Wedding Photography Giveaway Finalists!

posted on: March 11, 2008

Thank you to everyone who entered for the Indie, Offbeat, Green, DIY Wedding Photography Giveaway!! I loved reading your stories and getting to know more about you! You were all so gracious in opening your hearts to me and I sincerely appreciate that! Choosing finalists wasn't easy because it's not like any couple is better or more of something than another, it's just that I had to narrow it down to three and at some point I just had to make a decision! Everyone deserves to win, but I can only afford to do one. Now that I've narrowed down the selection - the rest is up to you!! Please get to know more about these couples and then vote for the winner!! The winner will be revealed on lucky ol' green St. Patty's Day!!


Wedding Location: 3 contenders. Bentonsport, Iowa. Beverley Shores,
Indiana. Garden of the Gods, Southern Illinois.

What about your wedding do you consider to be:
Independent? We took everything we associated with the word "wedding"
and tossed it out the window... and then came up with a new word!

Offbeat? Rockets.

DIY? Invites, flowers, music, food, everything.

Green? We will limit waste with no decorations, buying clothes at a
thrift store, buying food in bulk (or local, depending on location),
and have a small amount of guests.

A few bits from their wedelope site:
Nathaniel and I already had a date set wayyy back in 2007. Labor Day. And then we talked about it and talked about it until we came to the conclusion that a big, giant wedding with 500+ people at a church just ain't our thing, ya know? So now we've talked and talked and talked and have come to one conclusion: we don't want the big church wedding, but we don't want to get eloped, either. And so, wedelope was born!!

our wedelope will be:

• An extremely small amount of people. Right now we're going to shoot for 20. Not only does it make it a nice, intimate event, it also limits consumption & waste!

• No gifts. This is easy for Nathaniel & I because we've been living together for over two years and we already have a bunch of stuff we don't need! We're thinking about finding a good charity we both love to have people donate to, or let them pick a charity they love and donate to it.

• Location. We are planning to have it somewhere outside, where the decorations are natural.

• Gown/Suit: Nathaniel and I have 2 places in Des Moines that are second-hand shops that carry cool vintage stuff. He wants a brown three-piece suit. I just want a simple dress, doesn't matter what color. Just so I'm comfortable in it and it's pretty...

• Ceremony: We have asked one of our good friends, Patrick, to be our ordained minister. He wants to go online and get a certificate for "Church of the Dude." (We'll keep you posted about that one...!) We will be saying our own vows, and Nathaniel wants to somehow include rockets shooting off with planes buzzing overhead. (We'll keep you posted on that idea as well...)

• Afterwards: If we're in Bentonsport, they have a spring festival that features a dance, local vendors with crafts and food and stuff like that, which could be fun. If we're in Indiana or Southern Illinois, we have been toying with the idea of having the people that want to stay camp out and make a bonfire and cook fake hot dogs and s'mores and dance around. Oh, and drink a lot.

in conclusion:
When I went to a bridal expo with my mom about a year ago, I kept asking myself, "What's the point in all this? This just doesn't seem like us." Nathaniel and I just want one low-key day where our closest friends and family get together, peek into our lives and celebrate us being lucky enough to have found each other, forever. For us, we don't need cake, djs, second generation great uncles, etc. etc. etc. for that. It's just us!

Visit Marlena & Nathaniel's Wedelope Website to read more about their story and wedding:


Wedding Location: Venus De Milo in Swansea, MA

I feel as though I am truly the luckiest girl alive. I have been so fortunate to find someone who loves me for who I am and to spoil me with his love and affection. Over the past five years we have been through so much together and grown not only as individuals but as one. Richard has taught me so much and at the end of the day I know I am a better person because of him.

Just like everything in life, our relationship has not always come easy. We have worked hard to reach the point we are at today. One of the toughest times in our relationship was when Richard had to go away for basic training. Being away from each other was absolute torture for both of us. Although this was one of the most difficult times for us, it also made us truly appreciate one another more. It tested our love, devotion, and loyalty to each other. When Richard finally returned home we decided that there was nothing more we wanted than to spend the rest of our lives together. Nine months later, our love child, Alina Pembroke Sann was born.

