Thankfulness. Holly and Jon’s Wedding.

(…a giant post for a girl and boy with giant hearts)


It seemed to be the theme that weekend. From the obvious feelings in Holly and Jon’s hearts {every time they were near each other and even when they were apart} to the toasts on the night of the Rehearsal Dinner to the final tearful hugs after their last dance concluded. Each person involved in the wedding: bridesmaids, groomsmen, moms, dads, and family members alike, all felt special. As if they couldn’t believe they had been chosen to be a part of this completely perfect day. How could they be so close with two people who have so many friends they love surrounding them and wanting to be a part of this? Getting to even be involved in it at all felt like such a gift.

That’s how we felt, anyway.


The Wedding Rehearsal the night before was an emotional night for everyone. So when Jon gave Holly’s dad a great big bear hug to break the ice (or maybe it was the other way around), it was quite funny.

Here are two of my favorites from the Rehearsal Dinner.

This is one of my all-time favorite Rehearsal Dinner Toasting Pictures of the bride and groom. So sweet!

And now for the Wedding Day. Capitalized.

We arrived at the bridal suite, and there were girls everywhere. Excited. Happy. Talking, running around in their {incredibly cute pink-matching-robes monogrammed with their initials} and curling their hair. Telling Holly how beautiful she looked (and she did, even before she put her makeup on). With all of the craziness going on around her, Holly didn’t seem anxious, though. Not even a little bit.

This was her wedding day. And she was going to take all of it in. Every single second.

There was the dress. Hanging in the middle of the room, and you couldn’t walk by without seeing it and having a little zap of excitement running from your brain to your feet. It was the sign that today was the day. It was no longer in the closet as it had been, waiting for months and months, eager to be worn and loved the way it was always meant to be.

Here it was. Out in the open. And it practically shouted Your Wedding is Happening. Now.

Everyone noticed.


We quietly interrupt this story with a tidbit for our newest category for anyone out there who might be getting married in the future: Wedding Advice: Tips on How to Have Awesome Photography AND an Awesome Wedding (because we all know I’m opinionated. And that I want every wedding to get a chance to shine).

Wedding Advice Tip #1031: Two Photographers in the Bride’s Room.

See these pretty details below? I know they’re pretty and I’m not ashamed to admit it (i.e. I am bragging about them a little. But only for your benefit). The reason they look so sweetly luscious and girl-worthyingly soft and beau-ti-ful is that Will and I were both in the bride’s room during the “Getting Ready” portion of the day.

(Here’s the part where I go into a long explanation over it, which can pretty much be summed up by what I have already written above. If you care to know why it makes a difference as to whether you have two photographers in the Bride’s Room or not, you can continue reading.) When Will and I start the wedding day, we usually don’t have a lot of time during the “Getting Ready” portion of the day; typically 30 or maybe 45 minutes if we’re lucky. Will usually goes around the church for a bit to photograph some of the preliminary churchy-details (the building, the programs, etc. if we’re at the church) and then goes to Groomie’s Room to photograph the gentlemen as they get ready. I always run straight to the Bride’s Room and start looking for pretty things right away. When I’m really lucky, there’s been enough time allotted for me to take the details to the pretty light to photograph them in the way they were meant to be photographed (so that they’ll look pretty in your album. Okay, and on my blog; I won’t lie).

But even when there are 45 minutes or more, I have this constant urging feeling to go back to the hair-and-makeup chair with the thought that I could be missing something important. So I usually rush through the details (or skip back and forth between them) in order to get both the bride’s hair-and-makeup AND the pretty pieces that make up the wedding day. They always look great (what pretties don’t?), but occasionally I leave with the feeling that they could have been awesome had I had the real time to put into photographing them properly (with different lenses, more unique “backgrounds”, more close-ups of the rings, and more of the textures that make up the day you’ve worked so hard to make pretty). Lately I’ve asked for more time and have graciously been given it by all of the brides who love the pretties just as much as I do (as in, everyone who got married in July, August, and September, and of course I’m sure a lot of the ones before that. Thankyousomuchladies!!! You don’t know how happy this makes me!).

In this case, we had well over an hour (closer to 1.5 or 2) and it was FANTABULOUS. We both came to the hotel, and this was the part where I was really happy: Will photographed the Bride and Bridesmaids getting their hair and makeup done, and I got to relish in the pretties. OHHHHH, how the prettiness took over my soul for a good half-hour (or maybe longer ;). But no worrying happened at the back of my mind. I knew Will was making sure I didn’t miss anything at all, and when I had finally photographed the last ring (on the “Divalicious” box that Holly’s mom had given her for the wedding with a really soft pink paisley pattern that really made her jewelry pop with the pink pattern part being out-of-focus and the rings and earrings looking sparklier than ever), I was ready to get back to the action (STILL with the option to photograph even MORE pretties, did I come across them. And I did).

