Surprise Wedding! | Bethany & Max Tie the Knot, July 2016

Max and I met six years ago when we were both art students in college. We hit it off immediately and went on our first date a few months after we started hanging out. I knew pretty much from the start that this was the person I was going to marry. I also knew, after helping with and being in weddings, a traditional ceremony wasn’t our thing. We wanted our family and friends to be there but didn’t want the stress of planning to take away from the fun of getting married. One night after being stuck in the Pinterest rabbit hole, I came across a blog post about a couple who turned their engagement party into a surprise wedding. It was fun and casual, exactly what we wanted. The idea was tucked away and we waited for the right time.

The next summer we became the owners of a slightly run down house that needed a lot of love, which we had! As we signed the papers to our first house we knew we found not only our perfect home, but the perfect location for a housewarming party turned surprise wedding. We set our date, a year almost to the day, and rolled up our sleeves! For the next year we pulled nails, sanded, handed a paint brush to anyone who came through the door, and when things went wrong we watched YouTube videos. Being the artists we are, we added murals and quirky touches to make our home uniquely ours while secretly making things for our equally quirky surprise wedding.

There were a few close calls, whenever an unexpected guest would stop by we would toss wedding décor in a closet or throw a blanket on top of something. Keeping a secret this big was HARD. To make it even harder we decided to keep even our engagement a secret thinking that if anyone became suspicious they would think Max was going to propose at the party. With only a few months to go before the party we decided to let our immediate family in on the plan. They had been helping us with so many projects and were wondering why we were in a rush to finish everything. They were thrilled and so excited to be in on the secret. Tasks were delegated and everything started coming together quickly. As we were putting the final touches on our home we mailed out our invites and counted down the days.

Our party, like all weddings it seems, was here before we knew it and with the records spinning our yard soon filled with unassuming guests. After about an hour into the party Max gathered everyone outside to make the announcement as I slipped upstairs to change into my dress. He thanked everyone for supporting us and said that after dating for six years we were finally ready to get married. Our guests cheered and once the noise died down he added, “We’ve been waiting for the perfect time, and that time is right now.” Which was followed by confused silence, “We are getting married right here, tonight.” Everyone was floored. From upstairs I could hear our home erupt with cheers and excitement. 

The best part about our wedding (besides getting married) was listening to everyone’s reactions. We were worried people would feel left out or hurt but the response Max and I received was so positive. It was overwhelming to see how happy our family and friends were for us. When we bought our house we wanted to fill it with memories. Now when I’m in my art studio I see the place where Max proposed, our bedroom is where my mom and sisters helped me get ready, and when I walk outside I’m reminded of being surrounded by huge smiles, happy tears, and lots of love.

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Our Less than Picture-Perfect Whimsy Family Photo

Every fall, Ashley & I have the brilliant idea to take "Whimsy Family Photos" with our hubbies & bubbies all together in one crazy shot. 

Ha. 

This brilliant idea usually hits us after we photograph a beautiful family and we leave the session eager to take our own picture-perfect family photos. We usually text each other later that evening and foolisly plop it in our Whimsy calendar on a random date. 

The days and weeks pass and we end text each other anxiously the night before and try to pull together anything from our closets that even remotely match each other.

Here is our less than picture-perfect process. . . 

Aa: Soooooo. . . these are the ONLY cream-ish shirts I have. Everything else I own is bold. Like red, and green, and black, and not very "Ashley. . ."

Aa: Aaaannndddd these are the neautral-est shirts I have for the boys: 

Ash: Okay... well, here is what I have so far! 

Ash: But I also have these for the boys. . . 

Aa: Ahhh! So many choices! . . . So, how about this. Do you have any one outfit for any member of your family that you LOVE? I think we should pick ONE THING and build the rest of the outfits off of that. At least that's what I'd tell a client! 

Ash: Ummm. . . no. Do you? 

Aa: Well I sort of feel like Theo's plaid shirt is too bold? But without it, Holden's navy sweater will be too bold. Ugh. BUT. What if I tie it all together with a few bolder pieces on my end? And I just bought this $6 quilt at a thrift store that might be fun to include. . .  something like this. . . ?

Ash: I like it! What about this for my fam. . . 

Aa: So, it isn't as dreamy/creamy as I think you wanted but it's still pretty I think? But I seriously can't decide which shirt I like better for Graham and, my scarf - which one?

Ash: Hahahaha! No, I actually love it so much.

So here it is - our 2016 Whimsy Family Photo. . . all of our crazy on one colorful quilt. . . ! May you have peace in knowing that prepping for our own family photos is a little less than picture-perfect too. . . !


Whimsy Testimonial by Guest Blogger, Kaela English!

