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Tag Archives | Sofitel Hotel

Getting Ready Photos with Kent Drake Photography

Planner, Check.
Venue, Check.
Caterer, Check.
Photographer, Check.
Band, Check.
Dress, Check.
Prep Location….?
A wedding checklist can be long and overwhelming, with some items feeling more rushed or important than the next. It’s a day you’ve thought about for years, envisioning the dress, the spouse, the venue, the portraits and everything in between, but you can’t . One item I wish to remind you of today, is another location you spend a good part of your time… The prep location!
For many of us, we aren’t born and raised in downtown Chicago. The city is full of transplants and professionals from the surrounding suburbs. You may also have out of town guests, and there is no way a bride & groom should be spending your wedding night in your own bed. The hotel you choose to call “home” for your wedding weekend has a few important factors, which I wanted to provide some insight on from the experience of a professional photographer. I hope this can serve you as some help!

Hotel Service

It’s possible you are having your ceremony and/or reception at the hotel you do your prep at. This is very convenient option for the day, and the hotel staff is there for you all weekend long. Whatever you need (within reason), they understand you are bringing in a lot of business, and should be providing flexible assistance to you and your guests during your stay. This makes the rehearsal process easier, and it’s a one stop shop for your wedding experience. Luxury hotels are not only immaculate, but they excel at high quality service, and that cannot be overlooked.
There are of course downsides to the all in one approach. Most obvious, being you miss out on some of the great venue spaces that are in Chicago. It’s a matter of taste, but there is no shortage of venue options. So due your research, and if you have a planner like LK Events, they know venues and staff inside and out. This is why you brought them in.

Getting Ready

As a photographer, this section will carry the most weight for me. Photographically, the room you decide to dress in, is a big part of your wedding day story. First and foremost, it should fit your style. If you are into modern furniture and sleek lines, that’s the hotel you should be looking for. If you are into classic Chicago architecture and motifs, you should be looking in that direction. Whatever it is, here is what is important to make those images really shine.

1. Windows:

Where ever you end up, ask for the room with the best light. In Chicago, that generally means south facing, and a high floor. That may not be the case for every hotel, so ask the hotel coordinator as you book your suite. Floor to ceiling windows are fantastic, and allow the photographer the most flexibility to control the room.
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2. Suite:

You will have anywhere from 5 to 20 people in that room, depending on your bridal party and family size. That’s a crowd, and has the potential to overwhelm both you and the space. Having a large open suite with a living room set up is great, and multiple rooms are also a plus. I prefer to clear out a room of excess luggage and food/bottles before we starting photographing you putting on your dress. This also allows more flexibility for the photographer to shoot the dress, shoes, accessories without being in the way, or your bridesmaids can dress in the other rooms if need be.
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3. Mirrors:

Once that dress is on, you need to see yourself from head to toe. After all the work you’ve put in, you deserve at least that much! If the room doesn’t have a full length mirror, ask the hotel what they have on hand.
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4. Bridal Party:

I stress this with every couple I meet, and I will do so again here. Please consider having your bridal party dressed if they are done with hair & make up. At the very least, by the time you are putting on your dress. When you flip through your wedding album years down the road, you will appreciate the difference between your friends in their dress versus pajamas. This is so often overlooked, but it does change the tone, and adds that extra touch of class to the room. Now, I am all for getting your girls something personal and that matches to wear all morning long. I think this is great, and is really the best alternative. Whether it’s a robe, monogramed shirt or anything in-between, I love it. It’s a great idea, and is a wonderful favor.
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5. The Gents:

Everything I said above stands here too, with just a little less stress on the suite and mirrors part. The biggest thing, is having the guys get ready in the same building as the girls. You ensure nobody forgets something, the planner/photographer can balance the schedule better, and if you wish to do a first look, it’s very complimentary to first looks. If you have the whole bridal party, parents and more at the same location, no one should be left behind, and everyone has someones cellphone number.
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6. Perks:

What else does the hotel have to offer you? What is the aesthetic and environment of the space? Keep in mind, that many hotels have luxurious bars, lounge spaces, or even rooftops and terraces for you to access. These are priceless perks on your wedding day, so don’t forget to look beyond the suite itself!
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Call an Audible! Private Residence

Let’s just say for a second you have no desire to use a hotel for yourself at all. I’ve photographed in many different prep locations, and it’s not the end of the world. If you have a space in the city that can hold your bridal party, is open and clean, I see no reason to dissuade you. I’ve been in friends homes, and also in more intimate settings with only immediate family present. I honestly loved that too. It was classy and personal, and that fit the bride.
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Everything I’ve shared is about finding what suits your tastes the best, and promoting a relaxing wedding environment. I hope that this was able to provide some insight and help to you in your planning process. Remember to seek advice from other professionals around you, our insight comes from nothing more than experience!

