I met Downers Grove native, Josh, and his Wisconsin-native, fiancee, Karly last year to talk about their 2018 wedding plans, and of course, the photography they would need.
Josh told me about his proposal that happened in Utah on a hiking trip, which was appropriate for this couple. They were going to have a destination wedding-kind of halfway between the two families.
When I think of a "destination wedding", an island usually comes to mind.
I was asked to travel to photograph their wedding near Galena, IL, a well-known tourist area near the Iowa-Illinois border. I have been to Galena for weekend getaways and thought it sounded like a perfect and quaint place to host an event.
What I didn't know was that this location was actually 30 minutes outside Galena in a kind-of-remote location called Apple River.
The venue was challenging to find! (It wasn't just us either). Oak Hills Farm was hidden away off a dirt road with no signage until we actually pulled into the driveway of the place. I had my second shooter, Veronica, along with me which was a good thing because we managed to get lost of course, due to a construction detour. Thank-goodness we always add in some extra time-just in case.
A picturesque location, but potentially uncooperative weather
When we pulled in to the place we were immediately enchanted by this place! It felt like we were WAY out in the country (our cell phones didn't even work). Complete with horses, roosters, donkeys, and other various animals, it was definitely a farm--but oh so much cuter.
There were so many great outdoor areas such as a field with large trees and a pond with a fountain, where the ceremony would take place. You even have the option of using a picturesque little chapel for the ceremony, but this bride had her heart set on having her ceremony outdoors. We were worried about the very real possibility of rain. Fingers were crossed. It was only about 60 degrees and threatening.
The bridal party men and women were assigned different areas of the refurbished barn (also the living quarters of the owners).
The first order of business was the couple's "first look". Veronica and I saw this lovely little bridge only a short walk from the barn that we agreed would make a perfect spot for this event. The anticipation of the groom (I was with him while he awaited the excitement of seeing Karly for the first time) was palpable and the emotions of the moment so real--as they privately exchanged vows before the actual ceremony for the families and friends.
The rain did hold off and the beautiful wedding ceremony took place next to the pond. Even the "flower girls" (josh's family dogs) were cooperative. This was only the second time I have seen a "Sand Ceremony" which symbolizes the blending together of two lives. Very beautiful...
These two made me a believer! Josh, especially, never hid his emotions with his expressions, and I could see that Karly felt the same by the way she looked at him. They soaked up every moment of this day appearing so at-ease with each other and their families.
For the reception, everyone was able to warm up from the chilly afternoon temperatures in a climate-controlled reception tent, where the introductions, toasts, cake-cutting, meal, and dancing would ensue.
A few fun outdoor photos were snuck in before the sun went down involving donkeys...and moms.
Next for Karly and Josh..a European vacation to look forward to before a permanent move to Denver where Karly will look for employment (she's a geologist), and Josh will attend Med school at the University of Colorado. What an amazing summer for them!
To find out more about event photography by Deb Wesley, visit her web page.