For most of my life I’ve struggled with mental health. For most of my life I’ve envisioned what my engagement and wedding would be like. However those two things don’t always mesh together well as I’m finding out. I’ve been engaged for about 4 months now and have spent the last 2 of those months really working on bettering my mental health. After the initial excitement of wedding planning died down I found myself bogged down with the depths of seasonal depression, general depression, and anxiety. I know how powerful the words of others going through similar struggles have been so I hope that my transparency does the same for someone else.
I hate asking for help. Like really truly. It’s the reason why I went unmedicated for so long, wasn’t going to therapy, and just told myself this was my life now. That also plays into wedding planning. We didn’t ask for help in searching for venues, picking a date, food, and most other things. I found myself searching bridal shower venues and stressing out about that even though the shower won’t be for months, and as my therapist told me, I shouldn’t even be planning it. It took her telling me I needed to ask my bridesmaids for help for me to even realize that’s literally why they are there, to help. So whether you are stressing about your outfit, guest list, or what salad dressing will be served, you are allowed to, and should ask for help. The people you’ve selected to stand with you are meant to support you not only on the day, but through the process and during your marriage. Even if you don’t have a formal wedding party, family and other close friends LOVE weddings, and I promise will want to help. You just have to ask.
You are worthy of love, celebration, and commitment even when your mental illness tries to tell you otherwise. My depression tells me no one really cares that we are getting married. My anxiety tells me that I’ll have 29734 things to do the few weeks leading up to the day. Those two things are my illness lashing out with a warped reality. When I step back and think about it, none of that is true. I am worthy of being called a bride and feeling special. I am worthy of having the attention be on me. I am worthy of a celebration that costs some money. Myself, my partner, and the wedding are all worth investing in. I remember walking into my dress appointment feeling anxious and unsure. Being a plus size bride I have a lot of anxiety surrounding clothing shopping, especially with something this important. Luckily I brought two amazing people with me and we chose a bridal salon specifically carrying all plus size dresses. Being intentional about making accommodations for my anxiety without giving into it was so helpful. My matron of honor cried when I walked out of the dressing room, in a dress I didn’t even choose. The tears started flowing and I apologized for getting emotional. Why? Because we are conditioned both by society and our mental illnesses that we are being selfish for having attention on ourselves. But in that moment when the amazing stylist told me that tears were all a part of it, I realized that I’m worthy and deserving of feeling like a bride. No matter what size, no matter what type of wedding we are having, no matter what my anxiety tells me. We are all worthy of celebration.
It might seem like an obvious thing but truly, one day is not worth sacrificing your mental health for. If medication, therapy, exercise, meditation, yoga, or more sleep will help you then don’t be afraid to do those things. I think a lot of people assume that weddings will be hard to plan and stressful. While I can agree that parts of it won’t be the most exciting, your wedding is all about you. If there is something that’s giving you anxiety, pass that task onto someone else, or cut it! If there’s a family member giving you problems, or a friend bugging you, you are allowed to do something about it. The best advice I can give is remembering that a strong marriage is far more important than a perfect day. That’s something I tell my wedding couples all the time, and even though it’s easy to say, practicing it takes….practice.
Who said wedding planning had to suck? I think we have this expectation that we aren’t allowed to enjoy the process as much as we should. I know going into it I was told by everyone that it would be hard and I’d hit walls and slumps and just want to elope. I mean the cost of a wedding makes me want to elope, but I’ll be honest, it’s been really fun. Now I know that planning things isn’t in everyone’s wheelhouse, and I have an advantage working in the industry. But often my mental illness lies and says that things shouldn’t be fun, and that sucks. I’ve seen friends planning weddings getting really caught up in details that quite frankly no one but them will care about. If you want to do a sunset ceremony then do it! If you want to have everyone bring a dish to pass then do it! If you want to only invite 3 people to the ceremony and 300 to the reception then do it! Marie Kondo the crap out of your wedding. For me rehearsal dinners don’t bring me joy, so we are probably ordering pizzas and going back to the airbnb the girls and I are staying in the night before. I’d much rather be chill and hang out with our people than go to a stuffy expensive restaurant. Whatever it is, you have permission to change or cut it if that brings you joy.
