I first saw this wedding when Ez Powers
shared one of the photos for an upcoming feature on the blog. I was captivated by the brides dress and had to see the entire wedding. I love the way Ez photographed them in downtown Chicago. I also love their venue and how intimate it was. Read on to learn more about their planning and where she got that beautiful unique dress.
From the Couple
What was the most important thing to you while planning?
The most important thing for us was that the day felt true to who we are as a couple. Being the center of attention is not always super easy for either of us so we were very intentional about crafting the guest experience to take a bit of the spotlight off. We wanted everything to feel comfortable for not just us, but all of our guests so we prioritized the social aspects of the day: the atmosphere, food, and libations. Those are the things we enjoy together. Our venue, Celeste, is already so romantic and special in its decor. The Garden Floor is full of beautiful greenery and gorgeous lighting while the Deco Floor is very turn of the century with gold accents and a Gatsby-esque vibe. We were very lucky to find a venue that captured such a special atmosphere that our guests would take beauty in. It all felt very fun and easy-going but also incredibly significant and high-energy (we're the first couple in our friend group to get married so this was a big one!). We just wanted to eat, drink, and dance with the people we love most and that helped us to cultivate a "what happens, happens" mindset. Planning is f*cking stressful, but just rolling with it on the day of helped balance it all out.
How did you find your vendors?
Mike's brother and sister-in-law got married about four years ago so we were able to get a lot of great recommendations from them. Her hair and makeup stylist actually referred us to Debra Petrielli who did all of the styling for the bridal party, mother of the bride, and mother of the groom. All of the girls were able to decide on the specifics of their looks; sharing the day and giving them decision-making power was super important to us. We also used their same jeweler, Emily Barish of Reuven Gitter Jewelers, who helped Mike custom design my engagement ring and the both of us create our wedding bands. My childhood friend, Ez Powers, has been doing professional wedding photography for a decade so that was an extremely easy choice. I've had the privilege of watching their work evolve over the years and their modern, intimate, saturated style has always captivated me.
What creative touches did you use throughout your wedding?
The dress and the tux were probably our biggest expression of creativity. His tux was a beautiful royal blue velvet which set him apart from the groomsmen who wore more traditional jackets. My wedding dress was pretty significant undertaking. I knew that I wanted a non-white dress. I'm pretty heavily tattooed and wanted something interesting on the eyes to compliment that. I didn't try on a single wedding gown - I ordered a dress off of Etsy which had the color and general shape I was looking for (big sleeves all day). The dress came and needed a lot of work so I invested really heavily in the alterations. Julia Needlman, who works out of her home in Ukrainian Village, was absolutely brilliant in re-making the dress into what I was looking for. She completely took the dress apart and reconstructed it using a template of my body, added all of the lace applique to the skirt and bodice, replaced and added additional buttons, reshaped the neckline, took off layers of material that were weighing me down, hemmed the skirt, replaced the lining, and updated the sleeves to fit the dimensions of my arms better. She's also quick witted and incredibly opinionated which was the absolute best. I could go on forever, GO SEE HER!
We also had a lot of opportunity to be creative with the small details. Each bridesmaid chose her own outfit. We ordered a ton of greenery from a bulk floral website, Fifty Flowers, and put together all of the bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnieres. We also passed around a Polaroid camera all night and got some amazing candid shots of guests that weren't captured by the photographer. We took care to include details that were emblematic of who we are.
Did you forego any of the traditional aspects of weddings?
When we started planning, we knew that casual was the name of the game. This inherently took a lot of the traditional aspects out. We didn't do "something old, something new...", a bouquet or garter toss, I didn't wear a veil, and we didn't have a wedding cake. There was no first dances or anything like that. Plenty of people asked us about the traditional wedding details and encouraged us to include them. He definitely values tradition a lot more than I do but many of those old school features just didn't vibe with us so we nixed them.
What was your favorite part of the day?
The ceremony was just the most special thing in the world. His dad was our officiant and that personal touch felt like a really tangible way to unite our families. There were also incredible readings, wishes from our wedding party, and a lot of sobbing on both of our parts. Overall, spending the day with our closest friends and family who traveled from all across the country (and world!) to be with us was an unparalleled experience. Our guest count was around 65 and we didn't want to be meeting anyone for the first time on our big day - the intimacy of it all was the absolute best. 10/10 would recommend.
From The Photographer
How did you prepare your clients for your style of shooting?
Communication. I describe my style of shooting as photographing movement versus photographing moments. One thing that stuck with me from years of mentoring under Megan Saul Photography, was that actions are much more emotive and fluid than stale posing. I give my clients tasks to do, little actions, ask them to play together. Pretend I'm not there and interact. Anything but looking into my camera and smiling.
What techniques did you use that were out of the norm?
I shot pretty wide for most people's taste. I use a 24mm lens for nearly 80% of my wedding photography. It's just a little wider than a traditional film 35mm so I can tackle large groups of people without worrying about cutting anyone off. It's also a great lens to use in big cities like Chicago to capture the buildings and all of the Riverwalk in this case.
Do you have any advice for other photographers or vendors when it comes to weddings?
If you work downtown in big cities, ensure you're arriving at least an hour early to your wedding. This will help if traffic builds up, an accident occurs on a major highway, and give you additional time to photograph the venue while you wait to begin. It is ALWAYS better to be an hour early rather than stuck in traffic during the first hour of your gig. Nobody wants to show up frazzled and late and apologizing. Just arrive early.