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Midwest Engagement Photographer – Naperville IL

Naperville, IL Engagement Session

Midwest Engagement Photographer – Naperville IL
Midwest Engagement Photographer - Naperville IL

Alexis and Brian! Oh boy, I cannot wait to share everything from this session everywhere on the internet. This year is the year of blogging I have decided (and yes I do realize we are almost halfway through the year lol). I feel like my work is getting hidden throughout the sea of social media and I want more people to interact more so here I am posting this on both Instagram and here.


All of the tree’s blooms have fallen, and I feel super nostalgic looking back through these images to write this post. The dripping trees are now surrounded by fallen blooms and the heat has been oppressive and thick the past few days, wedding season is in full bloom (my first solo wedding this year isn’t until June but I have been second shooting since January!).  On this day in April, we felt the chill of the breeze and couldn’t wait until the second half of their Midwest Naperville IL session which was indoors with some tasty treats! I am hoping to share the rest of their session sometime real soon!


These two no longer live in the area where they are getting married so they planned a weekend trip just for this session and some other wedding planning activities! I was so excited to meetup near both of their venues for this fall. We had so much fun walking along the Naperville Riverwalk and then later on headed for a snack.

Midwest Engagement Photographer - Naperville ILMidwest Engagement Photographer - Naperville IL Riverwalk


Cannot Pick A Favorite

Which blooms do you like better? I can’t decide which ones I like better, the white or pink <3 Loving all the flowering trees popping this spring! Alexis’ white dress also made for a great pairing with the backdrop. Brian had to borrow a shirt because his white shirt was slightly different than Alexis’ (I hate when this happens! It happens with ALL COLORS) Alexis’ shoes were so fun and sparkly! I can’t wait to see their outfits for their wedding day.

engaged couple near water holding hands and swinging them

Even with all the riverwalk construction, we found some really fun spots that were quiet to take photos! We shot these right around sunset (even though it was a cloudy day) which made for really calm breeze and relaxed vibes.


I cannot wait to hang with these two at their wedding this fall in Naperville, IL. I don’t get to travel to the Chicago suburbs as much as I would like anymore but man oh man do I LOVE Naperville and the florals at the riverwalk! There is so much construction going on down there right now but we made the best of it and had such a great time exploring all the beauty and color of the florals there.


Interested in Getting into my schedule?

Rachel Kaye is a Midwest Engagement Photographer  and happily comes to Naperville, IL whenever clients get married here! I am available for travel anywhere in the US and quite a few other countries. Don’t hesitate to contact me for more details on how I can best photograph your engagement or wedding session!

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2023 Wrap-Up

Reflecting on this year feels different. The past three years have been a whirlwind, especially with the challenges the pandemic brought. It made sharing my work—a source of joy—quite a task, confined only to those I captured in the frames. Social media, both personally and professionally, became a bit of a maze during this time.

This year, I hesitated to create another wrap-up post. It was a year unlike any other, marked by myriad reasons to forego this reflective tradition. The foremost among them was losing my best friend—my confidant in photography, Disney, memes, and late-night texts. The daily struggle with grief, coexisting with the joy of capturing weddings, has been a significant learning curve.

Every session and wedding since their departure has been a rollercoaster. The absence of positive reinforcement in the group chat during the drive to a venue, the missing screenshots of random songs, the traffic rants, and weather complaints—there was no one to share these moments with. Even the post-wedding quirks like complaining about the surplus of photos or color adjustments lacked their familiar audience. Yet, amid this, I began to discover solace within grief.

Every moment of these photos echoes memories of my friend, reminding me why I’m here—to capture every detail, ensuring no memory fades away. Initially daunting, revisiting and selecting ‘favorites’ seemed an impossible task tangled with grief.

However, as I began sifting through a few weddings, I realized I was choosing pure joy. Each image resonates with an indescribable peace and happiness within me. These images might not boast technical prowess or have the perfect edits, but they embody something deeper—the essence of preserving cherished moments.

Losing my friend emphasized the fragility of every single moment and memory we share. It taught me the urgency of capturing these fragments. Everything falls apart when you lose someone close to you, I cling onto the fragments I have of him.

I regret not taking more pictures in these past years, not snapping selfies or taking silly pictures with imperfections and all. It’s made me understand the importance of having someone there to capture these fleeting moments for us, someone with a critical eye for memories who won’t focus on keeping out the imperfect. As I look through photos with him, I don’t see ANY of those imperfections I was worried about, I see incredible memories I can forever look back onto.

So, hire the photographer. Take the picture. Memories may fade, but a photo preserves them eternally.

Extra special thanks to anyone who let me into their lives this year. You have helped me realize how healing joy is, the space you have given me in grief and in joy has been so healing. Words cannot fully express how thankful I am to each and every one of you.


