Grab your favorite cup of tea, a giant bowl of popcorn, & settle in.
If you want to inquire about wedding photography, email me!
Welcome to the blog, home to Chicago's queer intimate wedding photographer for couples in love + their four-legged family.
(I'm here and queer!)
1. My first name is Mei Lin (she/her)
2. I'm part of the LGBTQ+ & BIPOC communities
3. I really love pugs!
4. I’m a huge musical theatre fan
5. I care deeply about animal welfare as well as social justice issues.
6. I incorporate sustainable practices throughout your wedding photography experience
Photo By Lena Mirisola Photography
The Lurie Garden is in the center of downtown Chicago in Millennium Park. It’s tucked away from the busy Michigan Avenue and right next to the Art Institute of Chicago. It’s a perfect central location that is easily accessible via public transit and has a lot of classic Chicago spots within reach like The Bean (Cloud Gate), the Maggie Daley Park, and Chicago’s Navy Pier. It’s a wonderfully quiet part of the otherwise busy hustle and bustle of downtown that features gorgeous flowers and plants when in season. Moreover, you get beautiful views of some classic Chicago architecture.
Rya & Britt’s story began way back in 2008 via Facebook of all places. Their beginning was so drastically different than their now, but their very first date was one of the most stereotypical lesbian first dates ever. It lasted about eight or nine hours and Rya had no idea it was even a first date (she did eventually figured it out). Then, keeping with the lesbian stereotype, they moved in three months later to really complete the U-Haul lesbian trope (hey, it’s a trope for a good reason).
When it came time for the proposal, Rya was incredibly nervous. She planned the whole day for them and this start of a new chapter in their lives, Britt didn’t know about any of it prior to it happening. Rya used her student loan refund for the ring and planned it so well to set up a separate bank account in order to receive the money without Britt knowing and then suspecting anything. Britt kept asking her about it because she thought there was something wrong because she wasn’t getting the money refunded. She even insisted on calling the bursar’s office and Rya had to brush it off saying there was some clerical error that was getting resolved. Rya even conspired with Britt’s sister. They enjoyed the Art Institute day of where there was a visual art piece; there were moving art pieces which screamed words at the guests. At this point Britt starts to feel something was different in their day and so she stayed in front of the installation to see how long Rya would stay there with her (it turned out, quite a while).
Then they went to the Lurie Garden which is where they had their first kiss on their first date. It’s because of this that this place is such a magical and sentimental place which made their ceremony venue even more wonderful. They looked out onto the water and luckily enough, there were art students around who were kind enough to get their proposal photographed, impromptu. Some of their couple portraits were taken at pretty much the exact spot they shared their first kiss.
Rya was so nervous and Britt will not let her live it down. They had just watched Frozen with Britt’s niece recently. And Rya said, quoted by Britt, “I think I’m going to keep you”. To Rya’s credit, she does not do well under pressure and it is one of those stories that will forever remain cherished.
The wedding was originally supposed to be a very short list of twenty people, but since Britt’s grandmother’s passing, they decided to expand their guest list to be surrounded by more of their loved ones. With their sweet proposal story, they knew they wanted to incorporate The Lurie Garden in their wedding. The Lurie Garden was at the heart of their engagement and now will forever be cherished as the spot where the two brides officially declared the beginning of their marriage to one another.
Dog moms of two years to Lio (she/her) who is named after the Liopleurodon dinosaur, they knew she absolutely had to be the guest of honor at the wedding. Lio, and only Lio, is Rya & Beth’s entire wedding party. Because it was a chilly April day, Lio happily sat in Rya’s mom’s bag to keep out from the Chicago wind. When it came time for photos, she was ready; she even donned a very cute pink tutu for the occasion.
The idea to host a bowling and laser tag reception was to accommodate their younger guests, but then they quickly realized that bowling and laser tag would be great fun for all the adult guests as well. After all, they wanted to host a wedding that would be fun for everybody. They had private access to four bowling lanes and everyone enjoyed bowling and watching their friends in the comfortable lounge areas. They had a buffet-style dinner that included an array of pies and then continued the festivities with laser tag. To end the wedding day festivities, they enjoyed some drinks at Nobody’s Darling, Chicago’s best Black-owned lesbian bar.
When Rya & Britt were together for 2-3 years they had joked that they got engaged on April 1st, but were not in a place to actually officially get engaged; it was a bit of an inside joke between the couple. So you may be asking, was this their real wedding? Well, who’s to say, really. It might be. No, it definitely probably is. 🙂
Photography | Mei Lin Barral Photography
Venue + Caterer | WhirlyBall
Officiant | Close friend of the couple Rae Kyritsi
Makeup Artist + Hair Stylist | Blow Out Junkie
Rya’s Engagement Ring | Carson Pirie Scott
Britt’s Engagement Ring | Vintage piece from MS Jewelers from Portsmouth, NH
Britt’s Heirloom Pieces | Vintage jewelry from her grandmother
Rya’s Wedding Attire | Long Tall Sally
Rya’s Shoes | Adidas
Britt’s Wedding Attire | Macy’s
Lio’s Caretaker (Dog Caretaker) | Rya’s Mom 🙂
Ceremony Guides | The couple’s friends!
Mei Lin (first name, pronounced "may-LYNN", she/her) is a queer pug-loving musical theatre enthusiast who's passionate about commemorating diverse couples in love and their four-legged family. Animal welfare, social justice, and sustainability are three things that are really important to her. Trans rights are human rights. Love is love. Stop AAPI Hate. Black Lives Matter.
about the author
Chicago intimate Wedding Photographer | LGBTQ+, BIPOC, & Woman-operated | for couples in love & their four-legged family