Xiyun and Ben’s Botanical Garden’s Wedding

Xiyun and Ben have a remarkable story that spans continents and years.   I feel like I’m more exotic and interesting just by photographing their wedding.  Xiyun and I first started a correspondence back in March, when she e-mail me about her wedding from China. They were living in Beijing at the time, so meeting in person was impossible.  I still hoped to get to know them a little more, so I asked Xiyun if she’d share more about their relationship with me.  She wrote:

“Okay, and now the story of how we met. This is kind of a crazy story, which I’m sure you’ll hear many times over at the wedding. My fiance’s name is Ben Foster. He’s english (tiny little town near manchester), we met in beijing (where I was born and where I grew up until the age of seven) in the summer of 2004 while I was taking a year off from college. Within a week of meeting him, I had these crazy plans to move to Tunisia (another totally long story, which can be boiled down to: I more or less threw a dart at a map). After knowing each other for about two weeks, (I pushed back my original flight a week) he bought a flight to Tunisia to visit me. We had this insane on again off again transpacific relationship between Beijing and Tunis and then Beijing and Rhode Island while I was still in school at Brown. We split up a for two years because the thought of keeping up a relationship while I still had two years left at school was too daunting. But then i graduated, did some traveling around more random parts of the world and moved back to beijing about 3 years ago, and we’ve never looked back. And that’s the short version.”  🙂

So we now live in Beijing, where Ben runs a motion graphics studio (http://www.39degreesnorth.tv/) and I’m a translator/researcher/occasional writer for the New York Times. After the wedding, we’re moving to new york together, where I’ll be starting law school in the fall.

We generally spend our time arguing over books and movies and tv shows (he claims that I refuse to like anything great that he discovered first). I cook a lot and sometimes write about it, so he eats a lot, and we high five each other even more often for being lucky enough to eat so much. We have both traveled a lot separately in the past, but we’ve not been to enough places together, something we’re hoping to remedy in the future. He plays in a band, so I sometimes go to his gigs in an attempt to compensate for my super asian nerdy teenage years.”

That’s the short version. From the stories guests shared at their wedding and speeches from family and friends, the long version includes travel, adventure, and more chemistry than a high school science class.  I feel so lucky to have photographed such an expressive, interesting, and inspiring couple.  Here’s to both of you!  I hope you have many many years of fun adventure together!


Venue: Chicago Botanic Garden

Dress: custom made in Beijing

Hair stylist: Styles down the aisle

Flowers: FlowersFlowers

Lindsay and Matt Married at Howes Memorial Chapel in Evanston

Lindsay and Matt’s wedding was full of International flair and cultural tradition. Their love for travel and learning was expressed through their details.   Guests arriving to the wedding, picked up small blue programs that looked just like a passports.  They were charmed during the ceremony by a guitarist playing one of Lindsay’s favorite acoustic melodies. Family and friends were introduced to a Afrocentric marriage tradition during the Yoruba tasting ritual, representing  four elements of marriage.  The ceremony shows that despite hardships within a marriage, represented as sour, bitter, and spicy, there is sweetness overall.

At the reception, a collection of Brazilian musicians created drum heavy beats for guests to dance too. Above the sambaing crowd, hung rows of white Mexican paper decorations, and  behind the dance floor, a dessert table was covered with an assortment of Italian cookies.  Chiwara figurines, a tradition of the Bambara people of Mali were the cake toppers.  Lindsay’s father hand carved the pair of antelope that represent renewal, abundance, and teamwork.

Lindsay and Matt brought their love for culture and travel to their wedding.  It was truly a distinct, unforgettable experience.  Congratulations to you both!

Also, quick shout out to my second Tom Root.  Thanks for all your help!

Cake: Janet Lee, Flour Cake & Pastry –flourcakeandpastry.com/
Makeup/Hair: Angelica Rivera, Tigerlilie Salon-www.tigerlilie.com/
Luciano Antonio–www.lucianoantonio.com/
Felipe Fraga-www.felipefraga.com
Geraldo de Oliveira-www.geraldodeoliveira.com/
Reception: Campagnola www.campagnolarestaurant.com
Second: Tom Root www.tomroot.blogspot.com

Kathlyn and David’s Morton Arboretum Wedding

The first time Kathlyn and I talked on the phone back in the winter it felt like we were old friends.  She is a fellow Missouri Journalism school graduate, so we immediately commiserated over shared stories of the J-slums (dilapidated apartments filled with over caffeinated aspiring reporters and broadcast students) and tail gating. We also shared a love for travel, which lead to the story of her and David.  The two met on the streets of Italy one evening.  David was actually on a  date with a local, when Kathlyn came on the scene.  While the Italian woman was native to the country, Kaitlyn had something that stole David’s attention away-she too was from Illinois originally.

Now the two live in California, but not for long.  but maybe not for long.  After David completes a three-year intensive graduate program in Middle Eastern studies, they may be on the road again. Who knows where they’ll head next!

Wow!  Did I mention how nice they are too?  Their family and friends were extremely welcoming me, making me feel right at home through the entire day.  Thanks so much Kat and David.

Kaitlyn and David's Morteum Arboretum weedding photography by Maggie Rife.

Becky + Darnell’s Arlington Heights Wedding

Becky and Darnell were married 30 minutes outside of Chicago in Arlington Heights, IL. I was able to spend sometime with  the couple a little before their wedding during their engagement session. They’re fun, funny, and kind people.  I love Becky’s easy going laugh and Darnell’s quiet sense of humor.

