This story begins with a bench.
It’s somewhat of a famous bench if you have lived in our brains (or in our office) for any length of time. Pictures of it were printed out and hung on the wall for a while, it was mapped and then remapped. Google earthed, and most importantly will be the name of Andy and Jenn’s puppy… Once Andy buys Jenn a puppy.
*hint hint* 😉
Ok, where do I start with all of this? First of all, in full disclosure, I think we should all give Andy a solid round of applause for not killing me for the number of times that I threatened to show up at their wedding with a new puppy in my hands as a “wedding gift” or just generally threw out “puppy hints” in general. Pretty sure I went so far as to introduce him to random dogs I met on the street… just trying to foster that connection any way I can. 😉
Andy is a generally nice guy, even when provoked continually by audacious wedding photographers.
The other thing you should know is that although I plan on being friends with Andy and Jenn for a very long time it started out a little rocky because their wedding planning was less than smooth (thank you pandemic reschedules). Something that they handled as pros despite the stress that no couple wants to deal with.
Could a puppy named Neil Wilber have helped soothed that pain? Perhaps… 😉
The first time I talked to Jenn and Andy we talked about everything. Our shared great love of the midwest, great food, the value of classic timeless imagery. They asked important questions about how we handled lighting in beautiful old churches, but they also asked questions about why I wanted to raise my sons in the midwest vs California and what I loved about spending so much time in Michigan as a child.
Jenn told me that one of her favorite things about Andy was that she could be 100% herself around him and that he was always the person to show that he cared in every situation. It wasn’t unusual to see him starting conversations with strangers, and you could always count on him helping people to know he was listening and what they said mattered.
Basically, I connected with them as people almost immediately.
Although Andy and Jenn live in Columbus they were having their wedding at the St. Clair Ballroom in Downtown Cleveland mainly it was closer to their family which was hugely important to them. But Columbus was home, where they spent their days, and where Andy proposed.
He told Jenn that they were going to a friend’s housewarming party but really it was just an excuse to get Jenn back to a special spot for the two of them. Here is where the bench comes in… When they first started dating they were walking back to Andy’s house one night after grabbing dinner. The way Jenn tells it they were just talking and having a great time “We’d clicked from the beginning, but on this night, I remember feeling like everything was just really right. I knew how strongly I felt for him, and I could sense that he felt strongly for me, too. I joke that I knew that night that he was smitten!”
They passed a bench on the sidewalk and Andy took out his phone took their first photo together. The night that he proposed, when they arrived for the “housewarming party” Andy asked Jenn if she knew where they were and by the time she started to answer that she thought this was the same spot that they’d taken their first photo together, he was down on one knee.
So obviously we decided that a Columbus engagement was a must but that including “the bench” (which the puppy will be named after) in the images was also important… Overall their engagement felt like a carefree stroll through their lives. Margaritas, a walk through the park with Jeni’s ice cream in hand, a slow dance on the street they called home.
Full circle is the best way to describe their St Clair Ballroom wedding day.
Such a Carefree summer engagement into the challenge of planning a wedding during the pandemic was less than ideal. But by the time they came around to their postponed wedding day they truly had come full circle. Even just as people you could see the strength and growth in them both individually and as a couple. The statements they would make about being grateful for the people that they were surrounded by, the deep love and appreciation for family that had only grown over time. They had waited so long and were so very excited to celebrate with their family and friends. It was pretty beautiful to watch.
When we were designing their wedding album, Andy had this great idea to add an additional spread with their very large wedding party. Knowing that their friends were really Important to them I had already designed to spread that included them, but he want to add another one, sort of Brady Bunch style. As we were pulling it together and trying to figure out if it would even work (it’s far more images than I would usually include on a spread), we were all admiring Andy’s great idea when they were looking at the pages and one of the two of them said (I wish I could remember who): “honestly this is the reason we postponed, these people right here”.
If you know me at all, you know it doesn’t take a lot to cue the tears, but a statement like this about knocked me over. It so perfectly summed up why they postponed, why they waited for a big beautiful wedding where they could dance with their friends, hug their parents, and eat great food together.
We use phrases like “wedding of their dreams” but I think in a moment like this, more than ever, a statement like that is really true. Seeing the joy on each of their faces and the love of the people that they hold so dear is absolutely incredible.
They began their day at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Tower, again surrounded by their closest family and friends.
They said their vows in the beautiful St. Stephen Catholic Church. This church is so beautiful and easy to photograph because of its stunning architecture. Between the couple’s sweet stolen glances and the flower girl’s hilarious faces, it’s hard to decide who stole the show here.
From there, their St. Clair Ballroom wedding really began. Cocktail hour was in full swing while the couple and their crew had their portraits taken downtown. One of my favorite thing about the St Clair Ballroom is its proximity to everything nearby. It’s hard to go wrong with a downtown wedding venue and it’s hard to get more centrally located than the St Clair Ballroom.
As far as ballrooms go, however, St Clair is one of my absolute favorites for another reason. Its gorgeous view of the city. I am forever obsessed with incredible views of the city and architecture old and new alike. That’s one of my favorite things about Cleveland, it’s a beautiful mix of old and new, seamlessly mixed together. St Clair Ballroom has everything you could want with views overlooking the Fountain of Youth, positioned right next to the Soldiers and Sailors monument in the heart of downtown Cleveland.
It really was a dream wedding from the outside looking in, AND from the inside looking out. All of the things that it should be after waiting and thinking, and planning for multiple years.
Jenn and Andy, although it’s been a long road, it’s one I’m so thankful to have seen you both walk successfully along. Thanks for allowing us to walk along with you! Let me know when you’re ready to puppy shop. 😉