Category Archives: vendor spotlight

The Knot Best of Weddings Boston DJ featured

The Knot Best of Weddings Boston DJ has featured a Thompson Island wedding in Boston Harbor that I had the pleasure of photographing. If you take a peek around for wedding deejay reviews, DJ Nick is one of Boston’s most sought after. Meredith and Regan who live in Chile were lucky to have him spin at their island wedding this summer because even with record-breaking temperatures, the dancing went non-stop that night! They had guests from New Zealand, Europe, and various parts of the US travel to be with them to share in celebrating their marriage. If you are looking for reviews on DJs, check out Beat Train Boston on Yelp, WeddingWire, and The Knot. I’ve worked with many of the Beat Train deejays and my clients rave about every one of them. You can also follow @beattraindjs on Twitter.
boston wedding dj reviews

Some of the wedding venues I have photographed alongside Beat Train Productions DJ include Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, Oceancliff Mansion in Newport, the Langham Hotel and Le Meridien Hotel in Cambridge. Just like when you are sorting browsing wedding photographers, interviewing potential wedding DJs can be a daunting task. So you know how to spot the best DJ company for your wedding, here are a few tips. Finding a DJ who focuses in weddings is important. Knowing how to get a wide range of generations dancing will ensure your reception is memorable and most importantly fun! Beat Train Productions is a well-rounded, successful group of DJs who can bring a level of expertise and versatility to your wedding. A great DJ is able to create a collection of music for your wedding that is based on your style, taste, and vision for that day but also touches upon the DJ’s understanding of what gets the most amount of people dancing. An experienced DJ will work with you on a wedding schedule so that everything goes smoothly. Writing out the names of your family and bridal party if you are doing an entrance is key especially if names are difficult to pronounce – you can spell out any tricky names phonetically. The best DJ will make sure your father is nearby before announcing a father daughter dance. He or she can communicate with the banquet staff to ensure the cake is ready to be cut before making the announcement. The team of DJs at Beat Train Productions is flexible and willing to listen to make sure the reception goes smoothly. Because of this, they’ve earned hundreds of 5 star reviews and have been ranked best Boston DJ on many occasions. If you haven’t already checked them out on WeddingWire or Yelp, you will be impressed with the kind words earned by their entire team. Whether you are getting married outdoors under a tent, at an historic mansion in a luxury Boston hotel or at a trendy event space, a fun reception will be one of the most memorable parts of a wedding day and no doubt a competent DJ contributes to this.

Loft Chicago wedding venue Gallery 1028

Here is a sneak peek from a recent shoot at Gallery 1028. I have shot many weddings at this “blank canvas” modern wedding venue in Chicago including the Laura and Mike’s wedding as seen on Style Me Pretty which had the best lighting design and event styling I have ever seen. You might also remember Halley and Josh’s indie wedding featured on Style Me Pretty, as well as Angela and Sam’s ceremony and reception held there. Jason’ and Kristen who got married at St. Clements in Lincoln Park, also had their rockin’ reception at the Gallery 1028 warehouse venue.

This time around, PJ Acosta transformed the raw warehouse space to create a welcoming, cozy atmosphere adding natural elements. The long farm tables and raw wooden chairs fit perfectly. Chandeliers and dozens of candles added the perfect glow for the evening and were a huge hit!

loft wedding chicago venue and event spacerustic chicago wedding venuesrustic urban chic loft warehouse venue chicagochicago loft wedding venue and event space with rustic decorchicago wedding design at gallery 1028 by Studio AGLoft Chicago wedding venue Gallery 1028

Photography: Heather Parker Photography
Venue: Gallery 1028
Catering: Calihan Catering
Event Design: PJ Acosta
Music: guitarrista Neil Dixon Smith
Florist: PJ Acosta
Specialty Items: Hall’s Rental Service

Chicago Wedding Band Ken Arlen Music | Entourage

Chicago Wedding Band Ken Arlen Music | Entourage

Here are a few reception photos from one of my favorite weddings at the modern gallery space River East Arts Center, where Ken Arlen Music’s live wedding band Entourage performed. They were such a fun band and really jammed the dance floor. People were getting down! They rocked all night with a soulful flair and a modern edge. One of the things that stood out to me is that they brought a youthful energy to the venue and played some of the most accurate renditions of both current pop songs and classics.

River East Arts Center Entourage wedding band from Ken Arlen Music ChicagoEntourage wedding band from Ken Arlen Music Chicago at River East Arts Center receptionChicago wedding band Entourage from Ken Arlen Music at River East Arts Center reception

Prairie Productions | Chicago Wedding Venues by photographer Heather Parker

Prairie Production is the perfect wedding venue for a modern wedding right in the city. With seating capacity for 150, it is ideal for a medium or small wedding. Parking is easy, and there are so many nearby locations for cool photos. This loft space is a blank canvas and offers a lot of versatility. No two weddings here are alike.

