Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

June bride at the Village of Yesteryear June 26, 2020

A sign marks the Village of Yesteryear, a sprawling collection of historic buildings in Owatonna.

 

WHILE WALKING TOWARD THE HISTORIC CHURCH, I first saw her. The woman dressed in black. With a camera. Although I wondered at her formal attire, I didn’t consider that she might be someone other than a photographer interested in the Village of Yesteryear.

 

The District 14 school moved here in 1963.

 

I took this photo of the old school before the bride and her bridesmaids arrived.

 

From a distance, I photographed the photographer at work.

 

But soon enough, when I saw a bride and her attendants rounding the back of the 1856 District No. 14 schoolhouse, the photographer’s purpose became clear.

 

Trees frame the steeple of the Saco Church.

 

By that time, I’d reached St. Wenceslaus Church of Moravia, a church built in 1891 and moved here, to the grounds of the Steele County Historical Society in Owatonna, in 1962.

 

While I’ve previously been inside this historic church, it was locked on Saturday.

 

I pondered for a moment whether a wedding was planned here, but saw nothing to indicate that. So I took a few photos of the aged church, which was locked, just like all the other buildings in this historic village on this late Saturday afternoon. And while I did that, I kept my eye on the nearby photo session.

For one, I didn’t want to stray into the path of the professional photographer. I’ve been in her shoes and understand the frustration of dealing with wedding guests who get in the way and want to take photos. That presents challenges in time and management and more.

 

I stood to the side and photographed the bride and her attendants.

 

But, as I neared the group of women while en route to the parking lot, I couldn’t stop myself from asking, “Is it okay if I take your picture? I’m a blogger.” The bride was quick to approve and the photographer invited me to stand next to her. I declined. “I don’t have my mask,” I explained. She didn’t have her face mask either.

 

From the back of the church, the bride and her party are visible from afar.

 

That is the reality of living during a global pandemic. As excited as I was to happen upon this most common of summer scenes—an outdoors bridal photo session—I still remembered COVID-19. Minutes earlier I’d congratulated the bride on her wedding day, specifically commenting on the challenges of marrying in a pandemic.

 

You can see and feel the love in this photo.

 

But, as I framed a few photos, my thoughts shifted back to the moment, to the celebration, to the joy. Here were four beautiful young women, stunning in their sparkly dresses, arms wrapped around one another, luscious bouquets of peonies clutched in their hands, posing for portraits against an historic backdrop.

In that moment I witnessed life. Ordinary and celebratory. Life full and joyous. Life as lovely as a June bride.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In Appleton: A ring dance on a wedding day August 25, 2016

The Ring Dance fountain in City Park, Appleton, Wisconsin

The Ring Dance fountain in City Park, Appleton, Wisconsin

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT KIDS and water on a hot summer day that brings joy and, for me, a longing for the carefree days of youth.

 

Ring Dance fountain, #51 from a distance

 

Perhaps that is why I am so drawn to a piece of art centering City Park in Appleton, Wisconsin. “Ring Dance,” created by internationally-acclaimed sculptor Dallas Anderson, a native of nearby Neenah, is a must-see for me nearly every time I visit Appleton.

 

Ring Dance fountain, #56 cavorting

 

On my most recent stop at the park on a hot and humid late July afternoon, I envied the cavorting carved kids cooling off in the fountain. And I envied the young women also cooling their heels in the water as they posed for bridal party photos.

 

Ring Dance fountain, #54 hands up

 

Not wanting to interfere with the professional wedding photo shoot, I snapped a few quick shots and called it good. Typically I would take more care in composing images, but I wanted to be respectful.

 

Ring Dance fountain, #58 bride watching

 

I’m always curious about public art that draws me back repeatedly. This $483,000 sculpture, according to info I found online, was funded with private donations and was installed 20 years ago.

 

"Ring Dance" seems fitting for a wedding photo shoot. Here the couple poses near a massive round flowerbed in City Park.

“Ring Dance” seems fitting for a wedding photo shoot. Here the couple poses near a massive round flowerbed in City Park.

I also learned of a Minnesota connection. Sculptor Dallas Anderson, who died in 2009, received his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield, 20 minutes from my home and 300 miles from Appleton. Interesting how life circles and connects…

TELL ME, do you have a favorite water fountain sculpture? I’d like to hear.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating Amber & Marc’s marriage October 1, 2013

Eleven round tables, which will seat up to 10, filled the reception space. The groom's parents and grandparents and other family members were seated at the table in the foreground.

Eleven round tables, which will seat up to 10 each, filled the reception space. The groom’s parents and grandparents and other family members were seated at the table in the foreground.

WHEN THE BRIDE AND GROOM, my eldest daughter and her new husband, envisioned a reception venue, they pictured a warehouse type space.

