Julia & James {An Illinois Engagement}..

You can call it PROVIDENCE..DESTINY..FATE….. SERENDIPITY..or even just GOOD OL’ FASHION LUCK…but these two were simply meant to find eachother in this world. Julia lives in darling little Elsah, and James lives across the river in St. Louis..they both attended Principia College, but didn’t meet until a few years after college, when they both decided to come back and work for the college…and they still do, to this day. James is the sports information director, and Julia handles all the event planning for the school. Although Julia and James are getting married in California..they flew me out to their little town of Elsah where they spend most of their days…on campus:) I was completely head over in heels IN LOVE with beauty that surrounds them there everyday. I was lucky enough to get in before all the snow had melted…to fulfill my current dream of shooting in that lovely fluffy goodness:)  Luckily, I got to come out the day before my session with them..just to hang out, scout photo spots on the campus, play DRESS UP with both of them, and just get to know them a bit before jumping into pictures….

It’s unanimous…they are amazing.

I felt at “home” with Julia right away..somewhere between us being SUPER chatty the instant we met at the airport, and sharing a burger and sweet potato fries over dinner..I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude that my job connects me to these  sweet, wholesome , genuine, and just rock solid people….Its kinda surreal at times:) While sitting at dinner, stuffing my face with fries like I hadn’t eaten anything since 1999, I adored hearing James tell me their “story” in depth, as he showed me the play by play pictures on his iphone…of the “engagement night”..videos of rafting trips and cupcake creations Julia had made..followed by them putting me up in the cutest little bed and breakfast in “the hummingbird room”….how can you NOT smile when a darling little old lady tells you that you are staying the the hummingbird room????? I layed in bed that night..pulled the pink quilt up to my face..stretched out my legs since I wasn’t sharin that bed with nobody for once!!!:)..closed my eyes and thanked God for this unbelievable little getaway, and that his PROVIDENCE brought Julia & James into my life.. (ok…and that he would keep me warm the following day since all I brought was ballet flats for the snow! Hello-purple toes-Its so nice to meet you!)..

The next day of shooting was exhilarating… We took our time,  let the sounds of Mumford & Sons echo in the car beside us…ate Sunchips and protein cookies between wardrobe changes..and explored the many acres  of beautiful countryside that Principia College had for us…..  My 27.5 hour stay in Illinois was short and sweet…and left me missing this darling, and hospitable couple the minute I boarded my plane..:) Seriously can’t wait for their wedding in July…eeeehhh!!

Upon arriving at the Missouri airport…Julia..(knowing The Maxwells LOVE for honey)..welcomed me with some local honey…a sweet card..and YES…one of my many love languages..OLD BUTTONS…


Julia & James “babies” are two hilarious dogs named Roxy and Bella who joined us for part of the session:)

I know I have done this before..but so many of my brides reallllly want to do this…wear their mothers wedding dress…there is something magical about it. I told Julia that if her mom ever decided to sell that dress, I would TOTALLY buy it..seriously!!!..Cut the sleeves off and I could totally see it in Anthro’s new BHLDN line..right???

For the record…Julia-you are insanely gorgeous. In case you missed the memo:)Your natural beauty & simplicity is breathtaking..I had to post a million of this series!

The diamond in her wedding ring, belonged to James mother, who passed a away a few years ago…Thank you for EVERYTHING J&J!! Love you both!!


Tina Lari - February 20, 2011 - 2:51 am

One of my fav shoots yet! Such stunning pictures!

Ivana - February 20, 2011 - 3:25 am

Love. Love. Love! They are too cute!

James - February 20, 2011 - 3:42 am

Ashley. These are awesome! Thanks so much for spending 27.5 hours with Julia and me. We had a blast. We feel so blessed to have found someone like you to be a part of our wedding day!

Levi - February 20, 2011 - 5:15 am

These are really stunning photos. The narrative and the nuances in the photos are very enlightening and insightful. The images of Julia in her mom’s dress are going to make, ahem, my wife cry! 😉 Dang, there’s a whole lotta love on here!

Samantha Joy - February 20, 2011 - 5:19 am

Sosososo gorgeous!!! Beautiful photos of two beautiful hearts!

Priscilla Francine Makeup - February 20, 2011 - 5:45 am

Gorgeous as always Ash!!!

Erin Michelle - February 20, 2011 - 10:54 am

Wow, she is a beauty. So fun to see a shoot in my element (SNOW!) Gorgeous photos.

