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After meeting Ernie + Sarah over a cup of coffee to discuss booking us as their wedding and modern engagement photographers, we decided on a downtown Chicago engagement photography session and an urban styled photo shoot with some rock-n-roll inspired portraits. Modern photos, offbeat locations, and a “rock-n-roll” theme were perfect for these two, due to their extreme musical and lifestyle interests. For starters, this adventurous couple loves motorcycle rides downtown in the summer. Not only does Ernie operate a small, custom vehicle business in his spare time, but he is also the former lead singer and guitarist for the band, Ordinary Outcast. Similar interests, as well as creating music and attending live shows (sometimes with Ernie on-stage), was a huge start for E+S’s relationship.

That’s why shooting engagement photos among the musical details, décor and theme at Chicago’s Hard Rock Hotel made so much sense. While Sarah loves the glitz, glamour and Michigan Avenue location, Ernie admires the modern spaces and musical influence. Even though the couple will host their October wedding day at the venue later this year, Ernie said the downtown hotel is personally a very memorable location for them. It was a place they often stayed during long weekends in the city, and they would love more photos to illustrate these memories. ( Update: The Hard Rock Hotel was purchased by Oxford Hotels & Resorts and renovated into Chicago’s Hotel Julian Chicago, 168 Michigan Avenue, opened in 2018. )

With special permission from the Hard Rock Hotel, we stopped in for a private engagement photo session with the stunning couple. Outfitted in modern, black and white fashion, E+S were a natural fixture among the lobby’s sleek metal and glass structure, luxurious décor, and unique light bulb displays. Once inside the hotel’s in-house lounge, Angels and Kings, they both had fun flirting with the camera among a dramatic layout of velvety couches, vintage chandeliers, and jewel-toned illuminations. Finally, upstairs on the hotel’s small balcony and skyline terrace, we captured a breathtaking collection of intimate photos overlooking Michigan Avenue, sweeping city views, and the pulse of downtown action.

All in all, this downtown Chicago shoot was a perfect fit, and right away we could tell there was every reason this edgy couple fit right in with the hard-styled, rock-profiled venue. As we moved from the cool, contemporary personality of the Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue, to the vibrant, gritty scene of graffiti murals, and underneath the famous ‘el’ tracks, E+S were in complete harmony at every urban destination. Easy to photograph, Sarah lights up when Ernie is around, and they are simply cute together…totally in love.

But Ernie confesses it wasn’t always this easy for the two to connect. Here’s how he describes their unique “labor of love”:

“Sarah and I first met about six years ago through a mutual friend, but it wasn’t until several years later that we finally got together. The few years prior, we had both been in serious relationships that didn’t allow us to be our happy selves. It wasn’t until I was on stage playing a show with my band on St. Patrick’s Day that we confronted one another about these troubles; we laughed about how we should take our own advice and get out of the relationships that we were in. A few months went by and we kept in touch with one another. We started spending lots of time together and found that we loved being with each other. After only six months of dating, I surprised Sarah by proposing to her while walking along the Chicago River, one of our favorite city spots. I am the happiest I have ever been with anyone, and look forward to spending the rest of my life with her!”

To E+S, it was an honor to get to know you both, and to be your modern Chicago engagement photographer. We look forward to possibly riding together this summer and, of course, shooting your big day this fall at the Hard Rock!

Chicago Wedding Photographers

♥ Rock the look:
Makeup by Rochelle at ZaZa Salon in Vernon Hills
Jewelry from Burdeen’s Jewelry in Buffalo Grove
Clothing from: Caché, Akira, Macy’s, H & M

For more about wedding receptions and special events at the Hard Rock Hotel visit the modern downtown hotel venue located on Michigan Avenue or online at  In 2018, the renovated hotel is now  If you love luxury and modern downtown hotels, within walking distance of the Hard Rock are numerous other Chicago venues such as theWit hotel, Trump Hotel or the new Radisson Blu Aqua hotel.