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The above pictures are Prairie Production wedding photos from Beth and Scott’s wedding, as well as Emilia and Megan’s wedding which was featured on the So You’re EnGAYged wedding blog.

Venue location: 1314 W Randolph St. Chicago IL 60607
Phone: 312-829-7499
Seated Capacity: 150

Planning your Chicago Wedding Photography

Planning your Chicago wedding photography is just one of the many steps you will have to take in putting together your dream wedding. In this blog post, I want to share some information on wedding planning and finding a wedding photographer. There are many brides in any major city for example, scoping out the same Chicago wedding venues you are. Many couples are getting married a year or more away. Setting a date and finding a venue is key.

To take on this process alone or to enlist the help of a wedding planner is an important decision. One often looked after benefit of hiring a wedding planner is that they can help you find unique wedding venues that often don’t advertise in big wedding magazines or on the top wedding blogs. One of my favorite couples Marta and William hired Greatest Expectations Special Events & Weddings for their winter wedding held at a private club. The wedding planner was able to help select a venue that matched the season, location, capacity, and the investment the couple wanted to make. During your engagement, a wedding planner can help you review contracts, understand insurance requirements, coordinate timelines, and keeps numbers (and backup numbers) handy in instances where a limo could be running late. Understanding how an early afternoon wedding ceremony impacts the total wedding cost when a reception that starts five hours later is where a planner’s expertise will come in handy. An experienced event planner who has an assistant can run and go get more ice for the bar at a midsummer tented wedding during a heat wave, set up a late night candy station, and help facilitate donating your flowers at the end of the night. I have worked with a bride who hired a wedding planner to act as a liaison between family members. Another instance where a planner is useful is when brides and grooms may be in school, have busy work schedules traveling frequently, studying for the bar exam, or planning a hometown wedding from out of state.

wedding planner chicago 2011 pick the knot best of weddings greatest expectationschicago wedding planner best of weddings 2011 pick the knot greatest expectationsWhen hiring a wedding photographer, there are several ways to go about this. Ask friends who they used and talk to your wedding planner. If you have certain requirements or styles you enjoy, an event planner will be able to point you in the right direction. It is important to look through a wedding photography portfolio and look for natural, unorchestrated moments. There are a lot of wedding blogs loaded with pictures of pretty things that show the style of a wedding which are great for inspiration and ideas, but after your wedding the photos that tell the story of the day will be much more meaningful than shots that are a catalog of the things you bought.

photojournalism chicago wedding photographer

In the initial stages of planning your wedding, it is fun and useful to see photos of weddings in your venue. It isn’t as important to find a photographer that has shot in your venue, but it IS important to find a photographer that can adapt to challenging situations, who has continued shooting in a church that has lost power and lighting, or was able to still get storytelling photos during an unexpected rain storm at an outdoor beach wedding ceremony.

documentary style wedding photographer serving chicago and bostonBoth of the above photos were on Moment Junkie, one of the best wedding photography blogs that showcases split-second moments that have a high impact and relay part of the story of the wedding day. A close friend of mine is engaged, and I advised her to look for action and emotion in the wedding photography portfolios she was reviewing. A wedding day is a day full of emotion and the photos should certainly reflect that.

Do I need uplighting?

“Do I need uplighting?” Many brides and grooms are unaware of what uplighting is, while other couples have heard of it but may have not seen it in action at their wedding venue. Today I arrived early for a client meeting, and luckily I was able to join them on a walk through of their wedding reception rooms. The Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel dates back to 1912, rich with history and old Boston glamour. As the sister hotel to the famed Plaza Hotel New York, Copley Plaza’s Renaissance decor is recognizable in movies such as Bride Wars, The Firm, Blown Away, and My Best Friend’s Wedding. We got a good feel for the layout as we toured the St. James, Singleton, and Copley rooms. Soaring leather ceilings, mahogany walls, and adjoining fireplaces set the perfect tone for a winter wedding. Even without adding additional uplighting, the room will take your breath away. Since its already so beautiful, I don’t my clients had considered lighting for the event space. A lighting designer happened to be in the room, prepping for another event. I definitely saw some jaws dropping as they witnessed transformation of the room when he turned on the lights. With all the expenses of planning a wedding though, upgrades and add-ons have to be carefully considered. Reviewing photography from previous weddings in the same or similar ballrooms may help you in figuring out if the atmosphere that lighting design offers is a priority or unnecessary extra. In addition to some of the extravagant lighting designs you might find in wedding magazines, there may be other lighting options as well. Below are some sample pictures of what a richly appointed ballroom looks like both with and without up-lighting. In this first photo, you can see a ballroom lit with existing chandeliers and no uplighting.

Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel St James Room as a wedding venue in Back Bay Boston

In the next photo, the dark mahogany wood is highlighted with a warm amber tint from the LED uplighting. This warm hue compliments the red, natural tones in the wooden walls.

Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel wedding venue in Back Bay Boston

Purple uplighting changes the atmosphere completely, as seen below:

boston cambridge uplightingBoston uplighting in historic hotel wedding venue

One of the reasons I love my job as a wedding photographer is that even if I am hired to photograph in the same wedding venue on more than one occasion, each bride and groom choose what is important to them and personalize their wedding in a way that is their own. I have certainly seen it all.

Christine Noelle Design wedding floral inspiration

Christine Noelle Design wedding floral inspiration is featured in this blog posting for your enjoyment – happy spring! Weddings with an afternoon tea party theme have become quite popular over the last few years. Christine Noelle of Chicago’s premier European-inspired floral studio Christine Noelle Design created this English Tea Party inspiration featuring Molly’s Cupcakes. The florist used silver teapots, damask black and white floral wallpaper, antique English tea cups, and an array of colorful spring flowers to create this vibrant spring tablescape design. She mixed hot pink, yellow, and purple with soft pastel tones for this masterpiece. As the photographer, I have to admit it was quite fun to photograph as the pretty and proper setup transformed into a mad tea party with stuff spilling everywhere!

wedding florist and flowers for tablescapes receptions and ceremonieswedding florist and flowers for tablescapes receptions and ceremonies with cupcakeswedding florist and flowers for tablescapes receptions and ceremonieswedding florist and flowers for tablescapes receptions and ceremonies

Vendors:

Christine Noelle Design Studio is the creative mastermind behind this beautiful setup. They are the sister flower tudio to Dilly Lily, which was recently chosen as one of the best Chicago floral studios by PopSugar. Molly’s Cupcakes, rated Best of Citysearch provided the delicious cupcakes.

Adding some last-minute personality to your wedding

Adding some last-minute personality to your wedding can certainly be done with the help of family and friends. Here are some resources as a general starting point, as well as photos from a wedding of one of my most resourceful brides.

Resources:

Table number examples: Style Me Pretty Table Numbers and Martha Stewart Table Numbers
DIY ideas from: 100 Layer Cake DIY blog, Green Wedding Shoes blog, Project Wedding DIY, The Knot DIY section, OneWed,
General decor inspiration: Decor from Style Me Pretty

Below are photos from Alexa and Andrew’s wedding overlooking the sea at the Crane Estate on Castle Hill in Ipswich, Massachusetts.

wedding guestbook ideas for an outdoor summer weddingguestbook frame pinkCastle hill wedding photographerCrane Estate weddingCrane Estate Ipswich wedding

DIY Info:
When Alexa first started envisioning what her wedding would look like she knew she wanted to add lots of personal touches and make a lot of things herself.  She and Andrew tackled many DIY projects together and their families also pitched in to help.  Alexa wanted all of their décor to meld with their wedding venue, Castle Hill for an “elegant casual seaside” look.

crane estate castle hill wedding photos from ipswich, manavy blue and gold wedding stationery table settings for the head tableShe pulled inspiration from a variety of sources and pulled it all together by using coordinated paper products from Anna Griffin and the matching fabrics, also by Anna Griffin. The biggest project the couple took on was the escort card pinwheels.  They made each pinwheel by hand and they were a huge hit at the wedding. The pinwheels also made an appearance on the cake, those pinwheels were also made out of paper, just mini sized. The bride and groom’s other projects included-paper pomanders to decorate the aisles, pennant banner to decorate the bar and the lawn, drink stirrers, table numbers made with photo frames featuring the couple’s dog, menus, programs (which she hand printed with a gocco).

wedding pinwheels DIY projectpaper pinwheels DIY projectwedding cake DIY paper pinwheelspinwheelpennant banner for summery outdoor wedding DIYDIY card box project with paper They baked over 1000 cookies for a cookie buffet which had custom labels from Green Apple Paperie.

cookie jar labels from Green Apple Paperie

Their mothers really came through for them and did a lot of sewing, making all of the table overlays. Alexa said “l the work and details we put into the wedding made the whole evening the special event that it was. Everything that we and our families made was made with love and creativity.”