The couple arrives at the reception venue in the Bachrach Building in historic downtown Faribault. The social hour was held in the first floor Atrium and the reception in the second floor The Loft. The exterior floral pieces were created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography of Minneapolis.

The couple arrives at the reception venue in the Bachrach Building in historic downtown Faribault. The social hour was held in the first floor Atrium and the reception in the second floor The Loft. The exterior floral pieces were created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography of Minneapolis.

Marc specifically wanted exposed brick walls. Initially, I could not think of any place in Faribault fitting their vision. And then I remembered The Loft (probably Faribault’s best kept secret) in the historic Bachrach Building and invited the engaged couple to drive down from the metro to view the venue.

The couple looks at The Loft space with the bride's dad earlier this year.

The couple looks at The Loft space with the bride’s dad earlier this year.

The minute they walked into the second floor Loft, I knew they had found the perfect place to celebrate their marriage.

Beautiful natural light filters in through west facing windows as the newlyweds settle in at their sweetheart table.

Beautiful natural light filters in through west facing windows as the newlyweds settle in at their sweetheart table.

And celebrate we did in this room of exposed brick and limestone walls, a wooden floor upon which to dance and a bank of western windows flooding the room with natural light. Professional photographers Rochelle and Tom Muellenberg of Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography raved about the beautiful lighting.

The bride's sister and maid of honor, Miranda, speaks and toasts the couple.

The bride’s sister and maid of honor, Miranda, speaks and toasts the couple.

As the sun set, we laughed and dined and talked and danced and raised our glasses thrice to toast the newlyweds.

BONUS RECEPTION PHOTOS:

wed

One of my favorite photos, converted to black and white to avoid the distraction of color. I love the emotions caught in this image.

The groom walks past the bride's parents' table.

The groom walks past the bride’s parents’ table, left.

The bride was beautiful in her stunning vintage replica dress.

The bride was beautiful, from all sides, in her stunning vintage replica dress.

Just look at how the natural light plays on the brick walls as the Rev. Robert Snyder, retired pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, leads the group in prayer.

Just look at how the natural light plays upon the brick walls and faces as the Rev. Robert Snyder, retired pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, leads the group in prayer.

Faribault based Arna Farmer Catering catered the meal of chicken breast in white wine sauce, roasted sweet potatoes and a mixed vegetable medley. Dessert of apple crisp and bars was served later. There was no wedding cake.

Faribault based Arna Farmer Catering & Cakes catered the meal of chicken breast in white wine sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, a mixed vegetable medley and bread (which is not shown here because I seldom eat bread). Dessert of apple crisp and bars was served later. There was no wedding cake. The food was outstanding. I’d recommend Arna and crew for the food and service anytime. Excellent.

The father of the bride, my husband Randy, starts his speech. He asked me to help write the speech since I am, um, yes, a writer. It was a hit with a mix of memories, humor and seriousness.

The father of the bride, my husband Randy, starts his speech. He asked me to help write the speech since I am, um, yes, a writer. It was a hit with a mix of memories, humor and seriousness. Our daughter and her husband watch from their corner sweetheart table.

My husband and I agreed that he should use several props to make his speech memorable. Here he pulls out Amber's favorite childhood doll, Sal, whom she dragged everywhere. Randy introduced the groom to Sal before handing over Amber's treasured doll.

My husband and I agreed that he should use several props to make his speech memorable. Here he pulls out Amber’s favorite childhood doll, Sal, whom she dragged everywhere. Randy introduced the groom to Sal before handing over Amber’s treasured doll. We also gave Amber a complete set of the Fox easy reader chapter books, including “Fox in Love,” by the Marshall brothers. They were among her favorites as a little girl. The DJ, per our request, also played a snippet of a Spice Girls song. That all-female band was one of Amber’s favorites as a teen. Randy concluded his speech by focusing on a parent’s love and welcoming Marc to our family.

The obliging DJ, Taylor from Taylor Made Tunes.

The obliging DJ, Taylor from metro based Taylor Made Tunes.

The Kletscher cousins (my side of the family) and significant others minus my daughter (who was out decorating the wedding car) and my niece Hillary, who'd already left.

The Kletscher cousins (my side of the family) and spouses/significant others minus my daughter (who was out decorating the wedding car) and minus my niece Hillary, who’d already left. That’s my son, Caleb, third from the left in the white shirt in the back row. He was an usher.

Meet the Schmidts: Jon Eric, the groom's brother and best man, left; the bride, Amber; the groom, Marc; and Jon Eric's wife, Stephani. Photo courtesy of Jon Eric Schmidt.

Meet the Schmidts: Jon Eric, the groom’s brother and best man, left; the bride, Amber; the groom, Marc; and Jon Eric’s wife, Stephani. Photo courtesy of Jon Eric Schmidt. Jon Eric and Stephani were married earlier this year in their native California.

