FIVE BEST CHICAGO WEDDING + ENGAGEMENT PHOTO LOCATIONS

Chicago is packed with amazing photo locations between skyline views to gorgeous gardens. But when my clients ask me where to take their engagement or wedding photos,  I always recommend these five Chicago locations.

1. Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond* : This spot is a hidden gem in the city …. tucked in between the North and South Ponds of Lincoln Park. I love this location for engagements and weddings especially if you feel more comfortable when there aren’t a ton of people watching your photo shoot unfold. A permit is required to shoot here and it recommended (especially for weddings). You can secure a permit for your session / wedding day here.

2. Lurie Gardens : The gardens inside of Millennium Park combine a pretty parklike location and city views.

3. Olive Park : If you are longing for gorgeous skyline views, Olive Park is a great spot. This location at golden hour has the most gorgeous light as the sun sets behind the skyline. Plus it is right next to Oak Street Beach.

4. Art Institute Gardens : Similar to Lurie Gardens, the Art Institute Gardens have a special charm and romance to them that make this spot a gorgeous location.

5. Lincoln Park (South Pond) : Variety is why I love the South Pond in Lincoln Park. Your photos will include the ever-changing-nature of the park AND some skyline photos. This might be my favorite engagement session location because of all the options we have in such a small area.

Interested in knowing more of the best locations around Chicago? Stay tuned for another blog post coming soon on the best photo locations in Chicago and the suburbs.

* = permit required for these locations.

LINCOLN PARK ALFRED CALDWELL LILY POOL ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // dana + dan

Dana was first introduced to Dan by a colleague but it wasn’t until a group of friends started to sit together during their lunch breaks months later when Dana really met Dan.

After a particularly long week, the group of coworkers met for happy hour. Dana and Dan spent the happy hour talking as one hour quickly turned into seven hours. On that night, Dan knew Dana was special and that he needed to spend more time with her. So he invited her out to dinner which led to an amazing evening which led to unforgettable years together as a couple.

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LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // arianna + josh

Both were business majors at Notre Dame for over a year before they crossed paths on campus. Josh and Arianna were at r&b night, an unlikely place for both of them, when Arianna caught Josh’s gaze.  Like a true southern gentleman, Josh walked Arianna back to her dorm room that night, and he couldn’t help but think how special Arianna was. It only took Arianna a few dates, many adorable text messages and one really perfect conversation at Starbucks to realize Josh was the guy.

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LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // nora + john

The leaves danced throughout the air and pumpkins graced the doorsteps along the streets of the University of Kansas. It was Halloween, and Nora was setup on a blind date to a fraternity Halloween party by some friends. Little did she know that beneath a giant teddy bear costume stood her future husband, John.

Their blind date led to endless nights together as they navigated the KU campus, studied for exams and celebrated graduation. After college, they packed their bags and together moved to Chicago where John asked Nora to marry him five years later overlooking the city they love.

Nora and John are planning a wedding in Tulsa this November, but first they wanted to document their engagement in Chicago.

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OLIVE PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // denise + nick

Denise is the type of girl who oozes with sweetness and love for those around her. When she first met Nick, it was no surprise that she was attracted to his sense of humor and laid-back personality. Nick was in the city with his cousin, who happened to be Denise’s friend from high school. The two were complete strangers who lived nearly two hours apart. Denise was unsure about dating someone long distance, but Nick’s charm and patience won her over.

Slowly they began to talk and spend more time together…which, months later, proved to deepen their relationship. Together they embarked on the journey of being puppy-parents, and as time passed, Nick knew Denise was the only girl who would make his life complete.

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LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // larisa + jesse

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He grew up on a farm surrounded by horses and tractors. She was raised in the Chicago suburbs minutes away from shopping centers and city life. They came from completely different worlds, however it was the city of Chicago and Match.com that brought Larisa and Jesse into the same orbit.

After messaging each other on the dating site and hundreds of texts later, the two finally met for their first date. They were two strangers, however that night forever changed the trajectory of their lives. Over time their pasts began to blend with their futures, and Jesse could do nothing but place a ring on Larisa’s finger. The two were engaged this past November, and they couldn’t wait to document their love in the city where it all began.

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NAPERVILLE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // cristin + kris

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As the bonfire crackled throughout the July air, Cristin noticed him. It was their friend’s annual 4th of July party, and she was intrigued when she saw Kris. She sat down next to him, and soon after, the two were enjoying the fireworks together and sharing food off of each other’s plates.

Two months later, Cristin was rushing to catch her train in Chicago when she heard someone shouting her name. She was surprised to see Kris. He invited her to join him for a drink, however, afraid she would miss her train, she declined. Moments later, she realized she read the schedule wrong, and her train didn’t leave for another hour, but it was too late to take Kris up on that drink.

Cristin knew the train schedule mixup was fate intervening that evening to bring her and Kris back into each other’s orbit where they have remained ever since.

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CANTIGNY ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // tracy + gary

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At a friend’s house party, Tracy spotted a tall, dark, and handsome guy across the room playing beer pong. She was immediately attracted to him, so when his game ended, she sauntered up to him and asked if she could play on his team next. Gary obliged after Tracy bragged about her skills. The two were a perfect match as teammates which later evolved into a perfect team in life.

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LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // jennifer + matt

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Jennifer and Matt crossed paths by chance. They were out in Chicago with friends when they first met, but it was the days after when their relationship developed. Matt planned a perfect first date at Waterfront Cafe on Lake Michigan. As the water crashed into the shore, they found themselves completely smitten with the comfortability they shared. They enjoyed good food, amazing views and realized they had found someone special. It was no surprise Matt proposed a couple years later as they stood next to the Christmas tree at the Walnut Room.

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LINCOLN PARK CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS : rita + brian

Rita wasn’t sure she could go on a date with Brian. She thought he was cute and they had mutual friends in common, but she still was hesitant about the whole thing. With a little nudge from her friend, she obliged and agreed to meet him at Hub 51.They were two strangers, but that night forever changed the direction of their lives. 

Brian’s midwestern mindset and good looks grabbed Rita’s attention right away, and the two spent hours deep in conservation. They quickly realized they both have an obsession with Newfoundlands (and large dogs in general). They felt as if fate intertwined into their lives and soon Brian could do nothing but place a ring on Rita’s finger.

Rita and Brian will marry next May at Gallery 1028, but first I met them in Lincoln Park for engagement photos.

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While it was my first time meeting Rita and Brian, it instantly felt like we were old friends. These two are easy going and so much fun to be around. And then there is Roo. ….. she is one sweet pup who I instantly adored.

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The sun was golden and dreamy. This is exactly why I shoot right before sunset …. so we can capture moments and light like this!

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A little family love. The shot after this is literally Roo trying to give them both kisses. I mean … c’mon. How can one NOT love that?

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Brian adores Rita … especially because she is very caring and goofy.

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Oooh, Roo .. you stole a little piece of my heart. Isn’t she just perfect?!?!

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After a quick outfit change, we wandered throughout Lincoln Park to capture some more photos with the beautiful Chicago architecture.

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Rita fell in love with Brian’s sense of humor and the fact that he’s just a good, “very normal”, midwestern dude.

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I am beyond excited to document this love again in May!

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LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // sara + andrew

Sara was in town from college when her friend invited her and a few other friends over for sushi and sake. It was a small group of people …. only four to be exact …. one of whom was Andrew. Sara met Andrew and politely chatted with him throughout the night, however what stood out about him in her mind was his long, wild hair.

Months later, Sara spotted a handsome guy while out with her friends. She introduced herself, only to find out they had met before …. it was Andrew. He had cut his hair and finally caught Sara’s eye.

Slowly they began to talk and spend more time together … which months later evolved into a relationship. She adored his easy-going personality, and Andrew loved Sara’s energetic and goofy side. In each other, they found someone who compliments them perfectly.

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I met Sara and Andrew in Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is where the couple currently lives and it is also the spot where Andrew proposed … making it extra special for their engagement photos.

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The summer afternoon was beautiful and called for some dancing amongst the beauty of Lincoln Park.

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Sara and Andrew were laughing throughout the entire session, and I just loved capturing them so happy.

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Andrew is a charming guy who is genuine and has great socks!

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Sara doesn’t take anything too seriously. She exudes silliness and fun which only brings joy to those around her.

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Sometimes a little bit of sunshine makes all the difference …

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Together, Sara and Andrew love to golf, watch Walking Dead, and eat at Macku (which is also where they had their first date).

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Sara and Andrew will marry next June in Arlington Heights … so it was lovely to document their love where it all began in Chicago.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT // amy + sam

Nestled on a couch inside Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park, Sam sat anxiously waiting for Amy, a girl who had sparked his interest many months ago yet the timing wasn’t quite right for them to date. When she walked in, he instantly noticed her big, beautiful eyes and was smitten with her smile. Over a cup of coffee, the two connected over their love of Chicago, and minutes of casual conversation turned into hours of deep connection.

