Wedding tips, ideas & stories, from The Photographer

Weddings

Congratulations Meghan & Ryan, August 10th, 2013

Vintage Dress, Pie, and Rock & Roll

From the vintage wedding dress, to the wedding cake being a wedding pie, the wedding day of Meghan & Ryan was a little askew from the norm, but in a way that rocked.

The bridesmaids skipped the main stays of getting ready at a parents house, or hotel room and hit up AirBnB for a late 1800’s apartment in Wicker Park. The location was a perfect fit. Short of a cell phone in a photo, with Meghan’s hair & dress, you might be able to convince someone the image was made in the 1940’s. Ryan busted out a good looking three piece suit and we did some first look photos in Union Park on the near west side which had a nice view of the city skyline.

The ceremony and reception took place at Kitchen Chicago, where the couple skipped having a wedding cake and instead asked guests to bake and bring a pie. Making it the first wedding pie I have ever seen. The officiant for their ceremony was the owner of the Hyde Park restaurant Z&H, where they first met each other and also how I met them. From the location of Kitchen Chicago, with its gritty factory surroundings, to mixed the gender bridal party, and the overall vibe of the day, I have to say this wedding rocked.

Thank you for being up for some of my “less than traditional” wedding photos. I had a blast.

getting ready with pearls

vintage 1940's wedding dress

Vintage 1940’s style wedding dress

The flower boy.

first kiss

Kitchen Chicago.

Union Park Chicago


To see more photos from this wedding, check out the photo galleries on Facebook & Google+

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 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


Congratulations; Morgan & Ryan, June 21st, 2013

Into Everyone’s Life A Little Rain Must Fall. So Have A Plan B

First Dance by Vincent Johnson

“First Dance” – This photo has become one of my all-time first dance images.

Over the years, the couples I have photographed on their wedding day have been somewhat fortunate when it comes to rain. As in I can think of only two weddings in nine years that have had to move inside for the ceremony. While the rain did let up during the ceremony for Morgan & Ryan, it wasn’t soon enough for the flowers and other decorations to be setup, so things got moved inside at Eaglewood Resort in Itasca, Illinois.

Like all couples should, Morgan & Ryan had a plan B. Of course they weren’t happy with the weather, non-the-less they shrugged it off and got on with what was a beautiful & fun event. They even took advantage of the chairs that had been setup already outside, to do a quick couple of portraits, of how the view that might have been.

Morgan & Ryan, might have had a little more practice at things not going according to their original plans too. During our pre-wedding meeting, I ended up driving the couple to pick up an extra set of keys when they became locked out of their house (add chauffeur to my title). Not to mention a mutual friend of ours asked me to step in as their photographer just a few weeks before, as job requirements would have limited his time photographing the wedding.

Like all weddings I shoot, I enjoyed my time with the couple and look forward to keeping in touch with them as they start their new life together. So once again, congratulations Morgan & Ryan.

Dad giving away the bride.

 

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Congratulations; Bonnie & Michael, June 7th, 2013

A Little Mid-Summer Nightmare to a Dream

 

Bonnie & Michael were in a bit of a pinch after unexpectedly loosing the photographer they had hired for their wedding, but through a mutual friend they were introduced to me just a few days out from their ceremony.

Some might say that they “lucked out” finding me, but after shooting this intimate wedding at The Grove in Glenview, Illinois, in beautiful evening spring sunlight. I finished the day with a collection of amazing images that I’m sure a few of which will make it into my portfolio soon. So I count myself as pretty lucky too.

Bonnie, had on a elegant vintage style dress that was accented with an intricate head band. The look blended in so well with the forest setting of The Grove I almost can’t picture a different style looking as good at this location. The wedding was small by most accounts with fewer than 100 guests and was decorated by friends and family.

Like so many weddings I photograph, the couple and their guests were very easy going and I was able to fit right in to capture some great candids. So much so that Michael told me he had several guests asking him if we were lifelong friends (see a link to Michael’s review below).

 

Read Bonnie & Michael’s review of my photography services here.

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 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


Congratulations: Meghan & Bill, May 31st, 2013

A Wet Dam Wedding

Every culture seems to have some folk-lore about rain on your wedding day, I believe the Irish say it’s good luck. I think it’s all just a nice way to express sympathy for a couple who’s outdoor wedding plans didn’t happen.

I’ve always been a strong believer in the idea that your luck is what you make it. Positioning yourself in the right spot sometimes makes all the difference, or in the case of Meghan & Bill’s wedding, having a backup plan instead of just hoping for good weather worked out as the sun lit the backdrop over the river dam in Geneva for their ceremony that was moved indoors at Riverside Receptions.

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groomsmen drinking before wedding

flower girl & bridesmaid

wedding dress over the river Geneva Illinois

straps on a wedding dress geneva Illinois fox river

finishing touches on the bride Fox Valley Illinois

Riverside Receptions Geneva Illinois Fox River

Riverside Receptions Geneva Illinois Fox River

flower girl dress pedals

bride groom vows

wedding sand ceremony

wedding photography Geneva "I do"

Meghan & Bill say I do

flower pedals on the floor at our wedding

Wedding with a view of the Fox river

The maid of honor speech

awesome wedding reception introductions

wedding cake cutting photos

groom eating cake Chicago suburbs

the toast at a wedding

an amazing wedding dress

the head table, bride & groom Geneva Illinois

Riverside Reception first dance bride & groom

getting her grove on beautiful bride

best wedding reception ever

Grooms and their socks

bride & bridesmaids sage green dresses

amazing looking groomsmen in tuxes

wedding photography discounts fox valley geneva Illinois Chicago

 

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Congratulations! Anna & Josh, May 11th, 2013

Perfect Wedding Downtown at Buckingham Fountain

Anna & Josh, had a small Jewish ceremony just south of Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, right in the heart of downtown Chicago. The weather had been wet most of the day, but opened up for some beautiful weather right when the ceremony was to get under way. With mother nature playing nicely it was a short walk back to the Essex Hotel where they had their reception.

Don’t forget to like or follow me Facebook / Twitter /Google +

 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com

 

Don’t forget to like or follow me Facebook / Twitter /Google +

 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


Congratulations; Katie & Shawn, April 27th, 2013

Felt Like A Royal Wedding

I have to say, I’m pretty confident with my skills as a photographer, but I still get a little butterflies, especially before a wedding. Because I know how important every image I create will be. I like to think this helps me push myself and stay on top of my game.

Of course I’ve photographed events before where even an 89 year old grandma with an iPhone could bust out a dozen good photos and this was very much the case for Katie & Shawn’s wedding. As the day started I just couldn’t help but fall backwards into amazing photo ops.

At one point during the ceremony I literally felt like I needed to do a double take after looking at a couple of shots I took. It was like a royal wedding; Katie in an spectacular dress, the gold plated wall behind the alter at the Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano and the Shawn in his Air Force dress uniform. And I hadn’t even seen the finishing touches put on the reception area yet.

I was briefly afraid as images were almost coming to easy and I knew there were probably hundreds of other professionals who would have bent over backwards to photograph this wedding, which was one more reason I was really touched that Katie had asked me if I would shoot her wedding before she really even had the wedding date set.

 

Don’t forget to like or follow me Facebook / Twitter /Google +

 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com

 

Don’t forget to like or follow me Facebook / Twitter /Google +

 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


Congratulations: Jackie & Jason, March 24th, 2012

First Wedding of 2012; No Wild Horses

As far as March weddings go in Chicago, you can’t complain about 68 degrees and overcast, unless of course the last 12 days had been sunny and 80 degrees, but as most couples will tell you, the day goes by so fast with so much emotion, it would take a natural disaster to make you anything south of happy.

