We were a wee bit secretly delighted during our meeting with Amy and Brandon a few days before we were scheduled to photograph their elegant Palmer House wedding and reception in downtown Chicago. They had some issues with their day-of coordinator and had decided to take over the final preparations, and things just got real. No worries though – Amy and Brandon are a powerhouse couple and they easily took control of the situation. It was great to see the two of them rise to the challenge and overcome these obstacles together, and we were completely charmed with Amy’s feisty descriptions and sassy attitude about the whole thing. Plus, we’ve worked with many of the vendors on their superstar list and were confident that everything would be perfect on Saturday.
Luck was already on our side the morning of the wedding when we quickly found a parking spot in the popular and trendy Old Town part of Chicago. Amy was having her hair done at Swerve Salon, and since she’s a co-owner of the salon we knew she was guaranteed to have lovely locks. We grabbed a few detail shots and went over our strategy with the fantastic team from Orange Wedding Films as the girls arrived and settled into their chairs with mimosas in hand. Excited chaos filled the salon, with every mirror reflecting happy babies, smiling ladies, and the occasional stray hair extension.
After a final spritz of hairspray and double-check to make sure our temporary Swerve tattoos were in place, we headed over to the Palmer House Hilton. Amy switched out the elevator music for some more upbeat hip hop and touched up her gold eye-shadow while we ooohed and aaahed over her dreamy Enzoani gown and glittery Jimmy Choo pumps. In addition to her perfectly girly accessories, Amy had a couple of sensible, practical tricks up her sleeve. One was her pair of lacy Toms flats for the dance floor, and the other was an awesome tip – that only a stylist bride would think of – that deserves its own future post. With a few stitches and final buttoning from her mother, Amy transformed into a stunning, gorgeous bride.
In a room far, far, away (not really, but the Palmer House can be a bit confusing), Brandon and his groomsmen were helping each other adjust suspenders and cufflinks. They grabbed their jackets and we headed downstairs for formal photos. Brandon was pretty hot – and not just literally – in his Calvin Klein tuxedo, so we opened a few windows and cooled off out on the fire escape.
Amy and Brandon chose an aisle reveal for their wedding and didn’t want to see each other before the ceremony, but we couldn’t resist taking advantage of the Palmer House’s gilded elevators for a fun ‘almost oopsie’ shot before switching over for the girls’ turn in front of the lens.
Joshua knew that the Palmer House’s spa was decorated in dramatic, jewel-toned hues – the perfect complement to the ladies’ glamour and elegance. We loved their monochromatic bouquets from City Scents, and the fact that Amy remembered and had each bridesmaid carry flowers that they had carried in their own weddings made them even more awesome.
Soon, guests started to arrive and fill the Empire Room. As the music began to play, the wedding party made their way down the aisle led by the most adorable flower girls – and the tiniest Cinderella lost a shoe. Amy and Brandon chose a close personal friend to officiate the marriage, and his personalized ceremony and description of their relationship had the entire room laughing. It was a perfectly engaging, touching and humorous commitment of love.
Amy and Brandon wanted to spend as much time as they could with their friends and family, so we stole them away briefly for a few photos against the iconic Palmer House marquee lights. While the couple and their guests were enjoying cocktail hour on the mezzanine, the Palmer House staff performed an incredible feat in transforming the Empire Room from an elegant ceremony space into a swanky reception. The Palmer House even provided the lovely cake, which we originally thought came from one of the top bakeries in town. We were impressed, people.
This particular dance floor here in the Empire Room seems to attract talented guests to perform for the bride and groom (remember Gianna’s performance at this Palmer House wedding last summer?) so we weren’t surprised when Amy’s friends picked up their instruments and formed a live band for the first dance. They were joking about it earlier in the day, but that was obviously nerves and humility – they were phenomenal! Only a stellar DJ could follow up a performance like that, and Toast & Jam did not disappoint. They honed right in on Amy and Brandon’s musical tastes and I couldn’t help but sing along to some of the old-school 90’s jams (I wasn’t alone). It’s a tough job when you’re torn between wanting to capture the insanity and wanting to put down your camera and join in…and in fact, I do believe there were some Gangnam Style moves busted out on the floor by Amy and JJ.
Amy and Brandon, thank you so much for allowing us to document your awesome wedding celebration and for re-confirming that when we love what we do, it’s not work at all. We had so much fun with you and hope to see you again soon!
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