From an incredibly romantic candlelight wedding on the Saturday before Christmas, this photograph is a vibrant example of the unscripted, natural moments between brides and grooms that are typical of our style with our two-photographer and three-photographer wedding coverage. Mikeal and Ross were married at the spectacular and historical Christian Assembly Church in Peoria, in front of about 200 guests.
Their day began at the newly renovated, historic Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette Hotel located in downtown Peoria at 501 Main Street. As two of our photographers arrived in the Bridal Suite, hair stylists and makeup artists were busy prepping Mikeal, her five bridesmaids, four flower girls and one ring bearer in a room that was full of laughter and happiness. Anyone who has been around Mikeal knows her effusive personality lights up a room, and she was making sure that everyone there was having a great time. We were busy taking candid pictures of everyone getting ready, her wedding gown and the gorgeous flower arrangements after they arrived from Heaven on Earth Florists from The Shoppes at Grand Prairie in Peoria.
Once hair and makeup had been completed, it was time for the bridesmaids to help Mikeal slip into her wedding gown. We photographed this, as it was happening, which is why it works out so well to have two photographers, one male and one female covering your wedding. Once she was in her wedding dress, we began taking some bridal portraits of Mikeal, and I must say that she was one of the most beautiful brides that I have ever seen.
Then came a very special moment. Mikeal had a special sealed envelope from her late grandmother, the one whom she was so close to. The handwriting read, “Not to be opened until your Wedding Day”. This was the day and this was the time, so she opened it slowly and carefully. Inside was a special hand written letter from her late grandmother and a beautiful handkerchief. You have to understand that this grandmother was known to always carry a handkerchief on her wrist wherever she went. The letter said that the enclosed handkerchief was one that her grandma had picked out special to give Mikeal to carry on her wedding day, and that it was the most special handkerchief that she had. Along with the letter, tears started to whelm up, and there were many ‘awes’ from the bridesmaids in the room. The envelope and card were dated 1985, not long after Mikeal was born. Oh, the wisdom of a grandmother who thought so far ahead that she may not be present the day her grandbaby gets married, and the fore thought to plan so far ahead for it.
After she was ready, Mikeal looked perfect and her bridal gown was spectacular. So we both took some quick portraits of Mikeal in her wedding dress while helping her move into an adjoining room of the Bridal Suite in preparation for a ‘first look’ for the bride and groom to see each other in private. This is usually the most memorable and intimate part of the wedding day when the bride and groom get to see each other all alone for the first time in private.
Carefully, we fluffed her train and bridal veil to make sure she was perfect and ready. Then we had everyone else leave the room and shut the door. For some reason, it always seems like getting everyone to leave the bride alone is such a difficult task that requires a lot of persistence!
After that, we sent for Ross and let him into the room. With both of our photographers hiding in the corners of the room, we photographed the precious expressions on their faces when the bride and groom saw each other for the first time. WOW, what expressions that will never ever be again, captured for their wedding album.
Quickly, we took a few pictures, then silently slipped out of the room and stood guard at the door. We were not about to let anyone else enter the room, in order to give Ross and Mikeal some totally private time alone together. Every wedding couple, for which we have arranged a ‘first look’ together, has remarked how much they loved it and how precious and meaningful it was for them, as did these two.
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Location: 521 NE Monroe St, Peoria, IL 61603.