Fanciful, Floral Chicago Wedding

 
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If you spend eight years of life attending, celebrating, observing and wholeheartedly participating in weddings, you might come to a fork in the road. On paper, wedding days may first appear to follow the same general structure: dressing of the bride, first kiss, presentation of the newlyweds, first dance... Experientially, of course, each day presents in a wholly unique manner, with personal touches and intimate moments that honor the story of the individual couple. As a photographer, I've found rest in this- documenting the details and moments that are rooted in personal meaning for my clients. I consider it the depth of this work to engage in each couple's perspective and witness the day in their eyes. Now for the fork in the path...

I will remember May & June of 2018 as one of the most transformative seasons of my work and life. Not because we've had a wedding every weekend or because these weddings have been particularly personally meaningful to me. (Oh my heart, and how!) This season has been an opportunity for renewal of the love that I have for this pursuit, and an opportunity to interpret wedding days through a more poetic, emotionally evocative lens rather than strictly documentarian. In the past, I have intentionally created and curated a final collection of images for clients that visually answer the question: "What happened, and who was there?"

However, as a creative, I've followed a journey from identifying as a "craftsman" to now finding integrity as an "artist" in this pursuit. Good art evokes feeling, triggers thought, connects spiritually, illustrates memory. Photography itself has fought a long battle to be considered a "fine art" peer of painting and sculpture. Wedding photography, even more so. After an off-season of contemplating what elevates wedding photography and how to get there, I've pursued wedding days this summer with a radically different question: "How do we love?"

ALL OF THAT TO SAY: I owe everything to the couples who have embraced and encouraged my work as artistry- and none so much as Taylor Dahlstrom & Dan Rehor. I had the privilege to be present for Dan's proposal one wintery day in 2017, walk through the planning and dreaming with Taylor (she's the visionary behind Amelia Cole Events) and ultimately celebrate their first day as a married couple on June 16, 2018. I'm deeply grateful to share this first look into their wedding day at Patrick Haley Mansion. Congratulations, loves!!!

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Wedding Planner: Amelia Cole Events / Venue: Patrick Haley Mansion / Florist: Life in Bloom / Beauty: Bianca Sansosti Artistry / DJ: Charizma Entertainment / Acoustic Singer: Zach Wcislo / Videography: Courtney Cimo / Wedding Cake: Amy Beck Design / Donuts: Do-Rite / Photobooth: TagPrints Digital / Transportation: M&M Limos

 

Enchanting Heritage Prairie Farm Wedding

“When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. 

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument. 

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.” 
- Mary Oliver

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This year, June 25th at Heritage Prairie Farm was a beautifully breezy Saturday for a wedding. Kelsey and Kris stood together under an old oak, made their vows in the open air and the sunshine and celebrated with their family and friends under a lofty five-peak tent hung with flowers and sparkling with candlelight. It was the kind of wedding day that Marilynne Robinson would write about.

This couple and their wedding day is near and dear to my heart. I met Kelsey last spring at her sister's wedding (April 17), which I was photographing and certain couldn't be equaled in measures of joy, happiness and inspiration. I was thrilled when Kelsey and Kris emailed to ask if I was available for their own landmark day. (!!!) This wedding photo gallery is full of intentional details, thoughtful consideration of family heirlooms, new treasures, a spirited bridal party and a loveliness in every detail, including terrific blooms and floral installations by Eva's Floral Wonders in Geneva.

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Chicago Lakeshore Garden Wedding

Every season, there's always that one wedding that seems to come out of nowhere and blow me away.

When I first met Avery & Clay this spring, we had a delightful and relatively short, to-the-point first meeting. Their preferences for their wedding photography were remarkably in line with the True Grace style: an intentional blend of fine art and documentary approaches. Both the bride and the groom are active people with their friends, family, church and work- so I didn't hear much over the summer. When we had our final meeting, the two sketched out their vision for their first look on the steps of Chicago's Adler Planetarium and ceremony and reception hosted by one of my favorites- the Herrington Inn & Spa in Geneva, Illinois. Avery & Clay were dream clients, giving me creative freedom to follow meaningful moments and capture their big day in its best light(s). 