Then, when it was time for Holly to get into her dress, Will waited outside (until I deemed it okay for him to come back in-haha) and I photographed the ever-important “Putting on of the Dress”.

Did this cause Will to miss anything important with the guys? No. To be honest, not much goes on in the Groom’s Room before the guys are dressed. The guys are seriously 99% of the time sitting around, watching TV in their boxers (not that Will doesn’t LOVE getting to watch TV on the job! Haha. Because he does. He probably wishes I wouldn’t write this so that he can continue to watch extra TV every time we have a wedding. He is a TV-and-movie-addict, after all…). So after we all left the hotel for the church, we got to the church at about the same time that the guys did (but not exactly the same time so that Holly and Jon wouldn’t run into each other) and photographed plenty of the “Groom’s Getting Ready”.

…Because the Groom with his pants ON always seems to be a better picture than the alternative. Just being real.

Whoops. This little tip was entirely too long. Oh well, you probably skipped it anyway. TLDR.


Back to the story. Oh, and who did Holly’s hair and many of the bridesmaids’ beautiful hair? Bridgette Morris of Salon of Volterra. Everyone loved their hair. As did we. She definitely deserves an endorsement from us (Here you go: Bridgette Morris does BEAUTIFUL hair that is prettier than the prettiest! Oh, how we love her lovely-wedding-hair-of-prettiness. Beautiful job, Bridgette!!).

In between the finishing touches of Holly’s makeup, she knelt at the hotel desk to write a card to Jon. Telling him exactly how she felt at this moment.

Holly’s beautiful mom Cristie helped her get ready with such joy. It overflowed from her. While Holly was in the other room to do some magnified touch-ups in front of the big mirror, Cristie talked to us about how much this meant to her. How you wait and wait for your children to meet the right person, and how you just have to trust that God will send them someone who is right. And when they do, how it was His plan all along.

And it truly was. Anyone could see that.

We got to the church to see some beautiful goodies from Nest, Floral Studio. Our review: A+++. Amanda is AWESOME. Her talent knows no bounds.


It was almost time for the First Look. Jon’s mom proudly sat next to her son while he wondered if the moment he’d see Holly would ever get here.

Holly’s dress (a lovely Maggie Sottero) was being laced up at that very moment.

Oh, the eyelashes.


Jon waited at the front of the Sanctuary for his bride. With both sets of parents peeking through the windows at the back of the church, the doors opened and Holly appeared amongst the gorgeous light that poured in. No one could wait for him to see her. They all knew he’d be floored.

He took a deep breath to calm his racing heart. He could practically hear her beautiful smile and warmth as she approached him.

That was when the tears took over.

It was contagious.

And then they prayed together. Not because it was what they were “supposed to do”, but because it felt right. And it calmed them.

(The parents had snuck in at this point and are the ones standing at the top of this frame at the back of the church. They just stared and smiled).

I have heard it said that the Groom is almost always more emotional than the Bride on their wedding day because she’s had a chance to emotionally prepare and he hasn’t. She’s seen herself in her dress (usually multiple times-heehee), and she’s planned out every second and detail in her mind and has dreamed about each moment, feeling like this day would never come.

But the Groom is usually told when and where to show up and it is all-of-a-sudden his wedding day before he has fully had time to process it. So when he sees the most beautiful woman of his dreams (in a gorgeous Maggie Sottero, nonetheless. Okay, I know that part doesn’t matter as much to a guy. But it does that she looks like a bride and that she’s beautiful; more so than he’s ever seen her look because she’s his and it is their wedding day), he is completely taken aback and is overwhelmed by the sheer emotion of the moment.

Jon was definitely overcome with happiness. Tears. And Joy. And he was more thankful than ever when he first saw his love, standing there in front of him and looking beautiful, pure, and perfect to him. It was surreal to him and he couldn’t believe it was happening.

We photographed the Wedding Party and the families at the front of the church (Dallas Drape and Lighting executed the look, and it was simply phenomenal. You must take a look at them if you are interested in transforming your space into a perfect wedding haven-of-beauty. My favorite part was that on top of the beautiful draping, the purple lighting accented the Altar. And made it extra-pretty).

Holly’s dad was also overcome with emotion. He stood at the front of the church with his little girl and was completely in awe of the feelings he had toward her. All of the moments and memories he’d had with her throughout her life rushed through his head, and the tears came to his eyes more quickly than he’d thought it was possible.

He could do nothing but embrace her. Everyone else in the room started to cry too.

A handsome set of men if I ever saw one.

With gorgeous ladies to match.

Prayers before the ceremony.

