Coteau des Prairies Lodge Wedding // Rachel + Garrett // PART ONE

June 03, 2016

Every wedding brings people to tears.  Whether it's the first look or the vows, the father-daughter dance or the emotional toasts given by lifelong friends, someone always breaks out the water works.  But I have a hard time recalling a single wedding that has brought the sheer volume of happy tears that Rachel & Garrett's did.  It started with the hugs between family members the night before the wedding, where aunts, uncles and cousins from every coast gathered in central North Dakota to celebrate a love that makes people hop in their cars and drive 1600 miles just to witness it.

Garrett & Rachel chose to get married at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge in southern North Dakota, near the South Dakota border.  Besides being a gorgeous venue, it held a much greater significance.  Rachel's father, Nate, built this lodge.  Nate is a master craftsman when it comes to log homes and he poured years into making this masterpiece.  But that's the thing about living in a family of artists, all the effort and inspiration that goes into their creations, pale in comparison to how they love each other.  Nothing made Rachel's dad prouder that day than the fact Rachel was marrying someone who would pour his years into creating something beautiful for her.
Rachel's bridesmaids were some of the most present, supportive and genuine women I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  It was no wonder why Rachel asked them to stand with her, they have stood by her through thick and thin, and she returned their steadfast friendship in spades.
Rachel got to do two first looks on her wedding day, the first was with the man who held her hand growing up, the second was with the man who will hold her hand going forward.  They were both epically sob-worthy.
The whole day, the weather services predicted thunderstorms and sure enough, one was brewing for hours just a few miles away.  But instead of a deluge of rain and wind, it gave grandiose clouds, stunning light and just enough of a breeze to show off Rachel's gorgeous MoriLee dress.
These two chose to read letters they had written to each other before their first look, which was amazing.  However, getting Garrett down to the knoll where they were going to see each other for the first time while blindfolded was a serious trust exercise.  Well done, Katie, good job leading him down!
You find mirrors where you can when you're on a country road, miles from the nearest city.
Garrett surprised Rachel by writing her a song and it was a beautiful tribute to the hopes for their future and the gift of every moment together.  It started like this:
When we're 23, oh babe it's just you and me.
We've got this whole world to see, right at our fingertips.
We'll go dancing and such, I'll be fueled by your soft touch,
we'll travel to the mountains and back just like we've always wanted to.

You see all these things I wanna do, I wanna do with you.
Get lost in this moment, this moment called life.
Yeah life's what I want to do and I want to do it with you
And wake up every morning with some coffee and you by my side 
And when we're 73, living out all of our dreams, 
I'll still pick you up off your feet, just like it's our first date.
You know I'll still be there, getting lost in the curls of your hair, 
sitting in our rocking chairs looking out from the front porch.
So there you have it, part one.  This is a love song whose chorus just began.  I hope it's stuck in your head until tomorrow because the next verses are just as stunning.  Here's a little sneak peak of part two:

 A big shout out to Cortney Wall of Cortney Laurenn Photography for stepping in as my second and getting some seriously epic shots.

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  1. The first looks just about brought me to tears! What a wonderful idea writing each other letters, so lovely.

    1. Thanks Jamie! I cried good and hard at those first looks!

  2. These wedding photos at COTEAU DES PRAIRIES LODGE are really beautiful wedding photos, you are such a talented photographer! I love the one of the little girl helping her with her makeup, adorable! And the first look photos are to die for. Really good work!

    1. Thanks Nina! That little girl is my niece and I don't think I've ever seen her so excited!!

  3. I love the idea of writing letter and reading them to each other before the first look! What a sweet moment that must have been. I would have cried my eyes out!

    1. I know it was such a great idea! And I did cry my eyes out! Thanks for being here Brenden!

  4. Ok, so you had ME in tears reading your post and I don't even know this couple! (I'm just an admirer of you work!) This must be one of the most amazing first looks I have ever seen. The grooms reaction is priceless! I love how you captured every little detail of getting ready and the ceremony. Your photos are so incredibly beautiful!

  5. This Coteau Des Prairie Lodge wedding was beyond beautiful! The simplicity of it all and the gorgeous backdrop took my breath away!


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