Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts after 34 years of marriage May 15, 2016

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Wedding guests toss rice at Randy and me as we exit St. John's Lutheran Church following our May 15, 1982, wedding.

Wedding guests toss rice at Randy and me as we exit St. John’s Lutheran Church following our May 15, 1982, wedding. That’s my mom in the pinkish dress standing next to my bachelor uncle Mike. My paternal grandma, in the red scarf and blue coat, is just behind me. That’s my sister Lanae, my maid of honor, in the long green dress. I love this photo. It captures a moment and portraits of loved ones, some no longer with us.

THIRTY-FOUR YEARS AGO TODAY, I married the man I love.

Our wedding day began with drizzle and clouds. But by the time of the reception and dance, skies cleared to a beautiful May evening in rural southwestern Minnesota. Family and friends celebrated with us in the Vesta Community Hall, where veterans’ uniforms hang in cases along walls. We polkaed and waltzed and bunny hopped and swung across the worn wood dance floor. I kicked off my toe-pinching ballet flats to dance barefoot.

There was nothing fancy about our wedding or the reception. Crepe paper strips running down tables and single carnations in vases. A meal catered by HyVee. Gingham aprons, stitched by me, for the waitresses. Green punch prepared by my mom. To this day, Randy remembers the not-so-appealing hue of that punch.

There are memories, too, of the trickster brother-in-law who let air out of our truck tires, necessitating a drive several blocks west to my Uncle Harold’s gas station.

While some of the memories have faded, others have not. Nor has our love. I love my husband as much today as the day I married him.

Admittedly, it’s a different kind of love, one shaped by years together, by a shared history, by the comfort that comes from being with someone for this long. Our experiences—good and bad—have made us stronger as a couple. Life isn’t always easy. But it’s easier with a loving partner beside you.

Randy isn’t the most demonstrative man. It’s just not in his nature or his genes. But he’s always been here for me and our three children, now grown.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the little things he does for me, which aren’t really little things. Every Sunday he prepares brunch. And nearly every weekend, even in the winter, he grills. I appreciate the break from cooking.

Occasionally, he buys me flowers for no reason other than he knows I need them. Each spring he brings me a bouquet of lilacs cut with a jackknife pulled from his pocket.

He works hard, sometimes too hard. I was grateful when he stopped working Saturdays a few years ago.

On Sunday mornings, he’ll sometimes slide his arm across the back of the church pew, his fingers lingering on my left shoulder. I feel so loved by that simple gesture, by having this man beside me as we worship.

Randy has also accompanied me to many poetry readings, supporting me in this writing venture. He’s a grease rimming his fingernails hard-working automotive machinist, certainly not the type you would envision ever listening to his wife read poetry. But he does, because he loves me.

I am blessed.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Minnesota Faces: September bridal couple September 18, 2015

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Portrait #40: Carlyn & Jared

 

Portrait 40, Jared and Carlyn

 

Aside June, September is the most popular month for weddings in Minnesota. That’s according to my unofficial, brief online research. I believe it.

My parents were married in September. So was my eldest daughter. And last September, my niece Carlyn married Jared.

They were wed in Walnut Grove, childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was a stunning autumn day, a reason September proves popular for weddings. The church was packed, the flower girls and ring bearers restless and cute.

And I was there with my camera, in an unofficial capacity. I’ve photographed weddings for family in the past, but won’t any more. I can do without the drama, emotions and challenges. I much prefer to shoot journalistic style images without the pressures of portrait photography.

Which brings us to this photo, taken as Carlyn and Jared’s wedding guests tossed birdseed at them. I love everything about this frame—the light, the motion of the seed showering the couple, the blur of the crowd, Jared’s loving glance at his bride, Carlyn’s smile. It captures a moment of celebration and love. On a beautiful September afternoon in southwestern Minnesota.

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Minnesota Faces is featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Oh, to be a kid at a wedding September 10, 2014

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KIDS ARE SO MUCH a part of my niece’s life that their participation in her September 6 wedding seemed natural and fitting. Carlyn works in her mom’s family daycare.

