Feeling Like a Kid Again Among the Butterflies

Winter is never going to end, or least it feels that way in Chicago.

That is why I decided to get out of my wintery funk by going to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to check out the butterfly exhibit. While the museum is geared mainly towards kids, I got to feel like a kid again when I walked into the Butterfly Haven. It was very balmy in there, a much needed relief from the cold outside. I immediately noticed this guy hogging one of the feeding stations:

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There were so many beautiful specimens of butterflies to be seen that I felt a little giddy, like a young girl again.

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In addition to the gorgeous butterflies, there were interesting plants, birds flying about, even a turtle and koi fish. I would definitely recommend the Nature Museum for the young and young at heart.

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And when you exit the butterfly portion of the museum, you can see more butterflies being created in cocoons. How cool is that?

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Lizzie and Mike: Salvage One, Chicago Wedding

Just because it is cold outside – bitterly cold, I might add – love waits for no one in Chicago.

I was lucky enough to witness the wedding of Lizzie and Mike last weekend at Salvage One in Chicago, IL. It was a special occasion for many reasons, one of them being that many of the guests had traveled from near and far to witness the adorable love between Mike and Lizzie. Although  Lizzie is originally Illinois, she now lives in Australia with the dashing Mike. They had friends travel from Australia, England and several other places to witness the exchange of their vows last weekend.

While I am a sucker for tradition, I truly enjoy a couple that is super relaxed and does not adhere to any rules. They helped each other get ready before the ceremony, and had a blast posing for pictures around the amazing Salvage One. Seriously, this place is incredible. It is chock full of amazing nooks and crannies that offer endless photographic possibilities.

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These two were such a bundle of fun that they were up for just about anything. I don’t know if I have met a couple that were just so genuinely happy to be around each other as Lizzie and Mike. There is no doubt that these two will have a long, happy and fun-filled marriage – hopefully with tons of kids to share the goofiness with!

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The event was just as relaxed and beautiful as their love. Thank you to Shanna Wolf Photography for inviting me to shoot this beautiful wedding. If you are in Madison, WI you should check out S. Photography and the talented Shanna Wolf.

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My First Orthodox Jewish Wedding, and What a Party It Was!

Last weekend I was one of four photographers and two videographers capturing the wedding of Zach and Aliza in Elk Grove Village, IL.

While I look forward to shooting all of my weddings, I was especially excited/nervous for this event because it was a) an orthodox Jewish wedding and b) was going to host 400 guests. Larry, the lead photographer, explained the order of the day and what I could expect. He could never have prepared me for the exhilaration of being involved in such a joyous, emotional and frentic event.

The khattan (groom) was especially dapper, and his kallah (bride) was an absolute stunner. They were both outdone, just a smidge, by the array of adorable kids running around.

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I absolutely adore the gray color scheme of the wedding. Don’t the bridesmaids look gorgeous in their varied shades of grey? And let me tell you, they were wearing some of the most amazing dresses that I have seen in a while.

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After everyone was all gussied up for the event, Zach and Aliza saw each other for the first time. They were adorable, all smiles and giggles, and the crowd cheered for them.

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While the photographers took turns gathering family members for group shots, I couldn’t help but notice this fun trio. They were trying to get the attention of the aforementioned adorable kids for the photographer, and it looked like they were having way more fun than the kids probably were.

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Soon after the men went into a separate room while the women gathered around the bride for the badekkin. Friends and family members approached the bride and offered their well wishes and prayers for a happy marriage. The bride can also use this time for some prayers on her own before the big event.

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A little while later, the groom is escorted to the bride, surrounded by friends and family singing loudly and jubilantly. Some prayers are recited and the groom brings the veil down over his bride’s face. You can start to imagine what a wedding of 400 people feels like in the following images.

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The group then proceeds to the chuppa, or the wedding ceremony. Both sets of parents carry candles as they escort their son and daughter down the aisle. After the ceremony has been completed, the married couple are then escorted down the aisle with laughter, singing and dancing.

