emily + clayton | winter wedding | springfield, il.

I began Emily and Clayton’s wedding day with the guys at Downtown Golf in Springfield. The morning was easy and chill – they casually sipped coffee and bloody marys while taking turns on the golf simulator, and it felt a bit like a bunch of friends just hanging out rather than a “wedding activity” (and in what should come as a surprise to no one, this is my favorite way for the start of a wedding day to feel). After hanging with them briefly, I joined the ladies at the salon for hair and makeup, and Emily greeted me with a big hug and was rested and calm and excited for everything ahead. She chatted with her friends and her mom as they all were wrapping up their finishing touches, and then made their way to the church together where she’d be marrying Clay shortly.

The day often feels like it truly “begins” when the couple sees each other for the first time, as was the case when Clay and Emily saw each other in the aisle of their church. After a beautiful ceremony and some photos with their family members, they hopped on a party bus with their friends to ride around Springfield for a bit. We first swung by the park where we went for their engagement session, and they brought their white claws with them as they cheersed and then pulled each other in close amidst the snowy grounds. We then made our way downtown, and their wedding party members grabbed their drinks and their shawls and made their way outside with them this time into the chilly January air. They all laughed and huddled in close and embraced the shivers with smiles regardless, and then as the wedding party went to a nearby brewery, Emily and Clay walked briefly amongst the downtown string lights together before joining their friends.

They were greeted with hugs and beers from their crew, and the wedding party found themselves taking over the upper level of Buzz Bomb Brewing Co. This was a part of the day that again, felt easy – it felt like Emily and Clay amongst their crew, at their best, cracking jokes and snapping selfies and doing what friends do, even on big days like this one. This energy continued as they climbed back onto their bus – the music was turned up a little louder, the dance moves more exaggerated, the laughter filling the aisle. They all were just having some freaking fun, and observing that always feels like a gift.

Wedding guests joyously watched Emily and Clay for the next few hours – there’s something so special about getting to outwardly root for and celebrate two people in love, and you could sense the shared adoration everyone had for these two. I think there’s something particular that makes them so easy to adore – they’re laid back and care deeply about their closest and best, and their love itself isn’t showy or loud or obviously on display. Instead, you catch it in the quieter moments – in the way eyes filled with tears prior to their ceremony, and the way Clay wraps his arms around Emily, and the way she really looks at him and even as a bystander, you can tell you’re in the midst of something important. Emily and Clay’s little, discreet moments are actually the big ones, and when we all watched closely enough, smiles on our faces, we were fortunate to see that quietly on display.

Church: Westminster Presbyterian Church
Reception Venue: Artisans Building at Illinois State Fairgrounds
Planner: Taking the Leap, Keli Schoonover [decor, florals, linens]
Videographer: Ransom Wedding Films
Band: Captain Geech & the Shrimp Shack Shooters
DJ: Superior Sound Entertainment
Makeup: Makeup by Stephanie Lee | Studio 6 Salon
Catering: Nelson’s Catering
Desserts: I Do Wedding Cakes & Cupcakes
Dress + Tuxes: Michelle’s Bridal
Transportation: Livin it Up
Chairs: Signature Event Rental

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Chicago, IL


Weddings + Engagements + Life

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