We love photographing beautifully decorated weddings with tons of fabulous style. Whether it be a modern city event with glitz, tuxedos and the downtown Chicago skyline atmosphere, or an elegant shabby chic wedding with lace and linen in a picturesque country setting, we find a bride’s vision an inspiration for our photography.
Billy + Amanda’s vintage and charming, outdoor ceremony and reception were celebrated at a location very familiar to Miller + Miller. Located in Oswego Illinois, and the town we both grew up in, the wedding barn venue of Emerson Creek Pottery and Tearoom is perched high up top of a hill and surrounded by hundreds of beautiful rolling open fields. A meandering, narrow gravel road entrance leads you to the property. You’ll drive past a grassy meadow on one side of the driveway, cornfields on the other, and rows of vineyard wooden posts with vines suspended by wire. Emerson Creek states it offers “a pleasant return to simple days and simple ways” and we agree. And bride’s tell us after one visit they quickly fall in love with the Emerson venue too! Between the lush scenery of rows of corn and a vineyard setting, to the elegant antique and rustic farm appeal, Emerson Creek Pottery and Tearoom one of the best places for barn weddings just outside of Chicago. The location is a photographers dream! With unique and vintage structures on-site such as a century old farmhouse, barn, bridal suite in a chicken coop, renovated old horse stables, tea room, antiques, a western style wood porch complete with rockers for relaxing, a stone patio with fire pits to get cozy at, and an over abundance of Illinois nature, we found numerous of spots to photograph the bride, groom, bridal party and guests all enjoying the day. The perfect mix of country and romance, the fairytale like setting of Emerson offers to a bride and groom a first dance in a barn dancing under antique chandeliers, and to open barn doors to watch as the golden evening sun sets to the West. For Amanda + Billy’s day, the sunset occurred at the perfect time during dinner. I asked Amanda to send to us a few of her and Billy’s favorite parts of the rustic Emerson venue. Billy + Amanda embraced a vibe of shabby chic and vintage charm. And she couldn’t resist adding in a tad of classic elegance into her fashion selections, and for some of the details tying in a few fun twists of their own personalities.
“We love Emerson for it’s vast property that allows guest a night to relax and take it all in under the country stars. Inside the bar they have 200 year church pews that guests can view the dance floor and mingle at. We loved the gorgeous white chandeliers and permanent Emerson accents placed throughout the barn, like a 1950′s fridge that we stored the kid’s drinks in. Not to mention, we love their bridal suite which was converted from an old chicken coop, and the tearoom ( where the groom had gotten ready ) was an old horse barn! Inspired by the nature, location and venue we created hay-bail seating areas throughout the property with custom burlap pillows and lace overlay. Along the cornfield, we created a “firefly” tree featuring mason jar lanterns filled with tiny twinkle lights. For our guest’s who were looking to unwind on the patio and cozy by the fire pits, we provided a “S’mores & Snuggles” station complete with over 20 different marshmallow flavors ranging from original, to bacon, maple, toffee, endless chocolate candy bar options, and an assortment of graham crackers and cookie flavors to sandwich the s’mores. The “snuggle” portion was a large metal bin overflowing with with pashminas for the guests to cozy up for the evening and take home as a memory. We are big on themes, uniqueness, down right quirkiness, and all about shabby chic and vintage charm.”
Billy + Amanda’s reception was definitely nothing short on vintage details nor rustic decor! After the excitement of the wedding day passes, we sometimes hear how our brides miss the search for the perfect decor and the entire planning process. Well Amanda has kept in touch, and admitted she is one of those brides. She is now planning to take on more event planning in the near future. With obvious creative talent and passion, we look forward to seeing her work again now as co-founder and event planner Amanda William Morris of X-Y Events. Beyond putting together every intricate detail of the day, Amanda hand selected each piece of decor around the barn, and created three stations. The first two stations she mentioned above being a whimsical “firefly” tree, and the a late night “S’mores & Snuggles” station. Amanda’s third concept was a re-salvaged wooden fence line. We asked Amanda to share the story behind the salvaged wooden fence concept:
“Shortly after Billy and I had gotten engaged my childhood home had flooded and was destroyed. While remodeling we ended up selling our house and it was purchased by the city who decided to convert our property into a park, named in memory of my brother. Before the property was destroyed, I always dreamed of having my wedding at my childhood home where so many wonderful memories had occurred. Before the city tore down the house, my father and I salvaged the wooden fence that surround our backyard’s fenced in area and playhouse. I recycled my childhood fence and gated latch door to hold all of our guest seating arrangements on. To keep with the vintage postcard card theme, each guest had their name printed on a shipping tag printed up as a vintage postcard that was thread through on stained twine with a skeleton key that was also a bottle opener. We hung each arrangement across the fence on nails. Throughout the fence we attached cast-iron decor, hooks and larger nails to hang chicken-wire glass-holders with floral arrangements and mason jars wrapped with lace ribbon and pearl buttons, inside they held lit tea lights. Flowers and hanging green amaranthus really made everything pop. Behind the fence we wanted to create a unique entrance outline, so we used the planter stands and filled with flowers, hanging amaranthus and had curly willow branches draped with crystal garland draping in a free forming arch. Emerson Creek loved the fence so much, they kept it and it’s a permanent staple at their venue and barn entrance. We also used another panel of our fence during the ceremony and decorated the same with a giant ‘M’ resting in the front of it. Our childhood fence will now continue live on and Billy and I plan on taking our picture by it on every anniversary!”