So by now, you're probably asking yourself why do we deserve this?

We're good people! Richard and I try our hardest to make the best decisions that will allow us to sleep good at night. We give everything we do our all so that at the end of the day we know that we won't have any regrets because we tried our best.

We follow our dreams! I am a girlfriend, a mother, a student, a waitress, an actress, an educator, a friend to the environment, and so much more. I haven't let anything hold me back from pursuing my dreams; instead I strive to encompass all the things that I love most in my life. I love working with kids and performing which is why I'm pursuing a degree in teaching. One of my goals is to graduate and continue working with children and help mold the minds of tomorrow's youth. Art and theater are a passion of mine so I hope to instill my love of those with the children I teach. I am so thankful to have found my calling at such a young age and each day I strive to be able to make a living doing what I love.

We plan on using recycled paper for the save-the-date cards, wedding invitations, and place cards. We also want to print a list of ways that our guests can help the environment on the back of the place cards. I'm still searching for a place that we can get organically-farmed cut flowers or flowers that were grown without using any pesticides. For wedding favors we plan on giving out seeds that represent seeds of love where our guests can plant their own plant or tree. Recently I've been researching where I can purchase a wedding gown made of organic materials because I'd really like to wear a dress made of something completely eco-friendly. Lastly, we plan on creating a registry filled with eco-friendly items such as organic cotton sheets, recycled glass vases, and bamboo dishes.


Wedding Location: The Mississippi Gulf Coast

What about your wedding do you consider to be …
I feel like 'independent' could be interpreted in a few different ways but to me it means an idea or action independent of popular culture. So here's how our wedding falls outside the lines of contemporary thought:

First, we've decided to have a very intimate celebration (35-40 guests) in a town we still have yet to visit. To briefly explain, Jeff just recently accepted a job along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and we'll be relocating there in mid-April and planning a local wedding for October.

My second point stems from my first so I'll continue … While we were both ecstatic about our new opportunity we both knew absolutely nothing about the Gulf Coast so we started researching like mad. In the last two months alone, we've learned how much the devastation of Hurricane Katrina continues to haunt the coast and its residents. How FEMA trailers are still a constant sight in the area and how relief groups continue to pour in and out of the area, helping to build temporary and permanent housing for those who are still without homes. I can't even begin to fathom the trauma so many have felt personally because of this fierce storm. After learning about this continuing struggle, Jeff and I decided we'd like to take our wedding day and share the spotlight with these persevering residents, who, in our minds, are much more deserving. Rather than accept wedding gifts, we will be asking our guests to make a contribution to their choice of a few different charities benefiting displaced residents still afflicted by the storm.

Jeff and I will also be looking at pet rescue shelters when we move down to the coast for a new addition (or two!) to our family. We're hoping to give a dog a new and loving home and we'd love to have him included in our big day. More than anything, we'd like our wedding to center around the celebration of life and we felt the best way to achieve that would be to open our hearts up to our new community and share our special day. We're looking forward to our fast-approaching move and we can't wait to join the passion of the many people who remain committed to helping those still in need along the Gulf. We want to do whatever we can to contribute to the rebuilding and healing process and we hope that our friends and family will join us and leave inspired to do the same back home.

When I first hear the word offbeat, I get one image in my mind: The character of Ana Pascal (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) in Stranger than Fiction. Well, not really her in particular, but her essence. The essence of someone so confident in their beliefs and passions that they are not bothered by another's disapproving judgment but instead, proudly marches to the beat of their own drum. More than anything, it's important to Jeff and I to stay true to who we are at all times and that includes the day of our wedding. So many people I know seem to just swallow the mainstream images handed to them in movies and magazines – the notion that every bride should look the same on their wedding day … that you're not a bride until you're behind a veil. That the proper favor to give guests is a handful of Jordan almonds and that your invitations must be engraved on heavy white parchment paper. While these things can be perfectly fitting for some brides, I knew it wasn't a mold I was willing to fill.

Jeff and I have always shared a fondness for vintage styles -- the romantic music, the classic movies, the iconic stars. Nothing compares to the smooth crooning of Frank Sinatra, the elegance of Grace Kelly or the poise of Jacqueline Kennedy for us. So rather than succumb to the myriad of modern bridal marketing, I decided to embrace our shared love of vintage and be true to ourselves and our styles.

