Updated: Jan 23
I first met Anna and Pat when they trudged through mud and dead-ends at Matthiessen State Park with me for their engagement session. I knew they were my type of people when through all of this, they still had so much sexiness and fun in their images and even trusted me to capture their wedding that December.
There are so many things I loved about this wedding; I don’t know if I will remember them all. My assistant, Liz, and I showed up to a charming old B+B in Ottawa, Illinois, where Anna and her friends were drinking mimosas, playing fun music, laughing, and getting ready for the day. The Christmas decor was still enchanting all the guests throughout the big old home. The light was creeping in through nooks and crannies that made for some incredible shots. The everyday furniture and vibe of the house were lovely for the detail shots. Anna’s dress was a spectacular backless beauty that was stunning in the surroundings.
After the B+B, we drove a few miles down the road to one of my all-time favorite venues, The Silver Fox, in Streator, Illinois. Pat and Anna are from Chicago, so none of their friends and family had even heard of this small little town just south of the suburbs. This venue is a little piece of city charm and class in the middle of a quaint city in the Illinois countryside. Every detail of the location is a special kind of modern appeal that used to be an old Masonic temple. The staff is always warm and welcoming. This is my second year doing a Christmas wedding here, and I couldn’t be happier to spend my end of year weddings with this venue and their incredible employees.
The guys were rallied together upstairs, getting on their final touches before heading down to the main room for the first look. The next best thing about this wedding was the Best Man dressing up in a thrift store wedding dress to gently touch the shoulder of the Groom for the first look he thought was with his Bride. He turned halfway and very quickly realized that “Anna” was much taller than he remembered. Luckily, Anna was only around the corner, and we brought Pat to see his real-life Bride in all her glory.
This led to a few hours of relaxed, fun, and very Vogue photos with the wedding party. After the wedding party shots were finished, I had a request. For years and years, I have been driving to Streator to photograph weddings. I always pass this old retro motel that recently had some renovations done. I still see a shot in my head that I have never been able to get mostly because of weather or time.
Anna and Pat once again went along with my blind ideas and put their trust in my vision. (Thank You, Anna and Pat, lol) I got the shot, and it happened to be the motel where they were staying that night.
The next best part of the day for me was the ceremony. Anna walked in like a goddess to Leon Bridges, “River” which is not only is one of my favorite songs but a song that I have never heard played at a wedding while the Bride walks in. It was magical.
The night continued on, the guests drank cocktails, the Christmas vibe was glowing through the night, the decor was utterly charming, and the appetizers delicious. Anna surprised Pat with one of his favorite songs that he wasn’t expecting and it was the best thing I’ve ever seen. The toasts made me (and everyone else in the room) cry so many tears. The dance party that continued was epic.
I could go on and on, but my point of all of this was this couple, and their wedding was so unique, and I am glad they entrusted me to capture it for them.
Q: Did you have inspiration for your
A: Pat and I are a pretty eclectic couple, and I've always loved an eclectic look, so instead of just one wedding theme, we had a mash-up of three! Our design concept was "Winter Woodlands" (think Black Watch tartan, Christmas trees, woodland creatures and plenty of evergreen foliage) + "NYE Glam" (metallics, sparkle, sequins, balloons) + "Deco-Era Elegance" (taking design inspiration from the first few decades of the 20th century, with our historic 1906 venue and my Edwardianesque
hairstyle, 20s-inspired bridal accessories, 30s-inspired dress, plus Art Deco typography and loads of antiques).
Q: What were the colors of your
A: Navy blue, forest green, burgundy, silver, and gold
Q: What were the most important parts to you in planning your
wedding? Location? Photography? Flowers?
A: Aside from the excessively thought-out décor and design plan (and choosing the right photographer to capture it), my main priority was throwing a party that felt like "us." That meant finding a venue that not only fit our look but was also a good fit for a free-flowing, cocktail-style reception. As two fun-loving extroverts, Pat and I envisioned a "choose-your-own-adventure" evening, with lots of things to do at any given time and no need to ever be "stuck" sitting at a table. The Silver Fox was the only venue we visited—we knew it was the one right away!
Q: Did you have any special details that were unique to your wedding?
A: SO MANY! I'm a professional event planner, so I can't help but try to make every single little detail "special" and fit with our theme. I mean, I bought tartan cocktail napkins from an Amazon seller in Scotland. Scotland! Paper napkins! But seriously, a few of the extraordinary details were the custom invitations that my sister, an illustrator, created for us; our Mad Libs guest book on the "Games" table
(which also featured a wedding crossword, some board games, and decks of cards that matched our invitation design); our surprise ceremony readings—I picked one for Pat that my mom read, and Pat picked one for me that his dad read, and we heard each other's pick for the first time during the ceremony; our DJ who is also a jazzy crooner and performed during our cocktail hour; and the First Look prank I pulled on Pat with the help of his awesome Best Man.
