Riley & Jim's Wedding | Highland Loft | Elgin, IL

I genuinely love all of my couples, and do you know why? They didn't choose me. I chose THEM. I reserve the right after any consultation (and subsequently any engagement session where I get to know them) to turn couples away. They want me as much as I want them. If it's not a good fit, then it's simply not a fit. I can respect any client's decision that we are not vibing, and that goes for me feeling the same. So when I accept a couple as my clients, they go in knowing I truly want to work with them.

I photographed Riley & Jim's engagement in February of 2022. It was cold, and when I say it was cold, I mean IT. WAS. COLD. We were hovering around 5°F in the early morning, even with the sun shining, but Riley and Jim made the best of it too, and we zoomed through about 20 minutes before we finally all agreed we couldn't feel toes, fingers, noses, and my gear actually froze. I walked away from that session so disappointed that I tried to give my all and give them the best experience, but we were all just so cold that we ended it early. They were great sports about it, and I knew from that moment, they would be a great fit with my team.

Fast forward to December 2022, and their wedding day was no different. It was cold, and we had snow flurries. Jim arrived in his best SF 49'ers zip-up onesie (yes, I'm serious) and I knew that being the last wedding of the year, this was going to be a blast. His guys trickled in and I went about photographing cufflinks, shoes, venue areas, and the boys hanging out. The ceremony was completely decked out like a Christmas winter wonderland. It was beautiful. The girls slowly made their way up from the downstairs apartment, and I went to work photographing her dress and other details.

We started with first looks with Jim and his mom. Next came Riley & Jim's first look, and he was awestruck. I have never heard a groom gush about how beautiful his bride was in my entire career like he did. We ended first looks with Riley and her dad, and I'm pretty sure my entire team (photo and video) were shedding a few tears too. We headed outside for a few quick formals of the couple before the ceremony, but it was.... yep... COLD. Poor Riley was shivering from the second we hit the door to go out, so booked it to get them back inside. Before the ceremony, I gave Riley time to put on final touches and while her mom and MOH were busy fussing over her veil and makeup/hair, I was quietly waiting and looked over at Jim and he had stars in his eyes. "Wow. Just wow. She is so beautiful. I can't believe she chose me. I can't believe she's all mine. I just.... I just can't believe it." It's not typically what you hear your other half say during first looks – most brides want their other half to cry, or have a huge emotional reaction. He was simply standing there in awe that he was "marrying up" as he put it, and was lovestruck, to say the least. 

The ceremony was sweet and quick, but I made sure to get Jim's reaction as he teared up again when Riley was escorted down the aisle by her father (and I might have cried again too.) We knocked out the family formals and it was time to party! The highlight of their reception for me was the father of the bride speech. Her dad had me in tears – AGAIN. His words hit deeper than any speech I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. He talked about how he and Riley were so close while she was growing up and how she spent every lunch period in high school having lunch – with her father. How he cherished every single 20-minute lunch break with her because it showed how much her dad meant to her. She didn't care about having lunch with friends, she wanted to spend it with her dad. Y'all my heart MELTED. They finished up the main reception with first dances between father and daughter, and mother and son, then everyone hit the dancefloor in the back and partied until last call.

Riley & Jim – I am so glad I spent my last wedding weekend with you and your friends and families. I couldn't have asked for a better ending to 2022, and I wish you both all the happiness in the future!!!!!

Makeup: Montage Salon & Spa

Attire: Wedding Design Studio

Venue: Highland Loft | Elgin, IL

DJ: Highland Preferred

Catering & Event Planning: Your Day Your Way Events