I’ve only been in Detroit for about 2 years at this point. Even though I’ve been advertising as a Detroit wedding photographer, most of my leads come from the Ann Arbor, Plymouth, and Birmingham areas. So when Jill wanted to book me as the photographer for her wedding in Detroit, I was stoked!
The first look was in Downtown Detroit at the Courtyard Marriott, and we went around various sites in Detroit with the wedding party. The venue for the ceremony was St. Mary’s. Lastly, the reception was at the Rattlesnake Club by the Riverwalk. So in just one wedding I could say I experienced as much as I could of the Detroit wedding scene.
I can say that this was probably one of the most creative and fun first looks I’ve ever done! I have heard of people doing dinosaur costumes for their first look. I have heard of people doing Best Man first looks instead of the bride as a prank. But I’ve never seen or heard of a Steve Harvey first look. Apparently, Steve Harvey is a big deal in Jill’s family, and as you can see, Julian thought it was pretty funny as well! This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: “Shouldn’t we hold out for the person who doesn’t just tolerate our little quirks, but actually kind of likes them?”
Of course, after the Steve Harvey first look, we proceeded to do a real first look.
The entire wedding party was waiting in the hotel lobby, ready for the wedding party pictures! We loaded up into the party bus and started cruising around Detroit. There may have been some drinks involved. Our first wedding party picture location was the Z Lot, and it was blazing hot! Z Lot is one of my favorite locations in Detroit because you can see Detroit’s historic and modern architecture at the same time! Despite the heat, the wedding party kept a great attitude and the pictures came out great as the result! To save the wedding party from the 95 degree heat, we went downstairs to The Belt. The high brick walls that frame the alley provide shade and the perfect lighting, and the brightly painted murals that lead the way to trendy restaurants and bars offer unique backdrops. In contrast to the blinding light from the top of the Z Lot, the wedding party appreciated the shade. The wedding party pictures continued at the Fox Theatre.
After the wedding party photo, we headed towards St. Mary’ for the ceremony. We had the great idea to stop at Punch Bowl Social. So the bride in her big white wedding dress and the entire wedding party just marched into the bar and ordered some drinks. If I were sitting at the bar and saw Jillian come in, I would be having flashbacks to Rachel running into Central Perk and meeting the Friends gang for the first time. Best show ever.
Who knew that a random bar would be the setting for such great pictures? I think these pictures turned out amazingly because Jill and Julian felt so comfortable in this setting and could just be themselves. It was not the best lighting or the best setup, but they were worry free and happy just being together.
We all made it safely to the ceremony venue. It was an old Catholic church, and the afternoon lightly streaming through the stained glass windows could make you forget for a second that you were in the middle of a bustling city. Lydia and I set up the lighting, and we were ready to roll.
This was my very first Catholic wedding, and I had no idea what to expect. It was very reverent. One of the staff members at the church told me that the priest officiating the wedding took exactly 32 and a half minutes to walk through the entire ceremony. So I said, “Bet?”
Just kidding, I definitely didn’t say that.
The guests arrived and the wedding party began to march.
Let’s give a shout out to the flower girl, Jill and Julian’s daughter Zoe!
With lots of scripture readings, the vows, and prayers, Jill and Julian declared their love for one another before God, family, and friends. And there it is! The first photo of Mr. and Mrs. Julian Heidenreich.
This kind of smile is why I do what I do. No matter how difficult it gets, no matter how hot the weather is, in the end, the fact that I got to capture this bride’s genuine smile on one of the most important days of her life makes it all worth it.
And now the reception! Before the reception began, we took some more bridal and wedding party pictures outside the Rattlesnake Club.
Zoe was definitely the star of the reception, and Lydia and I noticed there was a theme in the music selection. They were playing Aladdin, Frozen, Moana . . . a lot of Disney songs. So later we asked Jill, “Does Zoe like a lot of Disney music?” Jill responded, “Oh yeah, a lot of people have been asking me that, but the truth is it’s all for me!”
Before we left, we took Jill and Julian out by the Riverwalk for some sunset portraits. Jill’s choice for the reception venue really was poetic. From the venue’s back patio, you can see the Canadian border across the Detroit River. With Jillian being a Canadian a native and Julian a Detroiter, I thought this location on the Riverwalk was the perfect place to capture their love story.
There’s something special about the bride and groom’s first steps together as man and wife. They know as they walk back up the aisle that they aren’t the same people that walked down the aisle just half an hour ago. They’re a team now. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, they’ve got each other’s backs. They’ve promised forever to each other in front of the people who mean the most to them in the world, and that is definitely something to celebrate.