Part of my process of getting to know a couple, I often ask how they met, how did you propose and so on. Jackie & Jason have to have one of the more interesting stories I’ve heard and I’m sure the set backs would have had them prepared if there was another “Snowpocalypse” this year on their wedding day. To keep this brief, Jason had basically planned to pop the question at a picnic they were having while horse riding. As the couple made the trek from the Chicago burbs to downstate Illinois, Jason’s truck had a mechanical problem which essentially forced him to drive no faster than 45 miles an hour. This trip can take up to 3 to 4 hour trip at normal speeds. Finally on their picnic, it’s almost go time for Jason, and one of the horses comes undone and runs away.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, Jason didn’t take this as an ominous sign and went through with his proposal.

The ceremony took place at  Ascension of our Lord in Oakbrook Terrace. We made a stop at a local park for some informal portraits and then made our way to the Carriage Green Country Club in Darien, ironically the site of the reception for the last wedding I photographed.

Not that I’ve ever had to say different, but it was a pleasure shooting their wedding. Jason is an all around stand-up guy and Jackie, is a breath of fresh air with a contagious smile.

Congratulations once again.

Getting ready to tie the knot.

I always take care of my grooms too. You want a photo riding your Harley on your wedding day? Done. Not sure about letting one of the groomsmen drive my truck, but oh well. Got the shot.

Bridesmaids relaxing before the reception.

A littler fakery on the toss.

 

See more photos on my pages on Facebook and Google Plus

 www.VincentDavidJohnson.com


Congratulation: Stacy & Anthony 9-10-11

Family Wedding

Besides the fact it was nice to actually be sitting at a table with family instead of complete strangers at the reception. In all the years I have been a photographer, the one thing I have never done was photograph a family member’s wedding. I’m the oldest of 13 grandkids  from my mother’s side of the family alone and Stacy is only the third one of us to tie the knot. With 10 more to go, I’m sure this won’t be the last wedding.

I’m delighted Stacy found such a standup guy in Anthony and it was great to be involved in her wedding in some capacity, since I was the ring bearer in her father’s wedding (my uncle).

Gettig ready.

Waiting for the limo bus to come.

On the way to the church. Weather is looking good.

Hnagin' with the groomsmen before the wedding.

The map for the bussel looked liked a map for disarming a bomb, but Stacy's bridesmaids came through.

Molly gave a great toast for her big sister.

First dance.



I’m looking forward to getting to know my new cousin better and hope they find just half as much joy in the photos I made as they do in each other.
You can view more photos from Stacy & Anthony’s Wedding on Vincent David Johnson’s Facebook page.

For a complete gallery of images  & to purchase photos from this wedding, visit my web gallery

(Please contact the couple if the gallery is password protected)

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Congratulation: Tara & Irvine, Aug. 28th, 2011

Royal Wedding with Princesses

dresses

Tara & Irvine got married at what I think is one of the most spectacular churches in the Chicago area; Rockefeller Chapel, on the campus on the University of Chicago. If you’re not familiar with it, that might be because it’s located in the Hyde Park neighborhood on the city’s south side, at a school many get confused with UIC.

The view from the choir loft at Rockefeller Chapel.

I was extremely excited to photograph this wedding for two reasons, first, while I’ve photographed couples in and around the chapel, I’ve never actually shot a wedding there. Second, Tara, runs the home daycare that my son attends and her and her family are wonderful. Their two little girls adorable and the three of them together were like princesses  with Irvine in a church that reminds me of a recent royal wedding.

Tara & Irvine's first dance.

I had to throw this one in because it makes me smile.

The groom and his princesses.

I couldn’t have been more happy when Tara & Irvine asked me to photograph their wedding. They’re a great couple and someone my wife and are glad to say we know.
For a complete gallery & to purchase photos from this wedding visit my storefront

(Please contact the couple if the gallery is password protected)

www.VincentDavidJohnson.com
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Congratulations: Kate & Alex July 23rd, 2011

Smart museum chicago wedding

Surrounded by ArtSmart museum chicago weddingKate & Alex, tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony at the Smart Museum of Art, on the University of Chicago’s campus in the Hyde Park neighborhood. It’s a location I’m very familiar with, since I am an artist and the museum is only 5 blocks from my home, I’m there quite often (my son on a recent trip there, you may recognize the painting from the ring photo top left).

