Pack 34

Where is home for me?

Six months ago, we packed up our life in Highland Park, and moved to Phoenix. We had our last breakfast at Once Upon a Bagel, and then got in our cars and headed West. As we were leaving Highland Park for the last time, I broke down and cried. You know, the kind of sobbing with the hiccups, ugly-cry-face, and snot coming down out of your nose? My kids were in the back and the more I tried to hide it from them, the more it came out.

I didn’t want to leave.

I’ve lived in at least 10 homes in the first 20 years of my life, and around 6 more since Alin and I have been married. I don’t know what it’s like to have “roots” laid down in one place. For a while I thought that maybe I was part gypsy (I’m Romanian, so it would make sense), and that our family would eventually just buy an RV and live in as many places as we could until the kids grew up and moved out.

But after leaving Highland Park that chilly morning in December, something happened in me that I have not been able to shake since. Every day, I think about the life we made there. Oliver created a special bond with his drum instructor Dave who helped him grow and develop his love for drums. Tristan played baseball in Highwood, and was the happiest I’d ever seen him doing something he loved so much. On nice days, (anytime it was between 35-78 degrees), we would go for long walks around our little town, and up the trails by the lake. Often times, we would have picnics on the beach, or lay out a blanket at Sunset Woods Park and let the kids get lost for hours. We would eat together at Walker Bros Pancake House, and also remember the days I used to go there after Homecoming to treat our dates from the night before. When it snowed, we would walk around downtown Highland Park at night and I would feel like James Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. It was like we were inside one of God’s personal snow globes. The kids played chess twice a week after school, and learned from the best, Jerry. They even tried their hand at Gaelic Football for a season, and we’re not even Irish. We attended Chicago Tabernacle, which was the first time in my life I really felt like it was “the church” for us. We walked the streets of Michigan Avenue so many times, you would think we would have tired of it. But we never did. We tried different restaurants, we went to fairs, farmer’s markets, Six Flags…

I love my family here in Phoenix, but I miss Highland Park. After living in so many homes and cities, for the first time in my life, I know where “home” is to me. Where I want to raise my kids and set roots. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I truly hope and pray that we will be back in Highland Park for good this time.

For now, I wanted to share some images from one of my very favorite experiences we had together as a family back in Highland Park. Our boys were in Cub Scouts, and not only did they melt my heart every time they put their outfits on, but seeing their faces light up when they learned something or tried a new experience, was priceless. The dedication and heart that these cub scout leaders put into this pack, is something I’ll never forget and will forever be grateful for. These photos were taken about a year ago at my boys’ Crossover Ceremony. Revisiting these memories today brought on a flood of emotions and I felt the need to share them as well as what has been on my mind lately.

Where is home to you?

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cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

cub scouts pack 34 highland park il

Comments

  1. -

    Genaro is one of my best friends out here and Emily (my wife) and I have been wanting to meet you guys for a while now (let’s make that happen sometime ;). Going into the summer here can be SO depressing. I’ve been here for 12 years now and wanted to say it gets better. I LOVE Phoenix now (something I NEVER thought I would ever say… EVER). Sure, the summers suck, but kids make time fly by lightning fast so it’s over before you know it :)

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Bianca + Tad // Michigan Wedding

michigan wedding photographers

Bianca and Tad are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met, so being the one who got to photograph their incredibly unique wedding was an honor for me. The entire wedding weekend took place at a farm they purchased three years ago in Benton Harbor, Michigan and both have spent the last two and a half years renovating it. Friends and family got to spend the weekend at their Michigreen Farm; and some even brought their RV’s, that’s how laid-back all of it was.

Bianca and Tad are all about sustainability and living an eco-friendly lifestyle, so re-using things they already owned was a huge influence in their wedding decor. Bianca picked and dried up her own Fall flowers, and used books from inside their own home for table decorations. For the wedding ceremony they borrowed hay bales from their next door neighbor for their guests to sit on. They picked apples from the orchard next door, bought gourds from the local farmer’s market, and tied corn stalks to the tent posts to give everything a more natural feel. They also painted quotes that were meaningful to them onto old vintage windows, and used old wooden pallets for signs. By hand, they molded letters out of old rusty tools to read: “Let Love Grow”, and for the wedding altar they handmade the dreamcatchers from dried up branches, feathers and doilies. But the most impressive part of it all was their own solar-powered mobile sound stage they created called SolarBeatz. How amazing is that?!

