chicago wedding

October Wedding at Metropolis Ballroom

Wedding Pictures, WeddingsWedding Creativo Photography

Deep orange and purple colors, vintage style, and candle-lit mason jars created a lovely setting at the Metropolis Ballroom in Arlington Heights, Illinois for Bailey and Dan's October wedding. The couple were inspired by autumn farmers markets for the overall feel for their wedding.

There were several unique and personal touches by the bride and groom, as well as their family members, for their Jewish wedding details.  Some highlights included adorable personalized seed packets that doubled as escort cards and guest favors, which were strung up with mini clothespins. The laundry line theme was also carried over in the cocktail room were a wall was strung with their childhood photos. Lots of mason jars that the couple collected were used as candle holders for the ceremony aisle and reception tables. The beautiful ceremony chuppah was constructed by the groom's father, and draped with the bride's family heirloom embroidered top.  Small pumpkins and fall foliage were also nice touches used throughout the reception decor.

The bride's spectacular vintage style dress and veil were custom creations by local designer Dame Couture.  She also wore lovely accessories including a hairpin was from Blue Bow Millinery, great-grandmother's earrings, maternal grandmother's accent ring, and Mariana shoes by GOLC.  The groom wore a gray Kenneth Cole suit, and bridesmaids dresses were majestic purple Alfred Sung gowns from Dessy Group.  For their wedding rings Bailey and Dan chose conflict free diamonds and recycled platinum from Brilliant Earth.  The bride's handkerchief and groom's fedora hat were also fantastic accents to express their style.

Event professionals: Rabbi Max Weiss, Beauty on Call, Sprout florist

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Chicago Wedding at Gibsons Steakhouse

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Alicia and Nate had a beautiful day for their September wedding at St. James Chapel and Gibsons Steakhouse in downtown Chicago.  We started with preparations and the couple's "first look" at Sofitel, followed by portraits along Lake Michigan before heading to their intimate ceremony and reception.  We loved her pastel pink sash and flowing satin gown, and exquisitely delicate bridal bouquet by Zuzu's Petals.

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Jewish Wedding at University Club of Chicago

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Natalie and Paul celebrated an intimate Jewish wedding at the University Club of Chicago. Her high-fashion corset dress was stunning, and we enjoyed strolling Michigan Ave. with this lovely couple taking in the sights of the tango dancers and chess players. Their private elegant ceremony and reception was accented with gold and champagne hues, with floral accents in fuchsia and pinks, and unique silver bowl style centerpieces.

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Chicago Wedding at Harold Washington Library

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When a wedding is the first one for any family it is usually extra emotional.  Moms are often just as nervous as their daughters.  You might even see dad shed some tears.  These families were indeed filled with butterflies and excitement for the bride and groom on their special day.  It was adorable to see Jamie's father so expressive with emotion, and it is always wonderful to see parents so involved and attentive on the wedding day.

Jamie and David held their wedding at Saint Cajetan Church and reception at Harold Washington Library. Natural beauty was abound with lovely greens and vintage details to set the tone for their grand celebration. 

The bride wore a spectacular Lazaro gown and statement heels from Stuart Weitzman.  The reception had a wonderful balance of elegance with rustic vintage accents.  A few items were made by the bride, or special collected pieces including the cute Mr. and Mrs. chair signs.

What we always remember most at all weddings are the unique spontaneous moments, and at this one...they were filled with songs.  Read on below to see how Jamie and David's wedding day was at times like a real-life musical with many people spontaneously breaking out into song.

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Jamie and David invited former American Idol contestant Chris Medina to their wedding and he sang at their ceremony! As it turned out a lot of people (and a bird) were inspired to sing for Jamie and David. They enjoyed not one but two spontanous group serenades in the park while we were out taking portraits. Finally, the happy couple were treated to one more surprise song at the reception, this time by their bridal party!Featured event professionals:  Steuber Florist, Naples Bakery, Tone Productions DJ, Exquisite Limousine, Formally Modern Tuxedo, Bella Bianca Bridal, Wedding Creativo Photography.

How To Get Married in Chicago

Engagements, Wedding PlanningWedding Creativo Photography

You just got engaged! Congratulations!

Now what?

