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Chicago Family Photographer: Melissa Marie Photography: Cantigny Park Wheaton: MADDIE

I am a complete sucker for “where are they now?” type shows. If a show I’m hooked on doesn’t have one, you better believe I’m googling like a mad woman about what they’re up to now? That’s probably why catching up with families who I’ve captured over the years is one of my favorite parts of what I get to do everyday. Last time I captured little Maddy, she was maybe 2 weeks old?  She’s now 18 months! What!?  She’s always had piercing eyes and has been cute as a button, but to now see her so full of vibrant, playful energy, is so fun! Besides, what kid makes it through 2 hours of photos without one (NOT ONE!) meltdown? She just played in the Cantigny gardens, smelling the flowers, plucking the petals, making us all laugh. It all makes me nostalgic. (And all the more appreciative of the gift that photos gives us) She’s grown so much in what seems like a blink of an eye. And the next time I see her, she’ll have a whole new set of things she’s into. Soon enough, I’ll be taking her senior photos. Okay, slow my roll. But really, it’s so sweet to be able to see “where this family is now” and get little previews of what’s to come. Can’t wait till next time!

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University of Chicago Engagement Photos: Melissa Marie Photography: BRIANNE & GEORGE

First things first…Did or did not the filming of Harry Potter’s Hogwart scenes take place at the University of Chicago? (Okay, I’m not even gonna pretend like I’ve made it through that movie. I’ve tried like three times and I fall asleep every time; I just can’t.) But for real this campus (George’s alma mater) is insanely gorgeous. It’s crazy to see kids in sweatpants lounging on the manicured garden lawns like well…normal college students. Every bit of this place, even the cafeteria looks like it’s a cathedral in Europe. So it was fitting that these two brought their own booze. (Hey, it’s college. But actually grown up and sophisticated now so whisky in grandfather’s flask will do the trick.) These two are absolutely fascinating! The more I get to know them the more I’m enamored. From their life goals to their world travels. From their foodie passion for cooking, to their love of the game Cribbage. I mean that’s the perfect example. Who actually knows how to play cribbage? They do! I’m tellin’ ya, they are absolutely fascinating people! They’re incredibly intelligent, but they’re also warm & inviting. I truly cannot wait a City View Loft wedding with two of the most interesting people!

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Chicago Engagement Photos: Melissa Marie Photography: MARISSA + JORDAN

They had me at that they’re having a brunch wedding. (Brunch, quite possibly in my top 3 simple pleasures in life.) They had me at donut cake. (Let all the angels say amen!) They had me at engagement photos at the house with coffee. (Coffee, absolutely, no doubt, in the top 3 simples pleasure in life) (:

These two are my wedding couple soul mates!

I knew it from the moment I first heard about their vision for their wedding. Of course, I’m obsessed with the brunch, the donut cake, the coffee, the whole thing. But the best part of brunch is that you’re having a relaxed time with people. And that’s what Marissa & Jordan have focused on from the get-go. In a day that can often times feel full or even hurried, I love that we get to slow down, and allow these two to soak up every moment of their wedding day. Savoring conversations & coffee…Dancing over handfuls of donuts.  The people are the party. Mimosas help. (:

We’re starting a hashtag that #brunchisbest but I’d argue Marissa & Jordan are. Absolutely cannot wait for the wedding!

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CHICAGO NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER: MELISSA MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY: BAKER FAMILY

I always tell my family clients that its not about the props but the people. Could we put your newborn in a fruit basket dressed like an eggplant? Sure. Would it be cute? Of course. Everything a baby does is adorable. But I say focus on people over props. When there’s two little ones in the household your days can blur together. The moments that may seem insignificant now: the feedings, the goofy song on your phone that the whole family chimes in on to soothe the baby, the meals that’s are a box of Mac n’cheese for the third time that week, these are the memories that when the fog fades you’ll want to remember. So busy into the Easter basket early…pause to admire how your little girl tries to put on daddy’s shoes. Embrace the Teddy Graham crumbed face. Time capsuled moments happen when we focus on people over props. Thank you Baker family for allowing me to do that with you guys.

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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.

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