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Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms Wedding: RYAN + DANIELLE

What do you get when the weather is breezy perfection?

There’s an intimate ceremony on an apple orchard hilltop?

Everyone is super laid-back yet had one of the most energetic dance-floors I’ve been on yet?

A father’s speech to his daughter that WAS the best one I’ve heard?

A venue that I’d be more than happy to shoot at every day of my life?

A bride & groom that were the life of their own party?


Guys…Without sounding super hippy, there was an energy about this wedding. You could feel it! Between the most heart-felt speeches (that already have me all sorts of nostalgic about my own kids future wedding. (Good things he’s only 9months old) (:

The dance floor that was less about epic dance moves (though they weren’t too shabby!) but more so an energetic celebration of being with everyone you love in one spot.

I don’t often comment on the food but for one…dinner was wrapped in bacon. Like lots of bacon. (: And it was so tender I literally cut it with a butter knife.

It was the perfect combination of an awesome venue and an epic bride & groom! Ryan & Danielle, you guys are awesome!! From peacing out on dinner for a bit to try my photo experiments (which ended up being some of my favorites by the way) to being the core of what is no doubt a legendary wedding to every person that was there. Absolutely LOVED your wedding!! They key was YOUR wedding. Wouldn’t have been the same had it been with anyone else! Thank you for allowing me to capture it!

VENUE: Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms:

FLORIST: Flowers by Grattoni:

DJ: Luxe Productions:

VIDEOGRAPHY: Chicago Wedding Films:

HAIR: Hair Couture:

MAKEUP: Total Image Bridal:

GOWN BOUTIQUE: Reddington Bridal:

ACCOMMODATIONS: Courtyard Marriott Rockford:




Growing up I never quite fit the social norm of being a “girl.” My favorite color was Army Green, I wanted to be an Olympian, I’d complain every Sunday when my parents would make me wear a dress to church. Through high school they put me in the boys gym classes because I was so competitive. They’d put a cap on how many goals in floor hockey I could score. That’s not so much bragging about my goals but rather, my lack of being able to stop. (It was park district league after all; cool my jets!) I was told I was too small to play basketball or volleyball so of course I tried out for both playing it all the way through high school to spite people. Again, most of this…stereotypically…not normal for a “girl.”

Well, the more I got to know Kimi (a bride I photographed last winter) the more I saw that there were in fact others like me out there. Photo slides showing her in full ice-hockey gear. Instead of flowers hanging off of her head table chairs it was jerseys. And yet, she is absolutely the sweetest person!!! A go-getter at heart, life of the party for sure, but her softness is a beautiful compliment to her goal-oriented spirit. So it was ultra refreshing to see her baby girls nursery adorned in a sailor theme. I loved that they chose to have photos of lil’ Kennedy with hockey gloves, and baseball mitts. The example her parents are in their own lives and now in raising their daughter is a allowing the freedom for Kennedy to be herself in all things from day one. What a gift to be empowered with that. And what a gift she has with Kimi + Matt as parents! True gems they are!! Welcome to the world; go get em Kennedy!



I’ve always love architecture. As in I was the kid in the back of the minivan still in a booster seat trying to point out the historic homes in our town’s awnings. So it wouldn’t then be a surprise that the Rookery building is one of my all time favorite venues anywhere! The bride to be, Amy and soon to be groom, Shawn must agree as they looked all over the world to find a staircase such as this one. They came all the way from Toronto to have their engagement photos done here. I don’t blame em’ it’s stunning! (Especially with them on it!) Congratulations you guys! The wedding festivities will be amazing.


Disney Themed Wedding: Independence Grove: JONATHAN + EMILY

When I open my house door or windows, birds, chipmunks, and all forms of adorable wildlife don’t come in to help me fold the laundry.  Rather, no joke, this morning (and unfortunately, several others) my cat chases chipmunks into our house for hours on end while I hide in the closet. I’m not dainty about it. I full on flip. If there were ever to be a non-animated human in existence to have some secret Disney Princess power to woo the wildlife it’d be today’s bride Emily. Maybe that was the way she pulled off her epic DIY Disney themed wedding. It was well…MAGICAL! Okay, may sound a bit over-the-top but seriously, it was probably the best executed themed wedding I’ve seen! Now don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t all just for show.

