Jenna and I are cousins, so I have known her for literally her entire life. We come from a big family, so bringing someone you’re dating to one of our family functions can be somewhat intimidating for the newcomer. When Jenna first brought Ryleigh around, he handled our chatty, numerous selves like a champ, and I remember thinking from the beginning that the two of them would likely spend the years to come together, too. They are incredibly supportive of each other, and immediately seemed as though they were best friends. Between their date nights and weightlifting and concerts and impromptu trips, Jenna and Ryleigh are adventurous and bubbly and fun, so the amount of hiking and exploring we did together during their engagement session at Starved Rock State Park and Matthiessen State Park was perfectly fitting for them.
We met in the parking lot outside of the trail entrance, and Jenna had not only packed all of her outfits into the backpack hanging from her shoulders, but she and Ryleigh both were wearing shoes that made sense for hiking and had a few libations beforehand to ward off any potential session jitters. (From this moment on, I knew we were in for a great session.) We ended up hiking a few miles at Starved Rock between photo locations, then made our way over to Matthiessen State Park for the remainder of their session, where we’d end up tacking on a few more miles. Jenna and Ryleigh climbed and dipped their feet in cold water and went barefoot at points and helped each other across a stream by way of wobbly logs and rocks, and they did it all with laughs and smiles on their faces, in true Jenna-and-Ryleigh fashion.