Top 10 “get real” moments of 2010


Hello, and welcome to the 21st century (that’s aimed at me, not at you.) Yes, I realize I am the last person on the face of the planet to start a blog. But I am a (shhhh) secret technophobe. That’s right – somehow I manage to master the intricacies of a $5,000 camera and Photoshop, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how to use my cell phone. No worries, though – my 8-year-old daughter freelances in technical support. :-)

2010 was an absolutely amazing year full of gorgeous brides and the most fabulous weddings, and I decided I finally needed to dive into blogland so I could share it with you all!

You may already know that my philosophy in photography is “get real” – as in: don’t get posed, get real. I am so honored to be able to capture many genuine, intimate, emotional, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious moments at every wedding – they’re what makes each day totally unique. I love it when couples see their photos for the first time and they say, “How did you get that?!” or “Oh my gosh, I remember that exact moment!” This is what I love about what I do – getting to give these gifts to you to enjoy for the rest of your life. Mmmmm, yummy!

So, what better way to kick off my blog than with my Top 10 “get real” moments of 2010? (Except, of course, for my Top 14 “get real” moments, because I’m an artist, not an accountant! :-)

Here we go… feel free to leave a comment at the end, letting me know which “get real” moment is your favorite!


1. All dressed up

There’s this moment, as you slip on your dress the morning of your wedding, when it hits you – oh my gosh, this is IT!! I’ve never seen it play out on a bride’s face as clearly as it did with Abby. She chose the cutest ever Audrey Hepburn-style dress from Stephanie James – she’d dreamed of looking like Audrey on her wedding day ever since she watched “Funny Face” when she was a little girl.

Her mom and sister were buttoning her up, and suddenly her emotions swelled up, and she started fanning herself and trying not to cry as her best girlfriends clapped and laughed with her. It was a completely joy-filled moment she will never forget – and neither will I!



2. For the very first time

It was super hot out, so we were upstairs in the sitting room of the lovely Minikahda Club, the sunlight streaming in, and Kate was waiting for Peter to come meet her. This is a pretty amazing couple – just back from Santiago, Chile where Kate was working with a Harvard economic development research group, and Peter was applying to medical school. Kate’s kind of a no-nonsense, get it done type of woman. So I think it surprised them both when Peter walked in and both of their eyes filled with tears. She’d already told me he might cry, but I think the power of the moment overwhelmed her, and she joined him. It was an incredibly intimate moment, and I am so glad I was able to unobtrusively capture it for them without interrupting it.



3. A kiss to build a dream on

It’s amazing, after you spend months and months planning every detail of your wedding, how fast the day itself flies by! That’s why I love giving couples some time away from everyone, where they can soak it all in. With Kim and Tyler, we were on our way to the church for the ceremony, when we found a secluded alleyway in St. Paul and ducked in. Here they shared a last moment as fiance and fiancee, before the wonderful chaos of the day hit. Mmmmm… can’t you feel the love?



4. Shannon and Steve’s ceremony in the round

Okay, I promise this one’s not making the favorites list JUST because it took me to California when the Minnesota winter was starting to hit, OR because the cutie patootie pastor performing the ceremony was my hubby. (And why are there so many pictures of the officiant?? :-)

Shannon and Steve are big believers in community, which is also something very close to my heart. After 50+ years of living as a single woman, Shannon’s community of friends had become her support system and her family. I absolutely loved how she and Steve incorporated their tight-knit community into their day, by literally having everyone surround them during the ceremony. It was one of the most joy-filled, interactive weddings I’ve ever had the pleasure of photographing (and btw, did I mention that the pastor was quite handsome? ;-)



5. Being given away from one best friend to another

The Graves 601 Hotel was the site of Marissa and Robb’s December wedding, and Richfield Flowers created an enchanted winter wonderland, just like Marissa had dreamed of. But even more breathtaking than the twinkly, sparkly decor was the emotion between Marissa and Cheryle, her mom and best friend, as she walked her down the aisle to Robb. I lost my mom in my 20s, before I met my husband, just like Marissa lost her dad before she met Robb, so her sweet relationship with her mom and this moment between them touched me deeply.



6. At last…

Sarah and Nixon did not rush into the marriage thing. In fact, they dated for 9 years and have been raising a family together. So you might think that theirs would be less “romantic” than a newer relationship. But the comfort and safety they feel with each other is a testament to the depth of their love affair. You can tell that they are fully known by each other, and that is a rare and amazing thing to find. I love their complete joy in this moment after the ceremony.



