Happy anniversary, to me

Hooray for Steve!

This month marks my first full year of “retirement” from the Jacksonville Journal-Courier. Before leaving the daily grind of the daily paper, I worked 11 years in Jacksonville, two years at the Herald & Review (Decatur, Illinois), two years at the Freeport Journal-Standard, and 4 months at the LaSalle-Peru News-Tribune (the home of half-time overtime, ask me about it sometime). While at the University of Illinois-Urbana, I was a photographer and photo editor for the Daily Illini. I took a summer and fall off to intern at newspapers in Saginaw and Muskegon, Michigan.

People have asked me if I miss working at the newspaper. Honestly, not in the least. I see my years in newspapers as a past chapter of my life. And, I’m using all the experience and skill from that time to do something I absolutely enjoy — telling wedding stories for our brides and grooms.

(Tiffany left the newspaper earlier to start our wedding photography business. She did all the “work” while I just joined her for the fun of photographing on Saturdays. We now are happy working as a team for our wedding clients. When you add our years together we have more than 30 years of experience as photojournalists.)

A little something about the photo atop our blog. Tiffany & I had a wonderful honeymoon in Sweden. We were married 15 September (the week of 9/11), and took a three-week trip to Sweden the next summer. I was lucky enough to have visited Sweden for five-and-a-half weeks the previous year as part of a Rotary Club Group Study Exchange (if you’re a young professional and can take an extended leave from your job, I highly suggest applying for the program).

New friends invited us to come visit, so we did! We stayed a week in Malmö with our friend Martin Israelsson; another week with our friends Bengt Josefsson and Ann Wilhelmsson at their home in Mariestad and their stuga (summer home) in Sisjön; and a final week in Stockholm. Bengt was the trigger man for our blog photo. We were visiting the small village of Hjo on the shores of Lake Vättern, when I saw the cool setting. I set the camera up, told Bengt not to put us in the middle, and we posed for the shot. Not bad for an accountant! And, a great remembrance of a place whose slogan is I love Hjo (pronounced “you”).

By the way, we suggest taking a pre-honeymoon followed by a full-fledged honeymoon. We went to Southern Illinois and stayed in cabins at the San Damiano Retreat Center a couple days after our wedding, then were able to take our longer honeymoon trip to Sweden. That way we could use vacation time from work to help prepare for the wedding and to settle things afterwards before our pre-honeymoon. Then our honeymoon could be longer and at a time when there was less to worry about and we had more energy.

Steve & Tiffany on their Honeymoon in Sweden. (Photo by Bengt Josefsson)
Steve & Tiffany on their Honeymoon in Sweden. (Photo by Bengt Josefsson)

Special teams

Adam and his teammates celebrate his great catch!
Adam and his teammates celebrate his great catch!

Ushers, sometimes they can be a little sensitive.

So you and your fiancé go through your list of family and friends and choose who will stand up with you at your wedding. Then, you ask two or three more buddies to be a part of your day and serve as ushers.

But somehow, the ushers always seem to get a bit jealous when they don’t get to be in all the pictures. “Ushers, can you please get in the group.” And they start to grumble.

Tiffany and I picked up on a fun comment at Megan (Knoche) and Adam Wardlow’s wedding in Quincy this January. We now refer to ushers as “special teams.” The game is at a critical juncture — who do you call in to get the hard, dirty job done? That’s right, special teams.

The guys love it. I guess it makes them feel special.

Event details: Location/Quincy, Illinois, service at Madison Park Christian Church, The Ambiance for reception hall, Blumin’ Express Florist for flowers, Designer’s Edge Day Spa Salon for hair and makeup, Hy-Vee for cake, I DO Bridal Shoppe for tuxes, JJ’s Kitchen Catering for food, Elite Bridal for dress (St. Peters, Missouri).

Our blog is new, and we’re trying to come up with our best pre-blog ideas to post here. Text by Steve / Warmowski Photography.

Leo's Pizza, a reason to come back to Jacksonville

Julie (Surratt) Wilkinson was gracious enough to share her special day with her bridesmaid, Audrey Zeilman. It was Audrey’s birthday, and to mark the occasion she surprised her with a delivery from Leo’s Pizza! A neat idea and a great way to celebrate their history together.

Photos from the wedding are uploading now! Go to the Warmowski Photography web site, click on “See proofs from your event” and click on Julie & Phil’s name to see the images on Thursday.

Julie Wilkinson celebrates the birthday of her bridesmaid, Audrey, with a special delivery from Leo's Pizza.
Julie Wilkinson celebrates the birthday of her bridesmaid, Audrey, with a Jacksonville specialty — a pizza from Leo's.
Audrey reacts to the special delivery.
Audrey reacts to the special delivery.

Reception gone to the dog

Even though JJ, Julie & Phil’s Old English Bulldogge, couldn’t be part of the wedding day, in a sense he was part of the reception.

Each table at the reception hall, Hamilton’s 11o North East in Jacksonville, was adorned with a photo of JJ announcing the table number. The photo was cool, one I wish I would have taken.

Photos from the wedding are almost done! They’ll be linked from our web site on Thursday.

Julie & Phil used used a photo of their dog JJ to tell guests table numbers.
Julie & Phil used used a photo of their dog JJ to tell guests table numbers.

He's a what? He's a what?

Turning the guests into a band to celebrate the marriage of Julie & Phil Wilkinson.
Turning the guests into a band to celebrate the marriage of Julie & Phil Wilkinson.