This is what the ceremony draping looked like. We can and MUST also thank Pati Gann from Perfectly Planned by Pati for her fabulous and wonderful contribution to this wedding. We can’t say enough about Pati. Click here to view pictures from all of the events we’ve done together. We heart you, Pati!! You are the BEST!!

Everything involving this wedding was overseen by Pati. Sheer perfection. Holly and her family would agree. Pati also got very close to Holly and her family throughout the planning process, just like Will and I did (they are just that kind of family).

As the minutes counted down, everyone began the lineup.

Even the flowers eagerly leaned toward the wedding, wanting and needing for it to begin. After all, that’s what they were made for.

These words belong on Pinterest.

As  the Love Story video played on the big screen, all of Holly’s bridesmaids gave her their “last single girl” hugs. Every single one of them loves her like a sister.

This was Jon laughing at one of the funny parts of the Love Story.

The beautiful and heart-lifting music filled the room and floated out into the narthex. It was finally about to happen.

The doors opened, and just after they passed through them, Holly and her dad looked at each other and held on tight. It was just like last night, when they’d cried together at this very spot. But this time it was for real.

There was everyone they loved. And Jon was at the end of the aisle.

The thing that I love the most about this one is that you can see Jon’s dad and Holly’s mom absolutely beaming with joy as they watch her walk down that aisle. Everyone else’s faces in the picture are all trained on her. Proud. Happy. And in the moment.

This was another point that they had all broken down and cried the night before. It had been one of the most emotional moments we’d ever photographed, and it was so full of feeling that everyone in the room had cried as well. This time they held it together (for the most part), and Don gave Jon his blessing to marry his only daughter.

Here are some views of how the ceremony really looked (a few extras are for Pati since she didn’t get to see the ceremony; overseeing and setting up the reception and all).

PS-I TOLD you this was a giant post! We’ve been working on it for weeks because we wanted to convey every bit of emotion that we got to experience. Nothing could be as good as being there, but the pictures sure do bring back the feelings for me.

LOVE the draping. Wedding Advice Tip #1032: Draping and lighting. Especially if you aren’t in love with the front of the church or would just like to dress it up.


This was the moment they were announced as Husband and Wife.

Heading out to do a few pictures before they leave for the reception…

The Southlake Hilton looked amazing. Gorgeous. Pati and Amanda and their teams transformed the ballroom into a wedding wonderland-o-prettiness.

They were welcomed with a standing ovation.

And just like she’d always imagined it, Holly got to have her First Dance with the husband she’d always wanted.

It was the perfect moment.

With her Daddy, she held on tighter than ever before. Thankful couldn’t even begin to describe how she felt at that moment.

Jon’s mom felt exactly the same way. But for different reasons. Her son couldn’t have found a better person for himself if he’d invented her. That’s how they knew that she was a true gift from God.

Here are two dancing-with-her-brother pictures. I meant to put these together, but at this point you’ll just have to look at them separately. Haha.

Don formally welcomes everyone. Holly and Jon listen from their Sweetheart Table.

There were so many sweet moments during the toasts that we had a hard time narrowing them down.

So here are five million. Haha, just kidding.*

Here are more from the party-portion of the night. With the AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING Randy Ro Entertainment, the dance floor was full ALL night. Literally, all night. Will and I loved that he played contemporary (as in actually popular) music that we like. It makes it very fun for us. Because, you know. That was his goal.

Why, yes. That IS a backflip in the air.

The Cake-Cutting Conundrum. I would have it no other way because it creates a really cute laughing picture. Sweet.

Yes, the moms and dads all got out and danced. We liked this.

Guess the song.

This one will go on their desks. And their refrigerator. And maybe even in front of the peephole at their front door, who knows? Haha.*

I took this one because it was cute, but also to show off our adorably cute new vintage photo booth props. There are MANY new signs and other cute-things-on-sticks that we bring to the wedding to display in square vases of different sizes with moss (my favorite thing EVER at weddings, so I bought some). Pictures of these things are coming up later, after we get caught up (so maybe never? Haha. No, really. I want to show them off because they are SO cute!).

Callyn (MOH of the CENTURY!!) catches the bouquet! The rest of the girls are all really excited/happy, but secretly jealous.

They soon forget about their jealousy as they get to laugh at Jon taking off Holly’s garter. I love their expressions.***

Just like every other moment of this fairytale day, she clung to him during their Private Last Dance. The candles twinkled behind them and the music seemed like it was a part of them just for that moment.

This is the look I was talking about that Holly always gives Jon. And he knows he’s the luckiest guy in the world to be on the receiving end of that look.

