True story – we knew Jenny before she was even engaged to Mike, and, in a way, she had already picked us for her wedding photographer. We first met Jenny and her sister, Patty, at a Bridal Show a couple of years ago when Patty was freshly engaged and shopping around for Chicago wedding photographers. Jenny fell in love with our work immediately and convinced her sister to do whatever was necessary to secure us for her wedding. So when we photographed Patty and Rob’s pretty pink Chicago wedding last summer, we got to know the friends and family a little better – including Jenny, Mike, and several key people who would make an appearance at the next family celebration. We were so happy when Jenny contacted us after Mike’s proposal to start making arrangements to have us photograph their wedding – we had such a fun time with everyone the previous summer and we were definitely looking forward to a little reunion.
When we arrived at Jenny’s parents’ home the morning of the wedding, we were greeted by Jenny’s mom (one of the nicest people ever), who directed us up the familiar staircase to where the girls were getting ready. Jenny bounded excitedly out of the bedroom, all smiles and sparkly rhinestones with cute knee-high socks, giving huge hugs all around. She pointed us to the room where her dress and accessories were laid out and gave us the overview of the layout for their backyard ceremony, then turned everything over to us as she returned to the bedroom where Diana from Kelly Cardendas Salon was arranging her hair into loose, natural waves. We gathered up Jenny’s vintage-inspired lace James Clifford gown and wedding accoutrements and headed outside to check out the ceremony space.
Outside, Jenny’s handcrafted “Happily Ever After” sign fluttered in the breeze, leading the way down the path to the backyard that had been transformed into a beautifully rustic setting for the couple to exchange vows against the lush foliage of the giant maple, oak, and sycamore trees. We were amazed when we saw all of the thought and effort the couple had put into the personalized details and we think Jenny has a calling as a wedding planner or Anthropologie design editor if she ever gets bored with her day job. Jenny’s adorable cowboy boots perfectly complemented the burlap and rustic wooden accents and the overall organic wedding scheme.
The bridesmaids had trickled in throughout the morning – many familiar faces, including the infamous Barbie (girl is a RIOT) – and they all looked amazing in their rich, brown gowns, chunky jewelry and varied footwear choices. Jenny’s sisters, Maureen and Patty, served as her Matrons of Honor and were gorgeous in their accompanying merlot hues. Patty just recently celebrated her one year anniversary with Rob, and we couldn’t believe that Maureen’s sweet daughter Chloe had grown so fast from the toddler riding down the aisle in a wagon at Patty’s wedding to this precious gypsy toddler who had conned her aunts out of all the gold bracelets she could fit on her chubby little wrists. Family and friends weren’t the only familiar faces – we were pleased to see Patty Kudzlack from Fairy Godmothers arriving to drop off the wildflower bouquets and add her special touch to the décor.
While we were out in the nearby park doing photos with the girls, Jenny’s dad came out to check on the activity, giving us a sneak peek at the incredible outfits Jenny and Mike had chosen for the guys and receiving catcalls and air-kisses from the girls. We knew the guys would be arriving soon so we sent Jenny inside to hide away while we met them outside to set up Jenny and Mike’s First Look. Our jaws dropped when Mike pulled up and stepped out of the car – he and the rest of the groomsmen were dressed in what is, hands down, our absolute favorite wedding attire of the year. Words cannot describe how much we loved the suspenders, the herringbone patterns, the Irish flat hats, and most of all, the cigar boutonnieres.
We led Jenny down to a spot behind the trees near the lake and as we waited for Mike to get into place for the First Look, she told us about how she first met her handsome fireman at the local bowling alley and how he has made her laugh till her cheeks hurt from then to now. Jenny took a deep breath to composed herself, making sure she was fully aware of the moment as she made her way around the lakeside to where Mike patiently stood with his back turned. He could hear the leaves crunching beneath her feet as she approached and broke into a smile before she reached out to touch his arm. He turned around, his smile growing as he saw his bride and wrapped his arms around her. Nothing could stop these two lovebirds from grinning happily at each other as they nuzzled under the branches of the weeping willow tree.
Jenny and Mike are a fun and friendly couple and took a ‘more is merrier’ approach with their bridal party – probably the largest one we’ve photographed so far and definitely a group who served up all kinds of awesomeness. These sassy bridesmaids and stylish groomsmen were out in the park enjoying the gorgeous fall day and we gathered them up for a few photos before the guests started to arrive.
Happy people filled the backyard and Rob met us with a hearty embrace before finding his seat. Inside, Jenny pinned on her cathedral veil and tucked her hand into her father’s arm. As the musicians from Moeller Music begin their melodies, Mike’s adorable nephews led the way down the lantern-lined aisle with their sign signaling Jenny’s arrival. The couple exchanged vows in a beautiful outdoor ceremony under a canopy of leaves, framed by a simple fabric altar.
After they were pronounced husband and wife, guests were invited to enjoy tasty snacks, including ‘Mom’s Cookies,’ washed down with apple cider, while we led the bridal party’s trolley to the Dam No. 4 Woods East – the perfect location to make a quick stop on the way to the reception to get a few photos with that natural and rustic feel that fit Jenny and Mike’s wedding vision. Our timing was spot-on with the sunlight and the golden glow of late afternoon gave the woods an ethereal feel.
We arrived at Fountain Blue and made our way through the garden courtyard and into the tented pavilion to a reception that is the definition of rustic elegance. Birch-wrapped wildflower centerpieces sat in beds of moss and stones, softly illuminated by intricate chandeliers. The Central Continental Bakery incorporated organic detailing in the cake design using natural materials and the charming cake topper is a cute nod to Mike’s career and Jenny’s new status as Firefighter’s Wife.
Guests enjoyed excellent appetizers and a delicious meal before (another familiar face) MDM Entertainment opened up the dance floor. The party was in full swing when an announcement was made that ‘Elvis was in the building.’ His tabletop performance and following retirement definitely made it into our top list of crazy/hilarious things that have ever happened at a wedding reception. Well played, Elvis.
Jenny and Mike, we’re so glad we crossed paths with you at that bridal show and we’re so thankful for the opportunity to get to work with you and your amazing families on more than one occasion. We hope to be back for another ‘reunion’ soon, be it for family pictures or that vow-renewal Maureen mentioned. 😉 Can’t wait to see you again soon!
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