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River Forest Family Photography: Kirk Family

There’s something to be said about endurance athletes. It’s one thing to sprint and know in a matter of seconds the push will be over. I’ve known Spencer since high school. Back then, he (and his family) were well known as elite athletes in Track & Field. Sure, many people have claim to fame’s from back in the day. But Spencer, he competes in Iron Man races! What!? Who does that!? If you’re not familiar… An Iron Man Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races, consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile run, raced in that order and without a break. Yes. Impressive. Meanwhile…He’s a doctor. Also impressive. He’s a husband. A quality one. That is a feat these days. And now…He’s a dad! Best accomplishment of them all. His beautiful wife, Krista, can keep up in the stride of life with her own medical, physical, and parental accomplishments. Oh! And amongst having an infant, they are moving! Yeah…How on earth they do it all I literally have no idea!

But one thing I do know as an athlete; hard work is one of the only factors you can control. You can’t control the conditions, the elements, or even how you may feel on a particular day. You can however, put in work. Essentially, stride by stride, effort by effort, investing in your bank of no regrets. So at the end of the race, or challenge in life, when you’re spent have nothing left to give, you can know without a shadow of a doubt that you did the best you could. To me, no regrets beats the clock or the score board any day.

One could say, this family comes from a long line of success (in many ways). Yes, that’s true. But Spencer and Krista have put in the work. When goodness knows I would have cracked, they are still standing. And in a matter of days, (if they haven’t closed already!) they’ll be standing at the doorstep of their new home with accolades, successes, degrees by the plenty, but most importantly, each other and baby Quentin!

So happy for you guys! You’ve put in the work. You’ve had life by the pavement for so long. Hope you’re able to sit back for even a short while and soak in the journey you’ve had!


Melissa Marie Photography: Chicago Newborn Photographer

Motherhood has made me a puddle of mush. (In more ways than one) (: And if something is remotely sentimental about being a mom, or kids, I just can’t. Well, I can, about half-way until I’m about to full on lose it in sentimental tears. Have you guys seen those social media posts that something along the heart wrenching lines of: “You only have 18 summers with them. Make this one memorable.” or the most recent that I still can’t bring myself to read fully through. (Denial can be a good thing right?) Which actually, my own mom posted to my Facebook (Cue Sob emoji)

“You blink and they are 8. Then 28. And then they are parents, resembling a you you once were. So take it in, mama.

Let them climb into bed with you at any hour of the night. Sing that song they requested for the tenth time. Hold them a little tighter when all they want is to feel your skin against theirs.

Maybe in raising children you lose your mind a little bit. But, boy, do you find your soul. Embrace the exhaustion. The overwhelming. The hard days. And all the joy.”

Time goes by so incredibly fast! It truly does feel like a blink of an eye sometimes. Despite my best askings for my baby boy to always remain little, he continues to grow. So I can’t stop time fully but in a sense I can through photos. Capturing life’s memories in weddings, babies, families, and the everyday in-between means so much more to me than an “art” or a “craft.” It’s the ability to capture time in a photograph. One second at a time… One photo at a time. And so I will cling to every precious moment this life gives, and treasure the gift that photos are.

Katie & Doc- I know the days can be long and in hind-sight all to short at the same time. I hope these first images of Ellie are a time capsule of the joy that she is! And yes, I’m team smile. I’m confident that she is in fact, smiling!! She’s a doll! So happy for you guys!! Congrats!


Melissa Marie Photography: Anniversary Shoot

Everything about a wedding is personal; or at least it should be (in my opinion.) So after months of wedding prep with my couples it truly is they start as clients and end up as friends. That was all too easy with Jonathan and Emily. They are adventurous yet down-to-earth. They love other people dearly and are quick to put everyone before themselves. They’re cheesy, goofy, and are hysterical as they poke fun at each other. They’re also the kind of people that get their wedding photographer (Umm…That’s me) a Christmas & birthday gift. They also gifts with my husband and kiddo in mind. They traveled Thailand and brought my family and I a whole gift basket of thoughtfulness. Umm… What!? Who does that!? They do! They are generous of possessions but even more so of heart. I cannot believe it’s been a year since I captured their big day. In many ways, feels like we’ve known each other forever. So it was ultra sweet to do an anniversary shoot with these two! I loved their idea to go back to Independece Grove (the venue they got married at) to have a picnic with their wedding wine & to read the letters they wrote to each other on their wedding day. I know right!? How flippin’ sweet is that!?

In true Emily style, no detail was overlooked. I promise you, for how over-the-top to perfection everything Emily does, she’s so incredibly chill about it all. As I unpack their picnic, I essentially unearthed a wedding time-capsule. Her wedding veil was the table cloth to their wedding champagne flutes. Their beverage napkins weighted down from the wind with their wedding invitation. She had her head table centerpiece. I’m tellin’ you, it was a fairytale. Which is fitting since her wedding theme was Disney and every table had a fairytale! Which does Emily not look like a flippin’ (yes, cheesy mermaid pun because Jonathan and Emily are cheesy and appreciate it) mermaid coming from the water in this image!?


Melissa Marie Photography: Elmhurst Family Session

Being adopted, (which was the best thing that’s ever happened to me) my siblings and cousins were always many years older than I was. My brother and sister were always troopers and let me “tag along” on anything they were doing. No 16 year old really wants to take their 6 year old sister to the mall with them do they? Well, even if they didn’t, they hid it well, and we’ve always been super close; even if not by age. This age gap also meant I didn’t really have cousins my age. (The only cousin near my age was 2 years older but lived on the other side of the country.) Now having a kid myself, it makes me excited to see him play with his cousins. Sure, some are a bit older than him, but they take him under their wing, and he absolutely adores them for it.

Todays combination of families for a “cousin shoot” reminded me of this. Max and Kyle, the two oldest, were poked, kicked, ridden like a pony, delayed the fun of running in races to hold babies, used their finger as a pacifier, and they didn’t think twice about it. There was no coaxing. No pleading. No questions asked. They were the older cousins taking care of all the littles. And the young ones adore them for it. Now getting 6 kids between the ages of 9 years and 5 months old to all be in the same photo at the same time, let alone “smile” was quite the feat. And whether that challenge was specifically met or not, is yet to be determined. (: But what we did get was a boatload of memories. Lots of laughs. A Costco sized amount of gummy treat bribes. And snapshots of the beauty it is to be a carefree kid who gets to be with their cousins. I’ll take it. And I think they time and time again would too.


Melissa Marie Photography: Fourth Presbyterian Church Chicago + Warwick Allerton Wedding: MATT + MARIA

Many people dream of one day seeing their name in lights. Well, Matt + Maria got that opportunity in a pretty epic way on their incredible wedding day. Matt Allerton, married Maria + celebrated at the Warwick ALLERTON hotel! Nothing about this wedding was “for show.” These two absolutely ADORE each other! Now I know that’s somewhat a given as they’re obviously getting married. But truly. They are smitten! As for their friends and family, one after the other, they too speak of how genuine, caring, and perfectly fitted for each other these two are. From tears…To laughter…To tears from laughter…These two embrace the moment to show and share the love they have for each other, and everyone that was with them to celebrate on their special day. So happy for you guys! Congrats!

CEREMONY: Fourth Presbyterian:

RECEPTION: Warwick Allerton Chicago:

HAIR & MAKEUP: Bianca Sansosti Artistry:

FLORIST: Ashland & Addison:


DJ: Mike Staff Productions:

Gown Boutique: Nordstroms: