Tim + Jenny | Art Institute Chicago

fine art wedding photography

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.

Day One | The Rehearsal Dinner

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.

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Day Two | The Wedding

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]

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People Who Made This Day Magical
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

Comments

  1. Heather Kanillopoolos -

    This is absolutely freaking perfect!! The moments, the way you worked the light and location, the humor and emotion… you KILLED it!

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Best of 2015 Wedding Photography

2015.

2015 was full of grief, anger, pain, and sorrow. But it was also full of laughter, adventure, new friendships, and self-discovery. Through the lows, I’ve watched my kids grow and nothing brings me greater joy than to see them smile. It truly fixes everything.

In 2015, all but 1 wedding required air travel. I’ve photographed weddings and portraits in California, Chicago, New York, Wisconsin, Colorado, Phoenix, & Michigan. Being able to travel for my work sounds “glamorous”, but it’s hard and I’m grateful to do it. That my clients trust me enough to fly me in and photograph their is something I’ll never be able to wrap my head around.

In 2015, I had some incredibly talented photographers photograph alongside me at weddings and I must take a minute to thank each one of them. Kristen Marie– you’re a gem. I hope you know that. You’re thoughtful, kind, and one of the hardest-working people I know. Jesse David Green– I’m always looking forward to us working together. You make it easy for me to do what I do because I know you always put your best foot forward and give my clients images they love. Jessica Van Fleteren– I didn’t know you until we met on the wedding day and you were a wonderful surprise. Your company was the best, and my clients loved you and your photos so much! Sergio Mottola– it’s always an adventure shooting with you. I enjoy our talks and appreciate the hard work and talent you put out every time we work together. I also want to thank the many talented humans who have helped me with lighting at my weddings… Ashley Hamm, Matt Allen, Samantha Pressley, Amy Semple, Benjamin Chernivsky, & Benjamin Strong and obviously my husband Alin. Thank you, all of you, for your friendships and your contribution to a successful year for me.

And lastly, in 2015, I was offered to speak at the Canada Photo Convention in Vancouver, BC. I’ve had a long time fear of “public speaking” but finally feel ready to share what has been on my mind these past few years. It’s truly a dream come true for me, this opportunity, and I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes putting together the pieces of my talk. There’s a really great lineup of speakers, and I’d love to see you there!

With all of that said, 2015 has been crazy. Like, NUTS. I have so much work to share. But for now, I’d like to show you my top 50 favorite wedding images from 2015.

Cheers.

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Comments

  1. Elizabeth Strickler -

    Absolutely fabulous, Caroline! Your work is beyond extraordinary… Can’t wait to see all the pictures of my Megan’s wedding to Jose! May 2016 be a most wonderful year for you :)

  2. -

    These are beautiful. I love your fun bride with the sunglasses, and the bare feet on the branch. And that last image better be a canvas in their home. Such great work!

  3. Alyssa -

    Yay yay yay! I’ve been looking forward to looking through these :) Please blog more, I love looking at your work!

  4. -

    Was surfing around the net for wedding inspiration and I can across your article. Great summary and the work in definitely inspiring. thank you for sharing.

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Bianca + Tad // Michigan Wedding

michigan wedding photographers

Bianca and Tad are some of the most creative people I’ve ever met, so being the one who got to photograph their incredibly unique wedding was an honor for me. The entire wedding weekend took place at a farm they purchased three years ago in Benton Harbor, Michigan and both have spent the last two and a half years renovating it. Friends and family got to spend the weekend at their Michigreen Farm; and some even brought their RV’s, that’s how laid-back all of it was.

Bianca and Tad are all about sustainability and living an eco-friendly lifestyle, so re-using things they already owned was a huge influence in their wedding decor. Bianca picked and dried up her own Fall flowers, and used books from inside their own home for table decorations. For the wedding ceremony they borrowed hay bales from their next door neighbor for their guests to sit on. They picked apples from the orchard next door, bought gourds from the local farmer’s market, and tied corn stalks to the tent posts to give everything a more natural feel. They also painted quotes that were meaningful to them onto old vintage windows, and used old wooden pallets for signs. By hand, they molded letters out of old rusty tools to read: “Let Love Grow”, and for the wedding altar they handmade the dreamcatchers from dried up branches, feathers and doilies. But the most impressive part of it all was their own solar-powered mobile sound stage they created called SolarBeatz. How amazing is that?!

During the ceremony, their friend Dustin officiated the wedding and instead of exchanging rings, Bianca and Tad fed each other honey. “One of the most appropriate metaphors for love, honey is a universal symbol for the sweetness of life. For centuries, cultures around the world have incorporated the delicious nectar into their celebrations. For Tad and Bianca, it is their first taste together of the sweet life that lies ahead. As together you now share this honey, so may you now share perfect love and devotion to each other, share your lives together, and thereby may you find life’s joys doubly gladdened, its bitterness sweetened, and all things hallowed by time, companionship and love.” -Dustin

Bianca and Tad, thank you so much for having Alin and I be a part of this beautiful, unique wedding experience. You both have left a huge impression on our hearts. The guys over at Sights & Sounds created one of the most awesome wedding videos I have ever seen, so click here to go see Bianca and Tad’s wedding film.

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People Who Made this Day Magical
Videographers: Sights & Sounds Media House
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Michigreen Farm
Wedding Dress: Custom Made by Julia Needleman & Designed by Bride
Feather Accessories: SpiritTribe
Bride’s Ring: Bambi Knight & Bride designed together
Event Designer/Coordinator: Bride
Makeup: Bride
Hair: Matthew Robert Blashka from Milano Hair Design
Groom’s Suit: Zara
Wedding Cake/Dessert: West Town Bakery
Seasonally Gluten-Free Foods: Gorilla Gourmet + Dan Fry Hog Roast + Smoothie Operator
Florals & Decor: Bride
Bouquet & Boutonniere: AFoxWedding
Officiant: Dustin Puttuck (friend of Bride & Groom)
Ceremony Music: “One Love” + “Sweet Caroline” + “Que Sera”
DJ: Playlists by Bride & Groom
Solar Powered Sound & Lighting: SolarBeatz
Online Invitations: Greenvelope
Registry: Simple Registry

Comments

  1. -

    This is what being a wedding photographer is all about, experiences like this! Beautifully, and creatively captured Caroline…

  2. -

    This wedding is insane and gorgeous, I remember seeing that b&w honey shot on your fb and waiting for the blog post and it did not disappoint. Absolutely perfect.

  3. -

    Caroline, I must say you are a genius. I just love your work, these images are so beautiful and captured well. Thanks for sharing your lovely work.

  4. -

    I love the wedding theme. The photography done for this wedding is absolute adorable and captured the moments so perfectly.

  5. -

    So glad it didn’t disappoint Sarah! That’s one of my very favorite wedding images because the story behind it is just the best! :)

  6. -

    Mercedes thank you so much! That’s what I hope people experience more than anything when seeing my images so that you for sharing that. Means a lot!

  7. -

    Katherine I don’t know about being a genius, lol, but I do put my heart and soul into every wedding, Thank you so much for the kind words!

  8. -

    Gorgeous images and wonderful wedding ceremony! They’re so fresh and timeless. Beautiful styling and beautiful images. Thanks for sharing!

  9. -

    The lighting in these photos really captures the energy around the party. The mood is almost contagious. Thank you for posting.

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