Months later, among moving boxes, Sam asked Amy to unpack just one box before heading to bed. Inside was an engraved jewelry box with her favorite quote “love is the one safe home we all dream about,” a beautiful diamond ring, and the promise of a lifetime together.

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We started their engagement session at Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park which is where their first date was. It is one of their favorite places in Chicago, and I totally understand why.

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Amy and Sam adore Wicker Park, so we strolled along Milwaukee and documented their love.

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Just stunning ….

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They were complete naturals in front of the camera … I mean … look!

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Amy fell for Sam’s warm heart and his kind spirit. He is the perfect match to her bubbly personality.

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Just as the twinkle of the city lights was starting to sparkle, we soaked up the last bit of light for photos around the Chicago River Walk.

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It was a beautiful Chicago evening and it only highlighted Amy and Sam’s love.

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The couple will marry in March in Lake Geneva, and I am so excited to document their first day as husband and wife.

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NORTHWESTERN ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // molly + grant

The campus buzzed with the excitement of the start of the year. It was the first week of school, and freshman were eager to blend into life at Northwestern University. As Molly settled into her seat at Harris Hall, she started chatting with a few people around her, one of whom was Grant. They became fast friends in a completely platonic way – even heading to the bookstore together on that first day of class.

Months later, Grant invited Molly to a party with a group of friends. That evening changed the trajectory of their relationship when Grant realized that both he and Molly had a crush on one another. He asked her out the following day. Their first date turned into a first kiss, which turned into years of growing together and the promise of forever.

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I met Molly and Grant at Northwestern where their relationship began. I like to call this location the secret garden because we had it all to ourselves (and it was insanely beautiful!)

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The summer sun had all the pretty flowers in bloom.

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Can we talk about how stylish these two are? When I saw them, I was giddy! And I need Molly’s whole look in my closet …..

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Love!

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Northwestern’s campus is beyond gorgeous … and it made for some beautiful photos as we wandered around.

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When I first met Molly and Grant months ago, we bonded over our love of travel. Together they have explored China and Nepal, and their bucket list is as long as mine.

 

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These two made my job VERY easy. They radiate with love and happiness.

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If I gave out awards to my clients, Molly and Grant would get the most prepared / organized award. Prior to our engagement shoot, Grant sent me a map of Northwestern with all the locations they wanted to stop at! Now as a type A planner, this had me thrilled. As a navigator … not so much … I may have gotten lost 2x during our shoot. ;)

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The view of Chicago from Northwestern is beyond gorgeous, don’t you think? I may have wanted to cuddle up on that bench and soak in the view just a bit longer.

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We had a perfect day! It was the perfect temperature, perfect light and two perfect people.

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Molly and Grant are getting married this September at Ravenswood Event Center, so until then, I will leave you with this photo because it is the precursor to how much fun their wedding will be!

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // candy + brian

Inside Candy’s petite 5-foot-frame is a bubbly, outgoing girl that caught the heart of Brian instantly. The two met online (thank you Tinder for being such a fabulous matchmaker), messaged back and forth, and then met for a drink to see if they were compatible.  The evening passed in what felt like a second due to their connection, conversation and endless laughter. Candy’s smile captivated Brian from the start, and they’ve been together ever since.

It was their second Christmas together as a couple when Brian changed the trajectory of their relationship. It had become their tradition to spend the day together, just the two of them, hopping from hotel to hotel … drinking and eating. At the Peninsula Hotel, Brian got down on one knee and proclaimed his love to Candy and asked her for a lifetime together.

They’re planning an amazing wedding at the gorgeous Chicago Athletic Association this July, and I couldn’t be more excited to document their love.

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I met Candy and Brian at Lincoln Park on a beautiful May afternoon. The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming …. and these two were full of love and laughter.

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Candy and Brian have this natural chemistry where their bodies just naturally fall into each other perfectly ….

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One of their favorite things to do together is to ride their bikes along the Chicago lake path, so they decided to incorporate their bikes into their engagement session.

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Lincoln Park was full of blooms … spring is finally here, Chicago!

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One of my favorite things about Candy is that she’s a girl who knows what she wants and makes it happen! After a few emails, she booked my services for her wedding and thus began our online friendship…meeting her in person was the highlight of my day!

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Candy and Brian mentioned they were nervous to be in front of the camera at the start of our session, but within minutes these two were complete naturals. They were silly and downright adorable.

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Brian has this cool, calm and collected aura about him that compliments Candy’s outgoing personality. When they are together, their love is the envy of those around them.

 

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We wandered around the Kinzie Street Bridge for a change of scenery …

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Candy and Brian were completely wrapped up in their love for each other. As cars passed by us on the bridge, they were 100% fixated on each other.

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Fun fact : Candy is Ashley’s sister and the one who encouraged Ashley to give online dating a try (because she met such an amazing guy herself!). I am honored to document two of the four sisters weddings this year!

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They are so sweet together …. I mean just look ….

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Just as the twinkle of the city lights turned on, Candy and Brian ended their session with a kiss.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // ashley + greg

Engraved in her necklace are the latitude and longitude coordinates of the place they first met. Ashley almost canceled that date, but DOC Wine Bar was literally down the block from her place … so she went.

Days before, Ashley’s sister was in the match-making mindset, when she grabbed Ashley’s phone, logged on to her Tinder account and started swipping right to all the guys that were Ashley’s type. When she came across Greg and swipped right, there was a match. A short note later, Ashley and Greg had plans to meet for a glass of wine in Lincoln Park.

Over the basic getting-to-know you questions, the two were smitten with the comfortability they shared. One date turned into another, and months later, Greg got on a knee and surprised Ashley with a beautiful engagement ring and the promise to live their lives together. Forever.

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I met Ashely and Greg at Lincoln Park which seemed fitting as it is the neighborhood where they fell in love.

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While the weather didn’t quite feel like spring, the trees were covered in fresh blooms.

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Many thanks to Christine Janda for sending this amazing couple my way. Christine is planning Ashley and Greg’s wedding at Gallery 1028, and I cannot wait to see what they dream up.

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Ashley and Greg love exploring Chicago, drinking wine and hanging out at their local pub, George Street Pub.

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The light was simply spectacular and made for a perfect day …

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Ashley and Greg have this sweetness to them that instantly makes you feel like you have been friends with them forever. I am honored to document their love, and I cannot wait for their wedding in September!

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FEATURED : THE KNOT

Babes, I have been counting down the days until I could share this news with you. Marcia and Toussaint’s Chicago engagement session + love story is featured in the spring issue of The Knot Chicago!

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If you missed Marcia and Toussaint’s engagement session or just want to leave them some love, you can check out their full blog post here.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // kelly + nathan

It was his passion for water polo that relocated Nathan to college in Pennsylvania. Kelly, a water polo player, was studying for her special education degree, when the handsome freshman joined the men’s team.

Through occasional scrimmages against each other’s teams and a similar circle of friends, Kelly and Nathan’s paths seemed to be entwined. Kelly’s energetic charisma and easy-going nature soon captured Nathan’s heart, and he could no longer look at Kelly as merely a friend.

It was a cold night in March, when the trajectory of their relationships changed forever. Nathan volunteered to be Kelly’s designated hand warmer. He held her hand all night, ensuring that her typically cold hands, were as warm as possible. Kelly was completely smitten by his romantic ways.

In between falling in love, nurturing a long distance relationship and starting their careers, they realized life is better together. Upon graduation, Nathan moved to Chicago to be closer to Kelly and asked her to spend forever at his side.

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We met in Lincoln Park for an unseasonably warm, February afternoon, however, Nathan was standing by to ensure Kelly’s hands were always toasty.

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Kelly and Nathan share a love that is infectious and intoxicating.

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Kelly loves Nathan’s sense of humor and that he can always make her laugh. Our shoot was full of constant laughter, which always make my heart FULL.

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Kelly and Nathan will wed this October at the Armour House in Lake Forest, and I am beyond thrilled to be such an integral part of their wedding.

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Two of my favorites ….

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I mean … seriously, how cute are they?!

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Nathan grew up in Texas, and he wore the most amazing, authentic Texas boots.

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Even in the dead of winter, Chicago is just as beautiful.

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The in between moments are always some of my favorite to capture.

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And I’ll end with this photo …. because true love is about moments of everlasting embrace.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : NORTH AVE BEACH + LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // monica + ben

When you go to a college as big as the University of Illinois, it is impossible to know everyone there … let alone everyone in your major. Monica and Ben had been in the same accounting program for nearly two years before their paths first crossed.

It was the last week of their senior year, and they were assigned to work on a group project together. It was all business as their group members diligently wrapped up their assignment. But soon after, Ben asked Monica to meet him out. They spent some time getting to know each other, and their lives were forever changed.

In each other, they found someone they couldn’t live without. Years later, Ben dropped to his knee and asked Monica to spend forever at his side.

For their engagement session, Monica and Ben chose to document their love in Chicago as it is the city where they started their home together.

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We had a perfect fall day complete with the most gorgeous colors around Lincoln Park.

