jessica + andy | champaign/urbana wedding.

While I admire all of my couples in some way, the reasons for this admiration vary with each of them – they all come from different backgrounds, with different individual stories and their own unique kind of chemistry and balance between one another. The thing (there are many more, but let me begin here) I admire most about Andy and Jessica is their deep sense of not only knowing one another, but also of embracing each and every little element that makes up the other person – the positive traits as well as the not-so-positive, the creativity and the intelligence and the flaws and the insecurities.

I spent much of their wedding weekend with the two of them – on the day before their wedding day, the three of us got together that morning and I photographed them in their traditional Korean attire, and then later that evening, I photographed their rehearsal dinner. While spending an entire wedding day with couples normally allows me an insider’s view of their relationships, adding the day before to that equation elevates this more than I realized it would. That Friday morning, I saw them take deep, excited breaths as they stepped away from the to-do lists together, and watched as they helped each other adjust their clothing and fan one another in the 90 degree heat. I snapped as they giddily discussed what they imagined the weekend would hold, and later that night, did so again as the energy and stress and excitement was slightly heightened. I photographed the moments of toasts and songs and happy tears, but also the moments of planning and discussing locations and next-day time frames and how to get the rings from point a to point b. It was a running comment amongst the toasts from her friends that Jessica is “a planner” – and one of the things I had the chance to see that weekend was how well she and Andy problem solve as a team when things don’t go according to plan. I fully realize “problem solving” isn’t a sexy-sounding trait to describe a couple, but the real life shit isn’t all that sexy, either.

When Jessica and Andy stood up to give toasts at their wedding reception, I felt a lump in my throat and my eyes beginning to well up with tears as they spoke to their loved ones first, and then directly to one another. Of the 100+ weddings I’ve shot, not many couples do this type of toast at their reception – where they speak to one another openly and honestly, and look each other in the eye with a microphone in hand, and tell each other exactly what it is that they love about one another. It was both in what they said as well as the way they said it that got me – like two people who each know their own mind, and soul, and desires, and weaknesses, and goals, who have found a person who knows and embraces these exact things about them just as much. I think I was crying in this moment because these toasts felt oddly personal for me; part of why I admire this quality in Andy and Jessica’s relationship so much is because it’s what I aspire to for myself. I ain’t about that sexy, romantic love – but gimme the real-life kind like Andy and Jessica have, and I’m all in.

Reception Venue: iHotel
DJ: Dustin Hoke & Joe Brown
Dress Shop: Michelle’s Bridal
Bridesmaids’ Bracelets: For You By Me
Handmade Signs: Letters from Lindsey
Bespoke Suits: Indochino
Desserts: Cream & Flutter
Flowers: Flora
Food: University Catering
Chairs, Uplighting/Monogram Light: Elite Entertainment

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