Gateway Center

Missy & Zach: A Sunny Summer Wedding by Bolla Photo

I personally love when couples choose to do a "first look." However, I totally understand those who, like Missy and Zach, wish to uphold tradition and not see each other before the wedding. A similar trend that is becoming more and more popular, though, is for the bride to do a first look with her father instead. Missy is very much a daddy's girl and definitely wanted to have a special moment with her father before walking down the aisle. Escorted by all of her bridesmaids, Missy walked to the back of St. Stephen's where her dad was waiting with his back turned. As soon as he turned around and saw how beautiful his daughter looked in her wedding gown, he couldn't hold back the tears...nor could anyone else watching.

Even though it was a very bright day, we found comfort in the shaded bike path at Drost Park. The sun filtered through just perfectly to bathe the bride and groom in gorgeous light! 

Congratulations, Missy and Zach!

Ceremony: St. Stephens Catholic Church, Caseyville, IL
Reception: LaSalle Room, Gateway Center, Collinsville, IL
Hair and Makeup Artists: Studio 3 at Park Plaza, Edwardsville, IL
Wedding Dress: Champagne and Lace, Collinsville, IL

Melissa and Derek 06.29.13 by Bolla Photo

 When I first talked with Melissa and Derek as they were planning their wedding, they knew one thing for certain: they wanted to have fun on their wedding day! And that they did!

Before the ceremony Melissa struck goofy poses with each of her bridesmaids. Next up, Coach Derek and his guys did the same, as well as take their must-have baseball team photo. The large bridal party even included Melissa’s baby nephew Lucas, who bounced down the aisle (with a little help from his dad) as ring bearer behind the flower girls.

During their first dance as husband and wife, Melissa and Derek started off with a traditional slow song but soon were dancing across the entire dance floor to songs such as Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”  The rest of the night was non-stop dancing until guests lined up with sparklers to send the newlyweds on their way to St. Thomas.

The day was not only fun, but also beautiful. It only poured down raining during the ceremony…and again when we were on the party bus traveling from the church to the first portrait location…and then again when we were on our way to the reception. Despite all that, the storms held off and lent picturesque skies whenever we were outside.

Congratulations, Melissa and Derek! We had a blast with you!


(To see more photos from Melissa and Derek’s wedding, watch the video slideshow below.)

 Ceremony: St. George Church, New Baden, IL

Reception: Gateway Center, Collinsville, IL

Floral Artist: Ahner Florist, New Baden, IL

Cake Artist: Berkemann’s Bakers Dozen, New Baden, IL

Make-up Artist: Erin Sauerhage

Gown: Oleg Cassini design from David’s Bridal, Fairview Heights, IL

Theresa and Andy 09.28.12 by Bolla Photo

“Mawwiage…Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today.”

Theresa and Andy, my fellow Princess Bride fans, celebrated their special day surrounded by friends and lots of family.  Theresa, along with her 5 sisters/ bridesmaids, started the day with some pampering at Sizzor Shak. After arriving at the church, she received a sweet letter from her “secret admirer,” Andy, which started the tears flowing. She pulled it together and was all smiles the rest of the day.

After the full Catholic mass ceremony, the bridal party headed downtown to City Garden. Not only does is it the home of many quirky statues and pieces of art but also of a fabulous view of the Arch. We also stopped by Union Station before heading back to Illinois for the reception. At the fuchsia-infused Gateway Center, the party continued with dancing and celebrating all night.

“Mawwiage, that bwessed awangment, that dweam wifin a dweam...
And wuv, twue wuv, will fowow you foweva...
So tweasure your wuv.”

Congratulations, Theresa and Andy! And always ‘tweasure your twue wuv.’

Ceremony:  St. Stephen Church, Caseyville, IL

 Reception: Gateway Center, Collinsville, IL

Floral Designer: Becky Huffman Flowers, Columbia, IL

Cake Artist: Patty Cakes, Highland, IL

Hair Artist: Sizzor Shak, Collinsville, IL

Makeup Artist: Sizzor Shak, Collinsville, IL

Dress Designer: Maggie Sottero

Bridesmaids Dresses:  Clarice’s, St. Louis, MO

Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Willard’s, Fairview Heights, IL

DJ: Memories Productions

Transportation: All About You Limos, Columbia, IL

Photobooth: Infinity Photo, Smithton, IL


Blythe and Nathaniel 06.02.12 by Bolla Photo

Blythe and Nathaniel 06.02.12

Blythe and Nathaniel have a special kind of love. I could tell even when I first met them at our consultation at Starbucks.  As they told me the story of the night he asked permission to marry her (not far from where we were sitting), Nathaniel and Blythe were giddy and all smiles…the way that only two people truly in love can be.  But that was nothing compared to their wedding day.

I drove by the church a few days before the wedding, in hopes of finding some nearby locations for portraits before the ceremony.  When I saw the large brick pillars at the small college campus just down the road, I knew it would be the perfect place for Blythe and Nathaniel, who opted for the tradition of not seeing each other before the ceremony.  After all the girls got dolled up at Sizzor Shak and into their dresses, and after the guys were all ready, we put Nathaniel in position.  He was surrounded by his bodyguard groomsmen, who made sure there was no chance of him seeing Blythe as she walked up to the other side of the brick pillar.  Once she was in position, Blythe was surprised to hear Nathaniel on the other side, asking how her morning had been so far.  She hadn’t realized he was already there! This moment resulted in some of my favorite images from the day!

After the fun of the outdoor photos, it was time to reflect on the true importance of the day.  Blythe gathered with her bridesmaids in prayerful contemplation.  The words spoken and the tears shed in these few moments before the ceremony were clear evidence of the love that not only Blythe and Nathaniel have for each other, but also of the love that their friends and family have for them. The emotions continued to run high throughout the personalized ceremony (given by Blythe’s uncle) and the vows that Blythe and Nathaniel wrote for each other.  After the first kiss, Nathaniel leaped off stage and the new couple (followed by their bridal party) danced their way out of the church. 

After a colorful rose petal exit from the church, we headed to the Fort Belle Fontaine for more portraits.  Then the real fun started at the Gateway Center, where the couple and their guests enjoyed a spread of Mexican food and a night full of fun and dancing.

Their sweet love for each other can be summed up by the following excerpt from Nathaniel’s vows to Blythe:

“I promise to love you unconditionally as you love me.
I promise to make you feel wanted, needed and desired.
I'm an imperfect man, that's of course no surprise,
but you,  Blythe, are my perfectly imperfect blessing
and I hope the message is clear.”

Ceremony:  North County Community Church, Hazelwood, Mo

Reception: Gateway Center, Collinsville, IL

Floral Designer: Lulu McCabe, Ellisville, MO

Cake Artist: Knodel’s Bakery, St. Louis, MO

Hair Artist: Sizzor Shak, Collinsville, IL

Makeup Artist: Sizzor Shak, Collinsville, IL

Dress: David’s Bridal

Bridesmaids Dresses:  David’s Bridal

Groom and Groomsmen Attire: Men’s Warehouse

Ceremony Décor: A-1 Party & Wedding Rentals, Collinsville, IL

DJ: Rich Cade, C Sharp Mobile

Transportation: All About You Limos, Columbia, IL

Videography: TJ Ingrassia , Studio 309 Productions