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I had serious hair envy ….. I mean look at Monica’s gorgeous locks.

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A favorite ….

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Ben managed to keep Monica laughing throughout our shoot … and I just LOVE photographing authentic laughter.

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swoon!

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This is one of my favorite spots in the city because for a moment you escape the big city and are surrounded by beauty.

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I first met Monica and Ben at our shoot, but I instantly felt like they were old friends. I had a blast hanging out with them and reliving all the hot spots at our alma mater, U of I.

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Ben is a charming guy with a great personality and a great smile.

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Nothing like a quick kiss along the way …

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Seriously, how cute are these two?  I kept telling Ben, just one more shot, and I promise we are done … probably a few times … but I couldn’t get enough of these two.

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Monica’s energy is completely contagious. She is bubbly and  beyond sweet.

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After a quick outfit change, we headed to North Ave beach for some Chicago skyline photos along the lake.

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Monica and Ben humored me when I asked them to dance (sans music) for me.

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And I’ll leave you with this one ….

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LINCOLN PARK CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // SHANE + ELIZABETH

It was the annual Union League Club’s summer yacht cruise event, one of the favorites of the year, when members enjoy an evening of cocktails, appetizers and a boat cruise on Lake Michigan.

Elizabeth, a new member, was excited to mingle and meet some new people after recently moving to Chicago from Philadelphia. As attendees boarded the yacht, a friend introduced Elizabeth to Shane. The attraction and chemistry was instant.

Chicago weather altered the plan for the evening and forced the yacht to remain docked at Monroe Harbor. Shane, Elizabeth and two other friends decided to leave the event to grab sushi at the trendy, Sunda. When it came time to leave, Shane resisted the offer to leave with his friends, and instead stayed infatuated in deep conversation with Elizabeth.

Shane swept Elizabeth off her feet, and they have been in love ever since. The two will marry in Philly next year, but first they wanted to document their love where it all began, Chicago.

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Three months after they met, Shane was offered a promotion in D.C. Elizabeth and Shane knew they wanted this relationship, so they dated long distance for nearly 14 months until Shane was relocated back to the city and the girl he loves so much.

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I was completely smitten with Shane andElizabeth’s  outfit choices. They were perfect for the fall colors in Lincoln Park …. and Elizabeth’s vintage belt …. well I complimented her on it about a million times (and I wish it would end up in my closet!).

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The November afternoon was grey, and we were worried rain would fall, but the weather gods provided us with a warm afternoon.

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Elizabeth and Shane were complete naturals in front of the camera. I mean …. seriously … they are gorgeous.

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What I like about Shane is his quiet confidence. He has a presence that is strong but kind.

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How cute are these two? I mean …. I couldn’t get enough of their love.

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Elizabeth is a natural beauty. She radiates happiness and exudes a sweet and fun personality.

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Sweet moments like these make me fall in love with my job over and over again.

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Just before the light disappeared, we headed to North Ave beach. The sky was dark and moody, but it made for some really cool photos as the Chicago city lights turned on.

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We had all of North Ave beach to ourselves.

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It seems fitting to end on this photo as it sums up Elizabeth and Shane’s love for each other and the Windy City.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // loie + domenic

She more of a homebody preferring to stay in and relax while he is more into the social scene enjoying nights on the town with friends. Domenic developed a crush on Loie while they both attended medical school at Northwestern. It seemed that every time he was about to introduce himself, Loie was heading out the door.

So when Domenic spotted her across the room at Bull and Bear one night, he knew it was time to make a move. He invited her to stay … just a little bit longer. While Loie was ready to snuggle up with her cat and call it a night, she agreed to one more drink. They spent hours together that night which turned into days together over the following weeks, and soon months … and now they are planning to spend forever together as husband in wife.

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I met Loie and Domenic at Lincoln Park for their engagement photos.

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The colors around Lincoln Park are absolutely gorgeous in the fall, and I couldn’t have been more excited to spend some time in the company of Loie and Domenic.

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My best friend, Christine of Christine Janda Design and Events is planning Loie and Domenic’s Chicago wedding, and I couldn’t be more excited to see all the pretty she is designing.

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A special thank you to Morgan from Morgan Marie Beauty for making Loie look extra gorgeous for her engagement photos.

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Domenic is one of the most laid-back guys and he lets Loie be the center of attention with her bubbly, cheerful personality.

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The cloudy skies (and a few minutes of rain drops) cleared giving us beautiful golden hour sun for our session.

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This ring … is beyond beautiful … don’t you think?

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The couple brought along their stethoscopes to the shoot which I thought was such a fun little prop for these doctors.

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A couples of favorites …

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And we couldn’t end our session without some Chicago skyline photos. Chicago will always be dear to Loie and Domenic as it is the city where their love started.

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And I’ll end with this photo, a simple but beautiful look at their love for each other and Chicago.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : OLIVE PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // laura + jon

It was Saturday night, and Jon was hanging out with his friends at a local bar. Over beers, a few of his friends started talking about Match.com mentioning that they had recently joined the dating website. Jon was intrigued. He was tired of trying to meet someone at a bar, so he thought he would give it a try.

Laura saw Jon’s profile, thought he was cute, and sent him a message. Neither really remember what the message said, but it led to a phone call which led to grabbing drinks at Kirkwood in Lincoln Park.

It was their first date, and Laura and Jon talked about everything  … including those topics you shouldn’t : religion, politics, past relationships, etc. Their chemistry was instant. One date turned into another … and another … and soon the two knew they had found their match.

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I met Jon, Laura and Nala (their adorable pup) at Olive Park for some golden hour engagement photos.

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Laura and Jon are the cutest puppy parents. Nala is the center of their world, and it made me so happy to be in the company of them.

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Laura is Stephanie’s sister (you may remember Stephanie and Billy’s Chicago engagement from this summer), and I couldn’t be more excited to document both of their weddings next year.

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We practically had all of Olive Park to ourselves for our engagement photos.

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We had an unseasonably warm October day for their engagement session.  It was nearly 70 degrees, and I was delighted.

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Laura and Jon are planning a fall wedding at Cafe Brauer, and I couldn’t be more excited to be apart of their wedding day.

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A favorite ….

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Olive Park has incredible views of the Chicago skyline. It is one of my favorite locations in Chicago for photos and this photo sums up why.

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Jon is the type of guy who you instantly feel at ease around. He is outgoing, fun, and beyond kind.

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Laura has this energy about her that is contagious. She is bubbly and super sweet.

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And I’ll leave you with this one … one of the last shots from the shoot and one of my favorites.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : NELLCOTE + GOLD COAST ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // concetta + steve

In between junior high science class, basketball games and school dances, Steve and Concetta became friends. At first it was a typical girl / boy junior high friendship, but as the years passed, their friendship deepened.

While Steve’s friends were determining who they would ask to their high school senior homecoming, Steve knew he would go with Concetta. After all, they were best friends, so there was no one else either would want to share the evening with. Dressed up in a suit and gorgeous gown, they realized they had fallen in love with each other in the way that friendships turn into beautiful romances. Slowly and unexpectedly.

They went to college (Steve packed his bags for Iowa, while Concetta stayed close to home at Dominican), graduated and remained close friends as their lives remained twisted in different directions. It was only a matter of time once they were back in the same state, that their relationship picked right back up from their high school romance.

Walking along Lake Michigan years later, with the twinkling of the Chicago skyline in the background, Steve dropped to his knee and asked Concetta to be his wife (and best friend) forever.

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Steve and Concetta adore Chicago, so we started our photo shoot at Nellcote in the West Loop with some yummy cocktails and snacks.

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The outdoor patio at Nellcote is so charming (especially when you have it to yourselves), and we had such a lovely fall day for our engagement photos.

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I went to high school with Concetta and Steve, so it was such a fun afternoon to hang out with them and photograph their love.

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Steve works in real estate, and he looked extra handsome (and powerful) in his suit.

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Concetta and I used to be Nordstrom sales girls together, so I knew that I would love whatever Concetta picked out for her photos. She is such a fashionista (and insanely beautiful!)

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Steve and Concetta both work in the city, and they are so excited to move downtown once they are married next August.

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How stunning is this beauty?!

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Concetta and Steve adore the Gold Coast, so we explored the neighbored together.

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A favorite from our session ….

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These two are so stinkin’ cute. I could have photographed them all day ….

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I am beyond thrilled to be photographing their wedding next August.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // marcia + toussaint

It became part of her routine during medical school. Snag a seat toward the back of class, and watch Toussaint, who sat in the front, doze off during the lecture. She instantly had a crush on him, and while Toussaint knew Marcia was interested in him, he wasn’t quite ready for a girlfriend.

During their third year at the University of Chicago together, a group of friends from class starting playing squash as way to escape the constant pressure to study. Soon Marcia and Toussaint were the game playing together, and it was the friendly competition that the two both started to love. Marcia would tease Toussaint that he should date her, but he still wasn’t quite ready, and he secretly loved that Marcia had to chase him. It wasn’t until Marcia beat Toussaint during a squash game that he saw her differently. Marcia caught his eye, and on the way home from their game, a defeated Toussaint leaned in and kissed Marcia.

