| Jen & Mike | Central Illinois Wedding | Decatur Country Club Reception | Sarah Jane Photography |

Jen & Mike had a BEAUTIFUL wedding day, getting married at St. John’s Lutheran Church here in Decatur with their wedding reception at the gorgeous Decatur Country Club. We could not have asked for more perfect weather and as you can see they are an absolutely adorable couple.

Decatur Illinois Wedding, Decatur Country Club Reception, Sarah Jane Photography, Decatur IL Photographer, Wedding Photographer, Wedding Portraits, Sarah JaneFor this wedding the SJP team was a little rounder than usual as their wedding date was only TEN days before my due date (9 days before #babyB made her arrival). And I wasn’t the only one with extra hands on deck as my second shooter, Elizabeth, was also around 7 months pregnant at the time too!

Well even if I did waddle a bit I was thrilled to be able to capture this couple’s special day! Here are some of our favorites….

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Daddy Daughter Family Session | Decatur IL | Sarah Jane Photography

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This adorable little gal had a birthday this week so in honor of her big day I thought I’d share a few from her session on the blog! Jason wanted a fun session to show his little gal she’ll always be daddy’s little girl even though she’s growing like a weed. They were both so sweet and so fun to photograph. I know the album Jason chose is going to be something very special for her for years to come.

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| Decatur IL Small Business | The Secret Garden Florist |

It’s SMALL BUSINESS FEATURE time! This month, I’m so excited to bring you one of Decatur’s finest florists, The Secret Garden. Lori & Michael are so much fun and are really big supporters of growth and development in our area (which y’all know I love). That’s actually how I reconnected with these two in time to bring you their feature this month; we ran into each other at Millikin’s Micro Business Roundtable event last month and with the cold weather out I figured they would be the perfect business to feature in March so we can get a little reminder of the spring beauty that is just around the corner! Well, enough from me, let’s hear from Lori!

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DON’T MISS THIS DEAL JUST FOR SJP READERS: MENTION “SJP” FOR 10% OFF YOUR PURCHASE IN MARCH!

The Details:  Lori & Michael Barrett , Owners/Operators at The Secret Garden | In Business: 25 Years, Lori & Michael purchased the business in January 2010.

Hours: Monday – Thursday 8:30 – 5:00, Friday 8:30 – 6:00, Saturday 9:00 – 2:00, Closed Sunday | Location: 1215 E. Pershing Rd. | Phone: 217-875-9038

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Tell us about your business… What do you do? We make people smile! The Secret Garden is unique in its variety of gifts and offerings. We carry an array of Fresh Flowers, Permanent Botanicals, Green and Blooming Plants, Collectibles, Gifts, Balloons, Tasty Treats, and so much more. You never know what you will find when you come into the Secret Garden. We delivery all of the items we sell to Decatur and the surrounding areas.

Can I just stop to say I LOVE the first sentence of Lori’s reply ‘We make people smile!” She goes on to tell you how they do that, but their focus is truly to make you smile and what better business model is there?!? 

We are also a full service wedding and event florist. Offering full wedding set up, tear down, rental, and on trend designs. For brides on a budget we offer package deals that cover all of their floral needs but help with keeping the costs low. For the DIY bride we offer bulk flowers. We order, inspect, and process the flowers for the Bride. Then they pick up the flowers and create their own wedding flowers.

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“You would not believe the power of a flower.” – Lori

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Amen sister!  It really is an amazing feeling to have someone love your work as much as you do and love it enough to share it with friends and family. 

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What other local business do you just LOVE? Why? Oh wow, this is a tough one. We work with so many it would be impossible to decide. We have partnered with local bakers, photographers, dress shops, and so much more. We believe that supporting small business is the best way to give back to the community. (You all know I agree 100% with that!)

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Carol ~ Shop manager and an Illinois Certified Professional Florist. Carol has worked at the shop for 15 years.

Sheryl ~ She is a Certified Balloonist and lead designer. Sheryl has worked at The Secret Garden for 20 years! Certified Balloonist?!?! My job is fun, but that sounds awesome! How on earth could you have a bad day as a certified balloonist?!? 

The Amy’s ~ Amy H ~ Amy calls herself “lead grunt” she works for major holidays and some Saturdays. She does it all, phone, delivery, and some designing.

Amy G – Our newest staff member – She loves to spread smiles by delivering flowers. She is in training for a sales position and may someday become a designer.