Darling flower girls, Ellen and Lainey, never made it to the front of the church to stand with the rest of the bridal party. One of the two burst into tears and then both wedged onto the laps of the bride’s parents, who cuddled these little girls for much of the service. That’s how much my eldest brother and his wife love these two.

The ring bearers, Hank and Connor, cute as cute can be in their black pants, white shirts and suspenders and dress shoes, managed to reach the front of the church. But then they roamed throughout the ceremony. Down the aisle and back up front. Then reverse.

No crying, though, after the initial flower girl’s outburst. So that was good. The cuteness factor just made you smile.

Two wedding guests and ringbearer Hank gathered on the church sidewalk next to the receiving line.

Two wedding guests and ring bearer, Hank, gathered on the church sidewalk next to the receiving line.

Afterward, during the hour-long congratulatory/receiving line process, kids played, wandered and ran outside the church. And when I spotted three of them, including my great nephew Hank, focused on something on the sidewalk, I honed in with my camera. They were oblivious to my presence.

Focused on...

Focused on…

What, I wondered, fascinated them?

Hank needed a drink from his sippie cup, which he toted around most of the afternoon.

Hank needed a drink from his sippie cup, which he toted around most of the afternoon.

Birdseed. Bagged birdseed to be opened and tossed at the bride and groom. It takes so little to entertain kids.

I wish many times now that life was as simple and uncomplicated as opening a bag of birdseed and spilling the contents onto a sidewalk.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

My beautiful niece on her wedding day September 9, 2014

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Carlyn and Jared leave the church in the early evening, showered with birdseed.

Showered with birdseed, Carlyn and Jared leave the church in the gorgeous early evening light of a perfect September day.

IT’S SO CLICHE to say that the bride was radiant. But no other word seems fitting for my niece, Carlyn, so in love with her now-husband, Jared, her high school sweetheart whom she married on Saturday at English Lutheran Church in Walnut Grove.

Just a historical note here. The English Lutheran church bell dates back to the late 1800s, when Charles Ingalls, the father of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, donated monies toward its purchase.

Lots and lots of birdseed tossed.

Lots and lots of birdseed tossed at the newlyweds.

The bridal couple, family and guests walked below that bell Saturday before witnessing a beautiful ceremony celebrating faith and family and the beginning of a new life together.

Look at how happy they are...

Look at how happy they are…that loving look Jared is giving his new bride.

Carlyn cried more than any bride I’ve ever seen. Cried walking down the aisle. Cried during the ceremony. Cried when she hugged her parents. So much emotion overwhelming her.

That look, oh, that look on the new groom's face...

That look, oh, that look on the new groom’s face after the ceremony.

And I thought how fortunate she is to live only blocks from her parents, to work side-by-side with her mother in a family-owned daycare. Likewise, Jared works with his father on their nearby farm.

Instead of signing their names in a guestbook, guests signed the leaves on this tree.

Instead of signing their names in a guestbook, guests signed the leaves on this tree.

These newlyweds will be surrounded by those who have loved and nurtured and cared for them their entire lives.

I watched as kids wove freely among adults on the church grounds and at the reception in the Westbrook Community Center. Small town carefree. Connected. Something you wouldn’t see at a wedding reception in a larger community.

Jared and Carlyn await their introduction and entry into the reception hall.

Jared and Carlyn await their introduction and entry into the reception hall.

On one end of the reception venue, kids tossed a toy football back and forth. A boy rumbled a toy truck across the floor. Preschool boys splashed in the drinking fountain.

And in between it all, adults laughed and conversed and danced to the beat of polkas, country line dances, 70s tunes that I once sang as a member of the Wabasso High School choir and more.

As my husband and I passed below street lights outside the community center, past the impressive corner veterans’ memorial and the old brick implement dealership where the bride’s dad (my eldest brother) worked before a new facility was built on the edge of town, I considered what a perfect day it had been. September weather at its best. My mom recovered enough to attend the wedding and reception. And love. Radiant.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Celebrating her granddaughter’s wedding September 8, 2014

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SHE WAS DETERMINED to attend her granddaughter’s wedding. And she did, one day shy of three weeks after suffering traumatic injuries in a fall.

