Iowa City Old Brick Wedding of Lily & James

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Since meeting Lily and James more than a year ago I felt incredibly happy just thinking about them and what their day would be like. Their paths intersected after years of much living and learning on their own. But no matter what kind of wedding they had, it would have been perfect because they are such wonderful people.

Lily was already on cloud nine as she began her transformation at Coralville‘s Europa Salon & Spa. Her excitement was infectious as she and her matron of honor, Yuri, shared in her joy after arriving at Iowa City’s historical Old Brick Church… and then seeing her bouquet for the first time.

Bride getting ready at salon

In the meantime, James was getting ready at his friend Jake’s house, where the rest of the boys – James’ nephew, brother and Lily’s son Alex – also had gathered.

Groom and groomsmen

Old Brick is both easy and challenging to work with given its white walls, wooden floors and cathedral ceiling. Erected in 1856, it the second oldest public building in Iowa City and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But oftentimes it’s the simplest things that make the biggest difference, like Lily’s use of muted coral ribbon on the curtains. Her bouquet also encompassed an array of colors to fit with the coral theme.

flowers by window and wedding rings

The design was set up so guests would move their seats after the ceremony to one of the roundtables for the reception. Each table featured its own cake for guests to feast on after dinner.

Iowa City Old Brick wedding reception cakes

Lily and James opted to do a First Look on the stage they would get married on. … and James turned around just before she got to him. He couldn’t wait to see her!

Couple's first look

They soaked in this moment for a while…

couples first look

… and then went to the front entrance of Old Brick for a few inside photos.

couple at Old brick Iowa City

A short time later it was time to get married, and Lily’s son Alex proudly accompanied her down the aisle.

Bride walking down aisle

Even after the First Look, Lily, you’re beaming with joy as if seeing James for the first time… I love it!

bride walking down aisle

The couple had a Tree Lighting ceremony in which their closest loved ones took part in to symbolize the unity of the families. Each person lit a candle to place on the iron casting before meeting James and Lily to say a few congratulatory words.

tree lighting ceremony at wedding

Afterward, the couple shared a few moments alone on stage, serenaded by Don Williams’ My Heart to You.

wedding ceremony at old brick iowa city

Seeing this photo makes me happy – for Lily and James, and that I get to do this for a living.

wedding ceremony old brick iowa city

Sealed with a kiss… and walking away to the tune of Happy Together.

bride and groom kiss

After mingling with guests, the reception got underway with dinner, toasts and finally their First Dance.

first dance wedding couple

Lily and James also had a CrazyBooth, run by my assistant Garrett. Here are a few highlights:

wedding photo booth

The entire day for me was so enjoyable, creative, fun … and that has been indicative of my time with this couple.

James and Lily, congrats to you both! Have a wonderful time during your honeymoon in Italy… you SO deserve it!




Wedding Notes

Ceremony & Reception: Old Brick Church & Community CenterIowa City, with Brigittine French officiating
Catering: Bread Garden Market, Iowa City
Photographer: Accent Photographics (me!) assisted by Garrett Adrian
Entertainment: D. Anthony MusicIowa City
First Dance Song: “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)” by James Taylor
Flowers & Cakes: Hy-Vee, Iowa City
Wedding Gown: Celebrations (formerly in Coralville)
Bridesmaid Dresses: Dillard’s
Tuxes: Ewers Mens Store, Iowa City
Tree Sculpture, Linens & Candles: Aero Rental and Party Shoppe, Iowa City

Rural Iowa Wedding of Sarah and Ross

It was the most perfect of October days, and Sarah and Ross were ready to get married. At the church in Clarence, Iowa, Sarah and her bridesmaids had their hair done. The clock was ticking but Ross was nowhere to be seen.

Sarah wasn’t going to worry. She was on time, and knew Ross would come. She had a calm excitement for this day to finally be here – and in good humor imagining her annoyance at Ross during their First Look.

Bridal Gown and bride getting ready

And then he came, and joined his groomsmen before getting dressed.

Groom getting dressed

The couple’s First Look – seeing each other before the ceremony – happened in an empty room not far from the church sanctuary. These first shots from my assistant Cathy of this moment were just beautiful.