7. The last days of fall

Sue really wanted a fall wedding, but most of the leaves had fallen off the trees already in the spot where we took photos before the ceremony. So afterwards, on our way to the reception, we stopped off at a tiny park tucked alongside Minnehaha Creek. The sun was going down and we only had a few minutes of light left, but we didn’t need long to catch this perfect moment. How sweet it is to be loved like this…



8. So happy together

I’ve had the pleasure of doing several weddings at Adath Jeshurun in Minnetonka, and every time I do, I fall more in love with the community there. Ben and Tamar have an amazing group of friends and family. I love how Tamar often puts her hand on a friend’s face as she speaks with them – such a tender gesture of deep affection. In addition to being so affectionate with each other, Ben and Tamar’s friends are also incredibly joy-filled and hilarious. And they weren’t holding anything back that day, as you can see. They made sure Ben and Tamar’s life together started with lots of laughter stored up in their hearts.



9. Swept off her feet

Lucky me, another wedding at Adath! This time the bride was beautiful Talia, and she was the image of elegance. That’s why it was especially funny when her friends lifted her up on the chair for the hora (which is one of my favorite traditions ever, by the way!) The look on her face makes me laugh out loud with her! What a priceless moment to get to hold onto forever!



10. Let them eat smush cake

Speaking of laughing, can I just veer off the track for a minute here, because that reminds me of another moment that makes me laugh out loud. (Okay, so technically Kady and Josh’s wedding at Rush Creek – one of my favorite places to photograph – was in late 2009, but that’s the beauty of being a one-woman judging panel. I’m giving myself a little leeway because this one’s just too ooey-gooey good not to share.) So, they go to cut their cake, and at first everyone was playing nice. But then… I don’t know who started it, but they both got in a great shot, as cake flew absolutely everywhere! Note to self: next time, bring a rain poncho!



11. They said it couldn’t be done…

When Natalie and Bobby and I first met to talk about their wedding, they told me that their grandparents never smile, and that I would not be able to get any pictures of them smiling. Well, that’s just the kind of challenge I love! In addition to getting them to relax and smile during our “formal” family photos (which I try to keep far from “formal” feeling!) I also caught this adorable moment on the dance floor. Tell me you can’t see the 16-year-olds they once were.



12. This kiss, this kiss…

Lindsey and Bill wanted to do an engagement session before he shipped out to Iraq. I designed a coffee table book for Lindsey – something for her to hold onto during some of the hard days to come this year. This moment was completely spontaneous, and it reminds me of the famous photo of the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J Day.



The future’s so bright…

Okay, I  just have to show you one more image from Lindsey and Bill’s session. Look at that beautiful light shining on them – I think it bodes well for their future.



13. The great Minnesota get-together

Well, now that I’ve veered off the wedding path to engagement sessions, there’s one more I just have to share. Alicia and John are such a playful couple, and what better place to play than at the State Fair? We had so much fun visiting all their favorite food stands – who wouldn’t want an engagement photo taken while sharing a giant brat from mit Kraut?!  I especially love this image of them lost in the moment while the rest of the world (or at least most of Minnesota) rushes by – isn’t that just what love should feel like?



14. Serendipity!

I couldn’t talk about that day at the fair without sharing the story of Jen and Andy. I was at the bottom of the Giant Slide, waiting for Alicia and John to come down, when I heard a woman say to her husband, “Take a picture of this couple coming down – they just got engaged!” So I zoomed in and took a couple shots also. I assumed she meant that they had gotten engaged earlier that evening, and it wasn’t till later when Jen called me that I found out that they had literally JUST gotten engaged seconds before I took this photo. I LOVE the look of complete exhilaration on Andy’s face – “She said yes!” – and Jen, with her hand in a fist, trying to keep her brand new ring from flying off! I am so glad I was in the right place at the right time to capture this moment for them, and I am looking forward to many more amazing moments at their wedding in October!



Please leave a comment below and let me know which images you felt best captured the most “real” moments!

Okay, now I have to try to figure out how to get this uploaded. I wonder if my daughter would be up for taking a break from her sleepover to help me out?



show hide 30 comments

admin - September 8, 2011 - 9:46 am

Thanks so much, Erin! Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Just sent you an email… :)

Erin Wilkinson - August 18, 2011 - 2:45 pm

I happened across this blog while looking for wedding venues and am amazed at the work-these are truly beautiful pictures! I love love love the idea of the couple at the fair-it seems like they are in their own little world. Where are you based out of? My faince and I are looking for a great photographer-might have to keep your information in mind! (Although I am in Fargo so that might be too far to travel…)

Erin Konik - March 17, 2011 - 10:32 am

I love your new blog! You have such a gift for capturing special moments and the true essence of people! We love, love, love our family pictures that you took of our whole Konik gang! Every time I look at them I smile! You are very talented and I wish you well!

Terri - March 11, 2011 - 2:32 pm

I’ve said it many times, and I will say it again, “You are one of a kind! Noone captures moments and people like you do!” The most beautiful pictures I have of my family are the ones you’ve taken! You are truly doing what you were created to do!

When you do something, it’s always top notch! beautiful new blog! You are such a moment catcher, always keeping it real! That’s why a real, wonderful person like you makes an amazing photographer! You tell stories so well! much love,

admin - March 10, 2011 - 1:38 pm

Girls, you are the reason I love what I do! Thank you so much for all your kind words!
Question of the day: Will there be a guy brave enough to post a comment, or is this strictly girl land?

Cheri Rossi - March 9, 2011 - 10:58 pm

Jackie – I hope you never get tired of hearing what an amazing photographer you are. You are absolutely doing what you were meant to do. My favorites: (1) Grandma and Grandpa, hands down. (2) Marissa and Mom in the winter wonderland. Just precious! The State Fair whizzing by is really fun and what a great effect! That IS what true love should feel like!

Deborah K - March 9, 2011 - 11:59 am

Jacki, What a wonderful blog you have created! I look at your beautiful photos and incredible wordsmithing, and I think to myself, “and to think I knew her when she was just a young woman with a bow on her ponytail!” I’m celebrating with you your incredible love of and success at your photography business–Deborah

Tracy - March 9, 2011 - 9:58 am

What a beautiful display of moments Jacki! I LOVE the stories behind the images…you have a wonderful way with words. So happy to see your new blog and I can’t wait to check back and see more beautiful moments explored!

Mary - March 8, 2011 - 10:08 pm

Wow Jacki- simply amazing! They are such incredible shots and the stories make them even more real and incredible.
It’s hard to pick but my favorite is Lucky #13- The State Fair is such a bustling busy place and to capture the real love of this couple in a moment of the “busyness” is so captivating! You are so talented!!

Kristin Wolford - March 8, 2011 - 8:25 pm

I really enjoyed this Jacki! Thanks for sharing!!

Sonya Hemmings - March 8, 2011 - 7:05 pm

What amazing photos, Jacki! And what a fun debut blog post! (All those years writing quizzes and lists for teen magazines gave you such a fun wordsmithing style to pair with your awesome images!) I’ve always been a fan, but now I’m one officially. :-)

Rosia Valencia - March 8, 2011 - 3:09 pm

Jacki, All I can say is WOW! I remember when you and Dave took a photography class in San Jose, all I can say is “you have come along way baby” I particularly like #4 because it has your cute husband in it. I’m honored to pass your blog on to the IPC folks. We miss you guys in California

Robert Gordon - March 8, 2011 - 9:36 am

Beautiful photos capturing memories for a life time. Thanks for posting Kate and Pete along with all the other wonderful couples.

Melissa - March 8, 2011 - 7:43 am

Oh yeah, please don’t ask me to pick my favorite – each one is so unique, I look forward to many more!! Love the “I’m and artist, not an accountant” – PERFECT!!!

Melissa - March 8, 2011 - 7:41 am

I am overcome and feel so blessed to be let into your world of happiness and love. What a great job to have being surrounded by pure joy all the time! I am also THRILLED as one who knew you when it was your dream to write for Tiger Beat, that you have returned to sharing your heartfelt, poignant,and down right delicious stories with us. LOVE YOU!

Amber Sue - March 7, 2011 - 11:41 pm

Jacki, thanks for inviting me into such a wonderful 2010. I loved reading every single one of YOUR favorite moments, and can see just why you chose them! I look forward to many more blog posts in the future! All the best!

Nancy Mammano - March 7, 2011 - 11:38 pm

Wow Jacki! Who would have thought back during those years in the Alpha Gamma Delta house that you would grow up to take such amazing photographs!!!??? Did you even have a camera at JMU? I am completely in awe of the beautiful work that you do and the fun and emotions that you bring out in every picture. Next time you are in CA I need you to take some family portraits! I am happy to spread the Jacki.V blog around!!!! Love and miss you! Nancy

Shani Verdon - March 7, 2011 - 10:42 pm

Why, Mrs. Vaughan, you almost make me want to get married again so I can have you photograph it all. These are truly so beautiful. You have a gift that I wish I had in capturing the moments that mean the most. My faves are 8, 9 and 10. But, they all brought me into the world of these couples and I laughed and cried a along with them. Could you follow me around for a day with a camera and make my life look that wonderful? And to think I knew you when…..

admin - March 7, 2011 - 10:35 pm

Thank you, thank you ladies for taking the time to read the stories behind these great moments and share your thoughts. :-) Gayle, good luck with your lesson! Roxanne – I love how you don’t follow the rules either – don’t box us in, right?!

Roxanne - March 7, 2011 - 9:38 pm

Where to begin?! They are ALL so incredible, I can’t pick just one. But since you didn’t stay to “10”, I guess I can indulge as well.

I also find the pastor VERY handsome ; ) but I think my favorite shot goes to “11. They Said It Couldn’t Be Done”. What a precious couple and what we ALL hope for as we start out down the Giant Slide of marriage. The secret being to smile & dance, even if you think no one is watching or will catch you.

Artistically, and for sentiment as well, I’ll go with “5. Best Friend/Mom” (thanks for having me shed a tear) AND “7. Last Days of Fall”…love how they are framed with the fall closing in on them.

Keep up the GREAT work!!!

Heather - March 7, 2011 - 9:11 pm

I love not only how you capture the moments but how you tell the story of people’s love and wedding day both with your words on this blog and with your images. Your pictures really do speak a thousand words about the joy, love, laughter and uniqueness of each wedding.

ghkcole - March 7, 2011 - 12:23 pm

As a teacher in an elementary school, I have plans to do a lesson on the power of photos to tell a story. I hope to use your beautiful blog as an example to the kids! Wow – this is so powerful. From your writing to your amazing, compelling images, one simple word rises up, resonates, reverberates: LOVE. You capture it.
I am so fortunate to know you.

Cheryl Morgan - March 7, 2011 - 11:17 am

Jacki, I LOVE your photos and your blog! You capture such feeling and emotion in your photos and words. If I had to pick a favorite (and it is hard) I would pick the second photo. The emotion and love there is so evident. It makes me teary. I wish I could go back in time and have you take photos of my wedding– though you were probably only ten or something then. : )

Jacci - March 7, 2011 - 10:31 am

Jacki, Jacki, Jacki. Okay, I think I finally stopped being emotional!!! The photos are always fantabulous!, but the stories behind them are always that much more amazing. After I read each ‘blurb’ on the photo, it took me right back to my wedding day only two years ago. But I think my favorite was number 11. How sad to know you never get to see your grandparents smile, and what a gift and blessing to be able to capture a few and far between moment; something to keep for the rest of a grandchild’s life! I love you, keep doing what God has gifted you with, lives are being changed.
**not to mention, we both have a cool name, with a cool and unique way to spell it**

admin - March 6, 2011 - 11:31 pm

Oh girls, you are so sweet. Thank you so much for your kind words. I didn’t know if anything could be more amazing than getting to photograph these moments – but I have to say hearing what they make you feel comes pretty dang close! Cheryle and Kim, I am so honored to have been there to photograph for your families. Thank you! Jacki

cheryle - March 6, 2011 - 6:56 pm

Wow!!! Not only are your photos great, you are so good at
getting “the” moment. I am so happy we met, I am thrilled
you took Marissa’s wedding and I couldn’t be more happy to
be your friend and admirer. It’s not often you meet someone
and immediately feel you are thrilled to be involed with that
person and trust that person and Jacki that is exactly how I
felt when we first met. I wish you and your beautiful family
only the best ever. Much happiness and success always, Cheryle

Verna Pitts - March 5, 2011 - 12:31 pm

I loved having an up close look at your cherished moments for this past year! Such a lovely blog and your voice is pure and wonderful!

Kimberly Wolff - March 5, 2011 - 9:50 am

Do you honestly think I would ever be able to chose the best “get real” moment out of those amazing 14?!? This blog just further showcases why Tyler and I chose Jacki to be our wedding photographer. Though I’m obviously biased about our stolen alleyway kiss (#3), I absolutely LOVE the #13 engagement session photo. What an incredible shot! You can really feel the love between the two of them amongst the crowd…and if that’s not real, I don’t know what is.

I would whole-heartedly recommend Jacki to anyone seeking true talent and personality in a photographer. I’ve done more than my share of research and she’s the best of the best.

GORGEOUS photos – all of them!

margie - March 5, 2011 - 7:27 am

What gorgeous smiles and beautiful moments! I love the universal joy of love and the wonderful ways you capture it! – margie

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