Chicago Wedding Photography

Mimi & John | Elegant Private Estate Wedding in Historic Galena

Mimi and John referred to their wedding as a "backyard wedding at the farmhouse." No big deal, right? I had no idea that the "backyard" she referenced was actually the rolling hills of a gorgeous family estate, filled with meticulously reconstructed historic farmhouse, horses, guest cottages, and a view that went on for days. 

A private estate wedding on a historic horse farm

When we arrived at Mimi's family estate, I was so excited! It was a gorgeous sunny summer day and she had a team that knew how to bring to life the laidback, relational day she wanted with all the class she inherently had. Bliss Weddings and Events designed and produced a flawless day for Mimi and John to spend on the farmhouse veranda, sipping lemonade cocktails with the ones they loved most. 

I personally loved Mimi's custom watercolor invitation suites by EJD Designs, featuring favorite spots on her family estate. Her custom peplum gown was intended to mimic the horse competing jackets she wore during her years competing her beloved horses. 

And her wish for a family harvest dinner with greenery and farm fresh florals came to life perfectly under a Sperry tent overlooking the setting sun. Touches like vintage china place settings, gathered florals, and hanging garlands gave the perfect touch of heritage and elegance. 

Mimi's tips for a no-stress wedding day

Mimi and John are busy professionals living in the buzz of the city. When they have time off, they want to spend it on the family estate, riding horses and spending time with their beloved dogs.

To protect that margin in their lives, Mimi hired a full service planner and event design team. If the idea of making wedding decision during your time off makes you feel frazzled, take Mimi's advice and invest into a full-service team to manage this on your behalf and streamline your communications. 

Many thanks to the amazing creative team:

Wedding design and planning: Bliss Weddings and Events 

Floral & Decor: Bliss Weddings & Events | Frost Lighting | Garden Party Florist

Furniture & Rentals: Bowery & Bash | Halls Rental | Tailored Elements | A La Crate Vintage Rentals

Paper Goods: EJD Designs

Relaxed Farm at Dover Wedding | Julia and Will

Julia has always reminded me of one of my dearest friends. She looks like her, smiles like her, and laughs easily like her. She emanates goodness and love so strongly that being in her presence continually feels like you're getting a hug. Obviously I love her. 

And so does Will. She's the perfect compliment to Will's personality, a directional, task-oriented man who knows how to get things done. He is a classic leading man, easily taking charge of tasks, working industriously, and accomplishing much in life. Together, Will leads them forward and Julia keeps them warm and loving along the way. They're the most beautiful couple and we were thrilled to be a part of their Farm at Dover wedding day!

They wanted their day to be effortless and unscripted. They wanted to live through their day with intention and heartfelt connection and I love how that came through! They chose the perfect florist for the job. Jamie of Sweven Floral created installations and arrangements filled with texture, the perfect peachy late summer palette, and lots of natural movement. It was the ideal way to showcase Julia's vision for their day!

Many thanks to the following talents for bringing Will and Julia's vision to life:

Venue: The Farm at Dover | Florals: Sweven Floral styling and photography: Booth Photographics

Sarah and Charlie | A Vibrant Farm at Dover Wedding

Sarah and Charlie were that couple that ended each email with the standing invitation "next time you're in Chicago let us know! We'd love to get together!" They were caring and thoughtful and so deeply loved by their families. 

Naturally, they wanted a day that felt joyful and relaxed, giving them plenty of time to connect with the people that meant the most to them. They did two key things to help them achieve that feeling and they knocked it out of the park!

Choose the right venue

First, they chose the right venue. They chose the Farm at Dover for several reasons, but namely, so they could create a relaxed and elegant escape for their guests. They chose a place where everything happened at one place so they didn't have to stress about moving between places and could maximize their time with their friends and family.

