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month: November 2009

The Rocktober Fest of Love

For a Bride who’s never dreamt about what her wedding would be like before she actually started the planning process, it sure was one of the most well planned, organised and detail oriented weddings I’ve even seen.  It was also the only wedding that had a name, a theme, a title…call it what you want but it was absolute mind blowing FUN!!!  I asked Michelle to give me some behind the scenes details that went into the planning and she was kind enough to give me a very detailed response. Thanks Michelle!

“I guess to best describe 10-10-09 requires a bit of the background story…

Ben and I met while completing a term of service with AmeriCorps*NCCC in 2005.  When our two teams were paired up on a Habitat for Humanity project in Benton Harbor, MI, we became fast friends.  Discovering our uncanny overlapping of the past (proximity of where we grew up, similar people that we knew, times we must have been in the same place at the same time) and desires for the future, began to date and quickly fell in love.  Fast forward a few years, add a few careers, an 85lb cuddly yellow lab/golden retriever named Riley, Ben’s decision to go through the RCIA program, and the purchase of our town home… when out of the blue Ben proposed!

It was the day that we closed on the town home.  He took the eL from work to the new place and asked me to meet him and bring over the tools – under the auspice of starting the de-construction of our kitchen.  Calling me into the kitchen to ‘Show me something’ and ‘Ask me a question’ … I discovered myself staring at my future, who was down on one knee!  Yes, he had taken the train out to have dinner with my Dad to ask for my hand … and had gotten approval for the ring from my best friend Alecia!!  (All without ANY suspicion on my part!)

So thus began the challenge and exciting task of wedding planning…

Apparently I am one of the few girls in the world that had never had dreamed of what her wedding would look like.  I didn’t keep a scrap book of the idea dress … or the shades of colors … or knew right away which 9 girls would stand up with me … Not having a clear path on where to start, we decided to focus on a few themes and truly personalize the event.  1) As outdoorsy people, we wanted to ensure there was an ‘earthy’ feel to the event.  2) However, we wanted to transcend that into a ‘beautiful’ event too.  3) There had to be elements of our ‘faith’ woven in – specifically expressed in our Irish symbolism.  4) It HAD to be FUN! (But in the words of my mom, ‘a wedding, not a birthday party’.)  I think this is why, from early on in the process, we began to refer to the wedding as the “Rocktober Fest of Love”.   And, above all 5) It HAD to be US!

Our colors became every hue of a brilliant fall tree, but especially the POP of a fantastic red!  We happily took on DIY tasks to both save tons of money, as well as to personalize everything ourselves: save the dates, invitations, programs, menus, table name cards, table letters, centerpieces/reception decorations, sweets table, unity candle, cake cutting devices, all flowers, the slideshow, bathroom baskets, and even baked the communion bread ourselves!

We choose to weave Habitat for Humanity through the day: donation in the name of everyone who was there, ‘I got hammered’ koozies that came out around 10pm, and or course our customized cake topper and decision to cut the cake with a saw!

In the quest of fulfilling others hopes and dreams for a home while we built the houses at Habitat for Humanity, we in turn fulfilled our own dreams.  In helping others we truly and wholly helped ourselves to the greatest degree.  We also liked the idea that anything worth having required hard work, but it was ultimately worth the price paid when all is said and done.  The cake topper is a good if not perfect representation of who we are as a couple and now a family.  Always willing to help with Riley in tow!  And, in retrospect, cutting the cake with a saw while ‘pour some sugar on me’ is playing in the background was in our top 10 moments of the day!

So after all the planning, when 10-10-09 finally arrived, we were ecstatic!

This is what Ben had to say:
“Ben started the day with his best guy friend, and ended the day married to his best friend. The time with his buddies and brothers, solidified the relationship we have. Good natured ribbing with friends who would do whatever is necessary to help out.
The ride to the reception on the trolley, gave us pretty much our only chance of the night to hang out with our bridal party and truly show our appreciation for them, all while belting out song after song of fist pumping jams!”

