Love Through a Lens

Married couple on a golf course
Overhead shot of guest’s tables at wedding
Couple embraces near rocks
Married couple dances on a bridge
Couple kisses outside of a barn
Married couple in front of a chapel
Married couple take some time together
Couple get married in a barn venue
Couple kiss in front of a waterfall
Couple kiss in a field
Married couple kiss in a field
Couple poses near a river
Married couple kisses behind open barn doors
Couple poses in front of a waterfall
Couple admires the sun as it sets

A local wedding photographer shares why Galena Country is the perfect setting to tie the knot

By Mary Rose Widmer

Galena, Illinois is a quaint and historic town nestled among the trees overlooking the Mississippi River. While the majority of Illinois is covered in flat cornfields, Galena Country boasts beautiful and varied topography, making this Northern Illinois town the perfect spot for a wedding.

UnPosed Photography is a thriving wedding photography company in Galena, Illinois, so I was thrilled when the owner, Cathy, found time to sit down with me to talk about photographing Galena Country wedding venues.

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Q:
You and your husband are the photography duo behind UnPosed Photography; how did you two get started?
UP:

I have owned UnPosed Photography for over 13 years. About 8 years ago, I hired Jeff to assist me with a wedding when I had an assistant back out a few days before the wedding. I haven’t hired another assistant since! He had an awareness of the day that none of my other assistants did and was super helpful. That was the start of our story! From there we worked together, fell in love, moved around the country a few times and finally married.

Q:
There aren’t many photographer couples, so that definitely sets you apart. What else is special about UnPosed Photography?
UP:

We only work with a select number of couples each year and because of that we can give each of our couples attention that they may not get elsewhere. A majority of our couples are planning from afar, so they rely on us for recommendations for other vendors and how to plan their day so they can relax. We spend a majority of the day capturing each moment as it happens so that they have memories from every aspect of their wedding.

Q:
You said a majority of your couples don’t live in Galena Country?
UP:

A majority of our couples come from out of town. Most couples are from the Chicago area, Madison and the Quad Cities, though we've had couples from all over the country that choose Galena Country for their wedding.

Q:
Why do you think couples choose Galena Country for their weddings?
UP:

We often ask our couples why they chose Galena Country. Some of them have memories of visiting Galena Country while they were growing up, so Galena holds a special place in their hearts already. Some of them were looking for a not-so-distant destination location and came across Galena Country in their search. Some of them were simply looking for stunning outdoor venues. This part of Illinois is so special and it draws people in. With so much of the town steeped in history, you come here and feel a slower pace and simpler way of life. I think that attracts couples who hope their families and friends can have a mini-vacation while celebrating their wedding.

“We spend a majority of the day capturing each moment as it happens so that they have memories from every aspect of their wedding.”
Q:
I’ve heard of a few of the venues here, actually. I know that your work at these venues provides an “insider’s” eye. Have you ever photographed at Erhler Ranch?
UP:

Yes! We photographed one of the first weddings at that location. It's a unique ceremony venue—your ceremony takes place up at the top of a barn, so your guests get a view of you up in the loft as you exchange your vows. The reception location is at a different property and they offer rides between the two in a carriage. With two different venues, you can create a true rustic farm wedding for both your ceremony and reception.

Q:
That sounds gorgeous! Then you can really take advantage of the Galena Country scenery. What about Oak Hill Farm?
UP:

We photograph at Oak Hill often and LOVE it! They have many locations you can choose from for the ceremony, and they have a beautiful tent for the reception. The property is so elegant and yet they have horses and barns that lend to a true country farm wedding feel. I would definitely recommend that brides add a few extra hours to their time on the property so they can get ready there. The rooms for getting ready are so pretty, and it makes your day so much more relaxed when everything can take place in the same location. There are carriage rides available and even an antique car you can ride in for your day. As a family-owned and operated wedding venue, they have truly thought of every special touch and take care of you every step of the way!

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Q:
What would you recommend for a couple who loves the outdoors?
UP:

Grant Park is a beautiful outdoor venue on the hills of Galena. The ceremony site overlooks the skyline of Galena, and the river flows right beside the park. There's a super cute fountain there, and because the couple is renting through the city, they have the ability to determine whatever setup they desire for their ceremony site.

Q:
Are there any other unique venues you love to work with in Galena?
UP:

The Goldmoor Inn in Galena is a unique venue that looks like a castle. It sits high on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River and has the most beautiful views of the river and land around it. It's a small enough inn that couples can reserve the entire property for the wedding weekend, and guests won't have to travel for food—the Goldmoor offers a gourmet chef and a beautiful on-site restaurant. Their staff help with wedding planning throughout the process and truly do all they can to give couples their dream day.

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Q:
Wow! You don't see a lot of castles in Illinois. What about couples who have a smaller guest list? Are there more intimate venues you would recommend?
UP:

If a couple is planning a more intimate wedding, bed-and-breakfasts are an excellent choice. Hawk Valley Retreat is actually where my husband and I got married. They are located out in the countryside and have a gorgeous willow tree alongside a pond, as well as walking paths that make for gorgeous photo locations. The Jail Hill Inn is a new luxury B&B just up from Main Street in Galena with the ability to host a wedding either indoors in their sitting room or outdoors on their beautiful back deck. The Aldrich Guest House is a quaint B&B on the east side of Galena away from the hustle and bustle of downtown, and the Inn at Irish Hollow offers a unique B&B experience that feels like an escape to another world. Each of these B&B owners take great pride in working with their couples to ensure that their vision is carried out on their wedding day!

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Q:
There was one other venue I wanted to ask you about: Eagle Ridge?
UP:

Eagle Ridge is the venue we photograph the most in the Galena Country area. Their staff are so attentive to each of their couples. We love that couples can get ready, take photos and hold their ceremony and their reception all in the same place. Eagle Ridge even has a salon for hair and makeup needs, so the bridal party never has to leave the venue. With a combination of hotel rooms, villas and rental homes, the couples’ guests can all find accommodations onsite. Several vendors in the Galena area work there frequently and can help create the perfect Eagle Ridge wedding.

Q:
Well you definitely have me convinced! Galena Country sounds like the perfect place for a wedding. What do you think the best part about being a Galena, Illinois, wedding photographer is?
UP:

In the years we've lived in Galena Country, we've created friendships and partnerships with so many people in town. We love the venues and the people that work at each of them. We have made friends who work in the wedding industry, and all of us refer each other because we all love working together. Not only are we part of an incredible community, the area we live in is beautiful. There are gorgeous locations to photograph throughout our county, and the seasons here are stunning, making each wedding unique and special. It's a beautiful part of the country, and we feel so lucky to live here!

Plan your Galena Country wedding.