Weddings are tough. No one gives you a manual and planning one while dealing with mental illness can be even tougher. The main thing to remember is ask for help, allow yourself to do the things that help get your illness to a manageable point, and understand that you can enjoy it! There is no one size fits all for weddings which is really beautiful. Each couple is so unique and you can plan while not letting your illness overtake the joy of this time in your life. It’s not always easy, but remember that you have an amazing partner who sees the best in you and is choosing you. I hope that no matter what you are dealing with that you are able to find a little clarity and recenter yourself to get excited to continue planning this incredible celebration!
Genna and Nolan are the best high school sweethearts. I’ve known them for years and when they asked me to be their Michigan wedding photographer I knew it would be an amazing day. Held at A Cut Above Event Center in Saugatuck, MI, the pair tied the knot amongst their favorite people. It was a super cold day but that didn’t stop everyone from cutting loose.
Nolan and Genna met 6 years ago while going to Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo; Genna was a sophomore and Nolan, a junior. They met each other through mutual friends and became close while helping each other through everyday high school drama and would stay up all night talking on the phone, texting, or skyping. Months later, while on a trip to Grand Rapids to see a band (who’s concert ended up being sold out), Nolan asked Genna to be his girlfriend, and naturally, she agreed. As time passed, they fell in love, and even through the toughest of their teenage years, their love never faltered. They got through high school, graduated, got their own apartment along with their dog, Oliver and their cat, Noah, and started college together at Western Michigan University.
Having devoted years of their lives together, Nolan and Genna talked about eventually getting married, but the time never seemed right. Finishing college, working as much as possible, and saving for their first house were the most important things for them as they entered their 20s. But, unbeknown to Genna, Nolan had a plan of his own. He knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. In mid-August 2017, Genna went to Florida to visit family. Nolan had chosen that time to purchase a ring and set a plan for his proposal. After picking her up from the airport and giving her a gorgeous necklace as a “welcome home” present, he took her to the Metro City Detroit Casino, where they had dinner on the 16th floor at an extravagant restaurant called Iridescence. They shared a nice bottle of wine and Nolan asked her to marry him. After bawling like a baby, she accepted wholeheartedly.
The event center where the wedding was held has a rustic and industrial feel. It felt perfect for a winter wedding! Genna and Nolan chose navy, white, and red for their colors and offered lots of cozy details for guests. I loved the hot chocolate favor. As a Michigan wedding photographer I appreciate the warm drink during editing! It was really nice to have the ceremony and reception all in the same space. It allowed guests to stay warm and cozy during the whole event. We enjoyed heartfelt personal vows and lots of tears during the ceremony. Dinner provided guests with yummy barbecue, which everyone raved about! The couple shared in their first dance, the shoe game, and of course cake cutting. Once the dance floor opened it was a real party!
Genna and Nolan were a dream to work with. The whole day went off without a hitch and I’m honored to share their story. Just like I knew back in high school, I know this couple has many happy years ahead of them!
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Jasmine and Cady have some of the best laughs ever. During their engagement session they both had each other laughing the entire time. They had reached out looking for LGBT engagement photography as well as someone to capture their wedding! I was so happy that they found me, we mesh really well and they value those candid moments that I try and focus on. We headed to a new location for me, Bysterveld Park in Dorr, Michigan and had a great time exploring.
These two are planning a gorgeous day for summer of 2019 at Apple Blossom Chapel and Gardens in Fennville, Michigan. I’ve photographed there a few times and it promises to be a stunning day. I always love doing engagement sessions with my couples and LGBT engagement photography has a special place in my heart. Some of my absolute favorite photos have come from these sessions. As you will see in the photos Jasmine and Cady are a perfect match and I seriously cannot wait to see them get married!
For more info and to hire Liv Lyszyk Photography for LGBT engagement photography head to the website! Click the links below to see more!
Morgan and Abe might have had the most magical wedding of 2018. This gorgeous and whimsical Michigan summer camp themed wedding stunned guests right down to the last detail. I had gone to high school with Morgan and Abe and Morgan’s younger sister/maid of honor was one of my closest friends! If you would have told me back then that I’d be photographing their wedding I’d laugh. There are tons of amazing Michigan wedding photographers and for them to choose me was such an honor. We clicked right away and during their engagement session, seen here, they told me all of the fun plans for the big day.
Morgan and Abe met in school and had been dating for quite some time! The two share a passion for the outdoors and it really was the perfect theme for their wedding. Both Morgan and Abe work in museum settings, Morgan in communications, and Abe as an exhibit builder. They were excited to DIY a lot of the wedding, despite a lot of warning from others not to get too crazy. Luckily the DIY aspect turned out amazing and gave them a lot of great projects to work on together. The two also share a Scottish heritage which was a big part of the ceremony elements. I love that they fit together perfectly. Both of them love laughter and have such sweet caring personalities. It was incredible to see all of their friends and family supporting them on their wedding day.