Being asked to be a guest blogger for two of my faves in the photography world... big deal! I learned about Hint of Whimsy from a friend who said "things happen so fast and you think there is no way they got one good picture... then the pictures come back...!"

Our first session with Ashley and Aaron was just like that! 30 minutes couldn't have flown by any faster... then the sneak-peeks were posted to Facebook and they were so beautiful! Since that first session in 2013 we have done 5 more sessions with Hint of Whimsy! Each one unique and beautiful.

One of the best parts, is picking out all the outfits that we will wear during our sessions! I usually base everything off of one accessory or shirt! Weeks of preparation typically ensues... finding that just right pair of shoes or color of leggings! Ashley and Aaron take care of the rest of the magic.

I wish I would have known about Hint of Whimsey earlier in my life, as I think they would have made some other special moments in my family's life just as beautiful and memorable. So now my focus is making sure my friends and family that do not have a regular photographer knows what is out there! How beautiful and whimsical your photos can be!

Thank You Ashley and Aaron for making your talents public for all to enjoy!!!

Your friend,
Kaela English

Meet Daddy in the Field

When Carson’s mommy called us to see if we had time for fall family photos, she mentioned that daddy might be busy in the field, so we happily offered to take the photo shoot to him…

We packed up and made our way to Mohall to meet Carson’s daddy in the field!

After a short jaunt on a gravel road, we saw the dust of a farmer hard at work – we knew we must be close! We slowly pulled to a stop with a field to our left and three tall grain bins to our right, and out popped Carson’s daddy from the dusty machines up ahead.

Right there, in the middle of a field and of a hard days work, we asked Carson’s daddy to take a quick break to snuggle up his sweet boy! 

Fall Mini Sessions 2016

Fall is in the air! That means three things: pumpkin spice everything, cozy knits and special Fall Mini Session pricing offered through November 19, 2016! Details below!

E-mail us { hintofwhimsy@me.com } for available session times! 

Easy like Sunday morning. . !

The morning of Tiffany & Mitch's wedding, things just quietly slid into place. After months of planning
and preparation. . .  we anticipated a few final hours of early morning chaos. 

But things were. . .  quiet.

Easy, almost. 

The chairs arrived. The cake too. The dress was steamed. The china was set. 

The grass was dewy and the sun hadn't quite kissed our temples from above the treetops. There wasn't even a slight breeze to disrupt the table linen. 

If you ask me, all marriages should start like this. 

Guests arrived promptly to the Dakota Rose Bed & Breakfast that morning.

Everyone wore their Sunday best and greeted each other kindly, just as they would
the paperboy, delivering the morning newspaper. 

The smell of breakfast pastries flooded our tastebuds as Mr. & Mrs. Kvigne exchanged
their first kiss as husband and wife! It was time to celebrate over
fresh brewed coffee and newspaper word finds. 

Soon everyone's bellies would be as warm and full as their hearts. 

They say the first year of marriage is the hardest.
But these two made it look easy. Easy like Sunday morning. 

One year down. . . forever to go!
Happy Anniversary Tiffany & Mitch!

Crib Mini Sessions


Hint of Whimsy will be offering Vintage Crib Mini Sessions on July 14-15, 2016! 

Crib Mini Sessions / $115 Investment

  • Each 15-minute session includes a online gallery featuring 5-10 images
  • Your session includes 4x6 prints, (yours to keep) available within three weeks of your session
  • Sessions best suited for children who are already sitting through age two! 

Thursday, July 14: 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30
Friday, July 15: 7:00, 7:30, 8:00, 8:30

To book, e-mail hintofwhimsy@me.com or call Aaron at 701-500-2242!

Daddies of 2016

Yesterday we celebrated the { whimsy daddies } of 2016! Here's a cyber-toast to the bug killers, dirty diaper wipers, boo-boo kissing, momma-lovin' daddies! Though they typically aren't thrilled about stepping in front of the camera, we know that photos of daddies & their little ones make the momma's swoon! Thank you all for sharing your sweet families with us.

Hello Summer!

Well, whimsies! It seems as though { summer } has officially arrived! We have the smell of fresh cut lawns, backyard barbecues, and sunscreen to prove it! Here's your { Summer 2016 } desktop wallpaper! 

Mommies of 2016

Today we celebrate the { whimsy mommies } of 2016! Thank you all for sharing your sweet families with us.

Mommy & Me Mini Sessions!

Mommy & Me Mini Sessions / $115 Investment

Hint of Whimsy will be offering Mommy & Me Mini Sessions on Saturday, May 14, 2016. These sessions are the perfect gift for the beautiful mommies in your life! Or - treat yourself to some previous photos of you and your littles. { Mommies & children of any age are welcome! } 

Session details can be found below! 

Mommy & Me Mini Sessions / $115 Investment

  • Each 15-minute session includes a online gallery featuring 5-10 images
  • Your session includes a personalized locket necklace with an image from your gallery
  • As well as 4x6 printed proofs yours to keep and available for pickup within three weeks of your session

Available Morning Sessions: 9:30, 10:30
Available Afternoon Sessions: 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30, 3:00

To book, e-mail hintofwhimsy@me.com or call Aaron at 701-500-2242!

Good morning, sunshine! | Samuel Settel, Born February 26, 2016

Like many of you, Ashley & I were both feeling a bit groggy Sunday morning. Daylight Savings Time got the best of us again this year. But as we pulled into the driveway of the Settel home, we perked up. Maybe it was the perfect lighting for an in-home lifestyle session seeping in over the neighborhood, (maybe the caffeine hit), or maybe we realized some sweet snuggles from their newest little one, Samuel, were just a few minutes away! 

{ Hazel & Coralie } turn ONE!

Hands down, one of our favorite parts about photographing families is watching your little ones grow before our eyes! Last weekend we had the pleasure of being invited to capture two little sweethearts as they celebrated their { FIRST BIRTHDAYS! } I know their mommy's would agree - it seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating their arrivals! 

Love you girlies and thank you for letting us capture you little! 

Miss Hazel / Newborn - One Year! 

Seeing Miss Hazel interact with her two older brothers was the cutest thing - she might look sweet and innocent, but she's going to be one tough cookie on the playground! 

Miss Coralie / Newborn - One Year! 

We knew when we first met Miss Coralie that she'd be a little firecracker. Check out those red, curly, locks! Love! 

Graham Dennis Hughes | Whimsy Birth Story

“I think we should deliver soon,” she said.

My husband, Jordan, and I sheepishly exchanged looks. My voice cracked as I asked our doctor, “How soon?”

Her confident recommendation was a single word, “today.”

Worst-case scenarios flooded my mind as quickly as tears swelled in my eyes. I didn’t want to waste time asking questions. She offered me a tissue and just enough time to drive home to scrounge up a few belongings before we checked in to Labor & Delivery at Trinity Hospital. 

We had been watching my blood pressure for a few weeks. It wasn’t until mid September that my OB scheduled me for a growth ultrasound, noting that Baby Hughes was measuring a bit small. It didn’t seem serious, but that appointment went longer than they had in the past. I was measured and re-measured three times by two different technicians and finally was sent upstairs to meet with our doctor.

I don’t remember much from that appointment. She had already called for a second opinion, mentioned something about IUGR, and confidently shared her recommendation for an early delivery. The thought of it hadn’t once crossed my mind. In fact, I had promised – sworn, really – left and right that there was absolutely no way my water would break during Minot State University Homecoming Week. We weren't scheduled to meet our little mister for another six weeks. It seems silly now.   

Like reasonable adults, we spent that first evening in the hospital Googling what IUGR meant and what it could mean for our family's future. Ultimately, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) refers to a condition in which an unborn baby is smaller than it should be because it is not growing at a normal rate inside the womb. At the time, that didn’t really mean much to us either. So there I sat in a hospital gown. Waiting for something that seemed “normal” – my water to break? Contractions to start? An urge to push? None of which came.

My memories of Graham's birth are of a sleepless night flooded with the faint sound of his heartbeat that drowned out the ticking of the clock. The calming and confident sound of my doctor's voice, recommending we move forward with an early morning c-section. A cold operating room table surrounded by strangers – women I'd never met, all calm and collected, helping me feel safe and cared for. And a tiny window to my left in which my husband watched patiently for the first sight of his precious newborn. 

I heard one tiny cry from behind the cold blue curtain and it wasn’t long before a tiny precious baby was placed next to my left shoulder. And just like that I was a momma.

Graham Dennis Hughes was born at 6:21 a.m. on September 15, 2015, weighing a whopping two pounds, fourteen ounces, and standing tall at sixteen inches. His hands were little, and his hurdles were great. 

We waited all day for the okay to scrub into the NICU for our first visit. It wasn’t quite what I thought my first moments with my son would look like. I had anticipated balloons, visitors, and bringing my new baby home after a few short days in the hospital – not tubes, seclusion, and medical jargon.

Graham was small, indeed – but the NICU staff never made us feel small. Physically, they helped him bulk up, and mentally, they helped build our confidence too. We were his mommy and daddy now, and although our hands were trembling, we always felt like his parents, not his visitors.

A few days later, we checked out of the hospital without a baby in our arms. I held it together until we pulled out of the parking lot. It was strange and unnatural. 

For three weeks I visited the NICU three times a day. I vigorously pumped at work so I could feel like I was contributing as a mother. At every visit, a three-minute scrub-in separated him from the warmth of our arms. It took every ounce of my being not to run to his incubator and scoop him up in my arms, smothering him with love and kisses. 

