Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Collin and Charlene :: Married!

When Charlene called me at the end of September to see if I was free for her wedding in three weeks, I was quite sure I had heard her wrong. Three weeks?? I immediately assumed there was some disaster with another photographer, and she needed someone to fill in. But it turns out? Charlene was so set on her wedding being personal, intimate and meaningful, that she was getting married in three weeks before her pastor retired, so he could marry her. As soon as I heard that - I knew I wanted to spend her wedding day with her. So I met that weekend with her and Collin, and sat across a table from Charlene as she breezed through the fastest rendition of "its-nice-to-meet-you-I'm-so-madly-in-love-I-want-a-personal-wedding-and-here-are-the-important-details" I have ever heard. I instantly fell in love with her infectious smile, her high energy and her absolute and intense love for the man sitting next to her.

So three weeks later - I met Charlene and her maid of honor, Nicole, in the parking lot of the restaurant they were having their reception at, left my little car and joined forces with her for the day. We first went back to Collin and Charlene's home, where I met their sons, their beastly huge dog, and their teacup yorkie sized dog (I think with one dog inbetween!) Growing up in a house full of girls - I'm always a little amused by a house full of boys. It's always loud, banging and slamming noises filling the air, active, and full of ferocious warrior cries. This beautiful mixing of families was no different, and I just sat and soaked it all in. Collin and Charlene opted to mix sand, doing a personalized version of the traditional unity candle. They sat with their respective sons, and each group created their own sets of sand, representing their "individual" families....
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And Collin and Charlene would later mix them together, to signify the mixing of families forever.
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This day was so wonderful to be a part of. It was so laid back, and calm, and fun. After the sand, the girls piled into Charlene's convertible and sped off to get nails done! This photo is basically straight out of camera (with a little push on the blacks), and I just LOVE how carefree, content and happy Charlene looks here. She smiled, and sang, and danced, and kept saying over and over how she couldn't believe she was marrying her best friend.
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Charlene surprised me and had made me an appointment to get my nails done with them!! I was completely floored, and obviously need to learn to argue better, because my protests held no sway, and I found myself with my toes in warm water, and a massage rolling down my back! It was an amazing little treat (thank you thank youuu Charlene!).
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A little fact I didn't know about Charlene is that she is notoriously late. For everything. So in true form, we were running a little behind getting to the hair dressers, and really behind getting home to change. Let me tell you what - I've never seen anyone get dressed so fast in my life!
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We were out to the limo in time at all!
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I love this photo. Charlene was sitting in the limo quietly and looking out the window, and would randomly burst out with an exclamation about how blessed she was. How happy she was. How she's never known love like this before. It was beautiful to look at her.
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Charlene told me many times how the most important photo of the day was Collin's face when he saw her. Charlene - it was beautiful. It was emotional. It was joy. It was amazement.
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The pastor of this church means a lot to Charlene (she planned her wedding around him after all!). It was touching to listen to him talk to these two, admonishing them to love. It was so obvious that he knew, and loved this radiant bride in front of him.
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Married!!
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We raced against the setting sun to grab family photos and some photos of just the new bride and groom.
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Charlene father tragically passed away a few years ago. She honored him, and carried him with her on her wedding day by attaching his pin to her bouquet. The butterfly in her bouquet was meaningful and significant as well - and just another example of how intimately Charlene held this day to her heart.
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Handsome handsome!
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FAVORITE.
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Thank you so very much to you both for allowing me this glimpse into your family, your life and your love. You are a beautiful couple, and I wish many many blessings upon your home and your marriage.

CLICK HERE to see the slideshow!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Scott and Jenni :: Married! (Cheney Mansion, Oak Park, IL)

I walked into a house packed with women and little ones running around. It was controlled chaos, the kind that just makes you smile and realize what a wonderful bride you were spending the day with. Jenni sat around the kitchen table, chatting with the family and friends that moved in an out of the room, holding the random niece or nephew that came by. This wedding was a little unique for me, because Jenni is now my cousin-in-law, so I half worked, and half just enjoyed the time with family. I have to give a huge thank you to my friend, and second shooter for the day, Jenni Reed - who worked with me, and allowed me the freedom to enjoy some sweet time with my cousins!

Hair and make up stylists were brought in, and the dining room was taken over for a staging area.
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My view on the left - Jenni's on the right
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Jenni's parents live 3 blocks from the church, and so a mini parade of people (noise makers and all!) headed out to make the walk.
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The church was...gorgeous. Old beauty kind of architecture that makes you feel nostalgic and imagine all sorts of stories of things that happened within it's walls - complete with a massive organ at the back. It made it seem just that much more romantic that this marriage was marking it's beginnings within walls that had started hundreds of love stories...somehow bonding years and years of love together.
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Scott getting his first view of his bride
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My view
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Jenni's view
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Married!!
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The reception was being held at the Cheney Mansion, so we headed over to use the grounds for photos.
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You guys just look good together - simple as that.
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My view
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Jenni's view
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Jenni's view of the first dance
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Scott and Jenni - everything turned out so great. It was a beautiful wedding, and a gorgeous day. Thank you so much for inviting my Jenni and I into your wedding - we had a ton of fun spending the day with you! Welcome to the family, Jenni - I couldn't be happier to add you to my cousin group. Love! CLICK HERE to see the slideshow!!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mike and Jill :: Married! (Mackinaw Valley Vineyard, IL)

Jill glowed. All day. I mean really....ALL DAY. She was calm. She was still. She was smiling. She didn't notice that it was 58 degrees in October. She was excited that there were still leaves on the vines. She spent the day before her wedding surrounded by family and friends, carving pumpkins. She was ready to marry the love of her life.

Mike arrived, and slowly paced around, waiting for his first glimpse of his soon-to-be-wife. When he saw her, he held her with the utmost tenderness and relief that she was finally going to be all his. He stood strong, and cried saying his written vows. He looked at Jill in wonder, all the while staying very close to her to watch over her.

Mike and Jill? It was such an extreme pleasure to spend your wedding day with you. I had the most fun with you both, and will cherish the memories of your day. Love!

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The vineyard was absolutely gorgeous. While I was with the girls, my amazing friend (and second shooter for this wedding!) Jenni was taking some location shots.
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First look...
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This moment is actually one of my favorites at each of the weddings I shoot. It's the "lookatmydressandmyshoesandmyhair" moment. When finally (finally!!) she gets to show off all the things she's been hiding for months!
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Jill had every detail thought of - down to little games on the back of her programs to occupy their guests while they waited for the ceremony to start. Brilliant!
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Marrrrieeddd!
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After the ceremony, we headed back out for some more photos.
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Love me some light.
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Table "numbers". The day before, Jill (along with a bunch of happy helpers) carved pumpkins, then took photos of guests names while holding the appropriate pumpkin for their table. It turned out great!
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I'll close with this one - because it's probably my favorite of the day, despite being orange and a little out of focus. The reception was held in an open room, with makeshift walls, and one end completely open to the night air. Mike pulled Jill outside, away from their guests, and they stood together and watched what was going on inside the reception space, and then looked around the property, and danced a little right where they were. It was the most precious, intimate moment. I couldn't bring myself to interrupt it by using a flash to take this photo, so I bumped up my ISO (thank you, my beautiful 5DMII for superior high ISO skills!) and shot this at 3200ISO and 1/20sec - hence the slightly fuzzy and orange look. Still - it's one of my favorites.

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Love to you both! CLICK HERE to see the slideshow!!