Wedding at The Club at Hillbrook – Michelle and Paul – Chagrin Falls Ohio

A Charming Fete planned Wedding at The Club at Hillbrook

Wedding at the Club at Hillbrook
Michelle and Paul

a garden inspired wedding at the club at Hillbrook in Chagrin Falls Ohio Michelle and Paul were married on May 19 in a beautiful garden-inspired outdoor ceremony. Their love for nature and the great outdoors led them to The Club at Hillbrook for the ceremony and reception venue. This 40 room Tudor mansion sits on 50 picturesque acres outside of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. It was built by Edmund S. Burke, Jr. He was the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and founder of what later became known as Bethlehem Steel. The Club at Hillbrook in Chagrin Falls is a 40-room Tudor Estate on 50 acresUpon arrival, it was easy to see why the Club at Hillbrook was named as one of the Best Wedding Venues in America by Brides Magazine!  The secluded location and winding road that leads to the Club was also perfect for the couple’s vision for their guests. They wanted their venue to make their guests feel as if they were going to a secret elegant party. They also wanted to show the natural beauty of the greater Cleveland area since most of the guests were from out of town. The Club at Hillbrook succeeded in giving Michell and Paul their Fairytale Wedding in the Woods! a fairytale wedding in the woods

Getting Ready

Both the ceremony and reception were held at the Club at Hillbrook.  Michelle and Paul and their entire wedding party also got ready there. When I arrived, I went straight to work taking the getting ready photos and the detail shots of their attire and accessories. I was soon joined by my second shooter for the day, Julie Paszczykowski.  She mainly photographed the guys while I stayed with the girls.  Of course, we each went back and forth between the bride and groom to make sure we had different images for them.Badgley Mischka Wedding shoes with low heals
bridal jewelry from Something White Bridal Salon
lace wedding dress designed by Watters at Something White Bridal Salon
custom bridal hanger
wedding rings from Alson Jewelers
wedding and engagement rings on the brides lace gown
the perfect place to hang your wedding gown
Ashland in Ivory by Vatana Watters from Something White Bridal Boutique
ivory Ashland wedding dress designed by Vatana Watters hanging between two ferns on the covered patio of the Club at Hillbrook
nude bobbinet a line bridesmaids dresses designed by Wtoo
custom wooden bridesmaids hangers
the black tux
grooms pictures taken by JP Photography
groom reading his letter from his bride to be before the wedding
letter to the groom from the bride
bride reading her letter from her groom to be before the wedding
letter from the groom to the bride
Johnny Walker double black
the groomsmen toast before the wedding
bride drinking barefoot wine bubbly prosecco
custom labels for barefoot wine bubbly prosecco
the bride and her bridesmaids toasting with bride drinking barefoot wine bubbly prosecco
Hair stylist Christal from Beauty Therapy, Inc.
Bridal Makeup by Lena from Beauty Therapy, Inc.
satin blossom bridesmaids robes from H and C Creations on EtsyThat moment when you are taking photos of the bride with her bridesmaids sitting on the bed. Then you ask them to do something fun and one of them yells “Pillow Fight!”  Then they remember they all just had your hair and makeup done!   Protect the bride at all costs!bridesmaids in the king size bed in the Sherwin Suite at the Club at Hillbrook
bridesmaids pillow fight
the sherwin suite at the Club at Hillbrook is where the bride steps into her gown
the bride helping her mother into her dress
the bridesmaids helping the bride get dressed at the Club at Hillbrook
the mom buttoning up the bride's dress
the smiling bride looking at her reflection in the mirror
getting the groom ready for the wedding
the groom and groomsmen getting ready before the wedding at the Club at Hillbrook in Chagrin Falls Ohio
the groom before the first look
the bride before the first look

