really need.  After what felt like a million trips to various stores for supplies, and countless miles being put on the truck with round trips to Glenwood, everything was falling into place. We cannot thank our families and friends enough for helping us in so many ways, big and small, to make our day special.

I can honestly say that when we received the phone call that set this whirlwind into motion, I was nervous about how it would all end, and who wouldn’t be? A wedding in and of itself is stressful enough no matter what type of wedding you are having, but then putting it completely together at the last minute? You find out really quick how things are going to go between you and your soon to be life partner.  My favorite part of the experience is simple, knowing that we can get through anything together, and be stronger and better because of it.  It would have been easy for a bridezilla to strike at any moment, but she stayed away, and in the end, we had an amazingly spectacular day.  Our ceremony was filled with lots of tears, mostly from laughter.  The biggest surprise was during the exchange of rings, when I was shocked to discover I had been given a beautiful ring I was not expecting.  Our faces hurt from smiling so much that day, and having so many of our loved ones there with us, sharing in our day and supporting us, well, it doesn’t get any better than that.

While our wedding didn’t end up as we originally thought it was going to go, it completely exceeded all of our expectations! After having everything set, to completely planning a wedding in 11 days, we couldn’t have ended up having a more spectacular day.  The weather cooperated and we were able to have a beautiful wedding on the hill, with gorgeous hills and cornfields as a backdrop.  There was plenty of room for the kids to run around and play, yard games were enjoyed by the guests, and a phenomenal fireworks display ended our evening.  Every time we reflect back on our day, we smile and wish we could relive each and every moment again.

As far as photographs from the day, wow! There are so many incredible shots that will provide us a window to our day for the rest of our lives.  

Some of our favorites are the simple ones, such as the black and white picture of Lily and her cousins LuLu and Em.  Lily and LuLu are 3 years a part in age, and have been going to the same elementary school for the past 3 years, which has brought them closer together.  Seeing LuLu at school was always the highlight of Lily’s day, and so this picture of the three of them together just hanging out is perfect, even more so because LuLu will do anything to avoid having her picture taken.

Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos

Pictures of us getting ready, Missy helping Lily with her dress and us helping her with her necklace are just simple, yet significant because it’s what we always do, help each other out, it’s part of our family unit. 

Missy, leaning on the chair and laughing, is a great picture of her and I absolutely love how happy she looks in every aspect of that photo.  As stressed out as I know she was, because people were going to be focused on her in just a few hours, she was relaxed and happier than I’ve ever seen her. I’m so grateful this moment was captured.

Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos

Most common question we received prior to the wedding was about the dress code and how we wanted everyone to dress for the day.  It was difficult for everyone to truly grasp that we meant it when we said it was casual, and no, not business casual.  The idea that a person should dress up for a wedding was tough for some people to let go of for our event.  We kept telling people we were wearing slacks and nice shirts, and then changing into shorts.  I was most excited about our fun Vans we ordered for the day, showing our playful sides, and Missy absolutely loves the shorts with long sleeves rolled up look, so it was a win-win.

The family photos are unique in their own ways.  My siblings and I always do a jumping picture and it’s a staple when we get together, whether everyone really wants to participate or not.  We started this years ago on a trip several of us took together, and well, we haven’t looked back from that moment.


Missy’s aunts, Agnes and Gay, are such incredible women.  They have been there for Missy in countless ways her entire life.  Both aunts have done more for Missy than they will ever truly know, and words cannot express how much love there is for both of them.  They not only love and accept us both, but they are our biggest fans.  Truly, two of the coolest older women a person could ever met and I’m so honored to have them as a part of my life now.  

There are a few pictures of Lily that really stand out to us showing her innocence and deep thinking modes.  Those quiet moments where she isn’t putting on a show and being silly for the camera, but rather, just being her and being in that moment, which is difficult for her to do at times.  Blowing a dandelion into the wind, sitting on the deck and reflecting.  Simple. Powerful. Wonderful.

