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Early on in our engagement, as we were figuring out our budget, Jeff and I went through the list of things that were important to us and things that weren’t. No. 1 on my list of things that were unimportant: engagement pics. My thought was that I cared much more about photos the day of the wedding versus images of us in everyday garb being in love.

My friend Erin, bridesmaid extraordinaire and the kind of friend who makes me believe in soul mates (if I were to believe in them, I don’t think it’s necessarily a romantic thing … but that’s a whole nother blog post), said, “But I’m shooting your engagement pictures.”

“You are?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “You and Jeff come to Chicago and we’ll wander around the city.”

Um … yes, please.

Erin and I met before classes even started our freshman year at Kent State University. She was a photographer on the campus newspaper, and I, a reporter. We used to take a day each fall and go play in the leaves so she could work on her lighting, her composition.

She was worried about the pics, as she hasn’t actually picked up a camera and shot for a long time. She needn’t have worried: She sent me a disk with more than a hundred images (between a Saturday evening and Sunday morning, she took more than 500 … or was it more than 1,000?), and they’re stunning. As I knew they would be; Erin is a phenomenal photographer.

Here are some of my favs.

With our feet in Lake Michigan:

Focusing on Jeff. I love it. Wedding-related pics are always so bride-centric:

Erin had scoped out where to take us, but as we walked down the block, she saw this awesome set-up and got excited:

Her place is next to Loyola University, which is a stunning campus. We wandered in early that Sunday morning for some truly killer lighting:

Jeff and I laughed that he looks at me like this all the time. It’s his “You’re doing something doofy, aren’t you?” expression:

I don’t mean to gross you out with some gratuitous smooching, but I so love that I’m kissing him so hard, my nose is all smooshed.

And finally, we handed the camera to Jeff and had him take some engagement pics o’ Erin and me. Our faces are pretty priceless.

Needless to say … I’m thrilled to have these. I not only got some great pics of Jeff and me looking all dapper and such, but also got to spend a weekend with my friend. And that’s always a good reason to do, oh, anything.

Pssst, have you entered to win that awesome polka dot pillow from The Pillow Case Shop yet? Do it, do it, do it.