This Bissell Tree House wedding was wild (pun intended)! Tori and Jake celebrated on a gorgeous summer Friday with their super fun bunch of friends and family. This was my second time photographing a Bissell Tree House wedding at the John Ball Zoo here in Grand Rapids and this time didn’t disappoint either. The zoo offers such a unique location for Grand Rapids couples and I loved the personal touches Tori and Jake added to make it their own!
The couple was first introduced to each other eight years ago through Tori’s significant other at the time. He was great friends with Jake in high school and the guys often met up to play soccer on warm summer days. Years went by with very few interactions. Tori moved to Allendale, Michigan to attend Grand Valley State University while Jake enlisted in the Navy. Time went on and Jake was able to come back home and continue his management job at the infamous Blockbuster Video. Tori came into the store one day, as one normally does on a Friday night in Chelsea, and Jake was mesmerized. Of course she spent the entire time trying to shake off the instinct to blush when the cute guy behind the counter smiled in her direction. They continued to live separate lives. Fast forward to July of 2013, both of their worlds collapsed when the guy they met through died in a car crash. From that moment on, Tori and Jake were forever connected through their loss. They reconnected and healed together, only to realize that they had fallen in love along the way.
Tori was most excited for the first look since the couple always tells each other everything! She said it was so hard to keep that part of the wedding secret from him! They also were really excited about the animal ambassadors from the zoo during cocktail hour. A portion of the proceeds from the rental goes back into the zoo’s conservation efforts and incorporating the animals into their day was important.
We start at The Amway Grand Hotel where Tori and Jake worked together! The salon at the Amway provided some incredible pampering for them and once everyone was ready we headed down to do the first looks! Tori wanted a first look with her dad as well as Jake and I loved both of them! We all piled into a party bus and went to one of my favorite locations for photos, then proceeded to their Bissell Tree House wedding later in the afternoon!
The treehouse itself offers a lot of nature and really takes the need for excessive decorating away. Tori and Jake used lots of floral accents to bring the whole room together and it was gorgeous! We enjoyed their short and sweet ceremony on the balcony of the venue where they sealed their vows in with a bottle of wine to open later. The cocktail hour included some animal ambassadors and great craft beer! We enjoyed yummy food and desserts then danced the night away! The whole wedding was really just a huge party for Tori and Jake which I absolutely loved!
The whole day was so special for the two of them and offered so many good memories. I’m beyond glad that I was able to work with them and can’t wait to see their marriage blossom!
If you’d like to learn more of contact Liv about wedding and portrait photography head over to the website! For more photos and stories click the blog posts linked below!
October 15th, 2018. I come home from a chiropractic appointment to have my partner ask me for a security envelope to mail something. We both had the day off and were going to be running errands. I head over to my office and notice the door is closed. Weird, but whatever, I brushed it off and opened the door. My heart skipped a beat and I read the mural on the wall that my partner had painted asking me to marry him. I didn’t cry, I was in total shock, he totally got me good, I said my easiest yes, and proceeded to say “what do we do now”?
Frantically call my mom, who didn’t pick up the phone (it’s ok she was working), proceeded to call my friend Zoey, who picked up on the second ring. I texted and messaged and called everyone I could think of that might care. It was really exciting to have such exciting news to share! We went to lunch to celebrate and I basked in the newly engaged glow. It’s totally a thing y’all. We made it Facebook and Instagram official and just enjoyed the excitement!
Yep, the day after we got engaged I happened to be seeing my friend who we had decided we wanted to be our photographer. We had talked about who we might want to photograph, I’m a wedding photographer, it comes up haha. We both loved her work and her husband also does video! It was a perfect fit and we signed the contract and paid the deposit that day. Is this the most conventional order of things? Nope! But for us, hiring them was on the top of our priority list even before a venue. Luckily we are friends and so we were able to talk all about our tentative plans and she was willing to put us on the books without anything being super official. Photography and videography is 1/3 of our budget, so getting that settled was huge! Even if you don’t do things in this order, photographers and videographers book quickly. As a photographer myself I’m almost halfway booked and it’s not even engagement season for 2019 couples. So if you think you know who you want to book, and even if you don’t, reach out sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment if they are booked.