Hire the right vendors

The second thing they did was recognize that you have to plan very well in order to relax on your wedding day. So they hired vendors who got their vision. City Girl weddings was a dream to work with and worked hard to protect Charlie and Sarah's priorities when logistics began weighing in on their day. As I worked with Alyssa on their wedding photography timeline, we found ways to keep their day organic and moving during the photography times. We chose to focus on candid moments over posed portraits, photographing them walking, talking and laughing with their favorite people and I love the results. 

Sarah and Charlie, thanks for inviting us to be a part of your day! I felt completely immersed in your wedding experience and loved photographing the joy and sweet moments. And guys...I'm still not over the UW band surprise during cocktail hour! Truth be told, I cried a little bit because I was so happy that it all worked out!

Enjoy a sneak peak of some of our favorite photos-more are coming your way soon!

Thanks to City Girl Events, the Farm at Dover, and Flowers for Dreams for a flawless day!

Elements of a Stylish Groom| Groomswear inspiration for Summer Weddings

We have to admit-it's easy to spend time reminiscing about our beautiful brides. But we've worked with grooms who have a distinct and intentional sense of style that is incredibly inspirational. From custom suiting, distinctive style choice, to the accessories that make their looks, here are some of my personal favorite elements that make up a stylish groom.

Custom Suiting for the Groom

A groom who chooses custom suiting is usually a man with an eye for heirlooms. He's the guy thinking about 10 years from now and making choices based on the legacy he wants to leave. This is probably my favorite type of groom to work with simply because this mindset most closely aligns with ours!

A custom groom is all about fit and detail. From a crisp suit that fits like a glove, to those personal details, like custom embroidery, ticking, stitching, or fabric selections. I love Christian's sleek monochrome look, Tom's Enzo Custom suiting with all kinds of handsome personal touches, to Matt's trim fit suit (his slim leg pants were seriously perfect!).

Accessories for the Groom

My favorite parts of a groom's wardrobe are his accessories. Yeah, I love how guys look in a well fitting suit, but those personal touches show his investment into his day and his distinct personality.

Take Mike, for example. He's wearing a crisp white dinner jacket to reflect a sense of mid-century style. His accessories were on point. From velvet smoking loafers, to gogosha optique sunglasses, a silver watch and black bow tie really showcased his sleek and mid-century modern aesthetic. So sexy!

How To Use Ideal Lighting For Your Wedding Photos

In over 60 weddings together (plus a bunch of second shooting), there’s one thing that will truly make my heart hurt while photographing your wedding day. I’ll watch the best light of the day (sunset) used for things like seating guests or cocktail hour while the worst light of the day (12-2 pm!) is used for the most important photos, couple’s photos. 

Flashlight or Snapchat filter?

Have you sat around a campfire as someone tried to spook you while shining a flashlight up their nose? They look terrible in that light, don’t they? It exaggerates every line, eye bag and blemish. It’s harsh, contrasty, and unflattering.

Using light at noon is the sun’s equivalent of a flashlight shining up your nose (just flipped the other direction!). It’s harsh, contrasty, and unflattering. It makes you look washed out and anything that bright sunlight is bouncing off of (like the green grass) will lend a color cast to your skin.

Using sunset light, on the other hand is like using a snapchat filter that makes your skin look amazing and smooth (I call it the “pretty filter”). Because the light is softer, directional, diffused and warmer, it’s more flattering to your skin tone making it look healthy and golden.

Prioritize your lighting

So how can you take the most important photos at the best time of day? Prioritize your timeline around your photos.

Use the best light for the most enduring photos. It’s really that simple. Our opinion is that you don’t need lots and lots of mediocre photos, but rather that you need the right amount of great photos.

Putting it into Practice

Be strategic with your time for photos. We can do more with 15 min at sunset than 1 hour at high noon.

With flattering lighting, we have much more freedom with how we can use a particular location for photos and the technical limits of where we can place you or which setting will work are much more relaxed so we’re free to focus on strategic direction and authentic interaction.