The couple and their guests were truly in luck, as gloomy morning skies gave way to clear blue and sunny. While the reception and ceremony were held outside, the museum was open to all guests and the ketubah signing & cocktail hour were held inside the museum, allowing for a unique backdrop for any event.

bride getting ready

smart museum art wedding chicago hyde park

I love the similarities between this painting and Kate & Alex.

ring bearer drops the rings

I've seen very few weddings that don't have just a little bit of drama or an interesting side story. This photo below is part of a search for the wedding bands after they come undone from the ring bear's pillow. As a former two time ring bearer myself, my heart went out to the little guy as family & the bridal party searched for them. And yes they were found.

smart museum art wedding chicago hyde park

One of the few places in the museum which is sans art, is the handicap access ramp from the lobby to the museum floor. I took this photo as the couple made their way to a small table for appetizers and some alone time just after their ceremony.

speeches and toasts

Toasts and speeches can be one of the least exciting parts of a wedding reception, but I have to give it up to the groom, for really giving a great thank speech to his family and guests. It was warm and heartfelt and given flawlessly without a single note, or cue card read.

The wedding ended at midnight, but not before some lightning showed up.

Wedding guests dance in the open air garden at the Smart Museum under a lightning storm.

For a complete gallery & to purchase photos from this wedding visit my storefront
(Please contact the couple if the gallery is password protected)
www.VincentDavidJohnson.com
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Photojournalism at Your Wedding

Photojournalism at a weddingWith an open door policy, the First United Methodist Church is a resting place for some of the city’s homeless.

I’ve heard stories of wedding photographers who’ve had car accidents, fires, or other news worthy type events take place at them, but luckily for the couples & myself, most if not all of the weddings I’ve photographed have gone off without a hitch.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t moments where I see things that tell other stories outside, or intersecting with the narrative of the wedding, what those of us in journalism might call a feature story. So I just thought I’d share this really quick post about two of those moments that happened at the wedding of Laura & Chris.

The First United Methodist Church, is right in the middle of downtown Chicago. It’s a beautiful wood lined church with stained glass windows on the first floor of what looks like an office building, and like some churches they have a policy of welcoming anyone to come in and stay for awhile. This often means homeless or transient people will find a safe place on hot and cold days. They are asked to leave before the ceremony starts, but I was early and was able to take this image before the bride & groom even arrived.

First United Methodist Church ChicagoThe First United Methodist Church is a frequent stop along the way for many downtown walking tours.

Also, because of the beauty of the building and it’s two chapels (there is a sky chapel as well), it is a frequent stop on some downtown walking tours. This group happen to be touring the second floor art gallery, where the bride and groom were waiting till the ceremony began on the first floor.

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Congratulations Meredith & Joe; June 26th, 2011

Wedding Lehman Mansion

A Midsummer Night’s Wedding

Wedding Lehman Mansion

Meredith and Joe, were married at the Millburn Church in Lake Villa and celebrated afterwords at the Lehman Mansion. Both beautiful locations that played along nicely with the theme of a Midsummer’s Night.

Accessories for the bridal and flower girl.

bride getting readyGetting ready.

bride & fatherMilburn Church Lake VillaWalking down the aisle with dad. The view from the balcony. Meredith & Joe walking down the aisle as husband and wife.

Meredith’s dress was beautiful with hundreds of flower pedal like fabric attached, her dress seemed to float when ever she moved about.

The introduction of Meredith & Joe.

Dancing under the stars and spot lights outdoors at the Lehman Mansion.

To see more images from this wedding visit my Facebook page.

