I met Francesca about a year prior to her wedding date. I was in town for a wedding one weekend and was meeting a client the Sunday after in downtown Royal Oak. I received a text from Carolyn Hefner, of the China Closet, asking me if I could make a quick stop by her office to say hello to Francesca who was just beginning to look for a wedding photographer. Timing is everything, and I am so glad I was able to make the visit! As you can see from the photos above and below, Francesca and Ryan had all the ingredients for the making of a beautiful wedding! There is nothing quite like an Italian-Catholic wedding in southeastern Michigan. That particular combination is near and dear to my heart as it is my own heritage as well. I love the feeling that comes with being around close-knit families, rich traditions, and people who love to celebrate each stage of life! There isn’t a better blend for me, as a documentary story-teller, to photograph!
The wedding day began in two very different locations. My second photographer, David Yarnall, began with Ryan and the guys out at his house on the lake in Harrison Township. I met up with Francesca, the girls and her family at the MGM Grand Hotel in downtown Detroit. One of my favorite photos of the day was during the hustle-bustle of getting ready. It’s the first photo directly below. Francesca is getting her makeup retouched on one side of the room, her bridesmaids are getting helped into their dresses in the center of the room, and her grandfather (already in his tuxedo) is taking a nap on the other side of the room! I just love this moment! What really made the entire getting ready session special is how Francesca involved her family, and in particular, her grandmother. In fact, Francesca’s dress was originally her grandmother’s! It was absolutely stunning and may have had the longest train and veil I’ve ever photographed!
The ceremony took place a few blocks away at the historic Holy Family Catholic Church, one of Detroit’s oldest churches in continuous use with a distinct Italian heritage! If you are unaware of it, because it is a small church, you most likely will drive right by on the Chrysler Freeway and not even notice it. If you are fortunate enough to attend a wedding there, however, you’ll realize that you are seated inside one of Detroit’s little gems. Francesca and Ryan’s wedding was a traditional Catholic wedding with a full mass and Holy Family was the perfect setting. Family photos followed the ceremony on the alter. With a couple of hours to have some fun before the reception began, I joined the wedding party on their party bus for a tour around some of downtown Detroit’s landmarks. We stopped at nearby Belle Isle for some photos in front of its famous fountain and to get a few portraits with the Detroit skyline in the background. We also made a stop at the Detroit Institute of Arts for a few more photos before heading up to Villa Penna in Sterling Heights for the reception.
Bellisario Florist provided the floral arrangements and, as usual, the ballroom of Villa Penna was stunning! Ralph Bellisario has a signature style, and there is no second guessing his masterful work! We arrived just in time for the festivities to begin, including the grand entrance. DJ and Host, Wayne, from Rock Out Entertainment, got the energy going with his introductions of the the wedding party. Each couple showed off their fun personalities as they were introduced. Finally, Francesca and Ryan’s names were called, and they knew exactly how to come in with flare! Heading right to the center of the dance floor, they had everyone on their feet. The remainder of the evening was filled with laughter, touching memories, and excitement…. from the toasts, to the formal dances, to the guests getting creative with glow sticks on the dance floor! You can see all of the great moments by scrolling down below, or by clicking >>>>>HERE<<<<< to see the entire highlight slideshow!