I would add:

We went into the day expecting that there would be SOMETHING that would go wrong … and knowing that there would be nothing we could do about it … so anything short of enjoying every minute was never an option.  The day was an absolutely blur of excitement’s excitement, SMILES, HUGS, and LOVE.  It was peace-filled.  It was perfect.  It was the best day of my life; I married my best friend in the presence of nearly everyone person who we love, and who loves us too.  Words fail to accurate describe how incredibly powerful that was!

Our favorite parts of the day/night:

  • Getting ready with our intimate groups.
  • Seeing each other for the first time / walking down the aisle with my dad.
  • Our vows.
  • The spirituality of the sacrament of the mass.
  • Laughter on the trolley.
  • Taking photos at Dominican.
  • Saying hi to everyone during cocktail hour – specifically enjoying happiness everyone shared.
  • Seeing the hall and being amazed at how all the pieces came together.
  • Watching the slide show.
  • First dance and parent dances.
  • Dancing the night away / Realizing that dance floor wasn’t big enough!!
  • Taking the break to go outside with Hilda for a few night photos.
  • Realizing … WE’RE MARRIED!!!
  • Piano Man last song.

Holy cow, I didn’t realize how long this had gotten!  (Yes, feel free to edit your heart out!!!)

Hilda, from the moment we found your website (through that awesome facebook ad!), we KNEW that you had such amazing talent.  From the first time you came over to introduce yourself, we KNEW how amazing YOU ARE!  It’s one thing to be exceptionally gifted in the arts … it’s one thing to be a good/fun person who is naturally enjoyable to be around … but it is SO UNIQUE to blend the two – the result being FABULOUS Y-O-U!  You were more than a photographer on 10-10-09, you were our friend.  When I was nervous, you made sure that mimosa was kept full!  When we had 10 minutes in the church, you ensured that every photo would still be taken.  When family decided they wanted a ‘sibling’ photo you efficiently and gracefully and authoritatively got it done.  I felt like I didn’t have to stress at all – because you were handling it so well.  You encouraged me to take a few breaks at the perfect time.  You realized that everyone else had forgotten the guest book!!!  I truly feel that both the day, as well as the process was better because of you.  We are so excited to relive the day through your work and cannot wait to see the images!

Without a doubt, we will stay in touch (as friends do), and we send you all of our best!!!

With all the love in the world,

Michelle + Ben

“The Larkins”




They saved thousands by doing the flowers themselves.



Michelle was so cute!  She was giddy with happiness and excitement before walking down the isle.


Ben waiting in anticipation.


And his reaction when her saw Michelle.






Inside the program there was a pocket with a tissue inside, I was speechless, how does she come up with this stuff?


Who’s exited to be married?


The exit, one of my favorites!


Fun photos after the ceremony.


Reflection perfection!


Cloud coolness.


On the party bus, YEAH!



I love the look and feel of this quick portrait we grabbed just as the sun was setting in front of  Fountain Blue.


Here’s a little secret to help with wedding planning. Etsy. You can find anything and everything for your wedding.  And best of all you are supporting mostly independent business owners. You can even narrow it down to USA only or even in your own neighborhood.  Guess where Michelle got this unbelievable cake topper? Custom made for her, the bride even has blonde highlights just like the real bride! Check it out www.etsy.com


The cake cutting ‘supplies’.




First dance.


Phone booth!


These two portraits are probably my favorite, taken in the ladies room.




The dance floor was packed all night non stop, thanks to  Toast and Jam DJ’s.





Michelle & Ben, thank you for making me so tired I couldn’t even carry my camera bags to my car. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Hilda Burke,  official photographer for the Rocktober Fest of Love

Baby Milo 6 m.o.

This adorable baby belongs to Jenny and Clinton whose wedding I shot a few years ago. Below are some of my favorite photos…this first one is my very favorite. Thank you for letting me play with your adorable baby boy, can’t wait to see him again soon!



I just want to nibble on those baby toes.






Geneva National Golf Club Wisconsin Wedding, Kelly and Jeff

The wedding of Kelly and Jeff fell on a rainy day, but that didn’t seem to bother this Bride and Groom.  They were just happy to be spending this very special day with their friends and family.

