I’ve “known” Shelby for a whole lot of years now; her mom was my junior high social studies teacher, so I first knew the Steger girls from Wethersfield from the picture frames on my teacher’s desk. Years later, I was living in Peoria and doing family photo sessions on the side while in grad school, and Laurie hired me to do a session with her daughters – it was 2011 and I remember they each donned hoodies from the colleges they were attending. Shelby was in her first year at St. Ambrose University, the college she and Jake both went to, and yet the two wouldn’t meet until years later when they were no longer on campus.
The story of how they met is one of those great ones – it’s the kind that makes you “awww” and “no way” as you’re hearing it, and kinda makes you a little more likely to believe in the stuff you see in rom coms. The story goes that Jake and Shelby would often cross paths on the trail while he was out biking and she was out running, and after also seeing her out at a bar one weekend in Davenport, he sent her a Facebook message. She didn’t respond, to his dismay, and so the waves and smiles on the trail sufficed for the months that followed. He eventually saw her out with friends again over half a year later, and decided, yet again, to shoot a message her way – and this time, she responded.
I’ve never really been a fan of the “love at first sight” concept because of its emphasis on initial attraction and physical features; that said, I think there’s maybe something a step beyond that that makes sense. Maybe there’s such a thing as adoration developing after multiple sightings – not just that first time, but a bunch of little times that add up. Because when you see a person out running or biking, day after day, maybe you learn a little something about them, and when you then see them laughing and sipping a drink and spending quality time with their friends, maybe you learn a little more, and maybe all of these moments add up and you aren’t necessarily in love, but something in your gut tells you this is a person that you need to get to know. I definitely believe in something like that.
And the thing about Shelby and Jake is, they know each other, and I imagine that came quickly and easily for them. They created a wedding day that was entirely them, full of details and moments centered around fun and their friends and their families and holding each others’ hands along the way. There are so many things I could tell you about their day that I will remember – the way they each wiped away tears as they read their letters from one another, and their excited jitters and the way they looked at each other like they couldn’t believe they were finally here, and the champagne popping and Chick-Fil-A eating and the heartfelt toasts and the way they hopped on the dance floor with their people and rarely left it. I could tell you specifics about all of these things, but I think you’ll understand more about what these moments felt like by looking at the images than you will by reading my words; because Jake and Shelby bring an energy and excitement and joy to this life that feels visible on them at all times, and I imagine seeing these qualities mirrored in someone else might be one of the reasons these two initially just had to get to know each other.
Venue: The Outing Club
Wedding Coordinator: Sue Blake
Videographer: Hoophouse Creative
Church: First Presbyterian Church
Florals: Milan Flower Shop
Bridesmaid Dresses: Cloud Nine Bridal Boutique
Cake + Desserts: Bonnie Meyer
Invitations: B & B Printing
Makeup: Makeup by Laci
Hair: Salon Allure, Libby Sturtevant
Cocktail Hour Music: Jordan Danielsen
Rentals: AAA Rents
DJ: SAS DJs