He’s a music man! A Wilkinson family tradition is to gather all the family, friends and guests around the dance floor and create a band — à la Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man — to serenade Julie and Phil, the new bride and groom.

The crowd was split up into piccolos, pianos, harps, drums and the like and performed under the direction of Phil’s Uncle Mike. He ended the performance with a swan dive off a chair — good thing Phil is a chiropractor, for he probably needed an adjustment in the morning.

Photo details: We like setting up lights around the dance floor to add more depth to the scene. We always try to use available light, but sometimes when it’s lacking we add our own. Just another way we at Warmowski Photography like to add a little extra to our wedding photography.

Event details: Hamilton’s 110 North East for catering and reception, State Street Bridal for wedding dress, flowers by Ashley’s Petals & Angels, D.J. Joe Kindred (Jacksonville, Illinois).

How do you work the radio?

Riding in many a limo with our wedding parties, I can report the biggest difficulty is trying to figure out how to get the radio to work.

You get in the limo, then you see this thing that requires a computer programming degree to get it to play a CD. So you end up listening to a pop station, and that means commercials and usually a dearth of party music.

Here’s a two-prong suggestion for everyone:

1) Make a mix CD – get the music you’d want to party to, and burn a couple copies for the big day (so there’s a better chance it’ll make it into the limo for the ride).

2) Task a groomsman or usher with figuring out the radio and loading the CD. While you’re doing your receiving line, signing your wedding license and all the post-wedding fun, he can prime the limo with music.

This way everyone can relax after the ceremony and you can start your party with your best friends!

Buffalo gnats attack!

Thank goodness Julie Surratt & Phil Wilkinson only were outside for a little bit yesterday, for the buffalo gnats were crazy!

What’s a buffalo gnat? They’re these little black flies with a surprisingly big bite. You end up with a welt, and if you’re allergic even worse. When we moved to Jacksonville about 12 years ago, the gnats were not much of a problem. Only in the past few years have the swarms been something to consider.

Julie, an Illinois College alumna, wanted to stop on campus after the wedding to get some photos. A couple steps from the parking lot, as the wedding party walked past Sturtevant Hall, they were swarmed by gnats. We took a couple of quick photos, but there was more evading than posing. (Even worse, poor IC had their commencement outside the next day.)

This morning I was chatting with Pat Ward, an avid birder from Murrayville, who said the larval stages of the gnats come from local waterways. In years past pollution and silt meant fewer of the larval gnats survived, but now that streams and rivers are cleaner the gnats are making a comeback. He said frontier Illinois pioneers told of clouds of buffalo gnats driving horses crazy, and chickens would get suffocated (that happened two years ago to area chicken breeder Phil Bartz).

The University of Illinois suggests using DEET, but what I’ve found to work is vanilla. A bit of vanilla-scented lotion, or spray, or even the extract keeps the little buggers away.

Last year Lisa & David Jamiolkowski had their wedding at the end of May at Pere Marquette Lodge near Grafton, Illinois. We visited the lodge a couple days before the wedding and the gnats were bad, and we suggested Lisa & David to be prepared. They had spray bottles of vanilla on hand just in case. But, thankfully, the swarms disappeared right before their wedding. (The bugs die off after the water gets up to a certain temperature.)

So if you’re planning a wedding in Central Illinois in May, and you’re planning to have events outside, make some contingency plans for those pesky gnats.

As soon as Julie and Phil's wedding party got out of the limo to take photos at Illinois College, they were swarmed by buffalo gnats.
As soon as Julie and Phil’s wedding party got out of the limo to take photos at Illinois College, they were swarmed by buffalo gnats.
Last year at Pere Marquette State Park, Lisa and David had some of their friends spray vanilla to ward off gnats.
Last year at Pere Marquette State Park, Lisa and David had some of their friends spray vanilla to ward off gnats.

Special event, special dates

Genny & Ben Six were married earlier this year in White Hall. Genny had a great idea for her reception — she put out a calendar and asked all her guests to write in birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates. What a great way to keep track of family!

Event details: Ceremony at Christ United Methodist Church in White Hall with a punch and cake reception in the church hall. Reception to follow later this summer at Genny’s family farm.

Guests write in birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates on a calendar at Genny & Ben Six's reception.
Guests write in birthdays, anniversaries and other special dates on a calendar at Genny & Ben Six's reception.
A favorite photo of the day, Genny Six cries as family and guests sing.
A favorite photo of the day, Genny Six cries as family and guests sing.

WarmowskiPhotography.com

Change status to married

James takes a photo of his new bride Kristin and daughter Taylor after their wedding April 25th. "Can I post this photo on Facebook?" Kristin replied, "only if you change your status to married."
James takes a photo of his new bride Kristin and daughter Taylor after their wedding April 25th. "Can I post this photo on Facebook?" Kristin replied, "only if you change your status to married."

Riding in the Town Car with Kristin & James Darr after their wedding was an interesting experience. You should have heard them talk! I haven’t seen two people so totally in tune with each other in a long time. They’re going to have a great marriage, and we wish them well. Photo taken “Hail Mary” style with a fish eye lens.

Event details: Ceremony was at Laurel United Methodist Church in Springfield, Illinois. The sanctuary looked incredible, with beautiful, flowing fabric. Reception at Northfield Inn & Suites. Flowers by Janice’s Lemon Tree 217.942.9119 of Carrollton.

Flowing fabric at Laurel United Methodist Church.
Flowing fabric at Laurel United Methodist Church.