The single ladies celebrate after one of them catches the bouquet.

The single ladies celebrate after one of them catches the bouquet. Much to my relief, there was no garter toss.

The celebration ended shortly after the couple left at 9:30 p.m.

The celebration ended shortly after the couple left at 9:30 p.m. That’s Sal peeking out of the cloth bag carried by the bride.

FYI: Click here to see photos of the reception set-up in the second floor Loft and the first floor Atrium, where the social hour was held.

You will find more information about Arna Farmer Catering & Cakes by clicking here.

For info about Rochelle Louise Photography, click here. And to view Rochelle’s blog post about Amber and Marc’s wedding, click here.

To learn more about Waseca Floral, click here.

To view earlier wedding posts, check Minnesota Prairie Roots archives from the past week.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo by Rochelle Louise Photography is copyrighted and used here with permission.

 

Love one another: Amber & Marc’s wedding day September 30, 2013

Trinity Lutheran Church, decorated with ferns from my friend, Mike, and with hydrangea pew flowers created by my floral designer sister. Trinity is our family's church, where the bride was baptized and confirmed and attended Christian Day School.

Trinity Lutheran Church, decorated with ferns from my friend, Mike, and with hydrangea pew flowers by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Trinity is our family’s church, where the bride was baptized and confirmed and attended Faribault Lutheran School.

Dear friends, since God so loves us, we also ought to love one another.—John 4:11

LOVE. GOD’S LOVE. The young couple’s love for one another. Love brought family and friends together at 4 p.m. Sunday, September 22, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault, Minnesota, to witness the marriage of my daughter, Amber, and her now husband, Marc.

I love that they chose Sunday as their wedding day, although I know not all invited guests were pleased.

Amber and Marc. Photo by Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography.

Amber and Marc. Photo by and courtesy of Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography.

But Sunday, a day of rest, a day set aside for the Lord, seemed the perfect day for this couple to unite in marriage. Their faith has been an important part of their relationship from the beginning and will center their lives together.

John 4:11 was among their chosen Scripture readings.

Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt are absolutely, incredibly, in love. Photo by Rochelle Louise Photography.

Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt are absolutely, incredibly, in love. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

They also chose, rather than to light a unity candle or pour sand from two containers into one, to share Communion. Just the two of them. The pastor noted in his message, how he appreciated this decision, how years ago Communion was a part of most Lutheran wedding services.

When the young couple partook of The Lord’s Supper together for the first time as husband and wife, tears edged into my eyes, just as they had earlier when my husband walked his daughter down the aisle. It was an emotional moment.

And even though the mother-of-the-groom vowed that she would not cry—and she didn’t—I would not, could not, make that promise. For I knew I would never keep it.

BEFORE THE WEDDING SNAPSHOTS:

The bride and her attendants with the stunning bouquets created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

The bride and her attendants with the stunning bouquets created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography.

The bridal party awaits the beginning of their photo shoot.

The bridal party awaits the beginning of their photo shoot. The second-hand bridal gown was purchased at Andrea’s Vintage Bridal in Minneapolis. The bridesmaids’ dresses were custom made by dressmakers in Hong Kong (I think) and purchased through etsey.

When my daughter tried on this dress, we all knew, just knew, it was the one for her. She had it taken in and a sash added with no other alterations made.

When my daughter tried on this beaded replica vintage dress, we all knew, just knew, it was the one for her. She had it taken in and a sash added with no other alterations.

Sister of the bride and maid of honor, Miranda.

Sister of the bride and maid of honor, Miranda.

A single hydrangea adorned each pew.

A single hydrangea adorned every other pew.

The wedding party heads outside for photos. No, I did not follow out of respect for the professional photographer.

The wedding party heads outside for photos. No, I did not follow out of respect for the professional photographers and at the bridal couple’s request. It’s best to stay out of the way. Because of that, dear readers, I took no formal wedding couple/group shots.

The flowers, oh, the flowers. My beyond talented sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, created the bouquets.

The flowers, oh, the flowers. My beyond talented sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, created the bouquets.

FYI: Please click here to check out the work of Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography. This husband-wife team set a serene mood for the photo sessions with their relaxed and confident attitudes. I cannot wait to see the remaining results of their nine hours covering Amber and Marc’s wedding. From this first glimpse of their work in three of the photos so credited above, I am beyond impressed. Thank you, Rochelle and Tom. When you click onto Rochelle’s website, also click onto her blog to view her take on Amber and Marc’s wedding and some of her favorite photos.

Click here to reach Waseca Floral, where my sister, Lanae Feser, works as head designer.

To learn more about Andrea’s Vintage Bridal in Minneapolis, click here.

To view previous “My daughter’s wedding” posts, click here and then here and also here.

Two more wedding posts will be forthcoming.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photos by Rochelle Louise Photography are copyrighted and published here with permission.