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Stan Mansion Wedding Melissa Marie Photography: Steve + Kimi

I don’t even know where to begin.
The fact that the weather was nearly 50F degrees when days otherwise were in the negative temps…

That the bride adorned unicorns…
That a T-Rex chased the bride & groom into their reception…

I could try and talk about how perhaps the best man speech which was turned into a serenade, was absolutely mind-blowingly epic!

I could talk about how in a wedding world where stress can at times dampen the joy, there was no shortage of hoootin’, hollerin’, and shenanigans.

I could easily talk about any of those things, but I’ll let the photos tell that story. Instead, I’ll speak about the people.
More specifically, the bride & groom.

If unicorns & T-rex’s weren’t enough evidence, these two are FUN! Their kid-at-heart spirits, endearing quirkiness, and  not caring what other people think about it is absolutely refreshing! But behind the life of the party (which they surely are!) are two people that are resilient, ambitious, and the type that will work hard to make goals a reality. Both being athletes they know things don’t come easy. Sometimes, the effort is in the 5AM beach run mentality. The hard-work grind when no one else is taking note or making you do it. Steve + Kimi, that’s going to be huge in your marriage. Your goofy, light-hearted nature is going to make life’s challenges a whole lot more fun. And your willingness to get back up even when it hurts, no one’s watching, or “keeping score.” That’s the kinda stuff that pulls the W in life when it’s game-point. I sure can’t serenade you like Jonathan’s speech but I can give you thousands of little reminders of how incredible your wedding day was. And even more importantly…How loved you guys are as you start your journey into Mr. & Mrs. Congrats guys!

And anyone that has a Stans Donuts for their late night dessert bar has my heart.

HOTEL: Hyatt Regency Chicago:

VENUE: Stan Mansion:

DRESS: Hayley Paige:

CATERER: La Cocina Fusion:



Chicago Engagement Photos: Melissa Marie Photography: ADAM + GENEVA

We all have moments or stages in life where we’d like to freeze time and enjoy that time just a bit longer. I think wedding planning has most people trying to press fast-forward rather than pause. Savour it. Each milestone has its own sweetness.

We not only froze. My camera did too. Literally. As in I turned off the camera, took out the battery, and the photo was still stuck on the screen for hours. it was worth every second to be able to freeze this time of engagement for Adam & Geneva. I’m sure they’re all the more excited for the wedding since it’s in California! (:


Nicole is my sister-in-law. So some may say my words are biased, but I’d say who knows someone better than family? She’s accomplished so much. Much of which has been on her own. From raising two amazing kids as a single mom, working full time, or becoming a leader in the real estate industry. (Truly, if ya’ll need a realtor Nicole outta be your girl! She’s found us all 3 of the places we’ve called home over the years.) To now teaching real estate classes & managing an entire  branch with 80 people working for her. What’s even more impressive is how she’s done it. It wasn’t by clawing her way to the top. Wasn’t by complaining (though she had every right to) that she was doing it on her own. It wasn’t by cutting corners or stepping on others to get ahead. But rather, it was with humbleness. It was with good-honest hard work. It was with an attitude of still putting everyone before herself. She was doing just fine (and then some!) but we love that she no longer is doing so on her own. She has someone that gets flowers delivered to her work regularly to brighten her day. She now has someone to box out of the bed with an excessive amount of pillows. (: She now has someone to celebrate her accomplishments with. Someone who adores, loves, and respects her dearly. Someone that sees and treats her like the gem that she is. Marc is successful in his own right. But much like Nicole, he cares much more about values and people than the bottom line. Here’s to a New Year as a duo! And to a lifetime of memories to come! Congrats!

If ya’ll need a realtor, she’s the best in the biz!

Jackie Ball-Costello - January 15, 2018 - 12:11 AM

And what a blessing to have you as a sister-in-law. Wonderful pictures.


“I love her commitment” Brandon said of his fiancé Catie.