To stay in line with this vision …

My Mom and I have collected various antique milk-glass vases to combine with family pieces to hold flowers during the reception. I'm so excited about the beautiful milk glass I've acquired – some family heirlooms and some from antiquing with my Mom – and I plan on keeping many of the pieces after the wedding as a reminder of the fun of both the day and the planning that went into it.

I'll also be using my mother's cake stand (which happened to be my grandmother's as well) and cake server. And I'll be using my grandmother's locket to hold a photo of Jeff when he was a little boy and attach it to my bouquet. We will be compiling a list of music to be played during the reception which will only include our favorites, ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Dean Martin to Frank Sinatra to keep a consistent feel to the celebration.

I've also been going through old family photo albums to find favorites to include in vintage frames surrounding our guestbook. I also found a wonderful vintage book of sheet music I plan on using to create the cones for petal-tossing after the ceremony. And I plan on saving them for use in future holiday parties.

While my love for the old and timeless runs deep, I do have a little spunky, contemporary side I have to let loose so there will be a few details to show that. While I plan on wearing an ivory wedding gown, I'm looking forward to having fun with my shoes and coloring the soles a vibrant pink for a bright, bold and unexpected splash of color. And Jeff has already picked out a fun pair of colorful argyle socks to wear with his wedding day suit.

I adoooooore DIY projects and have a lengthy list of my own to accomplish for the wedding. While I've already mentioned a few (and a few more are mentioned under the Green category), here's several more that will be included:

I'm working on putting together Out-of-Town baskets for our guests. I'm re-using old galvanized pails that we had around the house as the baskets and am planning on stuffing them with local spring water, organic juices as well as regional maps, information and locally-made treats.

We wanted our favors to be something meaningful to both Jeff and I and to our guests. Because Jeff is a huge Ohio State fan and Ohio is the state we met and fell in love, we felt candy buckeyes would be a fun (and yummy!) way to celebrate our shared heritage. I'm going to make the candies myself and package them in personalized containers inspired by Martha Stewart (which can be seen here:

My Mom has graciously offered to hand-embroider the ringbearer's pillow with our shared monogram, which I can't wait to see finished! She will also be helping to hand-embroider handkerchiefs with our monogram as gifts to those at the rehearsal party.

I just bought some amaryllis bulbs to test-grow and possibly use as my bouquet. Whether they work or not, I plan on creating my bouquet and the floral centerpieces for the reception with my Mom (who has some serious experience with floral arrangements).

Jeff and I are writing our own vows – They may come off a little quirky to some but they'll be us and they'll be from the heart. We will also be ringing an antique family bell directly after the ceremony to honor and include those family members who have passed away but are with us in spirit.

We will be having a very small wedding, inviting only 35-40 of our closest family and friends, to keep the celebration intimate and to cut down on flight and car travel. To also cut down on fuel consumption, we are planning on having the ceremony and reception in the same location or at least within walking distance of each other. We also plan on having an outdoor wedding during the afternoon to utilize as much natural light as we can. We chose the month of October to avoid the need for any type of air-conditioning and the energy behind it. Our ultimate dream is to say our vows under a huge, old oak tree – representing the history and longevity we wish our marriage to endure. I love that decorations can really be kept to a minimum in such a naturally dramatic space – no need for ribbons and flowers and aisle runners, etc. when you have a majestic old oak front and center.

Because I work with (and love!) print design, I feel comfortable and excited tackling all of the wedding stationary myself – the Save the Dates, the invitations, the RSVP postcard, the custom map, and the programs. I will be doing them all in a very modern-style calligraphy form in freehand with india ink (although I'm looking for soy ink) and a quill pen (You can check out a rough draft I posted here: All of the stationary will be printed on recycled paper. And I am currently working on creating a wedding Web site with extra information for the guests to avoid wasting paper.

We will both be wearing socially responsible rings, as they are both antique family heirlooms from both sides of our families. I also love how the shared history symbolizes the merging of our families.

