Before all, Rachel and Alex's wedding represented a very special occasion. Almost twenty years later, I was meeting up again with my oversea host family from the time I lived a whole year in Oregon as an exchange student (and as a high school senior). It has been a blast to see again Ben, Abe, Luke, Tim (that I had the chance to see at home a few years ago), Rachel's brothers, Gary, Rachel's dad, and of course my dear adoption mum Audrey (whom I saw again in Belgium too), Rachel's mum, along with old friends as Casey and Kayla. A thrilling wedding too, I had the privilege to be chosen to capture. A genuine atmosphere of joy from start to finish was radiating, in good part thanks to the bride and groom who never lacked an opportunity to cheer up, spread the fun, staying motivated and smiling despite fatigue and weight of responsibilities during several very busy long days.
Rachel and Alex have both been fully dedicated to their close ones and their well-being. Their painstaking work, dedication, matureness, cool and calm temper throughout the festivities' stir has made its mark. What makes the biggest impression on me although was that degree of closeness and complicity the two lovers shared together. Absolutely a rarity. I never had to look for nor encourage their love. It came to my camera all naturally. Smiles and fun at will.
And what about some of their relatives and close friends... They are some of the nicest people I've had the pleasure of meeting, always ready to jest, always smiling. Alex's mom, Robin, who was so attentive to me, so genuinely considerate, altruistic to everyone around, definitely is one of the most touching persons I've had the chance to meet. I also keep a special memory of Kayla and Matt who were exceptionaly caring and wise in the most gracious possible way. You'll recognize her below for the hacky sack skills, him for the video recording set up on the balcony for the ceremony – two of their many talents. Emotions due to the reunion with my American family almost two decades later would have been quite overwhelming if it wasn't for all the goodwill that has been lavished on me by so many high-end individuals I had the joy to encounter. I could not forget to give special mention to Audrey, who has been a charm with me all along, without which none of my trip would have been possible. From my own experience, sincere bonhomie, straightforwardness, absence of duplicity is a central feature about American people's merits. That's what I've experienced every time I traveled in the USA and that's what I've experienced this time again.
Few of the story's pictures were taken before the wedding day. Some of them two days before at Rachel and Alex's place were all about chilling out with family and close friends. Some others the day before at the mansion, for wedding preps, and for a crazy evening party bus tour around Chicago, with stops in downtown, one for a river view and the other one at the famous Cloud Gate. Most of the shots I took at those prior times are required group pictures, meant to be family takes to remain in inner circles that would have been too much of a material for a wedding story to be displayed. Nonetheless a few of them do integrate this all over the place storyboard. The wedding day itself took place in an elegant mansion of Naperville, in the suburb of Chicago. Hopefully for everybody – and especially moskitos' favorite preys like your photographer – there was plenty of bug repellent available at the cocktail hour and the party, and all the liquors, amusements and delights necessary to get around the sun : there has been a day... I've never been as hot in my entire life as this July in the Midwest. The couple session for more intimate and composed shots I was counting on had to be canceled under unfavourable circumstances beyond everyone's will. A bit unfortunate. However, I'm confident that from everything the people gave the reportage will still enlighten the cheerfulness of the happenings. Indeed ! I made a long coverage out of it, so lay back, pour yourself a drink and enjoy.
With love ; to all of you ; to Sam.