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When did you know you wanted to go into this business? We both worked for corporations in the past. In the evenings we would discuss our day and see the mistakes that big companies make. Not valuing their employees, poor planning, unrealistic goals. We always felt that if we went out on our own we could do things differently and become successful.

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Describe your PERFECT day… When you are surrounded by flowers it’s hard not to have good days just about every day. I think we will see a PERFECT day when we retire. We will be able to look back on our business, see the impact on other people’s lives, and know that we did what we set out to do… make people smile!

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You’ll also want to like The Secret Garden Page on Facebook where you can get in on some amazing deals like their $5 Fridays, Birthday celebrations and Name Days!

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SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS:  If you’d like to have your business featured on the SJP blog please visit the following link to download the information/questionnaire form which you can email back to mail@sjanephotography.com. We are now booking for 2014 features and showcase one business each month. Your feature includes FREE 20 minute location shoot by Sarah Jane Photography, blog and facebook feature and web images to use on your online spaces (facebook/website/etc).  Our business features are now also being published monthly at www.redecatur.com!

Download the information here:https://www.dropbox.com/s/urr7zdkh64szon7/MarketingBusinessFeatures.doc

| Decatur IL Family Photographer | Christmas Photos |

This year (well ok, last year) I did something brand new for Sarah Jane Photography! I hosted a one-day mini session event for Christmas portraits at the studio. Since it was the first event we had just a few available spaces and I’m so excited about the beautiful families and little ones we hosted.

Take a look at these adorable families and the gorgeous makeover my fireplace received from the ever-talented Elizabeth from Punch & Sizzle.

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Decatur IL Small Business: The Perfect Pair Antiques & Salon | Sarah Jane Photography

Its time again for our small business feature, the first of the year since I was gone most of January. I’m very excited to be featuring The Perfect Pair Antiques & Salon… that doesn’t even begin to highlight all the wonderful things this place offers!

I had wondered into Wanda’s shop once before but was re-introduced to this awesome space by Elizabeth VanHoutan (who you might remember from my September small business feature) who hosts her Paint Like Me Parties at The Perfect Pair. It’s come a long way in the past year and I love everything they’re offering right her locally. But Wanda can tell you better than I can so let’s hear from her….

The Details: Wanda Timmons, Owner of The Perfect Pair Antiques and Salon | In business 2 years!

Hours: 10:00am to 4:00pm Tuesday thru Saturday | Or By Appointment

Location(s): 266 N State Rt 121 Warrensburg, IL 62573

And be sure to check out The Perfect Pair Antiques and Salon on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theperfectpairantiques

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Tell us about your business… What do you do? Our business has taken MANY directions. What started off as a painting business and faux finishing school has turned into a Furniture refinishing, Repurposing of furniture, Paint Classes, Canvas Classes, Paint Parties, Distributor of Faux Effects Silver label paint products and a warehouse full of Furniture Consignment.

What makes your business unique/special? We strive to create a relationship with our customers to make their experience here memorable. Wanda is so detailed in her work and expects the same from her vendors. She wants her furniture pieces to be of such good quality that they can be handed down for generations.

Wanda has just about anything you could possibly imagine at The Perfect Pair… doors, custom painted furniture, antiques, mirrors, windows, frames, and even the kitchen sick! 

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What item/service on your menu or in your shop do you just LOVE and think everyone needs? Taking one of our Classes and creating a piece of art or learning a paint craft to me is one of the best parts of this business. I love seeing the look on the faces of both young and old when they have learned a new painting skill or created a piece of art.

I’ll have to agree with her on this one! Ryan and I took a Paint Like Me class at The Perfect Pair and LOVED it (yes Ryan loved it too). Our canvas was Christmas themed so we’re going to have to get back in there for another set we can leave up all year round! 

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In what way have you gone above/beyond in the past for a customer? I strive to take any steps I can to make our customers experience one to walk away from with a since of appreciation. I never want a customer to feel like I don’t have time for them. Whether it be helping load a piece of furniture, taking a package to UPS late in the day, pouring off a small amount a paint product so they can try it out before investing in the larger amounts, adding a custom finish to a piece of furniture or having a custom piece of furniture built.

