It was the two year anniversary of Tori + Ryan’s first date. They had originally planned to go to the same restaurant (Cooper’s Hawk) – but first Ryan took Tori back to her old apartment complex. Sounds random, but it was the first time he saw her. Two years prior, he had gone to pick her up for their date, and when Ryan pulled up, Tori was outside playing with her new puppy. It was in this spot that he met the love of his life, and this very same spot is where Ryan asked Tori to marry him.

Tori + Ryan, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to not only work with you – but get to know you better. From our first meeting, to the Engagement Session, to the wedding – it was all a pleasure. I loved seeing how much you both love each other through it all. The excitement to marry each other was evident in BOTH of your tears throughout the day. Your love for each other even made me tear up a little bit behind the camera ūüôā Thanks for choosing us to capture your wedding day – we love how the photos turned out and hope you do, too!

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VENDOR CREDITS // Wedding Dress Designer: Winnie Couture | Bridesmaid Dresses Designer: Bebe | Tuxedo Designer: Formally Modern Tuxedo | Wedding Coordinator: Kacie Benjamin, The Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms | Videographer: ojo Creative | Florsist: Erin Stoffregen, Event Floral | Cake Artist: Terrell Cole, Dark Horse Pastries | DJ: Frankie Novak | Paper Goods: Wedding Paper Divas | Ceremony Venue: Church by the Side of the Road | Reception Venue: The Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms | Caterer: Henrici’s Catering | Photo Booth: Luxe Productions

Melissa + Alex got engaged along the gorgeous tree-lined path along Lake Michigan/in front of the Field Museum/Shedd Aquarium. What better place than that to start our Engagement Session than to take it back to where it all started. It’s a meaningful place to them, since they live in the area, and have walked the trail a few times. It’s one of my favorite views of the city, as I shoot there often – but I love finding new nooks and hidden gems that I’ve never photographed before. This time, the path along the Shedd/garden area was my favorite. We started along the north side of the Shedd/Field Museum – and walked along the lake, all the way to behind the Adler Planetarium to the hidden beach that is quickly becoming a hot spot (it was filled with people and I’ve never seen that before!). Melissa + Alex, I had so much fun with you both during the session. I loved getting to know you,¬†chatting about life/grad school/traveling, and watching you get more and more comfortable throughout the session. You’re going to be pros come wedding day – and I am so excited for you to see photos from your session – but even more so I can’t wait for the wedding! See you next year ūüėČ

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Amanda + Ryan’s story follows an interesting timeline of events. They first met at a “Throw Back to College Years” birthday party about 8 years ago. Even after a couple jello shots – there weren’t any sparks, and it seemed they were going to take the road towards friendship. Fast forward 6 years, and Ryan moved back to Chicago after playing professional baseball in Florida. They both had¬†mutual friends, so their journey started with a solid base of friendship. Then, at 13,000ft in Breckenridge, CO – something clicked, timing was perfect, and everything aligned for them.

The following year, they were in Park City Utah. After scouting the mountain for 2 days and snowboarding with a ring in his pants, Ryan found a scenic woods setting to take¬†their annual handstand picture. After the final picture and wipe out, Amanda stood¬†up while Ryan stayed¬†in the snow …but this time on one knee – asking Amanda to marry him.

Their wedding was the perfect Sunday Funday. Their friends and family gathered for an early afternoon ceremony/cocktail hour/lunch reception at Ovation. A lot of the details were DIY, and I’m talking GOOD DIY. They designed their own logo, created all the signs, made all the centerpieces full of greenery and palms, made the place cards… and they even built the structure at the front of the ceremony. But my favorite detail was that they brought all their plants from home – it was such a personal touch! They had fun, showed their love for each other, drinks were flowing, and the after-party continued at Fifty-50. After spending the day with them – I now LOVE the idea of a Sunday Wedding – it was perfect ūüôā Amanda + Ryan, all the best to you guys – and I hope to continue running into you at the Windy City Smokeout for years to come!