The First Look

The Interfaith Wedding Ceremony didn’t take place until 5:30 so Michelle and Paul opted for “First Look” photos. That way, most of the formal photos would be out of the way and they could enjoy their ceremony and reception. We had the groom go outside first and sit by the fountain with his back to the entry door to the estate. The bride came out after and walked up behind him.
the bride peeking out the front door before the first look
the bride walking up behind the groom before the first look
the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time
the bride and groom holding hands during their first look
the bride and groom looking at one another before the wedding
close up of the bride and groom seeing each other for the first time before the wedding
the bride turns around so the groom can see the back of her dress
the bride turns around so the groom can see the back of her gown before the wedding
love at first site during their first look portraits
first look before the wedding for the bride and groom The landscape of the Club at Hillbrook is a photographer’s dream. We never had to “scout” for a good spot to take photos. Everywhere was perfect! But the Bride and Groom specifically wanted photos in the Gazebo in the back garden. However, getting there was not an easy task. It was a bit of a hike but the bride had on flat shoes and that helped tremendously!  It was definitely worth the extra effort!weddings at the Club at Hillbrook and wedding photographer Kurt Nielsen Photography
bridal party photos at The Club at Hillbrook
chagrin falls wedding at the Club at Hillbrook
bridal gown by watters and blue tux by the black tux
a charming fete wedding planning at The Club at Hillbrook
fairytale wedding in the woods at the Club at Hillbrook
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nude bobbinet a line bridesmaids dresses by wtoo by watters from Abbott's Bridal and Formalwear
navy blue suits from The Black Tux
michelle gets her bae
romantic garden wedding at the Club at Hillbrook
top 50 wedding venues in america by brides magazine
hidden garden gazebo at The Club at Hillbrook in Chagrin Falls Ohio
Cleveland Wedding Photographers
hidden garden gazebo We finished taking the bridal party photos up on the stairs leading to the back patio. The architecture of the Club at Hillbrook is the perfect backdrop no matter where you are on the property! groom photos by Toledo Photographer Kurt Nielsen Photography
Molly Taylor and Company boutonnieres
back of the club at hillbrook
casual poses of the groom and his groomsmen
wedding and bridesmaids dresses by Vatana Watters
bridal and bridesmaids bouquets by Molly Taylor and Company
Cleveland wedding photos by Kurt Nielsen Photography
Cleveland Weddings bride style
romantic bridal bouquet by Molly Taylor and Co

garden-inspired real wedding in Cleveland
A Charming Fete planned Wedding at The Club at Hillbrook
romantic garden-inspired destination wedding in Cleveland


The Ketubah is considered one of the most important parts of a Jewish marriage. It is basically a pre-nup that the groom signs and protects the bride. Although in today’s times it doesn’t usually have any monetary value today. However, in biblical times, it was the price the groom paid to marry his bride. By signing the Ketubah, the groom agreed to pay the bride or her parents an agreed amount of money or other items. It also specified that the groom continues supporting her should the marriage end either by death or divorce. Today, it often times serves as a reminder of the couple’s vows and responsibilities as it hangs in their home.
closeup of a ketubah from
Jewish Ketubah
ready to sign the ketubah before the wedding ceremony
Cantor Laurel Barr

The Ceremony

Michelle’s Jewish heritage also played a big part in their wedding ceremony. Molly Taylor and Co. did an amazing job designing and building the Chuppah under which the couple was married. Cantor Laurel Barr performed the interfaith ceremony. They say rain on your wedding day is good luck. Cantor Barr stated Michelle and Paul will have an abundance of good luck since it poured buckets during their ceremony! The Ketubah was read during the ceremony to publically affirmed the groom’s obligations to the bride. The couple also included the Kiddush (blessing over the wine) and the Sheva Brachot (7 blessings) during the ceremony. Of course, no Jewish wedding would be complete without the breaking of the glass before the kiss! The heavens must have approved because as soon as the guests shouted “Mazel Tov,” there was a loud boom of thunder!
welcome to our unplugged wedding sign from B & T Calligraphy and Design
chuppah designed and built by Molly Taylor and Co
blush and white florals by Molly Taylor and Co
custom chuppah from Molly Taylor and Co for The Club at Hillbrook

Special Guest!

Although everything about Michelle and Paul’s wedding day was absolutely perfect, there was one person who was visibly missing. Michelle’s dad was back in Toledo in a hospital recovering from emergency surgery and obviously couldn’t be there physically. However, with the help of modern technology, he didn’t miss a thing. Michelle’s nephew managed to set up a video chat feed on an iPad placed on the table under the Chuppah so Michelle’s dad didn’t miss a moment of the ceremony. Her brother and mother walked her down the aisle in his place.
setting up an iPad for facetiming a wedding
kiddish cup and wine for jewish wedding
string trio from Cleveland Music Group
groom anticipating the bride's arrival
groom is waiting for his bride
mother and brother walking the bride down the aisle
wedding ceremony on the covered patio at the Club at Hillbrook
groom drinks from the kiddish cup during the wedding ceremony
bride drinks from the kiddish cup during the wedding ceremony
the Sheva Brachot during the ceremony
vows for a jewish wedding at the club at hillbrook
stepping on the wine glass
broken kiddish cup after wedding ceremony
the wedding kiss after a jewish wedding ceremony
the recessional after the wedding ceremony
stopping for a kiss after the marriage ceremony

The Details

Michelle and Paul’s busy schedules left little time for wedding planning. Therefore, they enlisted the help of Lauren Hibbard from A Charming Fete to help them create their dream wedding.  It was instantly clear why they are one of the top wedding planning companies in the country!

