Joe & Sarah | Vintage Midwest Wedding Photographer

Sarah has to be one of the most creative, artistic, and inventive brides I have ever met. I was so excited when we talked about her wedding & all the details she’d been working on. I felt so honored that she saw something in my personal work and trusted me to capture her wedding in Duluth, Minnesota. Many of these images are also on my portfolio site, but you’ll find a few new ones too. Since this wedding has her fingerprints all over it, I asked Sarah to share some of her thoughts:

I’m not like most girls. I never bought a wedding magazine, I never fantasized about diamond rings or white dresses… not until, that is- the day I had an engagement ring on my finger. Part of that could be attributed to my natural independence, but another part could be attributed to the minimal six months it took my husband, Joe to go from first date to proposal. He went to Israel with his Dad (all of a week after he met my parents) and came home with a custom-made ring from Tel Aviv. Despite the quick jump to a proposal, we had a fairly traditional length engagement, a little over a year. So this is when my innate need for originality and creativity sprung into action. A complete obsession with all things wedding ensued…

I always have and will always be completely driven by aesthetics. So, when planning this wedding my first priority was that it had to be beautiful, followed closely by original and affordable. The key to an original, beautiful and affordable wedding? DIY. I’ve always been a bit of an “art nerd” so there was no question- I would be hand-crafting everything I could for this wedding. Therein lies complete creative control. I cannot tell you how many hours I spent with paper, scissors, micron pens, hot glue, burlap sacks and ribbon strewn across the table in front of me. This is the beauty of a 13-month engagement though, you can invest in creative processes over a long period of time (it seems long at first, but wow, does it go by quick).

I loved her eclectic centerpieces. She used sheet music, vintage postcards, ribbon, twine, etc. to make each one unique. Her favors were burlap bags with chocolate covered coffee beans tucked inside… loved them!

Don’t be afraid to go non-traditional routes, with your location, invitations, centerpieces, anything and everything. More often than not, when you throw traditional expectations out you will end up more accurately representing yourselves as a couple and… saving money (oh, how wonderful!). Don’t believe me? Well, I have examples. Our invitations were vintage postcards with added paper decals displaying our names and the wedding date on the front and rubber-stamped wedding information (date, place etc) on the back. When it was all said and done, those invitations cost about 50 cents apiece, letter-pressed invitations (and RSVP cards) bought at retail can cost $5 or more apiece, easily. This option saved us anywhere from $500-$800. Hopefully, they came across as creative and aesthetically pleasing as well. I thought they were.

Another, traditional “must have” that can get expensive is live floral centerpieces. I knew we didn’t have the dough to cover $70 centerpieces for each table-yikes. So my solution was to make flowers from book paper, floral wire and vintage buttons. Joe even contributed “baby’s breath” made from speaker wire and crumpled paper. Explore options for centerpieces, express your personality, and as a result, very likely save money.

I loved that they wrote their own vows. It made the ceremony very personal.

She was stunning. I’ve known her for years and now she’s all grown up. {Sigh}.

They were married at The Historic Duluth Depot in Duluth, Minnesota. I love when brides have their ceremony & reception in the same venue. It gave us a lot of time for portraits, there was a lot to work with in a small vicinity. During cocktail hour, guests were able to peruse the museum and look at the train exhibits:

Location, location, location: The venue- dun dun dun. This is a big decision. But never fear, the non-traditional rules apply here too. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to make the white walls of a convention center look good? You will save yourself a lot of time and money (not to mention hours of fighting with rolls of tulle) by choosing a venue that speaks for its self. Out-door weddings are becoming increasingly popular; barns, State parks and family member’s back yards. You name it. But don’t forget that museums, concert venues and in our case, train museums also make great venues. The Historic Duluth Depot with its French château style architecture, 88-foot ceiling and two original brick fireplaces made for an easy (tulle-free) venue choice. Joe’s grandpa also worked for the railroad in Duluth, so he was able to tell guests about the trains in the railroad museum during cocktail hour. He even designed a few of them. Duluth was a perfect spot for our wedding because of familial ties, a historic charm, beautiful views of Lake Superior and most conveniently- affordability. Future brides, keep this in mind during planning- often venues outside of the city are cheaper, as are caterers etc.

Sarah & Joe also agreed to do a “first look” before the ceremony. It allowed them to have some special portraits taken during some peaceful & private moments. Every bride will admit that once guests have access to them, it can be hard to steal time away {especially with family traveling hundreds of miles to see you}.

These were taken during the family portraits. I love that they have non-traditional backdrops for their family & wedding party portraits.

The bridesmaids were fearless, I’m not sure how they maneuvered up the train in heels! I climbed up after this shot, and it was quite a step…

After the ceremony there is also a sense of excitement & relief. Big smiles are abundant. Adding the handcar into the scene was hilariously fun.

Again, I really liked that they were all willing to move around & let me work in some creative places for their portraits. Makes it so much more fun to look back on…

The End. The Beginning.

I hope that this was helpful to brides planning their weddings! I would love to do a DIY post about how she made her paper flowers next time she’s in town {ok, Sarah?}. Stay tuned. Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your advice & perspective. It was an amazing honor to capture your lovely day ♥.

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