Randall Oaks Golf Club Wedding in West Dundee, IL: Kisha & Jesse

When I first met Kisha & Jesse, I asked him what he liked about her when they met. He said “everything, just… everything” He literally couldn’t pick one thing! I then asked about their wedding vision. They told me about the comic book touches (DC Only!) The cape their flower girl (also daughter) would be rocking, the converse shoes, the suspenders. I’m soooooooo happy they chose Cloud Foto, I was downright giddy!

They chose Randall Oaks Golf Club for their celebration. They wanted a private first look and photos with their wedding party prior to the ceremony. Once it was time to make it official, they gathered by the gazebo. At the end, they jumped the broom, you could feel the commitment in the air!

They welcomed their guests to the reception with the coolest escort cards, asked to take a pic for their guestbook, the centerpieces with Legos were sweetly nerdy. Their cake topper was one of the best I’ve ever seen! The toasts were hilarious. My favorite part was the family dance, they got moves! Thank you for everything you wonderful people you!

Acquaviva Winery Wedding in Maple Park, IL: Lauren & Mike

Lauren & Mike wanted a very relaxing, chill day. They chose Acquaviva Winery for all their wedding day festivities. Jason was with the guys while they got ready in the restaurant side. I was with Lauren and the girls by the vineyard. Once everyone was dressed, it was time for a first look. Look at Lauren’s smile, she could barely contain her joy as she approached Mike, so freaking cute! His mom later came around the corner for her own first look with her son.

It was then time to go around the beautiful property for some sweet photos. We got to go by the basement with all the wine barrels, around the vineyard and even ate some grapes. The outdoor ceremony setup was #goals seriously, it looked like a dream! My favorite part was when they thanked their mothers with flowers, awwww.

Once we headed back to the reception there was plenty of tasty wine, fantastic food, funky dancing and our photo booth! At one point we snuck them out for night photos, very romantic! It was an honor capturing your day, cheers to your new life together!

Southern Charm Wedding in Frankfort, IL: Mayra & Matthew

Mayra is the youngest of 3, and, AND I’ve had the honor of photographing both her sister’s and her brother’s wedding! Yes, the trilogy concludes with this fabulous chapter.

Mayra began the day at her parent’s house with hair, makeup and mimosas. Matthew was with the guys, and doggo at their new home. They then headed to the church for a sweet ceremony. Their siblings were padrinos (sponsors for the ceremony). Afterwards, we headed to their fabulous reception!

They chose Southern Charm for the festivities. The place does have all the charm and coziness you’d hope and yet they went above and beyond with the service and warmth. We got there ahead of the guests for some photos with their wedding party and of course, the two of them. The details were mouth dropping. I’m talking tequila shots in artisan shot glasses by the place cards to welcome the guests, little coke bottle for the kids, conchas, mazapanes, a cake with paper picado detail, yep, yep, yep. The toasts were amazing, his brother presented him with his very own WWE belt, her niece made her cry, so much awesomeness. They then thanked everyone and welcomed the band! I do love a great entrance!

Thanks so very much to your family for letting us capture all your weddings, thank you, thank you, thank you! Cheers for all that’s to come!

Backyard Wedding in Hebron, IL: Fabiola & Tony

Fabiola & Tony win for hottest wedding ever! High 90s the whole day but we actually hit 100 degrees during the ceremony. At some point I thought my pants fused to my legs permanently.

It all took place in a family member’s back yard nestled amongst lots of Illinois corn. The ceremony was super sweet with her grandma officiating and the other family members sponsoring the traditional arras (coins), lasso, sand and bible. Once they kissed, it was time for a hearty round of family photos. Once those were done, lots of guests changed into cooler outfits, I rolled up my pants to air out my hams.

We then got some photos with their wedding party and of course, each other. I love how they look at each other! Once we got to the reception area, they cut their cake. The toasts were very emotional, lots of happy tears! Later on, they did all those cool dances I like, including the sea snake!

What a hot, magical, hot, lovely, hot, amazing hot day! It ended with fireworks! I feel lucky to have captured your day. Felicidades Fabi y Tony, salud!

