Ben + Chelsie {A Christmas Proposal}

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Watching Ben and Chelsie’s love story unfold has been nothing short of a joy. Their intentionality in their relationship with first- Christ, and then each other, has been the glue that has held them together through their final years in college.

I can specifically remember Chelsie lamenting about the difficulty of being single, then eventually embracing it. Until, of course, Ben came into her life. Ben is the exact opposite of Chelsie in all of the best ways. One is strong willed, creative, and critical. The other is bubbly, distractable, and outgoing. Both have incredible strengths and their weaknesses are made stronger by each other.  I have no doubt that they will do amazing thing with their lives.

Last Christmas, Ben asked me to photograph him as he asked the love of his life for her hand in marriage. As I snuck behind a bush. I captured these sweet photos.

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After the ring was set and of course she said yes. I could capture the excitement a bit closer.

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What you don’t know is how meticulous Ben was in planning. I think I met with him at least 3 times and had multiple phone calls and text to make sure it was just right. Chelsie adores Christmas – seriously- she planned her whole wedding around this glorious season. And Ben knew that Old Town St. Charles would be perfect with all of the incredible decorations.

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Chelsie and Ben share the strong love of coffee and I was so excited when they wanted to incorporate that into their session. From one coffee lover to another, these photos are everything!

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Ben and Chelsie, you are so close to your big day full of love and excitement. I know as the days get closer things get more stressful but I encourage you to relax and smile in one anothers arms knowing that soon you will be husband and wife.

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Guffey {Family + Maternity} . St. Louis Morning

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I have a deep love hate relationship with morning sessions. However, I am easily motivated by coffee and so that is how I convince myself to book sunrise sessions. Seriously- I say to myself, “Sarah, if you book a sunrise session you can grab a skinny vanilla latte from Starbucks on your way home.” Yes, I talk to myself often- no shame in my game.

However, I didn’t even need to bargain with myself in order to get up bright and early for this session with the Guffeys. I was honored to take this sweet family’s photos for a few years now – in 2016 and 2015. And I want everyone to know that I am so thankful to build relationships and see my clients sweet families grown. Seriously- when I say it is an honor, I truly mean it. So when Alex contacted me and said her family was growing again, I’m pretty sure I squealed and immediately agreed to anything she wanted.

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I love it when families incorporate something personal into their sessions. Their sweet little lady wore a dress handmade and I believe the satin of the dress was from a bridesmaid’s dress from Alex’s wedding!

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Now to Alex’s sweet baby bump…

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Alex was obviously glowing, but the stunning sunrise behind her helped added to the glow.

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These two just look at each other and start beaming. They have the most genuine smiles.

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And because we know who is really in charge,  I will leave you with a few photos of the cutest little lady.

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Peter {Headshot} . Concordia Seminary

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So often I forget how much I love head shots. It is the perfect combination of my two loves: professionalism and photography. Peter is an incredible musician and Percussion Instructor at a local high school. As he broadens his expertise, he needed some head shots to make him shine.

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He and his wife, Lauren, live in the De Mun area and love their runs at Concordia Seminary and coffee at Kaldis so that was the perfect location for the session.

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And you must have a smiling one!

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My favorite thing about Peter is that he married well. Lauren is full of energy and kindness. Peter is strong and steady. They make a great pair, and so we finished the session with some sweet couple photos.

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Laura + Jared {Engaged} . Forest Park

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I am fairly for certain that there are no kinder people then both Laura and Jared, and combined they are the sweetest couple I have ever met. Like kindness oozing from every spoken word type of sweet. They are the type of people who will be concerned with everyone else’s comfort before they consider their own. This trait will make them incredible spouses to one another.

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Another interesting fact about this couple is that Jared actually contacted me first. Rarely, do I have such an invested groom, it was obvious that both Laura and Jared were invested in every part of their wedding day.

