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

 

Vintage Lincoln Park Wedding

 
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When Sarah & Jordan met at a mutual friend's birthday party five years ago this very month, the two shared a memorable evening of conversation that started them on the path to May 12, 2018.  After buying a house together in Chicago and raising their giant fluff ball of a Newfoundland/Poodle, Jordan proposed on a quiet morning on a beach near Charleston, South Carolina.  

I can't begin to describe how much I have enjoyed planning and anticipating the wedding of these two phenomenal people. From our first introduction at one heck of a Notre Dame wedding in July 2016 and our first wedding photography planning meeting in March 2017 to their fall colors Lincoln Park engagement session in October- I've gotten to know these two and their exemplary relationship. Their love for one another is matched only by the shared love they have for their families and friends. 

This is hardly a highlights or "best of" post of this extraordinary wedding day, packed with locations like the Ambassador Hotel, St. Clement Catholic Church, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago History Museum. This post really is a "sneak peek" or a snippet of a day full of emotion, loved ones, details and atmosphere. None of this could have been possible without Kate Lerman of Chicago Vintage Weddings, the wedding planning mastermind behind the scenes. (For the full dream team roster of Sarah & Jordan's Chicago wedding, keep scrolling.)

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Wedding Planning: Chicago Vintage Weddings

Catering: Blue Plate

Floral Design: Larkspur Flowers & Design

Makeup: Carly Pribich

Hair: Debra Petrielli

Bride's Veil: made by her grandmother for her mother, reworked with details from her mother's dress by Veiled By ChaCha

Bride's Dress: Ellis Bridals, London

Bride's Shoes: Harriet Wilde

Transportation: Second City Trolley

Cakes: Sweet Mandy B's

DJ: Monestero Entertainment

Photo Booth: The Portraitbooth

 

Architectural Chicago Destination Wedding

 
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When I first received Stephanie & John's inquiry for an intimate wedding (13 guests!) at the Thompson Hotel in Chicago followed by a dinner party reception at Stephanie Izard's world-famous restaurant Girl & the Goat - I couldn't have been more excited. This day offered the opportunity to slow down the normal whirlwind wedding pace and really dig in and create photographs celebrating the natural, push-pull chemistry that Steph & John share with one another. Even the chilly Chicago spring complied with their wedding plans, with not a single cloud in the sky and loads of beautiful sunshine for this bride & groom.

John and Stephanie planned every detail to be authentic to their own personalities and preferences. Stephanie's uniquely iconic diamond pavé engagement ring by David Yurman stunned in a green Mrs Box alongside her bouquet of calla lilies and roses created for her by The Flower Firm. If you find your breath caught by Stephanie in her divinely draped dress, you're not the only one - Maggie Sottero created her one-of-a-kind wedding gown. Stephanie's beauty squad, Glam by Stefanie and Kim Freyermuth, started her wedding day with mimosas and highlighted her naturally striking beauty (and dimples!!) with polished, sophisticated style. 

My personal favorite detail: these two world-traveling go-getters (they have two MBAs and a JD between them) also run together. To celebrate this bond, Steph & John had custom Nike running shoes made in his (black) & hers (white) style right down to the date stiched into the heels. Eat your hearts out, sneakerheads. This is love that goes the distance. 

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Rainy, Romantic Hyde Park Engagement

 
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In October in the Great Lakes area, especially Chicago, weather can be unpredictable- with gorgeous sunshine and warm, dry weather followed immediately by a gusty rain-shower (sun-shower?).

I followed the lead of these two adventurers, whose good faith lucked out with an engagement session that began as a walk in the sunshine that turned into a rather romantic stroll in the rain. Both lovers of Chicago history, culture and architecture, this future bride and groom explored the University of Chicago's Gothic Revival buildings in Hyde Park as the sun set. 

