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

 

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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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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Epic Greek Orthodox Chicago Wedding

May 27, 2017 has been marked with a big red heart on my calendar for over a year. Carly and Chris planned a wedding day packed full of celebratory details, surprises and special moments. Kicking off the day with a wedding gift of Christian Louboutin pumps and a mother-daughter whiskey toast, this couple honored family tradition and faith with a Greek Orthodox ceremony at St. John the Baptist in Des Plaines. Following a rose petal-showered church exit, the party bus stopped by Catherine Chevalier Woods for photos of the wedding party and Chris and Carly. Wedding guests enjoyed cocktail hour at The Empress in Addison until the bridal party welcomed the bride and groom with a stunning sparkler entrance to the ballroom. 

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A terrific team of vendors included Gaby Raguso of GLAMD, Flowers for Dreams, I Do Video by Leo, Mario Tricoci: Oak Brook all coordinated by Ashley Nicole Events.

Fresh & Fun Downtown Oak Park Engagement

It's not hard to see why Frank Lloyd Wright chose Oak Park for his home and studio when the spring weather and blooms are this gorgeous.

When Lauren and Kevin chose to do their spring engagement session at special and sentimental locations in downtown Oak Park, I jumped at the chance. When a couple is planning a destination wedding or even a wedding in another part of the Chicago area, there's no better way to celebrate your hometown or new-hometown than an engagement session highlighting your favorite spots. 

We started at Beer Shop (a new-ish local hangout for craft brew lovers) and wandered around Austin Gardens, the Oak Park Metra station, the Lake Theater enjoying the gorgeous redbuds and bistro lights. Warm wedding weather is here, folks!

This engagement session was shot digitally, but processed to have the natural, soft look of film. I'm excited to see how Lynda at Greenstar Paperie uses these photos for Lauren and Kevin's wedding Save the Dates. Enjoy!

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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!