It was a romantic little elopement wedding ceremony with Jack and Jessica at Pilcher Park, surrounded only by their closest loved ones. Scroll on, and discover in her own words, how this ‘True Wedding Gift’ was put together.
As a wedding photographer in Chicago, it is an honor and a joy to be a part of any wedding we’re invited to. Nothing brings us more inner happiness than creating memories for our couples. But when one of those couples also happens to be your good friend, it takes the experience to a whole new level! This was certainly the case when we photographed the wedding of Jess & Jack. Good friends of ours who exchanged their vows at the beginning of February with an intimate elopement ceremony in Pilcher Park.
Jess and Jack met back in 2019 during a serendipitous muddy ATV ride, and have been almost inseparable ever since. Their whirlwind romance was a delight to behold, and as friends, we couldn’t have been happier for them. Or so we thought! Then they went and got engaged! It was an adorable moment around Christmastime in Tinley Park, downtown at the train station. During a photo op surrounded by Christmas lights, Jack set up his GoPro and suggested they take a family photo inside a giant festive ornament. As they gathered together, Jack knelt down, and with the biggest smile on his face, asked for Jess’s hand in marriage. So sweet!
For Jess & Jack, the path to their elopement was as spontaneous as the rest of their relationship. They decided on the spur of the moment to get hitched the following day. At first, they thought that they weren’t going to have a wedding at all. They were just going to have an officiated ceremony in their living room! But when we found out, we were quick to change their minds, and had soon convinced them to let us throw them an intimate ceremony in the park.
In order to best tell the story of Jess & Jack’s elopement, we thought it would be great if they actually shared it themselves. We’re so glad we did! You can really feel how much this day meant to them from the way they have written it. And it is a pleasure to share it with you.
On January 23, I casually asked Jack, “When do you want to get married?” Jack replied, “I’m ready for you to be my wife.” I jokingly suggested, “How about tomorrow?” He replied, “Let’s do it.”
Our life together has been spontaneous since the day we first met, and we wouldn’t change it for the world. When you know, you know.
I reached out to our dear friend Mallory, a female jack of all trades, to see if she would be interested and available to officiate our elopement wedding. She messaged, “Tomorrow???? Of course. Let me put a little ceremony together today. I want it to be special. Where do you want to do it?” I replied, “I was thinking our living room, but I’m open to suggestions.”
Mallory said, “I have an idea. What about Pilcher Park in the green house? You will be surrounded by flowers” Jess “Really? Is it warm in there?” Mallory “Sure is. Tropical almost.” Jess, “In that case, I wish you could do both photography and officiate.” Mallory “And don’t be mad, but if you do it on the 6th, Lauren will photograph it. We want to make sure you have photos of your elopement wedding and that it’s everything you want it to be.” Jess, “OMG, I’m going to have a real wedding after all. Thank you.” Mallory, “You deserve it.”
Lauren messaged, “XOXO. I’d love to do it. We weren’t going to let you get married in the living room. Because of you, I met Mallory, and she’s the best photography assistant I’ve ever had.” Lauren’s work is beautiful beyond words, just like her heart. What she does for others is every bride and groom’s dream come true— capturing every detail and all the beauty. She reminded me of the importance of documenting this treasured moment, especially for our daughter years down the road.
With only two weeks until the day, I thought to myself, “I need a dress.” With very short notice, I shared the story with my friend, creative stitch seamstress, and owner of Bella Sposa, Jamie. I asked, “Do you think your shop would have something simple that is already my size?” Jamie replied, “Absolutely. Come in Tuesday. I love this. True celebration of your love.” I met her that Tuesday on my 30-minute lunch break and tried on 3-4 dresses that she had chosen for me. There was one particular dress that we both agreed, “This is the one.” The very next day, I returned on my lunch break for the fitting.
The following Thursday, three days before the elopement, I returned to Bella Sposa to pick up the final masterpiece. When I put the dress on and looked in the mirror, I knew at that very moment that this dress is not just any dress. This dress is MY dress. Perfect and beautiful in every way. The way I felt in that very moment is almost indescribable, so much so that I was brought to tears. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more emotional, Jamie revealed that this dress, MY dress, was a gift, from her to me. Why? Jamie replied, “I know how much you give to others. I do believe the world needs more people like you.”
Getting ready for our special day was a really special moment, with all four generations together: Nonnie “the matriarch of our family”, Mom, me & my daughter Emerie. Mallory gifted us a beautiful bouquet and a boutonniere that she made with love. Wrapped around the stems with ribbon were charms, honoring my father and Jack’s mother. Thank goodness for waterproof mascara!
Hair stylist and make-up artist, Heidi Szymborski, made me feel so beautiful on my special day with subtle curls and warm color palette. I had a fresh manicure and made a quick stop at Distinctive Gold Jewelry to have my ring cleaned. While Jack visited his barber shoppe, Blades & Co. for a fresh cut and beard trim. A spray tan by Pretty as a Lily gave my skin the perfect glow.
Our elopement ceremony included sections from the children’s book “A Recipe for How Much I Love You” that highlights everything you need to make a marriage work. We also honored Jack’s Irish heritage by including the Celtic tradition of Hand fasting, which is actually where the phrase “tie the knot” comes from.
Following the elopement ceremony, we headed down the street to Tom Kelly’s for an open-menu celebratory lunch. Our favorites were the Reuben, Bacon Jam Burger and the Cowboy Burger. Our guests noticed the symbolic Celtic hand fasting displayed on the wall. (I just realized that the very last time we set foot in that pub, was when we realized we were falling in love with one another…)
On the day, everything came together flawlessly. Our elopement was truly a dream come true. Jack and I are incredibly grateful for everyone’s kindness and generosity. Mallory, Lauren, and Jamie, three self-less women, brought an unforgettable sparkle to our special day. This has been, by far, one of the most beautiful chapters of my life, thank you for making it happen. And thank you, for not allowing us to get married in our pajamas in the living room!
Bridal Salon – Bella Sposa
Makeup Artist – Heidi Szymborski
Hair Stylist – Heidi Szymborski
Florist – Mallory McGreehin
Venue – Bird Haven Greenhouse at Pilcher Park
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.