I’d recommend planning your ceremony for 2-3 hours before sunset to use lovely soft light for your ceremony. Whether you choose a first look or not, plan to make time for your couple’s photos after your ceremony instead of before. Here’s an example of my process for planning best use of lighting for, say, an early June wedding:

In early June, for instance the sun sets around 8:30 CST. Your best light will be from 6:30-8:45 (weather depending, of course) while you can’t fit in everything during that lighting, here’s what I’d recommend:

  • 3:45-private first look
  • 4:00-bridal party photos
  • 5:00-photograph completed reception space
  • 6:00-Ceremony
  • 7:00-Immediate family photos (4 shots)
  • 7:30-Couple’s photos-these are so lovely because you’re freshly married and there’s a lot of joy present! It’s amazing to channel that energy into a few moments of serenity together before you head to the more high energy cocktail hour.
  • 8:20-First Dance

As photographers, light is our muse. The better the light, the better you’ll look and the more you’ll cherish your photos for years to come!


5 tips for Better Fine Art Wedding Ceremony Photography

2016 brought some of my favorite ceremony sites to photograph and after narrowing the selection to my personal loves, noticed that they all share a common recipe that made me love them (I had no choice in the matter, really). I'm sharing the simple tips I have found to create a beautiful ceremony site that’s both intimate and intentional

Natural light/outdoor weddings

If you're planning an outdoor wedding, we thank you in advance! If your day is indoors, consult with your photographer on how to make best use of your light sources. 

Ceremony floral design

We love it when couples make their ceremonies an intentional time and think it’s particularly special when you use beautiful floral design to create that intimate and romantic atmosphere for you to share your commitments to each other. Talk with your florist about how you can create something that makes a statement for your ceremony (and how they can help you enjoy that design into your reception as well!)

Ceremony time of day

I cannot communicate how important this is! My favorite ceremonies were planned for later in the day so the couples could take advantage of the softening sunlight. These couples did this after consulting with us so if you like the way your photographer has photographed weddings in similar conditions, do share with them what you like and ask how you can achieve that. They/we are the experts on utilizing the conditions available and should have some great recommendations for you.

Ceremony location

all of these ceremony spots had beautiful locations, but notice the direction? They're all facing west-ish (so technical, right?) Because our clients were aware of our shooting style and asked us how to get the look they wanted in their photos, they adjusted the time of their ceremony and the location so we could photograph backlight and in softer light

Guest experience

Your guests are making some sacrifices to be with you! When the ceremony time comes, It takes a lot patience and dedication for a guest to sit quietly amid a group of people they probably haven’t seen in a while! Show your guests your gratitude during your ceremony time with a few thoughtful touches. Choose some pretty chairs for them to sit in and pass them a champagne flute or cocktail as they enter the ceremony site to thank them for their commitment to you during that span of time.

Many thanks to the following talents:

Jina and Jae's destination wedding at Villa la Vedetta in Florence, Italy: Florals-Jardin Divers | event design-Italia Celebrations

Shelby and Tom's wedding at Artifact Events in Chicago: Florals-Stems Chicago | Event design-Shannon Gail Weddings

Elise and Travis' wedding at Horseshoe Bay Golf Club: Florals-Flora Flowershop | event design-Door County Event Planners

Ashley and Eric's wedding at Hyatt Lodge at McDonald's Campus: Florals-blossoms and branches

Franchesca and Josh's destination wedding at Walnut Grove at Tierra Rejada Farms in Moorpark California: florals-EmLily Floral | event design- Mia Bella Weddings

Adya and Brandon's wedding at the Lageret in Stoughton, WI: florals-Daffodil Parker | event design-Lavender Hill Events

Destination wedding at Villa Cimbrone: we haven't shot a wedding here yet...but we're putting it out into the universe that we want to and believing that it's going to happen! Isn't that the perfect spot for an intimate wedding ceremony?

Shelby and Tom | Artifact Events Chicago Wedding Photography

Tom had always hoped to visit Italy, where his family came from. But as a guy who pours his heart and soul into everything he does,  he knew a trip this special was one he would only take when he'd met the lady he wanted to spend his life with.

