Last December, I got an email from a very enthusiastic guy looking to propose to his then-girlfriend at the Detroit Athletic Club. I wasn’t exactly sure who I was looking for as I stood in the lobby of the esteemed club. I quickly realized, as Jeff approached, that the enthusiasm and charisma presented in the lines of the email would only be matched in real life. Jeff was so excited to propose to Andrea, not only for the beautiful and memorable act (it is really fun and exciting to plan and pull off a gorgeous proposal), but for who Andrea was and that he was lucky enough to spend the rest of his life with her. We collaborated and planned the proposal. About a week later, with Becky and myself looking like guests of the club, Jeff proposed to Andrea and was met with a resounding “Yes!” Smiles, laughter, tears, champagne, and family were all in store for that night. It was perfect and beautiful. About a year later, Jeff and I would meet again, this time to discuss the details of their Detroit Opera House wedding. Spoiler alert: it was perfect in every way.
Andrea started her day at the chic Shinola Hotel, located in the heart of downtown Detroit. The hotel is beautiful with ample space and perfect lighting for the bride to get ready. It was also in the perfect location for us as we walked to all of our photo spots from the hotel. When we arrived, Andrea and her bridesmaids were enjoying the morning and getting slowly getting ready for Andrea’s big day.
Right around the corner from the hotel is Parker’s Alley, where Jeff and Andrea shared a first look. Both were very excited to see each other. Their first look lasted several minutes with Jeff in near disbelief about how beautiful Andrea looked. Their first look was filled with laughs, kisses, and excitement.
We stayed in the alley and continued to photograph Jeff and Andrea. The people of Detroit were awesome, showering Jeff and Andrea with compliments and congratulations as we moved throughout the city.
After Parker’s Alley, we headed over to the Detroit Opera House parking garage for a different vantage. I always like photographing short portrait sessions of the bride and groom separately. Jeff was so relaxed and in his element, it wasn’t hard to get some classic shots of him.
As we were getting closer to their Detroit Opera House wedding, we stopped by the Z Lot. Soon after, we meet up with the bridal party who was eagerly waiting to celebrate with Jeff and Andrea. After a quick toast from Jeff’s brother, we headed back out for more photos.
When it was time for the groomsmen to have their photos, they didn’t hold back. Jeff was in stitches as they hackled him the way only brothers can.
As if the day couldn’t get better, we were able to secure an empty room to take more Detroit Opera House wedding photos. The ornate decor complimented the formality of the day.
With guests arriving, it was nearing time for the ceremony. The views from the Detroit Opera House rooftop are some of the best in Detroit.
We all have favorite moments from a wedding. The bride and groom walking down the aisle is always one of my favorites to photograph. There is a realness to the moment that just can’t be recreated. It is challenging for several reasons (the bride and groom are walking towards me while I am normally walking backwards, to start) and you never know what the bride and groom are going to do. Will they look and acknowledge their guests? Will they lock eyes and smile at each other? Will they shun the attention and look down as they exit? Couples…listen…enjoy it, embrace it, celebrate it! You just got married! Your new life begins with this moment. Needless to say, Jeff and Andrea enjoyed every step of their first walk as husband and wife.
After some celebrating with family and friends, there was a quiet moment where guests were on the other side of the rooftop. Andrea was getting help, bustling her dress. I found Jeff alone, looking out at the city he loves. I stopped, quietly raised my camera, took two frames, and watched as he stood reflecting on thoughts that are only known to him. It is so important that, as a couple, you take a few minutes alone on your wedding day. It just so happened Jeff had a few minutes alone to himself; I wasn’t going to ruin that. I don’t know what he was thinking, nor do I want to. There is a story in this image for Jeff to know and remember though.
With a few minutes left before guests joined us for Jeff and Andrea’s Detroit Opera House wedding, we set up two more shots in the beautiful venue.
Guests joined us and looked onward as members of their family shared stories and blessings on the couple.
Next, Jeff and Andrea opened the dance floor, starting with formal dances before inviting all of their guests to join them. Once the dance floor was open, it was a party. Guests loved the camera and the camera loved them!
As the night went on, Jeff and Andrea stepped out for one last moment alone. It was honestly, the most picture perfect day for Jeff and Andrea. Even the cool midnight air hanging above Detroit was comfortable as we stood on the rooftop, enjoying the views and recalling our favorite moments from their day. As I snapped a few images of the skyline to compliment their images, I found Jeff and Andrea creating a moment of their own, dancing under the lights of their Detroit Opera House wedding. One last frame and a lifetime ahead for them.