The wedding industry is almost unique in its use of small businesses. Without the hard work, passion, and dedication shown by individuals, rather than major corporations – weddings would look very different. You are able to create utterly unique ceremonies and receptions because of the varied and vast skills offered by the great American public, and the businesses they work tirelessly to run. Today’s couple, Shayna and Michael, understood this completely. Being small business owners themselves, they decided, whilst planning their wedding, that they wanted to work with as many minority-owned vendors as possible for their big day. What they created was a celebration of Chicago and the endlessly talented individuals that walk its streets.
Michael and Shayna met because of her mother’s family-run business, Q’s Beeper’s & Cellular Boutique on Chicago’s west side. Shayna was set up on a blind date by her mom, who told her she needed to show this lovely man, Michael, around the neighborhood. Even though, subsequently, Shayna found out that Michael had been living in that part of Atlanta for years. Their first date was at Harold’s Chicken and Ice Bar, a spot that soon became very special for this couple.
Ever the impulsive romantic, Michael proposed to Shayna out of nowhere in the middle of her kitchen, after floating the subject while on holiday in Greece. “He (Michael) formally proposed in my kitchen. I was putting on my boots ready to go walking together, and I turned around to see Michael down on one knee. I just remember thinking, I wish someone was here to record this, ’cause the moment was so special and the ring was absolutely gorgeous. I said yes. My friends took me dancing that night to celebrate, the moment they saw it.”
Wearing two different wedding dresses on your big day is a luxury. But it’s also a really fun way to transition through your wedding day. And Shayna wanted the opportunity to do this, without breaking the budget.
During the wedding planning, Michael kept mentioning how much he loved a certain off-the-shoulder dress she had worn while they were on vacation in Greece, right around the time he unofficially proposed. And he commented on how it’s a shame they don’t have any pictures of that moment, and Shayna in that dress. To honor that original gown, our bride purchased, and returned many bridal dresses, searching for a look that would remind them both of their time in Greece. In the end, no gown accentuated her body or felt as good on, as the beautiful style she finally chose from Fashion Nova. The dress she would eventually tie the knot in.
For the reception, Shayna made another sentimental, yet budget-friendly choice of dress for the evening. A 1920s style gown that was picked out by herself and her mom, while visiting Eva’s Bridal. “It’s a special dress because my mom helped me pick it out, and she couldn’t attend the wedding as she was ill. It was a simple, Great Gatsby style city dress and even though I knew she liked a much more dramatic option, she told me that dress is the right one because I’d feel the most comfortable in it. She was right. I’m a clumsy girl, simple is always the way to go!”
Michael wasn’t left out in the cold when it came to his big day look, and in fact, he and his groomsmen went all out with their suits for the occasion. A decision that Shayna herself pushed, as she wanted her man to stand out on their big day. The boys purchased their suits from Agriculture Custom Clothier, a black-owned business in Chicago, that really outdid themselves with their selection of suits for the groom, and custom suit for the father of the bride.
The whole of Shayna and Michael’s celebration took place at the wonderfully elegant Marriott Marquis. A super sophisticated backdrop in downtown Chicago, that looked just so extraordinary in their wedding photography. Especially during their ceremony, an intimate, and personal exchange of vows set against the city skyline on level 33. A city that both Shayna and Michael also wanted to be celebrated in their portraits. Together, we captured some incredible moments out on the streets with these two, and their respective wedding parties, all-embracing the chilly evening air. Shayna in particular looked stunning during this nighttime session, creating some really dramatic scenes with her veil floating in the breeze.
Following the portraits outside, Shayna and Michael escaped the chilly Chicago streets and returned to the warmth of the Marriott for their reception. A fun and joyous affair full of laughter, dancing, and some very touching speeches from their loved ones. It’s amazing to think that these two pulled off this wonderful wedding with only three months of planning, organizing everything together via email while Michael was stationed overseas.
It was an absolute pleasure being the chosen photographer for Shayna and Michael’s Chicago wedding. And an honor to be included in their list of small businesses they felt could bring something exceptional to their celebration.
Below, we have shared all the wedding vendors Shayna and Michael worked with on their big day. And all of them are run by either women, veterans, or minority owners. Please do check them out, and if they align with your wedding vision, consider hiring them for your big day.
Agriculture Custom Clothier – Black Owned
Groom, Father of the Bride, Groomsmen Suits, Bow Ties, and Handkerchiefs
Anderson Miller – Women Owned
Architect of Marriott Marquis Hotel and Level 33
AtkCo – Black and Women Owned
All graphic design and website work (a Davis-Atkins family-owned company)
Brown Sugar Bakery – Black Owned
Caramel Cakes in Hospitality Suites
Chicago French Press – Black and Women Owned
Coffee Favors for Guests
Mattrix Music & Entertainment – Black Owned
DJ and Custom Lighting Services
Love Cork Screw Wine – Black and Women Owned
Wine available at cocktail reception and open bar
Hair by Nykia – Black and Women Owned
Bride hair and makeup
Akute Hair – Black and Women Owned
Bride tribe hair
Makeup by Henri Mitchell – Black and Women Owned
Bride tribe makeup
Sholeh Events – Women Owned
Wedding Event Planning
Wedfuly – Women Owned (Recently featured on Shark Tank)
Live Streaming Service
It would be an honor to become a part of your wedding team and create that timeless keepsake of your big day that you’ll love forever. My team of Chicago wedding photographers at videographers at Lauren Ashley Studios will go above and beyond to capture the atmosphere of your special occasion and share it with passion and authenticity.
We welcome you to browse our portfolio of wedding photography, videography and if you would like information about our investments please click here. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer in Chicago, or beyond, and you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.