Grace & Merritt | Best Day Ever!!!

It was a perfect September day. Sunny and warm and made to order for our beautiful couple, Grace and Merritt's wedding day.

The AirBnB that the girls stayed at the night before the wedding was buzzing with friends and family getting ready. Lots of laughter and excitement filled the air as everyone helped Grace with the final touches. She saved the final reveal for her Mom, Mardee which was a sweet moment.  The boys stayed at Merritt's mom's house on Miller Beach the night before and took a party school bus to the chapel.

The wedding ceremony was held at the beautiful Loyola University Madonna della Strada Chapel in Chicago. Merritt attended Loyola and one of his professors, Father Prehn, officiated the ceremony.

"It was really important for us to get married here, since it was such a special place for us."

How Their Love Story Began:

"We met the summer before our freshman year of high school. We quickly became very close and actually went to a homecoming dance together as friends our sophomore year. Although there was a lot of flirting in Spanish and math class, we didn't start dating until the end of our junior year."

According Grace it took a while to realize everything and she was oblivious to Merritt's feelings, even though everyone else knew! He still gives her grief about it!

What is your favorite way to spend time together?:

"We currently have opposite schedules, so when we are able to just be together and enjoy each other's company and conversation it is really great. We also really love eating, so if there is delicious food and good music involved that's definitely a bonus!"

How Did You Know He Was The One?:

"We really were best friends before we started dating. I was nervous to start dating him, because I was scared if it didn't work out then our friendship would be ruined. However, right before we became official, we talked about what we want in life and the type of person we want to marry. We had the same beliefs and basically described that who we want to spend forever with was each other. And at the ripe age of seventeen, sitting on my mom's couch watching Harry Potter, I realized I was going to marry my best friend."


At the ripe age of seventeen, sitting on my mom's couch watching Harry Potter, I realized I was going to marry my best friend."


How Did You Know She Was The One?:

"I fell in love with Gracie long before we started dating. I felt like I waited FOREVER for her. People in our high school would give me a hard time for liking her and for waiting around, especially because she was dating someone else at the time. But I knew that I was waiting for my wife. When she told me that she and her boyfriend broke up, I picked her up that night and we talked all night. We officially started dating a month or so after that. I've always known that we would end up together."

"I fell in love with Gracie long before we started dating. I felt like I waited FOREVER for her, But I knew that I was waiting for my wife."


The Proposal:

Merritt and Grace went down to Brown County State Park to enjoy the nice weather and go exploring. Merritt planned the perfect spot in his mind where he would propose and was ready to go. However, when they got to the park, the workers said it was closed for the day due to high deer population, and that there were hunters out there. Grace thought "no big deal, we'll just go to another park down here" but Merritt was silently freaking out.

"We picked a new park, Yellowwood State Forest, and decided to wander there. Everything worked out perfectly, and Merritt proposed to me on top of a hill overlooking the park and a beautiful lake."

"I was totally surprised! Best day ever!!!"

The Bridal Party:

"We had two maids of honor and two best men." Grace has two sisters, Madison and Abby, and there is no way she could ever pick just one. Merritt picked his two best friends, Keenan and Alex. He was grateful that Grace asked to have two people, because it would've been hard for him to choose just one of them to be his best man!

Grace had a bridal party of 5 girls: Madison Adair, Abby Adair, Jessica Rak (Merritt's sister), Sydney Johnson (Grace's stepsister) and Randi Johnson (Grace's stepsister).

Merritt had 5 guys: Keenan Plate, Alex Sagona, Daniel Rak (Merritt's brother in law), Zack Goldasich (Merritt's friend), and Daniel Adair (Grace's brother).

The flower girl was Grace's cousin Braelyn LaMere and the two ring bearers were Merritt's cousins Aidan Rogalski and Sam Dranger.

Describe your wedding style in 3 words: 


The bridesmaids wore a beautiful shade of light blue-gray that flattered all of the ladies. "My mom had Madison and I wear a similar color in her wedding when she got remarried in 2006, and I always loved it!" All the girls looked lovely in the color too.

