haylie & jesse | downtown winter engagement | chicago, il.

Though Haylie and I are second cousins, I hadn’t seen her since she was a young girl – she and her family live in North Dakota, which is where my mom is originally from. We made regular trips to visit family up there when we were younger, but as the years went on and life got busier, it was harder to squeeze in time to road trip up north as regularly. So when Haylie and her fiancé Jesse reached out to me this past year upon getting engaged, to say I was thrilled was an understatement – they were making plans for their wedding in Bismarck, ND, and hoping that Illinois-cousin-she-hadn’t-seen-in-years would be able to photograph it.

As if this wasn’t exciting enough for me, she then mentioned that she and Jesse were hoping to do a weekend getaway in Chicago and also schedule an engagement session with me while they were in town, and I absolutely jumped at the opportunity. In the middle of seeing an NFL game and experiencing Chicago at Christmastime and checking out the city sights, they carved out an afternoon to spend with me as we roamed around downtown together. It was windy and sunny and a bit chilly, so Haylie and Jesse spent a good portion of this time in each other’s arms, which I would quickly learn was super comfortable for them. We took a break in the middle to warm up indoors and chat over some coffee and hot cocoa, which gave me a chance to hear more about the two of them, and their families, and their home, and their wedding day plans. I loved watching them in these moments – the way they both share a sense of quiet and calm, and yet lit each other up once they were close and discussing the things that made them happiest.

We finished their session just outside of Navy Pier, with the two of them wrapped in a blanket and giggling together despite their shivers and the dropping temperature. We hugged goodbye and my heart felt so full as I walked toward my bus – I realize how lucky I am in these moments that I have a job that can bring me closer to long distance family members, and I can hardly wait to make my first trip back to North Dakota in years for Haylie and Jesse’s wedding.

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