Category Archives: Westin

samantha and lisa in downtown columbus on their wedding day

Via Vecchia Wedding Photography in Columbus OH

I think the single biggest gift being a wedding photographer has given me has been reconnecting with people from my past on such a loving an important day as their wedding. I have photographed the weddings and special moments for people I’ve gone to high school with, people that I’ve gone to college with, people I’ve gone to graduate school with and people that I’ve met in while living in other cities. 17 years ago I was lucky enough to find myself working at ACCAD as a summer counselor for a women in technology program. Little did I know that program would change my life probably more than it changed any of the other girls attending the week-long camp. The other counselors became lifelong mentors to me and women that I continue to look up to and aspire to be. One of those women is Samantha. When she contacted me about her wedding day, to say I was honored would be an understatement. We FaceTimed together where I got to both meet her fiancé Lisa and start the ball rolling on planning their romantic Via Vecchia wedding.

Fast forward to their wedding day. It’s not often I get choked up on a wedding day, but when Samantha walked into the room with a blue sequined dress, I kinda lost it a little.  She was so radiant. A little later, I was able to meet Lisa in-person for the first time in her suite down the hallway at the downtown Westin. It had felt like I had known her for years. Her brother and best friend were hanging out in the room with her and they had such great senses of humor, I immediately felt a connection with them all.

Lisa and Sam wanted so badly to get married in the alley at Via Vecchia, but the universe had other plans for them. It not only rained, but it down-poured to the point it was testing the capacity of the gutters. The entire ceremony setup was moved indoors at the last minute thanks to Via Vecchia owner, Michael, and Lisa and Sam’s friends and family. Let me tell you- it looked so amazing. I couldn’t get enough of the hot-pink uplighting. It ended up being the ceremony with the biggest visual cool-factor of the year. I know it wasn’t what they had envisioned, but it was just perfect.

My favorite parts of the reception were the speeches, as always, the shoe game where we got to see a little insight on Sam and Lisa’s relationship, and the sibling dance-off which was judged by Sam and Lisa’s parents. I’m not sure I’ve laughed that hard in years. Later that night, the rain stopped and so we snuck out and did a few evening shots under the Via Vecchia bistro alley lights. I can’t thank Samantha and Lisa enough for having me photograph their wedding. I hope you all love these as much as I loved taking them! XO Jess

newlyweds hugging against a brick wall

Columbus Westin Wedding

I laughed so hard I almost cried the very first time I met Erin and David- so when they asked me to work with them on their engagement and wedding, I felt like I won the lottery! Their fall 2016 e-session and their September 2017 wedding were truly highlights on my schedule!

I met up with everyone at the downtown Columbus Westin. My second shooter went and hung out with the guys while I joined the girls getting ready. This bridal party wins the bridal party of the year award. Each and every one of these girls was so genuine and fun. They all beamed when they saw Erin in her dress, and a few of them even cried. They all had electric personalities that brought a new level of excitement and joy to the day!

Erin’s dress might be the most uniquely beautiful dress I’ve ever seen. It was a form-fitting dusty light pink silhouette embellished with sequins that glittered in the sun. The bridesmaids all wore gold sequined dresses. Together with the Petals & Leaves florals of maroons and pinks, the girls all looked flawless.

I met up with David around the corner from the Westin for the couple’s first look. I asked him if he thought he was going to cry, and he said definitively no. But guess who had tears of joy streaming down his face when he turned around and saw how stunning Erin looked? It was such an amazing moment- one of those I’m so excited I get to be a fly-on-the-wall to see and capture.

The entire wedding party went around to a few Columbus spots, including a parking deck. It was like having your own city all to yourself up there! In the distance, there was even a band playing really loudly so it was like a private concert, too. After the photos, we headed back to the Westin for the signing of the ketubah and ceremony.

The Westin is such a grand event space. I know I’ve written about its history in-depth in a previous blog post so I won’t geek out over it here. Just know I love this space. Look at the photos and you’ll see why!! The ceremony ended with the breaking of the glass and a joyous “Mozel Tov!” rang out from the family and guests!

The event space was quickly turned from the ceremony to reception-ready during cocktail hour. With Orange Blossom Events at the helm, everything went flawlessly. Greenery was accented with maroons, golds, and candlelight. It was so elegant and classy. Dinner, speeches, happy tears and explosive laughter followed through the night. The whole day was nothing short of magical and I can’t thank David and Erin enough for having me with them! Cheers to you both!! Xo Jess

Via Vecchia Alley Wedding

Kelly and Jason’s June wedding was one for the ages! Everything from start to finished went smooth as silk and the weather was perfect. The couple both got ready for the day at the downtown Columbus Westin, however they opted not to see each other until their first look. They had their first look in front of Brewer’s Gate and it was so sweet and heartfelt. Kelly was a dream in here Lea-Ann Belter Gown and her Badgley Mischka shoes. After the first look we took photos around the Via Vecchia property and then hopped on a Trolley over to Schiller Park for some bridal party shots.