Well, depending on what kind of wedding or civil union you have in mind, this next phase in your life could involve anywhere from 2 years to 24 hours.  This article will not focus that much on the planning aspect of what happens next (although we have a few basic getting started tips), but rather the actual requirements and steps to legally get married in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois.

1. Figuring out what kind of wedding you want (and can afford) involves a lot of factors that you and your sweetheart need to first discuss with each other.  Your financial state and life priorities can vary greatly depending on what age you are when you decide to marry.  A couple's shared goals at age 22 are usually very different than at age 28, 34, 40 or beyond.  What ever your shared dreams are as a married couple, the wedding is only part of your future plans together, so your decision for those plans are a very personal choice.

Tip: for general cost estimates and sample wedding budgets we suggest

2. Plan the wedding. There are tons of web sites, magazines, books and software to help with this.  Or, you can hire an experienced and qualified event planner.  In the Chicago area, we recommend starting by picking up a copy of Chicago Style Weddings magazine.  It is organized like a planning guide and has a standard planning schedule of what tasks to check off your list each month.  For this blog post, we're going to leave it at that.

3. Get married!

Now, to actually get married or have a civil union in Chicago, the city and Cook County web sites have several pages with information, however, it can be tricky to find all of the specific information that you need.  So really, the purpose of this post is an effort to centralize all of the important information right here!

Step 1: Prepare to get your marriage license. To get married in Illinois, couples must get their marriage license issued in the county where they are planning the marriage ceremony to take place.  In Chicago, and closest suburbs, that is Cook County.  Generally Illinois, and specifically Cook County, are not very strict with legal requirements, but there are some eligibility laws, required legal identification, and the license fee is $60.  For more general information:

Applying for a Marriage License:

Applying for a Civil Union License:

Step 2:  Go to get your marriage license. You will need to apply for your civil union or marriage license together and in-person.  You may do this at any of the six Cook County Clerk's vital records offices in the area.  Five of the locations are in the suburbs: Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Markham and Bridgeview. There is one location in the city of Chicago, at the Daley Center -- 50 W. Washington St., East Concourse, Lower Level 25. 

Click here for more information on Cook County Vital Records locations:

IMPORTANT!!! The marriage license is issued while you wait and is good for 60 days.  There is a 24-hour waiting period, so you have to wait at least one day before you can legally get married.  This is especially important information for couples who live outside of the county or state and are planning a wedding or elopement in Chicago or suburban Cook County.  So, plan your travel accordingly to obtain your marriage license at least 24 hours (but we suggest 48 hours, just in case) before your scheduled ceremony time.

Step 3:  Check your issued marriage license has all the correct information.  Before you leave the clerk's office, be sure your legal names are spelled correctly, and your age is correct.  If this information does not match your drivers license or or other legal identification documents, it will be a big headache to fix later.

Step 4:  On the wedding day, remember to bring your marriage license and mailing envelope provided by the county.  If you are having a big wedding day, it helps to delegate the best man, maid of honor, sibling or a parent to be in charge of bringing the license and giving it to your officiant.  If you are eloping or having a small wedding, of course you may do this yourself.

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE FOR COURT HOUSE WEDDINGS OR ELOPEMENTS!!! Marriage court is NOT located in the same building downtown where you get the marriage license.  Marriage Court in Chicago is located at 119 W. Randolph St., Lower Level (City Hall building).  Although, these buildings are close to each other, so if you get the locations mixed up, you won't have to go far to find the correct location.  No appointments accepted, first come first served.  The fee is $10.  Here is more information about hours and locations for marriage and civil union by a judge in Chicago or suburban Cook County:

Also, in the City of Chicago, on select Saturdays throughout the year, Marriage Court judges hold brief ceremonies for a couple hours in the morning at the beautiful Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington St.  You have to call to find out the available dates, and go in person to Randolp St. Marriage Court to make your appointment for a specific designated time for your ceremony.  These special dates and times typically get booked in advance, especially during popular times of year.  Call 312.603.5660 for information, or go here on the City of Chicago's website (scroll down to the bottom of the page):

Step 5:  After your ceremony, your officiant will fill out the marriage license.  You can make this a ceremonial moment with your photographer capturing the signing, or the officiant can just fill it out while you're getting hugs and kisses.  The officiant is then responsible for delivering your completed marriage license to the county office.  When you are issued the license, you also receive an envelope with the county office address already printed on the envelope.  It just needs a postage stamp, or the officiant can deliver it in person if they prefer.