This was more of a wedding weekend than just one day. Morgan and Abe got Camp Merrie Woode, a girl scout camp nestled in the woods in Plainwell, Michigan for the whole weekend. This is a dream for Michigan wedding photographers. I loved how spread out we could be and all the hidden buildings throughout the woods. We did a first look at the platform tents and did some portraits around the camp. The ceremony was held by the lake and had a distinct Scottish feel. Both the bagpipes and handfasting ceremony were a nod to their roots. The main dining hall was the reception location. Morgan and Abe bought buckets of flowers from Viavi Flower Farm, they were able to get tons of coverage and used moss as living table runners. Food is really important to both of them so Morgan’s mom helped create a stunning and delicious grazing table for cocktail hour, and offered girl scout cookie flavored donuts for dessert. The couple also really enjoys craft beer, a Michigan staple, and used the giant commercial fridge to stock self serve craft beer for guests!
This whole weekend was such an incredible testament to the power of community and love. Morgan and Abe put together a gorgeous celebration of their union and I’m so happy I was able to capture it. I know that Morgan and Abe have a lot of incredible things ahead of them!
To learn more about Liv Lyszyk Photography or hire us as your Michigan wedding photographers check out the website! To see more gorgeous couples click the links below!
Jayme and Nikki had one of the best parties I’ve been to at a wedding! The two of them have such fun loving personalities and everything from the ceremony right up until the last song was filled with laughter. I appreciated how laid back the day was and nothing seemed to phase the couple. We had perfect weather making for an excellent beach ceremony overlooking Lake Michigan. The personal touches (and super yummy pie) at the reception made everyone excited for the night. The couple had been looking for a same sex wedding photographer and found me online. We hopped on a phone call and hit it of so well. They told me all about their love story and how excited they were to party with friends and officially be wives!
When I asked them about how the got to this point Nikki said “we set up our first date pretty quickly after we began talking and went to a gay bar in Indiana. The entire night I just wanted to be close to her. We stayed out too late, but I woke up the next morning to a text from Jayme asking to get together again that day. We spent the next 6 months driving back and forth from Illinois to Michigan before we decided that we wanted to move forward in our relationship. Jayme got a job in South Bend and we rented an apartment while we maneuvered living together. In October we closed on our new home! I knew early on that I would marry Jayme. Everything felt so right from Day 1”.
Rocky Gap Park was the ceremony location in Benton Harbor, Michigan. I had never heard of it before now but their overlook deck is an incredible location! We did a first look on the beach below and did most of the photos beforehand. Doing that made for a super relaxing day after. The couple didn’t have a wedding party but instead focused everything on them and their love for adventure! One of my favorite photos from the day is the one of their wedding tattoos, taken from a Brandi Carlile song that was a big part of the wedding. At the reception everyone was delighted with Bullgdog Barbq for dinner and super yummy pies from Grand Traverse Pie Company! One of the other highlights was the amazing dance from Jayme and her dad! They danced to Dancing Queen and honestly it was the best parent dance I’ve seen since photographing weddings!
I am so extremely happy for Nikki and Jayme, their wedding went off without a hitch and had some really fun memorable moments. Both of them looked stunning and seeing their family and friends being so loving and supportive made the day perfect!
Day reached out to me a while back needing a kickass wedding photographer for their July nuptials. It became clear after our first phone call that we were officially new BFF’s and I was the one for them! Signed, sealed, and delivered, Day reached out and needed a last minute engagement session too! Their plans fell through and they needed a save the date photo so I became not only their wedding photographer but their Grand Rapids engagement photographer as well! We wiggled our schedules around and they were so gracious and willing to come to Grand Rapids all the way from Detroit on a chilly Sunday morning. They picked two amazing locations, a more floral and organic mural and then the parking structure. I loved the diversity of the lines we got to capture, and their outfits? NAILED IT! Needless to say I’m so pumped for July, hopefully it’ll be a little bit warmer than it was during the session and I’m sure the photos will be even more incredible!
To find out more information or to hire Liv as you Grand Rapids engagement photographer check out the website or links below!