Thank you thank you thank you thank you

For being my client

For sending me referrals and kind words about your photos

For being my friend

For reading this blog post

Heres to 2024 being an even more wonderful year capturing even more memories!


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Mackinac Island Wedding // Kristen and Max

a photograph of the invitations, kristens shoes with sparkley ankles, the rings, and kristens sparkle dress with feathers

When Kristen and Max contacted me about their wedding I was so excited!!!! THEN COVID HIT and they decided to wait and replan the whole thing to be more intimate and personal and I couldn’t have been more excited that I was still open to their change of plans. Meeting up on Mackinac Island for this wedding was a dream! It’s not my first time on the island for a wedding, but it is one of my favorite memories of the island. The most gorgeous day was spent at the Little Stone Church for the ceremony, a carriage ride for photos around the island, then the reception at a tent overlooking the Inn at Stonecliff.

the inn at stonecliff on mackinac island wedding venue
kristens dress haniging in the tree. the back of the dress is showing and has a beautiful cut out with sparkles
kristens shoes on a chair they have sparkley ankles and are otherwise white.
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The Pavilions in Walnut Grove Wedding Crane Orchards | Amanda + Casey

The Pavilions in Walnut Grove Wedding Crane Orchards

a flat lay of all the important wedding day paper details and rings including the brides vintage purse, grandmothers pen and small accessoriesAmanda and Casey met one summer in beautiful West Michigan. Amanda was celebrating her 24th birthday and Casey had just gotten off work. “If you’re going to live in this town, you’re going to need friends,” Amanda told Casey. Little did either of them know, they had each just met their lifelong best friend. That night was spent dancing, talking, and touring Amanda’s hometown. From that day forward they were connected by an indescribable draw to one another, what they called “love magnets.”

Casey, who had planned to return to California, stayed in Michigan that year and their relationship grew. They spent that winter bundled up laughing, choking down Amanda’s first attempts at cooking, and observing their “pet” squirrel Munchers. The next fall they decided to move to paradise as the islands were calling. The following four years were filled with many adventures, from a two-week road trip across the states to new foods, many waterfall hikes, and plenty of surfing. They grew up and grew together.

Thanksgiving weekend 2019, they took their first trip to the neighboring island of Kauai. They had a blast touring the island via helicopter, hiking to waterfalls, and surfing beautiful point break waves. On a hike to one of the most stunning coastlines in all of the world, the Napali coast, Casey finally popped the question! Amanda cried and Casey had a smile on his face that nearly stretched a mile. Here began yet another adventure, one that will last a lifetime.

the rings bride having makeup applied a ring light in the foregroundbride in mirror getting makeup put onbride getting hair done brides dress with bridesmaids dresses in a row

After we had gotten engaged I decided to fly home over Christmas Break to share the news with my family. During that trip, My sisters, mom, grandma, and I decided to do some light browsing of dresses to see what was out there, and I found it! I wanted something light, airy, and comfortable. The dress has floral appliques which went well with the orchard vibe, and the inside has super soft satin! The best part was it was on super sale, I couldn’t pass it up!

 It’s a Melissa Sweet dress from David’s Bridal, ivory with a “cashmere” colored underskirt. With it, I wore dangly pearl earrings my mom got while on her honeymoon to Hawai’i, a pearl bracelet my parents got me as a wedding day gift, and a special perfume Casey had picked for me. Around my bouquet, I used a cutting from my Grandmother’s dress as well as one of her broaches. My veil was made by my cousin.

My bridesmaids wore 3 different blue/green tones of the Jenn Maxi dress from the site Show Me Your Mumu. With so many bridesmaids I loved the idea of breaking up the big wall of color. These colors also gave a relaxed ocean vibe, which I loved.

close up of mens suit hangers with names on tehm

This was Casey’s very first suit that he has owned, so he wanted it to be something that looked sharp, fit his personality, but was also something he could use for grad school interviews. He went with a blue Jos A Bank 1905 collection suit and I chose a champagne bow tie from the tie bar to go with the undertones of my dress.

one of the groomsmen trying to figure out the bowties Casey the groom looking at his fun socks for the wedding blue ombre palm tree socksthe laughs and smiles of the groomsmen as they show off their socks


We wanted a venue that really spoke to us; somewhere outdoors with trees and lots of space. We both had grown up apple picking over at Crane’s Orchards but hadn’t really thought of it as a wedding venue until I saw it in some bridal magazine. We loved all the tall rows of walnut trees and how the venue felt secluded without being too far in the middle of nowhere. Crane’s also only does one wedding a weekend so we had full access days before the wedding, which was very helpful with how DIY our wedding was!