photo frame table numbers

About the Wedding/Theme:
Alexa had dreamed about getting married at Castle Hill from when she was a little girl.  When she and Andrew first got engaged they were living in Virginia and later in Chicago.  She had sent her mother to check out venues and luckily she loved Castle Hill just as much. Alexa have always been drawn to bright summery colors, but Castle Hill is a pretty traditional venue, so they always had to keep in mind melding bright colors with the look of the venue. They used bright pinks and greens coupled with navy blue to achieve a summery look. The groom and groomsmen wore lighter colored suits perfect for an outdoor summer wedding. The custom ties ordered on Etsy complimented the color choice of the boutonniere.

etsy wedding tie customnavy pink green beige wedding colors for bridal party attireWith a seaside venue, a lobster set on white and navy blue wedding stationery and invitations set the tone for their wedding.

wedding invitation lobster seaside weddingTheir décor had a subtle nautical theme, with shells and coral prints on our paper and fabrics. Since the couple met while they were at Vanderbilt, they included a few southern touches, including a signature cocktail of sweet tea vodka and lemonade. The couple was both active in greek life, and the bride had their pins soldered together and pinned them to the bridal bouquet.  They actually got the idea of attaching the pins from the groom’s grandmother, who had her and his grandfathers pins soldered together after they were married.

Crane Estate Castle Hill weddingWhile traditional and historical venues can easily lend themselves to a formal and traditional wedding, there are always ways to incorporate the ideas of a modern couple.  By using bright fun colors, and playful touches like ribbon drink stirrers and pinwheels they maintained a casual fun feel without clashing with the historical venue.

DIY drink stirrers for custom wedding cocktailswedding programs paper goodscastle hill crane estate wedding venue in ipswich ma photos

VENDORS

Ceremony Venue: Crane Estate at Castle Hill, Ispwich, MA
Reception Venue: Crane Estate at Castle Hill, Ispwich, MA (capacity 200 guests)
Caterer: Swartz Catering
Officiant: Rabbi Judy Epstein and Father Bill Nesbit
Wedding Photographer: Heather Parker Photography
Wedding Band/Entertainment- The Return
Ceremony music Siman Entertainment
Wedding Florist: Bella Floral Design
Wedding Gown: Watters and Watters San Miguel
Bridal Boutique: Aisle Style, Elmhurst, IL
Custom wedding gown hanger: LilaFrances
Brides/Bridesmaid Shoes: Jack Rogers
Bridesmaid Dresses: Priscilla of Boston
Suits: JoS. A. Bank
Ties: Tux and Tulle (Etsy)
Invitations: Blush Design Studio
Rehearsal Dinner Invitations: Kate Spade
Day of Coordinator (DOC)-Jennifer Potter, Dot your i’s
Table squares/overlays- Groom’s mother, fabric available from Anna Griffin
Chuppah: BZ Sustainable Style, the Bride’s mother’s company
Brides Clutch: BZ Sustainable Style, the Bride’s mother’s company

If you are interested in what adding decorative lighting to your wedding may look like, here are some examples below:

This wedding reception venue has both uplighting and monogrammed gobo lighting. There is nothing like walking into a beautifully lit wedding reception and hearing your friends and family say “Wow!”

decorative uplighting for weddingsHere is another example of both uplighting and personalized gobo lighting. Rather than cut a name into the lighting, some companies offer customized gobo designs such as these leaf patterns on the wall to set the tone for an autumn wedding:

wedding uplighting and monogram gobo lightingwedding uplightingPinspotting or pin spot lighting can be used to highlight certain things like centerpieces, cakes, or the head table as shown here:

pin spot lighting and pinspotting for weddingFor lighting design in Boston, I recommend: Cambridge Uplighting.

For lighting design in Chicago, I recommend: Frost Lighting or Chicago Lighting Design.

Chicago wedding vendors: photographer, florist, bakery, & wedding planner

Chicago wedding vendors including florist Christine Noelle from Christine Noelle Design and Molly’s Cupcakes and myself as the photographer, teamed up on a professionally styled shoot this spring. The photo shoot was used for an advertisement in the popular wedding magazine Chicacgo Social Brides (also know simply as CS Brides) which hit newsstands on June 15th. Earlier this spring, Christine Noelle opened the doors of her fabulous, new floral design studio to set up a fun tablescape for the shoot. I arrived one early morning to see Christine working like a painter laying down an explosion of colors, using spring flowers as her tools. Cupcakes, assorted vases, tea cups imported from England, and decorative papers were also used. Christine transformed the perfect scene into a “mad tea party.” In the picture below, you can see two photographs from the shoot.

photographer for Chicago Social Brides Magazine CS bridesThe advertisement on the left is for Chicago wedding planner La Di Events, with wedding photography I took for Naomi and Andy’s Chicago area autumn wedding. I will have the pleasure of working alongside Christine Noelle’s team at Dilly Lily at an upcoming wedding at the Chicago InterContinental Hotel downtown for a bride and groom coming from Australia for their big day this fall..