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I met Marcia and Toussaint at the University of Chicago for their engagement session at the place where it all began … the squash courts.

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From there, we wandered around campus. It is a photographer’s dream, and I loved walking around with Marcia and Toussaint as they traveled down memory lane together.

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When it came time to apply for their medical rotations after U of Chicago, they decided they weren’t going to accept any program unless they both were accepted into it together. They were both excited to make San Diego their home for two years.

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These two … oh … how I adore them! Our session was full of so much laughter.

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Marcia and Toussaint flew to Chicago from California for some wedding planning, so I was delighted we could sneak in their engagement photos while we were in town.

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Marcia is a childhood friend of two of my former brides, Carly and Sibel, so I was thrilled I could photograph Marcia and Toussaint’s wedding day.

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The University of Chicago’s campus is gorgeous, and Marcia and Toussaint were excellent tour guides.

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We were just about to leave the campus when I noticed this little pond, and Marcia and Toussaint agreed that we couldn’t leave without a few photos here. I am so glad we stopped.

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They have so much love for each other it is contagious.

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I love taking a few minutes during the session to photograph each of my couples individually. Marcia and Toussaint rocked their individual photos. Babes.

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Marcia’s family is from Haiti, and Toussaint’s family is from Jamaica. They wanted to bring in the blending of their two cultures to their engagement session, and these flags were the perfect touch. They even created the cutest hash tag :  #Jamaitian.

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When their noses weren’t in the books, Marcia, Toussaint and their friends would hang out by the lake and sing Lionel Richie songs, so we decided to end our session along the beautiful Lake Michigan.

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I adore how much FUN these two have when they are together. They make you laugh and love life with their positive energy and happiness.

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Saying I am excited for their June wedding is an understatement. I may have a countdown on my desk … ;)

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : INDEPENDENCE GROVE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // sara + david

Between chemistry exams, study groups and rotations, Sara made a lot of really great friends during pharmacy school at Drake University. So the night before she left for a pharmacy rotation in Belize, her friends gathered to celebrate and wish her the best of luck in Central America. ft. Drinks were had. Laughter ensued. And just as the evening was about to end, a kissed was shared with David, a friend from her program. Neither of them knew what the kiss meant at that moment, but they both agreed it would forever change the trajectory of their relationship.

Once Sara was back in Iowa, David asked her out on a date. The two shared a meal, great conversation, and the start of something special. Their relationship began amidst rotations, and their schedules had them in completely different cities, however this didn’t dissuade Sara and David. Instead, a long distance relationship became the norm as they finished up the last of their pharmacy rotations and promised that they would be in the same city soon enough.

As they applied (and competed) for jobs after graduation, they had one goal :  to work in the same city so they could begin this new chapter together. They were delighted when they both received job offers in the same city – and even more thrilled when they were from the same hospital.

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Sara and David made the LONG drive down from Green Bay to meet with me at Independence Grove in Libertyville for their engagement session.

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The weather was just as beautiful as the surroundings.

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It was the first time meeting Sara and David in person, as I had only chatted with Sara on the phone, however I felt like I was hanging out with friends as we wandered around the forest preserve.

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They are planning their May wedding at Oak Hill Farm in  Galena, and I couldn’t be more excited to photograph their wedding day.

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Sara and David work at the same hospital together, so they were excited to both have the day off together.

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Just gorgeous, Sara.

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Candid moments are my favorite.

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Especially when they are as sweet as this.

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The afternoon light was just dreamy …

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I love it when my clients humor me and act super playful for my camera.

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And I’ll leave you with this one … because it was one of the last shots of the session … and one of my favorites. :)

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CHICAGO PROPOSAL : OLIVE PARK PROPOSAL PHOTOS // zac + chesley

As the warm August sun glistened on Lake Michigan, Zac and Chelsey strolled through Olive Park soaking in the beautiful Chicago afternoon. Their anniversary was just a few days away, however they weren’t going to be in the same state to celebrate it together, so Zac and Chelsey decided they would celebrate it twice : once the weekend before and once the weekend after. Zac planned their date for the first weekend of celebrating.

Zac told Chelsey they had reservations at Navy Pier for lunch (he didn’t), and he suggested they walk along the lake and take in the skyline views of Chicago. As they walked and cuddled, Zac poured out his heart to Chelsey and reminded her of how much he loved her. He promised he would love for her forever and dropped to his knee and asked her to be his wife. And in that moment, their lives changed forever.

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Chelsey was so surprised when Zac got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. Her reaction was a perfect combination of excitement, happiness, and so much love.

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Zac asked me to photograph the proposal, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I love being in on secrets … and I felt special that I could document it for them.

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Zac and Chelsey are beyond adorable. Zac planned everything perfectly for this moment. And he had other surprises following the proposal including a surprise engagement party with all their friends and family at the Dawson.

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But first, we had a little mini session to document their love.

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There is nothing more amazing than documenting two people in love!

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT // GRAUE MILL ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // maire + brian

Over a decade ago, Marie and Brian met at their church. Their relationship started as a platonic one. They became friends and celebrated each others success and happiness along the way. As time went on, life took them on separate paths as Marie stayed in Chicago to pursue her graduate degree, and Brian moved to Georgia. 

Yet while the miles separated them physically, their relationship grew closer. Soon it was frequent video chat dates and long phone conversations lasting late into the night. Somewhere along the way of their flourishing friendship, a relationship bloomed. Some of the best relationships develop out of friendships, and Marie knew that her relationship with Brian would be one of them.

Constant schedules of flights between Georgia and Chicago became the norm. They were in two cities, hundreds of miles apart, and yet their love was bursting at the seams. Brian felt that his heart and the woman he adored shouldn’t be so far apart, so he packed up his bags, purchased a one way ticket to Chicago because his happiness is where Marie is.

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Brian and Marie are planning a beautiful fall wedding for this October in Oak Brook.

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I first met Bryan and Marie last November, so I was so excited to hang out with them again.

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We met at Graue Mill in Oak Brook, and the area was soaking in beautiful afternoon light.

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Brian adores Marie in a way that every girl wishes. She lights up his face and he so sweet to her.

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I love it when my couples fall into each other in a fit of laughter ….

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The grounds at the mill are beyond gorgeous and they only highlighted Marie and Brian’s love for each other.

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Brian doesn’t take himself too seriously …. which I think is wonderful. When I asked him to dance for me, he performed a little number, and it made all of us smile.

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No really, they are the cutest … aren’t they?

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And I’ll leave you with this one …. a personal favorite.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : OAK STREET BEACH ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // susan + frank

Susan and a group of friends gathered at the neighborhood bar for an evening of catching up and cocktails. At the same bar was Frank, hanging out with his buddies who happened to share mutual friends with Susan. Soon the two separate groups were mingling, and Susan found herself chatting with a handsome guy, Frank.

As they talked, it came up that she had recently lost the back cover of her cell phone. She mentioned it in casual conversation …. not thinking much of it … as they jumped around from topic to topic. It turned out that Frank actually had an extra back cover to that same phone in his car, and he offered to grab it for her so that she could have a complete phone case. Phone numbers were exchanged and the two quickly starting hanging out. What Susan wouldn’t realize until months later was that Frank had found two missing pieces in her life – the back of her cell phone, but more importantly, him.

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I met Susan and Frank at Oak Street Beach for their engagement photos. We had a beautiful Chicago evening amidst the crashing waves and warm sand.

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Susan and Frank had just returned from the Dominican Republic, so they had the perfect tans for beach engagement photos.

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I first met Susan and Frank last year when I photographed her brother’s, Mike, wedding to my dear friend, Jenny. It is always such a fun experience for me when I get to to work with couples who I have already photographed.

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These two were so sweet … not only to me …. but to each other for the whole engagement session. They radiate with happiness and love for each other, and it is intoxicating.

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They are planning to get married next July, and I am so excited to be there to document their wedding day.

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So much happy…. I love it!

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As the sun started to set, we walked over to Ohio Street Beach to grab some photos with the skyline in the background.

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The photo on the right, might be one of my favorites from our session!

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And I’ll leave you with this one because it is sweet and sexy …. the perfect combination to describe these two.Chicago Engagement Oak Street Beach Engagement Photos_0069Brittany XO Signature 2

CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : CHICAGO BOARD OF TRADE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // megan + neil

It was girl’s night on a summer evening in Chicago, and Megan and her friends met at Rockit for cocktails and gossip. As they sat at their table chatting about the past week, the cute guy at the table next to Megan handed her a shot of tequila. The two toasted to the weekend and felt the warmth of the tequila trickle into their stomachs. Megan waited for Neil to introduce himself, but he turned back to his friends following the shot. She was a little disappointed that he didn’t try to start a conversation with her, but she shrugged it off and went back chatting with her friends.

It wasn’t that Neil didn’t want to talk to Megan, but rather, he didn’t know what to say to her. As the evening continued on, Neil’s friends stepped up for him and tried to be matchmakers. They kept talking to Megan until Megan and Neil were soon talking together on their own.

