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Sean & Ann Wedding Starved Rock State Park Oglesby IL

About the Couple

I knew Sean and Ann’s wedding would be special when Sean’s email inquiry made reference to the JRR Tolkien quote displayed on my homepage. Sean is the cousin of a former bride, Morgan, and I was so excited for another chance to photograph one of my favorite families. wedding starved rock state park

Sean and Ann share a love for the outdoors and beautiful places (especially the mountains), chess, philosophy, and jazz. They differ when it comes to literature: Sean loves Tolkien, while Ann is an avowed Potterhead. Despite her abiding love for all things Harry Potter, Sean knew Ann was the one!

The Wedding Starved Rock State Park

The COVID-19 pandemic did its best to undo Sean and Ann’s plans to get married, but they couldn’t be stopped, and they knew that they had to have their wedding at Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, IL, no matter what. wedding starved rock state park

The couple began their wedding day on a sunny August afternoon getting ready in private condos at Grand Bear Resort. Sean’s preparations were a relaxed time of snacks and good conversation with his brother and groomsmen, while Ann, her mom, sister, and bridesmaids stayed busy with hair and makeup in their own condo just down the road.

Ann and her ladies enjoyed bespoke hairstyling by the talented hair and bridal specialist, SJ Nelson. I think Ann’s loose, flower- and greenery-accented braid is my favorite wedding hairstyle of the 2020 season! wedding starved rock state park

After Ann’s mom helped her zip up her dress and make some final touches, the pair shared a few moments of hugs, laughter and happy tears together before it was time for Ann to head off to meet her groom for their first look. wedding starved rock state park

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The First Look

Given their love of the outdoors and natural beauty, I wasn’t surprised when Sean and Ann told me they wanted to do their first look in a canyon, but I wasn’t nearly prepared for how grand or beautiful it would be. Sean masterfully scouted the perfect location. Beneath the towering walls of Ottawa Canyon at Starved Rock’s Council Overlook, Sean and Ann saw each other for the first time that day.

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I don’t think I could have chosen a better location for Sean and Ann’s first look! The ancient rock formations were a perfect frame for the timeless love Sean and Ann have for each other! After their first look and couples portraits, Sean and Ann spent time in the canyon to help their wedding party pin boutonnieres before the ceremony. wedding starved rock state park

Ann and her bridesmaids crafted their own bouquets, and they turned out fabulous!

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The Ceremony

Sean and Ann were married at the Sunrise Shelter, steps away from the Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center. Overlooking a dramatic gorge, the couple exchanged vows and rings while their family and about 30 guests looked on as witnesses. Sean’s uncle and one of Ann’s bridesmaids each read scripture and Ann’s paster, Father Matt, delivered a wedding day homily.

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The Reception

Sean and Ann’s wedding reception on the terrace of the Starved Rock Lodge and Conference Center was a memorable time filled with hugs, laughter, and good food, all bathed in the gorgeous golden light of evening.

Ann’s father delivered an emotional and humorous wedding day greeting that had everyone in stitches more than once. Then, while their guests enjoyed some signature cocktails and appetizers, Sean and Ann “made it official” by signing their marriage license with Father Matt. Members of the bridal party crafted two large wooden selfie frames to keep folks entertained between courses — even the kids enjoyed this part!

After receiving toasts from their best man and maid of honor, Sean and Ann cut and served cake for everyone and then kicked off the real party with some stylish dance moves. Sean and Ann celebrated their love on the dance floor until after dark before ending the night with a joyous sparkler send-off from the family, guests, and bridal party. wedding starved rock state park

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Congratulations, Sean and Ann! wedding starved rock state park

Wedding Day Team

Photography: Joshua Harrison Photography

Accommodations: Grand Bear Resort

Venue and Catering: Starved Rock State Park Lodge and Conference Center

Gown: Melissa Sweet Bridal

Hair: SJ Nelson Hair

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