Ashley + Ben - Meadow Elopement


We met Ashley and Ben last winter after we did a giveaway for a couples session. Five minutes into meeting them in the dead of winter at their shoot, I knew we’d be great friends! Ashley has the sweetest disposition, always smiling and laughing. And Ben gives her all the reasons to do so. He’s hilarious and so upbeat. When Ashley emailed me saying they’d decided to elope on a Wednesday evening in a field of wildflowers…I couldn’t respond fast enough. We’d already planned to be their photographers back before they were even engaged, ha!
I cannot say enough about the love these two share, it’s evident even to a mere acquaintance and even more, it’s inspiring. The officiant said it best before walking into the field with them. He told them they were doing the single most brave and romantic thing they could do to confirm their marriage by vowing it intimately in their own way, perfect for them! We couldn’t agree more!
So happy for these two!


Plan a wedding day that's HONEST & REAL, I dare you.

In our experienced opinion, a wedding is a day to be spent in comfort; in your paradise created by the surroundings and the people. It's not a day for donning uncomfortable clothing and doing unemotional dances in front of your entire guest list. It's THE day of all days to just DO YOU. Even though the wedding industry has done an amazing job at setting the bar super high for couples, it's like each year there's a new trend we don't understand that couples feel they need to include in their day. Consider this your permission slip to play hooky on all that.

You might be asking why I care what other people do or why I'm spending my sunny Sunday writing this blog post. It's just that so often we hear brides comment throughout their wedding day that they can't breath or sit down because the dress is too constricting. Or they're snapping at someone for tugging on the veil... they can't walk far because their shoes hurt... the bouquet is heavy. The list goes on, but I think you get the point. Same for the groom and sometimes even the parents. They're worried the guests are waiting too long and so they're trying to rush everyone. The groom is more concerned with having time to chillax with his dudes. It happens at every wedding...and I'll never understand it. 

We can't stress enough to couples how truly POSSIBLE it is to have a beautiful and meaningful wedding without the pomp & circumstance. And how OKAY it really is to just do you, keep things honest and real. Guests and family will still come, they'll love you still and they'll drink your booze. It'll be amazing. We know it. 

Now, don't get this wrong, as photographers we absolutely love beautiful veils, vintage cars and stiletto heels...they make awesome and interesting photographs. But we also think that your wedding day is not the time to set a stage for appearance sake. We're artists, sure, and we love making unique photography but what we REALLY love is authenticity. That's why we try to work with our couples very early in our experience with them to guide (read coax and nudge ever so sweetly) into having a day that is centered on THEM. 

How can you achieve an honest and real wedding for yourself? Here are my tips as a former DIY bride, event coordinator and now, wedding photographer. 

  1. Don't hit up Pinterest right away:
    You got engaged and the first thing you probably did was go to Pinterest and start pinning like a man-person. many of us dreamers, you already had your dream wedding board. Pinterest will serve you much better if used as a tool to build the ideas you come up with on your own, as a couple. It's purpose is for inspiration but it's so overwhelmingly endless & cluttered that instead of inspiring it has the opposite affect. Next,
  2. List the priorities
    Before talking about colors and decor or any of that stuff sit together and make a list of your top 3-4 priorities for the day. I don't necessarily mean budgetary or style priorities. Instead work out what is most important to you to experience/be in the moment for? This takes a little bit of self-awareness and looking inward at who you are individually and as a couple. From our own experience as an example; one of my priorities was to be comfortable in my dress. I don't dress up a lot and I find constricting clothing to be one of the most frustrating things I knew that a lace sleeve or beads or anything tight on my waste would take me out of the day and be a literal thorn in my side. I KNEW that wasn't going to work for me ahead of time. My dress was the most comfortable thing ever. We also wanted to put a priority on OUR moments together, because we really like hanging out just us. We didn't want to partake in too many formalities that involved being in front of everyone. So we allotted plenty of time for our first look and made our first dance right at sunset because that is our favorite part of any day, it just so happened to fit perfectly right after cocktail hour. We also stood alone at the altar even though we had a huge bridal party...and we didn't spend the hot afternoon traipsing around with them for photos either because...chaos. That's how we made the day work for us, there are a number of other changes you could make to the standard wedding ideals to make it more honest and real for you.
  3. Plan alone
    Get the foundation down together, know how many people/budget/locations/style etc before asking any family members or friends for their opinions. Everyone will inevitably project their wedding views and opinions on to your day so you want to make sure that you KNOW what YOU want before your vision gets clouded by other people's ideas.
  4. Make sure it means something
    If the tradition doesn't mean something to you both personally, skip it. Making sure each aspect of your wedding is meaningful will keep things not only simpler but make sure it stays authentic. Choosing venues, vendors, photo locations, style details all for personal meaning is the easiest, fastest and probably cheapest way to plan a real & honest wedding. This is not the time to head to Pinterest for ideas...instead pull out your scrapbooks and old photos...look inward not outward for inspiration.
  5. Just some advice
    After playing a part in hundreds of weddings, we have a ton of advice...most of which is hard for people to hear.
    There are a few reasons your wedding might turn out to be a far cry from what you wanted in your dreams. Maybe a wedding is important to you and you don't want all the pomp and circumstance...but someone else is paying. Or maybe you "don't have the money" for what you want so you settle for something easy. Or maybe the guest list got way out of hand because your mom invited all her work friends. Whatever it may's possible, it happens.
    Weddings have a heartbeat, they start taking on a life of their own from the minute the engagement seed is planted. This is the one thing you need to remember: A wedding day is important because it's the celebration of your love and marriage. It's the display of your commitment to one another and the outward gift of gratitude for the support given to you by the people in your lives. That's all it is. It doesn't need to be lavish and expensive to be that.
    So many times we see the person footing the bill hijack a couple's wedding and make it more about them or the details than about the couple and that always breaks our hearts. Couples who ordinarily wouldn't have big, traditional weddings are forced into awkward celebrations with hoards of people because their parents (or whoever) is footing most of the bill wants it that way. So, our advice is simple...if you fit into that category, pay for it yourself or have a really important conversation about it well before making any plans.
    If you're in the "can't afford it" boat, think outside the box. I've seen the most beautiful weddings set up in park pavilions where most of the details were free. Simple is honest but it doesn't have to be shabby. It's not in the details in this case, it's in the meaning. Keep it simple and keep it meaningful and you'll end the day with a full heart. 