Q: What was your wedding attire?
Include vendors, if possible.
A: My dress was Kenna by BHLDN. My mom is a seamstress and did my alterations!
My 20s-inspired hairpiece was from Etsy seller The Handmade Tiara; my fabulous backdrop necklace was from Etsy seller Crystal Corridor, my earrings were from Amazon seller Mariell, and my custom alexandrite wedding band was from Etsy seller Hello Ring.
Pat's navy velvet tux jacket was from Macy's, and the rest of his tux was rented from Men's Warehouse. His tartan bow-tie was Etsy seller Doll Dressed Up, and his white gold wedding band was from Etsy seller Wedding Bands R Us. (Pat also wore plaid Chicago Cubs socks)
Q: What was your favorite wedding detail of the day? Dress? Shoes Decor?
A: I'm thrilled with how my design vision and DIY décor came together. The real evergreen trees we brought into the ceremony added just the right amount of woodsy whimsy to the formal and elegant space. I also really enjoyed my centerpieces—which were quite the labor of love. I spent months visiting thrift stores to find woodland animal figurines, which I gave a glam makeover with metallic spray paint. I also thrifted the antique vessels that Flowers Plus used for the small floral arrangements and collected some of the old books used in the
centerpieces (the rest were from the venue's Pay It Forward room). I sourced a variety of evergreen foliage from Chicago's Wholesale Florist and arranged the greenery that served as the foundation of the centerpiece. All worth it!
Q: What was your favorite moment of the day? Groom's favorite moment?
A: My favorite moment of the day was probably the whole ceremony. I loved our processional song (River by Leon Bridges), and my rockstar wedding party paced themselves perfectly, so when I started my walk down the aisle (at the exact chorus I had planned), all the anxiety of the day melted away, and I was just elated. I loved every second of standing on that stage, holding my groom's sweaty hands and hearing his voice crack a bit while delivering the beautiful vows he had written.
Pat's favorite moment was our First Dance. It was quite a contentious subject for a while—I wanted to do a gash mob group dance to The Wobble, but he was insistent on having a traditional slow dance (ugh, boring). I finally gave in to his wishes on the condition that I got to choose the song, and he wouldn't find out what it is until the DJ starts playing it! I decided "Nobody" by Kem, an R&B song he sang to
me when it came on the car radio early on in our relationship. Well, it turned out that he had no idea I even remembered that song (let alone knew every word), so he was completely surprised and delighted when it started playing. We sang to each other the whole time and were too busy feeling the sexy beat to slow dance very much!
Q: What advice would you give to brides who are planning their
1. I believe that you can't be too well planned and organized! Even if you like to improvise, at least have a Plan A for everything. If planning isn't your thing, hire a professional to ensure you can enjoy your day!
2. There is no one way that you are "supposed" to do a wedding. If you want to do something non-traditional, go for it! My wedding was the first cocktail-style reception I've ever been to, and it was a HUGE hit with our guests!
3. Have a friend record your entire ceremony. A cell phone video is fine—you may not remember any of it afterward and want to relive the moment!
Q: Would you have done anything differently when planning your
A: There were so many relatively trivial details that I spent so much time obsessing over in the weeks and days and hours leading up to my wedding—and yet I was still writing my vows one hour before the ceremony! Yikes—priorities!
Q: Are you planning on taking a Honeymoon? If so, where?
We are headed to Bali this summer, where we'll stay in Airbnb villas and treehouses, visit temples and terraced rice paddies, hike to remote beaches, and fish on traditional Balinese boats.
Getting ready Location: Ottawa River House Bnb
Ceremony Location: The Silver Fox
Reception Location: The Silver Fox
Off-site portrait Location: Starved Rock Motor Inn
Flowers: Flowers Plus
Rings: Etsy (see attire details)
Tux/Suit: Macy's/Men's Warehouse
DJ: Karl Knutson
Catering: Pan and Cake Catering
Jewelry: Etsy and Amazon (see attire details)
Hair: Ryanne from Loft Bridal Peoria
Makeup: Katie from Loft Bridal Peoria
Officiant: Our friend Soudeepya Chinni
Wedding Planner: Me! (eventcraftery.com)
Transportation: Illinois Central School Bus