During the ceremony, their friend Dustin officiated the wedding and instead of exchanging rings, Bianca and Tad fed each other honey. “One of the most appropriate metaphors for love, honey is a universal symbol for the sweetness of life. For centuries, cultures around the world have incorporated the delicious nectar into their celebrations. For Tad and Bianca, it is their first taste together of the sweet life that lies ahead. As together you now share this honey, so may you now share perfect love and devotion to each other, share your lives together, and thereby may you find life’s joys doubly gladdened, its bitterness sweetened, and all things hallowed by time, companionship and love.” -Dustin

Bianca and Tad, thank you so much for having Alin and I be a part of this beautiful, unique wedding experience. You both have left a huge impression on our hearts. The guys over at Sights & Sounds created one of the most awesome wedding videos I have ever seen, so click here to go see Bianca and Tad’s wedding film.

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People Who Made this Day Magical
Videographers: Sights & Sounds Media House
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Michigreen Farm
Wedding Dress: Custom Made by Julia Needleman & Designed by Bride
Feather Accessories: SpiritTribe
Bride’s Ring: Bambi Knight & Bride designed together
Event Designer/Coordinator: Bride
Makeup: Bride
Hair: Matthew Robert Blashka from Milano Hair Design
Groom’s Suit: Zara
Wedding Cake/Dessert: West Town Bakery
Seasonally Gluten-Free Foods: Gorilla Gourmet + Dan Fry Hog Roast + Smoothie Operator
Florals & Decor: Bride
Bouquet & Boutonniere: AFoxWedding
Officiant: Dustin Puttuck (friend of Bride & Groom)
Ceremony Music: “One Love” + “Sweet Caroline” + “Que Sera”
DJ: Playlists by Bride & Groom
Solar Powered Sound & Lighting: SolarBeatz
Online Invitations: Greenvelope
Registry: Simple Registry

Comments

  1. -

    This is what being a wedding photographer is all about, experiences like this! Beautifully, and creatively captured Caroline…

  2. -

    This wedding is insane and gorgeous, I remember seeing that b&w honey shot on your fb and waiting for the blog post and it did not disappoint. Absolutely perfect.

  3. -

    Caroline, I must say you are a genius. I just love your work, these images are so beautiful and captured well. Thanks for sharing your lovely work.

  4. -

    I love the wedding theme. The photography done for this wedding is absolute adorable and captured the moments so perfectly.

  5. -

    So glad it didn’t disappoint Sarah! That’s one of my very favorite wedding images because the story behind it is just the best! :)

  6. -

    Mercedes thank you so much! That’s what I hope people experience more than anything when seeing my images so that you for sharing that. Means a lot!

  7. -

    Katherine I don’t know about being a genius, lol, but I do put my heart and soul into every wedding, Thank you so much for the kind words!

  8. -

    Gorgeous images and wonderful wedding ceremony! They’re so fresh and timeless. Beautiful styling and beautiful images. Thanks for sharing!

  9. -

    The lighting in these photos really captures the energy around the party. The mood is almost contagious. Thank you for posting.

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Margaux + Fuad’s French Wedding

french wedding

I have this bucket list. Things I want to do, people I want to meet, places I want to go. After listening to them for over 15 years, it would be a dream come true to hear the Libera Boys Choir sing live. Preferably in an ethereal setting like a cathedral. Someday, I’d like to eat lobster in Maine. I’d love to visit my grandmother in Romania. In the past year, I’ve been able to check many things off my bucket list. Sang karaoke. Biked the Golden Gate Bridge. And fit into this perfect little black Allsaints dress I’ve had hanging in my closet forever.

Eight years ago, I became a full-time wedding photographer, and since then I’d hoped the day would come that I would shoot a wedding in France. It’s my favorite place in the world. I’ve loved France and everything French (the language, the fashion, the music) since I was a little girl. That dream of mine came true this past July when I was asked to photograph Margaux and Fuad’s wedding in the Normandy region of France, just outside of Paris.

