Chicago City Hall Wedding | Scott and Drew

Chicago City’s Hall marriage court may not have a grandness of some other cities (San Francisco comes to mind) but it has it’s own unique charm. Located in the basement of Chicago’s City Hall, brightly lit with fluorescent lights and decorated with outdated wedding memorabilia, it has a specific “throwback in time” vibe. It operates on a “first come, first serve” basis and it’s usually full of colorful characters waiting to get married in its dimly lit waiting room. What’s really cool about getting married in the City Hall is not only that you get to experience something unique to Chicago but also have an opportunity to explore downtown’s most iconic spots for some portraits afterwards. Most of them just a quick walking distance or a short taxi drive.

When I met Scott and Drew for coffee, they told me they wanted to have that particular “Chicago City Hall elopement style wedding experience.” They shared their vision for their intimate wedding day celebration and I was immediately on board with all of their plans.

The afternoon started with them reading their wedding vows to each other at the courtyard of Ivy Room (which they reserved for themselves for an hour). These were beautifully emotional moments and the quietness of the surroundings made the vows exchange even more meaningful. After the vows, we did some portraits in the courtyard and stopped in for an espresso, croissants and chocolate at L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates, which is conveniently located next to Ivy Room. It also happens to be their favorite spot for a sweet snack. Fueled and caffeinated we went to the city hall for quick wedding ceremony. Side note: city hall has some of the sweetest, genuine judges conducting the ceremonies. This is a bit contradictory to the way some other city employees present themselves but I suppose you have to be a nice person if you conduct an act of marriage. 🙂 The ceremony itself was brief and emotional. Drew and Scott had huge smiles on their faces throughout the whole time. At that time I truly felt proud and honored of the work I do and how meaningful it is for the couple I photograph. After some quick document signing we zipped out of the city hall for some joyful portraits.

We had a generic idea of where we want to go but most of the stops we made were rather spontaneous. We explored Chicago riverwalk, streets around Wacker Drive and Michigan, venture to the lakefront around Milton Lee Olive Park and stopped by a couple of places that were a bit out of the beaten path (Scott showed me a “pedestrian only” bridge under the Chicago river, which I had no idea existed).

After about 2 hours of portraits and city exploration we finally went for an intimate wedding reception at Blue Door Kitchen & Garden. When we arrived Scott and Drew were greeted by their closest friends and family with huge smiles, tears of joy and many, many hugs. Everyone gathered cheered, joked and laughed in a cozy garden on a perfectly warm June evening. It was an amazing end of a beautiful and simple wedding day.

 

Lincoln Park Wedding Photographer | Amanda + Alex

It’s not secret that Lincoln Park in Chicago is one of my favorite places to photograph engagement sessions. The park provides what I love the most about this part of the city. An easy access to nature with an urban feel when it’s needed. The crown jewel of the Lincoln Park is the North Pond. The waterway is an attraction not only to humans but many species of birds and animals. I truly believe that being close to nature helps calm our couples during their portrait sessions and one of the main reasons why I love so much to photograph close to nature.

North Pond is also the name of a cool restaurant, within the park, and where I met Amanda and Alex on the day of this shoot. Before we started taking pictures we chatted a bit while they enjoyed a glass of wine at the restaurant’s bar. Connecting with the couple prior to photographing them is pretty important to me so it was nice to find a place where we could sit, relax, learn more about their history and wedding plans and not only be there to “take pictures.” The session started with the walks on the trails up to the small pier at North Pond. Afterwards we explored the trails near Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which has a pretty mesmerizing architecture in my opinion. Our last stop was the North Avenue beach where we caught a sunset and created some pretty rad portraits with Chicago’s famous skyline. I think the evening was very special for all of us and the session felt as an exploration of the place that feels familiar but offers something new every time I photograph there.

Maxwell Mansion Wedding Photography | Lake Geneva

When I met Natasha and Jason for coffee in Logan Square, I knew their wedding day will be special. They project certain kind of sophistication yet at the same time are genuinely kind, sensitive and down to earth. Both are amazing photographers themselves, working and living in New York City but having most of their family in Chicago.

They decided to get married at Maxwell Mansion in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, which I thought perfectly complemented their personalities. The place is full of old charm, rich with history and a bit of quirkiness added to the mix. Lake Geneva was also very meaningful location for Jason, where his family vacationed during his childhood and where his parents still own a cottage by the lake. I always strongly believe that all these connections to places make for more meaningful wedding photography and authentic story telling, which inspires me even more to create genuine images.

Their wedding day started with preparations at the Baker’s House, a historic hotel with some amazing light and beautiful suites. Shortly after Jason and Natasha put on their wedding attire we went across the street from Baker’s House to the shores of Lake Geneva for some intimate portraits and quiet love confirmations. From there it was just a short walk to Maxwell Mansion for their ceremony. The wedding ceremony itself was a short but beautifully emotional.  We shed some tears on few occasions along with other quests.

Party at the mansion followed shortly after and it was grand! Maxwell Mansion is famous for its speakeasy underground bar. It’s perfectly intact with its prohibition era decor and a lot of guest hanged out there during the cocktail hour. I thought the vibes of Maxwell Mansion fitted Jason and Natasha’s personalizes perfectly. When we departed, the party just started to get rowdy and I could only imagine it went long into the night. What a magnificent wedding day it was.

Artist, people and places who made this wedding special:

Bride’s dress: Wendy Nichol
Flowers by: Asrai Garden
Wedding venue: Maxwell Mansion

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