A proposal in Tuscany, Italy

So when Shelby, the kindest and most beautiful woman came into his life, he began planning for this trip. He carved a ring box (yes, carved!!), bought tickets and while on a sunset hot air balloon ride over Tuscan wine country, Tom proposed to Shelby, filled with the care and romance that's a hallmark of everything Tom does.

An architectural, garden-inspired wedding

Tom and Shelby planned for a distinctly elegant and organic wedding in the heart of their first home together, Chicago. They are an incredibly romantic pair and wanted to reflect that in their event design. The end result was like Restoration Hardware meets the gardens and if you know me, you know just how much I loved the design!

Just as he carved a ring box for his beloved fiance, Tom hand carved leather tie clips for each of his groomsmen and had his wedding date embroidered into the collar of his Enzo Custom suit. And Shelby's Lian Carlo gown is still one of my favorites from the entire year!

A wedding designed with the setting in mind

They wanted to create a garden feel in an urban environment and, after finding Artifact Events, drew inspiration from the curation of architectural and museum artifacts in their venue. Then they worked with their florist to create fern focused floral installations in front of dramatic Corinthian columns for the ceremony-when I saw the ceremony setting, I lost it-so beautiful!

 Along Shelby’s walk down the aisle to Tom, she passed her loved ones in historic church pews lined with tree stumps, lanterns, and ferns giving just the sense of intimacy and romance they envisioned.

As guests found their seats for the reception, they tucked away under cafe lights to place settings adorned with fragrant rosemary, soft florals, and lantern light (so romantic, right??) I love how they created an inviting environment for all the senses-smell, sight, sound. This is the hallmark of great design and we loved that Shelby and Tom cared about that. 

Tom and Shelby, I still look back and get misty eyed at the photos from your day. We’re honored you asked us to join you for such a beautiful day and wish you all the best in your life together.

Many thanks to the following talents:

Florist - Stems | Caterer - Jewell Events | Hair - Debra Petrielli  | Make-Up - Joanna B Artistry  | Cinematography - Old North Film  | Ceremony/Cocktail Band - Sunnyside Up  | Reception Band - Chicago Catz  | Lighting - Event Brilliance  | Late Night Food - Big Star  | Invitations/Programs/Table Numbers/Placecards - Anna Kate Design  | Signature Cocktail Signs/Other paper goods - Lauren Monaco  | Groom’s Suit - Enzo Custom  | Bride’s Gown - Lian Carlo via Ultimate Bride  | Planning and event design: Shannon Gail Weddings and Events

Christina And Brian | Elegant Chicago Cultural Center Wedding Photography

Stephen and I met Christina two years ago at Leanne and Matt's wedding in Los Angeles. So naturally, we were delighted when she reached out to us about her own wedding day in Chicago!

Planning an Iconic and Elegant Chicago Wedding

After navigating a cross-country relationship, Christina and Brian are finally back in their beloved city of Chicago and planned a celebration that reflected their love for it. They skillfully used their settings to tell their story, from getting ready through their reception.

Using Locations to Create a Cohesive Wedding Story

They began their day getting ready at the Palmer House Hilton, a quintessential downtown Chicago stay that they chose because of how it hinted at their reception venue with it's frescoed ceilings and ornate interiors (see, skillfull!) I was uhb-sessed with Christina's Zuhair Murad gown and her textural and monochromatic bouquet. Literally my idea of perfection. And that custom hair piece was the perfect nod to her Greek heritage!

An Elegant Black Tie Gala at the Chicago Cultural Center

We loved Christina and Brian's vision for an iconic black tie party centered around their favorite parts of the city. They were generous to give us a great chunk of time to take photos around their beloved city and we used the settings to tie their day together-an urban, iconic, and elegant day. 

