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!

Company 251 Wedding in Aurora, IL: Jackie & Kevin

We've got so much tell you about Jackie & Kevin's wedding day. First off, they chose an amazing new luxury venue, it's called Company 251 in Aurora, IL. They got ready in their sweet suites (see what I did there?) with their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Afterwards, it was time for their first look. It was so heartfelt and we were luck to miss the rain. We then took advantage of pre-ceremony time for family and wedding party photos, yay!

Her brother officiated the ceremony AND her other brother (along with his girlfriend and Jackie's maid of honor) sung a fabulous duet. The duet music was provided by their piano teacher, how awesome is that? 

Everyone then headed upstairs for dinner and toasts, the room looked gorgeous! The food was amazing, I've now had the best salad of my life, no joke. During the reception, the photo booth was a huge hit. Oh, and you must check out the best bouquet throwing face ever! During the garter finding portion, Jackie surprised Kevin with tickets, he was shocked! Jackie & Kevin, thank you so much for choosing us to capture so much sweetness, cheers to you and your marriage! 

William Tell Wedding in Countryside, IL: Tiffany & Anthony

Tiffany & Anthony chose the William Tell banquet hall for their amazing day. We had so much fun with them! We started the day with hair, makeup and all that. Once everyone was ready, the girls and guys took turns at the courtyard for photos.

The outdoor ceremony was very windy. The officiant bravely protected their unity candle and helped them light it, it was so sweet. During the reception, the guests voted on whether Tiffany or Anthony would get a cake-jul to the face. Scroll below to see who won. We absolutely loved being there, congratulations again!

Kane Courthouse Wedding: Chanel & Keith

Chanel & Keith met through her brother, who just happens to be, drumroll please... our very own Jason! I was thrilled to be a part of such a loving, intimate day. Chanel & Keith chose a Monday and the Kane County Courthouse to make it official. The courthouse building was so rich with architecture and history, I'm so glad we had time for a few photos inside.

After the ceremony, we headed to the Fabyan Forest Preserve for family and couple's photos. This park will always be a favorite for me, specially those arches, and the gate too. Their dinner reception was at Patten House in Geneva, it was wholesome and low key. They had just a few speeches, doughnuts and lots of rain outside to set the mood. At the very end, they stepped out for a quick rainy night photo and, well, it was the perfect end to their first day of marriage. Chanel & Keith, we are so very happy for you both, thank you for inviting us along!

Baby E's Newborn session

Say hello to Baby E, born in the fall. Just about a year after her parent's wedding last year, check it our hereShe was such a good baby, loved all the noise and cuddles. Her big brother Ozzie is doing great with her too, he kept an eye on me the whole time. I'm so excited for her to grow up in the same farm her father grew up in. Baby E, I can just picture you climbing over everything, getting muddy nails, getting lost in the corn fields, I'm so happy for you.

Chicago Engagement Session: LeeAnn & Mario

LeeAnn was a bridesmaid for Caitlyn & Will's wedding last year. Long story short, we'll be photographing her wedding with Mario next year, yay! For their engagement session, they wanted a super Chicago and baseball vibe. He actually proposed at Wrigley during the world series that the Cubs won, so obviously we went there. They also wanted murals, skyline, the works. We ended the night at North Ave beach while the rain viciously and romantically came down. 

We are very much looking forward to the big day, congratulations!

Baby G's Newborn Session

Sweet beautiful boy, I'm so happy you're finally here. You were born in Florida, as Hurricane Irma was closing in. It took so very long to get you home, so worth it though. Your parents and sister are over the moon with every sigh and sound you make. Thanks for letting me wrap you and squish you, you were a total champ, specially in the boat. Oh, and thanks for sharing your session with your sister, we celebrated her 4th birthday as well. 

Cantigny Park 2nd Birthday Session

Dear R, you are one of my first Cloud Babies, so hard to believe you are already 2! Our story began with your parent's wedding back in 2013, then I got the call about a maternity session. I was so happy for you to land into their loving arms and learn about Harry Potter, Disney and art. Then I got to meet you, bend you and squish your newborn little self (check out her newborn session here)Some time passed and I got to see you for your first birthday. You were standing tall and smiling big with your brand new teeth (check out her 1st birthday session here). Look at you now! full on running, discovering, climbing on everything and demanding snacks along the way. I'm very much looking forward to some deep conversations next year, maybe a tea party with some of your stuffed animals? I want to thank to your parents that have let me capture your journey form the beginning. Hugs to you all!