Three of my mom's granddaughter's visit with her after the wedding.

Three of my mom’s granddaughter’s (including my daughter, middle) visit with her after the wedding.

She would be my 82-year-old mother.

About the only photo I managed during the ceremony, taken from my place in the pew.

About the only photo I managed during the ceremony, taken from my place in the pew.

Saturday afternoon Mom was among some 400 guests packing English Lutheran Church in Walnut Grove for the marriage of Carlyn and Jared.

The day marked a milestone for Mom, her first outing in three weeks except for the long ambulance ride from a southwestern Minnesota hospital to the trauma unit at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and the car ride back to a nursing home five days later.

The reception was held at the community center in the bride and groom's hometown of Westbrook.

The reception was held at the community center in the bride and groom’s hometown of Westbrook.

Already while hospitalized, Mom set a goal to attend the wedding. Then she decided that she might like to go to the reception for awhile also. She accomplished both.

Guests shower Jared and Carlyn with birdseed as they leave the church.

Guests shower Jared and Carlyn with birdseed as they leave the church.

It is good to have goals when you are eighty-two, or any time really.

I laughed because my mom's nails were painted and I forgot to paint mine.

Nursing home staff painted Mom’s nails for the wedding.

I am thankful to the staff of Parkview Home in Belview for encouraging and working with my mom and even painting her nails for the wedding.

I am grateful, too, for a family that has been there for her every step of the way, encouraging, supporting, loving.

And for prayers. Yes, prayers.

Mom faces a long road toward full recovery. I understand that. But she has already come so far.

Yet, it is not easy to see the fading purple bruises, the oversized bump that still mars her forehead, the neck collar that locks her broken neck in place, her frailness…

There are times when sadness overwhelms me. But then I remind myself to be grateful. For every single day I have my mother.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Personalizing a wedding: It’s in the details October 9, 2013

I PROMISED YOU no more photos from my daughter’s wedding.

But now I must break that promise because of Stacey, who lives in southern Minnesota and blogs at down to earth digs. (Check out Stacey’s incredible earthy and artsy homespun single-photo posts by clicking here.)

Anyway, when Stacey wrote the following comment on one of my wedding posts, I just knew I had to show you some of the details that shaped Amber and Marc’s September 22 wedding.

I think this is the most lovely, simply elegant wedding…so sweetly simple with amazing little details that were just perfect…the dress—so special, so beautiful…so perfectly worn by a beautiful bride.

Love the suits—not rented tuxedos….Love the setting of that historic building. The adorable card suitcase…the chalkboard…just wonderful!

The flowers—amazing! Ahhh, dusty miller in the bouquets…so pretty!

Yes, Stacey, an avid gardener and appreciator of all things simple and beautiful, understands the importance of details in comprising the whole, in shaping a setting and mood.

That said, let’s look back at wedding prep and the personal choices that, together, created, as Stacey says, a simply lovely, sweet and elegant wedding.

The bride's decision to shop for her dress at a vintage bridal shop in Minneapolis set the tone for the entire wedding.

The bride’s decision to shop for her dress at a vintage bridal shop in Minneapolis set the tone for the entire wedding. The bridal shop is housed in a former garage. Amber’s dad, my husband, is an automotive machinist. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Once the dress, a second-hand vintage replica gown, was chosen, Nikolina helped Amber envision the dress redone to suit Amber. She suggested adding a sash, which was the perfect addition to emphasize Amber's tiny waist and update the dress.

Once the dress, a second-hand vintage replica gown, was chosen, Nikolina (who runs Andrea’s Vintage Bridal with her mom, Andrea) helped Amber envision the dress redone. Nikolina suggested updating the dress with a satin sash, the perfect addition to emphasize Amber’s slim frame and tiny waist. The gown had to be taken in some, too.

Nikolina checked out the hem-line, which did not need to be adjusted, saving Amber lots of dollars in alterations. Hemming, we were told, is typically the most costly alteration. The beaded details and the flow of this body-hugging dress made it simply elegant.

Nikolina checks the hem-line, which did not need to be adjusted, saving Amber lots of dollars in alterations. Hemming, we were told, is typically the most costly alteration. The beaded details and the flow of this body-hugging dress create an elegant look.

