Estimated reading time: 8 minutes.
Every morning the moment I wake up on a wedding day I always lay in my bed under my covers and wonder how the weather will play its role in the day's events. You can never truly trust the weatherman in the Midwest, we more believe in what stories the sky through our windows will tell us.
That specific morning of Leah & Billy's wedding, much like every wedding day morning, I pulled back my curtains with a slight hesitation and saw... that it was going to be a sublime day to craft some images for these two wonderful people. After one long wedding day checklist and a few cups of coffee later I drove through South Bend on my way to capture their wedding day at Morris Park Country Club.
Entering the country club I am escorted to the ladies’ getting-ready room and I can hear laughter echoing through the halls. I am greeted with Leah in the stylist’s chair having her hair done and a smile on her face, which almost never left the entire day. Moments after arriving, Leah’s bridesmaids Lauren & Lindsay, brought her an album filled with wonderful notes and memories for our bride to reminisce to. Joyful tears would fall from our brides’ eyes onto the album leaving another memory for them to find at a later time. Much to her surprise, her groom would be sending wave after wave of thoughtful gift after thoughtful gift.
With Leah’s hair looking flawless she was ready to move to the makeup artist station to be pampered by "Enhanced by Ashley". With the stroke of a brush, a bit of eyeshadow applied and a smidge of eyelash glue Ashley stood by the promise in her business' name. She didn't make Leah look like someone she was not but only brought out the best of Leah's already wonderful features.
Moving through the hallways we'd find the entrance to the men's locker room where Billy and his groomsmen were to be getting ready. There are typically a few different kinds of grooms that we wedding photographers get to see. The "laid back" groom; the "emotionless till I see her" groom; the "sweating profusely" groom; and then there was Billy. Excited, nervous, relaxed, proud, in love. Billy would be kneeling on the ground wrapping presents with such purpose that no Christmas gift has ever been so joyfully wrapped. You could tell this day meant just as much to him as it did for Leah.
Moments before all the guys were about to be getting ready, a few of the bridesmaids brought Billy a gift. They exchanged hugs and laughs as Billy is presented a box. He reached for the gift and opened it to find himself a brand new and beautifully crafted Michael Kors watch. Grinning ear to ear he began to examine it knowing it would go perfectly with his tux hanging upon the wooden lockerroom door. Billy asked the ladies to send Leah his appreciation right before he moved to his locker to finish getting ready. Our ride would be arriving shortly to escort everyone to the ceremony location.
One of the first things you’ll notice when entering the main area of Summit Church is the stage. It’s very interesting, and quite intriguing to look at. It made for a wonderful backdrop to the ceremony. Before the ceremony took place one of the first things we wanted to do here was to allow Leah & Billy a moment for just the two of them. They would stand around the corner from one another unable to see their lover's eyes but were allowed to hold each other’s hand.
The two of them began easing their hands around the structure to find each other's embrace. Once the moment their hands touched they both were overcome with happiness, relief, and tears. Love is powerful that way when you don’t even know how to control your emotions just from the fact you touched the person you love. That is powerful. That is love. And these two have loads of it.
Leah holding a small black box had one last present to give her soon-to-be husband. Something to let him know just how much she loves him and also to never forget just how lucky he is... Upon regaining his composure after looking through his gift, Billy told Leah he loved her and headed for the ceremony. If he would have been made to wait there any longer I know he was going to toss the “rules” to the side and turn that corner so he could lay eyes on the one he was going to marry. With much restraint, they parted ways and stayed tucked back till it was time for the ceremony.
With every wedding I photograph, it always takes me back to my own wedding. I remember standing where Billy was standing, thinking probably the same thoughts he was too. Watching his bride walk towards him and not even realizing that these memories are being permanently inscribed into his being. He'll never forget her face, her smile, what he felt as she walked down that aisle, all of it. It's there forever. Billy looked at his beautiful bride and Leah floated towards her groom with the same phenomenon happening to her as well. As powerful as this moment is; it's over before you realize it. Words were given, their vows exchanged, and rings placed on one another's finger, the ceremony was over and two became one.
Mr & Mrs. Siderits.
Upon opening the church doors there parked our bride & groom's chariot; aka party bus but we're going to go with calling it a chariot, awaited to take our newlyweds to their reception. Equipped with a fine stereo and plenty of... Refreshments. The party had begun only slightly before the reception which always makes for great photographs during our portraits as well and this crew rocked them!
Walking through the doors of Morris Park Country Club I was very impressed with the design and setup they & Burns Rent-alls provided for Leah & Billy. Elegant silver chairs, soft white linens, and beautiful floral arrangements by Snapdragon-designs. I know both Billy & Leah fell in love with it as well. When entering the hall at MPCC where their friends & families stood awaiting to cheer them towards the head table they couldn't help but yell with excitement. When you have a crowd of a few hundred people cheering you into a room, it'll get you pretty pumped! With the adrenaline of being announced into their wedding reception, Leah & Billy embraced each other for their first dance as husband and wife.
With the ending of their song ringing throughout the venue and one more kiss to seal the dance, they went directly into cake cutting. This is where Leah lets everyone know just which tradition will not be taking place during the said cake cutting, that dress, that makeup, it's not going to be getting ruined.
Leah & Billy walked towards to the head table to sit down and listen to her father give his welcoming toast and blessing. It's moments like this I love to really pay attention to not just the bride and groom but also her father. Over the years watching his little girl grow up, like most fathers, it would at some point randomly cross his mind that he'd one day be giving this exact speech. During his toast you could see all those memories playing out in front of him, the home movies in his mind as he looks at his beautiful daughter and thinking how proud he is knowing he was apart of her life and able to give her away to the man she loves. It's truly special.
Soon the bridal party would follow with their own speeches that filled the room with caring words of wisdom all the way to roast-like commentary. It was a fun and loving room, you could really sense it, especially when it was announced that dinner was to be served.
Now that everyone was fed it was time for the Father/Father/Daughter dance. Yes, you read that right and like the gentlemen those two men are they each had a chance to dance with the girl they both hold dear. From there Billy took the dance floor with his Mother and they both proceeded to enjoy their dance together as she got to dance with her now married son.
First dances are done, the cake has been eaten and stomachs are now settling. Rick Mitchell of Black Diamond Productions announces that it was time for the bouquet & garter tosses. A chair is pulled up for Leah to sit in as Billy must go and retrieve her garter. What Billy doesn't realize is that the garter Leah is wearing is sporting the colors of Leah's favorite football team, Michigan. Billy is an MSU fan in case you didn't know... Hence his reaction but don't worry, he quickly tossed it.
After the tosses, the crowd jumped into an open dance, a conga line, a dance-off and Grandma taking the hand of Rick our DJ for the evening and breaking it down a little bit herself. For this photographer, the night was coming to an end so we took the guys outside for a late night cigar shot to top it all off. It was the end of a perfect wedding with two amazing people.
Thank you, Leah & Billy, for allowing me to be apart of your wedding and I cannot thank you both enough. I hope these memories last you and your families for the rest of your lives. I appreciate you both from the bottom of my heart and thank you for everything.
Wedding Planning, Set-up & Décor – Elena Dunn & Staff, Morris Park Country Club | Food & Beverage – Executive Chef Brian Steinway & Staff, Morris Park Country Club | DJ & Lighting – Rick Mitchell, Black Diamond Productions | Chairs and other rental items – Burns Rent-alls | Floral Centerpieces, Bouquets, and Church Décor – Chandra Dover, Snapdragon-designs | Cake and Cupcakes – Crumb Crossing Bakery
Videography – Courtlan Gordon