How we met
Robert: I was in the process of finding a new apartment to live in because my roommate and I were going our separate ways. Jeanna was a sales manager at a location in Bloomington Minnesota, I walked in and I was blown away by the beauty of this woman who was showing me the location of this place where I may possibly be living in. I actually called her like 2 hours after the showing and asked her questions I had already asked when I was taking the site tour because I wanted to ask her out, but I chickened out. She told me later on that If I had asked her out then, she would have said no. So about 10 days go by and she sends me an email letting me know to act fast because the places I was looking at were being sold. I end up friend requesting her that day on Facebook and she accepts. We continue messaging and I end up getting her number. We looked at a place in the same complex she lived in, she lived like 2 stories above the room I was looking at. We actually set up our first date about a week after this, since we had been texting and communicating for the past week or so. That evening, I ended up getting super hungry and we decided to go out for dinner that night instead. I felt that we really just hit it off, she got a margarita flat bread at a place that is known for having super good burgers, so I thought that was really funny.
Jeanna: He almost blew it on our second date, he made a bet with me that if he won then I would have to kiss him. I made a guess of what the final score would be and I nailed it. He said if I was wrong then I would have to kiss him.
Robert: I still tried to kiss her but she backed away, I went home that night thinking I just blew my chance to date this beautiful, bright, wonderful, sports loving woman. I woke up Saturday morning in a horrible mood, thinking I completely blew it, but she ended up texting me at 1 or 2 in the afternoon asking if I knew about a person named Chris or Kevin Hockey, who has a side gig as a country rock singer in the Minneapolis area.
Jeanna: The day before our wedding, I told Robert that I was supposed to go to that concert with somebody else but he bailed on me.
Robert: I was her back-up plan!
Jeanna: We did end up having our first kiss that night
Robert: We kissed and danced to "my kind of crazy" at the show. We also played that song at our wedding. That night, I ended up staying the night at her place and I never left. Now here we are married for 2 years, with a 2 month old baby and 5 year old puppy and we couldn't be happier.
I got a job back down in the Chicago land area in Oakbrook, We were still dating but lived separately for about 6 weeks. I was home alone at my parents house on a Saturday afternoon and I knew I wanted to marry her, and I decided to just go to the mall. In fact she even started bugging me about ring ideas a few weeks before. the first store I walked into I found a diamond, a band, and it was within a price range that I was willing to spend.
Jeanna: I texted him actually to see what he was doing at the store and I asked if he was buying my ring
Robert: I had to play it off, I called her mom and her best friend what I just did. That was in November. For Christmas I got her black hawks tickets for her and I to go to the game on her birthday on February 11th. In my mind I wanted to set up a dinner with my family, her family, and her best friend so they could see me propose and then we could go to the hawks game. Jess, Jeanna's best friend wanted to take pictures of me proposing so I had to get her down here at that time
Jeanna: Robert created a big group text with everyone to coordinate times to go to dinner together. He also said it was a big day because of my birthday and everything, then his dad said in the group text, "Its a big day for you too Froggy!" which is Roberts Nickname, so I knew what was going to happen.
Robert: We knew we wanted to be together even since the October before, we even talked about kids and kids names even the first month of dating. I thought it would be funny if I pretended to lose the ring but I messed up, it was a janky proposal but the thought was still there and it was funny and just amazing. She still said yes! At that point we had to rush to the Hawks game, the Hawks got absolutely murdered that game. I've never went to a game smiling so big and leaving so happy after watching out favorite team get demolished and both of us just didn't care. We were just engaged, there as Fiance's enjoying each others company watching our favorite team on her birthday! Now her birthday is special in two ways, because we can relive how I screwed up our proposal and celebrate the beautiful woman that she is, who is now the mother to my children.
Favorite picture and why?
Jeanna: My favorite photo from the wedding was the going away shot with the song “Don't stop believing” playing. I the picture everyone is happy and excited and having the times of their lives. This was the best day of our life and that's just my favorite photo for that reason.
Robert: That is also my favorite photo as well, everyone I talked to said that was the fmost fun wedding they have ever been a part of. We aren't ones to party but if we do we want to make sure we are having as much fun as possible. Everything was fantastic, that was our goal. We just had the best, most loving and energetic people, all of our closest friends her bridesmaids my groomsman. Everyone cooperated, it was just a non-stop party all night, since we pulled up and until we went to bed that night. There is a reason we hung that picture up in our living room because we believe that photo just shows the love and happiness we felt on that day.
How did Valen make you feel special?
Jeanna: I actually met with Steve originally ad he mentioned that he has a dress shop too, I made an appointment to try on a dress and I fell in love with it. I was treated so great during that experience. Our Engagement session was with Kelly, We love some of those photos to this day. After these 2 experiences we could not wait until our wedding day, we were so excited to work with you again. On our wedding day you didn't rush us, you took our time, you didn't shove unnecessary positions down our throat and you just let us be ourselves, it was amazing. It was like you guys were a part of our family.