I am so incredibly excited to be working with Katrina and Sasha. I first met Katrina through a mutual friend (who’s now in her wedding party!) at a sleepover in middle school. It’s so weird to think about how our paths have crossed again as adults! These two have such a warm hearted spirit about them and I was so thrilled to hang out with them at their engagement session. These two are planning a pretty non traditional wedding in Kalamazoo this May. I shot another same sex wedding at their venue many years ago so it’ll be so fun to go back and create more magic. I think especially as an LGBTQ photographer it’s important to get couples in front of the camera before the big day. It gets them more comfortable and ready for the big day. I find most of my couples haven’t been in front of the camera much, but these two absolutely nailed it. Their playful personalities mesh together so well and we had a blast exploring the park.
I’m counting down the days til their wedding and cannot wait to see the magic we make, stay tuned!
To find out more information or to hire Liv as your LGBTQ photographer check out the website and links below!
2018 has been such an incredible year. It’s been filled with over 60 sessions between portraits, engagements, boudoir, weddings, and elopements. I’ve traveled all over Michigan, to Detroit, Fennville, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Muskegon, and of course tons in Grand rapids. The amount of growth I’ve seen in myself makes me so proud to share this post with you all. I will never stop learning or growing as a wedding photographers, so I can only imagine how incredible next year will be!
Some highlights personally have been buying a house, a new car, and getting engaged to my best friend! This year included a bit of travel too, including Illinois, Indiana, and my favorite, Colorado. All in all it’s been a pretty fulfilling time. So now that I’ve rambled, enjoy my favorite images from 2018!
Check out Liv Lyszyk Photography at her Website Here! To see more of her work head over to the blog posts linked below!
Nicole and Theo are the embodiment of everything I love about being a wedding photographer. They chose to celebrate in the way that felt personal and special to them, having lots of friends present, and tons of great dancing. They chose to do a Windmill Island and Gardens wedding in Holland, Michigan. This colorful and unique venue provided a setting that transported guests to another place, it truly felt like I had hopped on a plane and gone to Europe. Destination wedding without destination jet lag and prices! I am so happy that I was able to work with them and am excited to be sharing their images!
I love hearing the love stories of the couples I work with and asked them how they met, they said “We lived less than a mile from each other but never would have met if we weren’t online dating. Our first date was at Rockwell Republic in Grand Rapids sometime in September. We dated for a few months and we fell for each other. We went from living in separate apartments to Theo basically squatting in Nicole’s apartment until we bought a house in Grand Rapids”. The couple has tons of close friends they’ve gotten to know throughout their relationship and instead of picking just a few to stand with them they opted for an extended portrait time between ceremony and reception to get lots of photographs with all of them! I loved how much of a community feel the day had, everyone helping, laughing, and getting involved in the festivities!
I had never photographed a Windmill Island and Gardens wedding before but had seen photos from friends. It truly is like stepping back in time. Everyone in the area has gone for Tulip Time but experiencing it during late summer was a real treat. It offers some really unique and fun photo opportunities. The couple took the Dutch theme and ran with it, the lace on Nicole’s dress was reminiscent of European design and lace. The tulip bouquet, which was hard to find apparently, was a colorful pop that really made her stand out! I was impressed by how cohesive everything felt without being too cheesy!
This wedding was just the best, lots of color, lots of fun, and a gorgeous location! If you want to feel like you are in Europe but don’t want to actually do all the travel and planning definitely check out doing a Windmill Island and Gardens wedding in Holland, Michigan!
Check out more work from Liv Lyszyk Photography at the links below!
Dan and Paul found me online after searching for an LGBT wedding photographer. It was important for them to have as many LGBT vendors to help them create their gorgeous day at Stetson Chapel and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts! These two are from Chicago but with family in the Kalamazoo area it was an easy choice to plan from afar and pick West Michigan as the location. They chose the gorgeous Stetson Chapel for it’s amazing white walls and huge windows, truly a wedding photographer’s dream church! It was such a fun and playful day all around and one of my favorites from this season!
The couple has an affinity for Ru Paul’s Drag Race and so they incorporated elements inspired by the show into the day. The wedding party carried paper fans instead of bouquets and had flowermen who were some of the most enthusiastic petal throwers I’ve seen! I loved the unique touches that were non traditional but totally embraced their personalities. These are my favorite types of weddings and often I find that as an LGBT wedding photographer it’s usually my same sex couples who veer from tradition the most. There are so many gendered traditions that I personally wish were gone, so I love when couples throw that out the window and do whatever makes them happy with their day!
To learn more about Liv Lyszyk Photography or to hire her please check out the website! For more gorgeous weddings and portraits click the links below to see more!