Brittany and Keenan’s Wedding at Tinley Park Convention Center – Laughter is the single thing I love to photograph most. Real, joyous laughter makes our images come to life. The photos become less about how pretty everything is and more about how people are feeling—how happy they are, how in love they are. Pretty pictures are fun to take too, but real moments full of fun and laughter and love and feeling—that’s where it’s at, people. And that’s why Brittany and Keenan were the perfect subjects for us to photograph. Tears, laughter, hugs, and some killer dance moves. This wedding had it all.

This photo is actually a reflection off the windows during the open dancing of their reception. We always try to sneak our couples away during the last minutes of our coverage.

This photo is actually a reflection off the windows during the open dancing of their reception. We always try to sneak our couples away during the last minutes of our coverage.

Brittany was the happiest bride on the planet that morning.

Brittany was the happiest bride on the planet that morning.

We love being there during hair and makeup.

We love being there during hair and makeup.

We always find that dropping the light and adding a little off camera flash can help separate your subjects from a busy room.

We always find that dropping the light and adding a little off camera flash can help separate your subjects from a busy room.

Their daughter was beyond cute.

Their daughter was beyond cute.

The walk down the aisle is always one of our favorite moments to capture.

The walk down the aisle is always one of our favorite moments to capture.

Why are we big fans of not seeing one another before the ceremony? This. This right here.

Why are we big fans of not seeing one another before the ceremony? This. This right here.

The groom could not stop smiling the entire ceremony.

The groom could not stop smiling the entire ceremony.

The joy on their wedding day was infectious.

The joy on their wedding day was infectious.

And the happiness didn't stop at the end of the ceremony. It just got bigger.

And the happiness didn’t stop at the end of the ceremony. It just got bigger.

We always prefer riding with the bride and groom wherever they go, just so we can capture little moments like this.

We always prefer riding with the bride and groom wherever they go, just so we can capture little moments like this.

We love working with simple backgrounds for our photos.

We love working with simple backgrounds for our photos.

Sometimes the bride and groom need to give directions.

Sometimes the bride and groom need to give directions.

We couldn't get enough of the windows and light streaming in at their reception hall.

We couldn’t get enough of the windows and light streaming in at their reception hall.

Get close. Then get closer. That's sometimes what we try to do when getting an intimate portrait.

Get close. Then get closer. That’s sometimes what we try to do when getting an intimate portrait.

As one of our photographer friends always says, hands are so important to a moment.

As one of our photographer friends always says, hands are so important to a moment.

We think it's important for couples to have fun during introductions.

We think it’s important for couples to have fun during introductions.

Candles are awesome for adding color to a first dance.

Candles are awesome for adding color to a first dance.

And if the room is packed and you want to isolate your couple, just angle up.

And if the room is packed and you want to isolate your couple, just angle up.

Off camera flash at the right levels can make a Bride and Groom look like the only ones in the room.

Off camera flash at the right levels can make a Bride and Groom look like the only ones in the room.

Toasts are one of our favorite parts of the day to document. You always have big smiles (and a subject that doesn't move, lol).

Toasts are one of our favorite parts of the day to document. You always have big smiles (and a subject that doesn’t move, lol).

I've never seen so many smiling faces at a single wedding before.

I’ve never seen so many smiling faces at a single wedding before.

We love black and white photography. Sometimes, color can be a distracting element to a moment.

We love black and white photography. Sometimes, color can be a distracting element to a moment.

Keenan is secretly thinking about how amazing his dance skills are.

I think Keenan is secretly thinking about how amazing his dance skills are.

The father daughter dance, has and always will be my favorite part of the day.

The father daughter dance, has and always will be my favorite part of the day.

But the mother son dance has begun to have new meaning for me (as a new mom).

But the mother son dance has begun to have new meaning for me (as a new mom).

Speaking of kids. How cute is their daughter?

Speaking of kids. How cute is their daughter?

Let the dancing begin!

Let the dancing begin!

These bridesmaids new how to work it!

These bridesmaids new how to work it!

I think playing "Happy" on loop would have been fine at this wedding.

I think playing “Happy” on loop would have been fine at this wedding.

Dear wedding guests. See this guy? This is how you dress for a wedding. :D

Dear wedding guests. See this guy? This is how you dress for a wedding. 😀

We love it when our couples stay on the dance floor as long as possible.

We love it when our couples stay on the dance floor as long as possible.

I don't think a single person was seated at this reception.

I don’t think a single person was seated at this reception.

The bride and groom being out on the floor and having fun is always important to having a packed dance floor.

The bride and groom being out on the floor and having fun is always important to having a packed dance floor.

We didn't know if this would work but it totally paid off. Thanks awesome lady for wearing these fabulous glasses.

We didn’t know if this would work but it totally paid off. Thanks awesome lady for wearing these fabulous glasses.

Never go half way when you dance.

Never go half way when you dance.

Always dance like you'll never be able to dance again (and you too can be on this blog).