Some of the highlights from this beautiful wedding day on August 27 are the flowers (the bride's mother created all of the bouquets and centerpieces!), Avery's lovely BHLDN wedding gown, the couple's incredibly awesome bridal party and the gorgeous new cocktail hour patio at the Herrington Inn. Check it all out below in this preview!

Boho Chic Chicago Beach Engagement

These sweethearts wanted something off the beaten path for their engagement session here in Chicago. When Lauren and Danny and I began to plan their dream fine art engagement session, we wanted to find a blend of natural, beach, summer skyline and open water. We met at Montrose Beach & Harbor an hour before sunset one Sunday evening in September and were rewarded with the prettiest light off filtering through the city to Lake Michigan. These two have a close friendship and obviously adore one another, making these photographs truly glow. Golden hour has never looked so good! I'm already looking forward to photographing their Oak Park wedding in November next year! 

I was thrilled to be able to incorporate movement and different types of light in this session, playing with the concept of exposing for the shadow and hovering around f/2 and 100 film speed to to capture the emotion and atmosphere of this beautiful evening. I used three dreamboat lenses from my kit: 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. All Canon, of course. (Wink)

As always, I hope you enjoy these photographs as much as I enjoyed creating them! Happy wedding Wednesday!

LBD + Denim Botanic Garden Engagement

When Amy, Sean and I were developing the concept for their engagement session, the word "natural" was used often. This couple has an easygoing chemistry and warmth of friendship that can only come from knowing one another well for a good deal of time. Both Amy and Sean love the outdoors, so when they chose the Chicago Botanic Garden for their late summer, early fall engagement session, I wasn't surprised.

I love the opportunity to spend time with a couple at an engagement shoot before the wedding, especially when I've not met both partners. When Amy & I first met, Sean was on the road for work and she was careful to include him in the photography decision process. I enjoyed our meeting, and everything really clicked when I met these two together. Sean makes Amy laugh in a way that shows how much history and trust they share. I couldn't be more excited for their wedding next spring! 

Midwest Garden Courtyard Wedding

One day a couple of years ago, Kacie was going about her business, outfitting her handmade girls' clothing booth for that day's farmer's market. Another vendor down the row, a tall, dark-haired entreprenuer chef of The Eating Well company, brought by a cheesecake with a smile to introduce himself. Kacie now says she was totally taken aback and thought "stranger danger" thoughts, but the cheesecake looked delicious... and she was pretty hungry. Turns out the cake was delicious and she and Daniel struck up a friendship. Their friendship quickly turned into something more as they bonded over their mutual love of dogs and family, good food and business ownership.

When I first met Kacie and her mom Meg at a coffee shop in downtown Geneva, I was touched by their friendship and inspired by the way Kacie talked about how she envisioned timeless, elegant wedding photography for her big day.

I was even more excited to hear they had chosen to book May 6, 2016 at The Herrington Inn- one of my favorite Chicago suburbs wedding venues. (Deanne Mitchell, wedding planner, and Rose Johnson, banquet manager, make up the Inn's stellar, experienced team who work together to make each Herrington couple's wedding day dreams come true.)

When the innovative team at Elizabeth Wray Design signed on to create the floral accompaniments (complete with armloads of hydrangeas, coral charm peonies and exquisite ranunculus accents, Kacie and Daniel's wedding day was guaranteed to be gorgeous- if the weather cooperated. 

AND IT DID! Gorgeous, sunny, warm May weather showed up in the late morning and held throughout the day. The ceremony was held in the courtyard and was officiated by Kacie's uncle, the Honorable Thomas Otepka of Nebraska.

It was a joy to celebrate with Kacie, Daniel and their families and I wish them all the happiness in the world in their future together. I hope you enjoy this preview of their wedding day as much as I did putting it together.

Hugs, 

Grace

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