emily + billy | st. andrews golf & country club | west chicago, il.

As I photographed Emily getting ready with her bridesmaids and flower girls the morning of her wedding, it began to quietly mist outside and continued to do so for some time. While some couples panic in this moment, Emily and Billy did quite the opposite – they happily went on with their day, enjoying the time with their people instead of worrying. Most wedding days get more difficult when there’s rain involved, but not this one – umbrellas went up and the smiles and excitement continued regardless.

Emily and Billy were married by Emily’s uncle, so their wedding ceremony was both meaningful and personal. Once the two of them were together, the day felt like it really had started – I love how goofy these two are and how much fun they have together, and as soon as we finished family photos and the rain had let up, they hopped on the party bus with their crew and started celebrating. Music was playing and bottles were being passed, and every so often I’m on a party bus that makes me kinda wish I was in on the action rather than photographing, and this was one of those party buses.

We stopped at the nearby elementary school so Emily could reminisce (and toast) with her friends/bridesmaids she had met there years ago, and later Billy’s song came on as he stood up, grinning, and sang along, and Emily’s song came on later as her girls cheered her on and she started to rap. Hanging out with these two is just so easy, in a way that I think speaks to not only their laid back natures, but also how much they simply enjoy each other’s company.

It’s no secret that I love the toasts on a wedding day — they give you a glimpse of who these two people are as seen through the eyes of the people who know and love them best, and often times these speeches elaborate on the little moments I’ve watched them in the midst of all day. Billy’s friend as well as his cousin both shared their lifelong memories of him, and spoke to who he is as a teacher and a coach and a friend, and I thought about how I’d seen this in the way he hugged his loved ones that day, and in how much his nieces and nephews wanted to play with and be around him. Emily’s sister spoke through tears about what it was like to spend her childhood looking up to Emily, and her best friend talked about growing up alongside her, and the way Emily’s family became her family, and how fun and funny and dependable Emily was as a friend, and I saw these things in each moment I watched her look at her younger siblings that day, and as she helped her bridesmaids into their dresses. And I found myself thinking about this is one of the many incredible things about a wedding day — it’s all the people coming together who love you in different ways, knowing different parts of who you once were and who you’ve become, and celebrating not only that, but this person you’ve chosen to spend your life with, and they swap stories during cocktail hour and sit at their dinner tables and explain to one another what role it is you’ve had in their lives. These days are a celebration of not only love, but existence and relationships and kinship and connection, and what a seriously beautiful thing that is.

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Chicago, IL


Weddings + Engagements + Life

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