My mom spent her early childhood living in North Dakota, and though her parents eventually moved their immediate family to Illinois, many of my mom’s cousins and aunts and uncles still live there. So, my brothers and I’s own childhoods often involved an annual trip back to see family and get to know a little bit about the places and people my mom came from. As we got older, the time between each trip increased; we were busy with sports and college and work, and we didn’t make the drive up north as often as in years past.
So when Haylie reached out to me about photographing hers and Jesse’s wedding in Bismarck, ND, I jumped at the opportunity. Haylie’s mom, Kristie, and my mom are first cousins, and I’ve always loved my mom’s stories about their time together as kids. I hadn’t seen Haylie since we were children ourselves, so photographing her wedding day felt like such an immense honor.
Haylie began the morning getting ready with her friends, sisters, and mom. They filled up a section of the salon, then made their way to Haylie and Jesse’s place to get into dresses there. Haylie’s sisters helped her into her dress, and friends and family members became teary when she walked back out into the living room and they saw her in it for the first time. She then went to a nearby park to see Jesse for the first time that day, and they gave one another a quiet-but-giant squeeze as they giggled through the craziness of the moment. Their crew came down to join them soon after, and as we snapped pics, I realized how fitting it was that they had this big wedding party and close knit family group all rolled into one, because it’s so clear how much these people all mean to the two of them. Not only was their closeness with these people palpable, but also with the loved ones they had each lost in years past. There were tributes to their grandparents sprinkled throughout the entire day, which felt intentional and had a way of making it feel like those loved ones were there with them, too.
Jesse and Haylie are a couple that have been together for many years – they’re the type whose families feel like one unit, and it’s hard to distinguish whose friends and cousins are whose because it mostly just feels like one big, tied-together crew. They were married in the church where Haylie’s parents got married years before, and then they hit up a local rooftop bar with their best friends. This time frame was one of the main things I hope to see for people on their wedding days – in short, it felt like a great big exhale. They grabbed drinks and toasted in the open air and simply hung out with their people, and as strange as it sounds, wedding days don’t always feel like this. They often feel structured, mostly because everyone’s often adhering to a schedule and making sure to always move on to the next step, so I absolutely loved getting to see Haylie and Jesse relax and celebrate without thinking about the clock. As two people who often come off more quiet and reserved, it was so cool to see them cracking up and making jokes and feeling completely at ease amongst their people. They took that energy with them to their reception, entering the room to “Thunderstruck” and chugging beers in the middle of the dance floor with their wedding party. The night was full of giant, cheesy grins and heartfelt toasts, and a great band and an even better dance floor, and I watched as Haylie and Jesse broke it down with friends and family, and my mom danced with her cousins, and I could not have felt more fortunate to be a wedding photographer than on a day like this one.
Dress: LeeAnne’s Bridal & Bliss Prom
Flowers: Crabapple Floral
Videographer: Starstruck Videography
Venue: Ramkota Hotel & Conference Center
Hair: The Hair District, Caitlin Sauvageau
Cake: Cash Wise Foods
Cake Balls: Cake Balls by Jess
Photobooth: DY Photobooth
Limo: Bismarck Limousine Service