Step 6:  Order an official copy of your marriage certificate.  Cook County does not automatically send you a copy of your offical marriage certificate.  You will need to order this after the wedding. There are several ways you may order your certificate, including online. (You should order at least 2-3 certified copies....see step 7).

Here is more general information about Cook County Marriage Certificates:

Direct link to ordering a standard marriage certificate online:

The county also offers special decorative commemorative certificates:

Step 7:  Changing your name.  Not everyone does this, but if either spouse is changing their name after getting married, you will need several certified copies of your marriage certificate.  The bad news can be a hassle to change your name, and then update that change on everything from your drivers license to your retirement account.  The good news is, you do NOT have to go through the court process with a marriage name change (which is really good news, because to otherwise legally change your name in court costs nearly $400!).

You should first change your Social Security card, here is information on Social Security Administration web site:

Then, after you receive your new Social Security card, go to your local DMV to request a new driver's licence, update your vehicle registration and title.  There are many other legal documents or financial institutions where you'll also need to update you name, such as your passport, with your employer, bank, insurance, post office, credit card companies, etc.  Some of these you can do over the phone, but in some cases be prepared to provide additional certified copies of your marriage certificate.  Sounds like a big hassle, yes?  Well, there are online name changing services that can make things easier....for a fee....such as

Step 8:  Enjoy your marriage!

Of couse, at our wedding venue Creativo Loft, and photography studio Wedding Creativo Photography, we would be happy to help you plan a fun and memorable wedding.

Rustic Vintage Wedding at Vivo Chicago

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Vicky and David celebrated their summer wedding at Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine followed by a cuisine-focused reception at Vivo Restaurant in Chicago.  In large part, this was a DIY wedding, with the bride going with a rustic antique vintage theme, with a semi-casual tone.  However, she also enlisted the help of professionals to help bring ideas to form, including Bridal Beauty Chicago, Windy City Limosine, and DJ Justin from Style Matters.  Fun guest activities included a caricature artist, and Wedding Creativo's Polaroid cameras.

The wedding attire and accessories were from J Crew, Anthropologie, Etsy and Tiffany & Co.  Vicky is a teacher, so there were many school and education-related details, but so much more.  For this feature, we just have to let the photos speak for themselves. 

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Chicago Wedding at St Michael and Gioco

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Congratulations to Viktoria and Tom! These newlyweds come to us originally from Germany, with groom Tom now based here and his bride Viktoria commuting between Chicago and Berlin for her work.  Their family members flew in for the weekend to celebrate this beautiful May wedding in Chicago.  The couple got ready at theWit Hotel, with wedding ceremony at St. Michaels in Old Town, followed by dinner reception at Gioco restaurant. 

We had fun taking this couple around for portraits in one of our favorite classic cars, Joe Spinazzola's 1955 Cadillac "Dazy."  You can hook up with this sweet ride through Classic Wedding Car.

Photos © Wedding Creativo Photography

Millennium Knickerbocker Chicago Autumn Wedding : Courtney + Matt

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Courtney and Matt celebrated an elegant November wedding at St. Michael's Church and the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel.  The couple's classic city style was punctuated with formal black-tie fashions and warm fall colors.

The historic Knickerbocker Hotel set the scene with timeless golden decor, gourmet cuisine and their legendary lit dance floor.  Sarah's Pastries and Candies created a wonderfully detailed cake and Pollen's autumnal arrangements made for eye-catching table centerpieces, while the fantastic Orchestra 33 kept the dance floor swinging.

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Irish American Heritage Center Wedding of Beth and Justin

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Lots of family was on hand to help out this loving and fun couple pull off a great wedding celebration. The autumn day started off with a bit of a bump in the road with inclement weather causing the outdoor ceremony to be moved to the reception hall.  The Irish American Heritage Center came through with flying colors with the last minute change, and all of the guests made it there okay with all of the family pulling out phones to call all 200 guests!

The bride Beth was a great sport, and maintained her good spirits, and we were glad to see everyone not let the weather sour their fun plans.  Beth was calm and relaxed while getting her makeup done while her father and other relatives made their way through the phone list.

