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Caitlin & Bobby - Engagement Session

Where you lead, I'll follow

This tale takes place in Teason’s Woods, a Forest Preserve of Cook County in Illinois. Catlin and Bobby showed up just shy of sunset, leaving us time to walk around the forest floor. Before their arrival, I hiked a majority of the trail looking for spots that caught my eye. This walkthrough helped the flow of our photos as we bounced from one spot to the next, finishing this shoot in under two hours!

The gnarly riffs of Chevelle echoed through the forest, a band that I uncovered was a favorite of Bobby’s when the couple filled out my engagement session questionnaire! I kept instruction pretty loose, letting them play in the moment as I framed each scene. The results are beautiful and raw, showcasing the bond these two share for one another. It was the perfect environment for a relaxing and intimate shoot. There’s also a nice level of privacy off the beaten path. No fancy clothes or crazy makeup required, just two humans and their hearts.

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Jacquelyn & Cole - A Serbian Wedding

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Skup Svatova

Serbian weddings are full day festivities that start with a Skup, which is a pre-ceremony party where food, drink, music, dancing and conversation are shared. It ends with the bridal party departure after a round of dancing and flag waving. Jacquelyn and Cole enjoyed the sounds of a live Serbian music as they snacked and talked to guests, living in the happiness that would surround the entire day.

Before departing, the wedding party dances the Kolo. Kolo is a traditional Serbian folk dance named after the circled formed by the dancers. It is performed at weddings, social, cultural and religious ceremonies. Kolo dance represents a powerful symbol of the Serbian national identity. The ring represents the symbol of perfection and life, a symbol that has remained in Serbia even today.

St George Serbian Church

One by one, guests arrived at St. George Serbian Orthodox Church in Joliet, IL. The church is covered in gold, showing loyalty to the past in connection with the ancient church. As seats were filled, the bride made her way off the party bus and through the doors. After rings were exchanged, the priest gave the couple lit candles to hold. The burning flames symbolize the couple’s spiritual willingness to receive God’s blessings.

The crowns were then placed on their head,  representing the glory and honor with which God crowns the couple during the sacrament. The couple then drinks from a shared cup taking three sips, symbolizing the couples mutual sharing of joy and sorrow. When the couple walks around the table, it is their first steps as husband and wife.

After the ceremony, the best man (Kum) tosses coins and candy into the air. Kids run around picking up these coins and treats, a ritual believed to promise financial prosperity and a sweet life. This was followed by more happiness and celebration as everyone took part in the Kolo, blessing Jacquelyn and Cole’s sacred unity.

DiNolfo's Banquets

Last stop for the party bus was DiNolfo’s Banquets. Dinolfo’s is an open and inviting space, perfect for a large ring of dancers to celebrate the reinforced bond of Jaquelyn & Cole. Guests found their tables (and donuts) and waited for the wedding party to make their entrance. This was followed by another Kolo before the everyone took their seats for cake cutting and speeches.

First dances were filled with emotion, bringing tears to most in attendance. This was short lived as stomping and circle dancing would dominate the rest of the night. Energy radiated from that room and would soon be a memory, one Jacquelyn and Cole can happily reflect on for the rest of their lives together.

Skup Svatova

Pre-Ceremony celebration

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St. George Serbian Orthodox Church

The Ceremony

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DiNolfo's Banquets

The Reception

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Shay & Grant - Engagement Shoot

Meet me under the big tree

This love story takes place in Aurora, IL (home of Wayne’s World & also my high school, go warriors!). Shay reached out to me about being the photographer for her wedding at the Hotel Arista in Naperville! We somehow managed to skip the small talk and found ourselves in an engaging conversation about love and life. The more I heard about the relationship between Shay & Grant, the more I wanted to capture their story.

I headed to Grant’s childhood home for our engagement session. Shay previously mentioned that Grant was a bit out of his comfort zone and I don’t blame him! It’s not every day we have to model for the camera. I assured them that those who are most nervous always end up doing the best. I instruct with loose poses, which means I’ll tell you to do an action, but allow you to move and get creative within that action. Shay & Grant perfected this immediately!

When they catch each other’s eyes, the warm smile that comes afterward nearly brings me to tears. Having been in so many couple’s most intimate moments, I like to consider myself a subject matter expert. And these two have an undeniable bond that will last as long as these beautiful photographs will – forever.

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