Budget is one thing no one wants to talk about. It’s tough to think about how freaking expensive weddings are. Working in the industry I totally understand why they are so expensive, but being on the other side of it as a bride, it sucks. Either way we picked 3 things that we wanted to be perfect and the rest is just bonus. I always tell my couples that as long as you are married at the end of the day the rest is just details. For us the three things we are going all out on is photo/video, venue, and florals. Breaking down a budget given those things made it so much easier for us. We snagged a free online budget planning spreadsheet from Bridechilla (shoutout to my current favorite podcast and facebook group! Go check them out). Sitting down and working on it together ensures that we are on the same page which is so important. No matter who is taking on the bulk of planning budgeting is key for both of you to be involved!
Having an idea of time of year, month, or even the specific weekend you want is helpful when researching venues. For us we are planning for Spring 2020. My books are filling up for 2019 and I want to make sure I can devote enough time to my couples, and then have time to plan for ourselves. The date was super important for us logistically so figuring that out right away allowed us to narrow down options for venues especially (and give people an answer when they all inevitably ask when we are getting married).
Maxx and I have some pretty specific desires as far as venues go. We know what we like (it helps seeing venues almost every weekend for half of the year) and have a budget to follow narrows it down. We also had it in our plans to have a small wedding i.e. less than 100 people. Knowing the season, size of the wedding, and area we wanted to look in got us a few great options. We emailed almost 10 venues that we initially liked and were interested in, only 2 were in budget and included our requirements. It’s honestly better to only have 2-3 options to tour and seriously consider. Touring too many venues can get tricky when envisioning your wedding in so many places. I know a lot of people struggle with choosing and writing a list of things you can’t compromise on, i.e. parking, location, style, price, and then take those things into consideration. Pros and cons lists are our best friend lately!
Overall we are still in the very early stages of planning. There are so many things to think about that it can get overwhelming but communication is key. The first 5 things we did, announce, hire photo and video, do a budget, pick a few dates, and email and tour venues has set us up for success! We have a lot of the main things pretty much figured out and we can rest and enjoy the holidays and save up even more! I definitely do not regret planning for a longer engagement! I’d love to hear in the comments what some of those first things you did after getting engaged were!
Zoey, Jake, and Harrison are three of my favorite people. I’ve been photographing Harrison since he was about the size of a strawberry when Zoey was pregnant. I might be a little biased but I love being their Grand Rapids portrait photographer. In fact I photographed them on a Sunday, so that just shows you how much I love them. Anyway, we headed to Huff Park on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids. It’s a hidden gem with some great walking trails, a brand new playground, some bridges, baseball fields etc. It’s one of my favorite little spots.
Luckily Harrison (and Whistler) were super cheery and alert, which made for the CUTEST photos! Don’t worry, we snapped some of just Zoey and Jake too because, let’s be honest, after you have a kid you rarely get photos of just the two of you. Needless to say we had a blast and I’m super happy with the photos!
To hire Liv as your own Grand Rapids portrait photographer check out the website or the blog posts below!
Kyra and Kray are two of the sweetest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Their day was filled with so much love and fun! It was an honor to be their Grand Rapids wedding photographer. This classic downtown Grand Rapids inspired wedding had so many amazing details!
Kyra found me online after searching for a Grand Rapids wedding photographer and during out coffee meeting we instantly clicked. She told me about Kray and absolutely lit up. It was a clear sign that this wedding would be a blast. She said “We met at running club my freshman year, his sophomore year of college. For us it was love at second sight. When Kray and I met, he was actually in a different relationship. I tried my best to just forget about him, but once he became single, that didn’t last too long. We joke sometimes that my determination is what got us here, but I’m always happy that I didn’t give up on him”. I’m pretty glad they didn’t give up because seeing them together on their wedding day made it clear it was meant to be.