Days after meeting at Rockit, Megan and Neil were hanging out non-stop – neighborhood fests, happy hours and group outings. It was summer in Chicago and as the long, warm summer days turned into cool, fall evenings, a beautiful relationship developed between these two … one that will last through all the seasons.

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I met Megan and Neil at the Chicago Board of Trade last week to document their love. Neil’s old office was at the Board of Trade, so it was a perfect location for their engagement photos.

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The third time was a charm for their engagement session. The June weather was so unpredictable, that we scheduled their engagement session three times before the rain held out for us.

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I had so much fun wandering around the Chicago loop with Megan and Neil. I instantly felt like we were old friends.

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We spent a lot of time talking about ITALY! Megan and Neil are getting married in October in Rome surrounded by their close friends and family. They have never been, so I was happy to fill them in on all my favorites (and try to persuade them to pack me in a suitcase).

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Chicago will always be a special place to them because it is where they first met and where they bought their first home together.

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Individually Megan and Neil are amazing people, but together they are fun, loving and beyond sweet. I felt so lucky to share and document this their exciting time in their lives.

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We ended our engagement session at the Chicago Theater. Neil said that it is was the most important spot of all the locations because it is so iconic of Chicago. We joked that it is Chicago because it says Chicago. Either way, it was the lovely way to end a fun photo shoot.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // stephanie + billy

Throughout the fraternity house sorority girls dressed in green t-shirts sipped on cups of green beer and drank Irish whiskey. It was Unofficial at the University of Illinois, and Billy was visiting his high school friends for a weekend of pre-St. Patrick’s Day celebrating. He noticed a pretty, blonde among the girls but he didn’t make a move. Billy had his chance to talk to Stephanie in that moment, but he didn’t take it. The universe would bring him back to her over the years. Fate has a funny way like that.

It turned out that Stephanie and Billy had mutual friends in common, and they were hanging out at the same places often. It wasn’t until a few years later at a friend’s birthday party, that Billy and Steph really got to talking. Late night phones and weekends visits scheduled months became the norm as they started their long distance relationship during their last year off college.

Following graduation, Stephanie moved out-of-state and the distance became harder so the two parted ways to grow on their own. Life wasn’t quite right during their time apart, and it seemed that the universe agreed. Billy and Steph reconnected once Steph moved to Chicago. There were lots of phone calls and some pretty flowers …. and finally the two were back where they belonged … together.

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I met Stephanie, Billy and Zoe at Oz Park in Chicago on a beautiful June afternoon for their engagement photos.

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Zoe was so excited to be at the park but she made sure to ham it up for a the camera for a few individual photos. I have puppy fever, so I was thrilled to have Zoe there for a portion of their engagement session.

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We took a short walk over to the Lincoln Park Zoo for some engagement photos of just the two of them.

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The best thing about Stephanie and Billy’s love is their ability to enjoy life as it unfolds. Stephanie and Billy are fun-loving and adorable.

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Stephanie and I were both in the same sorority at the University of Illinois, and I was delighted when she emailed me with such wonderful news (her engagement!). I love being able to reconnect with old friends – especially during such a special time in their lives.

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Our engagement session was the first time I met Billy, and I loved getting to know him. He toughed out the humidity and heat during our session like a complete trooper and let Steph and I take him all over Chicago for photos.

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Stephanie and Billy are getting married at a winery in Michigan next year, and I am so excited to document their first day as husband and wife.

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I’ll leave with this photo because Chicago is such a special place to Stephanie and Billy.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : KINZIE STREET BRIDGE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // robin + dewayne

It all began with something as simple as a wink. Robin was single and looking to meet someone special, so she joined Match.com. When she came across Dewayne’s profile, she stopped. He seemed like a cool guy, so she sent him a wink, and then carried on with her day. Dewayne soon messaged her, “hey, what’s up”. During the weeks following Robin’s initial wink, the two were messaging each other and soon were texting each other non-stop. It seemed that something special was evolving.

When it was time for Robin and Dewayne to finally meet in person, they grabbed a drink at a local, Irish bar in Chicago. They had been chatting long enough that while it was technically their first date, they felt like they already knew each other. Robin strolled in rocking yoga pants completely relaxed and ready to hang out with Dewayne, and Dewayne was smitten with how laid-back, sporty and chill Robin was. They chatted about life, sports and their families, and they ended their date knowing that they would be seeing each other again soon. The more time they spent together, the more they realized they had found someone special. So weeks later, Robin and Dewayne took down their Match.com profiles and made their relationship exclusive.

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I met Robin and Dewayne at the Kinzie Street Bridge for their engagement photos. Robin was a bridesmaid in Eileen and Mike’s wedding, so I was delighted to see her again and to spend some time getting to know Dewayne.

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The Chicago weather was …. dare I say perfect …. for an engagement session. It was warm but not hot. Sunny but not too bright. I was thrilled.

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Robin and Dewayne were complete naturals in front of the camera. I just love how these two can go from fun to sweet to serious in a matter of minutes.

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We practically had the whole area around Kinzie Street Bridge to ourselves for their engagement session including one of my favorite spots ….

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I am so excited to photograph Robin and Dewayne’s Chicago wedding this October at the Chicago Yacht Club.

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I’ll leave you with one of my favorites because there is nothing that makes me smile more than a passionate kiss on a Chicago bridge.

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MONTROSE HARBOR ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // joann + danny

They were acquaintances through their jobs, but they were mostly friends of friends until they bumped into each other at the Jason Aldean concert. Danny joked with Joann that he wasn’t surprised she was at the concert (she is a huge country music fan, after all), but he was excited to see her there. As the sunset and the music grew louder, Danny and Joann drank beer and sang along to some of their favorite country songs.

Shortly there after, Joann was assigned to work on a project in Michigan that Danny happened to be working on. They realized that they had a lot in common as they worked together, and once they were back in Illinois they grabbed a drink. Joann said it wasn’t exactly an “official” first date, but that night was the start of their friendship evolving into a relationship. As they played Jenga at the bar and sipped on their drinks, Danny entered his way into Joann’s heart and never left.

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We spent the golden afternoon hour at Montrose Harbor and it was full of joking around and lots of laughter.

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Joann and I went to high school together, so it was so much fun and such an honor to be able to document this milestone in her life and to get to know Danny.

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The May sunshine glistened off the Lake Michigan water making the afternoon appear warmer than it actually was. We practically had the whole lakefront to ourselves.

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Danny’s family stores their boat at Montrose Harbor, the location that he proposed to Joann, so it only seemed perfect to document their engagement at the harbor and along the lake.

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There is nothing that makes me happier as a photographer than when my clients have FUN during their engagement sessions and this photo shows why.

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LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // brooke + zac

He took her out for Indian food. Brooke wasn’t sure she liked Indian food, but she thought that her first date with Zac would be the perfect time to try something outside of her comfort zone. After all, this date was all about new experiences.

Brooke and Zac knew each other from growing up in Champaign together, but it wasn’t until they reconnected in Chicago years later that they started to get to know each other. Zac had just moved to the Windy City after the Marine Corps, and he was hanging out with the same group of friends as Brooke. One night, they starting talking … and not just small talk but about real things. About what they wanted out of life. Where they wanted to go. How they saw their futures. And they realized that they had a lot in common. So, Zac asked Brooke out on a date to see if their friendship could evolve into something more.

When their first date ended, Brooke realized that by saying yes to Zac, she found two new things she really liked : Indian food and an amazing guy named Zac.

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I met Brooke and Zac at Lincoln Park for their spring engagement photos. Lincoln Park was full of pretty blooms and gorgeous golden hour sunlight and it felt so great to have these two in front of my camera for it all.

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Because Brooke and Zac’s relationship began in Chicago, they wanted their engagement photos to reflect their love for each other and the city. Lincoln Park was the perfect location for their engagement photos.

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I had so much fun spending the afternoon with Brooke and Zac and learning more about the things they love to do in Chicago like checking out all the amazing restaurants the city has to offer.

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I just adore romantic moments like these!

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The session was full of lots of laughter, sweet kisses and love. What else could a photographer ask for?!

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I am so excited to photograph Brooke and Zac’s Chicago wedding at the Blackstone Hotel in November!

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WEDDING + ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY BUCKET LIST

I’m a firm believer that if you want something, you have to send it out into the universe. Ask for it. Believe in it. And visualize it. Do I sound like the Secret? That book may be my jam …. :)

So I’m sending out this list. Putting in on the internet. Sharing it with you. I’m asking for these things, and I hope that I’ll be blessed enough to receive them.

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I want to photograph :

>> An engagement session in the rain (minus the umbrellas)

>> An elopement … preferably in the mountains … but an open field, river or beach would also make me giddy with excitement

>> A destination wedding somewhere exotic (Thailand, Bali, South Africa … yes, yes, yes)

>> A bouquet with protea (my new favorite bloom)

>> A boho wedding. Bare-feet encouraged

>> An engagement session in the desert with cacti, please!

