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Kelsey & Justin

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

This last weekend, I had the privilege of traveling to Milford, IA for the marriage of Kelsey and Justin Kitzberger. Now, I admit, this was a bit of a last second event, for me. I had actually been contacted by another company and was subcontracting for them. Normally, I like to take the months leading up to a wedding to really get to know my couples, maybe Facebook stalk them just a little bit, and really develop a story that I can tell while I'm filming their big day.

This was not the case with this couple. I had about one week.

I always get a little excited when I go to a new venue. I like to look around and let my mind wander with ideas of where we could shoot later, what looks cool, things like that. I pulled in to the Lakeshore Center drive and was instantly captivated. This place is gorgeous! As you pull in there are gigantic trees lining both sides of the road. It created the perfect leading lines. You pull around the corner and there are these big hills with rolling grasses. It would be easy to get lost in a place like that. I made my way down to the bottom of the hill, and that's when I realized just how cool this venue was. The main hall was an enormous, modern building decorated head to toe with elegant green draperies, mirrored welcome signs, dried grasses in vases on every table with photographs of the couple, and a pallet wall behind the head table with a neon sign that read "The Kitzbergers".

I immediately found Kelsey downstairs with her bridesmaids getting ready. She was excited to meet me, and greeted me with a friendly smile, at least... as much as she could while her talented makeup artist Chaila Amundson finished up her eyes. Soon after, I met Justin, but not before two of his groomsmen tried to convince me that he had bailed and was long gone. I could tell, it was going to be a fun crowd.

At the same time, the photographer, Bailey Schmidt, arrived. Right off the back, she was exactly the type of person I'd want to work with more often. She was professional, conversational, and eager to tackle the day. We set up for the first looks, working together to find the perfect spots for everyone: the deck's wrapped stairwell for the bridesmaids, the end of the aisle for her dad, brother, and son, and a nice private lawn space for Justin. I was surprised that he didn't seem more emotional than he did. In fact, I hate to say it, he actually looked serious the entire time. It was later, though, that he said the entire world was drowned out, and he was just trying not to cry. It was when she brushed his hand, and he felt her touch, that he felt confident he wouldn't break down completely.

After a series of family photos, the DJ arrived to begin set up down by the lake side where the ceremony would be held. Zach Ackerman was fantastic at working with all of the many weird obstacles that you run into on a wedding day. Of course one of the more unique aspects was that we had live singers and a guitarist. He and I worked together and found more than one creative solution to a few last second concerns, and I was grateful to have his assistance. I was very impressed by his set up, combining an expected "typical" design with a more modernized look with high quality equipment both indoors and outdoors.

Kelsey and Justin celebrated a beautiful outdoor ceremony with a calming atmosphere elevated by the lake breeze and the laughter of several friends and family. It would have been absolutely perfect were it not for the comic relief we all had when poor Justin dropped Kelsey's ring at the altar. It was fine! She tried to put his on the wrong hand in exchange. It just goes to show, that accidents do happen, and if you can learn to laugh through them instead of letting it grind your gears, you're doing life right.

After the two got hitched, we all walked down to the dock where our ride awaited us. I want to thank the Barefoot Barge out of Okoboji for the amazing service that they put on for us all! Both men were fantastic at what they did, and clearly they enjoyed themselves as well. Our captain enjoyed jamming out with the rest of the party to everything from "Fireball" to "My Heart Will Go On" and everything in between. I enjoyed a drink on the house from the bartender and then capturing the dance party that Kelsey's son was dominating. Meanwhile, Bailey snapped away like a mad woman! All of the fun aside, I'm not sure too much compares to the spray of lake water in your face and the calling of the seagulls flying by. I can't help but always feel a sense of euphoria when I'm on that lake.

We redocked about an hour later back at the beach and went up to the reception hall where Zach was all ready for us. The taco bar was set out, the ice cream machine was up and running (I have an ice cream addiction so that was a bit of a problem). All we needed now was the bridal party. I learned something important with this grand entrance. Always know where you can find a towel quickly. (I found a cleaning closet in a hallway nearby). That bridal party had a blast walking in, but one of the groomsmen decided to explode a can of beer all over before chugging it. I don't know how planned that was. Still, we got the shot, and the party was underway.

The night was simply magic! The food was great, the speakers were soaked with tears- especially the maid of honor- and the dances were a breath of peace in an otherwise rowdy night. It was when we took Kelsey and Justin out for sunset pics that we turned up the heat just a bit. Sunset on the dock edge is always enchanting, and I made sure to take my drone out for that extra pizazz. After that, I convinced the couple to do something I never thought any couple would actually do, sit in the sand on the beach. They popped open a champagne bottle and went right to town on it, and then, a bit on each other.

Note: We don't produce THOSE types of films....... that's extra. (KIDDING!)

But after it was all said and done, we danced the rest of the night away! DJ Zach knew how to throw a party, bringing out songs I hadn't heard in years, and I've been doing weddings now for about three. Before we knew it, it was already time for me to say my goodbyes, but not before I pulled the couple aside and asked them what their thoughts were of me and my services that day. I won't bother paraphrasing. Instead, I'll let them close this one out themselves. Thank you to everyone who helped put this day on for these two. I was honored to be there at all, and I can not wait to see how it all turns out.

Vendor contacts

Lakeshore Center - 712.261.0681

Chaila Amundson - Makeup By Chaila - 507.430.4943

Bailey Schmidt - Bailey Jo Photography - 507.430.2760

Zach Ackerman - Ackerman Weddings and Events - 402.210.7010

Barefoot Barge - 712.332.9904

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