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VENDOR CREDITS // Wedding Dress Designer: Justin Alexander, Weddings 826 | Tuxedo Designer: Adrian Park Custom Suits | Hair Stylist: Amanda, Blohaute | Make-up Artist: Joey Claeyssen | Donuts: Glazed and Infused | Ceremony/Reception Venue: Ovation | Caterer: Catering by Michaels

I met Winelyn + Marco for the first time just outside Olive Park, right before their Engagement Session. Within minutes, we were talking and laughing like old friends – and they opened up in front of my camera to be their adorable selves. They were a little nervous – as are most couples before the Engagement Session – but they soon realized how much fun we were going to have together. Once I showed them one of the photos taken about 5 minutes in, they were sold. They let their guards down and just let the session flow. Winelyn + Marco don’t get to see each other too often, as they live about an hour apart and are both nurses. However, when they do – they love to meet in Chicago to walk around and find yummy places to eat – Chinatown is one of their faves (I need to get there more!). Winelyn (or Kaye as her friends/family call her) + Marco – thanks for choosing me to photograph your engagement! I had a blast with you guys – and I hope to work with you again soon!

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Alison + Brandon met in college. Alison played basketball, and Brandon was her off-season trainer. I assume there was always a little crush there ūüėČ because Alison says that as soon as Brandon stopped running their workouts, he asked her if she wanted to hangout! Maybe he always knew, maybe he didn’t. But fast-forward to a New York trip and a surprise private garden proposal later – Brandon and Alison started planning¬†the rest of their lives together. Alison + Brandon, you two are one¬†of my favorites. You were both so sweet, caring, and treated us like we were friends or family. That is something that doesn’t go unnoticed and is DEFINITELY appreciated. You are attentive to each other, so much fun to be around, and your friends and family love you both – that is clear. Thank you for hiring us to be there to¬†photograph your wedding day. The memories in these photos are documented forever, and we’re so happy you get to enjoy them for the rest of your lives! All my best to you both ūüôā

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VENDOR CREDITS //¬†Wedding Dress Designer: BHLDN | Bridesmaid Dresses Designer: Iva Crepe by Jill Stuart,¬†BHLDN | Make-up Artist: Lia, Nika Vaughan Bridal Artists | Hair Stylist: Terri | Florist:¬†Revel Decor | Cake Artist: Sweet Mandy B’s | Band: Blue Water Kings | Invitations: Wedding Paper Diva | Venue: Gallery 1028 | Caterer: Calihan Catering

Christine + Tom met at a friend’s surprise party in September of 2012. Their wedding day was a few weeks ago on a perfect Saturday in Chicago. Aside from being excited to marry¬†her love, Christine was super excited about all of her little details. The floral decor at the reception, the cake from Amy Beck, and especially the sparkler send off at the end. And I think it all turned out beautifully. It was a stunning day – exactly what Christine + Tom had envisioned. Liven It Up Events and A Stem Above put it all together and¬†made it work without a glitch. Congratulations to the newlyweds – thank you for being the sweetest to work with – and for envisioning pretty, pretty details that came to life for me to photograph – so much fun!!
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VENDOR CREDITS //¬†Wedding Dress Designer: Carolina Herrera, Nordstrom Wedding Suite | Bridesmaid Dress Designer: Vera Wang White, David’s Bridal | Tuxedo Designer: Formally Modern Tuxedo | Hair Stylist: Kelsey Triebes, George the Salon | Make-up Artist: Brittany Perris | Wedding Coordinator: Anthony Navarro, Liven It Up Events | Videographer: Tin Nguyen, Old North Film Company | Florst: Erin Foster-Olszewski, A Stem Above | Cake Artist: Amy Beck Cake Design | Band: Toni Di Donato, Harleqin Rendezvous Music | Paper Goods Designer: Meredith Tummillo, Studio M Creations | Calligraphy: Mike Rowe, Write by Mike | Ceremony Venue: St. Clement Church | Reception Venue: Galleria Marchetti

Seven years ago, when I started on my photography journey, I needed to practice. This girl, my bff since we were 13 – stepped in as my model. That was the first time I photographed her. Now, as we’re both approaching 31 this week – I photographed her once again, this time – with a little baby boy on the way. We started off with a few portraits at her home, and then we went to random parking lot that had tall grass, and I kid you not, about three square feet of usable shade. We were legit in the parking lot of Food 4 Less. But we made it work, don’t you think?

Sammie, you are literally glowing. i’ve known you for more years of my life than I haven’t – and I can gladly say – I’ve never seen you happier. You were meant to be a mother. Times like this I remember why I am so blessed to do what I do. I love having this gift that I can give you. To help you remember this time in your life, to document these special moments. You are going to be such an amazing mom and I can’t wait to meet Baby Boy Sabatino!

