They’ve both worked at countless weddings and certainly know the routine, but on Dec. 18, 2010, photographer Kim Cossairt and disc jockey Dan Warner were in much different roles than they were used to.
For the first time, instead of being behind the lens or controlling the music, Kim and Dan were the bride and groom.
“I was expecting that I would want to have a camera in my hands the whole day,” says Kim, who has owned and operated Cossairt Design and Photography out of Blue Earth since 2007.
Having worked in the profession for several years, Kim doesn’t just see a photograph when she flips through pictures. She sees details like lighting and shadows, the way a couple is standing or how a bride’s necklace lays.
“It’s amazing the little things you notice that nobody else would care about,” she says.
Proposal in the park
Kim, 26, and Dan, 30, met on a dating site in December 2005, but Kim had limitations because she wasn’t a paying member.
“I was kinda stubborn,” she admits.
“Stubborn, or cheap?” Dan teases.
Fortunately, Dan was a member and was able to contact her, so he sent her an e-mail. The two met in person the same day, began dating and almost three years later, got engaged.
Although Kim had helped pick out her own ring and knew a proposal was coming eventually, she was completely surprised when it finally happened.
It was Aug. 31, 2008, and the couple decided to spend the day at Sibley Park in Mankato.
Dan’s main intention was to check out the area because he was going to DJ there the following weekend, but a spur of the moment decision landed a ring on Kim’s finger and made the day more memorable than planned.
They went to Sibley in the morning, and the idea of proposing didn’t cross Dan’s mind for hours.
“I was actually thinking the whole time, ‘This is really romantic,'” Kim recalls, adding that she wondered if he might propose that morning, but as the hours went by, she doubted the possibility.
Kim had sat down by a fountain in the park, and the photographer in her saw a “picture-perfect” setting, so she asked Dan to get the camera from the car.
Suddenly, he decided that was the time to propose.
“Doing anything spontaneous isn’t like me,” Dan says.
It may have been out of his character, but nonetheless, he put the ring in the camera case, and pretended to need Kim’s assistance in making sure the camera settings were right before he would take a picture of her.
He handed her the camera bag, she found the ring and two years-worth of wedding planning began.
Finding someone to fill their shoes
Since she’s very particular about how photos turn out, Kim knew she was going to have trouble finding the right person to shoot her wedding.
She interviewed 50 photographers in an 80-mile radius of Blue Earth, and eventually chose Daniel Dinsmore of Mankato, someone with a similar style to her own — more candid, less posed.
“Formal portraiture has its place, but I like to have more fun than that,” Kim says. “I put complete faith in the guy.”
“And he was my suggestion out of all the ones on your list,” Dan reminds her.
Even though it was easier than Kim thought it would be to give someone else control, having to stay in front of the camera wasn’t without its difficulties.
“The hardest part of the whole entire day was not knowing what you look like,” says Kim, who ordinarily gets to make sure every detail is perfect before she takes a photo.
Prior to the actual wedding day, Kim wrote up a list of certain shots and poses she wanted Dinsmore to take, so she’d be able to feel more relaxed despite being without a camera.
“I wanted to make sure I could enjoy the day as a bride,” she says.
And she wasn’t the only one having to relinquish control.
Dan, who has been DJing for nearly 15 years and owns Stage 1 Sound, realized someone else would have to be in charge of the music at his reception.
“Essentially, I?just needed another me for the evening,” he says.
He had originally envisioned being the DJ himself, but came to realize it would occupy all his time for the night and keep him from socializing with his guests.
His replacement was a fellow DJ and someone who had assisted him at weddings in the past — Don Larson of Cleveland.
“It really just made sense that somebody I know personally could work with me,” Dan says.
Although Larson took care of DJing for the wedding night, Dan opted to use his own equipment so he’d definitely be happy with the sound.
Juggling work and wedding plans
By getting married in December, Kim and Dan thought they were choosing a slower-than-normal month for weddings.
“We decided to pick an off season so we wouldn’t take away from the peak season,” Kim says, explaining that she thought her photography business and Dan’s DJ company would be less likely to get booked in the winter.
Despite her best efforts to avoid a popular season, Kim ended up having to turn down two brides looking for photographers on Dec. 18. She was also asked to photograph a wedding on Dec. 11, and accepted that job, regardless of the date being so near to her own wedding.
A blizzard that Saturday caused Kim’s car to take to the ditch on the way to the couple’s reception. But thankfully for Kim and Dan, the snow died down by the next weekend, just in time for their own nuptials.
“We were very fortunate that we had a really gorgeous day,” Kim says.
The couple held their ceremony at St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Blue Earth, with a reception following at Hamilton Hall.
Back to business
Now that they’re finished being bride and groom, Kim and Dan can jump back into their more familiar roles of helping other brides and grooms.
For her own wedding, Kim used a lot of different factors to help her find the right photographer, and she recommends other brides do the same when looking for themselves.
“I think the biggest thing is personality,” she says.
Kim also says quality and customer service should be considered because the photos are what a couple will show to future generations or friends who couldn’t attend the wedding.
Dan recognizes that in his specialty, there’s nothing concrete to show once the wedding is over, only memories to tell — making it that much more important for him to do a great job in the moment.
“Unlike what Kim does, there isn’t a record after the fact. It happens as it happens,” he says. “What’s left is the memory of people who have had a good time with their friends.”
While weddings are a popular use of their services, Kim and Dan’s businesses do more than just weddings.
Cossairt Design and Photography offers studio and outdoor portraits, and pictures of seniors, families, pets, babies, sports teams and more. Stage 1 Sound offers DJing at school dances, outdoor events, parties and ceremonies.
Neither business will undergo any changes just because the couple got married. Kim and Dan plan to keep the photography and DJing separate and won’t be combining to offer any kind of package deals.
And even though Kim became a Warner, her photography business will remain a Cossairt.