Bride and groom first look

During the First Look, Sarah informed Ross that she was wearing the dress he helped choose back when she had narrowed down her favorites. Ross chose wisely, thus proving himself with good taste in style.

Bride and groom meet and kiss

The soon-to-be newlyweds.

Bride and groom

Turns out that after formals we had some extra time to kill before the ceremony. So they got more photos of themselves outside the church.

Bride and groom standing

Sarah’s dad, after walking her down the aisle, later said it was just as hard to give her away as it was her older sisters. And Ross, after being teased about not kissing her intensely enough at the ceremony rehearsal the day before, made sure he did so after they said their vows.

Bride walking down aisle and First Kiss

After church, it was time to party. Enroute to the reception, the couple, their bridal party and a handful of friends wanted to stop for photos at a park in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Bridal party by lake

Ross’ brother, Kelly, was just crazy excited about his brother getting married. Can ya tell?

Brother of groom showing excitement

At the reception, members of the bridal party gave a mix of animated, memorable, bittersweet and poignant speeches.

People giving wedding toasts

We had a CrazyBooth at this party, and here are some highlights to commemorate the craziness.

People acting goofy

Ross and Sarah are now in Hawaii. After they return, they move to the Twin Cities where Ross will begin a post-doctorate.

Couple dancing

Thanks to you both for having me as part of your day. Enjoy your time off, and best wishes in your new life.


Shuva Rahim's signature


Wedding Notes

Ceremony: St. John’s United Church of ChristClarence, Iowa, with the Rev. David Mears officiating
Reception: Regal Crown Receptions, Lisbon, Iowa
Photographer: Accent Photographics (me!) assisted by Cathy Kovach
First Dance Song: “When You Got a Good Thing” by Lady Antebellum
Entertainment: A Fine Affair DJCedar Rapids
Florist: Tipton Greenhouse & Florist
Cake: Yummy’s Gourmet CakesCoralville, Iowa
Wedding Gown & Bridesmaid Dresses: David’s Bridal
Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse

*Wedding Wednesday* :: Event Production

The event-planning industry has a huge convention called Engage!10. One of the conference speakers this year was Bryan Rafanelli, owner of Rafanelli Events, who plans tons of weddings, parties, corporate and nonprofit galas in Boston, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Washington, D.C.

Rafanelli’s credentials include a series of inaugural events leading to and the day-of President Obama’s swearing in and Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.

He’s also done his share of nonprofit events, and the below photo is from a fundraiser.

Nonprofit event charity gala

One of Rafanelli’s strong points is to tell a story with each event he works with anything that is conceivable to the client. The result, I imagine, is an amazing display of environments that shows the quality, the care and attention that people appreciate and are excited about.

Although he isn’t local, there’s still much to draw inspiration on from his work – as a photographer, an event planner, and anyone else in the creative field. And, of course…as a bride.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever…

Shuva Rahim's signature

Samantha & Sean’s Fall-Themed Quad Cities Wedding

Planning a wedding from a couple time zones away can’t be easy. But California couple Samantha and Sean put together a beautiful and fun event shared with their closest family and friends this past weekend.

Samantha put a lot of time and effort into her day in the midst of an intensely busy year that included finishing grad school. She flew in earlier last week and made final preparations for her big day. The hard work showed in its fall-themed decor and the persimmon throughout the ceremony and reception.

After getting dressed, the couple stood before a small congregation of loved ones at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Davenport.

Their ceremony was short, sweet and straight to the point.

Sealed at the end with a kiss.

Sam wanted some photos outside of the church. So we took a few moments for shots in front of the large sanctuary entrance. I love that red door, and even moreso that the wind was blowing right then.

The bridal party, along with Sean and Sam then headed just a few blocks to Vander Veer Botanical Park, where we maximized the use of her beautiful dress as much as possible – first fanned on the ground and then draped over the stone bridge.

I’m generally not a fan of back shots. But this was an exceptional case – a beautiful couple, a gorgeous dress and a stone bridge. You can’t go wrong with that combination of elements. So I let them hang out on the bridge as I got every possible shot imaginable.

Favorite Bridge Photo.

My wonderful second shooter Linda took these next two shots, the second of which was while they were on the bridge. Sam had an incredibly lovely bouquet, and it went perfectly with the fall theme.

