I (Joel) imagine that when most people are planning for an early December wedding, they are planning on winter weather. Even just a few weeks ago, we had multiple inches of snow on the ground. Rachel and Dustin have been engaged for quite a while, and for the past few years, they have been paying attention to the weather on December 1st…and each year, it has had nice weather. When it came to their big day this past weekend, not only was it nice, but it was almost 70 degrees outside! It felt more like September than it did December. It was cold a few days before the wedding, and now just two days later, it’s cold again. But on their day, there was this amazing warmth…and I think that is so appropriate for these two. They have been a couple since high school, and they just fit together perfectly. Their day was a perfect reflection of that. One of my favorite things about the day was seeing how much these two are loved. They had a huge wedding party, and it was clear that no one was there to just “fill numbers”…they were so thrilled to be there celebrating with them. The wedding ceremony was in Hillsboro, MO with the reception at the Elks Lodge, Festus, MO. In between the ceremony and reception, we stopped for photos at a few places (and had a cameo appearance by their baby…their dog Dixie!).

I have a few special shout-outs for the day. First off, when we pulled up to our first photo location, my jaw dropped because I realized instantly that it was at the house of one of our amazing couples from 5 years ago, Kelly and Steve. And the barn we were shooting at was actually the one built for that wedding! I was able to see Kelly’s parents and give them hugs (they are an incredible family). If you care to see any photos from that wedding, follow this link! Hillsboro MO Barn Wedding Photography

Secondly, I somehow dropped my keys in the grass while photographing down by the lake. After a brief search, we had to abandon the search because I could not waste the time looking for the keys when we had more photos to get for Rachel and Dustin (because photos are incredibly important to her, and when it comes down to it…there is no bigger priority than doing my job. Keys can wait). Tyler and Katie were kind enough to let me jump in their truck with them, so I left my car there. After we finished photos at the next spot, they drove me back to the house. When we got there, we discovered that four members of the wedding party had driven back to start looking…and they found them! It was dark at that point, so it would have been very hard to have found them at that point. It was a huge relief, and I did not have to sleep in my car that night. I cannot thank them enough for that! (and just another example of how we always have the greatest groups of people at our weddings…amazes me time and time again)

And lastly but most importantly, I booked this wedding because of the bride’s sister, Melissa. She, actually, was my very first second-shooter at weddings with me when I was still getting started and had no idea what I was doing. She worked with me for years and always was a treasure to me. Even after Shannon and I got married (and Shannon was learning the craft), she was still with me. She shot our engagement photos. She shot our wedding. We have prints of us on the wall at our home that she shot. We love her to death, and it was so so wonderful to see her and spend the day with her. And obviously, since I was flying solo that day I had to put her to work at least a little bit by holding the reflector for me. Love you, Melissa!

Here are some of our favorites from the day. Huge congrats to Rachel and Dustin!

Joel Conner

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