Always dance like you’ll never be able to dance again (and you too can be on this blog).

Never take anything seriously at your wedding apart from the love you share with one another.

Never take anything seriously at your wedding apart from the love you share with one another.

Having fun is the most important part of your wedding.

Having fun is the most important part of your wedding.

Dance with everyone at your reception. And if someone is sitting, grab them.

Dance with everyone at your reception. And if someone is sitting, grab them.

It was so hard taking the bride and groom away from their dance floor for our night shots.

It was so hard taking the bride and groom away from their dance floor for our night shots.

Their was a big empty dark room by their hall. So we used it. David almost fell off the stage right after this photo was taken. So maybe it was a little too dark.

Their was a big empty dark room by their hall. So we used it. David almost fell off the stage right after this photo was taken. So maybe it was a little too dark.

We know it's hard to leave your reception and dance floor, even for five minutes. But honest, it's always worth it.

We know it’s hard to leave your reception and dance floor, even for five minutes. But honest, it’s always worth it.

Brittany and Keenan – Thank you both so much for having us there to witness your day through photos. We had such a fun time, we felt like we became part of the party, too!

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Dubon Family in Naperville, Illinois. We try not to play favorites with our clients, but this is different. These guys, we’ve been with them from the beginning. From their engagement session to their wedding, through the arrivals of their two daughters and their move out of the city. We added it up and we’ve photographed them 11 times over the last 8 years! So when Meredith and Ulises wanted to do a family session on the Naperville Riverwalk, of course we were there!!!

It’s been amazing watching this family grow.

These guys are always fun to document.

This was the little one’s first session with us.

Their oldest daughter definitely wanted some attention.

Kids are fascinated by the simplest things. And we love that about them.

Ulises is an awesome dad to these two girls.

We can’t believe how old their daughter has gotten.

Kids are a lot of work (and we know). But it’s so worth it.

I don’t think their daughter will ever stop wanting to be thrown into the air.

We might have a new favorite baby to take photos of.

The Naperville Riverwalk is a beautiful location for photos.

It’s important to give families a break, but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking photos. 😀

What is it with kids and ducks? They always love them!

Documenting families is important to us. We know that in the years to come, these photos will mean so much to our clients.

We can’t wait to see you guys again.

Meredith, Ulises, Mercedes, and Carla Jean — We love you guys, and YES—w’re just going to say it—you’re our favorites. Thank you so much for trusting us with documenting your family. We can’t wait to see what’s next for you guys. 🙂

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Yu Jin and Jeff’s Engagement Session at the Art Institute of Chicago. When you’re planning for your engagement session in June, you expect it to be pretty hot and muggy. As luck would have it, though, Jeff and Yu Jin (in a sleeveless dress!) showed up in the Art Institute South Garden to find a chilly and breezy evening. And despite the cold, they laughed, smiled, and chatted about restaurants, family, and wedding plans with me as we hiked the short walk from the Art Institute to the luckily empty Buckingham Fountain.It’s always important that our clients trust us when we have them stand in odd locations and not worry about the trash cans next to them.

chicago city engagement photo at night

It’s always important that our clients trust us when we have them stand in odd locations and not worry about the trash cans next to them.

engagement photo under trees

I loved how low the trees were over Yu Jin and Jeff for this portrait.

South Garden Reflecting Pool Art Institute Chicago

I am officially in love with the reflecting pool at the South Gardens of the Art Institute of Chicago

Romantic moment at engagement session

We call this our romance move.

chicago skyline engagement photo

We love capturing skylines in photos, but it needs to be different.

Lake shore drive engagement photo

We love this location along Lake Shore Drive for engagement photos.

Colorful engagement photo

It always helps when flowers are in bloom to add some color to the composition.

couple in chicago skyline

We love the architecture in the Chicago skyline and sometimes make our clients a part of it.

off camera flash skyline photo chicago

Tip for photographers: If you have your couple in front of busy windows and buildings, it’s important that you separate them from the background. Off camera flash can help.

silhouette engagement photo

Part of the fun in doing silhouettes is framing our couple in the shot.

off camera flash skyline photo

Another way to create separation: make the city a silhouette and light your couple with off camera flash.

lamp engagement photo

Sometimes we like add a pop of light behind our couple when they’re standing near a light to give a sense of continuity.

Yu Jin and Jeff, I had such a great evening with you guys chatting and snapping some pics. Thanks for not laughing at me too hard when I dropped my flash. Twice.

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Erin and Ron’s Wedding at The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. The Palmer House has always been one of our favorite Chicago venues to photograph. Just walking through the entrance and up the marble staircase transports you to 1930’s Chicago. Erin and Ron were looking for a classy and romantic venue for their wedding and they found it. From the enormous gold chandeliers and sconces to the French ceiling fresco, the details could not have set a more romantic stage for a wedding.

palmer house lobby portrait

We love finding new places to take portraits in the stunning lobby of the Palmer House Hilton.

off camera flash with makeup

I really enjoy taking makeup photos, and when time allows it’s fun to add some off camera flash.

wedding makeup by Christy Swain

Christy Swain did an amazing job on Erin’s makeup.

