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Melissa Marie Photography: Chicago Newborn Photographer:DAVID

Back in the day, I vowed to be the coolest mom on the planet. To dress my kid in the all the brands I didn’t have growing up. To never get the “mom” haircut. To buck the mini-van trend. Pretty much all the things that in reality now as a mom I embrace with a proud “heck yes I do that!” One of my favorite days of the year now are the mega mom resales. It’s like a mix of Black Friday and thrifting for kids stuff.   I recently chopped my hair. My pre-req was less about the style and more so that I still needed to be able to fit it in a ponytail. (Even if an itty bitty one) Oh, and that minivan…You’d think my husband was talking about a Lexus the way he eyes minivans these days!

I’ve embraced the reality that having kids really does change things. Changes them wonderfully. Worth every I’m lookin’ a hot-mess second. But then I go into homes like Erica & Mike’s and I’m like: “Ya’ll are actually doing it!” You know, the still have your cool factor that most the rest of us parents have abandoned along side our previously late night cocktails & Netflix binges.

Mike & Erica, in all seriousness, (though ya’ll are for real providing major parent cool factor) you’re doing amazing as parents in short weeks that you’ve had David. Taking things in stride…Letting David get all the puppy brother kisses…Feeding instinctively…Hoping for a vacation (which I sure hope you’re on this week!) but holding the plan loosely…There’s going to be days where it’s easy, and days where you type out a blog as your kiddo throws a teething fit. (: Days where you’ll feel ahead of the parenting cool factor and days where you’re literally embarrassed to be seen. It’s all okay! Actually, more than okay. It’s real life. A life that you never fully can prepare for but one you would never trade even if you had seen it all coming. Keep embracing this new chapter. You’re doing amazing.


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!!