Cardinal Bar Wedding / Madison WI / Emma + Mike


It’s Emma’s childhood home. Her parents moved in there, slightly spontaneously, when she was a mere ten months old and her sister was two years old. A gem of a home on Lake Monona in Madison.

Her sister keeps tabs on Emma, subtly checking in to see how she can help or make Emma more comfortable. Exchanging smiles, speaking with eyes, the way best friends communicate.

Her sister-in-law (to-be) quietly and beautifully makes things happen around the home. Not needing to be showy, just genuinely wanting to help. Bring flowers over here. Help Mike get ready over there. Like a choreographed dance, with the grace and poise, too.

Her mother recounts stories of when the girls were younger, how their family traveled the world. She would find deals on flights and they would make spontaneous trips; Paris for a 4-day weekend, why not? Buy tickets two days before they go? Yes. Emma smiles. She was always smiling. So grateful and soaking up the joys and subtleties of the day. She kept telling her family how much she loved them and appreciated them.

So much joy.

Mike greets family and friends, making sure everyone feels welcome and has what they need. It’s almost as if he forgets that people should be serving him, it’s his wedding day! He can’t help it. It’s what he does.

The nervousness of Emma’s father, who would officiate the ceremony, was present — yet he was calm. He would simultaneously give his daughter away, while keeping it all together enough to stand in front of the crowd. He did it well, with passion and great execution. A lawyer by trade, but a father. This day, an officiant for a few minutes, but still… a father. Giving his daughter’s hand to Mike.

Weddings like these are where we do our best. We cannot emphasize this enough. Ok, so maybe we don’t even take better photos (or maybe we do, because we’re in the inner circle — we can get close and not feel like intruders), but the moments just exist so that all we have to do is document them. We can’t create real joy or excitement. When it’s there, we’re drawn to it — and you can’t stop us from capturing that type of joy. When we leave weddings this intimate, it’s kind of emotional for us. Will we ever see these people again? We hope so. We just took part in one of the most exciting days of their lives… and now we just… leave. It seems so odd. Like we can’t say goodbye enough.

Emma + Mike’s wedding day, at a glance:

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Cardinal Bar Wedding / Madison WI