Oscan Swan Inn Wedding in Geneva, IL: Sam & Alex

Sam & Alex wanted an outdoor wedding with old timey charm that also felt modern. The Oscar Swan Inn in Geneva, IL was exactly that! It is a bed and breakfast with huge beautiful gardens that were perfect for their ceremony and reception. Sam got ready upstairs with the girls, I love  seeing matching robes! Jason was with Alex while he got ready downstairs with the guys. Once everyone was ready, it was time for a first look.

We got to do lots and lots of wedding party and couple's photos all around the property. They had plenty of time to stay out of sight and relax before the big moment. The ceremony was so sweet, there were tears and plenty of laughter. When Alex was about to say his vows, he paused, looked up from the paper and said "Sam, I love you so much" I got chills, I was sooooooo hot yet I got chills. Sam had hidden her vows in the bouquet and took a minute for her maid of honor to locate them. After they were pronounced husband and wife, they had a receiving line and the cocktail hour began.

The reception started with a toast thanking and recognizing the grandparents, awwww! There were donuts from Harner's Bakerylots of dancing and our Photo Booth was there too! What a sweet, hot, wonderful day! Cheers to you two!

Bolingbrook Golf Club Wedding in Bolingbrook, IL: Tina & Mike

Tina & Mike were our 150th wedding, yay! The funny part is, her sister Eileen and her husband Dan were our 100th wedding, how cool is that? Tina is one of six sisters and chose them ALL as her bridesmaids, their nieces and nephews were the flower girls and ring bearers. 

Tina got ready at her parent's house, I love the goose at her front door! They had some champagne, got all the kids ready and then got dressed. We even had some time to take photos in the back yard. We then all got on the shuttle and headed to their family's church nearby. Mike and the guys met us there but no first look, they wanted to wait until walking down the aisle for the big surprise, he was smiling from ear to ear when it finally happened.

Unfortunately, Tina's father was only able to join us in spirit. He had a place at the altar and reception. It was beautiful tribute to a great man I had the honor of meeting. Tina's mom walked her down the aisle and they had a mother-daughter dance at the reception. During the ceremony, Mike's sisters and brother in law did readings.

After the bubbly exit from the church, we did family photos and photos with their wedding party as well. The reception was filled with photos of the families' weddings and childhood photos of them. Everything was wonderful! Cheers to the new chapter of your lives!

Hot air Balloon and Carnival Engagement in Lisle, IL: Ashlee & David

When Ashlee first emailed me asking for info, I quickly moved to the edge of my seat. They got engaged at Disney and wanted a session that capture the fun and magic of that moment. Well, is there anything more magical than getting up at 4:00 am and checking out a hot air ballon festival? No, there isn't. Plus we got the gorgeous morning sun AND the adjacent (conveniently empty) carnival. It was truly a magical morning. Thanks so much for getting up so early, totally worth it!

Merchandise Mart Engagement Session in Chicago, IL: Lauren & Michael

Lauren & Mike wanted a ton of Chicago into their portraits. Merchandise Mart is one of those places, that little square has so much going on! it was hot, so debilitatingly hot, but they still looked incredible! They danced, they pranced, they hugged, he lifted her (not her thing), he agreed to a heart hand thing (not his thing), yay for compromise and making each other happy! Their wedding is soon and I can't wait for more lifts and heart hands things!

Woodstock Town Sq Engagement in Woodstock, IL: Leah & Michael

Leah is a teacher and thus, is very caring, patient and quite creative. Mike should be writing a blog on how to be an amazing husband. He is super handy, smart and will go along with any date idea Leah wants to try. Yep, these two are going to be just fine. They share loads of interests like the Cubs and Blackhawks, plus Starbucks, walking around the forest preserve and their local town square. Thanks for letting me tell a bit of your story, we are very much looking forward to game day!

Elgin, IL Wedding: Adriana & Jimmy

When I met Adriana & Jimmy, they said they only wanted a small intimate church ceremony. When I caught up with them closer to the wedding day, they had chosen to add a small family dinner. Long story short, there were a TON of people at the church. Little did they know how many folks cared about them and wanted to share in their wedding bliss. They had all the traditional hispanic touches, the lasso, candle, bible, arras and even had mariachi! 

After the beautiful ceremony, we went to Lord's Park for newlywed snuggles and photos. It... was... cold. Sooooooo unseasonably windy and harshly cold. Jimmy's son and his girlfriend were jacket assistants and helped me keep Adriana warm between shots. 

