Tess and Sam’s Starved Rock State Park wedding day is hitting the blog today!
Last summer, I met with these two after they found me on Facebook while searching for a wedding photographer – gotta love social media! And since then, I’ve adored them!
The Love Story
These two met in college at the University of Illinois. Tess was in nursing school with Sam’s roommate’s girlfriend, so they were bound to met. On the night they met, Tess told me that they spent the entire night talking and she caught herself thinking someone must be feeding him “all the right answers”. And so it all began! Fast forward to their fifth dating anniversary… Tess and Sam took a trip to Michigan for their anniversary, and Sam proposed Tess by proposing to her on a pier overlooking the late – in the rain alongside five foot waves and with his knee in a puddle. What a beautiful surprise! Then, the wedding planning began!
Now, they have two pups they adore and love taking them on walks and outdoors to play. Oh yes – you better bet the pups joined in on a FaceTime call with us, too – ha! Tess and Sam are family people that love casual, low key gatherings. And best yet? They love to home brew beer together!
The Wedding Day
On the morning of Tess and Sam’s wedding day, the forecast was looking a bit rainy, but we were thankful the rain stayed away and left us with an overcast day! We arrived at the Starved Rock Lodge where the bridal party was preparing for the day ahead. Everyone was in good spirits and excited for the day! And before we knew it, it was time for Tess and Sam to share a private first look before hopping on the Starved Rock trolley to explore the canyons for photos.
Friends, we were so thankful for the trolley. Like so thankful! It made the afternoon a breeze with the bridal party. We enjoyed a trolley ride to a hot spot with access to several canyons. Then, we had a (maybe) two minute walk to one of the breathtaking canyons. It was a dream especially on this busy Labor Day weekend wedding day! I love these pre-ceremony bridal party and bride + groom photos because they are vastly different than any wedding photos I’ve ever taken. The canyons and textures and love between this couple and their people truly were beautiful. It made my job easy!
I definitely appreciated Tess and Sam’s vision for a navy and coral wedding… Oh yes, you know, to link to their alma mater – U of I – where they met! Plus, Tess is my kinda gal and LOVES flowers. The gorgeous pink and coral flowers that Flowers Plus Streator created were stunners. That’s for sure! I loved seeing the floral elements connect to the rustic, woodsy vibes of the Starved Rock Lodge and state park.
As photos wrapped up and guests started to arrive, Tess and Sam spent a few quiet moments together before it was ceremony time. Then these two shared a short and sweet outdoor ceremony under the most beautiful handmade arch. Tess’s dad was the craftsman of this wooden arch, and let me tell you – everyone loved it! After the ceremony wrapped up, it was time for Tess and Sam to spend the evening celebrating with their closest family and friends back at the lodge.
One of the details I loved most about this wedding day was the sentiment of the location. Tess and Sam chose Starved Rock State Park as their wedding location because Sam grew up fossil hunting with his dad at the park as a kid. Being at the park weekend after weekend was so natural for Sam growing up, and these two even shared one of their first dates hiking to Lover’s Leap at the park. It’s true that they couldn’t imagine not having their wedding take place there. Love, love, love!
And I cannot forget to share that these two had one more thoughtful detail (and my favorite!) of their day that was so true to them as a couple! Remember how I shared that these two like to home brew beer together? Well, they home brewed two beers the “Ellieweizen” and the “Moxtoberfest” in honor of their pups Ellie and Moxie as guest favors. It cannot get cuter than that!
Tess and Sam – Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us! We loved spending your special day alongside you two and your favorite people. Cheers to many married years!
Creative credit goes to…
Bride’s Attire: Evelyn Bridal at Adore Bridal – Morton, IL | Groom + Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Wearhouse | Hair: Erin Robinson at Fox and Hounds Day Spa – Bloomington, IL | Makeup: Kendra Pagoria | Jeweler: Flora Gems – Champaign, IL | Ceremony + Reception Venue: Starved Rock Lodge – Oglesby, IL | Wedding Officiant: Jackson Bittner | Guest Accommodations: Starved Rock Lodge + Grizzly Jacks Grand Bear Resort | Florist: Flowers Plus Streator – Streator, IL | DJ: Hit Squad Disc Jockeys – Spring Valley, IL | Transportation: Starved Rock Lodge Trolley | Catering + Cake: Starved Rock Lodge – Oglesby, IL | Favors: Ellieweizen + Moxtoberfest – Home Brew Beers by the Bride + Groom
P.S. – Wanna read more love stories and get wedding inspiration? I love sharing more wedding days here!