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Laura and Jared have a beautiful story filled with family connection. Jared shared his view of the story:

“I (Jared) get to tell this story, because I love sharing the way God worked in both of our lives to bring this relationship to be. Laura grew up in Sunset Hills, MO, and Jared grew up in Carlyle, IL (about an hour east of St. Louis. We went to different colleges, and our paths never crossed. Laura majored in Lutheran elementary education, and I studied nursing. After Laura graduated, she took a call to teach Kindergarten in Hoyleton, a small town in southern Illinois about 10 miles from Carlyle. This the same small town where the entirety of my mom’s side of the family lives. As Laura acclimated to life in a small town, she won over nearly everyone in that church, including my cousin Carly, who was in Laura’s first Kindergarten class. Meanwhile, I was in Wisconsin finishing up school, and eventually working as a nurse at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee. Though my extended family was falling in love with the sweet, tender, and committed Kindergarten teacher, neither of us had yet heard of or crossed paths with the other. In 2015, I took a job at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, as I was looking to be close to home again. In May, I moved to St. Louis and began attending church at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Olivette. Not long after, Laura accepted a call to become the new preschool teacher for the school associated with Immanuel. I noticed Laura right away on her first Sunday at church, but being incredibly shy, I was too chicken to go up and talk to her. Thankfully, another member took it upon himself to introduce us. We quickly found out that we shared the Hoyleton connection, which helped to make each of us safe to one another. We are both shy, and having this immediate shared ground helped us to feel comfortable with a “familiar” stranger. Over the course of a year, a friendship developed, and eventually blossomed into a relationship. We are both firm believers that God works in all circumstances to bring His plans to fruition. As we have talked and grown as couple, and learned of our shared upbringings, trials, and flat out strange coincidences (same birthday, same first car, etc…) we have been further affirmed that God has been preparing each of us for this marriage.”

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Laura shared their engagement story with me:

“I had an inkling something was coming, but he still took me by surprise. After finishing a movie at my apartment, he reached under the sofa and pulled out a homemade book titled “Jared and Laura’s Relationship.” It was filled with pictures and captions that described what made our relationship special. Then I reached a page that said, “Wait! What is that behind the bookshelf?” I walked over to the bookshelf and found a picture of Five Guys, which is an inside joke for “make a U-turn.” I wheeled around to find him bending down on one knee and pulling something from his pocket… I don’t remember a word of his little speech, but I heard “Laura Kalbfleisch, will you marry me?” And I said Yes!”

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Beautiful stories like Laura and Jared inspire me and are an encouragement of love and beauty that will be shown in marriage.

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Laura’s favorite thing about Jared: “I can’t pick just one thing! He is a man of strong faith, caring, gentle, and giving of himself. He makes me laugh and encourages me when I’m down. He is the puzzle piece that fits.”

Jared’s favorite thing about Laura: “From our shared values on faith and family, to the way we are able to laugh and be goofy with each other (we both work with kids) Laura encompasses everything I could possibly ask for in a wife and best friend. She is a strong woman of faith, who is selfless, funny, supportive, genuine and beautiful. Her humility astounds me.”

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2017 Fall Mini Sessions . Forest Park

2017 Fall mini save the date

I love frolicking around in beautiful leaves and crisp weather (all while enjoying hot apple cider or a pumpkin spice latte). What I love even more is photographing my favorite families during this season.

Details:
October 22 + November 18
25 minutes || sessions in the morning and afternoon
20 Digital Prints with an online gallery
Print release
$100

The sessions will take place in Forest Park, St. Louis which boasts of a variety of views and beautiful autumn trees. To view some of last year’s minis – 1 , 2 , 3 .

To book your session: Email sweetsarahmariephotography@gmail.com
The October date is almost completely booked and November is filling up quickly!

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Ashcraft Family {Mini Session}

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To say that I am partial to these two would be an understatement. Elizabeth has the deepest honor to work with me and she married a very kind man that loves her fiercely. A family doesn’t just begin when a third is added, instead it starts when a man decides to dedicate his life forever to a woman. And I adore when I get to photograph a couple before they decide to add to their family.

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I told you he loves her fiercely. And check out Elizabeth’s gorgeous eyes!!!!

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Remember to have grace and patience with one another and cherish your time as a young married couple – aka sleep in a lot!

Make sure to also check out their session from 2015.

 

Emily + Patrick {Mini Session}

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I’m fairly certain this is what love looks like. You know, that sweet, silly, ardent love. The kind that happens and you can’t wipe that silly smile off of your face. Emily and Patrick were one of my favorite couples to work with and I think I laughed more than I actually photographed. Ok, perhaps it was equal parts shutter click and giggles.

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And then they pulled out the jerseys. These two are huge Blues fans. And every time I see a blues game I think about these two and how they might be celebrating a Blues victory.

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And to prove how they were cracking me up….

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Why are Family Photos so Important? {Tips}

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You are only at this point in your life once.

Let that set in a bit.

Your child will only have that adorable gap in their teeth once. Your sister may only rock that baby bump a couple of times in her life. Your grandfather may not always be here to give your son that big bear hug.