Robert. Since day 1 you guys have felt like family, letting us do some nontraditional poses and just letting us be ourselves. It allowed us to show our goofy side, One of my favorite pictures from our wedding is when Jeana was holding a champagne glass and I was in the back pointing at her like “yeah that's my wife right there” and you just don't see that in traditional wedding pictures. There's no one else we would rather have do or photography as a continuation of our lives from this point forward. No one else.
2 things you would keep 1 thing you would change?
Jeanna: One thing I would keep the same about my wedding that I absolutely loved is keeping our location and vendors. We had the best food, the best venue, DJ, all things I certainly would not change about our day.
Valen: Who was your DJ?
Robert: Memory Makers.
Jeanna: One thing I would probably go back on was I felt like I had to invite select people. I would have changed some of the people who we invited to our own wedding. There were some people who we wish we could have invited instead. Trust your instinct and invite truly the most special people in your lives, not anyone else's.
Robert: Just setting the ground rules, especially with parents. You're parents will want to be a big part of your wedding, and rightfully so, but you need to set the ground rules, that this Is my wedding without sounding too self centered about it. If your parents want to invite someone who met you when you were 2 months old, they might not be worth inviting if they are not very important in your life at 26 years old. We regret not inviting people who are very important in our lives and will be going forward, we regret it but there's no sense in going back on it now.
Groom to groom
Robert: Valen has been the best photographers I have ever dealt with in my life, and I have a couple personal friends of mine who are photographers, and we considered them. But when it came to Valen it was the personal relationship they bring to you. They make you fell like family when they photograph you. They are respectful of your time and your budget. They want to make sure that it is feasible for them to have your business because they feel your business is like an extension of their family. When they bring you on they want you to be a part of their lives moving forward forever, and when you leave any type of session with them, you leave feeling like their family. My wife and I have felt that way since day 1. Since we walked in and had our first conversation with Steve, ad we have now used them for the 3 most important sessions of our lives. They'll make anything work and do an absolutely exceptional job doing so.
Bride to bride
Jeanna: I think that Valen studios photos are just absolutely incredible, whether you pick them for your wedding day, a new born shoot, or any photo shoot, it is important to pick the best because you will treasure these photos for the rest of your life. On your wedding day you are surrounded with your closest friends and family, you never know when it will be your last moment with someone. Exactly 2 months after my wedding day my cousin passed away and she ironically was the one who caught my bouquet at the wedding. We have some of the best photographs with me hugging her after she caught it. Those photos will always be so so so important to me! If we didn't have the best photographer that is ready to take those amazing shots right away and make sure that they are great, I wouldn't have those memories. I think that it's super important to have a great photographer that not only has the best work but truly cares about you as a person and we definitely found that at Valen Studios.
How did you meet?
Amanda: We me online on a website called plenty of fish, I knew I really liked Shawn when I was on a date with another guy, texting Shawn to meet up for drinks as soon as that date was done.
Shawn: All my profile said was that I like pizza and beer on Friday nights so it was an easy decision to message her.
Amanda: Our first date was at Nutties in lake villa, they had really good Moscow Mules. It was also the first pre-season bears game.
Shawn: Its easy to remember our anniversary date because I just need to go back ad look at the date of the game.
Amanda: Do you remember who won?
Shawn: Bears lost like they always do.
How did you propose?
Shawn: I proposed on Groundhogs day in the town square gazibo in Woodstock, I had my sister come out to take pictures as I did it and it worked out perfectly because Amanda did not know who she was until afterwards.
Amanda: I remember it being cold and just wanting to go to dinner
Shawn: I almost couldn't get her all the way into the gazebo because she was cold and just wanted to go inside the restauraunt to get out of the cold but I made her go with me into the gazebo.
Amanda: It was right around Christmas so it was very special.
Favorite pictures of your wedding?
Amanda: I had so many favorite pictures from our wedding I love the "Don't stop believing" picture, it is my screensaver at work and people always comments on how its such an awesome picture. I also love our first dance picture and I also love the photo of Shawn and his Mom during the mother and son dance.
Shawn: My favorites are me and the groomsman because those are friends I don't get to see much, us cutting the wedding cake and me and my mom dancing.
How or what did we do at Valen Studios to make you feel special?
Amanda: Everything! You guys did an awesome job from our engagement photo session all the way to our wedding pictures. I think all my bridesmaids, groomsmen and everyone in our families felt special and felt like a part of our day and a part of us. Everyone felt very comfortable and excited.
Shawn: I agree, It was just a very special and amazing day.
Amanda: It was a fun day
What are 2 things you would keep about your wedding?
Amanda: Valen for photographs, you guys did such an amazing job ad then our DJ Frank Casano, he sings Frank Sinatra during dinner and then after turns into a DJ so we got the best of both worlds, he did an awesome job of engaging everybody and making sure everyone was having a good time and I really loved that.