What is the coolest thing you’ve ever had a client do for you? Years ago when I was a painting contractor I had mentioned (one day while working in her home) that all I wanted for Christmas was a set of Christmas dishes and my family thought I was crazy. At the end of that job (several weeks later) she handed me an extra check and said go and buy those Christmas dishes. I went out the next day and bought them and now each year at Christmas I think of her.

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What tool/equipment/or other vendor could you not imagine doing business without? Why? I have been blessed with many Vendors that I could not run this business without, too many to mention. From the quality of the product they bring in to sell, from the amount of help they provide when I call upon them. Of course, I am also blessed with an amazing Daughter that runs her Hair Salon out of the back of our showroom. Her and her customers in the beginning were the jump-start I needed.

What other local business do you just LOVE? Why? I really enjoy Del’s Popcorn Shop in Downtown Decatur. I love the environment when I go in there and sharing there products with family and friends around the country.  My daughter in laws favorite gift is one of their caramel apples.

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Introduce us to your STAFF…

Mandi Morlan: She is my right hand when it comes to the social media part of my business. I have seen the business grow so much since I hired her. Her writing skills and dedication to our business has been a true blessing.

Megan Timmons: Megan is not only my daughter but also my best friend and business partner. She is always there to pull up the slack when I need it most.

Mike Timmons: He is not only my husband, but also most of all he is my problem solver and every business needs a problem solver.

Tell us about YOU… WHY did you choose to do what you do? Out of high school I worked at a bank. I started as a messenger and worked my way up to a teller. I loved working with people. I strived to have the customer want to come to my window. I loved seeing them stand in my line to have me wait on them even when there were other windows open. Once I had my children my life long dream was to become the best mother on the face of this earth. After staying home for 4 years and the need for me to the make money for the extras (vacations, ball leagues, Christmas gifts, etc..) I decided after learning to paint and wallpaper my own home that would be the business for me. I would be able to schedule my business around my family. This is when Wanda’s Wallcovering took shape and from there, it turned into Designer Finishes (my faux finishing school and contracting business) and now the addition of The Perfect Pair is the rest of the story…where I still want my customer to choose me when it comes to the services I offer.

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When did you know you wanted to go into this business? I have said many times in this journey that God has been my guide and lead me in every step and change of my business. I would have never guessed 26 years ago that this would be what I would be doing. I truly believe my purpose in this life is to serve, teach and provide a business for others and myself to prosper.

What are you passionate about outside of your business? Cooking. I love to cook, especially when I am able to cook for my family. Now that my children are grown and some having families of their own, it means so much when I am able to have family dinners together.

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Describe your PERFECT day…
I would describe the perfect day as one where I could be in my paint room with my granddaughters.  When one of them ask “Memaw can we go to the Paint Shop?” I want for nothing else in this world. It is our playground! Being able to help them create and learn my trade is something I hope to be able to pass down to them.

I hope that when my day on this earth is over that my family and customers will be able to look at the life I have lead and saying she was truly passionate and loved her God, Family, Job and life to the fullest.

SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS:  If you’d like to have your business featured on the SJP blog please visit the following link to download the information/questionnaire form which you can email back to mail@sjanephotography.com. We are now booking for 2014 features and showcase one business each month. Your feature includes FREE 20 minute location shoot by Sarah Jane Photography, blog and facebook feature and web images to use on your online spaces (facebook/website/etc). 

Download the information here:https://www.dropbox.com/s/urr7zdkh64szon7/MarketingBusinessFeatures.doc

Rachel + Patrick | Engagement Portraits Jefferson City MO | Sarah Jane Photography

Even though we’ve now been in Decatur IL for 3 years now we are still Missourians at heart (sorry Illinois, home will always be home) so I LOVE the opportunity to go back and photograph Missouri weddings, especially when they are in my hometown!

We had a beautiful day for Rachel & Patrick’s engagement session at Binder Park and these two were a blast to work with. Aren’t Rachel’s eyes stunning?!?! You’ll be seeing more of these two in October after the big day, but here are a few from their engagement session to enjoy NOW.

Be sure to stop by the facebook page to see more and give them a few LIKES.

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Decatur IL Family Portraits. Stogsdill Family. Sarah Jane Photography.

| Family Portraits at the Family Farm! Decatur IL |

This family is AWESOME! I absolutely love working with them and after Ali’s senior session I was thrilled to work with them again for family portraits with everyone.

