After shooting my cousin’s wedding with Janelle Elise Photography the previous summer, I was so glad that I could return the favor for Emily’s wedding. As Emily’s closest cousin, Janelle had double-duty on the wedding day…bridesmaid AND photographer! We were both treated to the extra adrenaline-boost that day when we found out that we were both nominated for MN Bride’s Best of 2013. Not that we needed it though…the whole wedding week was bursting with activities that easily brought excitement and enjoyment to all of us native Minnesotans in late-March. Who wouldn’t trade white snow for white sand?

The day before the wedding, the guys coasted through the canals searching for the perfect fishing spot. With a little wager on the line (no pun intended), Derek put all the other guys to shame by landing the very first fish of the day. Meanwhile, the ladies picked out flowers from the local farmer’s market to create their bouquets.

Just feet from the crashing waves, Derek & Emily read their vows in front of a few of their closest family and friends, while others in Minnesota watched over Skype. As they kissed, we heard cheers coming from the balconies overlooking the beach from some of the “unexpected attendees.”

In lieu of a typical wedding reception, we journeyed to downtown Marco Island for some street dancing, right on the bay. As the sun went down over the Gulf of Mexico, the Chinese lanterns were lit and the soft warm air carried the lanterns towards the horizon.