We then went to their family dinner and heard a wonderful toast by Jimmy's older brother in which he lovingly tricked his brother into a first dance. Not a dry eye in the house. Thanks you two for letting me come along in your sweet journey, cheers to your love!

Batavia VFW Wedding in Batavia, IL: Brooke & Ryan

Brooke & Ryan chose a chilly March day and the Batavia VFW for their wedding celebration. Their pup was the ring bearer, he looked so dapper!

The day began at Inspired Salon by Carolyn where they got amazing hair styles. We then headed to the Batavia VFW to finish getting ready and last minute decor touch ups.

The ceremony was full of happy tears, they were both very moved while saying their vows. After they were pronounced husband and wife, everyone clapped and their pup barked along, so sweet.

We headed out for photos while the sun was setting, then back inside to continue with the celebration. Brooke & Ryan, very many congratulations as you head into this world united as a couple. 

Chateau Del Mar Wedding in Hickory Hills, IL: Ellie & Shayna

Ellie & Shayna's wedding was amazing, we LOVE winter weddings; specially January ones. There's a sense of renewal and new beginnings everywhere, what a perfect way to start the year. These lovely ladies chose to get ready at their home but in separate rooms. Once they were ready, they had their first look in their living room.

We then headed to the forest preserve, hoping to catch the last bit of light and some snow. I'm glad they brought a blanket (their "something blue") it... was... cold, so worth it though. We wrapped up their photo portion of the day with a confetti cannon, yay.

Then it was off to Chateau Del Mar  for their ceremony and reception. Upon entrance, guests were asked to take seat and a shot as they waited for the brides to make their entrance. Their dads were beaming with pride as they walked their daughters down the aisle, their moms were tearing up, what a blessing it is to be a part of such a moment. After the wonderful vows, they kissed and left for a minute alone. 

All the parents gave a toast, all the dads got to dance. They had a double bouquet toss and our very own photo booth. The dancing and sweets were incredible. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of your day. Best wishes in your journey as a married couple, salud!

Abbington Banquets Wedding in Glen Ellyn, IL: Beth & Tyler

This was the most beautiful January ever! Who could've thought we would find snow-loving couples like Beth and Tyler? I'm not sure how, just glad we did! 

They began their day getting ready at the church. Beth had a cold, but she would NOT let that get in the way of her joy. Before the ceremony, we got each half of the wedding party photos with some strategy to avoid an accidental "first look"

The ceremony was sweet, what I remember most, is Tyler's grandpa Face-timing in from the hospital, I love, love, love how technology connects us. Afterwards, we headed to Hurley Gardens for sunset and night photos... very unique!

They chose Abington Banquets for their reception celebration. The first dance melted my heart, he dipped her, looked at her and kissed her. It all happened so fast and yet so slow. Once the toasts, dances and tossings were done, we stepped out for a few night photos in the snow. Beth, Tyler, we will always remember the joy of your wedding. Thanks for letting us capture it!

Author Leo Zarko

From Crain's Chicago Business website: Leo Zarko is a visual artist, poet, children's book author and advocate for the arts. A member of the Aurora Art League and ATown Poetics, he encourages others to participate in the arts. Zarko has published 12 books in the past two years, a feat chronicled at leozarko.com. His children's books reflect positive morals and ethics, encouraging young readers to be considerate and kind. "God has given me a talent and I want to use it to the fullest, as we all should!" he says.

Check out Crain's Chicago Business article here

You can purchase "Something About Me" and other Leo Zarko books here

Lincoln Park Family session: The R Family

I was so happy to see this family again. The boys have gotten so big, I know I say that all the time but it's so true! Last time I saw them, they could barely stand (check out their 1st birthday here) and now they talk, run and jump. We had such a great time at Lincoln Park, thanks for everything R Family, I can't wait to see them again!

Baby M's Newborn Session

Sweet Baby M, I had the honor of photographing your sister as a newborn and on her 1st birthday. Back then, she didn't talk. You could imagine how wonderful it was to hear her voice and how she asked me questions and wanted to help with your photos. Makes me wonder how alike you'll be. You certainly look very different, but your home will be just as nice, just as supportive and just as loving. Baby M, it was great meeting you and seeing how you fit into your family. See you on your birthday sweet girl!