Their day was full of family-including three lovely flower girls who wooed myself and second shooter Tom Root. They were Becky’s little helpers dressed like mini-me’s in layered white fabric.  One of my favorite moments was when Becky captured their attention, and like magic, had them all sitting patiently as she spun them a fairytale-patiently for two minutes, but hey, that’s a lot for a day full of hustle and bustle!

Big thanks to Tom Root who seconded with me on this one!

Caterer: Heba-Hilton Rosemont

Florist: CR Flowers

DJ- Something 2 Dance 2

It started with a game of pool and ending in a marriage: Rose and Stu’s Chicago wedding at The James Hotel

I get really excited by beautiful light and graphic elements when shooting.  I love the way light will carve out a detail, reveal it’s shape, and accentuate human emotion.  You can imagine my joy when I stepped into the room Stu and and his groomsmen were “getting ready” in.  Mostly they were playing pool, passing around old high school pics, and orchestrating a round of five-hour energy shots.  Stu’s such a great, laid back guy, and his buddies were just as cool.

When it was time for the first look, Stu and I made our way downstairs to wait in the lobby.  I could sense his excitement.  Every 30 seconds or so he’d cast a glance over my shoulder at the stairway to see if Rose was on her way down yet. When she did tap his shoulder from behind, a grin the size of Texas spread across his face, proving, as his speech would claim later, he was the happiest man alive that day.

Rose and Stu’s wedding was so beautiful.  The Hotel (The James), the church (Holy Name Cathedral), the details!  It was all amazing.  The DJ totally rocked it out.  I couldn’t keep myself from dancing.  She had me at Hot chip. Muchas Gracias Steve Koo!  It was great to shoot with you, as always!

Groomsmen at The James Hotel pool table Groomsmen at The James Hotel pool table Groom looks through old high school photos Groom hangs with buddies before wedding
Detail shot of rings in bookshelf Old high school pictures of the groom and friends Bride walks down stairs of The James Hotel in Chicago Illinios Bride and Grooms first look at The James hotel in Chicago Illinois Bridal Party in downtown chicago Groomsmen adjust cufflinks of the groom Groomsmen relaxes before wedding Bride sits in waiting before the wedding ceremony Bridesmaid sits with daughter sleeping in lap Bride and bridesmaids take elevator to sanctuary Mother of the bride adjust the bride's veil before the ceremony Bride and Family wait before the ceremony Detail of a sanctuary in chicago illinois at the Holy Name Cathedral Bridal party places fabric over bride and groom during ceremony at the Holy Name Cathedral Detail shots during the sanctuary of the Holy Name Cathedral Bride and Groom make offering to Virgin Mary at the Holy Name Cathedral Bride and Groom kiss after their marriage Stained-glass window of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, Illinois Guest of wedding blows bubbles after the ceremoy Portrait of flower girl outside of wedding Cartoon name and table assignment Details for Stu and Rose's wedding at the James Hotel Candle and Table setting
Details for the reception at the James hotel tree
Detail of the Cake fiddle heads the james hotel
Dancing at the reception at the James hotel in chicago illinois
mother of the bride and mother of the groom share a moment while dancing Detail of the cityscape wall at the james hotel Flower girl holds up dollar bill to the groom during the dollar dance Groom taking the garter off

It was a hot affair…literally, but tons of fun!

Come rain or high water, nothing could keep Lisa and Rob from  walking down the aisle and having an amazing party afterwards. Nearly seven inches of rain fell in the early morning hours of their wedding day. The downpour flooded the interstate and cut power, creating obstacle after obstacle for the couple.
How did they handle it?  With an amazing sense of humor and unwavering optimism.  They kept a smile even after learning their reception hall, the 19th Century Club in Oak Park, was operating on a single generator and would not be able to run the air conditioner – clearly the time to call specialists from HVAC repair from http://topcoolingguys.com.  At one point in the night, Rob said, “Well, it makes for a memorable story and interesting pictures.”
Gotta love their attitude!
Guests were all in good cheer, slurping down ice cream before it melted and dancing till they sweat…well…ok, maybe they were already “glistening,” but everyone still cut a run. It just goes to show how good energy is contagious! Thanks Lisa and Rob for bringing it, and of course, the fantastic Steve Koo, whom I photographed alongside for this wedding!

Bride looks up at wedding dress while getting ready

Wedding Rings

Groom looks out window into sanctuary after the ceremony has supposed to start
Father-of-the-bride and bride prepare to procede down aisle

Bride and Father of the bride walk down the aisle

Flower girl looks around during the wedding ceremony

Bride smiles during the ceremony at husband

Bride hugs man

Bride smiles alongside groom after they were just married

groom checks iphone after ceremony

Detail of brides dress

Bride holds veil so it won't blow away while crossing street
Waitress' open windows at the 19th century club in oak park
Table place card detail
table setting at reception at the 19th century club in oak park guest escape heat of reception outside on patio of the 19th century club Little boy looks at brides flowers cute Couple feeds baby ice cream at reception at the 19th century club in oak park Guest use photo booth during reception at the 19th century club in oak park Bride and grooms first dance at the 19th century club Groom dances with grand-daughter during reception at the 19th century club in oak park Guest and bride dance at reception 19th century club in oak park Guest and bride dance at reception at the 19th century club in oak park
guest dance at reception at the 19th century club in oak park Little girl cools off by fan