We started the day in Downtown Grand Rapids for their first look. It is a popular spot amongst Grand Rapids wedding photographers and there were a few other wedding parties there too! We were a bit nervous about the rain but luckily it held off for them and the overcast day provided amazing skies! Their sweet first look was one of my favorites, if you know Kyra and Kray in real life you know how freaking incredible their smiles are. Their wedding party braved the chilly drizzly day and were so willing to just let go and have fun to support the couple. After we finished portraits we headed over to Christ Church where the ceremony was to be held. this simple but beautiful space really was the perfect place for them to seal the deal. With two members of the clergy Kyra and Kray were able to bring their families together in a wonderfully unique way. We then headed to the Revel Center for cocktails and the reception! Revel Center is a relatively new space in Grand Rapids and seems unassuming from the outside. Kyra told me how she couldn’t believe the place was as gorgeous as it is when she first visited. They’ve done an amazing job creating an intimate reception space near downtown.
The whole day was all smiles, I cannot begin to explain the joy this couple radiates. I’m so happy for the both of you and know you have a strong marriage ahead of you!
Check out more from Liv Lyszyk Photography on her website! For more incredible couples see the links below to read more!
Kim and Guy are my people. I’m so thankful that their google search for “West Michigan engagement photographer” pointed them to me, the stars aligned, and here we are! They had reached out to me early this year and life happened and we lost touch. Kim emailed me a few weeks back hoping I was still available, which thankfully I was, and booked on the spot!
I was so excited to see the spot they picked for the photos. A family member was selling the house, read lakeside mansion, and knew it needed to happen soon. Luckily we picked a day and when I arrived I was blown away. Not just by the house, but by both Kim and Guy (and their pup Lulu). Instantly we bonded over our love of The Office and it was such a breeze from there. Kim is a hairstylist and does AMAZING work in Illinois. She also does tons of weddings too so swapping stories was a blast.
I found out that this was the place where Guy asked Kim to marry him and it made the day that much more special. They were a little nervous at first but after cracking some “that’s what she said” jokes they were modeling like pros! The beach we were on was nice and private, also helped that it was a Monday morning too! Being a West Michigan engagement photographer I get to go to the beach fairly often for sessions and this one might be my favorite!
These two are such a joy to be around and I absolutely cannot wait until they tie the knot next October! There are plans for a Date Mike cardboard cutout and if you know me at all you’ll understand how freaking excited that makes me! But for now enjoy these adorable photos with their sweet little Lulu!
To learn more or to hire Liv Lyszyk Photography as your West Michigan Engagement Photographer check out the website, or click below to read more!
Ashley has been doing sessions with me throughout the year and it was so fun to be her Grand Rapids family photographer as well! We’ve gotten to know each other pretty well over the last few months! Ashley runs a disney blog and instagram so our photo sessions are so fun and whimsical. This time she wanted to include her beloved pups and husband!
I arrived at their house which has a perfect little dead end next to it. This allowed us to be in the street and photograph! Ashley brought out some super cute elements to be included and of course the pups loved every minute! As a Grand Rapids family photographer who’s worked with pups before I knew that having treats in my hand as I snapped away would help everyone. It worked perfectly and everyone sat so perfectly the whole time. Admittedly it was a quick session including the dogs before they got put back inside, but nevertheless it went super well!
Ashley and Dan hadn’t really gotten engagement photos so this was a perfect redo for it! We got some great photos just the two of them which will be perfect for them to hang in their home! It was a lovely time meeting Dan as well and seeing exactly how perfect they are for each other! I hope you guys enjoy the new photos to decorate your home with!
To learn more and hire Liv as your own Grand Rapids family photographer check out the website! For more blog posts like this click the links below!