I need to stop for a moment and just take this in….

13 years ago, Alin and I honeymooned in Paris for 3 weeks. It was the best trip of my life. I wanted he and I to experience Paris again because I knew it would feel as if it were the very first time for us because were different people. We’d been married 13 years, raised four kids, and moved across country twice. Been through many ups and many downs. We were totally different. We both had a better appreciation for life and the things we got to enjoy while living it. So we stayed in Paris for ten days. I spent more time observing people and less time photographing like I usually did on our trips. The more I did that, the more I got to really BE in these moments, and have a real part in them. If I’d experienced Paris mostly through my viewfinder, I would have never noticed some of the beautiful scenes I got to see, or struck up conversations with strangers; like the old French guy at the cafe who told us stories of what life was like on that street corner in the 70′s.

I am grateful that Margaux and Fuad trusted me enough to fly me all the way from to America to shoot their beautiful French countryside wedding. Photographing this day for them and getting to know their families and friends was an honor and an experience I’ll never forget.

With that said, I have to take the time to thank Maria Hedengren who came all the way from Finland to photograph this wedding alongside me. She is truly one of the best photographers I’ve worked with. Her heart and soul shine through her work. She manages to turn a chaotic scene into a quiet and whimsical photographic moment. A few of Maria’s images are displayed below, and so beautifully compliment the wedding story. Maria, thank you, once again for all you’ve done!

Also, I’m so grateful I got to spend quality time with my friend Richard Israel around Paris before and after the wedding. When I found out that he and Tim were doing video for Margaux & Fuad, I could not have been happier. Richard is someone whose photographic I respect and it was an honor to work together with him on this wedding.

Without further ado, this is Margaux and Fuad’s French countryside wedding at La Grange de Bourgoult. (You can read more of their story at the end of this post, and see all of the wonderful vendors who helped make this day happen.)

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The Bride & Groom’s Love Story
Margaux and Fuad met at a bar in Chicago during Snowmageddon 2011 when they’d shut the city down for the first time in 30 years. They talked about cooking and Bieber, and afterwards shared a cab ride during which Margaux spoke French and Fuad sang a Bieber song. Not remembering each others’ names, they unknowingly saved the other’s number in their phones under the name ” Bull and Bear” which was the name of the bar they initially met at. Two days later, Margaux texted Fuad and after some back and forth, both realized they had a lot in common…

Both grew up abroad- Margaux in France and Fuad in Saudi Arabia. Both have foreign fathers with strange accents and American mothers with none. Both had connections to Florida- Fuad went to FSU for undergrad and Margaux lived there 7 years as a child. Both had connections to Georgia- Fuad attended boarding school there, and Margaux went to Emory for college. Both had connections to France- Fuad vacationed there almost every summer growing up in Saudi and Margaux is from there, obviously.

The proposal: Fuad proposed to Margaux in New Orleans which holds a special place in their heart since it’s an easy weekend getaway for them from Houston (where they live now). The French History in New Orleans has always interested Margaux and Fuad’s parents were actually married there over 30 years ago! On the observation deck of a nice hotel, Fuad got down on one knee and proposed to Margaux. They celebrated and headed back to the hotel where Margaux proceeded to tend to Fuad who came down with the Flu and Bronchitis. Margaux couldn’t wait to call her best friend, but she quickly found out that Katrina and her husband were already waiting for her at their hotel!

For the wedding day, all Margaux wanted was a beautiful place to get married, great food, and good music. She always pictured kids running around freely and adults enjoying conversation with one another. Margaux spent almost every summer of her childhood at her Grandparents’ house in Normandy, not far from where the wedding venue was. She remembers the cozy little house on the Seine River with a sprawling yard, full of flowers, hiding spots, bugs to catch, trees to climb, and berries to eat. She wanted to have that same feeling, reminiscent of all her summers surrounded by family, eating grandmother’s home-cooked meals and spending the days outdoors.