We were impressed with this as we knew coming in that this wedding would likely be an extraordinarily emotional day.  Sadly, Beth's mother had passed away, which of course made for a few bittersweet moments, but her loving relatives were wonderfully supportive and jovial throughout the day.  Beth also thought of a great way to keep her mother close to her heart by wearing her mother's ring on a necklace.

Beth and Justin had natural and simple style overall, with a touch of vintage flair for their wedding fashions.  The bride's jewelry, accessories, and goddess wedding dress from Kasia's Bridal, as well as the groom's dapper fedora hat and charcoal jacket-less suit perfectly represented their fun and creative personalities.

Beth and her father shared a sweet moment on the porch before heading off to the ceremony.  Everyone made it there on time, the venue had a separate room made ready for their last minute change of plans, and the bride and groom were married by officiant Pierre Poinsette without a hitch.

During the receiving line and cocktails guests enjoyed bowls of popcorn, and then Nostalgic Catering served fun pub style grub including mini burgers and liquor shots for toasting the couple during the reception.  Family friend Courtney baked classic homemade bundt cakes, nutrolls and ginger snap cookies for dessert.

After dinner the bride and groom serenaded their guests with a Glen Hansard song, then everyone danced the night away with the always awesome Okyne Medialab.  They also showed a great slideshow with pictures from the couple's childhood and dating years, which ran the gamut of emotions as family and guests all watched on together.  Slideshows always work best like this when incorporated in the reception as a shared experience for all, instead of having it off to the side in another room for guests to watch individually.

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Saint Andrew and W Chicago Lakeshore Wedding of Michelle and Steve

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The city of Chicago played an important role in Michelle and Steve's courtship, so they wanted the city to have a significant role on their wedding day, especially with their portraits. We helped them plan an extended schedule with sufficient time at several of their favorite locations and city backdrops. 

From the skyline, to the zoo, to Steve's beloved Wrigley field, and even the porch steps of their Wrigleyville home, we had a whirlwind tour around Chicago.  For any couples interested in this kind of "city safari" for their wedding day, keep in mind that for sure you need to see each other before the ceremony to have enough time necessary for the extensive traveling.  For this many locations you'll need to dedicate a significant amount of time, at least a few hours of your wedding day schedule, for going around to multiple locations and then time to take portraits and walk around at those locations, especially if the bridal party is also coming along on a trolley or party bus.  Another option is to have a lengthy multi-location session on another date following your wedding. We're always thrilled to do creative portraits with our couples at amazing locations, and we always help plan and schedule that part of the day for an organized and optimally relaxing and fun experience.

Michelle and Steve had a modern style autumn wedding, with black and hot pink colors.  The cake had an elaborate fondant ruffle design to match the cute flower girls dresses.  The ceremony was held at the beautiful St. Andrew Catholic Church with a chic evening reception at W Chicago Lakeshore hotel where the guests were surrounded with views of the city skyline and Lake Michigan.

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Van Gogh Inspired Wedding at St Ignatius and Hyatt

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Marla and Greg were inspired by the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh for their traditional Chicago wedding.   The swirling night hues of purple and blues with twinkling yellow stars seen in the famous paintings, "Starry Night" and "Starry Night Over The Rhone" were incorporated into a varieity of details for this wedding.  From the bouquet flowers to the blue and yellow tea lights hanging from the manzanita branches around the reception, the theme gave everyone the sense that they were in a real life version of the paintings, which the couple had on display as guetst entered their reception held at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield.

There was also a promenent Spanish influence, as the bride's ruffled dress, lace veil and traditional Spanish ceremony at St. Ignatius church reflected her family heritage.  The happy couple live across the street from Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, so we also went to some of their favorite spots around the park for portraits before heading to their lovely reception.

© Wedding Creativo Photography

Kate and Christopher's Italian and Latin Style Chicago Wedding

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Kate and Christopher planned a wedding that perfectly balanced Italian family traditions and a love for Latin culture.

The day started with the bride and her bridesmaids getting ready in a suite at the Blackstone Hotel.  This place has a great history in Chicago, going back to 1910.  While the renovations made in recent years under Marriott's ownership were well done, we always thought it was cool that the Presidential Suite once had a hidden passageway behind the fireplace for secret escapes.  That was turned into closet space after 2007, but we like to imagine that it is still there.