These are just a few reasons to make sure you get that family photo at least once a year. And we are huge advocates of capturing yearly family photos, so much so, that you get to see OUR family photos. Yes, our family may only include two, but that is where a family starts- with two.

Our dear friend, Maria – Owner of Sketchbook Photography, took these photos for us to represent exactly where we are in this point of our lives.

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The joy of being photographers is that our family sessions typically involve cameras as props and this year we snuck in some other liquid props!

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And Yes, I know he is a stud! That man can ROCK a bow tie. I totally married up. Behind that small smile is most likely some quick witted joke.

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As women, we are so quick to be harsh with ourselves and our bodies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I’ll get family photos after I lose 10 pounds” or “Can you photoshop my double chin.” Embrace who you are at this moment. Love who you are at this moment. Capture your family exactly how it is at this moment. I promise you will never regret the moments you capture, only the ones that you don’t.

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Andrew + Elizabeth {Married} . Salem Lutheran Church

There are few things sweeter than two people fiercely in love. This wedding showed that not only are Andrew and Elizabeth devoted to one another, but they are also devoted to their family, church and friends. These two are loved by all and desire nothing else then to love others.

Elizabeth and Andrew grew up at Salem Lutheran Church in Affton, MO, so there was no doubt that friends and family would surround the two with prayers and excitement as they started their life together.

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They chose a beautiful color selection of deep blue and yellow.

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Elizabeth’s dress was absolutely stunning with intricate detail of beading and lace. Her illusion straps were the perfect touch. And her mother, not only made her veil but also made dresses for some of her special attendants.

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Andrew and Elizabeth chose to not see each other before the wedding and so when Andrew saw his bride, you could see the smile come across his face. That smile may or may not have also turned into sweet tears of joy.
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Elizabeth was concerned that her father may not be able to walk her down the aisle. In fact, the decision was made day of and was one of the most emotional parts of the day.

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After the big kiss the guests went down to a cake and punch reception which was followed by family and bridal party photos. And boy, was the bridal party fun!

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At one point Sarah Marie took the girls to take photos and Jonathan separated the guys for photos, however the gentlemen thought it would be a great idea to photo bomb the ladies. This photo was before, and you will have to ask the bride to see the after!

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Andrew and Elizabeth enjoyed a few moments alone, before it was time for their reception.

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The real fun was to be had at The Christy, and the venue was absolutely perfect to celebrate your first few hours as husband and wife.

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See, I told you that the wedding party knew how to have a good time! Now an entrance really isn’t an entrance with out glow sticks!

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While the first dance was beautiful and elegant, the father-daughter dance had every eye filled with tears. Tears of joy, tears of thanksgiving and tears of a beautiful happily ever after.

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The guest enjoyed a wonderful meal and incredible cake, but the best part was the dancing! My favorite part of dancing is during the slow dances in which you can see the love of marriage young and old.

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We are so excited to see two amazing people love and support each other in the good times and bad. Hold each other close in the good times and closer in the not so good times. Thank you for including us on your special day.


The Amazing Vendors:

Brides Attire: David’s Bridal | Groomsmen’s Attire: Mens Warehouse | Hair and Makeup : Capricorn for Hair | Transportation : St. Louis Limousine Inc. | Cake : Wedding Wonderland Cake Shop | Rings : Shane Company | Ceremony Venue : Salem Lutheran Church| Reception Venue : The Christy

Brandon + Kristen {Surprise Engagement} . 360 STL

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Whirlwind of emotions. That is the best way to express this “session”. Brandon approached me two days before he wanted to propose, because his original photographer told him he could no longer photograph the event. When he asked me I couldn’t say no to his deep desire to capture this huge event and his million dollar smile is rather convincing.

The day he chose, however, was pouring rain so we had to reschedule for the next day. We arrived at 360 STL  and new it would be magical. The gorgeous views and energetic feel of the place was the perfect location for this couple. Brandon guided Kristen to the windows and we sneakily followed and captured every moment.

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And she had no idea it was coming! The whole restaurant erupted in congratulations.

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From there Brandon has arranged a horse and carriage around the city, but before it arrived we had time to grab a few lovely shots of the newly engaged couple.

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I’ve known Brandon for quite a long time. We went to college together for a while, until he had a great opportunity to play basketball overseas. I still think that Kristen’s ring is better!

The carriage was able to take us to City Garden, which lights up magically in the evening.

Congrats you two. Thank you for allowing us to be the St. Louis part of your love story.