 

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Alex and Meghan’s love first began over their love for accounting. The two first met as audit interns at Deloitte during the summer of 2009. While each of them thought the other one was cute, it was not until 4 years later would they begin dating. It all began with the help of their friend who asked Meghan to come out with her to meet Alex and his friends. Meghan did not hesitate, recalling Alex as being really smart and handsome. The two met out at El Hefe, a bar they vow never return to, and instantly made a connection, chatting the night away. Since that night, Alex and Meghan have road-tripped across Canada, experienced ramen in Kyoto, Japan, and survived Hilda and Marcos Carbajal’s wedding in Michoacan, Mexico. Alex even incorporated all the selfies they’ve taken on their adventures together during his proposal!

Alex + Meghan’s wedding was definitely one for the books. Everything was just beautiful, with every little detail worked out by Lindsay Mackey of Simply Elegant Group. The Skyline Loft at Bridgeport Art Center looked stunning with personalized flags custom created by Art of Imagination. From the delicate florals to the farmhouse tables, the day was just perfect. Meghan + Alex’s love for each other was so apparent that I couldn’t stop taking pictures. I felt it with them. And the pictures show it. Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Corral –¬†may all your adventures continue into your new life together ūüôā

{check out the vendor credits after the pics to see the wonderful team that helped put this day together!}

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VENDOR CREDITS // Wedding Dress Designer: Ines Di Santo, Nordstrom¬†| Tuxedo Designer: Suit Supply,¬†Nordstrom | Wedding Coordinator: Lindsay Mackey, The Simply Elegant Group | Florist: Steve’s Floral Market | Band: UpBeat Orchestra | Paper Goods Designer: Design that Flies |¬†Reception Venue: Bridgeport Art Center, Skyline Loft | Caterer: Marcela, Cocina Fusion | Rented Tables: Tablescapes | Draping, Lighting, Paper Flags: Art of Imagination¬†| Transportation: The Barrel Run

Melissa + Austin met TEN YEARS ago at Indiana University, so this one has been in the making for quite some time now ūüôā They were most excited to spend the day with their ‘people’ – their closest friends and family all surrounding them while they promised to spend the rest of their lives together. The whole day was spent at¬†The Langham Chicago – perfectly coordinated by Anthony Navarro of¬†Liven it Up Events. Cheers to Melissa + Austin, I hope you’re having the BEST time in Australia/New Zealand right now – I cannot wait to see YOUR pics. Until then, here are some of my favorite pics from your wedding!

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VENDOR CREDITS // Wedding Dress Designer: Ysa Makino, Dimitras Bridal | Bridesmaid Dress Designer: Sorella Vita | Tuxedo Designer: Nordstrom | Make-up Artist: Jessie Nemickas | Hair Stylist: Michelle Forst | Wedding Coordinator: Anthony Navarro, Liven it Up Events | Videographer: Old North Film Company | Band: Chicago Catz | Ceremony/Reception Venue: The Langham Chicago

For the past few years, I admittedly avoided doing “newborn sessions”. I’d done the whole baby in a basket thing, but to be completely honest – I just didn’t like it (kudos¬†to those that do it, though). For me, those photos didn’t really tell the story I wanted to tell – and I thought newborn sessions had to look a certain way and what I wanted to do wasn’t good enough. So I rarely accepted opportunities to photograph newborns.

Then, I photographed the Ilhardts – who just welcomed their new son James into the world only¬†11 days prior. I sent Jesse a sneak peek after the session (the photo below), and she wrote back, “…it’s like my whole heart in a single¬†frame,” ¬†and I just knew. THAT’S what I want my newborn sessions to be like. I want the¬†entire family, together, in their home, and yes – that even means including the dog. I realized I identify with¬†lifestyle¬†family¬†sessions rather than your typical newborn in a basket with styled props and photoshopped babies’ heads because well – you’re more likely to sit on the couch and hang out with the baby than prop him in a basket day in and day out.¬†Now, I’m definitely not knocking other photographers or couples that want styled newborn sessions because, you do you – and I respect that. All I’m saying is that, this is how I want to move forward doing newborn/family/lifestyle sessions. This is what I relate to. This is the story I want to tell. These are the moments I want to document. If you’re not into it, I have some fantastic newborn photographers that will put your baby in a basket and doll them up with the cutest props that I can recommend to you. But,¬†if you’re into it – shoot me a note – and scroll through some photos below to get a sense of what I’m saying.

To Jesse + Ben, thanks for being flat out awesome. Baby James (and Brady) – you stole my heart on this one.

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