These folks are gorgeous but on top of that they are a blast. It was CRAZY windy on their session day (like seriously NUTS) but having the session on their familly farm we were able to create unique and personal images inside the barn while hidding from the wind so we didn’t blow away.

You can see MORE on our facebook page and be sure to show them some love by giving them a few LIKES! 

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Trent. Warrensburg-Latham 2014 Senior. Sarah Jane Photography.

| Decatur IL Senior Photographer | Sarah Jane Photography | WLHS |

Trent is a 2014 senior at Warrensburg-Latham High School and both a talented basketball AND football player so we, of course, found a way to get both those talents featured in his session. We also explored a few areas around some Decatur warehouses. 

Check out a few of my favorite images from Trenton’s senior session! View MORE on our facebook page!

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Decatur IL Family Portraits. Barbee Family. Sarah Jane Photography.

| 2013 Barbee Family Portraits | Rock Springs Decatur IL | SJP |

While I love meeting new clients every year, I adore the opportunity to work with existing clients for multiple sessions! It’s so fun for me to get to know your family and watch it grow/change over the years and for seniors, like Ally, we work together so closely on individual portraits that I love the opportunity to get to know the whole family too. 

Ally was one of my 2012 seniors and I just recently had the chance to photograph her whole family. We had a great time (even the boys) at Rock Springs creating images for their home. I’m so excited to see 5 of these images displayed as a beautiful canvas collage in their space! 

Be sure to head over to our facebook page to see more from their session and give them a few LIKES so we can post MORE!!! (www.facebook.com/sjanephotog)

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Jacob. 2013 High School Senior Portraits. Decatur IL. Sarah Jane Photography.

| Jacob | 2013 Senior | Sarah Jane Photography |

I have mentioned how much I LOVE photographing uber talented seniors?!?!?! Whether it’s athletics, art or music highlighting these senior’s rock star talents is one of the best parts of my job. Plus, drummer = literally rocking out on session!! (I’m sure the downtown businesses love me, haha). 

Check out some of our favorites from Jacob’s session! And remember 2013 seniors it’s not too late for your once in a lifetime senior portrait experience at SJP! Check out our new senior website: www.sjanephotography.com and see more images from Jacob’s session on our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/sjanephotog

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© 2013 Sarah Jane Photography | www.facebook.com/sjanephotogboudoir  Like the image? Please LIKE the page. All image posted with model permission.

Newborn Portraits Decatur Illinois. Sarah Jane Photography Portrait Studio.

| Newborn Portrait Experience | Maila | Sarah Jane Photography |

You just can’t help but smile when you look at this beautiful little girl! I met Maila’s momma Tia at the Neuhoff Media Lady Palooza event and she was just days from having this little beauty!

With some quick scheduling we were able to schedule their consultation to plan the session and just a week later their session with new baby Maila! We included these two proud parents in portraits I know Maila will treasure forever when she’s older and that mom and dad get to enjoy right now!

Take a look at a few of our favorites and be sure to head over to our Facebook page to give them your LIKES so they can see more!

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So excited to have also designed these custom birth announcements which will be landing in her family’s mailboxes soon!!

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| Holly | Decatur IL Children’s Session|

| Sarah Jane Photography | Charity Model Search Session |

I’ve had the opportunity to work with Holly’s family multiple times over the last couple years! I photographed her sister Bridget’s senior portraits, then her family and now it was her turn to shine!

Holly’s session was part of our annual Charity Model Search to help the Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep charity. www.NILMDTS.org | www.charitymodelsearch.org

Take a look at a couple of our favorites here and be sure to stop by the facebook page to give Holly a few LIKES and we’ll post more! 

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Graduation Cards | Senior Portraits Decatur IL

| Sarah Jane Photography | High School Seniors |

When I was in high school the ONLY option for graduation cards was the formal text, slip-in name plate, gold foil, FORMAL graduation invitation which back then even seemed outdated. Now, seniors have so many options to once again show off who they are and their own personal style. 

Custom grad cards are one of my favorite products because they are so unique to each senior! We will not do the same design for two students from the same school and each design is customized to fit each senior and their images. 

Here are a few of my favorites from this year and last. The next two weeks I’ll be designing dozens of new cards for this year’s seniors and it’s not too late to get your very own if you are ready to stand out and show off your achievements. 

Our cards can be used as invitations to graduation or parties, announcements or even personal thank you cards! 

Check it out…. ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage