Illinois

Koharu + Merlin | Japanese wedding reception at Pear Tree Estate

I described it this way on my Facebook sneak peek too, but Friday’s wedding of Koharu + Merlin truly was a dream! They (with the help of Merlin’s mom Denise) planned an intimate, faith-filled ceremony and reception at Pear Tree Estate with plenty of personal touches and nods to their Japanese heritage.

Can we take a minute to talk about Koharu’s amazing dress? It was gorgeous, and that back — so stunning with the buttons, lace, and the perfect bow at the top. And how snazzy was Merlin’s suit? So sharp, with a fun added touch of the bunny socks for the guys.

I adored all the origami paper cranes that Koharu made to decorate the tables. The colorful 4-tiered butterfly cake by the Cake Artist’s Studio was a show stopper and almost too pretty to eat!

The couple held a ceremony on the back patio at Pear Tree with the pond and fountain as a backdrop, and the giant gold ring as an altarpiece. The monogrammed aisle runner led the way for the couple to enter their new married life together.

Following the as always delicious dinner by LA Gourmet, I led the couple out for a few sunset pictures, and then we did a sparkler exit on the back patio as well.

It was so fun to see Koharu’s wedding vision come to life and for all the details to come together perfectly. I was honored to be a part of it and to be able to capture this special day for them. Congrats, Koharu + Merlin!!

Ceremony & Reception | Pear Tree Estate, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Catering | LA Gourmet, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Cake | Cake Artist Studio, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Florist | Blossom Basket, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Instrumentalists | Barbara Hedlund, 1st Choice Music Services, Urbana, IL | Facebook

Officiant | Pastor Herb Coates

Menu design & Handlettering | Apricity Ink

Bride’s Dress Retailer | Elite Bridal Shop, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Bridesmaid Dresses | Azazie | Instagram

Suits/Tuxes | Men’s Wearhouse, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Bride’s hair & makeup | Style & Grace Salon

Video: Tori Beach Videography | Instagram

Photographer: Holly Birch Photography, Illinois-based photographer available for destination weddings

Hannah + Colin | Willow Creek Farm wedding

Moments are what make up a wedding day. Lots and lots of little moments, and man, did I enjoy witnessing so many special ones on Saturday during Colin + Hannah’s big day. It wasn’t my first time to Willow Creek Farm, but it WAS my first time photographing a wedding there! I enjoyed my time there so much despite the 90+ degree heat, and the 10,000+ steps and 137 activity minutes I logged on my Fitbit. :)

Hannah hugged me when I first walked in and after a few dress photos, we jumped right into her getting dressed. Then after a few getting ready photos of Colin, we were ready to do the First Look. Talk about emotional!! It was one of the sweetest first looks ever and both and bride and groom had a hard time keeping it together. We all took a pause, a few deep breaths and then made some magic under the weeping willow trees by the pond. (Side note: Weeping Willow trees are one of my all-time favorite backgrounds for photos!)

The timeline Hannah + Colin created gave us plenty of time to get everything done before the ceremony. I have never seen a more proud father walking his daughter down the aisle. I mean, Hannah’s dad just BEAMED as he led her toward Colin. The ceremony was very sunny and hot, but the officiant wrapped things up in an efficient 22 minutes (he said so during the ceremony!), and I was able to send the couple off to mingle with their guests while I got photos of the reception area untouched by guests.

A small rain shower came through during dinner, so that kind of changed my plans for some sunset photos, but we got some neat clouds up to the north so we used that instead. I also took them out on the back patio with the cute little cafe lights for some fun dusk photos.

Hannah + Colin’s guests were SO fun, and I will never listen to 500 Miles by the Proclaimers the same way again. At the end of the post, you’ll see some photos where the guests have the couple hoisted up on their shoulders, and that was during that song, the last one of the night. And then we sent them off to their honeymoon with a sparker sendoff! It was truly a great day and evening, and I am so thankful to have been a part of it. Congrats, Colin + Hannah, and I hope you’re having an amazing honeymoon!! <3

Ceremony, Reception & Catering | Willow Creek Farm, Urbana, IL | Instagram

Cake | Cakes by Lori, Mahomet, IL

Florist | Flora, Mahomet, IL | Facebook

DJ or Band | Dan Church, Champaign, IL

Instrumentalists | Alexa Groen

Officiant | Mark Verbruggen

Bride’s Dress Retailer | Elite Bridal, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Bride’s Dress Designer | Martina Liana | Instagram

Bridesmaid Dresses | Azazie | Instagram

Suits/Tuxes | Men’s Wearhouse, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Hair & Makeup | Style and Grace Salon, Champaign, IL | Instagram

Videographer | Olivia Helmus | Instagram

Drone footage | EMC Photography

Photographer: Holly Birch Photography, Illinois-based photographer available for destination weddings

Emily + AJ | DoubleTree by Hilton wedding, Bloomington, Illinois

Some brides are planners and have everything completed to perfection — they make it look easy! Emily was one of those brides, which in turn made my job easy! (It may or may not have had something to do with her Apple Watch that she disguised with a pearl band for the wedding!) ;) She built a stellar timeline, had extra hands to help throughout the day, and organized a flawless wedding day from start to finish. It was hotter than blazes outside, but we actually didn’t spend too much time outside. We did all the pre-ceremony stuff inside the church, and there was one long hallway full of windows that came in super handy. After the ceremony, we spent about an hour outside, but it went by quickly with everyone cooperating well so we could get done and back into the AC! Emily + AJ, and their whole wedding party were troopers for sure!

The Bloomington DoubleTree was bathed in purple uplighting, and I loved the floor-length crystal chandeliers that set the dance floor off from the rest of the room. Sunflowers are such statement flowers and I love using them for ring photos and of course photographing bouquets with them. They really are a happy flower! I borrowed a 20mm wide angle lens to play with a bit at this wedding, and several of Emily + AJ’s portraits were taken with it. I really like the look of those images and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked using it.

Congrats again to the happy couple! Best wishes for a long and happy marriage, Emily + AJ!

Vendors

Ceremony | St. Patrick Church of Merna, Bloomington, IL

Reception & Catering | DoubleTree by Hilton, Bloomington, IL | Instagram

Cake | Hy-vee Bakery, Bloomington, IL ; Amy Hayes

Florist | Forget Me Not Flowers, Bloomington, IL

DJ or Band | Mc Fyr Doc | Facebook

Instrumentalists | Judy Tavernor

Officiant | Father Dustin Schultz

Bride’s dress retailer | Cloud Nine Bridal Boutique, Peoria, IL | Instagram

Bride’s dress designer | Ella Rosa | Instagram

Bridesmaid dresses | Dillards | Instagram

Suits/Tuxes | Men’s Wearhouse | Instagram

Jeweler(s) | Jack Lewis Jewelers, Bloomington, IL | Instagram

Videographer | Video Dreams Productions, East Peoria, IL

Hair & Makeup | Fox and Hounds Salon, Bloomington, IL | Instagram

Uplighting | Prospect Sound and Lighting, Peoria, IL | Instagram

Photographer: Holly Birch Photography, Illinois-based photographer available for destination weddings