Urban Luxury Wedding Photography at Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral – Derek & Marissa
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Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good of Chicago wedding photographers we are – sometimes, we want the couple more than they want us and will do almost anything to earn their business. When we received our initial inquiry from Derek and Marissa for their spring wedding, I immediately realized that they are one of those couples. Since Derek is better with words than I’ll ever be, I’ll include the part from their questionnaire that made me swoon:
“I moved to Chicago in late December 2010. I still had dishes in boxes and packing peanuts stuck to my apartment walls when Marissa and I first met in-person. We arranged to meet on January 2, 2011 at the Chicago Cultural Center on Michigan Ave and Randolph. I arrived early and nervously chatted with the docent. “I’m meeting this girl for the first time today,” I told the docent. “Just between you and me, I’m really nervous.” She smiled. “Oh, good luck to you then,” she said. “Be sure to see the Tiffany Dome upstairs.” I turned around, and Marissa was walking right up to me. She shook my hand and introduced herself: “I’m Marissa.” She was shorter than I imagined (a petite 5’0″ — though she’ll swear up-and-down that she’s 5’2″) and her handshake was considerably firmer. She was carrying a gigantic bag full of study materials and a knit cap on her head adorned with a jaunty knit flower. She had our date all planned out — she turned toward a pop-up modern art installation, our first stop, and I immediately followed. The docent gave me a thumbs-up. I was hopeful, confused, more than a little euphoric. I was in love.
We visited the Tiffany Dome (at least we thought so — turns out we visited another lovely dome instead). We stretched out on our backs on the Cultural Center floor for the best views of the ceiling. The deep blue-colored stained glass was our favorite. Now it’s our wedding color. After the Cultural Center, we stopped by Starbucks on Michigan Ave for hot chocolate. We chatted for a couple of hours, which passed in a flash. As I was the new guy in town, Marissa promised a quick tour of Michigan Ave. But the bitter January weather quickly defeated my Washington, D.C. winter coat, and we ducked into the Purple Pig restaurant on Michigan Ave to escape the cold. We enjoyed dinner together, wedged between other couples in the tiny, bistro-style restaurant. We laughed easily at each others’ stories and fought playfully over the pigs’ feet and deep-fried kale.
As we braved the cold again on Michigan Ave, it was time to say goodbye. My toes were frozen as we waited, and the bus stop was hardly any help against the winter wind. But I hoped the bus would take its time. I looked at Marissa — warm in her Chicago coat — and I took one step closer to be by her side. Standing there next to each other, we swayed gently right and left. A subtle dance to the tune of an unseen Musician, whose music moves all things.
And that’s how we met.”
Oh my goodness. I get goose bumps every time I read it. Naturally, I called Joshua immediately and told him to do whatever it took to get them. Folks, this is what wedding dreams are made of and there was no way we were going to let them pass us by, even if it meant shooting their wedding for free. We were that serious. The final kicker? Their last name is Love.
The sun was shining and a cool breeze blowing through the streets of downtown Chicago when we arrived at Radisson Blu Aqua the morning of the wedding. Dori and Deanna from the dream team Jasmine Galleria were already there working their magic with makeup brushes and curling wands, and Giselle had the beautiful florals already delivered before heading over to start on reception decor. We said our hellos and whisked away Marissa’s lovely lace Jasmine bridal gown (complete with a sweet ‘Dr. Love’ hanger) and Filipino ceremony fixtures for their own photo shoot.
Over in the guys’ quarters, Derek was finally getting a chance to sit down after a busy morning, running errands that included sandwich delivery and vintage parasol distribution. As he enjoyed his well-earned lunch, we documented their accessories and gifts. For the first time in my life, I was a teensy bit jealous of the groom’s clothing – the custom Sebastian Grey suits that Derek chose for himself and his groomsmen were the best we’ve ever seen, and the Steampunk Vintage cufflinks were the perfect accent.
Puffy white clouds filled the sky as guests started to gather at the Holy Name Cathedral for the ceremony, although the azure skies were no match for the beauty soaring overhead inside. Marissa met a smiling Derek at the end of the aisle to exchange their vows. Their service included unique customs that were specific to their heritage and family, including a veil ceremony, a cord ceremony, and a coin ceremony (that incorporated antique coins from Derek’s grandfather’s collection). Under the vaulted wooden beams, Derek and Marissa were pronounced husband and wife and shared their first married kiss.
After the ceremony, friends and family were treated to a trolley tour of downtown Chicago while we set off with Derek, Marissa, and a few key people for bridal portraits. Since their first date was at the Chicago Cultural Center, we absolutely made sure to stop there for a photo with the glass dome. We stopped at a few other locations that held significance to the couple, and ended our photo shoot at the feet of a Chicago street musician who provided the melody for their first dance.
Derek and Marissa chose to keep their wedding celebration intimate, allowing them to completely spoil their guests. They carried this theme through to the reception where they treated us all to the best dining experience Chicago has to offer. The meal provided by Zed451 ranks in the top 5 meals of my entire life. They had everything, and everything was amazing (especially the smoky crumbled cheese, recommended by Kelsey). It was almost impossible to resist filling up on the variety of salads, soups, meats, and cheeses offered at the harvest tables, but well worth it to do so – the dinner entrée was served Brazilian steakhouse-style with every meat imaginable being served off skewers. My stomach is rumbling just reminiscing….
Derek and Marissa knew that their guests would be way too full to dance after that meal, so they decided to offer a trivia game instead of dancing for the reception entertainment. Although their brainy guests hailed from all across the globe, they managed to keep competition fierce for the Chicago-themed game – maybe the sports questions swayed the outcome? 😉 Prizes were handed out to the winners, but no-one walked away empty-handed. One of the very talented guests lives on an organic farm in Oregon and canned three different types of jams for Derek and Marissa’s wedding favors (she knits, too)! I know I had a tough time deciding between the Raspberry Lemon and the Rosemary Honey Pear.
Derek and Marissa, we can’t tell you what an honor it was to be included in your wedding celebration and to be treated as friends, not to mention spoiled by the food! The love and passion that you share for each other is evident in every glance, word, and breath you take, and your relationship is what inspires our profession. We absolutely wish you all the best in Kansas and hope you come back to visit often!
Marissa - Dear Joshua, Rachel, & Heather,
Words cannot express how thankful we are to have met you. We searched high and low to find the perfect match, and at our first meeting we knew you would connect well with every single one of our guests. These pictures are absolutely wonderful, and your description of everything was spot on! We look forward to seeing the rest!
Marissa & Derek
Giselle - The photos are beautiful!!! Thank you for sharing the artful photography with us, and such a great love story!!! Congratulations Derek and Marissa!!!
Marie Alcantara - Dear Joshua, Rachel, and Heather,
The photos turned out beyond beautiful! Thank you guys for being amazing at what you do! We all enjoyed having you guys around so much not just to take photos but to be there as guests!
PS. I’m literally dying to see the rest of the photos!
Gary and Carol Love - The photography is simply stunning and the text is perfect. Thank you so much for being a part of Derek and Marissa’s wedding experience. We look forward to seeing any additional pictures!
Kelly - Those are so beautiful! What wonderful keepsakes to remember such a wonderful day!
Wedding Wednesday: Marissa & Derek | From Jasmine, with Love - […] (repost from Joshua Albanese Blog) […]