Mayslake Peabody Estate | Oak Brook, Illinois | Styled Shootout | Bridal | Maternity | Couture | February 16, 2020
Mayslake Peabody Estate is a Tudor-Revival-style mansion from the early 1900s located in Oak Brook, Illinois. Francis Stuyvesant Peabody commissioned renowned Chicago architect Benjamin Marshall to design what is known today as Mayslake Hall. It resembles the timber-frame buildings which were popular in England at the time. Sections of the estate have been sold over time, and the last 89 acres, including the Portiuncula Chapel, was sold to the Forest Preserve District back in 1993.
I, along with several other photographers, was given the opportunity to use the venue as the backdrop for a styled shoot-out. For those who do not know, a shoot-out is an organized event where models and spaces are styled to be photographed by several photographers. This collaboration with vendors and the educational aspect of such an event is super beneficial to all parties. With that being said, I’d like to thank all of the vendors that participated and the main bodies that made this possible (listed down below!)
Mayslake Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is currently being used as an event venue, including art exhibits, performances and architectural tours. On a beautiful day in February, it was our gorgeous space to photograph a group of fabulous models and very talented vendors. Each room of the estate had a story. Original elements of the mansion gave it its character, but the declining conditions of its walls were just as beautiful. If only those walls could talk!
It took me a minute to take in all of this historic elegance when I set foot into the main library. The grand fireplace with its surrounding woodwork was extraordinary. I was instantly transformed into the world of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. Though I wasn't in France, the Tudor-style was reminiscent of those seen across Western Europe. Carefully selecting a leather-bound book from the mile-high book cases, I was ready to sit down by the fire to enjoy a peaceful read. Surely, no fire was lit, but a girl can daydream!
Thank you for having me! Can't wait to do this again!
Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary | Schaumburg, Illinois | Maternity | Erin + Family | November 24, 2018
Erin + Matt will be expecting their little girl on Christmas Eve and we wanted to make sure that we were able to capture some last photos of them as a family of 3 (minus the doggies of course) before the weather turned. You wouldn't have even thought that a winter storm was approaching with the warmer November we had yesterday. Relatively speaking, the 40s felt really nice.
We are now a few weeks beyond the fall peak and I was surprised to see some color remaining. Though it may have been a sea of yellow leaves on the grounds of the Nature Sanctuary, it made for some nice photographs. We had a great time taking a stroll through the sanctuary and making our way to the Heritage Farm on the other end. I think Brinen really enjoyed the animals there, especially the horses that were extremely friendly. Almost too friendly? Perhaps for my comfort level, but this little boy was braver than I was! You will be an awesome big brother, Brinen!
Congratulations you guys! Can't wait for baby girl to arrive!
Salvatore's | North Pond | Lincoln Park |Chicago, Illinois | Wedding Photography | Hoxie | November 17, 2018
They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck.
What about snow? Both? Well if precipitation is good luck then Anthony and Kathleen hit the jackpot! The day started with flurries, progressed to big wet beautiful flakes of snow and ended with a wintry mix, all before stopping at reception time. If you think you won't be seeing any outdoor formals in this blog you would be mistaken. I just happened to have the best bridal party ever! Let's start at the beginning.
Kathleen + Anthony appeared on my blog last month for their engagement session. Don't remember? Here's a clue: QUACK! (or just click this link). We will revisit Kathleen's love for these cute little creatures throughout their wedding day. Two instances of ducks in this blog entry! Can you spot the duck!? Feel free to contact me with the answers, this can be fun!
Kathleen and her bridesmaids started the day at her apartment where they prepared for the couple's special day. St. Clement was a short distance away where Anthony was awaiting his beautiful wife. The church was simply breathtaking, and the ceremony just the same. As the snow continued outside, Kathleen and Anthony, in front of friends, family + God, committed to each other and became husband and wife.
It wasn't very long after that the temperature rose just high enough to change that snow over to some sleet and rain. Poof, no more white stuff. The bride is the only one allowed to wear white, right?