Siao & Kegan, The Quadrangle Club

I first met Siao and Kegan a couple of months before their wedding. They had been planning a beautiful December wedding and were starting to realize that they needed someone to help coordinate their special day.  I love being able to help couples feel like they are a guest at their own wedding and was so honored to help out Siao and Kegan.

They had a vision for their wedding – classic with a modern twist and DIY.  We felt all of that on their wedding day! We arrived at the Sofitel the morning of the wedding and Siao was enjoying some time to herself in getting her hair and make-up done. She was so relaxed and ready for her wedding day!  From their First Look to The First Dance, Mike from Gerber + Scarpelli captured all the details and beautiful moments of the day. Look at the striking intimate photos of Siao and Kegan during our visit to Union Station and Hotel Sax!!

After the inter-faith ceremony at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, everyone made their way to The Quadrangle Club for the reception. Siao and her family put together the custom centerpieces and menu cards that fit their classic with a modern twist vision. Guests experienced the culinary treats of Buffalo Burger Sliders and Samosa Cakes and a three-course meal featuring Braised Short Rib and Grilled Wild Salmon. After dinner, Siao, Kegan, and all of their guests hit the dance floor with the spinning skills of Monastero Entertainment. Many guests took a mini break from the dance floor and visited the sweets table and photo booth throughout the night! Congratulations again to Siao and Kegan!

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Reception Venue/Caterer: The Quadrangle Club
Ceremony Venue: Rockefeller Memorial Chapel
Photographer: Gerber + Scarpelli Photography
Reception Musicians: Monastero Entertainment
Flowers: Russ Wholesale Flowers
Sweets table: Family and Friends
Cupcakes: Molly’s Cupcakes
Transportation: M&M Limousine Services
Getting Ready Hotel: Sofitel

 

Kathryn & Zach, Harold Washington Library

I had the pleasure of coordinating a friend’s wedding this past May. The groom, Zach, and I have known each other since the 6th grade and when his fiancé called me about their wedding, I was ecstatic. When Kathryn and I met to discuss her wedding I knew immediately we would become friends. We had a blast chatting about her ideas and visions for her wedding day.

The planning began immediately and Kathryn and Zach selected Harold Washington Library for their venue. We then booked Deja Vu Band, Tammy Leathem of Leathem Photography and Fleur Couture to handle their floral and décor. Although we knew the G8-NATO Summit was taking place in Chicago that weekend, we weren’t informed until February that the Library would be used for Federal Government purposes. Our invitations were printed, Save the Dates had been sent and all vendors were booked, so I knew we had a challenge ahead of us. I immediately contacted everyone in my network, the City of Chicago and all of our vendors to inform them of the situation and prepare them for a back up plan. Nothing was going to stop this wedding from happening – not even NATO!

We ended up having a fantastic wedding weekend! We started at Osteria Via Stato for their rehearsal dinner with family and close friends (and an awesome groom’s cake – thanks to Amy Beck Cake Design). On Saturday, Kathryn and Zach had their first look at the park outside the Sofitel. After photos around Chicago and staying clear of the protests, Kathryn and Zach were married at St. James in Lincoln Park. The reception at Harold Washington Library was stunning! Deja Vu kept the dance floor packed all night long and Blue Plate catered an exquisite meal for the guests. We are so fortunate to Harold Washington Library for their support and all the vendors involved given the circumstances with NATO. Kathryn and Zach had an unforgettable wedding weekend!

Special thanks to our vendors:

Reception: Harold Washington Library
Church: St. James
Catering: Blue Plate
Floral: Fleur Couture
Band: Deja Vu Band
Dress: Lazaro
Shoes: Nina
BM Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid
Grooms Tux: Jos A Banks
Cake: Take the Cake (now known as Cake)
Transportation: VIP Valet Services
Make Up: Brian Sutheby
Invitations and Paperie: Kustom Kreations
Photographer: Tammy Leathem of Leathem Photography
Hotel: Sofitel
Rehearsal:  Osteria Via Stato
Groom’s Cake: Amy Beck Cake Design