Real wedding: Sandra + Nate

What really sold me on this wedding was the incredible space, the white lanterns, and the overall modern feel of the whole shebang!  Sandra gives all the details below…enjoy!
We met on April 3rd, 2009 at a friend’s birthday party.  After six wonderful months of dating, we were engaged.

We had only three months to plan our wedding (due to our choice of venue and their availability). A bit ambitious, however we were confident we could pull it off, even without a wedding planner.   We wanted a relaxed, sophisticated, and contemporary vibe with wonderful food, drinks, and entertainment. We wanted to throw a fun party. We didn’t realize it at the time we booked our venue, but we had chosen to get married exactly one yearfrom the date we met. Serendipitous!

The ball starts rolling

On a business trip to Minneapolis two months after we got engaged, we decided on a whim to check out wedding dresses at Macy’s. Despite thinking there would be nothing but disappointment at a traditional department store, I was stunned that they had one of three dresses I had bookmarked when perusing dresses online for ideas – a Vera Wang. This one was the favorite, and was offered at a deep discount during a floor sample sale. Lucky! The sales lady insisted the alterations could be done before we left town…in three days. Done. (The husband-to-be already had a dapper Hugo Boss suit, coincidentally also purchased at a Macy’s years ago).

Less than a month later, on January 2nd, we decided to look for a wedding venue in Chicago, the city where we live and met. We were hoping for a one stop deal where we could have the ceremony and reception at the same place, to get the fullest use of our short day and to make things easier for our out-of-town guests. We also wanted a place that was unique, modern, and not too big for our small wedding, and we were cognizant that a space’s decor (or lack thereof) could make or break a photo. So we called one of our top contenders, Prairie Production, and we were able to see it that day. It was a blank slate: white walls, some with exposed white brick, concrete floors, and the best part, enormous floor to ceiling windows facing south that allowed for beautiful natural lighting. As a bonus, we liked the location because we had spent some time there on our first city photo excursion together. Booked.

Real planning begins

Photography is important to both of us and we did not want to compromise in this area.  Memories fade over the years and we wanted images that would bring us back emotionally.  After a lot of searching, we found a great photograher. Her work stood apart from the rest, and we liked that she had a fine art photography background. She was the only photographer we contacted, but when you know it’s right, it’s right.

Through phone calls, online searches and Yelp reviews, we selected four caterers.  Upon receiving bids, we elected to set up tastings with two.  We couldn’t have gone wrong with either caterer, making this one of the hardest decisions we had to make.  We finally decided chose Food for Thought, and they did great.
Instead of a cake, we decided to go with cupcakes. This allowed for a greater variety of flavors. Something for everyone.

Flowers were next on the agenda and we met with two vendors. With a few starting points from us, our florist created some beautiful arrangements. We opted for an arrangement that would complement a room with 22 foot ceilings that did not look out of place in such a contemporary setting.

After shopping around a bit for invitations, we decided to save some money by creating our own, along with RSVP cards, table cards, and escort cards. In the end they turned out well, but the design, printing and assembly was a lot of work.

For decorations, we had photos printed from our adventures together and matted them to hang along a long wall at the venue. We also designed and built pillars to hold illuminated pussy willows along the walls. Satisfying, but time-consuming.

For the following items, we were able to whittle down our choice in vendors so we only met with one in each area.  This saved us valuable time to work on the invitations and decorations…
For entertainment, we chose a string quartet to perform during the ceremony and cocktail hour.  The quartet was amazing and added a flavor of sophistication we were looking for.  We hired a deejay to provide music during dinner and dancing.
To perform the ceremony, we found a reverend that was non-denominational, but was spiritual.  We were impressed with him from day one.  He was extremely organized and detail oriented.  The ceremony was brief, yet relevant and thoughtful.
A dear friend who works in the lighting industry provided all of the lights at the venue.  The venue has dramatically high white walls, and the lighting was a perfect balance for the space.