Shawn: I would have kept paying the extra money for the backdrop. If you dont want to pay for something make sure you argue about it i front of the venue with your spouse and they will drop it by half. It was originally $600 ad they brought it down to $300. It was worth it though it made our pictures look beautiful. I think it added to the way the room looked, it made it look fancy to me.
Amanda: It did look amazing in the pictures.
Shawn: I had a lot of opinions in our wedding, I let her pick out anything she really wanted but if there was something I wanted I made sure I tried to fight for it.
Amanda: Some of the music selection, one of the things that was really important to Shawn was to play footloose as our first song. He was very adiamant about it.
Shawn: Not a lot of people danced right away but they eventually started to.
Amanda: There was a very big discussion on the tuxedos, I wanted Navy but Shawn wanted Gray. I wanted the tuxes to have pink as well to match the girls dresses but Shawn didn't want the pink, but we got pink. Shawn Did not wear pink though only the Groomsmen.
What is one thing you would change?
Shawn: I would have walked around to each table with Amanda to talk to everyone for 2-3 minutes to check in and see how everyone is doing. We didn't do that because it went by so fast and we didn't plan it out to do that but I thought that we would have done it at some point but it never really happened.
Amanda: I think I would have had my dress Bustled earlier because I was trying to get it done at dinner time and it was a pain, everyone came out looking for me, I should have had my mom do it right when we were done with our pictures at the reception venue so I would have been more comfortable at that time, but everything was perfect and it wasn't even that big of a deal.
Amanda: Concord was amazing, they did a beautiful job, their food was spectacular, they set everything up perfectly, we couldn't have done it better ourselves. They worked really hard to make sure all of our needs were met. I think all of our guests had a great time, the service was fantastic.
Shawn: Just don't set your drink down because they will scoop it up and throw it away.
Amanda: They just want you to go back for more hahaha.
What would you like to say to Valen studios on behalf of a bride who is thinking of hiring us to encourage her to make the investment.
Amanda: It was worth every penny, all of our pictures turned out amazing. I couldn't have asked for better service. From the time of us getting ready in the morning at my house all the way to the church ceremony and to the end of the night. Pictures were going constantly, so many unique pictures, the little moments were captured, me holding my little nephew balling his eyes out crying and it was just perfect. All of our first dance pictures, us dancing with our mothers. We really got every aspect of the wedding covered. We can't wait to see our video which we know will be just equally as amazing. If you want well done pictures of your wedding then spend the money on it, you will have those pictures forever.
Shawn: Valen studios was a good purchase, worth the money, everyone worked hard start to finish. I got all of my pictures with my friends, some that I asked to be taken and some that I was forced to do hahaha.
Amanda: Shawn is in the Marines and some of his marine buddies were in town so he got those special pictures and has not seen them in a very long time.
Shawn: It's nice to see the people that you served with that you don't get to see often and now I can remember them with photos.
Amanda: I loved that you were able to get pictures of everybody at their tables because I feel like we didn't get to see a lot of people, but it's really nice to see the pictures of everyone.
How did using our preferred vendors which created synergy, help on the day of your wedding?
Amanda: Courtney Pilman did our flowers with Trellis, She is a great friend of mine and I am very thankful for her introducing me to Steve and his team. She had a vision in mind from the start, everything looked spectacular and top notch so that was really great. You can tell that they work very well together and that their relationship goes beyond professionalism and that they have a very strong connection outside of work as well.
Special note from Steve, owner of Valen Studios,
I have been shooting weddings at The Shores of Turtle Creek for 8 years and the amount of beautiful natural locations are countless. I absolutely love this place! Anna and her crew are some of the hardest working people in the business. I've seen them in action countless times, dealing with couples in the most respectful manner. http://www.shoresofturtlecreek.com/
What is your favorite photo(s) and why?
Becca: I have quite a few favorite photos from my wedding. My first one is a picture of Vince and I by a pond, you can see our reflections in the water and it is just us.
Becca: My second favorite picture, or more a series of pictures, are the candid pictures of my bridal party during the speeches. The pictures reflect how our relationships with those people are. Full of life and laughter.
How/ What did we do to make you feel special?
Becca: One of the things that made me feel so special was throughout the whole process I felt like I was your only bride. I know that isn’t true and it would be unrealistic to think that. It was just amazing to feel like we were your only client. Whenever I saw either Steve or Kelly at the studio, a vendor fair or randomly at an event I was always greeted with a smile and a hug.
What are two things you would keep form your wedding?
Becca: I kept my flowers (they were fake) and a hankie my aunt embroidered for me, which I’ve used at weddings ever since.
What is one thing you would change from your wedding?
Honestly, I would probably end my reception an hour earlier. I was exhausted by the time the night was done, and my guests were too. We added an extra hour to the end of my reception but we should have stuck with what our vendor recommended.
How did using our preferred vendors, which created synergy, make your day less stressful?
My vendors all worked great together, my wedding coordinator made sure everything went smooth and worked with my personal attendant that day so I didn’t have to worry about anything.