Molly + Shea | University Place Church + iHotel wedding

I didn't meet Molly + Shea in person until the day of their wedding, but by the end of the day we felt like great, longtime friends!  Molly chose a blush pink and gold palette for the day, and the bridesmaid dresses were all the perfect shade and each one was different even though each woman selected her own design.  The guys looked super sharp in their black bow tie tuxes.  The bridal suite at University Place Christian Church was recently remodeled and was phenomenal for the bride and her maids to get ready. Molly + Shea chose to do a first look, and the church has a neat little courtyard just outside the bridal suite that worked beautifully!  We then continued on with portraits of the couple, wedding party, and family so most of the important photos were covered before the ceremony.  The following the ceremony, we were able to have a relaxed, low pressure time with the couple and the wedding party again before heading to cocktail hour.  The ballroom at iHotel looked super elegant with amber uplighting and the blush pink and gold theme evident throughout.  Molly had a huge smile on her face for the entire reception -- you'll see it for sure in the photos!  I especially loved the tribute her sisters did to when they used to dress up as kids, including special furs and vests for each of them to wear, and Molly singing in a circle with her sorority sisters. What a great night! Congrats, Shea + Molly!!

Leave a comment below for Molly + Shea and after 50 comments, they'll receive a complimentary 11x14" print of their choice!!

Contact Holly to book your own wedding or engagement session!


Cake: Cream and Flutter

Florist: Blossom Basket 

DJ: Elite Entertainment

Caterer: University of Illinois

Officiant: Pastor Kris Light

Bride's dress: Elite Bridal | David Tutera

Bridesmaid dresses: Azazie

Suits/tuxes: Black Tie Formalwear

Transportation: Elite Entertainment

Linens: University of Illinois

Invitations: Shine Wedding Invitations

Jeweler: Joel Singer

Hair + Makeup: Something You Salon and Spa

Drapery + Chairs: Elite Entertainment

Place Cards: Cali O'Rourke Calligraphy

Photographer: Holly Birch Photography

2017 Wedding Trends | Midwest and Beyond


With 11 years of photographing weddings under my belt, I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to weddings. I’ve seen all kinds of trends as well as beautiful, unique elements from both ends of the spectrum. One-of-a-kind ideas are always welcome to me as a photographer to help keep things fresh and keep me on my toes. Many brides want to stay with classic tones and themes though so that their wedding and the photos and videos of it will stand the test of time. I thought I’d share today some of the current wedding trends that I’ve noticed myself either at real weddings I have photographed or via Pinterest and social media. Many people start by looking at the Pantone Color of the Year, which this year happens to be “greenery,” a bright, almost apple green color that translates well to weddings obviously through greenery in the floral arrangements, but maybe less obviously in the outdoor photos. I take nearly all of my couples outside for a portion of the day and in the warm months of the year, the greenery shows up in the form of grass, ivy, and sometimes weeds in the background of my photos.pantone greenery color of the year

Other colors that are still very prevalent in the wedding industry currently are blush/light pink, navy, gold (and other warm metallics like bronze and copper). Blush is a neat trend because while it is trendy, it is also a neutral and a classic that is timeless. It works very well in flowers and usually works well for bridesmaid dresses as floral and blush place cards and seating arrangements

When it comes to attire, it is definitely more common to see navy and gray suits now as opposed to stark black tuxes, though black tuxes will never go out of style and are essential to high-end, black tie affairs. And both bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses are using more plunging, necklines, backless designs, and cutouts. Mismatched bridesmaid dresses are gaining popularity, and I’ve been seeing more metallic in bridesmaids as well.

gray and navy wedding suits with blush boutonneires

Couples are also opting to go digital more often and sending save-the-dates, and sometimes even invitations and RSVPs via the internet. Reasons for doing so include conservation efforts (less paper!), possibly more economical, and ease of record-keeping and spreadsheets. Many wedding couples opt for a website now with information for their guests — how they met, photos of the couple, things to do the weekend of the wedding, a schedule, directions, and registry info.blush neutral bridesmaid dresses

Next we’ll move on to reception and celebration trends! There are a ton of cool things happening in the wedding industry right now, and I definitely have a few favorites! First is signature drinks. Pear Tree Estate is big on this and especially with open bar receptions, they will have a little sign at each bar listing “his & hers & theirs” drink options. This is fun because it gives the ladies a more girly or fruity drink to enjoy and the guys get something a little stronger and manly. Moscow mules are really big right now and there are tons of variations on them so they are very versatile. Plus, they are served in a copper mug! Win win!gold flatware with pear signature drink

green gold and copper wedding place settings

Most of my weddings still have a large tiered cake, or at least a small tiered cake for the couple to cut and save the top tier (for the first anniversary). More and more though, I am seeing dessert bars with any sweets you can think of — pie, brownies, cookies, tarts, cheesecake bites, donuts, macarons, etc. I myself am a cake lover, but I never met a bit of sugar that I didn’t like!! Another fun addition to this is a hot drink bar for fall weddings — hot chocolate and cider with mix-ins like caramel sauce, peppermint, infused simple syrup, marshmallows and more.dessert bar and popcorn bar