Margaux’s mother and grandmother (who is no longer here with them), are both avid quilters and have passed that skill down to her. Her mother quilted the ring pillow herself and the guests signed quilt squares instead of a guest book which her mother plans to sew together for her someday. Another special moment for Margaux on the wedding day was when her bridesmaid lent her her sapphire ring to serve as her “something borrowed”, “something blue”, and “something old”. She thought it was such a thoughtful gesture, and is very grateful to her for that. The surprises continued, when at the reception, Margaux’s sister put together a video from both Margaux and Fuad’s childhood. There were funny narrations, subtitles everywhere, and Fuad’s father cried- touched that Margaux’s sister had included their own family in this video. The humor continued when Margaux’s brother attempted to translate their father’s toast from French to English. He butchered the translations but it made for great entertainment and laughs all around.

From the jazz band, to the food, to the incredible floral arrangements, and even when the dramatic storm rolled in- all in all, Margaux and Fuad felt the wedding day was just perfect and as it was meant to be.


People Who Made this Day Magical
Assistant/Second Photographer: Maria Hedengren
Videographers: Pie & Mash Filmworks
Ceremony & Reception Venue: La Grange de Bourgoult
Event Designer/Coordinator: Bride + Mother of the Bride
Makeup: Ciara Costenoble Coiffure
Hair: Charles Gillman Cosmetics
American Wedding Cake: Sugar Plum Cake Shop
French Croque-en-Bouche: Xavier Hauville
Caterer: Xavier Hauville
Florist: Soline Lefort of Lily Paloma
Officiant: Christian Souchon
Jazz Group: Kicca & Intrigo
Reception DJ: Didier Marlay
Wedding Dress: “Cameron” Amsale Dress purchased from Mia Bridal Couture
Veil: Toni Federici (Lisette) from Mia Bridal Couture
Hair Flowers: Hair Comes the Bride
Jewelry: Earrings from Cherry Hills Bridal & Necklace is bride’s own
Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Bridesmaid Dresses: Dolly Pearl
Groom’s Suit: The Custom Shop
Groom’s Shoes: Allen Edmonds
Groomsmen’ Suits: The Custom Shop
Stationery: Save-the-Dates & Menus from Minted; Invitation Suite from Minted
Transportation: Cars Perier

Comments

  1. Richard Israel -

    Such beautiful work friend, what an honor and pleasure working, and hanging out with you guys!!! You are one special lady!

  2. -

    Caroline, I absolutely love the way you capture a moment – absolutely gorgeous and timeless! And I am glad that you made it to Paris!

  3. -

    HONESTLY this is insane. This collection of images is absolutely perfect and while we are on the theme of honesty they make me want to throw my cameras out the window and just become a professional cat groomer. So damn good.

  4. -

    Oh my. Everything and I mean *EVERYTHING* here is lush! The couple (super gorgeous btw), details, processing. You completely smashing this one Caroline!

  5. -

    Love LOVE your work…always have. This proves I’m right! Amazing images here! You captured the day with extraordinary elegance as usual!

  6. -

    Caroline! I remember when you booked this wedding and was so excited about it! It’s even better than I dreamed! The light is exquisite, the portraits are amazing, the emotion is so present in every photo. I know I’m fangirling but these photos are perfection.

  7. -

    Your journey inspires me on both a personal and professional level. You are so talented. I’m glad you share your gifts with the world, it’s a better place because you do.

  8. Mercedes -

    Simply amazing, Caroline. There’s such a strong sense of being *there* through your eyes.

  9. -

    Well it goes without saying first of all that you are RIDICULOUSLY talented. Like wow! And yes- this is a DREAM wedding- I too am obsessed with all things French and hope someday to not only photograph a wedding there but live there too! But you nailed this. The whole set is amazing, but I am particularly in love with the portraits of the bride, and the beautifully lit wide shot of the couple dancing from above the reception. (I also adore the portrait of them in front of the carriage) Beautiful work!

  10. Heather Kanillopoolos -

    Stunning work Caroline!! I especially love the getting ready set here. Gorgeous!

  11. -

    Erin, we need to meet one of these days. You are a girl after my own heart. And thank you so much for taking the time to write all of that. Means so much coming from you.

  12. -

    I am in love with every aspect of this wedding. From her dress to the outdoor festivities, this wedding is one of kind! Congrats to the happy couple and a job well done to you on capturing these moments. The photos are absolutely fantastic!

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