I'm working on assembling two monograms (a 'J' and a 'S') made of natural moss to use as decoration during the ceremony and reception. I'm planning on re-using these after the wedding in our home around the holidays.

I will be researching around to see if it's possible to donate our leftover food from the reception to those still in FEMA trailers or to a local homeless shelter.

Link to your wedding details online:
After becoming frustrated with my organizational skills, I turned to a paperless platform to easily archive all my wedding-related ideas. The amount of encouragement, tips and advice that I've received have been so amazingly helpful in the planning process.

Please use the poll below to cast your vote BEFORE Monday March 17th!!

Note: Results will NOT be shown until the poll is closed!

24 comments, to add [click here]:

  1. So hard to choose!!! :)

  2. Jennifer10:13 AM

    charlie & richard should check out Teemies Blooms, I know she does organic floral stuff and if she can't do it, she can probably help them find someone local who does!

    Teemie lives on a dairy farm where she has a greenhouse and does organic flowers & herbs. it's beautiful!

    She's very involved in the buy local, organic & farmers market scenes so she's a great resource.

  3. TOUGH choice, but I finally narrowed it down!

  4. Everybody should vote for Richard and Charlie... THEY ROCK!!!

  5. We thought Jeff and Sarah's wedding sounds just beautiful and would love to see it captured on film! Vote for them so we can see the results of all their creativity and work!

  6. Vanny6:01 PM

    I think Charlie and Richard deserve this more than anyone else....

  7. Play nice, OK? What's meant to be, will be.

  8. Gulf Shores Wedding in southern Alabama is great for a marriage ceremony and beach photography. Love your photo's on this blog

  9. Anonymous10:14 PM

    Go Nathaniel and Marlena!!!

  10. This is such a great idea! Socially and environmentally responsible, and so generous!
    You rock, Anne! Consider me if you need a second shooter :)

  11. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Vote for Charlie && Richard! They deserve it more than anyone. They are getting no financial help or assistance from their families so it would mean more than anything if you could help them in this small way.

  12. tough choice...
    most interesting wedding, photo-wise: Sarah&Jeff
    most green & organic feeling: Marlen & Nathaniel
    but most deserving: Charlie & Richard

    Just my $.02

  13. Anonymous12:03 PM

    Charlie n richard hands down!

  14. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Charlie & Richard! Absolutely!

  15. Anonymous1:45 PM

    I LOVE Marlena & Nathaniel! They seem most keen on keeping things green.

    Totally didn't mean that to rhyme. haha.

  16. Derik Tutt2:22 PM

    Richard and Charlie deserve this more than anyone. I went to middle school with Charlie and know where these two come from. To be where they are at in this point in their lives is an accomplishment that cannot go unnoticed. I too, know what it's like to be a young parent. Luckily we were able to get support from our families when first starting out. I'd like to congratulate them on their upcoming wedding and also acknowledge the great job they're doing with their daughter. It's not easy raising a child, going to school and going to work. Great job guys. Keep up the good work! Never settle! Dream big! Work hard and I wish you the best of luck. You're a lucky man Richard. Take care.

  17. Marlena and Nathanial all the way! What a great couple, and what a unique photo and perspective.

    I really hope they win!

  18. Kristen2:15 AM

    Charlie and Richard, they probably have known me for the shortest time out of everyone they know, but we became real good friends fast. They let me come in their house with open arms and it's one of my favorite places to hang. They really are some of the best people I know now and NO ONE deserves this as much as they do. They work hard, raise a beautiful daughter, and go to school. I'd really like to see them win, so vote for Charlie and Richard!!! They're the best!=D

  19. Anonymous3:05 AM

    All good candidates but I'm gonna have to go with Charlie and Richard!!!!

  20. Anonymous6:01 AM

    CHARLIE & RICHARD all the way

  21. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Marlena & Nathaniel seem like a cute couple. What a fun webpage!
    Good Luck!

  22. Anonymous10:29 PM

    I'm gonna have to go with Charlie and Richard

  23. Jimmie9:01 AM

    Vote for Charlie & Richard!

  24. Congrats to the winners!
    What a great contest, Anne!
    You're the best!
    Pam Vogt


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