Thursday, April 24, 2014

sweet vintage barn wedding: ellen + michael

if this blog had existed back when i attended the amazing wedding of photographer ellen mcinerney and breakdancer michael swalley, i would have had pictures posted of it the very next day.

as it stands, the moment i was brave enough to tell anyone about this new venture of mine, i was asking ellen for the disc. you'll see why. not only are they possibly the sweetest couple in the world, every detail of their day was darling...right down to the pink shoe laces.

date: november 25, 2011
location: oswego, illinois

as soon as the custom designed invitation arrived in the mail, this event had the couple's signature style all over it. the pallette, a romantic and vintage-y soft pink, grey and cream, was set against modern graphics like a boom box and cassette tape (a nod to those who know michael as 'bboy bishop'). 

i thought long and hard about how to introduce you to a friend as indelible as ellen (now) swalley. this picture is a start. pre-wedding, we get a peek at the bride's tattoo as she gets her hair done. it is james 2:26, "faith without deeds is dead," in amharic (the ethiopian language). to know ellen is to know she lives that verse. she got the tattoo after doing missions at an african orphanage. (for more of her story, go here). i could go on and write a novel about why this girl is so precious, but like i said, this is a start.

{her bouquet combined ivory and pink roses, rununculous, berries and lamb's ear.}

{the bride wore a custom hair clip at the reception that coordinated with her handmade boutonnieres.}

{charcoal grey bridesmaid dresses were from j.crew.}

{bridal portraits were in the venue's tea room, a restaurant that exudes charm and country patina on the emerson creek property, where you can still join a monthly supper club.}

  {ellen chose a fitted a-line beaded lace dress by casablanca via bridal mansion.}

{the girls.}

{the guys.}

the couple met while they were both studying at dallas theological seminary in dallas, texas. before the ceremony, they joined hands and paused for a moment of prayer together (with no peeking around the corner):   

{the groom, waiting for it all to begin.}

{church pews were decorated with poms of baby's breath.}

{quiet moments after their vows.}

the wedding took place on thanksgiving weekend, and the barn was already decorated for the holidays. white christmas lights, garlands and twinkling stars illuminated the big country sky.

{i love this clever shot by their photographer, ashley concolino, as if she was spying on the couple through the window.}

as their invitations promised, 'the party was in the barn.' the reception decor was almost entirely made by hand by the bride and a handful of people who are, miraculously, still her friends after the endeavor. 

 {hand-stamped treat bags at the candy buffet.}

{monogrammed cupcakes provided by the venue.}

{a tower of sweets.}

{a vintage suitcase collected cards.}

psalm 118:1 was a fitting summary for the couple, who are truly thankful people. thankful for each other, thankful for family and friends, thankful for the love of the Father who is the giver of all good gifts.

{guests printed "leaves" with their thumbs on this tree painting in lieu of a traditional guest book. i love the monogram heart on the tree trunk.}

{twine and clothespins made for a simple display of their engagement photos on the barn wall.}

{firepits outside were ready for roasting s'mores. inside, the fare was pure & classic chicago: portillos and gene & judes hotdogs and giordanos pizza.}

{yeah, it's that good.}

{table centerpieces included twine- or lace-wrapped jars and tissue paper poms.}

{the petite cake.}

{sweet tea at the bar was served up in handled mason jars. guests got to tag their jars and take them home as favors.}

everyone expected to see michael breakdance at the reception. i'm not sure anyone expected ellen to. she surprised (and impressed!) all of us during their adorable first dance. check out the video here. and if you don't smile the whole time, you might be broken.

weddings and parties are the moments we pause to celebrate what is most dear to us. they have a special place in my heart, as do ellen and michael, and i'm so grateful to them for allowing their wedding to be the first (of hopefully many) i share with you.


venue, appetizers & cupcakes: emerson creek pottery & tea room
bridal dress: style #1918 by casablanca, via bridal mansion of lisle 
bridesmaids dresses: j. crew (similar)
groom's vest & pants, groomsmen's vests: express 
groom/ groomsmen's ties: handmade by friend of the bride
shoes: chucks, what else?
invitations: (custom) by nathan michael
boutonnieres & reception decor: handmade by bride
bride's reception hairpiece: (custom) by soul speak
reception food: portillos, gene & judes, giordanos


  1. it's like reliving the day all over again, love it! thanks for this post, that was a pretty cool wedding ;)

    1. thanks for letting me share it mrs. swalley!! it was a great day. :)

  2. I got married at this magnificent place. We started off with the most perfect Clam Chowder for dinner and we also had their amazing signature Salad (candied walnuts, Gorgonzola and craisins).

  3. wow, sounds amazingly yummy! it is such a great venue. xo!


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