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Makeup can be the one area in particular where brides can underestimate scheduling, but having reliable professionals, such as the great folks at Beauty on Call, will have everyone looking lovely and ready to head out of the door on time.

The hotel suite decor complimented Kate's choice of vibrant colors of orange and yellow.  They were incorporated into her bouquets as well as floral and reception decor, which were by event designer and wedding coordinator Barbara Medina of Just Say Yes Events

The groom wore a Devni Michaels tux and bow tie and gifted his bride with her wedding day jewlery, and also had the wedding rings made by private designer Galo Zapata.  Very impressive Christopher!  For the womens wedding fashions, the ever popular JCrew gowns were worn by the bridesmaids, and the bride found her perfect dress, a stunning Mikaella gown, at Wedding Bells in Barrington.

Groom Christopher agreed to break with family tradition a bit, so the couple could have a spectacular "first see" moment and plenty of time to go around to a few different locations for portraits before the ceremony. Here at Wedding Creativo Photography we suggest this as optimal for most couples who can let go of the tradition of not seeing each other until they meet at the alter.  In our non-scientific observances over the past two decades, we can safely say that skipping this tradition has NOT brought bad luck to couples. Rather, it generally makes the day feel much more relaxed and reduces stress levels when you can avoid having to squeeze in all of your portraits in between the ceremony and reception.  We've mentioned this on the blog before, but think it is a point worth repeating.

Kate and co. kept cool with an ice cream cone in Grant Park while waiting for family members to gather at Buckingham Fountain. That's right, there is time for ice cream when we can do portraits before the ceremony!

The ceremony was held at Our Lady of Pompeii Shrine, the perfect place for a traditional Italian style wedding. In many small towns in Italy, it is a long-held custom to begin the wedding day with the betrothed and their families walking from their respective homes, through the village, to meet together at doors of the church.  Kate and Christopher incorporated this tradition by having their families walk from opposite sides of the street and meet at the steps of the church, along with 140 family and friends who waited for their arrival on the church steps.  Let's just say the Italians were doing "meet-ups" for weddings long before the internet even existed. And of course, with our photography studio having an Italian-born owner, we love this tradition.

For the reception, it was a "family style" affair with rustic Mexican cuisine and atmosphere at Zapatista in Chicago's South Loop neighborhood.  Kate and Christopher also shared an important cause that is close to their hearts with their family and friends by making a charitable donation in lieu of wedding favors to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

Wedding Photo of the Week: Art Nouveau Bridal Portrait

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This bridal portrait always reminds me (Sarah) of one of my favorite artists, Alphonse Mucha (1860-1939).  His paintings and artwork used in early advertising during the Art Nouveau period are iconic. 

Bride Nichole also loves Art Nouveau, and it was apparent with her home decor and wedding style.  This portrait on her staircase is a classic favorite.

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Photo of the Week: Dance Rehearsal

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We had a great time last month at Corrinne and Jeremy's wedding.  For our featured photo this week we share one of our favorite moments from their day as they practiced their first dance.  More pictures from thier wedding will be featured soon, and we'll be back to regular blog posts next week...we've been busy bees and have lots of fun weddings and inspiring ideas to share soon.

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Trisha and Scott Wedding at Chicago Cancer Survivors Garden

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You couldn't get more cozy than Trisha and Scott's small wedding held at their home and in their back yard.  And oh yeah, their back yard is Chicago's Millennium Park and Grant Park.

We had a great time with this fun-loving couple, and from their first playful moments and all throughout the day, the theme for their wedding was fun fun fun!  We admired the bride's "Pippa-esque" gown, vibrant orange and yellow flora, and the groom's navy blue suit with orange striped tie.

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The happy couple escorted each other, arm-in-arm, to their ceremony at the Cancer Survivors Garden in Chicago's Grant Park.  This beautiful outdoor area is a gem among Chicago Park District's special event spaces.

There, they met their closest family and friends for what was possibly the smallest wedding gathering we've ever photographed.  It was very cute with everyone, including the bride and groom's dogs, circled around the couple while they exchanged vows.