This sapphire and pearl  necklace has been in the family for years, and it was worn by Kelly’s sister, Kelly’s Mom, her sisters and now Kelly.  Kelly walked down the isle with the necklace wrapped around her bouquet, and she had her  something old, borrowed and blue.


Jeff getting ready.


Bridal portraits done in the ladies room, why not? It’s the end result that matters 😉


The ceremony.


Kelly’s Mom’s reaction to seeing her daughter walk down the isle.





I love this moment immediately after the ceremony.


Right when we got to the reception the sun peaked out from behind the clouds for about 10 minutes, I was soooooooooooooo excited!!!! The light was AHMAZING!!!


Yep the colors were just this beautiful straight out of the camera, ah the golden light of sunset = one happy photographer.


And the clouds, perfection!!!


One talented lady named Mandy made this lovely cake.  I shot her wedding a few years ago and she’s the one who reccomended me to Kelly and Jeff. Thanks Mandy!

She does way more than bake, check out her website. http://www.mandycandycreations.com/


First dance.


The boys relaxing outside.


Photography by Hilda Burke.

Wyndham Glenview Suites Chicago North | Glenview, IL wedding| Ashley and Dave

Whenever I think of Ashley and Dave I always think of their family that’s always there for them. Her sister Heather was one of my first portrait clients, (see adorable children below) and I have her  to thank for recommending me to Ashley & Dave.  I’m Facebook  friends with a lot of the family members and it’s so wonderful to see the connection they have, they’re always together visiting and having fun!

Ashley getting ready with the help of her sisters and friend.


Loved her dress and the details on it…especially the buttons!!


I loved the kids shoes, so fun and colorful.


Heather’s  (and Mike’s) 3 adorable girls.


Dave’s very handsome son Cade and Jake  (with the faux hawk) who’s the cutie brother to the 3 little ladies. Photos by Carol.





The Bridal Party.


It was raining on and off most of the day but we did brave the rain for this awesome photo 🙂  Favorite!


Some fun photos back inside.


Now this is what appetizer plates should look like. I never understood why some halls bring out like 6 appetizers at a time, I mean the people need to eat right?


Darling Shae, recharging her batteries.



Loved the personalized centerpieces.


The cool new Mr. & Mrs.


The bouquet and garter toss was pretty exiting!




And the partying was non stop. Ashley and her Dad showing off their moves.


Leave it to Jacki (the fun/crazy middle sister) to start dancing on the head table, and then encourage the Bride and their Mom to come up and join her! I’ve never been so frightened and impressed at the same time!!  Jacki is my new hero…and check out the shoes  😉


The photo I’d never thought I’d take…EVER! So much fun!!


From what I remember there was some sort of bet that involved Dave, Jacki and karaoke. The details are hazy, but I can tell you that I’ve never heard  a better version of ” Ice, Ice, Baby” since the 80’s.


Poor Jake partied himself to sleep.


The rings.


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Angel Eyes Photography, Chicago IL

Byron Colby Barn Wedding, Grayslake IL | Gina and Luke

For Gina and Luke’s wedding I started  with the men getting ready…they were not only cute, but very cooperative which I really appreciate 🙂


Gina getting ready with the help of her Mom and Maid of Honor.


I assure you this was a happy moment.


I’d like to apologize  in advance for what I’m about to say, but I can’t help it…Gina’s shoes were smokin’ HOT!


How freaking sexy is this photo? Yep, it’s my favorite.


The beautiful ladies, and Gina’s Man of Honor.


Get ready because some serious cuteness is coming your way. The ring bearer was Gina and Luke’s adorable little boy.Gina told me that he and the little flower girl are very fond of each other, and they like being together a lot. There was a piano at the reception site (which is also where the wedding took place) so they kept busy there while waiting for the wedding to start.


Here it comes…


Cutest photo ever!!!


The wedding took place at the Byron Colby Barn in Grayslake,  by the gazebo.







Another favorite 🙂


The Bridal ‘do’ gets redone for the dancing with the help of some crazy fun boys 😉


First dance.


Any guesses who the center of the attention was?


Here’s a little tip for you future Brides and Grooms…if you want your guests to dance, you have to be on the dance floor first. Obviously this was not an issue at this wedding 🙂