>> A boudoir shoot with lace, fringe and lots of blooms

>> A table covered in drift wood

>> A bride with a floral crown

>> A Chicago wedding at Salvage One or Ignite Glass Studios

>> A reception complete with tee-pees and a camp fire

Are you planning a wedding with any of the above? If so, let’s be friends … please! Any couples whose style or wedding match something on this list will be getting a very special bonus gift from me in their collection. Contact me at brittany@brittanybekas.com with the details of what you are planning to learn more.

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5 REASONS YOU SHOULD TAKE ENGAGEMENT PICTURES

When I meet with couples, they often ask “Should we have engagement photos taken?” My answer is always a YES! I think engagement sessions are a must. Here are 5 reasons why I think every couple should have engagement photos taken prior to their wedding.

5 Rasons You Should Take Engagement Pictures

1. GET COMFORTABLE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA : Unless you are a model, celebrity or musician, you likely haven’t been in front of a professional camera since your high school senior photos. It can be totally nerve-racking, hello HUGE camera and equally HUGE camera lens. I was extremely nervous (despite being around cameras all the time) when my friend photographed my business headshots for me but 15 minutes into the session, I relaxed … and it was FUN! An engagement sessions allows both you and your love time to get used to the camera. You get to practice posing, cuddling and kissing – all while still ensuring you have “skinny” arms. ;) Come the wedding day, you are complete naturals and completely confident.

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2. DOCUMENT THIS SPECIAL TIME IN YOUR LIVES : You are in love with your best friend. You are planning a wedding and your future together. It is beyond exciting and such a huge experience in your lives, but one that will go by so fast in between the decisions of cake flavors and bridesmaids dresses. I believe big moments should be preserved and being engaged is one of those experiences. You may want to use the photos of you two to decorate your future home or use them for save-the-dates. Either way, setting aside a couple hours amidst the stress of planning to be together and document your love is so special and important.

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3. BECOME FRIENDS WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER : Engagement sessions give you a chance to get to know your photographer even better. You may have already met with him or her before booking, but your engagement session is another time to learn more about your photographer – as a persoan. I love that I have time with my couples alone before the wedding. It gives me a chance to learn how they met, what they are most excited about for their wedding, what they love to do in their free time, and their favorite restaurants / movies / vacations, etc. And as we create beautiful photos, they learn about me – what things I adore, my favorite travel destinations and how I love grilled cheese. I like to think (and hope!) we become friends, so come the wedding day, I’m walking in as someone you know and love.

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4. LEARN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER’S STYLE :  You fell in love with your photographer’s work online, but how does he/she create those images. During your engagement session, you learn what your photographer expects of you during your photo session. My couples learn all my crazy names for certain poses (hello, I-missed-you-so-much-slow-motion-kiss-in-the-pouring-rain kiss), why I ask them to walk a certain way, and how I expect them to react when I give them unique directions. Some of my requests can sound a little strange at first but come the wedding day, my clients 100% trust me because they have already experienced working with me.

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5. FALL IN LOVE WITH EACH OTHER AGAIN : My number one goal of every engagement session is for my clients to have fun and walk away a little more in love. Sure, I want to create some beautiful photos too, but I want the experience to be romantic and memorable. Engagement sessions are a great way to step away from your wedding to-do list (and all the stress that comes with that) and remind each other how much you adore each other. Between the hugging, kissing and whispering of sweet nothings in each other’s ears, I hope you will leave your session completely smitten and even more excited to spend your lives together.

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If you were unsure about scheduling an engagement session, I hope this post inspires you to book a session with your wedding photographer. I adore photographing engagement sessions for all of the above reasons and more! I love them so much, I include a complimentary session in all my wedding collections, so all of my clients get to experience it.

To view even more of my engagement photos of my fabulous couples – Go Here!

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NAPERVILLE RIVERWALK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // megan + ryan

Megan, a bubbly, numbers gal, was reviewing expense reports for the company she worked for when she came across one that wasn’t quite correct. She noticed a lot of mini bar expenses on an out-of-town business trip that she couldn’t approval, so she reached out to owner of the expense report, Ryan. Ryan, whom she had met when she first started working at the company, but who she didn’t know very well, was an attractive, charismatic sales representative. Megan explained it was against company policy to expense these items and that he would have to pay for them himself. The expense report though, had brought the two into each other’s lives. They soon starting hanging out with a few mutual friends from the office and five years later, Ryan proposed to Megan in Florida.

I spent a warm(ish) February afternoon wandering around the Naperville Riverwalk with Megan, Ryan and their adorable little dog, Lexi for engagement photos. While it was unseasonably warm for winter, don’t be fooled. This is Chicago … and we were quiet cold but we kept chatting about the warm weather Megan and Ryan had just left behind in Florida to keep our minds tricked.

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Lexi joined us for the beginning of their engagement session, and she was SO excited to be out in the snow.

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We pretty much had the whole Naperville Riverwalk to ourselves which was amazing.

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I love that Megan and Ryan could go from a super sweet, intimate moment to a fit of laughter. I love, love, love when my clients relax and enjoy the experience, and Megan and Ryan definitely loosened up and had fun in front of the camera.

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We practically had the whole Naperville Riverwalk to ourselves which was simply wonderful.

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CHICAGO BOARD OF TRADE + LASALLE STREET BRIDGE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // ashley + thomas

Ashley is a Chicago girl. She is outgoing, fun and up for anything, so when she moved to the city after college, she said yes to lots of happy hours, dinners at new restaurants and brunches around Chicago with her coworkers. She already had a great group of friends, but as she spent more time with her coworkers-turned-friends, she met more great friends, one of whom was Thomas. Thomas is kind, thoughtful and genuine, and he is the type of person who puts you at ease when you are around him.

For a few years, Ashley and Thomas were simply friends. However, when Thomas was relocated to Colorado for work, him and Ashley kept in touch … a lot. Months went by, and Thomas needed a date for a family wedding, so he called someone he knew he would have a blast with: Ashley.

It was their first “date”. A family wedding. But Ashley fit right in to Thomas’ family and into his life. Soon they were coordinating weekend schedules, flying back and forth between Colorado and Chicago, and growing a relationship hundreds of miles apart. It was long distance love for a few years until they decided to move to Indiana so they could finally be back in the same city again … together.

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I spent an unseasonably warm February afternoon around Chicago with Ashley and Thomas, and we had such a wonderful time wandering the city.

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Because Ashley and Thomas met in Chicago, they wanted their engagement photos to reflect their love of the city and the beautiful architecture so we opted for some of my favorite Chicago locations – the Chicago Board of Trade, Lasalle Bridge and the Loop …. right by the Chicago theater sign.

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Despite it being in the upper 30’s, it was still winter. Ashley and Thomas were complete troopers about the cold and took full advantage of cuddling up together for extra warmth … creating beautiful moments for my camera.

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Thomas felt like an old friend instantly despite just meeting him. He is beyond sweet and radiates with happiness. He is the type you of person you instantly like.

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I met Ashley over a decade ago when we were in our high school yearbook class. I was the staff photographer and she would tell me what I needed to go and shoot. It was so fun to have her in front of my camera for her engagement photos so many years later.

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We spent the last few minutes of sunlight walking to State street, and it made for some really iconic Chicago backdrops that I just adore.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : GRAUE MILL ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // bianca + joe

Their high school lockers were practically next one another throughout high school. Bianca knew of Joe, and Joe knew of Bianca, but it was limited to the cliques of high school. They didn’t really know each other.

It wasn’t until Bianca saw Joe’s name pop up on Facebook, years later, that the two started to get to know each other. After Joe accepted her friend request, Bianca sent him a message seeing how he was doing. Small talk ensured, but not long after, the two went out for an official date. The conversation flowed and there was an instant connection. They knew they had found someone special.

I spent a perfect fall afternoon with Joe and Bianca, and it was such a joy to have these two in front of my camera. Joe and I are practically family as our parents have been friends since before either of us were born, so it was extremely special to photograph him and Bianca at Graue Mill for their engagement photos.

Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0001Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0002The fall colors were simply perfect for our session which made me so happy. Bianca and Joe really wanted fall photos, so I was thrilled the leaves were so colorful.Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0016Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0011Graue Mill has a lot of different places to take photos at so Joe and Bianca had variety in their photos.Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0009Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0005Love this!

Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0017Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0003Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0007Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0008Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0010Bianca suggested we take some photos on the stairs, and I couldn’t be happier that we did.Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0004 Chicago Engagement Graue Mill Engagement Photos_0015Joe found the perfect little nook so that we could get down by the water.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : INDEPENDENCE GROVE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

New Year’s Eve, the last hurrah of the holidays, is a time to rock glitzy outfits, reflect on the past and ponder resolutions. Nina planned to spend the evening with her girlfriends at a nearby New Year’s Eve hotel party. The night was full dancing, celebrating, and meeting new people as Nina and her girlfriends soaked in all the fun. She wasn’t planning on meeting her last boyfriend that evening, but as fate would have it, Chris was at the same party among a group of mutual friends.