After the kiss, it was hi-fives for all around, and a first dance that literally swept the bride off her feet!

Needless to say, the portrait time for this wedding was very relaxed and accomplished rather quickly, even with different variations with everyone. One of the portraits included everyone attending the wedding ceremony in one group shot!

Then it was off to their private reception at their home, which had absolutely stunning views of the city from their high-rise balcony, where more guests joined the couple for their evening celebration.

The bride changed into a lovely cocktail dress, and nearly committed cake-a-cide!  Then after the reception dinner the gang headed out to the after-party at one of their favorite bars.

Congratulations Trisha and Scott, and thanks for showing everyone that even a small wedding can be a big celebration!

Wedding Photo of the Week: Bride in Ride

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We want to congratulate one of our couples, Wendy and Neil, on the birth of their baby girl last week!  We were so surprised to find out that they named her Sophia because Giorgio always thought Wendy had a striking resemblance to the famous Italian actress Sophia Loren. Giorgio was fortunate to make a portrait of her years ago (I'll ask him to scan the print and post it here some day).  Anyway, he would often refer to Wendy as our "Sophia bride."  Maybe you'll agree.  This week's featured photo is one of Giorgio's all time favorites, which is of Wendy in the car on the way to the ceremony.

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Wedding Photo of the Week: Reception Live Band Karaoke

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Today is the 5th wedding anniversary of Kristian and Claudia! Congratulations you two! Their wedding reception is still memorable to us as one of the most fun parties we've ever experienced. The bride and groom were a "rockin'" couple and incorporated the awesomeness that is Live Band Karaoke to be the highlight of their reception.  After all of the usual traditions of toasts, cake cutting and first dance, all of the sudden their reception transformed into a local live music dive bar vibe.  After the Live Band Karaoke musicians warmly encouraged the first few brave souls to the stage (Kristian of course opened the show!), soon enough EVERYONE was taking multiple turns singing, with all of the "fans" dancing and screaming with excitement at the stage.  No one was embarrassed because all of the guests treated each other as if they were the Beatles or Rolling Stones.  It was so much fun that we didn't want to leave when our time was up late that night!  This was one of our all-time favorite receptions and we wish more couples would consider this idea for their reception. Thanks Kristian and Claudia for single-handedly changing our opinion about karaoke from that day forward!

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Wedding Photo of the Week: A Rainy Day is OK

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Giorgio and I find challenging weather interesting for photography.  Being based in Chicago, we really have no choice but to embrace the crazy weather changes we can have in just a matter of hours, especially this time of year.  Like they say, if you don't like the weather in Chicago, just wait five minutes.

It is a good idea to have a contingency plan for outdoor portraits in case of a relenteless downpour or severe storms, and we're always happy to help our couples with different suggestions for indoor alternatives.  However, in the case of this week's featured wedding photo, we like to show that a little rain isn't always a bad thing. And, as Giorgio says, "sposa bagnata, sposa fortunata," which is an old Italian saying for "wet bride, lucky bride."

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Katie and Ben's Wedding at Holy Name and Fulton's

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Katie and Ben had a beautiful sunny day for their Chicago wedding at Holy Name Cathedral and reception at Fulton's on the River.  Vibrant pinks and greens highlighted their elegant fashions and decor.  Also, the groom's family flew in from England and helped the couple incorporate many lovely British wedding traditions into the festivities.

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The groom presented personalized pocket watches as gifts to his groomsmen, who were all sporting green ascot ties, similar to the one that was part of David Beckham's dashing Royal Wedding attire.

After the ceremony, we had fun taking creative wedding portraits of the bridal party at landmark downtown Chicago locations while making our way to the reception at Fulton's.

Note to Giorgio's photography students: notice his award-winning technique using a bridesmaid's pink flip-flop to extend his lens hood. Ha ha.

We loved all of the touches of British wedding customs including Ben's mum's fascinator hair clip, the bride's lucky wedding horseshoe, and the handmade personalized candies that the groom's parents brought for all of the guests to enjoy. Ben also surprised Katie with a traditional German silver wedding cup that they both had to drink from at the same time, but be careful not to spill for good luck. They were successful and didn't lose a drop!

THE emcee of class and impeccable music taste, Al of Okyne Media Lab, kept the party train on schedule and guests dancing all night.