Joe + Amber | Downtown Grand Rapids Ceremony and Reception
A wedding with a reception across the street from the ceremony location? Is that possible in downtown? Yes it is and Joe and Amber's wedding day at Gallery Divani & The Waldron was a perfect example of what a small wedding in downtown Grand Rapids should look like.
The first began at Joe's childhood home where he got ready, along with his Dad and groomsmen.
Joe's mother passed away just 18 months ago and was very much missed by Joe, his father and everyone who knew her. That being said, I wanted to create portraits of Joe and his father that incorporated his mother as well (as well as the things his dad loves, antique cars).
Amber got ready at her downtown Grand Rapids apartment with her mom, sister and bridesmaids. Ginger, her friendly dachshund, was at home as well and made several appearances.
Being in downtown Grand Rapids means we can step outside and find fantastic photo locations everywhere we look (see the street images below for an example, next to her building).
It was just a couple blocks to walk down to 15 Ionia Ave SW and Gallery Divani for the wedding ceremony with about 50 guests. Joe and his groomsmen were relaxed (and we made sure to keep them laughing at our bad Laffy Taffy jokes).
Joe's mother held a seat of honor during the ceremony and Amber was escorted down the aisle by her dad and then her stepdad as she made her way toward her husband to be, Joe.
From Amber being given away by her stepfather to exiting the ceremony as newlyweds, the ceremony included laughter, tears, vows, exchange of rings and the first kiss.
And it lasted all of 5 minutes (yes, ceremonies can be that fast and Joe and Amber planned it that way).
Following the ceremony, Gallery Divani greeted Joe and Amber with their favorite cocktails: a Manhattan for him and a French 77 for her. This was exactly what they needed following the ceremony as they prepared for family photos.
Since Joe and Amber had not seen each other prior to the wedding, that meant not only did we create images for the bride and groom, we also made sure to spend time creating images that incorporated the entire wedding party.
Then it was time to go exploring around Gallery Divani and Ionia Street in downtown Grand Rapids. Amber was not the biggest fan of 'walking' all over the place with her dress (and tall heels on), so we worked with the building we had access to.
15 Ionia SW is a great place for portraits and just moving around a couple of floors made the images below so much better! In addition, we were able to step outside and use the side of the Van Andel Arena for a little bit of color for the backdrop.
Joe and Amber's wedding day plan consisted of their friends and family enjoying cocktails at Bar Divani and then walking about 1 block down the street to The Waldron for dinner and dancing. From the cupcakes stand to the seating chart, Amber did a wonderful job incorporating her personal style into the reception.
Guests were seated and the bride entered the room with authority, getting everyone up off their feet! Following dinner service, they even had a little fun playing "the shoe game" (if you're not sure what that is, simply Google it).
Many couples ask if formal dances at wedding receptions are necessary or have any particular order. We consistently answer, "It's whatever you want the order and dances to be..."
Amber took that fact and rearranged formal dances to dance first with her stepdad and then her husband. That way the bride and groom could invite the wedding party onto the floor during their song as well and get the party started (which they did).