Julia and Robert might be one of my favorite couples! Their sweet loving energy is perfect in front of the camera and this Grand Rapids engagement photographer LOVED it! Julia reached out a while back looking for a wedding photographer and when I suggested doing an engagement session as well they were excited! It always helps couples get to know me and become more comfortable in front of the camera before their wedding day!
Julia is a barista at Madcap and Robert works at Spoke Folks, a bike shop! They both have a passion for bike polo, seriously look it up, so cool! It’s been fun watching them on social media enjoy that passion together! We ventured out to Riverside park in Grand Rapids, Michigan which is one of my absolute favorite places. It spans a few miles along the Grand River and offers lots of great scenery for engagement photos. They both love being outside and it was the perfect setting.
From the first photos I snapped I could tell this would turn into an amazing session. Julia and Robert felt a little uneasy but when I told them that awkward means you’re doing it right and gave them some prompts they opened right up. As a Grand Rapids engagement photographer I love when couples aren’t afraid of being silly and going along with my fun ideas! Between the pond, weeping willows, dock, and trees, we got so many great images.
I seriously cannot wait until their wedding next year, if it’s anything like their engagement session it will not disappoint! Keep an eye out for those images! There will be lots of woodsy elements and tons of greenery which is going to be amazing. Plus they have both had lots of practice in front of the camera now!
To see more from Liv Lyszyk Photography or to hire her as your Grand Rapids engagement photographer head over to the website! Feel free to read through the blog posts linked below for more!
Deana reached out to me looking for a Grand Rapids portrait photographer to capture her brands! She needed some updated headshots and detail shots for her new websites! I was really excited to get the chance to work with her. As a small business owner myself it’s always so fulfilling helping other women push their business to the next level. Solid headshots can make a big impact, especially for social media and websites.
We decided to work around her home in Grand Rapids. She works from home and has a really nice home office set up that was perfect for some of the images. I loved how secluded their home is and it felt like a totally different place. I can see why they love that location so much! We chatted over coffee and got to know each other a bit, realizing we really did have a lot in common! It always helps to have that connection before photographing and helps me pick out important elements to include.
As a Grand Rapids portrait photographer I get to meet a lot of really amazing people and Deana is no different. Her energy is great and she warmed up super quickly! We went down to the water for some photographs, and luckily didn’t fall in! I have a huge fear of stumbling with my cameras around water haha. Thankfully both my equipment and I stayed dry!
This was such a fun session, a great break in the busy wedding season. Even though I consider myself a Grand Rapids portrait photographer it can be hard to find time between weddings, so this was a treat! I can’t wait to watch Deana grow her businesses too and hope that these images are a part of that!
Check out Liv Lyszyk Photography for your Grand Rapids Portrait Photographer needs! Feel free to read through the blog posts linked below to see more!
This GORGEOUS Detroit country club wedding was such an honor to photograph. I love being a Detroit wedding photographer and getting to see all of the amazing suburbs and hidden gems of the city. This particular place feels like an oasis from the city, perfect for Ann Katherine and Jermaine. There is quite the story behind it too if you read on!
Ann Katherine and Jermaine found me online as they are both living in Washington DC area. It was no easy feat planning from so far away but these two absolutely nailed it! Their love story began in the summer of 2015 when the two and a large group of mutual friends attended the Vintage Virginia Wine Fest in Centreville, VA. During the event Jermaine played it cool and stuck with some of his friends, leaving Ann Katherine scanning the crowd for him throughout the day. When the group was departing the venue Jermaine rushed on the bus and saved a seat for himself and Ann Katherine. After a long day of wine tasting the two sat together on the bus ride to Arlington and enjoyed a two ounce bag of Planters peanuts, spontaneous karaoke, and terrible jokes. Unsurprisingly, ten days later Jermaine and Ann Katherine went on their first date! The two enjoyed each other’s company over a few margaritas at a local D.C. Mexican restaurant. Ann Katherine gorged herself on chips while Jermaine was clearly too nervous to indulge. What followed was a month-long courtship, during which Jermaine planned some of the most unique dates, including a night out at the Newseum for a movie premiere. Just before Ann Katherine’s 27th birthday they made it official. Jermaine promises to keep Ann Katherine on her toes with spontaneous dates throughout the marriage!