Billy + Amanda we loved being selected as your photographers for your day at Emerson. It has been great getting to know you over the last year, discovering a new friendship with you, and without a doubt your day was so memorable + eventful. With all the decor, vintage finds, numerous details, and what your mom’s stated “Amanda’s glamourous version of a backyard party”, as the stars came out at the end of the day, it was easy for us to determine your day was one of our personally favorite events to photography in all of 2012.
Looking for a unique location for your reception or ceremony? Consider researching locations like country antique shops, airplane hangars, salvage yards, vineyards, orchards, wineries, garden centers, historic settlements, farms, barns, horse equestrian centers, private estates, or perhaps a countryside bed and breakfast. Hop online, search and use your creative juices to find a unique and perfect venue.
Billy + Amanda’s vendors, fashions and planning details:
Theme: A vibe of shabby chic, vintage charm and classic elegance
Ceremony Venue: Emerson Creek Pottery & Tearoom, Oswego
Wedding Planner: Amanda William Morris of X-Y Events ( The bride! )
Officiant: Pastor Rich Rubietta, Grayslake
Caterer: Chef By Request, Lisle
Florist: Arrangements in soft shades of pinks and greens with hanging green amaranthus by Floral Expressions And Gifts Inc., Oswego
Invites, Programs, Menus + Favor Tags: Smitten Boutique
Gown + Veil: Oleg Cassini
Reception Dress: Custom designed and created by Elda de la Rosa of Elda de la Rosa Couture, Chicago
Pink Heels: Audrey Brooke Taylor Satin Pump from DSW
Jewelry: Rodrigo Otazu “Freedom Earrings” purchased from Sweet Williams, Hinsdale
Bands + Rings: Bailey Banks and Biddle + Bella Cosa Jewelers
Hair: Mirabella’s Salon
Make-Up: Juana and team from Salon-Two Nine
Bridesmaid Shoes: Audrey Brooke Sarah Pump from DSW
Bridesmaid Dresses: Green custom designed and created by Elda de la Rosa of Elda de la Rosa Couture, Chicago
Suits: Men’s Warehouse
Cinematography: Well Spun Weddings
DJ: Toast & Jam
Trolley: Naperville Trolley & Tours
Donations: Huntington’s Disease Society of American and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Bride’s Gift to Groom: Boudoir Book featuring Photography and Book Design by Miller + Miller Photography
Groom Gift to Bride: Eternity Band from Bella Cosa Jewelers
Daddy Daughter Songs: “Sweet Memories” written and performed by father of bride Gerry Whiting and “Such a Night” by Elvis Presley
First Dance Song: “Memories Are Made of This” by Dean Martin
Extra Decor Details by Amanda of X-Y Events:
– Ceremony Refreshments: Lemon water or arnold palmer beverages served in over-sized mason jar drink dispensers from Pottery Barn
– Ceremony Fan Programs: Keeping guests cool and entertained the back of our program had a crossword puzzle about the bride + groom, and short mad-libs, attached to the handle were golf pencils on ribbon strings with floral accents
– Fence Decor + Table Numbers: Scattered between flowers and mason jars, guest’s names appeared on postcards tags tied to vintage skeleton key bottle openers
Fence Floral: Light blush pink and green floral arrangements by Floral Expressions
– Firefly Tree: Floral Expressions, burlap pillows and Whimsybags by Lesley Hornbeck on Etsy, hay provided by Emerson Creek
– Decor inside the Emerson Barn: Hand selected shabby chic items such as pillows, candles, ornate picture frames featuring vintage family member photographs, burlap wrapped wine bottles, centerpieces featuring mason jars wrapped in cream lace ribbon and with pearl buttons seams, vintage trunk for gifts and cards, and various decor items from Hobby Lobby, Joann’s, Michael’s, Fab.com, Etsy.com, Amazon.com, Sav-on-Crafts and Fashion Unic.
– Something Borrowed: Family heirlooms from the bride’s great Grandmother a prayer book, mismatched vintage champagne glasses, and grandma’s antique cake cutter
– Reception Specialty His + Her Drinks: “Sweetheart Sparkler” vodka, club soda, splash of cranberry, lemon and lime served with pink striped paper straws in mason jars wrapped with lace ribbon, and “Giddy up Groom” Jack and Coke served with lime green paper straws in mason jars. For beer drinkers a mason jar labeled “Grow a Stache” offered rubber mustaches with bands to fit on the top of the beer bottles.
– Bridal Party Gifts: “Ultimate Groomsmen Survival Bag” from Whimsybags monogrammed saddle leather coolies from Pottery Barn included hot sauce, lighter, Listerine strips, Big Red, and more Bridesmaid’s monogrammed burlap bags from Whimsybags, jewelry by Premier Designs, and “Ultimate Bridesmaid Survival Bag” included plastic heel stoppers for the on the farm venue from Solemates, bandaids, travel-size perfume from Victoria Secret, and more
– Late Night Snacks + Guest Favors: “Welcome Wedding Survival Sack” with BAM “Billy + Amanda Morris” allowed guests to fill and take with them on the trolley ride home choosing from flip-flops, pashminas, s’mores, “grow a stache” drink charms and reception late night munchies + snacks of slim-jims, cotton candy, ring pops, cheese balls, combo’s, cheesecake pops, etc and vintage soda bottles!
– Patio bonfire S’mores Station: Artisan marshmallows from Sweet240 Columbus, Indiana