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  • Welcome--feel free to grab your coffee and hang out for a while. You'll get to see what goes on in front of my camera and behind the scenes here at Simply Life Photography.

    Whether it is newborns, children, seniors, families, or weddings -- I love capturing the lives of my clients in the greater Grand Rapids area, all along the West Michigan lakeshore, and across Michigan. Please contact me at the studio via phone (616.212.8800) or through the contact link above with any questions you may have or to schedule your session. Thanks for visiting!  ~ Mary Beth

Senior sessions are so much fun and I’m currently working on one that I can. not. wait. to show you. You’ll have to wait for that one though.

While editing away… I was thinking back to all the amazing seniors I’ve had the chance to meet over the years. There are ones that I’ve been photographing since they were little kids, and there are ones that come back for engagement photos, etc. Love that!

Don’t let this chapter of life go by without capturing it! Have fun looking back with me…


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Jason and Cara

Beautiful couple, these two — inside and out — and I can’t wait to share their day with you!

Having a gorgeous, spacious location for the bride’s preparation (and the reception later in the day) made for one happy photographer! The University Club of Grand Rapids is an exquisite first-class venue in the heart of the city.


Upon arrival, Cara was able to see the reception area for the first time. The wedding planning, design, and gorgeous floral decor was put together by Cher Goggins of Merry Me Events – you can see her in the top left photo where Cara is practically brought to tears at her first look around. Everything was truly stunning, with attention paid to every last detail. A big thank you also to Cheryl Blakemore from Merry Me Events who was the coordinator for the day — she made everything flow seamlessly and definitely made our job as photographers easier.


Time to get ready!

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Have you ever seen such adorable flower girls?!

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Cara was such a beautiful bride – sweet to everyone around her, incredibly happy to marry her Jason, and full of smiles all day long.:)


Meanwhile, Jason and the men were getting ready at a groomsman’s apartment nearby at the Plaza Towers.


Off to St. Alphonsus Parish! One week shy of their air conditioning installation, it was hot & humid. Thankfully there were many fans to the rescue and the ceremony was lovely from beginning to end.

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Making it official. 😉


Family photo time!

This first family is very special to me. I photographed Brian & Kristiane’s wedding 10 years ago. TEN. I’m getting old and they haven’t aged a day it seems. Not fair – ha! And how adorable are their boys? They were such cute little ring bearers.

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Even on a warm day with the humidity just slightly below full-on-rain, downtown Grand Rapids is a fun place to experience.

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Clowning around…


And a little time with just Jason & Cara while the rest of the party cooled off on the party bus.:)

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All my brides are absolutely lovely, but these photographs of Cara might be my favorite to date. Simply elegant and timelessly beautiful.

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And we can’t leave out Jason! Handsome, and ever-so-sweet to Cara – the makings of a wonderful groom.


When time permits, I always try to ask the bride and groom if there are any other photographs they may want before we wrap things up – and I think this is the first time I’ve had them ask for photos of all the couples in the bridal party – how sweet of them to think of everyone else. And I’m glad they did – what a great group of family and friends they have!


There is one in every group. 😉


Back to the University Club and time for a PARTY!

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Jason & Cara, thank you so much for letting us spend the day with you to capture the memories of your wedding. As the years go by we hope that you will look back on these photographs and remember not just the places and the details – but the emotions and commitment that made your day truly special.

~ Mary Beth and Julie

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Chicago Wedding Photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil, Simply Life Photography

Wedding Photography at Westin Chicago River North by simplylifephotography.comI’m so excited to show you this wedding – lovely and elegant every step of the way. Stay with me through this sure-to-be-very-long post – from the Westin Chicago River North Hotel to the Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park, IL to the Chicago Riverwalk, to the gorgeous Galleria Marchetti. There were so many amazing people, stunning locations, and beautiful moments that I truly wish I could include every. single. thing.

The morning of the wedding gave us a little scare and definitely did not look like the photo above. Nope. It was raining cats and dogs. Not even sure why I bothered with hair and makeup as we were drenched just jumping into our Uber ride to the first venue. Let’s just say that many many prayers were sent heavenward that morning for clear skies! And bless it – blue sky and sunshine broke through about fifteen minutes before we started documenting the preparation at the Westin.

River North Hotel wedding by Westin Chicago River North guest room wedding photography by Westin River North wedding photographs by simplylifephotography.comThe area right outside the Westin Chicago River North Hotel was perfect for a few photos with all the girls before we hopped on a trolley to the church. And by the way – how gorgeous is Emilee?! I photographed her sister’s wedding about seven years ago and the minute Emilee contacted me I remembered her beautiful blond hair. Total hair envy.

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Chicago river north wedding photos by

I adore this photo below of Emilee with her two sisters. It is evident these three share a very special bond. Plus – when your sisters pitch in to hold a reflector up for a wind screen while in dress & heels – you know they love you!

Westin Chicago River North wedding

River North Chicago IL wedding by

Time for a trolley ride over to the church. I’ve photographed weddings in some pretty incredible locations and this one was the most beautiful church I’ve been in, hands down. Truly stunning.

