Chicago's First Lady: Rani and Jeff

The story of how I met Rani and Jeff is unique and personal....but know that there is one.  And much like Rani and Jeff's story, my story with them is full of fun and adventure.

For those that don't know, I'm based in Arkansas.  Rani and Jeff are based in Colorado.  They had chosen Chicago as their wedding destination.  My second shooter....is from Michigan (the U.P. to be exact!) and took a Grey Hound bus from Indy to get to the wedding!  So one might ask...how did this work?  Simply put: The Internet and Social Media.

Their original photographer found herself in a situation where she would need to find a replacement. I knew the photographer through a Facebook group for photographers and offered my help.  Rani contacted me on 4th of July weekend via my website.  After a short, but very detailed conversation, the ball began to roll.  Within a week I had confirmed travel arrangements for myself and my second shooter.  In 5 short weeks, we would be boarding a Chicago riverboat to photograph a pretty epic wedding!

I want to thank Rani and Jeff for allowing Kelly and I to be a part of their very special day.  And for trusting us to capture those important moments for them to enjoy for years to come!  Congrats you guys!

On August 8th, 2015, Rani and Jeff, along with close family and dear friends, boarded the Chicago's First Lady Cruise Line fleet boat, The Classic Lady. Here they would make the ultimate commitment to each other in front of friends ,family, and much of Chicago!

Their day begin at the Hotel Palomar-Chicago located in Downtown Chicago.  When I first arrived at the hotel, I went straight towards the bride's room.  There I found her and her friends and family gathered around buckets of some of the prettiest flowers I have EVER seen.

Bride's and Matron's of honor's bouquets as made by...them!  Boutonnieres too! 

Bride's and Matron's of honor's bouquets as made by...them!  Boutonnieres too! 

In our first conversation, the bride made it clear that the day and the ceremony were going to be super relaxed.  She and the groom truly wanted the day to be documented.  She also mentioned that there was a good chance her and her sister would hit up Trader Joe's for flowers the morning of the wedding.  (Gotta love a bride who can turn out her own floral arrangements!)

Shortly after my arrival, the bride began to finish her hair and make up prep. 

A simple but beautiful smokey eye for the bride

A simple but beautiful smokey eye for the bride

Paired with a beautiful updo!

Paired with a beautiful updo!

During this time, my AMAZING Second Shooter found his way from the Grey Hound station to the hotel. (There had been fear of a serious delay....Grey Hound LIED!).  My Second Shooter, Kelly McCommons, and I met at a workshop a few months back and always look for good reasons to work together!  Rani and Jeff's special day was an excellent reason to join forces!

I met Kelly in one of the other prep rooms and we begin to photograph the Bride's dress and details.  From there we moved to the AMAZING hotel lobby where we found some amazing chairs to use as a backdrop.

She wanted a dress that SCREAMED 1920s...and boy did she find a beautiful one!

She wanted a dress that SCREAMED 1920s...and boy did she find a beautiful one!

Once we return the dress and details to the bride, we made our way to the Groom's room where and and some long time friends were getting ready.  I worked with the groom and the guys for a bit and then left them in Kelly's hands.  

An elegant grey suit with black accents 

An elegant grey suit with black accents 

Kelly gave a quick tutorial on french cuffs and cufflinks

Kelly gave a quick tutorial on french cuffs and cufflinks

Long time friend and best man!

Long time friend and best man!

Once we finished with the guys, we headed to the the boarding dock of the boat where the wedding would take place.  The 90 mins before the wedding were a flurry of activity that included family photos with both the bride and groom's families, a man hunt (apparently it's a no no to jump into the Chicago River!), last second set up and an amazing entrance by the bride crossing the intersection at Wacker and Wabash!

What an entrance! 

What an entrance! 

Practicing her father-daughter cha-cha in between photos!

Practicing her father-daughter cha-cha in between photos!

Such beautiful families!  And so much love!!

Such beautiful families!  And so much love!!

Once the family photos were done, we safely stashed the bride away and the groom took his place on the top deck. Rani and Jeff really wanted their friends and family to feel relaxed and to have fun!  They DJ played right up until the start of the ceremony and there was a open bar and plenty of food all night long!

Hiding the bride is difficult on a boat!

Hiding the bride is difficult on a boat!

Once the ceremony began, it was quick and full of fun and love and  live acoustic versions of Backstreet Boys songs! Rani and Jeff crafted a beautiful ceremony that not only celebrated them and their love for each other, but they created a ceremony that thanked their loved ones for being so supportive of their relationship.  The groom walked his mother down the aisle while the bride was escorted by her mother and father.  The bride's stepfather officiated the ceremony and her sister acted as her maid of honor while the groom's long time friend acted as his best man.

One of the more unique parts of the wedding included a poem written by a close friend for the wedding.  She asked small children "What is love?".  She took the responses and created a beautiful, and at times very true, explanation of what it was that was being celebrated that day. She titled the poem "Love is Chocolate Milk". Below you will find an excerpt. 

Love is a friend

Love is like Queen Elsa

Love is Spiderman

Love is a Dog

Love is a Train

Love is giving up all your cookies and hugs and kisses to someone and not even being mad about it.

From Love is Chocolate Milk by Alyson Rosewood

Love is perfect!

Love is perfect!

They wrote their own vows and brought smiles to everyone's faces with the funny stories and words of love that they shared

They wrote their own vows and brought smiles to everyone's faces with the funny stories and words of love that they shared

I now pronounce you....wait what!  is that a Flash Mob!?!?

I now pronounce you....wait what!  is that a Flash Mob!?!?

So the Bride decided to surprise the groom with a flash mob after their kiss!  I of course begged Kelly to get it on video...because how often do you get to photograph a wedding with a flash mob!?!?

Big family photo!!

Big family photo!!

Such a beautiful bridal party!

Such a beautiful bridal party!

The skyline photobombed my bridal portraits !?!?!

The skyline photobombed my bridal portraits !?!?!

 

For the rest of the evening the bride and groom enjoyed the time with their friends and family on board the Classic Lady.  The night was filled with dancing and toasts.  There was a beautiful sunset and the Chicago Skyline glowed red and orange and yellow.  We made our way to Lake Michigan where we were treated with a beautiful fireworks display.

The bride decorated the reception tables with photo memories and fleur de lis.

The bride decorated the reception tables with photo memories and fleur de lis.

The Chicago Skyline at sunset is amazing!

The Chicago Skyline at sunset is amazing!

First dance!

First dance!

Friends and family toasted the bride and groom telling amazing stories!

Friends and family toasted the bride and groom telling amazing stories!

Chicago Proud!

Chicago Proud!

Love is everything....

Love is everything....

The night closed with Rani and Jeff bidding their guests farewell once the boat docked.  They joined family and friends at the hotel bar for a small get together.  Eventually Kelly and I faded into the night and left the bride and groom all smiles and truly in love. 

I cannot wait to share the rest of this album with Rani and Jeff!  Congrats and best wishes!

<3 Hugs!

Kat