And here’s the fabulous bridal party!

The wedding party left, and we took the stroll from the park fountain. That pathway is popular site for photo shoots. Luckily there were no other bridal parties in the immediate vicinity and I requested they take a seat on the ground. There was a chill in the air, but Sam and Sean were great sports about hanging out a bit longer while Linda and I got these shots.

Then it was onto the reception at University Club of Moline – an historical building downtown that’s easy to miss with all the road construction currently in front. Inside, the place was accented with the reminder of fall – especially the cake.

One of the highlights of the evening was a Q&A game from the DJ to see how much the couple knew about each other. I’d never seen this done before, but it was a ton of fun and generated a lot of laughter from everyone!!

Lastly, we had a CrazyBooth a handful of guests took advantage of. Here’s a glimpse of some of the formal and not-so-formal craziness in front of the camera.

Congrats, Sean and Sam! Enjoy your time in Seattle and thanks for having me be a part of your wonderful day!!!



Wedding Notes

Ceremony: St. John’s United Methodist Church, Davenport, with the Rev. Ron Carlson officiating
Reception: University Club of Moline
Photographer: Accent Photographics (me!) assisted by Linda Maxwell
First Dance Song: “Pistol” by Dustin Kensrue
Entertainment: A Fine Affair DJ, Cedar Rapids
Florist: Milan Flower & Gift Shop
Cake: Le CakeDavenport
Wedding Gown & Bridesmaid Dresses: Alfred Angelo
Tuxes: Men’s Wearhouse

*Wedding Wednesday* :: Guest Post: Get Creative With Your Budget

This is the last of a series of guess posts by Christina Smith of Classic Events Coordination and Design, based in Cedar Rapids. I’m so grateful she’s been willing to share her knowledge and expertise about planning a wedding. This post continues with some practical things to help trim the budget, but without sacrificing quality.

Stretching your budget without losing the look and mood that you want to convey can be a little tricky, but if you do it correctly can really make a huge difference.

What are a couple simple tricks to give more mileage to your dollars?

  1. Alter your reception to an appetizer reception rather than a meal. You can pull this off in a very classy way and may end up having more time during your wedding day to relax while getting ready. Most hors d’oeuvre receptions are held later in the evening to alleviate any confusion that a meal would be provided, and it is also noted on the invite to clarify.
  2. Have a shortened reception. Rather than having your party go all night at your venue, close down the site at 9 or 10 p.m. and head to the hotel for after-hours. You will save on your bar tab, hours for venue rental and hours for your DJ, which – combined – could end up as a pretty large chunk of change.

Then, the question becomes: What do I need to sacrifice?

Be willing to pick your top three “must-haves” so you can use your budget wisely and not end up with an excess of unexpected expenses.

After all, your wedding is something that should be what you wish for without costing above and beyond what you can afford, and provide happy memories to cherish throughout your life.

*Wedding Wednesday* is a weekly post of creative information, ideas and inspiration. If you are a professional in the wedding industry and would like to contribute an entry please contact me for information.

As Ever, Shuva…

Kilts and Kinship at Nate & Nancy’s Pinicon Ridge Wedding

CENTRAL CITY, Ia. – All I knew about this wedding for a long time was that the guys would be wearing kilts. And indeed they did.

But before I go into that, first some background: Nate and Nancy are both performers with Rage Theatrics, an Iowa City-based theatre company specializing in stage combat and comedy and run by my boyfriend Scott. The troupe members have embraced me since Scott and I started seeing each other nearly 3 years ago. And so, I can proudly say most everyone involved in this wedding – not just the bride and groom – are people I consider friends 🙂

Nate and Nancy met through Rage. Or as Nate describes it: We were brought together by violence. They dated for 5 years, before Nate surprised Nancy with a proposal after she had a rough day at work.

Their wedding this past Saturday at Pinicon Ridge Park outside Central City was a celebration of the couple’s love as much as it was a gathering for the troupe and their friends. When I first met with Nate and Nancy about their wedding – specifically about weather for an outdoor ceremony, he told me that it simply wasn’t going to rain. He sounded as confident as the local weatherman.