We wanted the ceremony space to be very soft and romantic with lots of candles and lanterns. Amanda’s dad built the pergola we stood in front of as well as the doors that I walked through. The ceremony was originally planned to be in the far most row of trees, but with the rain, we changed the plan and had it in the pavillions, which actually made it more intimate!

We wanted to add a bit of fun for the cocktail hour/reception! The bar area was our ode to Hawai’i with a surfboard “chandelier” and we hand-made 4-foot tall “LOVE” marquee letters for the dance floor.

The dining tent was also meant to have more of a soft romantic vibe. We went with loose greenery and tons of pillar candles for the table decorations. We also found awesome gold flatware, which really popped with the dusty blue napkins! On our sweetheart table, we used candlesticks that were used at Amanda’s grandparents’ wedding, which was very special.

Our paper was very special. We worked with Amaryllis Paperie for the invitations, programs, and signs! Hayley custom-designed all the floral elements and illustrated the venue for our programs as well as a wedding day map sent with our invites!

We wanted our ceremony to really reflect the two of us and so we put a ton of thought into every aspect. Casey is a musician, so music was very important to him, he actually wrote and recorded the song I walked down the aisle to!

On our wedding day, it rained like crazy, but just as we said “I do” the rain stopped! In Amanda’s vows, she wrote that Casey helps her see the rainbow when all she sees in the rain, and later that evening they got a double rainbow!


Rent linens, because ironing 30 table cloths and 140 napkins is as bad as it sounds.

At the least, hire a day-of coordinator. Our friend Cara volunteered to be our day-of coordinator, and with the crazy weather, tornado warnings, and flooding if we didn’t have her we would have been screwed! She was so decisive in decision-making and coming up with backup plans A – Z! She really saved the day and allowed me to enjoy getting ready! Brides you do not want to have to worry about the morning of, so make sure you have someone you trust in charge!

Take time with your partner on your wedding day! It goes by fast so enjoy it together and don’t get too caught up with event hosting!

Rachel was so helpful on the day! She came prepared and organized and worked well with our videographers to get everything we wanted in! We had a huge bridal party, which could get a little chaotic at times, but she was able to get everyone organized! It was also downpouring half the time during the wedding but she kept a smile on her face, and when there were opportunities for orchard pics she was on it!


Thank you for viewing The Pavilions in Walnut Grove Wedding Crane Orchards wedding with Amanda and Casey! Follow the blog for more amazing weddings or socials for up to date information. Email with inquiries

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The Little Red Barn of Nunica Wedding | Christie + Marlin

The Little Red Barn of Nunica Wedding

The Beginning: 

We first met in the summer of 2016 at a friends pool party but things stayed casual. After enlisting in the Navy in 2018, Marlin had left in August 2019 and that’s when we saw each other for the first time in years and we just fell for each other instantly.  We spent every day together during his time home and did two months of long-distance before he flew me out to Italy to attend the Navy ball as his date. After that we knew we wanted to be together always. Fast forward to December 2019 when he surprised me by coming home and asking me to marry him! We had plans to see each other as much as possible but of course Covid-19 had other plans. We spent 11 months apart and we’re finally able to see each other just weeks before our wedding in May! Love is crazy!


The Little Red Barn of Nunica. Marlin actually went to Church with the owners of the venue so it was special for them as well seeing Marlin all grown up! The sweetest people!

The Decor: 

Everything used for decor was from the barn! Would recommend them to anyone!

The Ceremony: How did it go? Anything special?

it was amazing! Short and sweet. It was a breeze! Literally because it was windy lol!

Reception/Dancing/Music: All the fun!

we just let loose lol! Loved having all our family and friends there to celebrate! Especially since Covid kept us all apart for so long. One my favorite moments was dancing with my grandpa. I’m 100% grandpas girls and he was so surprised I asked him to dance. He brings it up every time I talk to him now and he gets teary eyed all over again. I know it’s something we’ll both never forget.

Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?

Don’t stress about the little things. Having the right vendors helps extremely! They’re the pros!


Your Photographer:
you were great!! Everyone loved how personal you were and sweet! Definitely kept us on track too which was great! Thank you so much!
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Port 393 Wedding Holland Michigan | Cassie + AJ

Port 393 Wedding
the sign outside of port 393 in holland michigan shows off the beautiful michigan blue skies and the set up on the roof for the outdoor party

Cassie and AJ’s whole crew mean so much to me. This is the 3rd wedding of this amazing family group and shooting these moments is a treasure. 

COVID gave me this wedding. 

I actually was booked for their original date and REALLY upset to have to let it go. Luckily enough, they ended up in good hands with my own wedding photographer (you are the best Abbey!) but when they had to reschedule, she was booked their for their date so back to me they came! I was so jazzed they decided to reschedule at Port 393 in Holland as well as it’s a new venue and I was so excited to check it out. Everything about this day was lovely. From seeing this amazing family again to getting to check out this venue. I loved getting to capture this day.

