Elaine and Brad are friends with a former couple of mine, Genna and Ben. I first met Elaine when Genna invited me to her home for a party and introduced us! Elaine had seen Genna’s wedding photos and wanted to chat with me, so then it all began. Since then, working with Elaine and Brad has been so much fun. From their summer engagement session to their rainy wedding day at the JW Grand Rapids, we’ve had a great time every step of the way. I can’t thank them enough for bringing me up from Detroit to Grand Rapids to document and celebrate these milestones in their lives.
As part of the Greek church, Elaine and Brad planned a large traditional wedding in downtown Grand Rapids with the ceremony at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church and the reception at the JW Marriot. While planning a 300 person wedding is no easy task, Elaine was on top of her game and super organized every step of the way. At the same time, she always asked questions and trusted my input and vision, making it the most ideal relationship any professional wedding photographer could ask for. The result was one hell of a party. (Not to mention stunning and unique rainy wedding day photos but we’ll get to that in a bit).
On the morning of the wedding day, my 2nd photographer Sam and I arrived at Elaine and the girls’ hotel room in the Amway while they were still on their way back from the salon. We photographed the dress and her details and when they arrived, we were ready to get Elaine into her beautiful and timeless Sophia Tolli dress. At that point, Sam headed over to meet Brad and the guy’s in their room at the JW and before long it was time for their first look.
After a slight delay in getting back from the salon for the girls, when it was time for Elaine and Brad to see each other, we pivoted plans slightly to make up some time. They chose to do their first-look on the JW Marriott helipad. While the weather forecast showed cloudy skies for a while longer, of course as soon as we made it into the elevator to go to the helipad, Sam called me, with Brad already in place, and said it had just started raining. I stood at the top with Elaine for a few seconds, asked her if she wanted me to run back to the room and grab the clear umbrellas, change plans entirely, or go for it. She paused for a moment, asked, “is he already standing out there?” to which I said yes and in the most iconic response, she said, “I don’t care, let’s go for it. We’re here.” And with that, they both said f*** you to the rain and embraced it. And It. Was. Iconic. How many people can say they did their first-look on their wedding day on a helipad in the rain??
After their first-look, we did a few photos on the JW staircase before meeting their wedding party. (Wedding day tip: as a rainy wedding day plan, order clear umbrellas for each member of your wedding party so you still get all of the outdoor wedding party photos you’ve been dreaming of). Unfazed by the rain, Elaine and Brad’s wedding party followed the mood and embraced the rain completely.
We quickly bussed over to Aquinas College for photos with Elaine’s family before bringing out their number one furry fan, Howie. After that, it was time for the ceremony at Holy Trinity which was topped off with a fun confetti exit from the church! The rainy wedding day weather made the pictures turn out even more magical.
After a few family photos at the church, guests went to cocktail hour, and Elaine and Brad hung out on their party bus. Brad’s one ask for the day was to build in time to ride around on the party bus so they could take some time away to celebrate with just their closest friends. Meanwhile, Sam and I went to the JW to photograph their reception space and get ready for their grand entrance.
Elaine and Brad’s elegant rose and gold decor in the JW Marriott’s ballroom was timeless, romantic and beautiful. After their grand entrance, they cut the cake, danced, and then it was time to settle in for speeches and dinner. From there on out, the rest of the night was a party with the help of their DJ, AB! Because it was an overcast day, there wasn’t a true sunset but that didn’t stop us from sneaking out for a few more photos on the riverwalk outside the hotel.
Elaine and Brad’s rainy wedding day at the JW Grand Rapids was a stunning and memorable day. The day could have looked a lot different if they had chosen to avoid the rain entirely. But because they embraced it and made the decision to still enjoy every second of it, their wedding party was on board, the energy stayed high and in the end, they have really unique and romantic memories and photos to look back on. There are very few weddings I leave and don’t enjoy, but for me, Elaine and Brad were an absolute dream couple to work with and I feel so honored to have documented their Grand Rapids wedding. To see more of their day, head over to Grand Rapids Bride to see their wedding feature!
Nobody wants rain on their wedding day but if it happens, it happens. That’s why I always make a rain plan with couples which includes ordering clear umbrellas, just in case. You can find more on planning for rain along with a slew of more tips and insights into planning your wedding for the most successful photography in my wedding guide. Click the link below to download your copy!
Wedding Coordinator: Begin Your Beginning | @beginyourbeginning
Photography: Emily Kyle Photography | @emilykylephoto
Videographer: Shadow Shine Pictures | @shadowshinefilm
Stationary: Kelsea Rounds | @kelsearounds
Hair: Salon 297 | @salon297
Make Up: Salon 297 | @salon297
Florist: Shelly’s Designs Florist | @shellysdesignsflorist
Dress Designer: Sophia Tolli | @sophiatolli
Dress Shop: Jenna in White | @jennainwhite
Veil Shop: Renee Austin Wedding | @reneeaustinwedding
Bride’s Jewelry: BHLDN | @bhldn
Rings: Plymouth Jewelry & Gifts | @plymouthjewelry
Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie | @azazieofficial
Shoes: Bella Belle | @bellabelleshoes
Groom’s Suit: Generation Tux | @generationtux
Groomsmen’s Suits: Generation Tux | @generationtux
Ceremony Venue: Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Reception Venue: JW Marriott Grand Rapids | @ilovethejw
Cake: Connie’s Cakes | @conniescakesgr
Caterer: JW Marriott Grand Rapids | @ilovethejw
DJ: Adrian Butler | @abisadrianbutler
Rentals: Special Occasions | @specialoccasionsmi