Home Is Wherever I’m With You: Our Engagement Photo Session

July 14, 2014

Logan Square Engagement Session

This whole, gettin’ hitched on Route 66 thing is become really real.  Like, really really real.  We’ve booked a wedding venue, the hubby-to-be has his suit, we’ve decided on a budget (which we’ve already messed up) and I’ve decided on colors and a theme for our wedding.

Each wedding is a unique little snowflake when it comes to what you want to spend money on.  We toyed with the idea of having a professional engagement session, but there were three factors that lead to an impromptu session with a friend and my camera:

#1 Location:  This mural we’re standing in front is in our neighborhood. When I flew back from California during our long distance relationship, I took the train in from the airport and when I came above ground, this was the first thing I remember seeing.  I was visiting the dude over the holidays to see if we were really the real deal and thus, if I should move back to Chicago from California.  Basically, beyond the colors that I love, the mural was a part of our story.

The problem with this mural is that while it’s a hot spot for Chicago engagement photos, it’s also a very busy location- right next to an EL line stop and a bus station.  Cars are often illegally parked in front of it.  During construction on the EL, CTA workers were frequently parked in front of it, or busses come and go frequently making it hard to shoot.

We tried to get photos in front of this mural three times, each time something went wrong. Construction took place on that train stop for two months in spring, causing a backup of buses in front of it.  Then, one day we tried to get the photos done, a CTA worker had parked RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF IT from 10-5pm…so hiring a photographer, as was my hunch, would have been even more stressful than it already was..you never knew if you’d luck out and the weather would work out while the location was clear. Sigh.

Route 66 Engagement Photos

#2 Cost: Our wedding is already over budget. We originally tried to have a destination wedding in L.A. (where most of my people are from, including my Dad who does not travel) for $20k.  Since securing a backyard or a park was proving really stressful from 2,000 miles away- we opted for a venue that wasn’t going to take us to the cleaners.  Our budget is now, gulp, $30k (I know, I know… it’s not “frugal” but we are saving, making and cutting costs to get it back down) which includes the cost of our airfare, hotel stay and any services we don’t have bids for yet.

We’re hoping to cut costs on the invitations, flowers (DIY most likely), and my dress (which was overbudgeted for since alterations are a total scam from what I hear) and of course, any accessories I will wear.  I’m not spending $100 on a veil, sorry, JoAnn’s here I come!  Our engagement session was simply a few pictures in front of this particular mural and I didn’t feel like we needed a full session..I’d rather pocket the $400 towards the wedding day photographer.

Doctor Who Engagement Session

As stated, we had a few shots we really wanted, but beyond that, the shoot itself was really simple.  My awesome friend Lauren over at Champagne & Chambray came over after work and took the photos.  All day I fretted over whether there would be another stupid bus or car in front of the mural, or if it’d start raining, but luckily for us, it did not.  Originally

Haley from Fab & Fanciful originally trekked out to photograph us, but that failed due to a stupid car parked in the way all day (apparently city workers can do whatever they want even in a no parking zone and I wasn’t going to be the jerk that calls a tow truck), so, this time around I was desperate for the photos to happen and be done with!

We took a few photos with the TARDIS ring box my dude proposed with… Doctor Who fans out there, please give my man the appropriate virtual high fives.  We also used some vintage suitcases from the antique store.

Logan Square Engagement Photos

Funny story about wedding budgets, they are really a pain in the arse.  Case in point- the aformentioned vintage suitcases.  We went to 5 thrift stores trying to find one for this shoot, and to later use as our card box or decoration at the wedding.  We couldn’t find one anywhere, well, because all the antique stores bought them.  We finally found some at the antique store in the burbs…and one suitcase turned into four.  So, a budgeted “$10” project turned into a $120 project.

Yes, we paid $30 a piece for those stupid things…thus diminishing whatever savings we had by doing a DIY photo shoot.

Facepalm.  I am trying to get rid of the knots in my stomach by telling myself that the suitcases will also be used at the wedding and we will also be using them as decor in our house by stacking them as an end table.  Yes, I am totally grasping at straws here people.

