Yo, photographers! Never pass up an opportunity to second shoot a wedding.
I was lamenting to a good friend, Katie Reineking of Dusty Boots Photography, that my wedding season was cut in half and over by July 26th because of COVID. She asked if I wanted to second shoot an October wedding with her and I said yes, thus leading to one of the best weekends of my life. I'm not even exaggerating when I say that. I had also been in contact with a couple of farmers down in her direction about picturing a couple of cows and doing an anniversary session, and I'm so thankful that the stars aligned and I was able to do their sessions that same weekend.
When I left our farm on Friday afternoon, it was 36 degrees outside and snowing. The fall foliage was long past peak, and the umber and mahogany leaves of home were threatening to let go of their hold on the trees in a northwest October wind. As I made my way through the 608 and into the 920, I was delighted to see that the colors were just beginning to peak in all of their yellow and orange maple-glazed glory. My first visit was with my dear friend Mara Budde and the farm she operates with her boyfriend, Frank Behling, Wildweed Holsteins and Jerseys near Fox Lake, Wisconsin. That afternoon, we got some shots of a VG-88 Jersey cow, Wildweed Premier Skynyrd, and a VG-86 Holstein, Mara-Elise Dback Hooligan. Mara and I enjoyed catching up while inhaling some donuts I brought from Chetek Bakery after picturing cattle in the wind and rain, and her boyfriend Frank was kind enough to give me a Dr Pepper when I left their place for Katie's in Cleveland. (yes, Wisconsin has a Cleveland)
Here's some shots of Skynyrd, Hooligan, and their wonderful humans.
Once I got to Katie's place, we spent some time engaging in much-needed girl talk about cows (she's also a dairy farmer) and photography. Even though this was the first time we'd actually met in person, I felt like we had been lifelong friends. She even gave me a new camera backpack, which will see a lot of miles with me. Check out her website here! She's as excellent of a person as she is a farmer and photographer. The next morning, we headed south to Random Lake to meet our bride, Anne Schuessler, and her bridal party as they got ready at Anne's aunt's house. Anne (a museum curator and manager) and her soon-to-be husband, Greg Lapinski (also a dairy farmer), had been together for four years before tying the knot at St. Nicholas Catholic Church near Random Lake that afternoon. Katie and I captured a sweet first look with her father before getting shots of the bridal party among the colors in the woods out back before taking off for the church. After their wedding Mass was sealed with a kiss, everyone headed to the reception at Schultz's Rustic Barn near Kiel. This was the first wedding I'd ever shot with my bounce flash, and if you're on the fence about getting one I don't think I'll have to do much convincing. They're a game changer. I also brought along my 24mm f/2.8 pancake lens, which was wonderful to have on hand for balcony shots during the ceremony.
(more experienced photographers are probably laughing at me for being a such a noob, but whatevs)
Anne's dances with her father and grandfather, as well as Greg's dance with his mother, were especially poignant. We all teared up when Anne's grandpa took off his Korean War veteran hat and put it on his granddaughter's head while they danced across the floor.
Sunday morning coming down was real.
It was nice to catch some extra sleep before pointing my car north and west to head home. I'd planned my trip so that I would stop and catch up with Adam and Cassi Faust on their farm just west of Chilton, Wisconsin on my way back. After shooting their wedding on October 12 last year, they contacted me about doing a session for their first anniversary. Their first year of marriage tested their vows inside and out, particularly the 'in sickness and in health' bit between Adam having to lose his other leg, COVID, Cassi getting sick, and one of their buildings burning down. However, one year later, they're still here, still farming, and most importantly, still loving each other through the ups and downs.
Thank you all for a weekend I'll never forget.
It kicked my ass in all the right ways, and I'm forever grateful for the memories and experiences gained. That being said, my heart did a heckin' pitter-patter when I was heading home on Sunday and saw the hills and coulees of western Wisconsin unfolding before me on US Highway 10. Thank you for making a 715 girl feel right at home in the 920 (and 262 for a few hours).