The Wedding Day
Some say that something always goes wrong on the wedding day, but we were optimistic that things would be stellar.  We had confidence in our vendors and expected to spend the day relaxed, yet excited. The whirlwind of planning was coming to an end.  The early morning rain cleared up for pre-wedding photos. Blissful.

In Conclusion

We had such a wonderful time, and it was truly amazing to see everyone that is so important to us there in one place. Everyone we talked to afterward said they had fun, and some of our guests commented that everything reflected our style. Mission accomplished.

Venue: Prairie Production
Officiant: Bruce Otto

Catering: Food for Thought
String Quartet: Park West Strings
Cupcakes: Luscious Layers
Jewelry: Steve Quick
Dress: Vera Wang
Suit: Hugo Boss

[images from Olivia Leigh Photographie]

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Engagement shoot: Meena + Jamie

I couldn’t resist a shoot in front of one of my favorite houses of all time in NYC…you may recognize it from 9 By Design!

How carefree do these 2 look?

[images from Punam Bean]

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Studio tour: Clark + Walker Studio

Name: Luke Walker (and wife/fellow photographer Alisha Clark)
Location: Troy, NY
Company: Clark+Walker Studio

What is your aesthetic? Clean and contemporary with a little bit of bold and and a hint of vintage.

How does your studio style convey your professional aesthetic? Because our studio is located in the antiques district of our city, we wanted to blend a little local flavor by using a window display full of old frames that were almost throw-aways. Our local community has given us an appreciation for adding a bit of vintage into our studio space. Overall though our studio gives the clean and bold look of Clark+Walker Studio. From the commercial grade wallpaper accent to the italian tile flooring to the bold slate gray and gold studio coloring…we wanted people to walk in and have the same in-person experience they’d expect from the Clark+Walker brand.

Favorite part of your studio? The meeting area has to be our favorite place by far. A comfortable place for all of us to gather and share ideas, as well a place to watch our in-studio Apple TV if one of us needs to come up for air from editing. Our videographer proposed a rule of “no shoes” during winter time, only slippers. We believe in comfort over here.

Where do you go for inspiration? This may sound cliche, but I believe there is a day that comes in the evolution of becoming a photographer where you start to see the world through a camera lens. The everyday view of the world sort of goes out the window, at least it did for Alisha and myself. When we go to Puerto Rico for vacation we walk the cobble stone streets and brightly painted buildings and no matter how hard we try not too, we are both seeing different photographs. When I see a child running by us waving the Puerto Rican flag I think “what an awesome prop that would be for a local shoot.” When I see an older man on the corner playing guitar trying to make a couple bucks I see a great photo opportunity with people dancing behind him in the cobblestone streets. I’m a believer that the greatest source of inspiration is getting out, trying new things, and changing up your comfort zone whenever possible.

What tool do you use in your business that you can’t live without? I know I’m supposed to say my 50mm 1.2 lens, or Photoshop or something techy. But honestly…the tool that I can’t live without is email. While I certainly believe our work is good (I’m probably biased though), what really books us jobs and takes our business to the next level is the relationships we form. Whether it be with brides who are looking for photo and/or video or whether it’s fellow wedding professionals, our business is founded on relationships and our network of supporters. There is no way we’d be shooting all the fashion runway for The Knot, and getting weddings from Bermuda to Hawaii by just taking great pictures with cool toys. Any successful person or business has a network of supporters backing them, and we really try and make sure we utilize the speed and convenience of email in keeping up with our network and trying to support the people who support us.

Is there anything you’d upgrade to? Yes I’d like to propose facebook upgrade it’s email system! Anyone else have a great email system set up only to have it ruined or slowed down by so many people sending emails through FB now? Something that I actually can change though is bringing on a full time production manager which we are currently hiring for right now. As the number of weddings we do grows we have to continue to grow with it.

Anything else we should know? We like long walks on the beach and…oh wait…oops! I mean, we love meeting new people and making new friends!  Our online home can be found at clarkwalkerstudio.com and we can connect on facebook at facebook.com/cwstudio. We’d love to hear from you.

[images from Clark + Walker]

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