Weddings are expensive, no, rather, stupid expensive, even when you try to MacGyver your way out of it, the glitter and pom poms for 175 people (includes kids) to try and save money is a tough road and nothing is free.  It may be cheaper, but put the word wedding in front of it and multiply it by over 100 people and expect to throw up in your mouth a little.

Anyhoo- our photo shoot was simple but filled with heart.  We’re planning a Route 66, “Home” type wedding with a lot of quirks, so I think despite my hard lessons in antique shopping and stupidity with construction, I think it came out alright.

What do you think?  Also, aren’t weddings stupid expensive?



11 comments so far.

11 responses to “Home Is Wherever I’m With You: Our Engagement Photo Session”

  1. EEEEK!

    omg I LOVE these!

  2. Mrs T says:

    Yes weddings are expensive, yes they are a biggest pain in the bum, yes you feel like the whole thing is taken out of your hands, but on the day it will be worth it, no matter how bad it is right now.
    My wedding took place a year after my father died. My husband and I went completely over budget for a lot of things. Simply because one I wasn’t really into planning it because I was heartbroken my father wasn’t going to be there , and two my hubby suddenly turned into groomzilla that I never knew he was.
    My one bit of advice to you would be try and get your table plan sorted as soon as possible, and start being a RSVP Nazi if people start flaking out on you. I had two people who turned up late for the ceremony and the three course sit down meal. They then had the cheek to ask for food from my caterer, who very rightly told them to jog on. They then asked my husband who told them to go to down the street to MacDonalds for some food.
    I guess my point is so many things that you don’t plan for will crop up, but despite that everything will be fine and it will be a fantastic day.
    Good Luck x

  3. Stephanie says:

    Lovely, you look gorgeous! Why do I not know where this mural is?? It must be off a train line I haven’t taken! Or I pay no attention, that’s possible too.

  4. Rebecca Jo says:

    That mural is incredible!!! So glad you got the clear space finally. Worth it!!!

  5. Lauren says:

    Glad I could be of service! You guys are pretty easy models though 🙂

  6. miranda says:

    Your photos are gorgeous, I love that mural it’s beautiful! Weddings are stupid expensive I agree, it doesn’t seem like there’s a good way to cut back on things but you definitely seem to be making a great effort and it’s so nice of you to be considerate to your guests and host the event in LA.

  7. Michelle says:

    Your pictures looks awesome!

    And yes, weddings are so expensive.

  8. Nicole says:

    You sound just like me! Our budget was about $20K and though we never did a final tally, I would guess we spent about $30K. It sounds like SO much, but we still did as much as we could to save and cut a few corners. It doesn’t sound like a budget wedding, but I totally understand how it is. I will say that it was worth every penny and I have no regrets.

  9. Janine says:

    You both look great, I love how the photos turned out!

  10. Gorgeous photos! I love the Tardis ya got there, too 😉

  11. Erja says:

    I recently found your blog, and I really love the idea behind it. Thank you! I’m so with you on the ridiculousness of wedding costs, and I never EVER thought I would be spending nearly as much as we did on our wedding last winter in New York City. But it’s NYC… Anyhow, we were able to cut down a bit by making our own invitations, getting flowers from the outer boroughs (I seriously thought about doing my own flowers by mail ordering whole sale flowers, and I got as far as practicing making my bouquet, but thank god my husband talked me out of it 😉 It would have been way too stressful on the day of the wedding!), and me shopping around every possible online store and sale for everything I needed. I was even planning to get my dress used, or at least bought by someone else first, since apparently many people change their minds, and buy a SECOND dress at some point! Thank heavens I found a dress that didn’t need any alterations… If you’re still looking for a veil, I HIGHLY recommend “glamorbydesign” on Etsy. Not sure what you’re looking for, but I got my simple one-layer finger-tip veil for less than $50, and it was absolutely beautiful! Ramsina was super helpful figuring out the right color (I sent her a little piece of the fabric from my dress), and I got my veil in a matter of days. All the best with the planning. Have fun!


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