They wanted everything to look and feel very natural yet elegant. Michelle loves the look of freshly picked flowers and wanted the floral aspects to look as if they were freshly picked from the garden. This included leaving the leaves on the stems of the flowers.

Their color scheme of blush, champagne gold, and leafy green was modishly displayed throughout the venue. The minimal gold flakes on the wedding cake from Luna Bakery & Café perfectly demonstrated the graceful style the couple wanted. The white tablecloths gave a simple and airy feel to the room. The blush napkins were enhanced with sprigs of vines at each table setting.

The stationery from also reflected this feel. The farm table and cane back Betty chairs from Borrow Curated Rentals served as the head table and seating for the bride and groom. The head table was simply decorated with a white table runner adorned with a mix of white votive and tapered candles for a romantic feel. The bridal bouquets and greenery added to the romantic vibes. The hanging floral arrangement above the table was absolutely stunning. leafy green seating cards with white lettering from minted
seating card display using chicken wire and old window frame

garden wedding programs from shutterfly
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nature themed wedding programs by shutterfly
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wide view of the ballroom at the Club at Hillbrook
a look inside the grand ballroom at the Club at Hillbrook
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nature themed wedding menu from
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a garden inspired wedding at The Club at Hillbrook planned and designed by A Charming Fete
farm table and cane back Betty chairs from Borrow Curated Rentals
hanging floral arrangement for a wedding from Molly Taylor and Co
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white votive and taper candles for the head table at a wedding
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garden-inspired wedding cake from Luna Bakery
gold flakes on a garden-inspired 5 tiered wedding cake from Luna Bakery Another special family member made a decidedly unique appearance at the reception. Paul and Michelle’s dog Luna was perfectly depicted on cookies created by Itty Bitty Bake Shop. They were definitely a showstopper! custom designed sugar cookies from Itty Bitty Bakeshop
using cookies as an alternative to wedding cake
custom cookies of your dog from Itty Bitty Bakeshop

How they Met!

The happy couple met in college at Miami University in 2011 at a fraternity-sorority party that neither one really wanted to attend. They have been inseparable ever since! They incorporated their alma mater into their wedding details. Their signature drink was aptly named “The Miami Merger.” This is the name given to Miami alumni who marry each other. They also brought a Miami University flag to use for pictures of the couple and for use in the photo booth. “Love and Honor” is a greeting used by Miami students and alumni and comes from the chorus in the school’s fight song. miami merger signature cocktail
how to incorporate your college alma mater in your wedding details
college photo booth
love and honor miami university

The Reception

Michelle and Paul were able to steal away a little bit of time together before the reception. Then they headed right into the festivities. They started with the cake cutting and then the welcome speech. Although it was storming and we had a couple of power outages, the night was perfect! The guests celebrated the magical day through late into the evening with the help of DJ Mike Alexander from Cleveland Music Group. the bride and groom took some time for themselves before the reception
wedding photography at the Club at Hillbrook by Kurt Nielsen Photography
a romantic kiss before dinner
announcing the bride and groom
cutting the wedding cake at their wedding
welcome speech by the groom
the couple's first dance The guests also enjoyed my green screen photo booth and took home hundreds of 4×6 prints as their party favors! custom photo booth that travels
green screen photo booth at weddings
wedding photo booth that does green screen and gives prints
custom designed backdrops for wedding photo booth
photo booth that prints on the spot at an event
best Toledo photo booth and wedding photography packages A Great Time was had by All at #MichelleGetsHerBae! photos of the dance floor at a wedding with Cleveland Music Group
wedding photography by the best of the knot winning photographer Kurt Nielsen Photography
best of the Knot winner for wedding photography in Toledo Ohio

The Pros

The Club at Hillbrook
A Charming Fete
Molly Taylor and Co
Cantor Laurel Barr
Luna Bakery
Itty Bitty Bakeshop
Borrow Rentals
Something White
Abbott’s Bridal and Formalwear
The Black Tux
Kurt’s Kustom Keepsakes
Cleveland Music Group 
Beauty Therapy, Inc.
romantic wedding photos
For more information about Kurt Nielsen Wedding Photography, including pricing, please visit my website at

To contact Kurt to schedule your FREE Wedding Consultation, please call the studio at:

Kurt Nielsen Photography
5431 Schultz Drive
Sylvania, OH 43560
419 885 7153

Feel free to make comments below and/or share this blog post on your favorite social media site. Pin your favorite images to your Pinterest board!

