When I drive up from Indianapolis to Chicago to photograph weddings with Joshua, the landmark that stands out the most to me isn’t the Willis Tower, the White Sox stadium, or even the elusive ‘Circle’ that I finally discovered about 3 months ago. It’s Carnivale. I loved that restaurant before I had ever sampled their food (although Joshua assured me it’s very good). Why? It’s because that’s the point along the highway where the traffic FINALLY lightens up and I know I’ve only got about 10 more minutes left of my drive. Well, it seems that I am not alone in my Carnivale love – Erika and Ian, the quintessential Chicago couple (seriously, even their wedding program was a mock of the Tribune) picked it as the locale to host their rainbow-colored Filipino wedding. Yippie!
Knowing very well how hot Chicago can get in late spring, Erika and Ian chose to have their wedding and reception early in the day – a wise decision in our opinion. So when we arrived at the Sheraton Hotel we could see the first boats heading out on to Lake Michigan, although the ambitious boaters were no match for our gorgeous bride who had been up for hours already, twisting her long, thick hair into perfect spiral curls. The girls’ accessories hinted at the color explosion waiting to come, so we gathered up Erika’s ruffled Allure Couture gown and sparkly invitation suite and stole the shoes off their feet for a fun photo shoot.
After a few final blasts of hairspray, the girls were ready to swap their satin bathrobes for plum dresses and one especially dreamy gown.
The Samba Room at Carnivale is an amazing space for an intimate wedding ceremony, filled with an array of artwork and lit by a wall of windows. The exposed brick and colorful lighting gave it an already warm feel that was only intensified as friends and family began to arrive. Led by some of the cutest flower girls we have ever seen and escorted by her parents, Erika joined Ian at the altar. Their ceremony incorporated several traditional Filipino elements, including recognition of principal sponsors and participation by secondary sponsors who provided the customary coins, candle, veil, and cord. (Few people actually know that the popular unity candle ceremony used in many weddings today stems from Filipino traditions.) With prayer to the Blessed Mother and final blessing, the couple was pronounced husband and wife.
Immediately after the ceremony, guests were invited downstairs to enjoy cocktails and Carnivale’s famous chips n’dip while mingling on the outdoor patio. The fresh breeze drifted over the table of rainbow escort cards and waiters weaved through the crowd, offering an assortment of delicious appetizers.
The heavy curtain separating the party from the Main Dining room was opened, welcoming everyone into the vibrant reception space. A complete spectrum of color decorated the space, exploding up to the soaring ceilings and glowing from every pendant lamp and LED-lit centerpiece. The team from Flowerville made sure that Ian and Erika’s kaleidoscope theme was reflected in the floral arrangements, bouquets, and the waterfall of blooms cascading down the Oak Mill Bakery cake.
After lunch guests were treated to a hilarious slide show that the bridal party created, featuring highlights from Erika and Ian’s relationship. The couple shared their first dance together as husband and wife before DJ JayFunk opened up the dance floor for some crazy shenanigans (ahem, Ian, we’re talking about that garter bit) and the gratuitous abuse of colored frames. 🙂 Nooks along the main wall contained a candy buffet and photo booth for guests who needed a breather and some sugar rejuvenation.
The reception wrapped up in the late afternoon, giving the older guests a chance to nap before the after-party while we boarded the shuttle for bridal party photos. We made sure to take advantage of the Carnivale wall that served as the inspiration for Ian and Erika’s color scheme before heading off to Olive Park and the waterfront. This session was unique in that our group was completely relaxed, knowing that all of the pressures from the ceremony and reception were done. The lack of stress and complete happiness was evident, from the huge smiles to the crazy dancing on the shuttle. So much fun!
Erika and Ian, thank you both so much for choosing us to photograph your crazy, colorful, beautiful wedding (and for bringing me to a favorite Chicago landmark). You are amazing people and we hope to see you again soon!
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