Who when I show up to capture their wedding gives me a gift? Emily.

Who got a champagne glass & cookie customized with my name & Tinkerbell (not even knowing I wear a Tinker Bun to just about every wedding I shoot?) Emily.

Who at the end of their wedding hugged me with such sincere gratitude?  The Champagne. Just kidding. (Kind of) Emily. (:

Who while on their honeymoon bought me a bottle of wine from the oldest vines in Europe and a jar of honey from a place named after me (or I after it) in Greek? I mean seriously…Who else knows that Melissa means Sweet Spirit/Honey Bee!? Oh that’s right Jonathan & Emily do.

Who less than 24 hours from landing from said honeymoon came to my house and sat in my kitchen with my naked fussy teething babe to deliver the thoughtfulness? Yep. Jonathan & Emily.

Who when reading on social media that I had a hard day directly contacted me to offer to watch my kiddo? Emily.

Wildlife may not flock to them (who knows, maybe the do!?) but people sure do. I now see very clearly why people from all stages of their lives came to celebrate with them.

People say there’s no such thing as Fairytales but this I know. Emily, you were the Belle of the ball. You saw past the ugly weather, and embraced the day with an ever optimistic heart. Your resiliency (dress hole and all) shows your strength as well as your tenderness to let it go. You’re super smart yet are the first to be fancy free. (Literally running the hills in your dress!) And now, you’ve found your prince. One that truly understands you and that beautiful heart of yours.

“I want it more than I can tell. And for once it might be grand to have someone understand.”

And Jonathan, you are the prince who has won Emily’s heart. All a girl really wants is to be pursued, adored, loved, cherished, protected, and to have someone by-their-side unconditionally. (Wine and Chocolate are bonuses. Not too much to ask; right?) (: Truly though, I know you’ll go to the ends of the earth to provide and love Emily.

 “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you, you’ve got a friend in me.” – Toy Story

Well guys, you had a magical wedding. Now it’s time to live your fairytale!

VENUE: Independence Grove:

DJ: 27 Entertainment:

VIDEOGRAPHER: 27 Entertainment :

DRESS BOUTIQUE: Wedding Belles:

Events at Independence Grove - December 11, 2017 - 9:47 PM

[…] To see more of the beautiful photos of Emily and Jonathan’s magical day, head over to Melissa Marie Photography’s Blog. […]

Events at Independence Grove - December 11, 2017 - 9:32 PM

[…] To see more of the beautiful photos of Emily and Jonathan’s magical day, head over to Melissa Marie Photography.  […]

Chicago Engagement Photos: A Day In The Park With Steven + Kimi

It is absolutely refreshing how fun these two are! Their sarcastic, weird, and slightly inappropriate running commentary on life is something you want to be the fly on the wall to hear. Most couples, actually wait…no other couple who has ever contacted me what to where for their engagement session at no point ever has mention their matching onsies being an option. These two volleyball big shots could have easily chosen the court or the beach to have their photos done but true to form, they chose the park. Why? Because it’s fun! As is the goofball gif of some of our photos from the session. You gotta go to our Facebook page to check it out.

I got a call shortly before our session was to begin letting me know that their car had overheated and broken down on the side of the highway. Steve walked to get coolant which did the trick, but I fully anticipated a call saying: “Ya know what, we’re pretty bummed, and I’m a sweaty mess from walking the highway, lets just do this another day.” But instead, these two show up completely un-phased, crackin’ jokes from the get-go. I love how rasilient these two are! I’m sure that’s in part why they’re such baller Volleyball players. But it’s also what’s gonna get them through a whole lot of unexpected twists in life’s plans. Keep your goofy, fun-loving, lighten-up people it’s just a joke mentality you guys. It’s absolutely refreshing! Cannot wait for the wedding! Now THAT will be FUN!!!