In addition to the dessert options, I sometimes also see a “late-night snack” option. These have ranged from Curtis Orchard donuts and apple cider to a popcorn bar to s’mores bars to pizza to grilled cheese. And though I haven’t actually seen one in person yet, I CANNOT WAIT to see one of these new DONUT WALLS! WHAT?! A wall of donuts?! Sign me up!

finger food appetizers with gold mimosa glasses

Occasionally I also see lounge areas which have become more popular over the past year or so. These are usually set a bit away from the dance floor or even outside on a patio where the guests can go to relax a bit or cool off and have a quiet place to chat. Vendors like Something Old Event Rentals can hook you up with vintage or funky or modern couches and seating, plus rugs, end tables and coffee tables to make your lounge space super cozy and charger plates with navy sequin tablecloths gold chivari chairs

Lastly, one of the things that really brings the whole reception space together for me is the lighting. I am a huge fan of warm uplighting (or downlighting!) to add a ton of color to your space (even if it’s just amber, it will make a HUGE difference in the aesthetic and photos). I also love any time that twinkle or Christmas lights can be incorporated, but bonus points if they are cafe lights or Edison bulbs to give you that statement look and bit of extra oomph to the lighting. For more rustic or vintage weddings, marquee signs with your names or initials are an additional way to make a visual statement and complete your look or theme.blush white bridal bouquet

blush white neutral tones bouquets

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and gotten a few ideas for your own wedding. Any questions? I’m happy to help with finding past photo examples from other weddings or recommending vendors who can make your wedding vision a reality. Happy planning!!


Amber + David | Champaign Country Club wedding | Champaign


Years ago I spoke about my degree in agricultural communications and my career in photography to my former professor Bob Siebrecht's class on the UI campus. I think it was Intro to ACES or something along those lines, and one of the students sitting in the classroom that day was none other than Amber. She'd already been dating David for a while (they are high school sweethearts!), and I think she pretty well decided that day that I would be her wedding photographer someday. Thinking back on that day, I am so grateful to Bob for asking me to speak to his classes a few times while he was still teaching, and have to think that he was smiling down on us Saturday, probably with a scotch in hand. Now, back to Amber + David :) these two were the BEST to work with! They were so relaxed all day, and super accommodating to me, even though they were the clients!! Amber asked me several times throughout the day if I needed anything, and these two along with their wedding party followed my directions so well that we actually finished the portrait portion of the day in record time! We had ample time for portraits of the couple, so you'll see a lot of those below. A few of my favorite parts of the day included the golf cart "grand prix" through the Champaign Country Club grounds, Amber taking a photo of ME on the golf cart (you can find it on my IG or FB), and the impromptu limbo contest on the dance floor using arms as the bar! LOL! It's always a pleasure working at the CCC, and I love the portraits we got inside the building in the front hallway and my new favorite place in all of Champaign -- the back formal dining room. Congrats to you both -- I wish you ever happiness!

Leave a comment below for Amber + David, and after 50 comments they'll receive an 11x14" mounted print of their choice.

Champaign Country Club wedding dress shoes

groom putting on jacket and adjusting cufflinks

groom portraits with bow tie

groom finishing prep with groomsmen

bride on stairs with white blush bouquet

blush bridesmaid dresses from Nordstrom's

romantic bridal poses at country club

bride in strapless gown with blush bouquet

selfies with the bride

bride escorted down the aisle by her father

St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Urbana

catholic cathedral ceremony

bride and groom exchanging vows

bride and groom exchanging rings

here come the new Mr. & Mrs.

bride and groom triumphantly exiting the church

Holly Birch Photography specialty OCF portraits at church

cakes by Lori with gold monogram emblem

wedding rings with gold stripes

bride and groom dancing on the golf course green

bride and groom on the fairway

blush and black wedding party

blush bridesmaids in cute pose

golf cart prix on golf course

relaxed groomsmen portraits

wedding party poses on golf course

backlight wedding portraits

reflection wedding portrait

pullback and closeup ring photo

bride and groom cuddling on park bench

lovely fall afternoon light for wedding pictures

wedding candids with cell phone and golf cart

gorgeous country club hallway with natural light

country club formal dining room portraits

Polaroid Instax camera with mpix guestbook

country club ballroom setup

bride and groom candids during wedding toasts

first dance as husband and wife

MagMod first dance photos in country club ballroom

parent dances at country club

family candid photos on dance floor

candid reception photos in ballroom

limbo fun dancing photos at wedding

Vendors Ceremony: St. Patrick's Church, Urbana Reception: Champaign Country Club Videographer: Ransom Wedding Films, Mahomet Transportation: Elite Entertainment DJ: E Entertainment Bride's gown: Elite Bridal Florist: Flowers by Kristine Cake: Cakes by Lori Hair + Makeup: Kane & Company Photographer: Holly Birch Photography, Mahomet