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Chicago Birchwood Kitchen Wedding | Colleen & Nick

A few weeks ago we were back in Chicago to photograph an urban wedding in Wicker Park. Our day covered a lot of awesome locations like the Renaissance Blackstone, the extremely photogenic West Loop for portraits, and the cool and quirky Birchwood Kitchen. As exciting as all of that is, and as much detail as I could probably put into the text about those locations I am skipping that. Even though this is the formula we love most for Chicago weddings, (and city weddings in general) this wedding is more about a very special friend than it is a formula. So SEO be damned, I am about to get long winded about our Yelplebrity love, Colleen C. Before we get to the novel I’m about to write, let’s look at some photos. I will continue being wordy below.

Most of our weddings we wind up friends with our couples after the wedding, but it’s a treat when we get to do a wedding for an established friend of ours.  So let me tell you how I met Colleen.  By now most people are pretty familiar with Yelp, a social networking, user review, and local search website. I joined Yelp in 2006 when we lived in Seattle, and due to my large number of reviews I’ve managed to maintain “elite” status ever since. I think Yelp was pretty much in its infancy in Seattle, but when we moved a year later to Chicago it seemed to be a much bigger deal. Today I spent a good hour in the depths of email archives and old Yelp compliments trying to figure out exactly what led me to a Chicago Yelp event where we meet Colleen in June of 2008. I’m reasonably certain that we went to this particular Yelp event because it was photography related. If I recall correctly they had given a bunch of Yelpers disposable cameras and set them loose on Chicago. The event was sort of like a gallery showing. In the midst of RSVP’ing for this event I corresponded with Colleen, who at the time was the Chicago Yelp Ambassador. When it came time for the Yelp event instead of chickening out and not showing up we actually went and BOOM. We met Colleen. She was taller than I expected, and very friendly. Before I left I took a photo of her, and sent it to her later that night. And that’s the story of how Colleen and I became friends.

Looking back at these emails I came to realize the depth of Colleen’s patience. It took many back and forth attempts for her to actually get me to photograph an event, but finally the schedule worked out and I photographed this weird event at a bro spa. That’s the best way I can describe it- a place for sophisticate frat guys to get their hair cut and nails done. During the course of that night I took a photo of Colleen that later became the infamous “fall in love with Colleen basket photo.” Who would have known that Nick would see that photo, and because of it be attracted enough to contact Colleen. Yes this is me taking complete credit for them being together. Yes there were many other factors but I will cling on to this just a little longer.

Some of my other fond Chicago memories of Colleen include her sitting for me when I got my first studio lighting.  Another big one was when we spent a day together on the top of a double decker bus full of drunk Yelpers at Chicago’s pride parade.  She also became a frequent lunch date for us in the months before we moved to Portland. If you totaled up my collective number of in-person Colleen experiences the number might actually be around a dozen… yet she’s not just an acquaintance or casual friend. She was an instant old friend on day one, and now four years later it just feels more legit. Melissa and I seriously love Colleen. And when we moved we really missed her. However even if we had stuck around in Chicago we might not have seen her much. Yelp has sent her to NYC, Berlin, and now London. I think her official title is Grand Moff of international marketing.  It’s sort of astounding that through all of that she managed to get a boyfriend, fall in love, and plan an awesome wedding too.

Early in June this year Colleen and her mom were in San Diego vacationing.  It seemed like a lifetime since we had seen her last.  She was still tall.  We met her and her mom Sharon at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Old Town to catch up and enjoy the best carnitas possible.  We got to talking about weddings and we discovered she did not have a wedding photographed lined up.  Her wedding was in about 4 months.  She said something about there probably being someone there with a camera… wait did she say Instagram?  My heart dropped.  Colleen’s one of the most adorable girls on the planet.  We had to make this happen.  So there was a lot of email back and forth.  She was back in London, Nick is in Chicago, we’re in San Diego.  There was some definite lag time in responses.  But you already know the ending to this story, we did it.

Oh and one big piece of the Hoosier Mama pie that I’ve left out is Nick.  I hadn’t actually met Nick until the super casual 100% optional non-rehearsal dinner.  I had heard about him from Colleen of course and we were Facebook friends by then.  But the big question was- would this guy measure up to being worthy of our beloved Yelp queen?  YES.  Not only is Nick a fun guy to be around, an enthusiastic photography subject, but he also really loves Colleen.  It was so nice to not have to go into my 140lb protective mode of fury.  I do that a lot you know.  Not really.  Colleen and Nick, this was a ★★★★★ experience for us in every sense of the word.  You treated us like family members and we’ll never forget!

– Josh & Melissa

Accommodations | Renaissance Blackstone Hotel
Catering/Venue | Birchwood Kitchen
Coordinator | Naturally Yours Events
Dress | Bagley Mischka
Floral | Amanda Ziemann
Gelato | Black Dog Gelato
Hair/Makeup | Pretty Windy City
Mixologist | Femme du Coupe
Music | Rob Bolin
Officiant | John Fallon
Photobooth | A&A Studios Inc
Pies | Hoosier Mama Pie Company
Transportation | Chicago Trolley


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