When Amber initially chose plain navy blue pumps to wear with her wedding gown, I had to zip my lips, sort of. They were her "something blue," but I thought the wrong choice. I said something like "just make sure they don't show in photos." Eventually she changed her mind and chose these lovely bow-detailed and classy shoes. She had her toenails painted blue for the "something blue."

When Amber initially chose navy blue pumps to wear with her wedding gown, I had to zip my lips, sort of. They were her “something blue,” but I thought the wrong choice. I said, “Just make sure they don’t show in photos.” Eventually she changed her mind and purchased these lovely bow-detailed and classy heels. She had her toenails painted blue for the “something blue.”

Amber and Marc wanted to honor their parents and grandparents at their wedding reception and did so with wedding day portraits, like this of my parents, Elvern and Arlene, married on September 25, 1954.

Amber and Marc wanted to honor their parents and grandparents at their wedding reception and did so with wedding day portraits, including this of my parents, Elvern and Arlene, married on September 25, 1954.

Choosing flowers is no easy task. Amber and Marc researched online and in books.

Choosing flowers is no easy task. Amber and Marc researched online and in books looking for the right mix of colors and textures and design to shape the vision they wanted for their wedding. Tie selection is also important, finding just the right colors.

Ideas for bridesmaids' bouquets.

Ideas for bridesmaids’ bouquets. Notice the details, too, in the bridesmaid dress with the shirring at the waist and the tie. The dresses were custom made by Hong Kong based Mermaid Bridal.

Armed with information Amber had emailed, my floral designer sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, arrived at our home with fresh flowers and ideas.

Armed with information Amber had emailed, my floral designer sister, Lanae of Waseca Floral, arrived at our home with fresh flowers and ideas for the couple to consider. Check my blog posts for the stunning results.

The bridal couple and the father-of-the-bride worked on table numbers for the vintage blue canning jars that would grace tables at the reception. The choice of these jars followed the vintage theme and the color scheme for the wedding.

The bridal couple and the father-of-the-bride tie pink paper hearts on vintage blue canning jars for bridesmaids’ bouquets. The choice of these jars for bouquets and floral centerpieces followed the vintage theme and the muted blue/pink/green/grey color scheme for the wedding.

The historic Bachrach Building in downtown Faribault was the perfect venue for the wedding couple's vision of their reception. However, about a month before the wedding, I noticed that the flowers in the outside urns were mostly dead or dying. When I mentioned this to Amber, she admonished me to drop the idea of replacing the flowers because she did not want to spend more time and money on this. Because first impressions count, I contacted my floral designer sister. Together we hatched a no-cost easy plan to beautify the urns. I clipped nearly 40 hydrangea from my yard. Lanae brought ornamental kale, curly willow and greens from hers. She transformed the urns into stunning floral masterpieces that impress.

The historic Bachrach Building in downtown Faribault was the perfect venue for the wedding couple’s vision of their reception. However, about a month before the wedding, I noticed that the flowers in the outside urns were mostly dead or dying. When I mentioned this to the bride-to-be, she admonished me to drop the idea of replacing the flowers because she did not want to spend more time and money.  I quietly overrode her decision, which I would not typically advise. But, because first impressions count, I contacted my floral designer sister. Together we hatched a no-cost easy plan to beautify the urns. I clipped nearly 40 hydrangea from my yard. Lanae brought ornamental kale, curly willow and greens from hers. She transformed the urns into stunning floral masterpieces as shown here. The bits of purple peeking out are the petunias which had been planted in the urns.

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 wanted a sign out front to direct guests into the reception venue. The folks at The Cheese Cave, which is housed inside the Bachrach complex, kindly lent their sandwich chalkboard to us for the reception. Amber told me to write “Schmidt wedding” on the board. I added the hearts and the “A + M” detail inside the bottom heart, using two of the wedding colors, pink and green. Details, remember. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography of Minneapolis.

Mini chalkboards were used elsewhere throughout the reception venue, here to label the cheeses purchased at The Cheese Cave. The bride and groom wanted to showcase fine locally-made and/or aged cheeses.

