cozy winter engagement :: the jewelry





Hello friends! I’m back with more details from the Cozy Winter shoot. Today I want to tell you all about the jewelry worn by Ingrid. Each piece was designed and hand-crafted by the talented designer and artist, Laurie Ashbach of Arise Designs. Laurie happens to be a great friend and a client of mine, and when I visited her studio a few months ago, I was in awe of the new pieces she was creating. The fluid lines and simple details of her new collection were sophisticated, yet casual.

I was so inspired by Laurie’s new collection, that I approached her about designing a custom mount for my wedding ring. Laurie took my snippets of inspiration, and created something far beyond what I could have ever imagined. The ring that she designed and crafted perfectly fits my style and personality. It is entirely unique, and completely “me”–from the thick, weighty band, to the layered details. The stone is from my engagement ring, and was hand-picked by my husband years ago. Laurie wrote a wonderful blog post about the process of designing and creating my ring, from conception to completion. It’s fascinating to see how she works as both an artist and a metalsmith, taking an idea and making it a real, wearable piece of jewelry.

We happened to be in the midst of planning the Cozy Winter shoot as I was working with Laurie on the new ring design. Choosing the right accessories is important in any styled shoot, and in this case, I wanted to use pieces that were cohesive with our overall vision. Her style seemed like a natural fit for this shoot–from the organic simplicity to the playful details–her new collection just felt “right” to me. So, I asked her if we could feature her work in our shoot. She happily agreed, and provided us with a twisted metal bracelet, a silk-corded necklace and, last but not least, my ring, which Ingrid wore for the day.

If you are interested in having Laurie create a custom piece for you, you can contact her directly at laurie(at) Also, visit her blog, in{side}out for a dose of inspiration, faith and creativity!

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photography: Emily Steffen Photography | styling: Bethany Hway
attire: Lands End | jewelry + accessories: Arise Designs

cozy winter engagement :: behind the scenes



Styling a shoot is an experience like none other. It’s multifaceted, dynamic, creative and FUN! The process begins with brainstorming and the development of an inspiration board. Photos, colors and textures help to build the vision for me, Emily and our couple. Once we have a basic idea of where we’re heading with the shoot, I work on putting together a wardrobe and gathering the right props. Everything needs to feel natural and cohesive with the overall vision, as well as with the couple’s personality. Location is another important element to consider, because the setting has a dramatic effect on the outcome of the photos.

Sometimes shoots are more editorial or inspirational in nature, as opposed to a “real” shoot for a “real” client. In this case, we maintain more creative control, which enables us to focus on styling and shooting photos that represent us well and can be submitted to both blogs and print publications. The Cozy Winter shoot was one in which we used a real couple (who are really in love!), but shot for more inspirational purposes.

On the day of any styled shoot, Emily is behind the lens, and I am working with the couple, grabbing props, assisting, demonstrating (“see, this is how I want you to saw this log!”), and setting up vignettes.




Speaking of vignettes, for the Cozy Winter shoot, I designed a playful save-the-date for our couple that would feel representative of their love of all things woodsy and would complement the other elements and props we were using. I also created a handmade, personalized book that could be filled with memories and details from their love story. Emily made cute little heart and flower marshmallows, which were perfect toppers to mugs of hot cocoa, and were later used for roasting oven an open fire.

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photography: Emily Steffen Photography | styling + paper goods: Bethany Hway
attire: Lands End | jewelry + accessories: Arise Designs

cozy winter engagement :: styled shoot



January in the Midwest isn’t exactly known for being warm and cozy, but put together two people in love, mugs of cocoa, lanterns, a crackling bonfire, and a healthy dose of rustic details, and suddenly everything is all aglow. When Emily and I arrived on site for this wintery inspiration shoot back in early January, we knew there was magic in the making. Ingrid and Colby know how to laugh, and their energy and enthusiasm made for a great day.

I really enjoyed styling this shoot, and am crazy about the rustic, Nordic-inspired details that we were able to incorporate. The woodsy, “cabin” feel that came together felt warm and romantic in the midst of a very cold and snowy setting. Our shoot is featured on The Sweetest Occasion today, so head over there to check it out and view more photos. And stay tuned, because Part 2 is coming later today with behind-the-scenes shots, DIY details and more!









photography: Emily Steffen Photography | styling + paper goods: Bethany Hway
attire: Lands End | jewelry + accessories: Arise Designs

X’s & O’s






As I mentioned yesterday, I had a great time working on the details of Emily’s workshop this past weekend, collaborating with other creatives, and interacting with the students. The entire experience was inspiring and energizing! I was delighted to see Emily’s post this morning with photos from the event, and so I wanted to share a few with you. Head on over to her blog to see even more amazing images of our “rustic, modern, urban” warehouse shoot.

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photos by : Emily Steffen | design/styling/papergoods : Bethany Hway
location : Minneapolis Photo Center | desserts : Shauna Younge Dessert Tables
floral : Sadie’s Couture Floral | hair/makeup : Aubrey Thoren | linens : Linen Effects

styled shoot :: travis and shauna








A couple weeks ago, I bundled myself up and hit the slopes for a day of, not skiing, but styling! The ever-amazing Emily Steffen was behind the lens that day, and we had a stunning couple and an amazing backdrop to work with. Travis and Shauna are the kind of people you want to be around all the time. They are full of energy, vibrancy, and LIFE. And did I mention that they are totally in love and getting married this summer?

I had the absolute pleasure of styling their engagement photo session just a few days before Christmas. Shauna (who has an amazing fashion sense) and I worked closely together to choose wardrobe and accessories, and then I went to town carefully selecting props that would fit the couple’s aesthetic. Playing off Travis’ and Shauna’s personalities, I made it my goal to create a rustic, woodsy, and wintery vibe that had just a touch of glitz and glam. I used vintage skiis and an old lantern for some photos, and pulled out sparkly Christmas ornaments and a mini potted evergreen with gold garland for a few of the other shots. The finishing touch was the setting in which we shot. Afton Alps ski area on the eastern edge of Minnesota was coated in a fresh layer of powdery snow that day, and the result was pure winter magic.

If you want to see more of the photos from Travis’ and Shauna’s engagement session, head over to Emily blog for parts 1 and 2. And if you are interested in having engagement, wedding or family photos styled by me and shot by Emily, you can contact Emily directly at emily(at)

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All photos by Emily Steffen Photography.

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