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Congratulations Laura & Chris; June 18th, 2011

Poetic Wedding

Wedding Chicago, First United Methodist Church, Laura & Chris

If there was one thing I couldn’t stop thinking throughout the wedding day of Laura & Chris, was that I needed to know more poets.The couple met via a love for poetry and their wedding day showed a similar theme of love for the spoken word.

Their wedding day played out much like a well rehearsed poem, from the magnificent stained glass and wood of the First United Methodist Church in the heart of downtown Chicago, to the private room at Jak’s Tap in the near west side. Even forecasted thunderstorms avoided them the entire day.

First United Methodist ChurchA view from the balcony at the First United Methodist Church.

wedding rings dress church ChicagoA view of the Church from Daley Plaza (l to r), Laura’s wedding dress, the wedding bands.

laura & Chris wedding first dance chicago, illinois

poetic wedding first dance chicago, illinoisLaura & Chris shared their first dance to live guitar played by a friend.

Click Here to view more photos on my Facebook page.

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Congratulations Emily & Matt; Oct. 23rd, 2010

Milwaukee wedding photography

Milwaukee wedding photography It had been two years since I had shot a wedding in Milwaukee, and it was nice to be back. Ironically the last wedding I photographed was the sister of the bride, and just like I had two years ago, my day started off in the town of Wauwatosa, a cute little burb of Milwaukee, nestled along the banks of the Menomonee River. What wasn’t so cute was that after having one of the most perfect Octobers ever weather wise, the forecast for the day was for serious rain.

Luckily for the both of them the weather man was wrong and the most of the rain came before the end of the ceremony. Emily & Matt had picked out a bunch of great locations outdoors for some bridal party photos, so the weather cleared at just the right time and we were even lucky enough to get some great late afternoon sun.

The reception at the Milwaukee Yacht Club had some fantastic views of the city as well as Lake Michigan and capped off a very classy wedding.

For more photos from this wedding please visit my Facebook page. (Don’t forget to click like).

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Suzi & Dave; Aug. 28th, 2010

Wheaton Cantigny wedding photography

Wheaton Cantigny wedding photographyBeing a city person, I hardly get out to the suburbs unless it’s on assignment, or for a wedding. However, there is one place myself & most wedding photographers who work around the Wheaton area know all to well and that is Cantigny.  I know that almost sounds like I’m rolling my eyes when I say it, but there’s a reason why this place is so popular with brides & Photographers. It’s beautiful and you’d have to photograph 2 dozen weddings there before you’d run out of new places to take pictures at and that’s not including different seasons.

While I’ve shot bridal parties inside the park before, Suzi & Dave, were my first couple who were actually having their ceremony at the park half of Cantigny. Complete with our own golf cart & driver we made our way around the park and got some great photos.

The peacefulness of the park really lent itself nicely as a back drop beyond posed photos once the ceremony started.

Cantigy Wheaton Illinois wedding photography

See more photos from this wedding on my Facebook page. (Don’t forget to like me)

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Gwen & Jeff, July 4th, 2010

Wrigley Field wedding photography Chicago

Wrigley Field wedding photography Chicago

I’m a big believer in serendipity when it comes to my photos. Not saying I don’t plan things out, but if you’ve ever sat down with me while I talked about my philosophy & style, “serendipity” will no doubt have come up at some point. Gwen & Jeff, might have referred to some things that happened on their wedding day as good luck; Chicago’s July 3rd fireworks show being moved to the 4th, getting extra space at their reception venue, or bumping into Ronnie Woo-Woo while posing for pictures in front of Wrigley Field.

We went to Wrigley to get a photo, since this was the place Gwen & Jeff first met (please correct me if I’m wrong), and just happened to bump into Ronnie Woo-Woo and he was kind enough to jump into a photo with them.

Chicago wedding photography Cubs Wrigley field

While I love serendipity, I’ll also say that luck is all about how you position yourself. Gwen & Jeff picked the 4th of July and the Signature Room at the John Hancock building, because they knew at least Navy Pier would be doing fireworks.Congratulations again, you planned a beautiful wedding day.

wedding John Hancock building Chicago photography

See more photos on my Facebook page.