The picture of Missy with her siblings cracks me up.  It’s so 100% them!  Missy in the middle and Todd screwing around with the both of them.  Brandi having that annoyed look on her face, like she can’t believe she’s been stuck with these two for siblings.  As goofy as Todd can be, and as silly as the picture looks, Brandi and Todd have been incredible to us from day one.  They are supportive, loving, and would do anything for us at any given moment.

Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos

Obviously everything about our wedding was extremely non-traditional.  Something we both wanted from the start was to have the girls be the ones who walked us down the aisle.  Missy actually lived with her sister and family for a while, at which time she grew close to her nieces.  The idea was for both Maddie and Kenzie to walk her down the aisle, and as you can tell, it was just Maddie who managed the task.  Kenzie isn’t a big fan of large crowds of people staring at her, causing her to panic and want nothing to do with it at all.  

In all fairness, we knew that was going to be the case and that it would end up being just Maddie to walk with Missy.  The bond that Missy has with her nieces is strong and seeing that love in both Maddie and Missy’s face as they walk down the aisle together is wonderful.    

Now, because we knew Kenzie wouldn’t actually follow through, the running joke for months has been that Brandi would hold onto Kenzie, duck down and turn her head and “nobody would see her”.  Because of this, well, all of us being who we are, had to tease Kenzie and create that image for a keepsake.  Kenzie is an A+ pouter and we will always love and cherish any picture of her in this mode.

Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos


Continuing with that non-traditional mind-set, the officiant for our wedding was someone I’ve known for almost 20 years, when Brandi was in my very first 6th grade class.  While Brandi was in college we formed a friendship that has grown stronger over the years.  She’s been there for me through some tough times, and she was very helpful on the day Missy proposed, and managed to integrate herself into our engagement and wedding quite well.  Not only did she pick the large, wide-open beach for Missy to pop the question (not even remotely close to what Missy was going for), but she also made it clear she was going to marry us.  We of course couldn’t have been happier for all of this, as it has done nothing but enhance our engagement story, and created a wedding ceremony that no one will soon forget.   She took her role very seriously, interviewing us individually and really making our ceremony a memorable one.  There was a lot of laughter in those 15 minutes, which we loved!  We had no idea what we were really getting into with her in charge, but she did an outstanding job and we are thrilled with how it went.

Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos

Immediately after the ceremony, Lily walked up to me and had tears in her eyes, so much emotion had overcome her and she gave me the biggest hug.  Lily has an amazing heart and caring soul and when we asked her what she was looking forward to more than anything else about the wedding day, she told us she was most excited that Missy would truly be part of our family.  Sometimes she’s pretty grown up for an 8 year old, and having that emotion sweep over her and hug me the way she did was a golden moment.

Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos

The picture of our set up, with the setting sun in the distance will be a constant reminder of how incredibly loved and supported we felt by everyone who helped make our day not just happen, but make it special. We couldn’t say thank you enough, to all those who helped us in some way.

Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos

Pictures that captured the fun everyone was having, from the bubbles to the yard games, just completely sum up everything we hoped the day would be for everyone.  We never viewed this day as being about us, and everyone look at us type of deal.  No, this day was about everyone having a good time and enjoying themselves, and so many pictures captured that feeling throughout the day.  Those pictures are ones we will truly cherish forever.

One of our absolute favorite pictures is with Missy sitting by the fire pit with my mom and other family members and close friends. I love everything about that picture and all that it represents.  My parents absolutely love and adore Missy and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.  My mom has come a very long way in this journey and I’m so thankful for that each and every day.  Seeing my family laughing and enjoying our day, the way you captured that in this picture, means more to me than you will ever know.

Wedding Planning and the Power of Photos

Two of my absolute favorite things in the world: fireworks and great sunsets!  No better way for our perfect day to end than by catching some terrific shots as the sun set, seeing the kids so excited about getting ready for fireworks, and the actual fireworks display itself.  Those were some Dam good Fireworks and we loved every second of them.

Our photographer is absolutely the best and her stealthy ninja like skills gave us some incredible pictures that will provide memories for years to come.  We cannot thank you enough for all that you did for us and logging our special day.

- Nicole + Missy

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