Read what other brides are saying about me on The Knot
and Wedding Wire!

When Should You Hire Your Wedding Photographer

Maumee Wedding Photographer

When Should You Hire Your Wedding Photographer?

Michigan Wedding Photographer Kurt Nielsen PhotographyCongratulations on your engagement! I’m sure by now you have heard that statement about a million times. After all, it’s not just exciting for you to be engaged, it’s also exciting for all those around you. But I bet you didn’t know that planning a wedding would be so much work!
Maumee Wedding PhotographerThe very first thing that needs to be done when planning a wedding is choosing the date or potential date. The next thing you should do is make a preliminary guest list. Knowing how many people are on your guest list will help you prepare your budget. Obviously, the more people that are on your guest list, the more you will need for your budget.

The next thing you should do is find the perfect venue or venues for your ceremony and reception. Remember that there are thousands of brides and grooms getting married every year in our area. Keeping an open mind and having different choices will prevent you from being disappointed if your dream venue is unavailable on your dream wedding date.

Now it’s on to finding the perfect wedding professionals and the rest of the planning. When do you hire which ones? If you search online, you can get an assortment of answers. What is the right answer?
Urban wedding photography in Industrial spaces in downtown Toledo

There are No Right or Wrong Answers

The truth is, there are no right or wrong answers. However, there are right answers for you. What do you value most? What is important to You? If finding the right pair of shoes is more important than your wedding cake, then you should find those shoes first.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not the only bride or groom looking for wedding professionals. There are hundreds of brides and grooms just like you that are also searching for their dream team. Most wedding professionals book their services with the first bride or groom that contacts them. If you don’t book early enough, you risk the chance of not getting who you want.
university of toledo wedding cakeI’m not just a wedding photographer. I also photograph other life cycle and corporate events and even have a portrait studio.  There are days when you can find me photographing school events.   Back before the Walleye, I was the official photographer for the Toledo Storm.  Therefore, I can easily be booked two years or more in advance for some of these events.

Many other photographers are also event photographers. Even if someone is exclusively a wedding photographer, they may also be planning things for themselves. Some take family vacations or go to seminars and conferences to learn more about photography and business.

These things also get scheduled months in advance. Therefore, our schedules also matter when it comes to our availability to photograph your wedding. But, if we know you want us for your wedding date, even if it is a year and a half from now, we can adjust our plans accordingly and be there for you.
Artistic Ohio Wedding Photographer

What is Important to You?

Basically, this all boils down to what you feel is most important. If having your dress and decorations are the most important thing, then take care of those things first. However, if you have your heart set on working with specific wedding professionals, then you absolutely should book them as soon as possible.

Most wedding professionals require a deposit and a signed contract to hold your date. Obviously, coming up with all of the deposits at one time can be an issue for some. However, right now it’s bridal show season. Many of your favorite wedding professionals are having specials that can save you money.

My Bridal Show Special not only saves you money but also has a lower deposit requirement. If you book my Complete Wedding Collection, you save $200.  This package includes all day wedding photography and my photo booth for your entire reception.  If you book My Kurt’s Kustom Keepsakes green screen photo booth, you save $100. No matter which package you decide, if you book my services you only need to pay a $200 deposit instead of $400 which I normally require.  The deposit will go toward your package total wedding shoes

So When Should You Hire Your Wedding Photographer?

Now is the time to ask yourself what do you really want. Do you want someone to capture all of the aspects of your wedding day that you have worked so hard to perfect? Do you want to save money? Are you not willing to risk not having the professionals that you spent hours finding? If you answered yes to any of these, now is the right time to hire your wedding photographer.Wedding at the Stables on Obee captured by Toledo Wedding Photographer Kurt Nielsen PhotographyFor more information about Kurt Nielsen Wedding Photography, including pricing, please visit my website at:

To contact Kurt to schedule your FREE Wedding Consultation, please call the studio at:

Kurt Nielsen Photography
5431 Schultz Drive
Sylvania, OH 43560
419 885 7153

Feel free to make comments below and/or share this blog post on your favorite social media site. Pin your favorite images to your Pinterest board!

Read what other brides are saying about me on The Knot
and Wedding Wire!

What to Consider when Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

What to Consider when Choosing Your Wedding Photographer

behind the scenes with Toledo Wedding Photographer Kurt Nielsen PhotographyWhen choosing your wedding photographer, there are a lot of things you should know. Obviously, you want to know how long the photographer has been in business, how many weddings have they done, what past brides are saying about them, and are they insured. But did you also know you should find out what you are getting for your money?