All four parents stood at the edge of the dance floor, holding on to each other. It was a defining moment for them; the moment that they became a real family. It was the moment their kids were supposed to be called “grown up” (even though it seemed like it had gone by way too fast). And they could see that they were happier than they’d ever imagined their kids could be.

Trusting God really did prove to be what was right for them. Because look how it turned out.

The music faded out, and they felt a sadness/happiness/thankfulness/weight/proudness/heart-fullness come over them. They hugged and just stood there for a minute, staring at each other with love.

And then they ended the night by running through a rowdy crowd of well-wishers. The best way to end a night if you ask me.

Holly and Jon: You know we love you both. You and your families have become so special to us. You’ve welcomed us in to your lives and your love for each other, and we felt like such a part of your lives and your day that we were able to put every bit of ourselves into our work with you. I feel like there was a part of me that was infused into these pictures and that I can feel the way you were feeling during all of these perfect moments. Maybe you’ll even feel what I was feeling…
Every time we see your names, we get a little surge of happiness. And we know that happens with most of the people you meet because you are two vibrant people that shine for all of the world to see. You are such great examples of how God wants us to be. We can’t thank you enough for including us in your wedding, but also for making us feel like we belonged. And for making us want to be more like you. We hope these bring back every last moment of the wedding that you had forgotten about so that you can look back and remember exactly how you felt on that day. We wish you a marriage full of everything wonderful that happened on this day, but we also wish you all of the other amazing qualities of a loving marriage that can come from knowing Christ and putting Him first in your marriage. XOXO, Lauren and Will
*Oh, how I love to laugh at my own jokes. It’s so cool of me. Luckily, Will sometimes thinks they’re funny.**
**Especially when he catches me re-reading them and laughing to myself (“Oh hah-hah-ha…THAT was a good one! I’m soooo funny, the way I laugh at my own jokes in my head and look like a moron smiling to myself as I read them”).
***Dang it!! I switched from Past Tense to Present Tense AGAIN in the same post! And then drew attention to it by mentioning it here. Drat that crazy Grammar OCD. I can’t help it.

Carmela Smith I love these photos. It really captured the love that this couople has. I have seen a lot of wedding photos and portraits, but I really felt a part of this wedding story. I love that through your pictures, you can seen the love they have for God. I see their story through just a few of your camera portraits.

thank you for sharing their story!

Micki Novak Lauren,
Pati sent me this post and I read through every word of it. The photos are absolutely beautiful and their emotions really show through in them. I’m so proud for Pati and thank you for sharing!
Best always to you and Will!

Kristen Knight I would like to “ditto” all the wows! Beautiful bride, beautiful family, beautifully written story and amazing pictures by two truly wonderfully talented photographers – with hearts just as big as their talents!

Captured perfectly as always! (and of course Perfectly Planned by Pati!)

Chloe Seriously obsessed! Most beautiful wedding, photography and couple! You really captured their moments. Love this!

Holly Piorkowski AH! I love you two so much– I KNOW that it is more than rare that photographers are able to capture the true hearts of the bride and groom and that is what makes you two (along with your extreme talent & being the cutest married couple) so stinking valuable and worth EVERY penny. I will be looking at this blog post every day probably forever if i am able to. Thank you for all you did to capture each moment and thank you for the countless hours you have spent working relentlessly on our photos. I cannot even express in words how grateful I am to have had the opportunity (because of Pati Gann) and the gift from my parents to have such remarkable photographers that do not only see perfect lighting but they see heart and emotion and capture it. I am in love with you guys and am beyond blessed by your continuous sweet words and your genuine hearts. I love you guys! Thank you doesn’t come close to cutting it. AHHH! I can’t wait to see the rest thank you for letting me relive that perfect day all over again. It was the best day of my life!

holly piorkowski (the bride)

Pati Gann WOW, WOW, WOW! Let me think of another word. AMAZING! Got to have a big sweet cry when I saw how beautiful the pictures are. Thank you for sharing your talent with brides and their families and friends and the world on your blog. You are such a blessing!
Love you two!
Pati Gann
Perfectly Planned by Pati

Cristie Penn Ohhh, ohhhh, ohhhh, THANK YOU Lauren and Will for your love, care and investment in this and in us. We love and appreciate you more than you can know. Someday when you are the parents of the bride, you will know what this means. Honestly, your written words bring back all the precious emotions and bring the pictures to life. I feel like I just left my computer screen and went back and relived it all again which is such a powerful gift! Thank you so much! We love and appreciate you both more than you know! Hiring Pati had many benefits but honestly you two were the greatest treasures in that box!!!
We love you,

Say Cheese :) Wedding Bliss « beyond blessed […] made me love the idea of the first look <3 How precious are they? (Check out the photographers blog to read more about their wedding and see more photos- seriously, best photographer blog post ever) […]

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