As the clock ticked down to midnight …. ten … nine … eight … seven …. Nina walked right up to Chris and gave him a New Year’s kiss. Chris was surprised and thrilled. However, Nina wasn’t sure she was ready for a boyfriend like the folklore of a New Year’s Eve kiss suggests, so she dashed away moments later and left Chris to track down a way to see her again.

Chris managed to find her phone number from a friend and the two started dating. Two years later, Chris asked Nina to spend forever at his side on New Year’s Eve just moments before midnight at the same hotel party where their relationship started.

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I met Nina and Chris at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville for their engagement photos. It was the perfect fall afternoon.

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We wandered into the woodsy trails tucked away from everyone to start the session, and I just loved the location.

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The main goal of my engagement session was for Nina and Chris to have FUN — even if that means we have to be a little silly …. like throwing leaves.

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Nina and Chris were complete naturals during their engagement session … cuddling up and falling even more in love.

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A total favorite below …

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The leaves were just starting to change colors throughout the forest preserve.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : OLIVE PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // kristin + nick

He first noticed her sitting in class at Indiana University as his professor spoke about India.  The professor was preparing the students for their upcoming summer trip to India, and Nick couldn’t be more excited to explore a country he had never visited. Weeks later with his passport in hand, he headed to the airport to embark on a life changing trip.

The class trickled into the designated airport meeting area as Kristin flipped through her book. As she looked around the room seeing both familiar and unfamiliar faces from Indiana, she spotted Nick. She knew he must have been in her class last semester since he was on the trip (and carrying the same book), but she had never really noticed him. After a 15+ hour flight, both Nick and Kristin landed in India with their classmates, ready to explore and experience the vibrant culture of India. It was during their trip that Nick and Kristin became friends as they shared in once-in-a-lifetime experiences in India.

When the trip ended, they hoped they would run into each other on campus in the fall. However, when they returned back to campus, fate intervened and they the found themselves as neighbors. Soon they were cooking up dinners together, doing homework and hanging out. Their friendship became a vibrant, colorful relationship.

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I met Kristin and Nick at Olive Park for their Chicago engagement photos. The weather was cool, but these two stayed warm cuddling up together as the Windy City proved its name.

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We practically had all of Olive Park to ourselves for the session so Kristin and Nick could be in their own little LOVE bubble.

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These two are sooo sweet.

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There was no shortage of laughter during our session which made me smile so much! I love it when my couples genuinely have FUN during their engagement session.

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I’ll leave you with this last one because it feels like a movie poster. The moment right before something magical happens. :)

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : LAKE KATHERINE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // nicole + bryan

When Nicole first met Bryan, it was a simple exchange of hellos. Her friend Melissa, who also happened to be Bryan’s sister-in-law invited Nicole to a small gathering, and she introduced Nicole to Bryan. But the timing wasn’t right. And timing can be everything.

Fast forward two years, Nicole was out on the town at Bourbon Street when she noticed a very cute guy … who happened to be Bryan. She walked over and starting chatting with him. He instantly put her at ease and kept her laughing. And she was intrigued. So when Bryan asked her out on a date the following week, she was excited to get to know him more. This time, the timing was right.

Just as Nicole was about to walk out the door for their two year anniversary dinner, Bryan grabbed her hand in his, looked into her gorgeous blue eyes and told her that while she looked absolutely beautiful, she was missing something. He dropped down to one knee and told her she needed a ring.

I met Nicole and Bryan at Lake Katherine in Palos Heights on a gorgeous September evening for their engagement photos. The weather was simply perfect and the location was beautiful!

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Nicole and Bryan wanted to include the newest addition to their little family …RANGER! I was all for it. He even had a matching bow. I mean, how cute?!

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Lake Katherine is full of gorgeous backdrops for engagement photos … especially at the beginning of fall when the leaves were just starting to change colors.

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Just as the sun was setting behind the lake, we wandered over to the rose gardens to soak up the last few minutes of beautiful afternoon light.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : ALDER PLANETARIUM ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // stacy + matt

As Stacy got ready for a work awards event at the Adler Planetarium, she beamed with excitement. One of the programs she started since becoming a professor at Loyola was presenting awards to students for their excellence and achievement, and Stacy was thrilled to be apart of it. As she mingled about the room, she talked to a plethora of colleagues and attendants until Matt caught her attention. She was making small talk with a group of people when Matt decided to make a joke to break the ice.

“God must really love Saturn because he put a ring on it.” Silence overtook the group … except for Stacy who giggled at Matt’s joke. Matt introduced himself, and him and Stacy chatted for a little throughout the evening. As the event came to a close, a group headed over to a nearby bar for a few more drinks. People came and went as the evening lingered on and soon it was just Matt and Stacy left. They knew they had found something special.

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I met Stacy and Matt on a beautiful September afternoon at the Alder Planetarium – the place where it all began.  Matt joked that it is the place where life changed … as it did. He found the love of his life.

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The area around the Alder Planetarium was still lush and green. It was the perfect compliment to the Chicago skyline photos that we ended the engagement session with.

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I just adored Stacy’s little white dress …. the ruffles …. the back … it was all so PERFECT.

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WHAT to WEAR // casual chic engagement session

I’m a little bit in denial that summer is coming to a close which is why I think I fell in love with this gorgeous pale coral dress for this WHAT to WEAR engagement session post. Pair this beautiful dress with some pale aqua jewelry, gold accessories, and a fun and flirty floppy hat for a look that screams casual chic. Dress your man in a white tee, dark pants, sneakers and have a grey suit jacket. Now you two are ready for some photos along the beach and / or the trendy restaurant across the street.

What to Wear Summer Spring Engagement Session Photo Shoot

Want to buy something featured in this look WHAT to WEAR for your engagement session? If so, click here to find out where you can order it or just use the color palette as inspiration to come up with your own look for your photo shoot. Need more wardrobe ideas for your engagement session? Be sure to follow my inspiration boards on pinterest.

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CHICAGO FALL MINI SESSIONS // october 12

Pre-season football is starting … back-to-school shopping sales are everywhere … and I am digging out my boots which only means one thing … fall is right around the corner. I love summer like a high school girl adores her first love, but fall … well it is my happily ever after. I could, and would, photograph only in the fall. So in honor of my love for cozy knit sweaters, hot apple cider and chili, I will be hosting fall mini sessions. This is the perfect way to get in a short mini photo shoot to update the photos in your house or get a family photo for your holiday cards.

Chicago Fall Mini Sessions Seniors Babies Families Engagement Lifestyle Libertyville - Independence Grove Forest Preserve

Fall mini sessions will be Sunday, October 12 at the Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville. I adore photographing at this location, and I know it will be the perfect spot for these fall sessions because of all the amazing trees in this spot! I am starting with 5 afternoon sessions (3:00, 3:30, 4:00, 4:30, 5:00)

Each mini session is only $195 and is 25 minutes long and includes 25 digital, high resolution images printable up to an 8 x 12.

A deposit of 50% is due within 7 days of booking in order to reserve your spot. These sessions will fill up fast, so book early. E-mail me at brittany@brittanybekas.com for scheduling.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : ROMEOVILLE HOCKEY ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // tracy + jim

She was all dressed up … rocking her high heels and a sassy little skirt … out to celebrate her best friend’s birthday with friends. Tracy instantly caught Jim’s eye, who was out with the same group of friends. Neither Tracy or Jim knew who the other was at first. But as they got to talking, their friend mentioned that both Tracy and Jim play hockey. As their conversation continued, they realized that they both played in the same men’s hockey league and they were actually on the same team …. they even played on the same line but they didn’t recognize each other without their gear on.

A few night later, they went on their first date and a wonderful relationship grew. I spent an afternoon on the ice with these two praying that I would not move too fast trying to capture the perfect photograph and fall flat on my face. Let me tell you, photographing on ice is not as easy as I thought. However, it was so worth the fear and anxiety  to create these photos for Tracy and Jim.

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When I first met with Tracy and Jim and she told me the story of how they met and how she wanted their engagement photos to be at a hockey rink, I was giddy with excitement. I just LOVE it when my couples pick locations that represent them and their relationship. And this … well … it was a no-brainer for them.

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Tracy and Jim wanted their new puppy, Monster, to join them for some photos after our time on the ice. This little walkway was right behind the hockey rink and made for a great background for a few outdoor photos during their session.

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Aren’t they just the cutest little family? Yes, I know ….

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Hello my gorgeous girl…..

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And I’ll end with this one … probably one of my favorites from our session.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : OLIVE PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // carly + jay

I first met Carly and Jay in April when I photographed Sibel and Brian’s wedding. They were both in the wedding party, so when Carly emailed me a few months ago asking if I was available to photograph her upcoming wedding, I was immediately excited. I love being able to photograph couples I already worked with (especially when I know they are as fabulous as Carly and Jay) because they already know me and how I work.