Groom getting ready

Ron made quite the handsome groom.

makeup details

Sometimes we enjoy the little details during makeup.

Groom getting ready

Tip for photographers: Sometimes we find that adding something to the foreground for getting ready photos gives a sense of privacy, as if we’re peeking around the corner at them.

Bride laughing morning

Always make sure the people in your bridal party can make you laugh.

Palmer House Empire Room Ceremony

The Empire Room at the Palmer House is an absolutely beautiful venue for your ceremony and is a decoration itself. The candles added to the romance.

Groom waiting for the bride

Ron couldn’t get the grin off his face as Erin walked down the aisle.

Empire room ceremony palmer house

We usually don’t use flash during a ceremony as we find it too distracting, but this wedding ceremony was super dark. However, a bonus to the Empire Room are the awesome spotlights shining on the bride and groom.

Ceremony candles

Photographer Tip: When you’re working with a dark ceremony, it helps to use what little light exists to add ambience to an image or to frame your shot.

Candles in a wedding ceremony.

There were so many opportunities during their ceremony to work the candles into our photos.

Happy bride.

Erin was one of the happiest brides we’ve ever had.

Happy bride and groom.

When talking to our potential clients, we always make sure they’re thrilled about getting married.

First kiss

While we never work with shot lists (as wedding photojournalists), there are a couple, of course, that we have in a mental check lists to always capture — the first kiss being one of them.

Bride and Groom exit ceremony.

I could not stop smiling during this ceremony, and the same goes for the Bride and Groom.

Palmer House Lobby Portrait

We request that clients who hire us put their complete trust in us to capture awesome photos. This required some cell phone chatting with David and myself from one side of the Palmer House to the other.

Wedding Eskimo Kiss

I often ask couples to do an eskimo kiss. It’s silly and often gets our couples to relax a little if they’re nervous, but in this case we were just having fun.

Palmer House reception entrance.

Photographer Tip: It’s rare that you have the opportunity to get an interesting intro photo and sometimes it requires one of you to get safety shots while the other works hard for just one photo. I did a lot of praying that the bride and groom would be exactly where I wanted them and that no one else would be standing in the doorway when I took this shot.

Introductions Wedding

The Palmer House did an amazing job flipping the Empire Room in such a short amount of time for Erin and Ron’s reception.

bride and groom kissing

It wasn’t difficult to get Erin and Ron to kiss.

maid of honor toast

It’s always important to us to have dramatic lighting for our toast photos.

Best Man Toast

The best man gave a beautiful toast to the bride and groom.

groom toast

Cheers.

Empire Room first dance Palmer House

I genuinely believe that you only need a few candles to decorate a reception at the Empire Room. Erin and Ron felt the same way.

first dance palmer house

We try our best to incorporate the ambience of a reception into our photography, whether candles or uplighting.

candlelit first dance wedding

Photographer Tip: Don’t be afraid to drop down the ambient light in a room to almost nothing during the first dance for some of your photos. It can help isolate your subject and make it look as if they are the only two people in the world.

sparkle wedding dance

We look for existing glass and light to add to our photographs.

father daughter dance palmer house

The father daughter dance is always one of my favorite photos at a wedding.

father daughter dance wedding

You can always tell when a dad couldn’t be happier for his daughter.

Empire room ceiling palmer house

We often shoot upward at our clients during dances to isolate them from the audience, but in a place like the Empire Room it adds so much to the images.

mother son dance palmer house

Ron’s mom looked absolutely gorgeous and was so incredibly kind.

dance floor palmer house

We don’t take our dance floor photos with long lenses from across the room. Where’s the fun in that?

open dancing empire room

Open dancing is always one of our favorite parts of the wedding day.

happy guests at wedding

If you’re a guest at the wedding, get out on the dance floor and have fun!

don cagen orchestra wedding open dancing

Whenever we shoot a wedding and find out that Don Cagen Orchestra will be doing the music, we’re beyond excited. They do an outstanding job and would be an excellent addition to any wedding.

dancing bride

Tip for couples: It’s important that you say hello to your guests, but it’s also important that you have fun and enjoy your wedding. It only happens once.

Palmer House Entrance Wedding Portrait

When possible, we often grab our couple for the last few minutes of our coverage and take them outside for some night photos. We loved using the lights outside the Palmer House.

Erin and Ron, everyone at your wedding, from your Palmer House wedding ceremony to your friends to your vendors, were so amazingly kind and fun to be around. Thank you again for trusting us with capturing your day. Congratulations, you guys!

Location Wedding Vendors. Getting ready, ceremony and reception at The Palmer House Hilton. Event coordination by Tying the Knot. Hair by Brigette Cwik. Makeup by Christy Swain. Flowers by Phillips Flowers. Music by Don Cagen Orchestra.

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