Stunning Italian and Hawaiian Chicago Wedding Photography – Marisa and Eric
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You know that feeling you get when you finally fall in love and you feel like the word ‘love’ isn’t enough to describe the magnitude of your feelings? You realize that ‘love’ is one of the most commonly used and abused words in our language, but nothing else seems to have the resonance that it expresses? Well, that’s how I feel in trying to describe our experience photographing Marisa and Eric’s epic Chicago wedding. I started and re-started this paragraph several times, discarding each revision as they were so inadequate (and mind you, I’m a walking thesaurus at this point in wedding blogging) and struggling to find words that were as rich with meaning as Eric and Marisa’s….well, love. What I eventually decided is that there are no words to describe how amazing this wedding was, with a bride and groom who were as beautiful on the inside as they were on the outside (and they were stunning) and some of the most attractive wedding guests we’ve ever seen coming from the Chicago nightlife industry to the thought and consideration they put into every single detail, the ways in which they honored family and heritage, and the near extravagance of the visual display and entertainment. This wedding touched our team – not only did it take over as my favorite wedding since I started shooting weddings in Chicago with Joshua Albanese Photography, but it also had one of our videographers contemplating a relocation to Hawaii to pursue a certain ukulele player. 😉
Marisa’s mother met us at the door on the morning of the wedding and put us immediately at ease with her Italian-style mothering, offering us sodas and water from the fridge and pushing sandwiches into our hands – the same treatment we receive when we’re around Josh’s family. Marisa was still finishing up at the salon, so we gathered up her accessories and slipped her gown onto its sparkly ‘Mrs. Moon’ hanger for a lakeside photo shoot.
In a nearby hotel, Eric and his groomsmen were also finishing up with their prep. There had been a last-minute switch in the shoe choice for the guys, and they ended up looking amazing. This incredibly handsome ER physician was all smiles as he posed for a few portraits, beyond excited to start the day and see his bride.
Marisa soon arrived all gorgeous and glamorous and after a few touch-ups in the mirror, was ready for the final step. Her gown was breathtaking – the honeycomb lace gave extra dimension to the intricate embroidery and beading, and the trumpet silhouette was a perfect fit. In a super-sweet moment, Marisa’s father helped his little girl put on her shoes for the last time, completing her bridal attire. As she posed for photos by the weeping willows, neighbors gathered around, telling stories about the little girl they remembered who had grown into the delightful young lady and how proud they were. Marisa’s bridesmaids arrived and joined us, and I looooved their orchid leis that were a nod to Eric’s Hawaiian heritage.
Marisa and Eric chose the Wilder Mansion – a hidden gem in Elmhurst – for their first look. The estate and gardens were a perfect setting to capture their reactions and the inside of the mansion lent an ethereal quality that produced timeless images. We all especially loved the ones of Marisa and the mirror, agreeing that they were editorial quality.
As friends and family filled the pews of the Yorkfield Presbyterian Church we realized that, thanks to Marisa’s career in Chicago’s nightlife industry (combined with their Italian and Hawaiian genes) we were in the presence of some of the most beautiful people in Chicago. (I have to admit that I even made a confession in church that day, admitting my girl crush to a few of the ladies who I recognized from friends’ Facebook pics. I couldn’t help it – she looks like Amy Winehouse, who was one of my favorites.) Led by an adorable ring bearer and two little sweeties in poufy tulle, Marisa joined Eric at the altar. The light from the stained glass windows streamed over the couple as they were pronounced husband and wife and shared their first married kiss.
After the ceremony, we made a quick stop for some fun photos with the whole bridal party before heading on to Alta Villa Banquets. Marisa and Eric chose to spend their cocktail hour visiting with their guests, and after sampling the spread, we suspect they were also there for the food. We’re talking a sushi bar and lamb chops, people.
Once everyone had completely spoiled their appetites on the cocktail appetizers, the doors to the reception hall were opened to a feast for the eyes. The teams from One Fine Day Events and Alta Villa Banquets combined their efforts to create a masterpiece. Hues of gold and champagne washed over the room, softly illuminated by the crystal chandeliers. The dance floor stretched from one end of the room to the other, flanked by tables that were decorated with simple and elegant centerpieces by Topiary Floral. Marisa and Eric were welcomed in with sparklers for their first dance before cutting into their orchid-topped Italian Bakery cake.
During dinner, we were treated to gigantic steaks and one of the most incredible performances we have ever seen at a wedding. Eric had proposed to Marisa while they were in Hawaii, and one of the more memorable parts of the trip was a performance by Taimane, an incredible ukulele musician. So incredible that they decided to fly her and her group in for a dinner performance. So incredible that one of our videographers fell instantly in love. So incredible that we bought all the CDs that she brought with, and asked for autographs. Just so incredible.
JoJo and Gizep kept us all from an imminent food coma by getting everyone out of their seats and onto the dance floor. Anyone needing a break was free to grab a gelato or Hawaiian Ice and sit down for a caricature (best wedding favors EVER). Marisa and Eric’s friends knew to save their energy, though, because friends of the couple took over the tables later in the evening, transforming to reception into a club with beats that had me checking outside for bouncers and a rope. Late-night revelers also enjoyed passed cigars and a midnight buffet – satisfaction on all accounts.
This reception is where we fell in love with this couple. It was so obviously not about them, but about family and hospitality and thoughtfulness – from Marisa’s letter to her father during their dance that thanked him for giving her traditional family values to the couples’ sweets table that included sections for sugar-free and gluten-free, from her finding me on the dance floor and demanding to know if I had sat down for dinner to then watching her pick up a tub of flip-flops and distribute them to all the ladies on the dance floor. I have never seen a couple who were so unconcerned with their own selves and so involved in the happiness and kindness to others, especially on their wedding day. Marisa and Eric, we want to thank you so much for truly including us in your day and we can’t wait to see you again soon! Grazie and Mahalo!
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