Let’s talk commitment shall we? These two live in California. As in sunny & warm perfection of San Diego. They got engaged here in Chicago so they wanted to head back here for engagement photos. The weather… -27F windchill. Even for Chicagoans that’s brutal! They had every opportunity to say, “Umm… nope!” Or have a every legit reason to complain about the circumstances. But instead, they went out of their way to make it work. Smiles & all. It was like a Chicago apocalypse; not a single person in the most iconic locations. Literally. Not one other person braved what they did. Commitment.

Brandon was right. It’s one of her shining attributes, but I think it’s safe to say it’s one of his as well.

Can’t wait to capture their greatest commitment: their wedding!!


12 Years Marriage 1 Year Baby


Dear Past Me,

In 4,380 days you no longer will seek words to proclaim an anniversary declaration of how grateful and still-in-love with Bart you are (though true!). Instead, you will be chasing, kissing, peek-a-boo-ing, the most precious thing that has ever graced your heart. You no longer will care (most days) about the early-morning wake ups or cold cups of half-drunken coffee. That first year will go by faster than you could ever imagine. People say it goes quickly so “soak it up.” Well, your phone will daily say it’s out of storage… You’ll hold the little guy tightly and smell the nape of his neck to lock-in memories…  You’ll even be nostalgic about changing diaper sizes. You will love parenting more than you could ever know or imagine. Oh, and that cute camp counselor that had all the kids chanting…That teacher that should win a golden apple every year…That man that you know (or at least think you do) will be a good dad. Well…He’ll surpass your hopes too.

There’s a saying that it’s easy to be a dad (there’s lots of those) but it takes much more to be a father. Well, You and Ryan hit the jackpot with Barto! It’d be easy to chalk-up a lot of what he does whether it be stuff around the fixer-upper house… Helping with squirmy diaper changes so mom can get coffee made early in the morning… Almost daily going to an elderly neighbors home to care for her… or even handcrafting wood frame blocks to raise money & awareness for India… From the outside, it may seem easy because he has “a lot of energy.” Though that’s true, it’s always intentionally directed at things he truly cares about.

As Bart often says: “Your actions reflect your priorities.” 

Bart’s priorities are within his family. 

  • Whether it be lavishing love on me & Ryan, or practically caring for the needs of his mom.

Bart cares to worship the Lord; and invites others to do the same. 

  • For him, it’s getting up early to get in the Word, or selflessly playing in the worship band at church. Even when that means he doesn’t come home until bed-time once a week.

Bart gives without broadcast or accolade. 

  • Sure, Bart serves people in huge obvious ways on the outside. But people would never know (because he would never say anything about it, I won’t) how absolutely mind-bogglingly generous this man is!

Bart cares and his actions reflect that.

I knew that when I married him 12 years ago on this day! And I’ve been reaffirmed of that every day of Ryan’s 1st year of life.

Couldn’t love to people on this earth more than those two. It’s such a gift to celebrate our 12th (what!?) anniversary & Ryan’s birthday (Umm…We have a kid, that’s crazy!) on the same day every year.

I’ll end with my favorite words from my favorite book of Ryan’s: “Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You”

“In the green of the grass…in the smell of the sea…

in the clouds floating by…

at the top of a tree…

in the sound crickets make at the end of the day…

“You are loved. You are loved. You are loved,” they all say.” 

Happy Anniversary Barto! You are loved!

Happy Birthday Ryan! You are loved!

This is what I say.


Melissa - December 17, 2017 - 9:48 PM

Thank you!

Melissa - December 17, 2017 - 9:47 PM

Thanks Hollis! ?

Holli Scott - December 17, 2017 - 7:16 PM

Beautiful words and images. Mommyhood suits you well. Congratulations on 12 years and making it to 1- what amazing things to celebrate! Love ya Miss

Arlene - December 17, 2017 - 6:33 PM

So beautiful…inside & out!