One of the reasons I was excited to photograph Jennifer and Mike’s wedding was that I had photographed her sister Heather’s wedding a few years ago and had a great time. This is one family that knows how to throw a party! And especially once Mike, who’s an all-around great guy, was thrown into the mix, I knew it was going to be one for the books.

I got to the hotel to begin the day right as Kailey from Salon U finished styling Jennifer’s hair. Emily Salyer jumped right in with the make-up for the bride and her bridesmaids, and I got to snapping pictures.
With hair and make-up complete, it was time to climb into the dress. There was a bridesmaid’s parade as they led us all into the bedroom where Jennifer finished this final detail.
Meanwhile, Mike was in his own room all dressed up and ready to go.
His mother caught a glimpse of her son and couldn’t contain herself!
Mike gave his mom a big kiss and headed out into the city to have his first meeting with his soon-to-be bride. He was pretty calm for a groom, but very excited to marry the love of his life.
Jennifer was excited, too. Bouquet in hand, we walked down the street to where Mike was waiting.
After Jennifer and Mike got a good look at each other all dolled up in wedding gear we joined the rest of the wedding party on the trolley. It was a big group (8 bridesmaids and 8 groomsmen!) and they were all ready to party down… but before that, we needed to take some portraits around the city.
I think this where they got the idea for Occupy Wall Street. Only our group looks better.
Back on the trolley! We got some great shots around the business district, and there was one cool spot that we wanted to shoot at. Mike gave the trolley driver directions to the next location.
The group lined up alongside the LaSalle St. Bridge, which I love for it’s great view of the skyline. While we took photos a tourist barge passed underneath, and the passengers shouted out their congratulations.
The wedding party got a break as Jennifer, Mike and myself took some more pictures on the bridge. There are so many cool angles to shoot from and some really great views of famous Chicago buildings to include.
After a successful shoot at the bridge, we were ready to move on to the Art Institute for more pictures in their garden. While we were driving, Jennifer got some photos in with her girls.
And they got some beers in, too!
It was a beautiful day to shoot in the gardens at the Art Institute. We walked across the skywalk to get there, and I ran down to take a group picture from below.
Jennifer and Mike in the garden.
Next up was the Planetarium, where it was Bridezilla-mania. Seeing so many overly-anxious brides made me grateful and happy that I work with laid-back and fun couples like Mike and Jennifer. And being the photographer with the best-looking group is a special bonus.
I mean, did they really wear that?
We got out of there fast.
Even the most well-planned, laid-back weddings have glitchy moments. Can you spot the party foul in this picture?
They sure did!
That’s alright. He was going to smell like beer by the end of the night, anyway.
After a fantastic pre-wedding shoot, we made it to the Harold Washington Library with time to spare.
Everyone took there places before Mike escorted his mother to her seat.
Mike watched as Jennifer’s father walked her down the aisle and gave her away.
And then the officiant began the ceremony.
The space they used for their ceremony looked amazing. I loved the ceiling, which was nothing by skylights.
Jennifer and Mike both got a little teared up as they delivered their vows to each other.
They exchanged rings…
… and sealed the deal with a kiss.
Congratulations! They spent a few minutes by themselves right after the ceremony.
Mike was so happy, he couldn’t help but cry. I left them to share the moment together.
When I told Mike’s sister that he was crying, she cried, too! There’s a lot of love in this family!
While the wedding party took a minute to themselves, I went to the cocktail hour to take some photos of the guests.
Sue from Food Evolution helped Jennifer and Mike plan out the menu for the day, and they were at the cocktail hour with drinks and hors d’oeuvrers for the guests. As a special treat, they had vocal artist John Vincent there to serenade the guests while they enjoyed each other’s company.
The guests checked out the great view from the cocktail room.
Jennifer and Mike had a great idea for a guestbook that the guests signed. Each guest was encouraged to put their thumb on one of these colored ink pads…
…and then make a thumbprint leaf on the hand-drawn tree.
Jennifer and Mike dressed up their thumbprints!
Their wood-grained card box.
Their ceremony set-up…
The table settings looked awesome. Jenny from Scarlet Petal designed all the flowers for the day- and she did a great job!
After the cocktail hour, the guests found their seats and watched as the wedding party made their entrances. These two set the bar for the rest of the party.
Then it was time for the newlywed’s first dance.
Jennifer’s dad was the first one to give a speech, and he thanked all of the family and friends who came for their love and support.
Jennifer’s sister Heather gave a toast in honor of her sister and new brother-in-law.
Right after the speeches, Jennifer and her dad shared a daughter-father dance.
And Mike enjoyed a dance with his mother.
Then everyone else joined the dance floor! Amanda from Toast & Jam served as the DJ for the dance party.
Jennifer’s mom was the first one to hit the dance floor.
Mike’s grandma brought some crazy shots with her…
They were potent, too! The young pups could barely keep up with her!
The party was going strong…
…so Mike, Jennifer and I snuck out to take some night photos.
We saw a Salvation Army band walk off the El. They were a super-friendly bunch.
It was a blast spending your wedding day with you, Jennifer and Mike! Thanks for sharing it with me!