I had my Greek induction this past weekend with Amy and George’s wedding. And wow, it was so much fun! Now, the fun could be attributed to the fact that we have been friends with George for nearly a decade now, or it could be because the Greek culture is so heavily laden with beautiful traditions…but something tells me it was a mixture of both.
When Amy first contacted me about shooting their engagement session, I was so excited! We explored the Norfolk Botanical Gardens and spent time with old friends. Of course I told her I would love to shoot their wedding and she asked me if I would travel to Chicago…it was a no brainer!
Their wedding was originally scheduled for May, but George’s deployment schedule was rearranged and that wasn’t able to happen. This was the only rescheduled wedding this year that actually wasn’t due to COVID; alas, the military life is not an easy one to plan around…much less in the middle of a pandemic! So while the originally scheduled 200 guests weren’t all able to make it, Amy and George still celebrated with a few family members and close friends.
One of the coolest parts about being a wedding photographer is witnessing so many traditions across cultures. This was the first time I witnessed a ceremony in the Greek Orthodox Church, and it was absolutely beautiful. The ceremony was conducted partially in English, partially in Greek. Everything was blessed and repeated three times—three blessings for their rings, for the bride and groom, and for their crowns; Amy and George circled the altar three times. Amy converted to the Greek Orthodox religion during their engagement and explained to me that the significance of three comes from the Holy Trinity. While converting, she also took Greek classes to be able to welcome their wedding guests while actually speaking Greek. Her commitment to becoming a true member of the Greek culture is an absolute testament to her love and commitment to George and his family.
While I have attended many a military wedding, this was actually the first one ever that I had the privilege of photographing. One of the events I most anticipated was the sword arch after they departed the ceremony outside of the church. It was a gift that Caleb was able to be in their sword arch because George was in ours seven years ago when we got married!
The groom’s brother, best man, and “koumbaro,” suggested taking portraits at the Adler Planetarium. Not being a native Chicagoan (Chicagoite?), I trusted Dino’s suggestion and am so glad I did. We had the entire Chicago city skyline as our backdrop for the bridal party and bride and groom portraits! The Windy City did not disappoint—with views or its namesake—the wind was ferocious, although Amy assured me that because we were still standing it wasn’t that bad. Honestly though, we could not have asked for a more picturesque portrait location and I owe that all to the best man! You may notice one of the groomsman though; yes, in fact, Caleb was a groomsman! Many of the military members’ orders were cancelled at the last second due to COVID, so one of the groomsman wasn’t able to make it. Thankfully Caleb’s dress blues still fit him (but are definitely a bit more snug than they used to be…), so he volunteered to stand next to George on his special day.
Once at the reception, all the details were so beautifully curated. The florals atop each table were perfect! The favors of Jordan almonds and anchor-shaped bottle openers adorned each place setting, an homage to Amy’s Italian heritage and George’s Navy service. After filling the bellies of each of their guests in true Greek fashion, the dancing began. While I wasn’t able to keep up with the traditional Greek dancing, Amy led the line, displaying yet another way she has inundated herself into the culture.
To Amy and George, it was a pleasure and honor to photograph your wedding day. From your photographer and your friend, your wedding day was one I will never forget, one that I wish never had to end! And to your families, thank you as well! I enjoyed meeting the people who created such beautiful humans and friends. Cheers!
Photographer | Ali Rae Haney
Venue | Cafe La Cave
Florist | Flowerville
Bride & Bridesmaids’ Hair & Makeup | Boutique Noir Salon
Bridal Gown Designer | Justin Alexander
Bridal Boutique | Milk & Honey