Rustic Filipino Catholic Wedding at Snow Shrine, Belleville IL
Erica and Mark’s wedding was a celebration of their ten-year-long journey together. From high school sweethearts in Belleville, to four years of a 180-mile long distance relationship, to their reunion in San Fransisco, to their elopement in the west coast, to the arrival of their first born Rowan: their dedication and unending love to each other is nothing short of inspiring! I felt so honored to be part of this.
(Note: The photos below are spreads taken out of their first album proof. You can check out the finished product here, their 80-page wedding album!!!)
Their wedding day started at the Shrine Hotel in their hometown, about thirty minutes southeast of downtown St. Louis.
The bridal party were all wearing flannel shirts. And Erica’s makeup was done by her mom.
After having her hair and nails done, getting dressed, and putting on her jewelries, Erica was gorgeous as ever!
As she was walking down the stairs to the Lourdes Grotto for her first looks, I noticed this beautiful light pouring in from the hotel windows down onto the staircase and illuminating her dress. I knew I had to take the shot, so I called her name. As she looked up and smiled at me, I quickly pressed the shutter.
In the meantime, the guys were hanging out at Mark’s parents’ house. Guess who was the center of attention? (Hint: not the groom.)
And the answer is…?
It was a chilly late November day, right after Thanksgiving, and had been raining for a couple of days. But the rain stopped around noon as we had hoped, just in time for the first looks.
I always encourage our brides to do a first look as this will create some beautiful moments of their wedding day that they will cherish forever. I’m sure, years from now, Erica will think it’s just so absolutely cute and touching at the same time to see the most important guys in her life to cry like a little baby boy.
As we were wrapping up and headed for the ceremony, the rain started to pick up again.
The ceremony was at St Teresa of the Child Jesus Parish. With its reserved and quiet beauty, it has honored my list of favorite churches to photograph.
The ceremony decors were simple yet elegant, with an earthy and rustic feel. I especially loved the sign that Erica and Mark made:
Choose a seat, not a side. We’re all family once the knot is tied.
Simple and yet profound.
As family and guests had been seated and were waiting anxiously, here came the ring bearer. And then flower girl. And, of course, they brought a big smile to everyone’s face–they were just the cutest things in the world, how could you resist! And then, finally, the couple:
Erica and Mark’s was a typical Catholic wedding ceremony, with a filipino twist. After the exchange of vows and the blessing and exchange of rings, a coin, veil, and cord ceremony was performed.
The coin, veil, and cord ceremony is a filipino tradition where the Bride and Groom choose a couple whose marriage they respect and admire to be the Principal Sponsors, they exchange coins which symbolize their shared prosperity and their commitment to each other, and then together the Sponsors place a white veil over the Bride and Groom, which represents the purity of their relationship and the presence of God in their marriage, and a cord over the shoulders as a symbol for the strength of the eternal bond of marriage.
It was especially touching to watch.
As we were finishing off at the church, it was getting dark and the rain was pouring down. There was no way we could stick to our original plan and take wedding party pictures at Frank Holten State Park, which the couple and I had scouted earlier in the week. Plan B was Stonewolf Golf Club, about twenty minutes away, where Erica grew up.
If you take a look at the first few pictures, you probably wouldn’t have guessed that it was pitch black outside. What I did was mount a speedlite on the top of a light stand, put it outside the window, point it away from the couple, and use an umbrella to bounce the light back at them. Easy peasy.
We were running behind schedule, so didn’t really have a lot of time to work with before we had to head back for the reception. But, judging from the pictures, everybody had a good time.
The reception was at the Shrine Visitors and Conference Center. This time of the year they have the Annual Way of Lights Christmas display, with visitors from all over. The reception decors continued the rustic theme of the wedding.
In case you’re wondering, the blue cake you saw was not for the couple: instead of a typical wedding cake, they opted for a pie from Eckert’s. The cake, on the other hand, was for Rowan’s first birthday–for him to smash, more specifically.
(Dozens more cute pictures omitted here. :-))
The dances were intimate and low-key. My personal favorite was probably the mother-son dance. I got behind the groom’s father and shot from his perspective, without his facial expressions showing. He could be smiling, he could be a little bit teary-eyed and trying to fight it, he could be… There could be a million things going on in his mind and I didn’t show you. That’s what I like about it: it invites you to use your imagination and compete the story. I printed it on a canvas and sent it to Mark’s parents as a surprise gift. They loved it!
They were so happy with their photos that they ordered a 80-page 10×10 leather album AND a 6×6 companion album for their parents. You can check it out HERE. Below is what looks inside, set to the song of their first dance.
Here’s what they have to say about us:
Having David as our photographer was one of the best wedding features!… I could not have picked a better photographer…. We could not have done a cross-country wedding without him!… David will make sure you love your pictures…. he was on top of everything!… He really acted like wedding planner!… David truly understands how to keep the experience personal. He sent us multiple surprises, on top of everything included in the package. He even hand delivered parent albums even when we could not!… Photos… turned out so well, we did 40 spreads [for our wedding album]!!! Choose Choice Jade Photography for your wedding and pick the whole day package! You won’t regret it!
Having happy clients like them makes me happy. I hope you’ll be the next!!! 😍😍😍