Chicago Catholic wedding photography by

Chicago wedding photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil,

Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL Wedding

Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL Wedding

Ascension Catholic Church, Chicago, IL Wedding

Grand Rapids MI wedding photographer,

Michigan wedding photographer,

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography

The moment a newly married couple walks down the isle and out the door is one of my favorites to capture. Congratulations Matt & Emilee!

West Michigan wedding photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil,

Wedding Photographer, Grand Rapids, MI, Chicago IL

Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL Wedding

What wonderful family and friends these two are blessed with!, modern Chicago wedding photographer

Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park IL wedding

Ascension Catholic Church, Oak Park, IL Wedding

Back on the trolley – time for some fun photos in the city! Oh – and Mr. Best Man (aka the Groom’s brother) – your photo bombing skills are quite impressive. ::snicker:: 😉

Chicago and Grand Rapids MI wedding photographer,

By this time I’m thinking how bummed I am that I left my fitbit at home. Photographing a gorgeous wedding party downtown Chicago while getting a million steps in? #winning

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Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by Simply Life Photography,

Chicago Wedding River North, Chicago Riverwalk

Chicago Riverwalk Bride and Groom Photos
wedding photography by Grand Rapids MI photographer Mary Beth Vreugdenhil,

And we are off to the reception at the Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL. When a bride and groom combines a unique and beautiful venue like this one with incredible family & friends – they definitely have a night to remember.

wedding reception photographs by Simply Life Photography

You can never have too many photographs with your family and friends!

family and wedding photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil, Simply Life Photography

Galleria Marchetti Wedding, Chicago IL,

I have to give a shout out to my amazing friend and secondary photographer – Julie. Along with being a full-time 3rd grade teacher, she is my right hand at weddings and can seriously read. my. mind. (A pretty much impossible task – just ask my husband!) While I was in the reception tent capturing all the details, she surprised me by photographing these adorable kiddos. Maybe it is because we each have four children – but we definitely both have a soft spot for these little ones at weddings. Love!
Galleria Marchetti Wedding, Chicago IL,

Grand Rapids MI, Chicago IL children

Wedding Photography, Chicago IL, gold coast

Time for some dinner and lots of DANCING!

wedding detail shots, flowers by Simply Life Photography

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

Chicago Wedding Photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil, Simply Life Photography

wedding photography by

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

Grand Rapids wedding photographer, Chicago IL wedding

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

The father daughter dance was a surprise. As Emilee danced with her dad, other significant men in her life took turns cutting in. How sweet!

father daughter wedding dance, Galleria Marchetti

Chicago Wedding Photographer, Mary Beth Vreugdenhil, Simply Life Photography

Wedding Reception at Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL

Seven years since their wedding and still as sweet a couple as ever. Nick & Monica – it was so nice to see you again and your little girl is precious!

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

If your new wife looked like Emilee – you’d hold her waist tush like that too – just sayin’. So cute.

wedding photographs at Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL

And I’ll give you all one guess what song this dance is to. If you haven’t been to a wedding in a while, (especially one where the Jr. Bridesmaid and flower girls beg the DJ) ask a friend.

Wedding Reception at Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL

Grand Rapids MI wedding photography by

Wedding Reception at Galleria Marchetti, Chicago IL

Matt & Emilee – Thank you so much for choosing us to photograph your wedding. We loved spending the day with you!

~ Mary Beth and Julie












  • Monica - Mary Beth & Julie – you outdid yourselves again. These pictures are fantastic! You captured everything so well and Emmy and Matt look stunning.

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It seems like no time at all passed between Miss W’s newborn session, her six month session and this one year session! She just gets more adorable every time I see her – as does her big sister.

One year sessions can be the best ever or send you (and the parents) searching for the Excedrin. Maybe I should offer a complimentary bottle of wine to the parents as a session parting gift.

Just keeping it real. 😉

One-year-old little cuties are FAST and often more interested in anything other than me and my camera. I still cannot help LOVING this age – their happiness to show off their newly learned skills like the drunken sailor walk, the plop & grin and the run & hide. Yes, those are the official terms (in my head). And of course, capturing every single part of being one is what I love the most – and Miss W does one in fabulous style.

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  • ELINA - Hi, I came across you blog/portfolio today as I was looking for wedding inspiration. Love the cuties in this post! i am just starting out as a photographer and when reading the ABOUT, I see we have a few things in common, like being moms of four! I also love to catch the silly and real, not just the nicely posed. My blog is called Life in Z (Z for zambia where I live).

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After a little more than 10 years of being a photographer, it isn’t often anymore that I get to experience a ‘first’.  However, this is the first time I have photographed all four beautiful newborn babies in one family and I truly feel so blessed they gave me this opportunity–and trusted me with the great responsibility of capturing this fleeting time–once again with pumpkin #4.  So, I thought this post deserved digging deep in the archives (old-school backups–climbing and dusting were involved!) and indulging in a trip down memory lane. Enjoy all the sweetness–this family has it in spades.

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