Candace - February 20, 2011 - 3:19 pm

Oh MY! My beautiful daughter and her handsome prince! What a wonderful collection of captured moments of LOVE! Ashley, you are a truly gifted photographer, and we are SO grateful that you are with us in creating a memorable keepsake of treasured times. Julia, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I looked over the pictures of you in my dress….oh my goodness! That dress never had it so good! I just LOVE you two! With so Much Love and Gratitude! ~~ Mom

Katy from Albuquerque (for now) - February 20, 2011 - 4:21 pm

Oh my, my, my – these ARE gorgeous…but what should one expect with two, simply beautiful people and a very talented photographer!? I LOVE the backgrounds, the color choices, the poses, and of course Julia in her mom’s dress – stunning!! Thank you for including us in your love for one another!!!

Julia - February 20, 2011 - 8:14 pm

Ashleyyyyyyy! These are amazinggg! Thank you for sharing your JOY with us for that day or so … We miss you already and can’t wait for Julyyyyyy! 🙂 Love love!

Toni - February 20, 2011 - 8:46 pm

WOW she IS breathtaking!!!

Jailyn Cannon - February 21, 2011 - 12:23 am


Connie - February 21, 2011 - 2:18 am

Gorgeous!! I want to see more pics! Did Bella and Roxy get in more pictures??

Kelly - February 21, 2011 - 1:24 pm

Wow! These photos are amazing! Such wonderful shots and wonderful love shared. Ashley, you are a genius!

kym - February 21, 2011 - 1:43 pm

you never cease to amaze me! absolutely.gorgeous.as.always!

Johanna Bless - February 21, 2011 - 3:19 pm

Wow. You two are something. These pictures are treasures! We love you agapao!

Haillie Stock - February 21, 2011 - 4:11 pm

most adorable couple award!!!!!!!!! you look stunning Julia! 🙂

Heather McMullen - February 21, 2011 - 4:30 pm

I didn’t know what the heck you were talking about til I saw it….totally made the picture!! Awesome photos you guys……a beautiful couple you are, inside and out…love ya both…..

Joey DeWulf - February 21, 2011 - 8:47 pm

OMG. You two are beautiful! (inside and out) And these pics are amazing!!! <3 I was doing good, until I saw Juj in her mother's wedding dress. I *might* have shed a tear or two:):):P

Molly - February 22, 2011 - 2:48 pm

I check your blog every day, this is by far my favourite post! They are gorgous people and the shoot seems very real and down to earth. Maybe because it looks like my home – Ontario! Such an amazing job!

Robin Sell Dehnert - February 23, 2011 - 2:43 pm

Amazing. What ravishing people! These are just outstanding.

Cushie Switzer - February 23, 2011 - 7:30 pm

You two are absolutely ADORABLE!!!! these are THE BEST photos ever!! so cute and you all look amazing in each and everyone of them! I love your website, it is such a great idea : ) You guys are such a happy and sweet couple : )

Ellie - March 1, 2011 - 6:05 pm

so SO pretty! 🙂 Warm and peaceful even in the snow. I love the browns and whites and vintage everything! Just thought I’d stop by and finally leave a comment – good to see you this morning!!

Christen Barnes - March 2, 2011 - 12:55 pm

So beautiful….

Brooke - March 4, 2011 - 12:56 pm

I love everything about this post!!! Your blog is soooooo cute too!

HiLLjO - March 11, 2011 - 9:20 am

Love is Good.

I cried reading about her wearing her ma’s gown and the diamond in her ring. This is beautiful and so is their love captured in your photos. Will be back to see Wedding shots.

Mary Ann Sprague - March 13, 2011 - 11:37 pm

I love these beautiful pictures and you beautiful people!

Heatherr - March 14, 2011 - 11:12 pm

Go get’m tiger!!!

Kathy Bach, All About Tabletops - March 25, 2011 - 8:33 pm

Wow! I just met Julia & James today and they raved about Ashley’s work, I can certainly understand why. These photos are gorgeous! They are both so photogenic and I love the textures. Just lovely! Can’t wait to see the wedding photos!

Debbie Perez - May 6, 2011 - 10:45 pm

You are just gorgeous!!! I cried just like your mom did.. the pictures so great…

Zachary Stowasser - May 10, 2011 - 6:22 pm

Stunning! I especially loved Ashley’s narration… This is magic. 🙂 LOVE!

Julia you look amazing in that dress, I’m glad you did it!

So stoked we have connected!

Jessica Aka "Lovable Puppy" - December 7, 2011 - 11:25 pm

Julia you are absolutely gorgeous in all of these photos congrats to
You and your hubby

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