Carly and Jay met me at Olive Park on a perfect July evening just as the sun was setting behind the Chicago skyline. I got to know them both better during our session learning how they have been together since high school and how their relationship flourished despite doing the long distance thing while Carly was at Western University. It is clear that they have found their match in each other when you are around them just by the way they look at each other. I had such a wonderful time with them during their engagement session, and I just know that their November wedding is going to be even better!

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One of the perks of having your engagement session photographed during the week is that the locations are not crowded like they are during the weekends. We practically had the whole Olive Park to ourselves, and Carly and Jay were total naturals in front of my camera.

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Olive Park has gorgeous Chicago skyline views which is why Carly and Jay picked it for their engagement session.

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A favorite from the engagement session … right here.

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Real, genuine laughter makes my heart smile.

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Another favorite …. I just loved that we could also use Navy Pier as a backdrop for the engagement session.

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I mean ….. seriously, Carly?!? Just stunning ….

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And I’ll leave you with this one …. because it is just too sweet.

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // abby + geoff

As the rain poured down on a Friday evening in April, Geoff and Abby were separately in route to a mutual friend’s dinner party in Chicago. The party was a celebration honoring a friend from out-of-town and resulted in a diverse group of friends gathering at a local restaurant famous for it’s Mai Tai’s. Abby immediately caught Geoff’s eye when she arrived, and he was determined to get to know this beautiful woman better over the course of the evening. Abby and Geoff spent some time talking during dinner, but as the evening came to an end, Geoff knew that this one evening wasn’t enough time with Abby. He had to see her again …. on his own.

They started dating and just as the long Memorial Day weekend approached, Geoff knew he was ready to take their relationship to the next level. So he packed his bags and showed up at Abby’s Lakeview apartment for the long weekend … ready to kick off what would be an amazing summer together. It was during this weekend that Geoff and Abby realized they had found their perfect match.

Abby and I used to work together when I worked in advertising, so I was so excited to spend an evening catching up and getting to know Geoff as I documented their love around Lincoln Park.

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I mean …. seriously, Abby?! Just stunning ……

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Abby and Geoff are getting married next summer in Abby’s hometown in Wisconsin, so they had their hearts set on photos with the Chicago skyline. I must admit that the Lincoln Park area is one of my favorite views of the Chicago skyline, and it makes for an excellent location because there is SO much variety around the park and zoo.

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 Just as I arrived to the engagement session, raindrops were coming down …. but luckily they stopped just long enough for our session .. although we had to be extra careful on the wet pathways….

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I’m pretty much obsessed with Abby’s ring … rose gold … yes, please!

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And I’ll leave you with this one because it sums up how cute, sweet and fun these two are!

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CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT : LINCOLN PARK ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // kim + nate

Kim was studying in London. Nate was in Dubin. They had both left the States for a semester of exploration and culture …. new friends and new experiences. It would be a semester of college they would never forget as their passport pages filled up with foreign stamps. Nate’s college roommate was studying abroad with Kim in London, so when their spring break rolled around, Kim and Nate found themselves with a group of new friends traveling around Greece together. A romance didn’t spark instantly between Kim and Nate though. In fact, Kim laughed as she told me one of her first memories of Nate is of her yelling at him through the wall for being too loud the first night they were in Greece. It was late and everyone had to be up for a 3  a.m. flight, and Kim was longing for a night’s rest. However, this did not stop Kim and Nate from developing a great friendship during their trip.

As they immersed themselves in the cultures of England and Ireland, their friendship changed and shifted into a relationship. Between another trip and a few visits to Ireland, Kim and Nate found themselves happy together …. as a couple. And once they were back in the States, they continued to date long distance as Nate finished up his degree at Cornell and Kim completed her’s at Boston. Not long after, the two moved to Chicago. I was lucky enough to spend a beautiful July evening with these two around Chicago … laughing … dancing and getting to know them better.

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I love it when my couples can relax and just have fun in the front of my camera. Kim and Nate were such a blast during their engagement session … they even humored me for a dance off in the middle of Lincoln Park.

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Because Chicago is the first city that Kim and Nate lived in together, it is very special to them, so it was really important that we capture the essence of Chicago and our beautiful skyline in their engagement photos.

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This might be one of my favorites from our shoot…..

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We wandered over to North Avenue Beach to finish up our Chicago engagement session, and I couldn’t have been happier. I loved that we had the twinkling lights of the city in the background.

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INDEPENDENCE GROVE ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // danielle + nick

It all began in junior high. The time of first kisses, hand holding and dates to the local movie theater (which their parents would drop them off at). Danielle and Nick met and started dating so long ago, that they just laugh when asked about how they met. To them, it as if they have always been together, so it only seemed right that they would promise the rest of their lives to one another.

I spent an evening with them exploring the beautiful grounds of Independence Grove in Libertyville. It is one of my favorite locations to shoot at, and I was beyond excited to finally photograph an engagement session there — especially when Danielle told me that her and Nick wanted to rent a kayak during their session. Yippe, I knew it was going to be amazing … and it was. The crazy Chicago rain stopped just an hour before our session and stayed dry so that all of this could unfold in front of my camera.

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KINZIE STREET BRIDGE CHICAGO ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS // mindi + adam

It all began at Purdue. Mindi and Adam were out with a group of mutual friends enjoying an evening out. They may have chatted with each other, but nothing more than the casual mingling that happened within the group that night. But in the time out, Adam developed a little crush on Mindi. The next day, he asked Mindi’s roommate (whom he knew well enough to ask as his best friend was dating her) for Mindi’s phone number. Rather than simply call Mindi and ask her on a date, he took a different, more mysterious approach. He started texting her. And continued to text her for one week. Without ever saying who it was. Yes, he was the phantom texter. His own little secret admirer to Mindi, who wasn’t worried or phased by the fact that she was texting with someone for days without even asking or knowing who it was.

That weekend, friends gathered at the local bar for cocktails and a night of fun. Adam made his way over to Mindi to reveal he was the phantom texter. But again, he chose a different approach than the boring, “hey, so we have been texting” route most guys would have gone. Instead, he marched right over to Mindi and said, “Kiss me.” She resisted at first. But when he asked again, she gave in and gave him her last first kiss.

Five years later, Adam slipped a beautiful ring on her finger as she slept, so that when she awoke, she could say yes to a lifetime of waking up next to Adam. I am beyond excited to photograph these two all over again in a few months in St. Joe’s, Michigan!

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We started the engagement session at Kinzie Street Bridge. This is one of my favorite urban engagement locations in Chicago because there is SO much variety in such a short distance.

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Mindi is so bubby and is gorgeous inside and out ….

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I had so much fun spending the afternoon getting to know these two better. We had a blast and there was a ton of laughter (which I always LOVE).

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Adam looked dapper as ever. I love it when my future grooms get dressed up for their photos. And he was a total natural in front of the camera (per the below …)

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LISLE-WOODRIDGE FIRE STATION + DANADA HOUSE ENGAGEMENT // hillary + jim

Hm, I am not even where to start with telling you about these two because I am afraid that my words will not really describe how wonderful Hillary and Jim are. I first met Hillary and Jim two years ago at Kristin and Jordan’s Mexico wedding. I didn’t get to spend a ton of time getting to know them in Mexico, but Hillary made a lasting impression on me when I think about Kristin’s bridesmaids because after the wedding she sent me the sweetest note that just made my heart melt into a puddle of appreciation. Seriously, it might be one of the BEST notes … one of those notes I look at when I am having a bad day or when I don’t feel great about my work, business, etc , I pull it out and smile.

So when Hillary emailed me early this year asking me if I would be available to photograph her and Jim’s wedding in Punta Cana … well, I knew I would do anything to be there. Hillary could have told me they were getting married in the middle-of-no-where, the moon or Antarctica (I’m not a huge fan of cold, people), and I would have made it happen because, well, Hillary and Jim are pretty much a dream couple. Not only are they gorgeous, but they are also fun, sweet and kind. They are good people … the type of couple you want to be great friends with.

Jim and Hillary met through mutual friends out one night. Jim, a fireman and Hillary, a nurse …. instantly hit it off. And I can tell you first hand that they have one of the cutest relationships. Hillary was a little nervous for their engagement photos, thinking they would be awkward, but they were total naturals and were super adorable for the camera. I’m sure Jim got hassled the next day at the fire station for all the “cute” things he did  …. but my heart is so full of happiness as I glance through their session and tell their story.

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We started the session at Jim’s fire station in Lisle-Woodridge. I was giddy with excitement because it was my first time photographing at a fire station, and well, it just was exciting! The trucks, the hoses …. I felt like a VIP.

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I mean hello, hottness. Aren’t they just perfect? Yes, I know.

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Hillary rode horses for years growing up, so we headed to the grounds of Danada House in Wheaton to add in some rustic elements to their engagement session. And I must say, it was pretty gorgeous.

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We may have snuck into the barn for these photos. Yes, I am a rule breaker when I have a camera in my hand. But it was so worth it to get this shot, right?

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And I will leave you guys with one … so sweet and fun.

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