Janai’s dress was hung up on the special hanger that bore her new name, “Mrs. Howard”. She was at her hotel room downtown, getting more and more excited about her wedding to fiancee Ryan as Nika Vaughan put the final touches on Janai’s hair and make-up.
Janai slid into her dress, which was designed by Maggie Sottero,…
…and one of her bridesmaids made sure the back of the dress was tied in a perfect bow.
Janai’s mom was in the room, too, overseeing her daughter’s preparations.
Gotta make sure that hair stays! One of the maids of honor gave Janai some hair insurance.
Ryan was in his hotel room getting ready at the same time. A quick shower, a careful shave, strap into the tux…
…and then time for the first meeting with his bride.
Ryan couldn’t keep his eyes off of Janai. I hated to break up the moment so we could leave and get in some pre-ceremony pictures.
We started off in the nearby Art Institute gardens.
Their energy was contagious, and I could tell it was going to be a special day.
Ryan, Janai and I made our way around the grounds of the Art Institute.
As we left to meet up with the wedding party, we got photo bombed by this Stefon look-alike.
A quick pic at the El stop…
…and we jumped in a cab to head further downtown.
Then it was back to the hotel to meet up with the wedding party. Ryan’s groomsmen were excited to see him!
It was a big wedding party- 9 groomsmen, 10 bridesmaids, 3 flower girls and 1 ring bearer- and the very definition of ‘the more the merrier’.
The entire group were good sports as we posed around downtown for group shots.
You can’t pass by the Chicago theater and NOT take a photo with the iconic marquee.
We were making great time!
But a glance at Ryan’s very cool timepiece showed that it was time to get back for the ceremony.
The guys took the red line…
…while the girls rode in the limo. Janai’s mom was along for the ride, making sure everything ran smoothly.
When Janai arrived at Loft on Lake, where the ceremony and reception were held, she was covered up by her bridesmaids so arriving guests wouldn’t see her.
The guests didn’t have long to wait to see her though, as soon after she was escorted down the aisle by her mother.
The bride and groom were overcome with happiness.
I love this picture of Ryan’s mother. She looks so peaceful and nostalgic, reflecting on this most wonderful moment in her son’s life.
Ryan and Janai locked eyes and smiled as the officiant began the ceremony.
The couple delivered their vows to each other in front of their friends and family.
Janai’s mom had a huge smile on her face as her daughter and new son-in-law exchanged rings.
They both said “I do” and that was that! Congratulations!
Immediately after the ceremony, everyone moved into the reception area. J & L Catering was there to provide guests with food and drink.
The wedding party makes their entrance…
…and the newlyweds were close behind. Janai was showing off her bouquet, which was designed by Natalie at Zuzu’s Petals.
One of the best men took the mic to toast the new couple.
The other best man was up next with his speech.
Janai’s first Maid of Honor shared some special memories with the guests…
…the other Maid of Honor had some loving advice.
Ryan was the last one up, and he thanked the guests for their love and support.
And then it was time for their first dance as husband and wife.
Once the first dance was over, the guests were quick to join them on the dance floor.
Dena from Toast & Jam provided the soundtrack for the party.
Is she challenging me to a sing-off?!?! I don’t think she knows what she’s getting into…
I caught this moment of Janai with her grandfather as I began to make my way to the door.
Janai and Ryan, it was wonderful to share the day with you two. You both light up when you’re around each other, and I’m glad I was there to capture it with my camera. Congratulations on your marriage!