One of the quieter parts of this job is that every so often, someone entrusts you with a secret – and when Chad sent me a text one day that read, “what would it take to secure you as a wedding photographer on December 31st, 2017?” months before he had proposed to Brandy, I was downright giddy to be in on this one. Chad was planning to propose to Brandy on Hog Days weekend, which was, quite simply, the perfect time and place to do so because of her love for the Kewanee holiday itself. They were surrounded by so many of their loved ones in the moment when Chad went down on one knee, and anyone can see that Brandy and Chad are at their best when surrounded by not only each other, but also their favorite people in the world.
I first met both Chad and Brandy many years ago, and the funny thing is (and the thing I imagine most people come to realize about their own relationships with Brandy and Chad) is that I don’t ever remember a time when either of them was a stranger to me. I don’t remember what it was like to not know either of them, because they are both the kind of people who immediately bring you in for a big hug, and pull you onto the dance floor, and ask how you are doing and truly mean it. They’d invite you to their Jorts party one year, and their Olympics themed party the next, and even though the rooms and backyards are always filled with their many friends, they have this way of still making you feel seen and loved.
Their wedding day was as perfectly Chad-and-Brandy as I could have imagined. Chad asked Brandy if she could pick a song to be playing during their first look, so George Straight’s “I Cross My Heart” played from one of her bridesmaid’s phones as she walked out the door onto the deck of their venue to see Chad for the first time that day. There were tears and embraces and more tears, and then the most perfect thing happened – they took each other’s hand, and they just started swaying, then dancing to the song, and it was twelve degrees outside but in that moment, they didn’t even notice. I honestly think I was holding my breath as I photographed this and fought back tears – sometimes you witness these moments that feel so delicate and sincere that you don’t want them to ever end, so you hold your breath and not only let them bask in it, but remember how lucky you are to have a front row seat for these kinds of things in the first place.
Despite being the coldest wedding day I’ve ever photographed, these two didn’t miss a beat – everyone threw on gloves and boots and braved the chilly air for photos outside, and they laughed and snuggled despite their rosy cheeks and numb fingers. Princess Leia, their pup, showed up later on for pictures, and both Chad and Brandy lit up when they first saw her. She stuck around for not only outdoor photos but also the ceremony and cocktail hour, and honestly, it truly felt like I was capturing a family of three as I watched them with her. Brandy and Chad went on to throw their biggest party yet, and they did what they do very best – they had a freaking blast, and they pulled their loved ones out on the dance floor and told them how much they loved them.
Venue: Peoria Civic Center
Bride’s Dress: Eva’s Bridal of Oak Lawn
Day of Coordinator: Lana Romanelli of Marien Mae Bridal
Tuxes: MM Bridal
Bridesmaid Dresses: The Crystal Bride
Dueling Pianos: Felix and Fingers
Caricature Artist: About Faces Entertainment
Flowers & Cake: Pollen & Pastry
Videographer: Double Shot Artistry