The groom and groomsmen all wore navy suits. The suits were very sharp, and all the guys looked so handsome! The flowers were simple ivory roses, baby's breath and greenery. Grace loved the simple but classic look the flowers added to their wedding day.

Advice from the Bride:

"We had about 10 months to plan our wedding, and we thought it was a perfect amount of time to plan. We had enough time to plan things out, but we also knew we had a deadline to get everything done. I had my dream wedding already planned out on Pinterest, so it was just taking those ideas from that and bringing them to life!"

"Try to enjoy the process as much as you can! Even through the inevitable stress. You're only fiancé/fiancée for so long!!"

The Reception:

The reception was held at Meyer's Castle in Dyer, Indiana. The mansion was built from 1927-1931 to replicate a Scottish castle and throughout the grounds you'll find beautiful statues, a fountain and possibly a peacock or two! 



1.  Grace's wedding ring came from RosadosBox, which is a company from Chicago that uses non-conflict stones and recyclable materials that all comes from America. This was really important to Grace and she told Merritt it would mean so much to her if he got her ring from here. Merritt's ring is from DoAmore, another ethical company, and they were able to get Grace's fingerprint engraved on the inside. It was a personal touch that made his wedding band even more special.

2. Grace got her wedding dress from Nancy's Bridal Boutique in Indianapolis. Merritt's sister actually picked it out, and when she tried it on she fell in love! She continued to try dresses on but always kept coming back to this dress, and that's when she realized she found THE dress!

3. The bridesmaids got their dresses from David's Bridal and they were really beautiful!

4. "We actually got out flowers from a grocery store, Strack and Van Til, in Crown Point. They turned out so nice and didn't cost us an arm and a leg!! I wanted a simple and classic look, so we went with ivory roses, baby's breath and greenery."

5. "We used The Music Men as our DJ!"

6. "Since our wedding was in September, prime apple orchard time, we decided to provide County Line Apple Orchard Donuts as wedding favors. People who don't live in the region don't really understand the hype, but everyone was very excited about having these delicious fall treats at our wedding!"

7. "We gave our bridal party gifts and tried to personalize them to match the personality of each person!"

8. "Jamie and Carmen actually gave us the recommendation for our hairstylist, Maddie Raspe, who was so awesome! Then Maddie recommended our make up artist, Ami Bangalan, who KILLED it! We had an awesome team getting everyone ready the morning of!"

9. "To cut costs, we used a school bus from Illinois instead of a limo and it was so much fun!! We were able to invite a bunch of friends to come with us as well as our entire bridal party and their dates on the bus as well, and we brought a keg and snacks and had a blast!"

What made you choose Carmen & Jamie as your wedding photographers?: "We absolutely loved their style! Grace had already been photographed by them in the past from another wedding, so she knew how she looked in their pictures and had worked with them a bit before. We talked to a few other photographers, but we clicked with Carmen and Jamie and knew they would be the best!!"

A Special Shout Out:

"Our parents are really amazing. We are so grateful for all of their help along the way."

Mardee and Tom Saad
Eric Adair and Peggy Johnson
(Grace's parents) 

Stephanie and Scott Wilhelmi
Erik Peterson
(Merritt's parents)


By the way, how sweet is this gift to their Mothers? They had a favorite childhood photo printed inside the purses. Mardee's is a photo of her and little Grace from her wedding day. 

We had such a wonderful time and were so honored to capture Grace and Merritt's wedding day. What a great group of friends and family! 

And....We are so happy that we'll be getting the chance to work with them again! We announced on social media that we were looking for a couple with great chemistry to pose for a sexy but classy beach shoot. We were over the moon when Grace said  "How long do we have to get our sexy beach bods ready?" Haha.

We think they will look amazing and of course we already know their chemistry is beautiful. The timing will be great because it will be like an anniversary shoot to celebrate their love! Keep an eye out for part 2 of this love story! 

- Jamie & Carmen | Tales of a Dream