I arrived at the park, and Nate greeted me with a hug saying: I’m in denial. (sigh). It was Ok, I thought. We would get through this. Not every wedding miraculously has a sunny day. But spirits were high, especially among the groomsmen who were eager to pose in their traditional Scottish attire – a representation of Nate’s heritage.

The guys were ready to go, and Nate helped his son with his kilt.

Nancy was in a nearby cabin getting ready, as her mom saw her in her dress for the first time.

The couple then decided on a First Look in the deck of the girls’ cabin.

Nate was smitten.

… and then checked out the pretty hair pieces in Nancy’s hair.

The two then drove across the park to the lodge, where there would have to be some adjustments made to an event very much planned for the outdoors.

The formals took place on the deck outside the lodge, and then tables were quickly moved to accommodate the ceremony. Nate’s son got a special pendant, and the groom broke down while Nancy read her vows.

Both sides recognized their parents before the guests – which I thought was nice considering Nancy’s family traveled from New Jersey for the occasion.

After the receiving line, we did a bridal party photo on the corner of the deck…. while there was no sign of the rain stopping.

On a positive note, the rain meant dinner would be served earlier, and so the newlyweds were toasted by the bridal party and both dads 🙂

…. which made them very cheery with excitement and laughter 🙂

Nate and Nancy’s First Dance…

… before the real dancing began and before we headed back home in the rain.

This wedding was mine and Scott’s first as a couple – even though I was shooting. But it was also the first time we’d spent together in a long time – as crazy as it sounds. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this photo, taken by our friend Emily.

I posted this later than I wanted, but tomorrow’s blog will be a double posting. So much going on!! It’s wonderful, exciting and I hope you come back for more!

Shuva 🙂


Wedding Notes:

Ceremony & Reception: Pinicon Ridge Park, Central City with Chris Cary officiating
Photographer: Accent Photographics (me!)
First Dance Song: “Love You ‘Till the End” by Poghes
Catering & Cake: Bread Garden Market, Iowa City
Wedding & Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal
Invitations & Programs: Zephyr Weddings, Coralville

Meeting Jasmine Star and JD…

CHICAGO, Ill. – It’s not everyday you get to meet a pop culture icon in the photography world. But I did. My assistant Linda and I made the road trip to Chicago for a day of the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) mini-conference yesterday.

All the speakers were incredible, encouraging, enthusiastic and fun to listen to – Bob and Dawn Davis (photographer/designer of celebrities based in the Chicago ‘burbs), Salvatore Cincotta (St. Louis-based photog), and Mike and Cody of TriCoast (Texas-based shooters whose workshop I did last year in San Francisco). And then there was Jasmine Star – a destination wedding photographer out of Orange County, California.

Star (which is actually her middle name) has been the social networking queen in the photography world since 2007, as well as an inspiration for my consistent blogging over the last couple years. Her coming to Chicago was a huge deal, and seeing her in real life was a bit surreal. But it was exactly as I had imagined. The room was packed. And Jasmine spoke with excitement and passion. Her husband JD – also her second shooter and business partner – was there on the sidelines taking photos and smiling with great pride.

Nevertheless Star has shared so much of herself and work with the industry, I couldn’t help but wonder: “Is there anything else left I could possibly learn from her?

Photos by Linda Maxwell

I ended up taking a few notes. But the one thing that stuck with me was her becoming a different photographer since starting..but she was still the same person. I LOVED hearing that.

Afterward as we stood in a long line waiting to say “hello” to Jasmine, JD came up to Linda and I and started chatting. He is sooo nice… and a very cheery guy. When we each got photos of him together he later mentioned how nice that was since people don’t always ask to get photos with him. But he deserves to and I’m glad we did, since JD is such an integral part of Jasmine’s success. Finally, I had a chance to shake hands and introduce myself to her. I told Jasmine how she’d inspired me to blog, and mentioned that I would be teaching a Blogging for Business class on Monday through my local community college. Thrilled she was!!

I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to an incredible day!

Have a fabulous Friday!

Shuva 🙂

Featured on

It’s always exciting when other professionals in the wedding industry choose to highlight you – especially when it’s completely unexpected!

Yesterday, Modern Wedding – a site of inspiration and information for brides and grooms – featured me at the top of its page:

Be sure to check out the site for other cool ideas and details!