Umbrellas in hand we headed over to North Pond where the happy couple and their bridal party took some of their formal photos. No coats ladies?! What troopers! I personally wouldn't go without my winter coat, boots and hat! But for photo's sake they braved the cold and the elements! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
With formals completed and still plenty of time before the cocktail hour, the bridal party had their own pre-cocktail cocktail hour (I just made that up, perhaps it will trend on twitter? #precocktailcocktailhour) at Niche 905 rooftop. Views for days! And the best part, we had the place all to ourselves!
Arriving at the reception, I entered into a cute little ristorante, Salvatore's. The intimate space had the ambiance every wedding reception deserves. Warm and inviting! The speeches were heartfelt and the first dances full of joy. Kathleen + Anthony danced to a song that I have loved for years, but they surprised us with a remix. Anthony swept Kathleen off her feet and when they looked in one another's eye, we all saw it. They found their one and only.
Congratulations Kathleen + Anthony!
Hair: Robert Jeffrey - Lakeview East Studio
MUA: Vanessa Rose Makeup
Bride's Dress: Country Bride + Gent
Bride's shoes (formal): Nina
Bride's shoes: Keds for Kate Spade
Suits: Men's Wearhouse
Florals: Bunches Chicago
Cake: Molly's Cupcakes
Cake Topper: Swarovski
Ceremony: St. Clement
Photographers: Monika Thorpe Photography (main)
Sheena Anne Photography (second)
Not only are these beautiful people my awesome clients, they are my friends. From bowling together in high school, to capturing their engagement photos, wedding photos (and many in between) to this gorgeous maternity session! Ashley + Dan will have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving as their little one is due just in time for the Holiday. Oh and it's a boy!
Ashley is definitely showing off that maternity glow! Can't imagine a more beautiful mommy-to-be! Daddy-to-be is already prepping to teach his son all there is to know about life...or perhaps just all the things daddy likes. You don't know it yet little one, but you will like bowling, Adidas, Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon just to name a few!
Can't wait to meet you baby boy! You're so lucky to have such great parents!
***Dan won't probably let me live this down, but I have to tell you how awesome these two are. Side story: when Dan + Ashley arrived for their session I was in a panic. My battery charger had failed and the batteries I had that I assumed were fully charged were dead! I still had enough battery power for a few photos, but surely not enough for a full session. Realizing my panic Dan (calm, cool and collected as he is) helped me locate an outdoor outlet and provided the necessary tools to unscrew the outlet cover so my charger would fit properly...and charge! Needless to say, I pitched the defective charger. And I'm so grateful that they arrived in time to rescue me! Though I know Dan will forever remind me..."Hey remember that time...?"
Thank you both so much! See you in December!
Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary | Schaumburg, Illinois | Engagement Photography | Anthony + Kathleen | October 6, 2018
It really is true. Love can be found at the bowling alley! As was true for these two beautiful people! Anthony + Kathleen are getting married this November and I should expect ducks! Yes, ducks! A Swarovski crystal duck will sit upon their cake. Kathleen has a slight obsession. So much so that Anthony used a plush duck as a part of his proposal. That duck will forever be a part of their love story. I'm not sure where else I will find ducks, but I forsee some surprises on their wedding day!
I've known Anthony for a few years when we worked together in the aviation industry. He couldn't have found a better girl! One of the first things I said after meeting Kathleen for the first time at their wedding consultation was, "Hey when can we go out and grab some drinks?" She's so much fun, easy to talk to and just perfect for Anthony! I can't wait to be there for your special day. Many happy years! No matter where life takes you, remember that together is the most beautiful place to be.
Yes, the yellow couch again! Everyone wants a session at Cantigny and I don't blame them. The place was crawling with photographers that Sunday evening, but what a beautiful evening it was. Since it was photos of his Auntie, Uncle and cousins, I brought my little assistant with me, my son Konrad. Can't say he was much help, just scroll down to the last photo to see one of the outakes of the cousins playing and just being kids. Super cute!
Wedding day is soon approaching for Nick and Ashley and we needed to snap some engagement photos before the big day. This was really a family engagement session, because these two kids are their world. Like I said before...welcome to the family Ashley, though you were really already family from day one. Congratulations! Can't wait to celebrate this September!
Cousins! My assistant slacking on the job....smh. LOL!