The couple planned on marrying at a different country club not too far from Meadowbrook, but when they experienced a tragic fire it was up to them to quickly search for a new venue just 2 months before! Luckily Ann Katherine’s mother was able to show them Meadowbrook and they fell in love! Not something every couple has to experience, but I knew if they could get through that everything else would be a breeze!
It was so fun walking into where they were getting ready and just instantly feeling at home. Both Ann Katherine and Jermaine are the most welcoming and kind people I’ve met. They both made sure the day went smoothly and even was ahead of schedule! Any Detroit wedding photographer or any wedding photographer for that matter will tell you that rarely happens! Ann Katherine had her makeup and hair done by Jamie Jean Beauty and looked stunning! She also wore a Lazaro Bridal gown that went so well with Jermaine’s gray suit from Men’s Warehouse.
They opted to not do a first look and seeing Jermaine’s face while Ann Katherine excitedly walked down the aisle was such a sweet moment. We got some great photos of their families and then headed out to explore more of what Meadowbrook Country Club had to offer! I loved getting some time with just the two of them and seeing them interact! These two are perfect for each other! We then enjoyed an amazing dinner and a PACKED dance floor thanks to Detroit DJ Entertainment.
It was a full day with lots of fun, family, and photos! Congrats again to the happy couple! Wishing you the best in your long and happy marriage!
For more information on how to hire Liv Lyszyk Photography feel free to head to the Contact Form to learn more! Check out the blog posts below for more weddings and engagements!
I have been putting off blogging this wedding because that means that it’s actually over and I never wanted this day to end. Chelsea and Cody of Wildflower and Whimsy are the absolute best! From the very first email when they first were looking for a Michigan backyard wedding photographer I knew we’d be a perfect fit. Chelsea has the most joyous spirit which balances perfectly with Cody’s quiet and gentle demeanor. They just are so lovely!
Chelsea and Cody met on a blind date, a fun story that was shared during their sweet ceremony. She says “Cody & I both knew we loved each other the night we met. He’s the ying to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly. We are completely different but so the same. We share a mutual love of kindness towards everybody, cherishing the little things and never going to bed angry. Our relationship is nowhere near perfect but we work very hard on it every single day. I know this love will last a lifetime”. The pair owns an incredible home decor business and wanted to include as much of their own work and creations for the day. It turned out so special and perfectly captured the two of them.
This Michigan backyard wedding took place on a relative’s property on Coldwater lake in Coldwater, MI. The house bumps up against a canal which allowed the wedding party to arrive to the ceremony by boat! It was a perfectly Michigan entrance! I love being a Michigan backyard wedding photographer and seeing all of the personal touches that each location adds. As I mentioned Chelsea and Cody made all of the decor which really spiced up the place and made it their own! I loved walking through the space and really getting a sense of their style. I got to capture an incredible first look and then we all headed to a friends property! It was nice getting to go somewhere while family and friends finished up the final touches for the couple. After the ceremony we headed on a quick boat ride and then right into the reception. The homemade taco bar thrilled everyone and the dances brought tears to everyone’s eyes. With both Chelsea and Cody losing a parent the memorial table with photos and the memorial dance was so special.
I’m so happy to know these two, it was an honor being their Michigan backyard wedding photographer. They both embody what it is to have a strong selfless relationship. I know that we will remain close for years to come and I’m just thrilled that they are finally married!
For more info on Liv Lyszyk Photography check out the blog posts below! To get in contact please go to the website and fill out the contact form!