And what a bridal party it was! There were 12 bridesmaids and 11 groomsmen. Madison House Designs provided the florals with accents of soft pink that matched the maid’s dresses.

Half way through the portrait session, Kelly casually mentions she has this amazing lace parasol and brings it off the bus. It was all I could do not to drool over it- and OMG the dreamy photos it made- just perfect for a summer wedding! By that time we had driven over to the docks at the Audubon center which had wildflowers in full bloom around the wetland area. The soft white flowers accented her dress in a way that you couldn’t have planned even if you wanted to. Next it was time to make our way back to Via Vecchia and get these two hitched!

Molly and her team at MStyle made sure everything was absolutely perfect both inside and outside of the venue. The ceremony took place in the Alley and to say it was romantic would be an understatement. You could really see how in love these two are. Kelly and Jason would hold each-other in their arms as they listed to their family give the readings during their ceremony. It was a small detail, but I noticed it because you usually don’t see such a tender interaction like that.

When the ceremony was finished, the wine started flowing. The reception was overflowing with the most stunning florals, delicious cookies and smiling guests. I can’t thank Kelly and Jason enough for having me with them on this spectacular day. I hope you love looking at these as much as I loved taking them! XO Jess

Bride and Groom kissing at the columbus westin

Downtown Columbus Westin Wedding

OK so this wedding was nothing short of spectacular. Jen was simply glamorous on her wedding day, and Drew beamed from ear-to-ear all day.

Before I dive into their details, I want to talk a little bit about their venue. I love history, so if you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate a venue with an interesting past. The Downtown Columbus Westin used to be called the Great Southern Hotel and was opened in 1897. It was touted as being “fireproof”, as a lot of hotels in Columbus at the time fell victim to great fires. The hotel has been host to President William McKinley, President William Howard Taft, President Teddy Roosevelt, President Woodrow Wilson, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The Grand Ballroom, where Drew and Jen’s reception was, was originally the hotel’s dining room, spanning vertically the third and fourth floors of the hotel. The original stained glass in the ballroom depicts different kinds of food, a subtle nod to what the room was originally used for. The original hotel didn’t have air conditioning, obviously, and not every room had its own toilet. When you walk into the rooms today, you can tell there is a rich history, however thankfully modern amenities have been added.

The reason I share the brief history is to give you a feel for how grand of a place the Westin is. The building’s Victorian elegance was only the background, however, for such a beautiful couple. Jen wore a dress from Elegant Bride that was accented with a cathedral length veil and stunning florals by Bloomtastic. Her Badgley Mischka shoes were adorned with gorgeous blinged-out crystal embellishments. Drew was on-point in his Men’s Warehouse Tux and his Brutus the Buckeye cuff-links.

As Jen walked down the aisle towards Drew, I swear I thought his heart skipped a beat. They were both so happy and in love, surrounded by their best friends and family. After some fantastic speeches, an elegant dinner and some cake cutting (Short North Piece of Cake), this group literally might have won my dance party of the year award. It’s hard to tell because there is still a lot more of the year to go, but boy did this group know how to shake it! I think Tommy Nutter behind the helm had a little something to do with it!  I am so excited to share their photographic story today on the blog…I hope you love it! XO Jess

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Downtown Columbus Wedding Photography

Kelly and JD were married at St. Paul Catholic Church. This church was so vibrant and airy. Huge vaulted ceilings accented colorful stained glass windows. Of note was a stained glass representation of Pope St. John Paul II, which was very cool to see, as his Sainthood happened in my lifetime. The wedding colors were classic black and white, which believe it or not, I don’t think in the eight years of shooting weddings, I’ve had yet, although I could be wrong. What’s special about that combination is it’s so elegant against everything you put it in front of.

Out of all the weddings I photographed in 2014, JD’s face when he saw Kelly walking towards him down the isle was my favorite. Pure joy and some tears were met with her bright smile as she approached. The moment was so special and one I know they’ll never forget.

I’ve always been a city girl at heart so I get especially excited when my couples love to utilize amazing city backdrops for their wedding photos. We drove around to three different downtown locations before the reception. There was no doubt about it, it was going to rain on this day. However, everything worked out so magically, that we ended up under a bridge overhang the moment it started to downpour. Wind and rain as well as the rich building textures make all of these photos come to life.

The reception was held at the magnificent Westin ballroom in downtown Columbus. Natural light morphed into elegant ceiling lights as the sun set. Kelly and JD’s reception had the most amazing looking cookie display I’ve ever seen. It’s hard for me to even look at the photos without my mouth watering. Some very good and unexpected musical entertainment throughout the night was provided by Steve Fazini (amazing!) who sang to guests as they dined, and the band Brother’s Monk from Big Bang Piano Bar who got the crowd moving with their dueling pianos.

Columbus Westin Wedding