Feel free to check out the slideshow HERE

The rest of this post is the perspective of the couple 😀

Port 393 wedding photographer dress hanging on stairway

How it Started:

 Cassie and I met at a concert in Grand Rapids while we were living in Kalamazoo. We quickly realized we had a lot in common and started spending a lot of time together. One thing led to the next, and eventually, we were inseparable. We enjoyed a lot of live music, summers at Diamond Lake, and traveling Michigan together to see friends and family. In the fall of 2019, I asked Cassie to marry me at Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming. We have traveled a lot together, but something was special about the Teton’s, and it will forever be a place where we will go and enjoy our memories.port 393 wedding photographer venue getting ready space bride getting ready in black and white first look in reception space of Port 393. Couldn't be used for the party due to covid but the first look with the brides dad was perfect for this Port 393 Wedding photographer Boatwerks Holland michigan wedding ceremony

AJ’s Suit

From the beginning, we knew that tuxedos were the way to do it. If there is ever a day in your life to look your best, it is your wedding. I enjoyed wearing a tux for the first time and seeing the guys looking sharp on our big day. In addition, I wore custom monogrammed cufflinks with my initials that Cassie bought for me as a gift a few years back. I also wore my father’s watch. He passed away in 2014, so it was very special to have a piece of him with me to say I do.

The Ceremony: 

The whole ceremony was amazing, but there is nothing as special as watching the love of your life walk down the aisle looking absolutely beautiful. I will forever cherish that image as the beginning of the next chapter in our lives together, marriage. We were surrounded by so many amazing family members and friends, and we couldn’t have wished it any other way. It was a great pleasure to have a longtime friend and father figure, Steve DeTar, officiate the wedding. We will forever be grateful for the entire experience.


We held our rehearsal dinner and ceremony at Boatwerks on Lake Macatawa in Holland, Michigan. I really wanted to host the dinner there because Cassie and I had spent so much time on the water as a couple and shared many great memories on the lakes of Michigan. Why not make some memories on one more! We later decided we would host the ceremony there, and everything came together full circle.

Our reception was held at Port 393 in Holland, Michigan. Cassie found the venue online, but at the time it was only a digital design. We drove out to Holland and met the owner at the coffee shop next door, and all we could see was dirt and bricks. She loved the concept and the owner’s vision so we decided to go for it. Fast forward to May 7th, 2021, and the building was nothing short of perfection. The owners went above and beyond on every detail of the space and truly created a masterpiece. The whole team at Port 393 did an amazing job in every step of the process and made it simple for us to enjoy our day and their space with all of our guests.


The reception was perfect, except for the cold temps. What can you do? Jordan DeTar (Best Man), Sam Bengel (Maid of Honor), Ali Bengel (Matron of Honor), Jeff Bengel (Father of the Bride), and Dawn Moehn (Mother of the Groom) all gave unforgettable speeches. They really gave the guests a different view of Cassie and me and our relationship and set the tone for the evening. A huge thank you to all of them. The vendors all came together to provide a great experience. The food was amazing. The band (Blue Water Kings) killed it and had everyone breaking out their best dance moves. The eight-piece band really brought the sound together and created a unique and fun environment for everyone to enjoy.

Any Advice for couples planning their wedding?

Planning a wedding is a huge task, no way around it. Decide early what is important to you and your spouse and focus on those pieces. The rest will come together as needed. Plan early and leave yourself a few weeks between the end of planning and the big day so that you don’t have a million things going on two days before rehearsal. Have a beer or two before getting your engagement pics or going to make wedding choices. It will eliminate the unavoidable thought of stress. Most importantly, have fun with it and enjoy it. You only get to experience it once, so don’t stress over the small stuff.

couple in front of the wall in Port 393 that has all the signatures and dates of every couple married there! i love this idea and as a photographer capturing memories even if just written is so important!

Your Photographer: Tell us all about them 😉 What you liked or didn’t like. All the deets from the day of:

Rachel Kaye is the best in the business. No questions about it. The perfect combination of being serious but having fun while doing it. Her personality is contagious, which was great to keep the wedding party engaged and attentive (for the most part). I enjoyed having a quick shoot with her a week before the wedding so Cassie and I could reconnect with her, gain a level of comfort, and bond a bit before the big day. Day of was seamless. We had a plan, stuck to it, and she kept everyone in check. Her work speaks for itself.


Huge thanks to these vendors for this Port 393 Holland Michigan Wedding

Wedding Planner – Emily Salomon // Connolly House Events

Venues – Boatwerks Ceremony // Port 393 Reception

Catering – Marthas Catering

Makeup – Kiss of Beauty Makeup

Videography – Avery Ace Weddings


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