While I love an engagement session that flows naturally toward the sunset (golden hour, as we photographers call it), the portraits in the second half of this session in the rain might be my favorite. I've found time and time again that couples who embrace unanticipated weather and roll with what light we're given on the day come away with truly stunning, genuine photos that capture their spirit. Matt & Meghan, I'm grateful for your leap of faith into dancing in the rain! 

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Sparkling, Chic Gold Coast Wedding

 

For the past couple of years, I've had the honor of photographing several Lurie Children's Hospital Foundation benefits, including the First Look for Charity at the Chicago Auto Show! Through these events, lovely bride-to-be Maeve and I became connected and first met for a memorably wonderful glass of wine at the 3 Arts Club after her engagement. We chatted dreams, ideas, vision and her plans with Erik for a winter wedding day in Chicago's Gold Coast.

(You may remember Maeve & Erik's featured engagement session in Lincoln Park this past summer!)

Their December wedding day was blessed by sunshine and just a touch of snow. The bridal party prepared at ultra-chic (and freshly renovated) Talbott Hotel before the traditional Catholic ceremony at St. James Chapel, two blocks away. Following mass, the bride and groom walked with their bridesmaids (cozy in fur stoles) and groomsmen to The Casino, Chicago's iconic club on Delaware Place for cocktails and reception. 

December 9, 2017 will stand out in my memory for this couple's charm and warmth and the elegant perfection found in the simplicity and quality of each detail of the wedding timeline. It is my hope that these wedding photographs (it was difficult to limit the highlights to only fifty!) capture the magic that was Maeve & Erik's winter wedding day in Chicago.

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Glowing Golden Hour Winter Bridal

 
for you to see beauty here
does not mean
there is beauty in me
it means there is beauty rooted
so deep within you
you can’t help but
see it everywhere
— Rupi Kaur

Fresh for 2018, Jordan Vanden Bos of Events by JVB dreamed, designed and coordinated this stellar bridal collaboration with a gathering of the unique talents of wedding vendors in the Chicago area.  It was my privilege to create the portraits of lovely, vivacious Phoenix Harris and photographs from this golden afternoon at the Ravenswood Event Center.

Invitation Suite: Greenstar Paperie

Floral Design & Bouquet: Andrew's Garden

Wedding Dress designed by Truvelle and sourced from Dame Couture 

Bridal Hair: Tamara Holden

Bridal Makeup: J Costa Artistry

Jewelry: Rollands Jewelers

Linens: BBJ Linen Chicago

Ring Box: The Mrs Box


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Vibrant + Charming Oak Park Wedding

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It is my great delight to share a few highlights here from the hundreds of wedding photographs from Lauren and Danny's beautiful day! These gems celebrated their wedding mass at St. Giles Catholic Church in Oak Park keeping with the bride's family tradition, and followed with a full house reception at Venuti's Italian Restaurant in Addison. 

This day was full of bells and whistles, with a Frank Sinatra cover singer, Rosemary Fanti live-painting the colorful reception, not to mention a gorgeous white vintage Rolls Royce ride for Lauren & her parents to the ceremony. If luxury is found in the details, this wedding day has it. 

These wedding photographs celebrate only a small part of a full, incredible day- it's always so difficult to choose only fifty (50!!) photographs to capture a sneak peek. Enjoy! 

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Modern, Romantic Home Engagement

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I'm a big believer in the power of photographs to not only serve as celebration of a time and season- but also a space! When Taylor & Dan requested that part of their engagement session take place in their gorgeous first home with their handsome boxer pup, Roscoe, my answer was YES!! These engagement photographs reflect the blend of cozy, warm atmosphere and clean, modern aesthetic that these two love to cultivate and share with their friends and family. 

Thanks to Bianca Sansosti for blessing our foxy bride with her magical makeup fairy dust. This suite of engagement photos wouldn't be complete without details from The Mrs Box (Porter) and Bellame Ribbon (Porcelain). Styling by Amelia Cole Events!

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