“Punkin… you were perfect.” The four words that can instantly make an entire room reach for the tissues. At least if you were a guest at the beautiful, amazing wedding of Ashley & Bryce!

It took me so long to finally sit down and get this blog post done. Not because their images weren’t done, but because I have so much to say and honestly not enough room to say it all. So I’ll do the best I can. :)

I met up with Ashley & her mama at Starbucks for a wedding consult. We had a really great time just chatting, getting to know each other… the whole nine. It was fun to realize we both went to the same high school (I’m old though… so we won’t go that much into it ha!) I knew immediately we would work so well together and I was so hopeful I would be chosen - and by the grace of God I was! I was even more excited when she asked if I would come to Chicago for their engagement session, since they both currently reside there. Other than the traffic issues we had right at the end, we had SO much fun! This was also the first time I met Bryce. He was nothing short of a gentleman. The way he looked at Ashley put every cheesy romantic movie I’ve ever watched to shame. If you look up the word “love” in the dictionary, you’ll see some really fancy definition about an intense feeling of affection. If you look up the word “adore”, you’ll see something about LOVING and respecting someone deeply. It was very apparent that their story, which started out as a simple friendship at the age of five, was being written to become so very much more as they grew up.

On the day of the wedding, my husband (second photographer) and I arrived at Allerton Park & Retreat Center in Monticello, IL where we were overwhelmed with all the attention to detail that was put into the venue for their big day. From the place settings to the flowers to the geodes! It was incredible. From there, the day was spent busily getting hair and makeup done, gifts exchanged, dressed and ready for all of the excitement to come. We had several first looks to get through, the first being with Ashley’s dad… who took one look at her and visibly had his breath taken away by his daughter, who stood before him a grown woman in a wedding dress but in his eyes appeared to be just his baby girl playing dress up at home. “Stunning,” he described her as. After a long embrace by Ashley, her dad and mom, we showed her off to her bridesmaids and quickly whisked her away to see Bryce. To see the look on Bryce’s face was yet another moment of awe. It was all he could do to not break down in tears at how beautiful his bride-to-be was. He spun her around and looked at every single detail. The veil, the hair, the dress.

The ceremony took place at the Sunken Gardens, which by the time the wedding began the sun had set just below the trees and the lighting was impeccable. It was the golden hour of all golden hours. My favorite part of the wedding ceremony was that they did not light a unity candle or pour two colors of sand into a jar. Instead, they braided a rope on a board to be hung in their home. It was the first time I had ever seen anything like that before, and it was so perfect for them and their story.

Once everyone got back to the reception space and enjoyed their time at cocktail hour, the parents & bridal party were introduced as they walked down the grand entry of red carpeted stairs to the dining area/reception hall, where they quickly went to their cake for cutting and then to sit for dinner. Once dinner completed, it was time for speeches, where the maid of honor & best man spoke highly of both the bride & groom and brought tears to my eyes (seriously why do I photograph weddings? I’m such a crier!), and then Ashley’s dad was up. This was an emotional moment for the entire room, for a lot of reasons. The biggest part I took away was that typically a wedding is when two families become one. For Ashley & Bryce, this was merely a formality, as their families were already one. The relationship between Stuart (Ashley’s dad) and Bryce was one that I don’t believe I have ever seen between in-laws. To be at the wedding and be able to see the raw emotional connection was something I can’t put into words - and as I’m crying writing this, I’m going to move on! :)

We ended our evening with a sparkler send off, which couldn’t have been more perfect.

I like to say that I have a deep connection with all of my couples. We spend a lot of time together, especially the day of the wedding, and I temporarily become a part of the family. One thing for me that set Ashley & Bryce apart is that I had the opportunity to see not only the love they have for each other, but the kindness and love they have IN their hearts for every single person who they interact with.

I tried to keep it short and obviously did not, but I’m going to say once again congratulations (and happy 6 week anniversary) to Ashley & Bryce. I have much love for you both! <3


Photographer/Amber Pond, Amber Nicole Photography
Second Photographer/Craig Pond
Videography/Connor Parkhurst, Hoop House Creative
Venue/Allerton Park & Retreat Center
Cake/Holly Mowry, Mowry Baking & Candy Company
DJ/Ryan Reid, Crash Events
Dress/Michelle’s Bridal & Tuxedo
Bridesmaids Dresses/Brideside
Tuxes/Michelle’s Bridal & Tuxedo

Hair/Courtney Lehew

Makeup/Kelsey Miranda
Quartet/Vine Street Ensemble

Amber Pond