Hero Coffee | Chicago Art Institute Gardens | Chicago, Illinois | Maternity Photography | Colleen & Ryan | July 1, 2018
It was almost as if this place only existed on Instagram. The cutest little coffee shop, tucked away between two very tall buildings in downtown Chicago. Such a gem of a find! Well it does exist! And I gotta tell ya, the coffee is super good! While waiting for this beautiful momma-to-be (and her beau) I noticed that almost every passerby stopped to check out this place. Just to snap a photo, and presumably post it on Instagram. So if you find the back of my head in any Hero Coffee hash-tagged photos, it would make perfect sense.
Now back to my sister-in-law. Yup she's family and she's gorgeous. So jealous of her hair (did I say that out loud?). With her hubby being such a handsome guy, this baby should be looking for modelling contacts now! Gerber, GAP, please take note!
Colleen and Ryan can't take a bad photo. Honestly, so adorable shot after shot. Even the couple rain showers and off and on drizzle didn't deter us from capturing these great photos! We even headed over to the Art Institute gardens for some change in scenery. Once again, shot after shot was perfection. Love these two!
Congratulations Colleen and Ryan. Can't wait to meet Baby G next month!
Colleen checking for rain?
It’s been a fun ride being pregnant alongside a good friend of mine. We have someone to complain to after a sleepless night full of tossing and turning and acid reflux and someone who understands why lunchtime is promptly at 11 a.m. in order to fulfill the hunger we have had since 15 minutes after eating breakfast. Can’t wait until this winter when we can share the joys of postpartum!
When Cassy told me the vision for her maternity photos, I immediately got super excited. The beach, floral crown, custom gown….yes, yes and yes! And to top it off, let’s meet at 6:30 in the morning to capture the sunrise! The drive to Evanston’s Lighthouse Beach is not a short one for either of us, but totally worth it. Watching the sun break through the horizon and rise over Lake Michigan was breathtaking! It made me realize how much I miss living near the Lake. Many others had come to enjoy the sunrise and even a quick swim that morning. And what a warm morning it was! As I type this, I am wondering if today will be the 7th consecutive day of record breaking temperatures. Low to mid 90s for our area is very unseasonable. Perhaps it was a good idea to meet this early in the morning to avoid the record breaking heat that arrived quickly after our departure.
To fit with the light and airy beach theme, Cassy chose a soft blue custom gown from Sew Trendy Accessories and a floral crown created by her florist mom, Mary. It was perfection! Chris sported the white shirt and khakis to compliment the theme and his beautiful wife.
I spent most of my time capturing images of Cassy as the sun quickly rose higher in the sky. It was challenging to keep the sun behind her and occasionally have it peek-a-boo into sight. When the sun was too high in the sky, we switched gears and headed towards the Harley Clarke Mansion and Grosse Point Lighthouse. The surroundings changed from a light-filled sandy beach, to a shaded stone facade. The vines and foliage on the property gave it a very mysterious and intriguing feel. The lighthouse itself stood so tall we could not find the top of it through the trees. Both the beach and the lighthouse/mansion properties were a hit and I hope Cassy enjoys her photographs as much as I enjoyed taking them!
Model: Cassy Beary + Chris
Dress: Sew Trendy Accessories (Emerlie Gown -Blue Rain)
Crown: Mary Peterson Rehak
HMUA: Cassy Beary
Location: Grosse Point Lighthouse/Beach, Evanston, Illinois
This Wildcat and Nittany Lion will be tying the knot in May! If you look up the definition of adorable in the dictionary, you'll see their picture (well you should!). Even in front of the camera Andrew + Lauren were truly enjoying their time together and took every opportunity to smile, laugh and be silly. What more could you ask for as a photographer capturing all these moments behind the lens!?
We met at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, back to the place Andrew proposed. From wildflowers to tall spruces, this place has it all! And thankfully, Lauren's allergies remained under control while in the Spruce Lot. Any watery eyes that day might have been me, from pure cuteness overload. I lost count of how many times "you're cute" was said. So much LOVE!
Congrats Andrew + Lauren!!!
Yes, we are back at Cantigny! This time for a gorgeous momma who is expecting her second daughter very soon! I've know this gal since 5th grade! And now I can say we are pregnant together like we talked about back in junior high school, planning our future like we knew everything about life and being an adult. Haha! Oh what fun it was to be 13 with no worries or cares in the world!