Stephen took me to the Chicago Cultural Center on one of our first dates. The Tiffany Domes and stunning architecture amazed me and I soon wished we could shoot a wedding there. I grinned the entire night as I took in the beautiful gray and cream tablescapes with touches of gold and ghost Chiavari chairs. 

As Christina and Brian danced the night away with their most loved guests, I stopped for a minute to take it all in. Their day was one truly filled with joy, laughter, and love for each other and the place where they lived. I couldn't have been happier to be a part of their day. 

Major shoutout to the amazing teams of Simply Azure events and Chicago Cultural Center-you guys made the day just flawless! It was an honor to photograph the results of your hard work!

Many thanks to the following talents:

Event Planning and Design: Simply Azure Events | Florals: Stemline Creative | Gown: Zuhair Murad | Hotel & Getting Ready: Palmer House | Reception Venue and Catering: Chicago Cultural Center

Minimalist Chicago Elopement

From Ethereal by Evelina:

As a stylist I love working on special intimate projects. There is nothing more rewarding than helping a couple create images that capture true emotions and moments in life and I recently had the chance to do this in a soft and modern vow renewal session at the Chicago History Museum.

We would like to share with you the story of Roberta and Edward, a couple intoxicated with love. A couple who was eager to face life’s challenges together and planned a simple marriage almost a decade ago at City Hall surrounded by their parents and closest friends.

Inspired by their dreamy love story and the concept of minimal event design, I styled a modern and minimal vow renewal session for them. I sought to reflect the dreaminess of their love through soft, impressionistic styling with a clean modern edge that reflected the simplicity of their wedding.

While the bride and groom chose a clean, fresh faced, and minimal, aesthetic for their styling, we incorporating soft touches, such as foraged florals, hand-lettered vows on cotton rag paper, and Parisian influenced locations to add a dreamy layer to their session.

Many thanks to the following talents: 

Photographer: Booth Photographics  | Florist: The Foxglove Studio | Stylist: Ethereal by Evelina | Hair and Makeup: Joanna B Artistry | Location: Chicago History Museum | Gown: Cheyne by Houghton via Alice in Ivory | Paper goods: Ink and Linen

Ashley and Eric's Chicago Oak Brook Outdoor Garden Wedding Photography

Ashley and Eric. These two make me smile so much. I've written about how Ashley and Eric are pretty cool and make me smile so much. I mean, Ashley, an independent, observant, and thoroughly sweet lawyer (yay Ashley!!), couldn't be the more perfect compliment to Eric's expressive, driven, and dynamic personality. 

An Outdoor Garden Wedding

Ashley and Eric planned a beautiful outdoor lakefront ceremony on one of the hottest days of the summer! We joked about the heat, but I'm guessing these two will never forget the weather on their wedding day. I love how Ashley incorporated Rose quartz and deeper greens into her overall blushe and taupe palette to reflect the manicured forest environment of their venue (those grounds. I can't quite get over those gorgeous grounds!)

Ashley and Eric's Strong Family Love

When Ashley and Eric shared their private and emotional first look, everyone was in tears. It was just the best kind of day! But I loved seeing not just how much these two loved each other but how they loved others. 

Both had fiercely loving relationships with ther families in such a beautiful way. Watching Ashley get ready with both her mother and future mother in law was such a peaceful and welcoming time. These two beloved women snapped photos, made problems go away behind the scenes (like only mothers can do) and, along with Ashley's sisters and bridesmaids, shared beloved memories together. 

And Eric. If I have children, I hope they grow up and hug me like Eric hugs his mother. It still makes me tear up-he loves her so much and puts all that into one hug. Stephen has a similar skill and I love it to pieces.

Ashley and Eric, your day was perfect. Hot, yes. But it was so full of love, sunshine, and beautiful memories. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for sharing it with us.

Many thanks to the following talents:

Venue, rentals, and catering: Hyatt Lodge at McDonald's Campus | Florals: Blossoms and Branches | Bride's accessories:  BHLDN