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Adrianna & James, June 19th, 2010

Wedding Walter Payton's Round House

Wedding Walter Payton's Round House

I photograph a dozen or more weddings each year and 99% of the time I feel that I’ve formed a very good relationship with the couples I’m working with and while I’ve never had any disasters, forming a bond with the wedding party & close family doesn’t always happen as easily. With Adrianna & Jame’s wedding that was not the case.

Tagging along side of the bridemaids & groomsmen was a blast. I even have to make special mention of the bride’s sister Marika, who was a blast to be around. Just look at some of the photos from the reception which was held at the Walter Payton Round House in Aurora, and I think you’ll see how lively this group was.

Walter Payton round house wedding reception

On another note, I’ve had a few weddings where the groom, or bride had served, or was serving in the military, but Adrianna & James, was actually the first wedding I’ve ever shot where the groom was dressed in uniform. While a uniform isn’t an option for every groom, it a great reminder that you don’t need to stick with just the same old tux or suit. My personal favorite, mostly because it’s what I wore, is a white dinner jacket instead of a black tux jacket. This works great for summer & spring weddings.

wedding photography Wheaton Warrenville

See more photos from Adrianna & James’ wedding on my Facebook page (don’t forget to click like)

vincentdavidjohnson.com



Congratulations Jinnel & Randy

Wedding at Mayslake Peabody Estate

Wedding at Mayslake Peabody Estate

I often get calls from couples who are looking for a photographer who isn’t a traditional wedding photographer and one of the main reasons for this search is because the couple feels  that they’re style, or ceremony is going to be different from the norm.

I mostly just nod in agreement and smile as couples explain exactly how different things will be from any “normal” weddings I’ve photographed and the reason I do this is, as a photographer in a major urban area I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many diverse and unique weddings, and even then, everything that can be done, has been done, unless you’re going for some Guinness World record.

Wedding photography mayslake peabody estate

The reason I bring this all up is not because Jinnel & Randy told me their wedding was going to be “so different”, but the fact that while they may have done a few things outside of the norm, it was the overall style & vibe of their wedding that truly made it feel different and unique. The Peabody Estate, had a charm & warmth, that made it feel more like you were at the summer home of a wealthy family, and the band who was hired to play swing & jazz standards was a perfect touch. Which just added to the vintage charm of Jinnel & Randy’s wedding attire, as well as most of their guests, who for lack of a better term, played dress up to go along with a swing theme.

If I can say one thing to couples looking to break out of the wedding mold, work on doing something that really speaks to who you are and not just something that nobody else is doing.

See more photos on from this wedding on my Facebook page.

vincentdavidjohnson.com


Congratulations Delia & Eric, April 23rd, 2010

Chicago wedding photography

Chicago wedding photography

I shot Delia & Eric’s wedding on what was looking to be a very gloomy April day. Luckily for them the rain only came down while they were inside of one of Chicago’s most famous churches, Holy Name Cathedral.

While the sky didn’t open up and bath us in sun, they were fortunate enough to see the rain stop and streak of light come though in the late afternoon, giving us this beautiful shot (above) as we walked around Millenium Park downtown.

For more images from their wedding you can visit my Facebook page.

VincentDavidJohnson.com


Amy & Mark April 16th, 2010

Congratulations Amy & Mark

I shot Amy & Mark’s wedding back in April. It was my first wedding of the year and the weather turned out to be better than what we just had this weekend in June.

While some couples are locationally or time challenged to find an outdoor location for posed & group photos, Amy & Mark did a little pre-planning and found a great spot at a local farmstead with a river & a big red barn.

Given the fact that we were in the South Wilmington/Gardner are in central Illinois, far from where I live, leaving an outdoor location up to me might not have work out as good as this. Which goes to show you, a little bit of leg work can help make your images even better, regardless of who your photographer is.

Congratulations again to Amy & Mark.
To see some more of my favorite photos from their wedding visit my Facebook page