Shopping for the best wedding photographer can be stressful, and everyone charges differently. Many offer a second photographer in their packages. Some even have an associate photographer shooting weddings while they photograph another wedding. Many offer prints or digital files, and sometimes both. Some include albums while others will even give you a free photo booth or save the date cards just for booking their services! This must be so confusing for you to try to figure out!
fall weddings at Wildwood MetroparkThe truth is, photographers will price their services accordingly to what they need to make to stay in business. This varies greatly.  It may depend on if they are full-time photographers supporting their families.  Is this is a side job for them to make extra money? They also take in to account things like their overhead which includes insurance, payroll, equipment, taxes, and advertising when figuring what they charge per wedding.

So What Do You Get for Your Money?

How did you meet your bridesmaids photo ideas
The bride is a school teacher.  She personalized this image by having her bridesmaids hold little chalkboard signs with how they met the bride.

Something to consider when searching for your photographer is how many digital images will you receive?  Most photographers will give you all your photos.  However, others may only let you see a couple hundred of the photos that are taken.  This saves them time from editing them. How many photos did they take? How do they choose what they show you? What do they do with the rest? Does it cost more to get all the digital images?

You also need to know which pictures you get if you are considering having an album as part of your wedding photography package. Make sure you ask who decides on what goes into the album. Do they give you a chance to decide, or do they pick all the images for you? How many pages will it have? How many photos are included on each page? What size is the album? Do they design it for you before or after you see your images? How much for upgrades or more pages or even a special design of the pages? You will want most of these questions answered before deciding on a photographer.

So what are you paying for exactly?

Fun Wedding Photo with a Dinosaur
Wedding Photography Fun with A Dinosaur Chasing the Wedding Party

First off, you are paying for the photographer’s time and talent on the day of your wedding. That’s a given. Usually, the more experience they have, the higher the price. But, that’s not always the case. I’ve seen award-winning photographers who are very experienced and very well liked by their past clients charge far less than some newer photographers. Again, this all depends on what the photographer feels they need to make to stay in business. It comes down to what is right for them.

You are also paying for all the other things that go into preparing your images. We spend hours editing and organizing all the photos that are taken at your wedding. It is nothing for me to take anywhere between a thousand and 1500 photos at every full wedding that I shoot. It can even be more than that depending on where and what you and your guests do.

Then we give you a USB drive, or prints or whatever is included in the package that you choose. Plus, if you order an album, that takes several more hours to lay it out. It also takes several hours to create the DVD montage of your images and to upload them to your online viewing gallery. If you order prints, then we spend more time getting the images ready, placing the order and we take care of the shipping costs. Your wedding images require a lot of post-production work.

Why offer a second photographer?

Downtown Toledo Wedding Photography by Kurt Nielsen PhotographyThere is a big debate in the photography world about having second photographers.  Did you know that having a second photographer is actually a newer trend? While I have several that I can call upon if needed, I have never actually used any of them. In fact, I have only really wished I had a second photographer once. That was the wedding when I had over 30,000 steps on my Fitbit! I didn’t need a second photographer, but at the end of the day, my feet wished I had used one!

What do you get with a second photographer? Did you know that many photographers that have second “shooters” do not even give you anything from the second photographer? So, why are you paying to have them? Who is their second photographer? Do they use the same one all the time or are they scrambling at the last minute to find one?

Many times, the second photographer is used so that the main photographer can take a break. The two photographers may even take turns shooting, especially at the reception. Not all photographers that have second photographers in their packages are this way.  It is a good thing to find out before you pay the extra money in case the second photographer is not needed.

Apples to Apples

Choosing your Wedding PhotographerWhen it comes to choosing your wedding photographer, make sure you are comparing Apples to Apples, and not Apples to Oranges! As I said earlier, every photographer charges differently. In the end, you need to feel comfortable with the person or persons who will be with you the entire day. That means you need to not only like them enough to have them around all day, you also need to trust that they know what they are doing. You want to feel that what they are giving you is the best value for what you will be paying them.

If any of these things are not a good match for you, it will show in your photos. You will be stressed out and worrying if you made the right decision. Don’t let a bad decision create more stress than you will already have on your wedding day. A good photographer will help take that stress away!
Side Cut Metropark Wedding Portraits by Kurt Nielsen Photography
For more information about Kurt Nielsen Wedding Photography, including pricing, please visit my website at

To contact Kurt to schedule your FREE Wedding Consultation, please call the studio at:

Kurt Nielsen Photography
5431 Schultz Drive
Sylvania, OH 43560
419 885 7153

Feel free to make comments below and/or share this blog post on your favorite social media site. Pin your favorite images to your Pinterest board!

Read what other brides are saying about me on The Knot
and Wedding Wire!