We had the perfect early spring day for Luke & Claire’s engagement pictures at Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan!
From our initial FaceTime meeting together I already knew Claire and Luke were a lot of fun, but spending the afternoon together exploring Dow Gardens really got us excited for their wedding this summer!
Rob and I were scheduled to shoot a wedding in the lower peninsula, so we coordinated with Luke & Claire to do their engagement pictures while we were down, as well.
Luke and Claire love the outdoors, hiking, and exploring. In fact, they plan to spend their honeymoon on Isle Royale! While they didn’t have a specific location in mind, they requested if possible a nature-focused location with a variety of backgrounds. Midland, MI was almost exactly a halfway meeting point, and after some discussion we landed on Dow Gardens as the location for their engagement pictures.
March Engagement Photos in Dow Gardens
Dow Gardens is located right off of busy Eastman Avenue, but after passing through the visitor center the traffic noise fades away. Exploring the 110 acre property used to be a favorite way for Rob and I to spend a “day date” when we lived locally – every season has different features to enjoy! (The Butterflies in Bloom exhibit has always been a favorite.)
Luke and Claire’s late March engagement session ended up being perfect timing – the day before was sleety rain off and on all afternoon, but Sunday was clear skies and nearly 60 degrees!
We started by heading left down the Stream Walk towards the conservatory and the iconic red bridges. Unfortunately, while we knew the Conservatory itself was under renovation, we didn’t realize they had blocked off access to the bridges as well! 🙁 Fortunately there were plenty of other bridges and structures to explore.
I loved how the green barn doors matched the stone in Claire’s custom engagement band! Luke and Claire designed a bespoke two-stone ring with a teal Nigerian sapphire next to a diamond. I love including colored stones in engagement rings!
Early Spring in the Botanical Gardens
Claire and Luke dated briefly in high school, but due to being in different years didn’t stay together. Later they reconnected in college and started dating again. Claire remembers that even back in high school, Luke was the person she could talk with and feel completely like herself around.
The two words that come to mind for these two are comfortable and natural. We always tell couples that the first 20 minutes or so will feel a little awkward, and then it gets easier. However, I don’t think we even had 5 minutes of awkwardness during their session. We love adventurous, playful couples who are down to try anything and everything! I’m not sure who laughed more that afternoon, Luke & Claire or Rob & I.
Whiting Forest Canopy Walk in Dow Gardens
After exploring the gardens side of Dow Gardens, we headed over to the canopy walk. I just wished we had more time to explore all of the walkways and bridges in Whiting Forest! We didn’t get through the entire thing – I guess that means we need to go back! 😉 As it was, we were able to capture a lot of diversity thanks to all the twists and turns in the canopy walk.
Why an Upper Peninsula wedding? Why not?! 😉
When 2020 made virtual work the norm, Luke & Claire opted for a change of scenery, moving to Marquette for a year. While they’re back living in the lower peninsula for now, they are planning an intimate wedding on one of their favorite local stretches of beach.
As we were heading back towards the parking lot, we made a final stop at this patch of ornamental grass. The late afternoon sun coming through the stalks created such a pretty glow. Confession: I have a lot of favorites from Claire & Luke’s session. But these are some of my favorite favorites! 🙂 We would have stayed longer, but a staff member pulled up in his golf cart to remind us the gardens were closing.