Helen just looked radiant that afternoon! Pregnancy sure looks good on her. Big sister Madison is anxiously awaiting the arrival of her baby sister. I think we all are! Can't wait to meet her at the end of this month! Congrats Will family!
Naperville Riverwalk | Noah's Event Venue | Naperville, Illinois | Wedding | Josh + Julie | June 25, 2016
What happens when a pilot marries a doctor? Hearts soar. Sparks fly! Josh + Julie are the perfect couple and it shows. Truly flying on cloud 9! Shall I keep going?
They were married in Julie's home state of Pennsylvania and celebrated with a beautiful reception here in Naperville, Illinois.. Before the party got started, Josh + Julie, and their bridal party, met me at the Naperville Riverwalk to snap some of the formal wedding photos. Dodging the normal elements of summer at the riverwalk (quinceaneras, weddings, heat and humidity) we still managed to captured so many great moments! Julie's lace gown with an open back was simply gorgeous. Her bridesmaid's plum colored chiffon dresses were so right for the season. Let's not forget Josh's pilot-appropriate tie clip! Everything tied in together so perfectly. The reception was held at Noah's Event Venue. Josh + Julie made sure all their guests had a night to remember! The food was delicious, but the cake was spectacular! Who doesn't like Portillo's chocolate cake?! Such a genius idea! Cigars were waiting outside on the patio for everyone to enjoy and the dance floor was happening! Music by Design did an amazing job!
Congratulations Josh + Julie!
This winter I announced a small contest for newly engaged couples. To win a free complimentary engagement session, you simply needed to have your friends and family nominate you. Well Kelly was a clear winner from the start (thanks Kelly's mom!). She swept her competition and won by a landslide. This past weekend we were finally able to shoot Kelly's and her fiancé Chris's engagement session at the Morton Arboretum. This was the very same place these two got engaged just last year. Congratulations!
Yay for temperatures in the 40s in January! However, those snowflakes that could have been, did not rain on our parade. I don't think anyone could even notice the drizzling rain in these photos and I'm thankful for these two being troopers through it all! We met up at Blackwell Forest Preserve where ice fishing was still in full swing; at the same time large patches of green grass peeked through the rapidly melting snow. Texans at heart, Danielle + John have settled in the Land of Lincoln and have started their little family. Baby Logan is due in early March! A big congratulations to Danielle + John! Can't wait for you to meet your little guy.
These two have been together forever, I'm sure it feels that way to most people. Even during the ceremony, "It's about time!" was exclaimed loudly for all to hear followed by some giggles. No matter how long it took Aaron to pop the question, he knew all along Gabi was the one. The perfect moment finally arrived! He got down on one knee on the ledge of the Skydeck of the Willis Tower as the photographer captured this special moment. On the day of their wedding, we went back to the very spot, 1,352 feet above beautiful Chicago. Soon after capturing some amazing photos with the city beneath our feet, Gabi + Aaron had a beautiful and intimate wedding at ZED 451 . In front of a cozy fireplace and surrounded by their closest friends and family, they became husband and wife. Though their fur baby, Lucky, was not present for the nuptials, he too sported a formal doggy tux!
St. John United Church of Christ | Palatine, Illinois | Wedding Photography | Naomi + Will | October 30, 2015
What a perfect little wedding! Let's first talk about the amazing weather Naomi + Will had for their wedding day. It is practically winter, well okay almost November. But we all know our beloved Midwest weather brings the chill early on. Though not the case today. We were blessed with a beautiful autumn sun and comfortable, mild temperatures. Perfection. In front of small congregation of close friends and family Naomi + Will exchanged beautiful and heartfelt vows. St. John United Church of Christ was the perfect setting. A picturesque little church with so much history. Since 1846 this church has been marrying couples inside its doors. 1846! Naomi + Will had the honor of signing the official registry that documents each and every ceremony. Since 1846!
The church grounds included a beautifully crafted white gazebo, a willow tree that left me speechless, and fall colors which tied the whole scene together amazingly. If you know Naomi you know she is an animal lover. Therefore, her six-week old puppies were included in some shots of her and Will. I think the photos were adorable and fun! You never know what to expect with two rambunctious little pups! It made for great photos. Congrats Naomi + Will!