We kept smiling because we had to. We faked confidence because he counted on us. My physical recovery was a breeze compared to the heaviness I felt in my heart. I just had a baby but he was invisible to most, someone we could tell people about but they could only see in pictures.

I cried at his first bath. And again when I snapped the buttons on his first pair of pajamas. We celebrated every ounce gained. But we also felt immense guilt. Our little NICU baby was in such good health compared to the others.  He never needed oxygen and only needed a feeding tube for a short time. Other mommas faced much heavier weights than I did. Also, I was angry. My body robbed me of “normal.” I never felt my water break, the pain of a contraction, or the urge to push. But I was grateful too – grateful for the foresight of my doctor. 

Graham was discharged at three weeks old, weighing four whole pounds. The click of his car seat in the hospital parking lot was the first sound of our new normal. In early October, we finally went home as a family of three. 

Today he is a spunky four month old – finally filling out those newborn clothes! He is still small but he doesn't know it. 

I love my husband.

I love our cat.

But my love for my son is fiercer than anything I’ve ever known.

He is our greatest adventure. 

Theo Mitchel Duchsherer | Whimsy Birth Story

We welcomed Theo Mitchel on September 10th, 2015 at 12:26pm. A head full of dark hair, beautiful blue eyes, and a fierce cry as he took his first breaths of life into this world. Theo has made us a family of four. A mom & dad to two sweet boys.

For nearly two years we prayed for a second addition to our little family, and we will never forget the feelings of happiness, shock & excitement when we found out that Holden was going to be a big brother! 

The first half of my pregnancy was pretty rough, but soon I started feeling better and the last few months flew by! We were able to keep the gender a secret from family & friends, but we did share the news with Holden in a special gender reveal. However, he was still convinced that he was getting a puppy!

When our first, Holden, was born, we went through so much: 18 hours of labor, an emergency c-section, baby flown out of state right away, a heart defect, a 3 week stay in a Minnesota children's hospital, a lot of scary moments. Nothing was "normal" or even close to what we were expecting as far as what we would go through having our first baby. So this second time around, the circumstances were right for us to schedule a c-section. 

Everything is so different knowing { for the most part } what's going to happen at your child's birth. We woke up on the morning of September 10th, took Holden to his 3rd day of preschool, went home to shower, grabbed our hospital bags, and had my mom drop us off at the hospital. It didn't really hit me until we hopped/waddled out of the car onto the sidewalk and my mom was about to drive away: We were going to have baby in less than three hours! 

The next two hours were full of nurses, needles & waiting for our turn in the operating room. Waiting. That was the hardest part. My body was shaking, nervous, full of adrenaline. Once I was in the operating room and everything was ready, I was so happy to have a friendly face checking on me { a sweet friend from church, who works as an anesthetician at the hospital, held my hand and talked to me while I waited for Michael to come down with the nursery staff. } I remember the moment Michael sat down near me. I started crying out of pure happiness. He'd be right next to me this time - his hand stroking my head, telling me how good of a job I was doing, reminding me to breathe, reassuring me. I'm so thankful God blessed me with such a strong, loving man. 

Our amazing OB worked quick, keeping me at ease the entire time, and pretty soon I heard her say "Here he is!" With that simple phrase we heard the sweet, loud cry of our baby boy. Michael and I both looked at each other, smiling so big, indescribably happy that the moment we'd been waiting so long for was finally happening. 

Soon, the nurse brought him over and placed him in Michael's arms. That moment, seeing your husband become a daddy { even for the second time } is one of the most beautiful moments. He cradled our sweet boy in his arms and we just stared at him, smiling, looking at each other in amazement. This is our baby. He's here! 

The next few days in the hospital were such a beautiful time for us with Theo. We didn't get this time with Holden. A few times a day I would just look at Michael and say "This is so amazing." And it was. Beautiful & amazing. The days and nights in the hospital were filled with sleepless little struggles of nursing & healing, visits from loved ones, and most importantly, a meeting of two brothers! 

When Holden met his baby brother for the first time, my heart ached with joy. Michael took this adorable video of the moment the boys met:

I mean, does it get any sweeter than this?! Holden is such a gentle, loving soul. God has blessed us with such an amazing big brother for Theo. Holden continues to melt us with his love for Theo. 

We are loving this beautiful season of life that God has blessed us with. Welcoming home a second baby hasn't been without its struggles, but it truly has been a wonderful experience! We can't wait to watch the boys' relationship continue to grow. I'm sure we'll be dealing with lots of mischief in the future! Theo is 4 months old already { where does the time go?! }. His personality is starting to develop and gosh, it's just the sweetest thing! Michael & I still have moments when we look at each other and say "Wow. God is so good!"