2017 Collected| Wedding inspiration

This rustic yet modern wedding inspiration is for the couple who has really good taste in design and in food + drink but doesn't need anything traditional at their wedding. This look features a build-your-own bourbon cocktail bar set in front of a handmade weaving installation, a custom made table, mismatched bridesmaids and a stacked rug ceremony stage...the earthy and slightly moroccan vibe the vendors pulled together for this collaborative shoot make for a beautifully eclectic wedding style that touches on some really great trends for the 2017/2018 seasons.
This style inspiration was created by a collaborating team of wedding professionals for an event we founded called Collected. You can learn more about it below and also get in touch with all the vendors!

//About Collected//
Four years ago this event was a hair-brained and selfish attempt at making more friends in our local market. We didn't know any wedding vendors or any other photographers back then and it was lonely. So we reached out to some really amazing people and asked them to work with us. Everyone far exceeded our vision and expectations not only with their work for Collected but with their giving spirits and kind hearts. Those people are solid, real life friends today and we couldn't be more thankful for that hair-brained idea that turned into something we never imagined. For the last four years, Collected has been an event for wedding photographers and vendors to retreat. To make photos we want to make with stylish details and on-brand models. The photos and inspiration are for our couples! The style, the ideas, the handmade items it's all in hopes of encouraging couples to think outside the box when it comes to their wedding. And to be personal, unique and purposeful in the design. 

Collected is a true collaborative event meant to build the networks and portfolios in the vendor/photographer/model markets. As the founders, we collect the wedding vendors and encourage them to work as a team creating work for the style/vision we set before them. Each year is better than the year before, I swear, I don't know how that's possible.

For the photographers and models, things get crazy and chaotic (hence the new hashtag #collectedchaos) but there is a method to the madness. The alternative group shooting style get's us out of our little bubbles, out from behind the camera a bit and tests our boundaries. At the end we're more in-tune with who we are and what we want for our own businesses. Shooting the work of each vendor allows us to use our creative passion to help others grow their own businesses and that part feels pretty good, but selfishly we're also boosting our referral circle by making friends. 

There's food, drinks and it's always a really good time. The theme is always on-trend so we can all make beautiful, impactful images to share and showcase our skills! If you're interested in joining the Collected chaos in the future, you can check out the new website here and sign up to collaborate. 

We'll eventually be doing vendor highlights over on the blog there but for now, here's the Mallory + Justin take on 2017 Collected. Be sure to check the list of amazing contributors at the end!  We're humbled by your friendship alone but the amazingness of this event continues to surprise us!

Thanks so much to these amazing creative collaborators:

Varian Orchards
Styling By:
Oak & Honey Events
Backdrops & Installations By:
Florals By:
The Red Twig
Catering By:
Bahler Street
Bourbon Bar By:
Tom's Foolery Distillery, Chagrin Falls Ohio
Cake & Cupcakes By:
A Cupcake A Day
Stationery Design By:
Lovely Somethings
Table & Leather Accessories By:
Linen & Timber
Chairs, Silverware & Plates By
Lasting Impressions Event Rentals
Wedding Gowns By:
Moon and Back Bridal
Hair & Make Up By:
Beauty by Mermaid
Bridal Accessories By:
Entwine Bridal
Some Decor Accessories (Vintage Rug & Goblets) By:
Birchwood Supply
Wedding Rings By:
Liza Michelle Jewelry

Katie Rosiu
Grace Dwyer
Whitney Prather
Anthony Alleshouse
Mark Hoover
Jonathan Mullins
Kate Bee