In the meantime, I’m in Chicago today to learn and meet some great photographers, and then back to reality tomorrow morning!

Have a great day!


Jessica & Justin’s Spectacular Peoria, Illinois Wedding

PEORIA, Ill. – More than a year’s worth of preparation came down to one day, and for Jess it was finally sinking in. I’m getting married, I’m getting married, I’m getting married

She was saying this out loud to herself as much as to anyone within earshot in the hotel room and at the church, adding the footnote: I’m not nervous about getting married… I’m nervous about the process. But Jess was also her excited bubbly self throughout the morning as she got ready and made sure everyone was where they were supposed to be.

Luckily she didn’t have much to worry about. In the morning I had a chance to take a peek at the reception site, Kickapoo Creek Winery, where Jess’ idea of having wine-themed table names were showcased on the place cards themselves!

… and the respective wine bottle – each table had a different one – listed alphabetically from the front of the room to the back. They all had funky names, like the ones shown below. The “Broke Ass” table belonged to Jess and Justin.

Meanwhile, Jess was in the hotel room getting all prettied up. She and I are close in height, which made for a fun shoot especially with Jess standing on the toilet. But mostly, it was her cheerful personality that made this such a great wedding.

Justin was getting ready at the church, sporting a feather with a gold ribbon on his suit. This was a theme throughout the day – as everything a wedding would normally have as flowers was replaced with the use of feathers. What a creative concept!

Shortly before the ceremony, Jess was still a bit nervous, anxious… then moved to tears reading a beautiful card from Justin.

And then it was time. Justin proudly saw his bride-to-be for the first time, as she was escorted down the aisle by her grandfather – and holding a feather bouquet.

Their church, Trinity Lutheran, is a photographers’ dream to shoot in. There was so much beautiful natural light coming through the stained glass it was incredible.

Their ceremony was short, simple and with a homily that addressed their relationship perfectly.

After that, it was time to celebrate… and Jess and Justin gave us photographers (myself and Peoria photographer Scott Laidler) a massive time frame with the bridal party. Here’s one of my favorites from a shoot in a park.

Our next stop was a local bar, where the couple posed themselves. Seriously, they should go into modeling.

Afterward, we headed to the winery – stylin’ it for the cameras they did!

Scott took these shots, the second of which was taken just minutes before they headed into the reception.

After enjoying a cocktail hour, the guests were eagerly awaiting for them. The banquet hall had tables dressed up with ostrich plumes and candelabras, and blue accent lighting placed by the DJs. Gorgeous setup!


Their First Dance was impressive, and a wonderful display of dancing skills!

Last but not least, we had a CrazyBooth at this reception which guests thoroughly enjoyed, including Jess and Justin (bottom center).

And that was the end of our incredibly fun day. Thanks, Jess and Justin, for having me to document your fantastic event! What a privilege it was to be part of this big day! Much congrats to you both!



Wedding Notes:

Ceremony: Trinity Lutheran Church, Peoria with the Pastor Mark Nelson officiating
Reception: Kickapoo Creek Winery, Edwards, Illinois
Photographer: Accent Photographics (me!), assisted by Scott Laidler
Party Bus: One Sweet Dream, Bloomington, Illinois
DJ: Absolute Light and Sound, Hudson, Illinois
First Dance Song: “The Best is Yet to Come” by Frank Sinatra
Feather Bouquets, Corsages, Boutonnieres & Reception Decorations: Heaven on Earth, Peoria
Ostrich Plume Centerpieces: purchased from, assembled by Jessica and Maid of Honor Katie Jurgens.
Cake: Tammy Woodmancy
Wedding Dress: Hope’s Bridal, Davenport, Iowa
Bridesmaids Dresses: Bobbie’s BridalPeoria
Tuxes: Savvi Formalwear, Peoria
Reception Linens: I Do Events, Washington, Illinois

Save-the-Date: Jessica & Justin’s Day is Tomorrow!

I’m on my way to Peoria as you read this! (I LOVE that I can pre-schedule my blog posts!). Jess and Justin have planned a incredibly unique event, and I’m excited to tell you all about their wedding in the coming days, so stay tuned!!

Cheers, and have a great weekend!


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