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The newlyweds are given a few minutes to themselves after the ceremony, which is much needed, since what proceeds is wild dancing. The men and women are taken to separate areas of the dance floor and everyone is given a chance to dance with the bride and groom. I stayed with Aliza and documented what was one of the most intense moments of my wedding photography career. Imagine 200 women surrounded you in ever-widening circles, all jockeying to get a moment to dance with the groom. The energy filled the air and I was amazed at just how long those ladies got down! I don’t know how long the dance went on, but as you can see from the images below, Aliza was a very happy bride and her guests were more than happy to dance the night away in celebration.

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My Dream Wedding: Sparkly Shiny Happy People Version

Yes, I realize that I am 30 years old and still am obsessed with sparkles. Is that bad?

I think it is great, which is why I love when I see brides planning weddings that are filled to the gills with sparkly goodness. When it comes to your wedding day, you should get to wear whatever you want, decorate however you please, and dance the night away under a disco ball.

 When it comes to my dress. I want to light up the aisle, the dance floor, everywhere! I love how this dress has tons of sparkle and sheer sleeve coverings to conceal my problem arm areas.

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I truly cannot decide whether I would want to wear my hear up or down, but if it is up in a loose chignon, I would definitely adorn it with this amazing hair jewelry. Is that a term? It is now.

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I don’t know if they would love me or hate me for it, but how amazing/horrifying would it be if my bridesmaids all wore a version of this sequin gown?

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See, this bride did a similar thing for her winter wedding. I think it looks amazing and totally chic.

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No matter whether my wedding is indoors or out, I think a chandelier is appropriate. Top it with electric lights or candles and I will be a happy girl.

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As for table toppers/name holders, how could I say no to these amazing glitter unicorns? I saw them on Style Me Pretty and they went to my Pinterest board IMMEDIATELY…

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And then I could put them onto this sequined table covering…yes, it is WAY too much. But I’m just throwing the ideas out there.

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When I inevitably take off my heels to tear up the dance floor, I could display my bejeweled heels with this glass jar idea.

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Well, these are just a few of the sparkly ideas that I’ve seen floating around on the web that I totally love. There are so many more ideas out there, many of them DIY, which I love even more. Why pay a fortune when you can convince your hubby-to-be that it would be fun to add sparkle to 50 vases? Just give him that winning smile of yours and the promise of a cold beer after.

Jenna and Kevin: Smiles, Babies and More Smiles!

Sure, every wedding has its share of smiling people. But one look at these pictures and you will see that Jenna and Kevin were smiling fools for each other. They were not alone, as their family and friends, including an adorable grandmother, witnessed the genuine love felt between these two people. The pair were married at St. Xaviers, after which we went to Adler Planetarium to take pictures outdoors. While you cannot tell from the images, it was absolutely freezing outside! Despite the weather, everyone had – you guessed it! – huge smiles on their faces while they took group shots. The reception was held at Maggiano’s in Schaumburg on the top floor. I was stunned at just how beautiful the location was, and was enamored of the vintage wedding pictures that adorned the dark wood walls. It was a joy to witness this wedding while shooting for Christopher Foltz Photography.

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Dapper Dan, Handsome Harry and Funky Fred: Ideas for Dressing Your Groom and Groomsmen

While picking out your wedding dress might be one of the most difficult decisions for your wedding day, outfitting your husband-to-be and his gaggle of friends can be just as trying.

Whether he is the type that can hardly tie his shoes or has shoe trees in all of his footwear, you want your fiance to look even better than he normally does. Luckily the times have changed and have brought with them an evolution in options for groomsmen. Depending on the theme of your wedding, you can outfit your better half in a classic tuxedo, a khaki suit, suspenders and boat shoes, or a superhero cape. Alright, so maybe not the cape – although I am not saying it doesn’t have its place – but you get the idea. There is no reason to send your fiance out for a boring old black suit when he can match you, the bridesmaids and even the table settings.  Need some ideas to get started? Here are some of my favorite groom/groomsmen outfits I have seen lately:

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