Mini chalkboards were used elsewhere throughout the reception venue, here to label cheese purchased at The Cheese Cave. The bride and groom wanted to showcase fine locally-made and/or cave-aged cheeses. This photo does not show the actual set-up at the reception, but rather a shot I propped at home.

A "sweetheart table" just for the bride and groom. It's covered in one of the vintage tablecloths from my collection. The table was purchased for $15 months ago at a Montgomery, Minnesota, used furniture store. At the time of purchase, my husband asked why I was buying it. "Because I like it," I told him then. Little did we know our daughter would use if for her wedding.

Great care went in to selecting the vintage tablecloth for the bride and groom’s sweetheart table. I collect vintage tablecloths and pulled out those that matched the wedding color scheme of muted blue, pink, green and grey.  The bride selected this one from among several. The wine glasses came from the groom’s paternal grandparents and are engraved with the Schmidt family name.

Card gift boxes, in my opinion, are not exactly original. So the bride and I came up with an idea that was simple and vintage and personal. Here Amber attaches CARDS letters to jute with clothespins from my clothespin bag.

Card gift boxes, in my opinion, are not exactly original and rather boring. So the bride and I came up with an idea that was simple and vintage and personal. Here Amber attaches CARDS letters she made, to jute with clothespins from my clothespin bag.

And then the jute string of letters was hot glue gunned inside the bride's dad's vintage 1970s suitcase.

And then the jute string of letters was hot glue gunned inside the bride’s dad’s vintage 1970s suitcase, a suitcase used by the bride, too, when she was growing up. Not only was this vintage chic, but many memories are attached to this converted suitcase.

First the bride considered using old picture frames to hold guests' seating place cards. But then I remembered two old barn window frames stashed in our garage. One came from the Helbling family farm, where my husband grew up, and the other from my childhood farm. Perfect.

First Amber considered using old picture frames to hold guests’ seating place cards. But then I remembered two old barn window frames stashed in our garage for nearly 20 years. The one on the right came from the Helbling family farm, where my husband grew up, and the other from the Kletscher family farm, my childhood farm. Perfect. Meaningful and unique.

Name cards that the bride and groom created were attached to the old barn windows via jute and clothespins.

Name cards that the bride and groom created were attached to the old barn windows with jute and clothespins.

And all the "stuff" that went into creating the envisioned wedding and reception, mostly crammed right there into the back of the bride's parents' van.

All the “stuff” that went into creating the envisioned wedding and reception was mostly crammed into the back of the bride’s parents’ van. There are linens and vintage canning jars and window frames and tables and more inside the morning after the wedding. Hauling everything to the reception venue, because it had to be carefully packed, took three or four trips.

FYI: To see the end results of the above detailed planning, check my Minnesota Prairie Roots archives from September 23 – October 2. Or click here to view professional wedding photos at Rochelle Louise Photography.

To see the offerings from MermaidBridal, click here.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In love: A photo essay October 2, 2013

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A sweet kiss at their wedding reception sweetheart table set just for them.

Moving closer for a kiss at their wedding reception sweetheart table.

THEY ARE SO INCREDIBLY in love, my daughter Amber and her husband, Marc, the new Mr. and Mrs. Schmidt, married on Sunday, September 22, 2013.

Sweet

Pure love, joy and happiness during that first dance together as husband and wife.

You can see it in the way they look at one another,

First dance...

First dance…

in the way they hold one another,

Love in a snapshot.

Love in a snapshot.

in the way they are when they are together.

The couple's car, decorated and parked along Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault, across the street from the reception venue, The Loft in the Bachrach Building.

The couple’s car, decorated and parked along Central Avenue in historic downtown Faribault, across the street from the reception venue, The Loft in the Bachrach Building.

Newlyweds beginning their journey together through life as one, loved by God and family and friends, loving one another with a depth that takes your breath away.

FYI: This concludes my series of wedding posts. Please check my archives if you missed the previous postings beginning last week and continuing in to this week. And if you missed professional photos of Amber and Marc’s wedding day by Rochelle Louise Photography, click here. 

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling