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Melissa + Jake // Milwaukee County Zoo Newlywed Session

Melissa and Jake’s wedding was beautiful, but heavy wind and rain put limitations on the photo opportunities. Melissa had her dream set on outdoor photos at the zoo, soa we arranged a newlywed session to create more beautiful photos without the rain. Melissa put the experience in her own words below.

I did it! I pulled off my dream wedding. The ceremony was brief, funny and heart warming. The venue was fun, classy and convenient. The food was abundant and remarkably good, with swift and skilled service. The dance floor was never empty and every guest under 70 stayed for the entire night. They always say to nervous brides, “You can plan a perfect wedding but something is going to go wrong. It always does and no one is going to notice but you.” I didn’t find this advice to be at all comforting, but I did find that it is true. My something wrong was rain.

My husband and I chose the Milwaukee County Zoo for our late April wedding. We were aware that April is synonymous with rainy weather, but we took our chances in choosing this pre-wedding season date. We planned everything indoors to be on the safe side. We had our ceremony in the very large and heavily windowed Peck Pavillon. Our guests mingled in the attached ape room for cocktail hour while the catering staff transformed the Peck into a gigantic reception hall.

The thing about the zoo that I was most excited to take advantage of was the photo opportunities. The zoo grounds offer so much fun, nostalgia and beauty to capture. I especially had my heart set on the whimsical, ornate, staple of my childhood memories – the carousel.

The rain didn’t let up even for a moment during our entire wedding day. Folk lore interprets this phenomenon as a sign of many children to come. That’s good since we want a lot of kids, but the only kid I was thinking about was the little kid inside of me that wanted to get on that damn carousel. I pushed my feelings aside, got over it and had a complete blast on our wedding day.

The photos ended up being incredible and so many loving moments were captured (check them out here). Even so, there was this little tinge of disappointment on my face that snuck into the images because of the missed carousel. I felt hopeless because the day was over and there was nothing I could do about it. I remember thinking, “If only we could dress up and do it again.” One day I was sick of feeling hopeless about the rain and decided to take control. I looked it up and sure enough, people do photo sessions after the wedding.

The tough part was coming up with the courage to ask my husband. I was afraid he’d see it as a real diva/privileged princess move requesting this. I was right, but he could see how much this meant to me. He also knows it’s difficult to get in the way of me when I’m determined, so he went for it.

I told Tegan how I felt and she was just as excited as I was to get to work together again. She had a similar experience with a carousel and rain on her wedding day, so she was game to play at the zoo with us. My husband and I live six hours away in Minneapolis, so I knew going into it that I’d have to make some compromises. However, miraculously everything fell into place and everyone on my original team was available on a day that I was already planning on being in town.

The photo shoot took place about two months after the wedding. It was a cloudy drizzling June morning and people were calling asking if I would be cancelling. I decided not to because everything was planned and I didn’t know when I would be able to line everything up again. Also if I did get a little rained on, it’s not like I have a wedding to attend that night. I could get wet and change, so there was no pressure.

I had so much fun seeing my team again and getting to share wedding stories. They worked their magic and got me to look exactly as I did on our wedding day, except way more relaxed.

It was 3:30 pm when we arrived and unlike our wedding day, the zoo was still open and full of kids. Moms complimented and congratulated me. I caught little girls starring at me dreamily with their mouths wide open. There was even an adorable group of little girls that thought I was the Disney Princess, Elsa, because of my long, icy blond hair. They chanted “El-sa! El-sa!..” until I turned around and waved at them. When I did they all screamed and clapped. My husband’s eyes were rolling pretty hard at me from all the attention because he knows I was just in heaven. I was! I got to be a princess again!

We made it thought ever dream location I had imagined and many more candid moments. My goofy little sister and maid-of-honor assisted us through the session. The temperature was warm, but mild and breezy. The sun came out and stayed the entire session. It was perfection.

I couldn’t be any happier with how the photos turned out! The most satisfying moment came from my husband when we saw the photos together for the first time. He paused for a while, took in a long deep breath, and exhaled with a loud “Damn it.” He admitted to me that I was right about the carousel photos and that I wasn’t being a diva. He loves them and is so glad we did them. That’s the most solid endorsement you’re ever gonna get.

In conclusion, I would highly recommend couples do a newlywed session after the wedding. Even if your wedding weather is ideal and you have plenty of time allotted for photos, you are both still nervous. This session was light, fun and completely stress free. The wedding day already has enough pressure for you to contend with. Get the pictures with your bridal party, parents and guests but save yourself the anxiety of getting those perfect photos of you and your new husband until later. Also you get to be a princess for one more day, who would pass that up!?

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