Tim & Jenny’s wedding at the Art Institute truly embodied what a classic Chicago wedding is to me. Guests dressed to the nine’s. The florals, linens, and stationery were candy to my eyes. And let’s not forget the beautiful art on the walls of this world-renowned museum that one casually walked by on their way to cocktail hour. But with all of the fancy dress, jewelry, vintage cars, decadent florals, cake, and linens…it’s not what I remember most about this wedding. What I remember most is how I felt during my two days with this family.
The first night, was a rainy night. The celebration started with a rehearsal dinner at the family home in Oak Park. Little boys and girls ran about the yard playing games and chasing one another. There is nothing like it, you know. The sound of raindrops & children’s joyous squeals. Even more, a roar of laughter came through the opening of the big white tent as family and friends shared stories about life with Tim and Jenny. Emotions ran wild as tears were followed by giggles, then followed by tears again, as the slideshow played on the big blue screen.
I learned so much about Tim and Jenny. I mean you’ve got your classic love story here. Boy meets girl on co-ed soccer team. Boy challenges girl to burrito-eating contest. Girl crushes it, and loser pays twenty cash money dollars to winner. He was smitten and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
After listening to every toast that night, and after watching the slideshow, one thing I know for certain is every single person in that tent, without question, would give the shirt off their backs should Tim and Jenny ever need it. Because those two have often done the same for others throughout their life. The love and loyalty between this group of people was undeniable. And it’s the love between Tim and Jenny that brought them all together this night.
So much of Tim & Jenny’s hearts went into planning every little detail at their wedding. They chose the museum because of their shared passion for art. Their wedding invitations were custom-made to reflect the vibe of what the guests were in for. On the morning of the wedding, Jenny read a card from her groom and then waited anxiously as her mother and maid of honor helped her into a stunning Oscar de la Renta gown. She walked down the stairs of her childhood home, as her mother held the back of her dress. Once out the door, Jenny was greeted by her father seeing her for the first time. In those moments I imagine he thought “How is my little girl already grown up? Where has the time gone?” She climbed into a classic car, and after a few moments of quiet, she was on her way.
My incredible second photographer, Jessica VanFleteren, perfectly captured Tim and his mates that morning. I love the way she sees and I am so proud to share the images she took of the guys getting ready, as well as a few others of hers from the rest of the day and night.
Jenny waited with her father in the halls of St. Giles. The ushers swung both doors open, and the storyteller in me imagines she took a deep breath before entering and thought “It’s here. Oh my God, it’s finally here.” Being at the very front of the aisle, I immediately looked to my left to find Tim fighting back the tears. But he lost that battle quickly as I watched his face break upon seeing his bride for the very first time. The light from the doors cast a glow through Jenny’s veil, and it became dimmer and dimmer as she got closer to the altar. Tim couldn’t take his eyes off of her, and he firmly shook the hand of the father of the love of his life as he gave her away.
At one point during the ceremony, the bride walked up to the statue of Mary and stood there quietly for a few moments. Suddenly, I heard the sound of muffled scratching; the same noise one would hear on an old record. A piano played a few notes, and shortly after, one of the most beautiful voices began to sing “Ave Maria”. I knew this moment was coming. A while back I was told that Jenny’s grandmother was a trained opera singer, but a stroke prevented her from using her incredible voice for decades. Thanks to an old vinyl she recorded back then, they were able to listen to it during the ceremony. During those two minutes and forty-five seconds, I looked over at her grandmother, and watched her eyes close and her mouth curl into a smile as the bride’s father lovingly touched the side of her face. I couldn’t keep it together anymore. Tears streamed down my face. I used my camera to hide those tears as I held it up to my eye, continuing to do what I was there to do. I will never forget how I felt. It was truly one of the most meaningful moments in my life as a photographer.
Okay, get it together Caroline.
The groom kissed his bride, they walked back up the aisle hand in hand, smiled their million dollar smiles as they left the church to the sounds of guests ringing their little bells, and climbed into their getaway car. We walked about the city as well as the grounds at the Art institute of Chicago with Tim, Jenny and their bridal party. The wedding guests were gifted a narrated trolley tour of the city and received a private viewing of the impressionist gallery at the museum, while the rest of us took photos. It’s so thoughtful to me that the bride and groom encouraged their loved ones to spend time appreciating the work of world-famous artists like Monet, Seurat, Degas & Van Gogh- all before cocktail hour.
Day turned into night. A small jazz trio played as guests mingled in the McKinloch Courtyard of the museum. Afterwards they walked into the Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, which was nothing short of breathtaking. Guests were seated at long tables, gloriously decorated with beautiful plating, linens, florals, and stationery. The lights lit up the dance floor as the wedding party entered carrying signs, announcing the official arrival of Tim and Jenny into what would soon become the night of their life. More brilliant words were exchanged during toasts followed by a chorus of voices singing “Happy Birthday” as Tim & Jenny thoughtfully presented the groom’s sister-in-law with a cake. After the bride and groom’s memorable first dance, Jenny changed into a cocktail-length reception dress, called the “Degas dress”, designed by Elizabeth Fillmore. The night crescendoed in energy and good times as guests swayed to the music of infamous Ken Arlen Orchestra. Everyone danced with their every fiber and being, and no one held back.
The night came to an end as Tim and Jenny said goodbye to their loved ones. Like the self-proclaimed nerds they are, they climbed into the Vespa they rode together to work in every day. Sparklers and choirs of goodbyes filled the air, as the two disappeared into the night. Once again, the storyteller in me imagines they rode away with little to no words exchanged, holding tightly as they let everything soak in.
[The song below is the original “Ave Maria” recording sung by Jenny’s grandmother Joan]
Second Photographer: Jessica VanFleteren
Videographers: Nicodem Creative
Couple’s Hashtag: #ConveyingLove
Rehearsal Dinner Venue: Bride’s Family Home in Oak Park, IL
Ceremony Venue: St. Giles Catholic Church in Oak Park, IL
Reception Venue: Art Institute of Chicago
Event Designer: Renee Price at Kehoe Designs
Event Coordinator: Lori Lehman at PS Lehman Inc.
Makeup: Rosie at Salon 212 (Bride) & Fine Makeup Art & Associates (Bridal Party)
Hair: Lia Rivette & Team at Nika Vaughn Bridal Artists
Cake/Dessert: Amy Beck Cake Design
Caterer: Bon Appetit
Florist: Kehoe Designs
Officiant: Father Mark Henninger, S.J. (Bride’s philosophy professor at Georgetown University)
Ceremony Musicians: Elegant Ensembles
Band: Indigo of Arlen Music Group
Wedding Dress: Oscar de la Renta
Reception Dress: Elizabeth Fillmore from Belle Vie Bridal Couture
Veil: Custom by Ultimate Bride
Jewelry: Earrings by Kenneth Jay Lane & Engagement Ring & Wedding Band custom handcrafted by Catherine Ryder in consultation with Paul Jacobs of Ascot Diamonds, Arlington VA
Bride’s Shoes: Valentino
Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo + Alvina Valenta + Badgley Mischka
Flower Girl Dresses: Nellystella
Groom’s Suit: Custom Made by Frederick Lynn Haberdasshere
Groom’s Shoes: Giorgio Armani
Groomsmen Tuxes: Their Own
Stationery: Studio LMC
Guest “Who’s Who” Directory Books:Guesterly
Transportation: Chicago Trolley & Classic Vintage Wedding Car