Alison & Derek's NYE Wedding at Riverside Receptions in Geneva, IL

Mr. & Mrs. Pleva, December 31, 2018

I had the privilege of photographing Alison and Derek’s wedding on December 31st, 2018. When you think of New Yea’s Eve, a big bash probably comes to mind, and that’s exactly what Alison and Derek had given their friends and family. From start to finish, their wedding day was incredible! Here’s a brief overview from my perspective, their wedding photographer.

Getting Ready

My day started at the beautiful Herrington Inn and Spa, located in Geneva, where the ladies were getting ready. As I approached their suite, I could hear music playing in the hallway, which prompted me I was in the right place and knew it was going to be a fun day. Alison and her girls were in the middle of getting their hair and makeup done. I took this time to get a few detail shots of Alison’s dress and shoes, which were stunning!

After a few detail shots, I decided to head over to the Courtyard by Marriott where Derek and the guys were getting ready. All the guys were there and in good spirits. Derek looked happy and was ready to start the day. As they got ready I took a few candids and then a couple portraits of Derek after he was fully dressed.

It was a big group and they were all looking good! Squad goals for sure.


Once the guys were finished getting ready, I made my way back to Herrington Inn and Spa to finish up with the girls. Alison was getting her makeup done when I got back - she looked happy and beautiful!

After her makeup was finished, Alison wanted a picture of her and her bridesmaids all on the bed, where she was going to pop open a bottle of champagne while the girls popped confetti. What a fun idea and I knew it was going to make a great picture. While we were getting ready for the shot, Alison pre-maturely popped the bottle of champagne! She was a bit too excited… We managed to still get the shot though and the pictures turned out awesome!

After all the confetti fun, it was now time for Alison to get into her dress. Her mom was there to help and both of their dresses had a similar back. I captured each of them helping one another button up their dresses - what a beautiful moment.

I only had a few minutes to get portraits of Alison, but I managed to get a few and she looked absolutely stunning! What a gorgeous bride!

I also managed to get a portrait of Alison’s grandma, which I love. She sat there quietly while everyone got ready. I only got to spend a couple minutes with her, but she seemed so happy and was a wonderful lady, which I hope I captured in the photo.

Alison wanted to do a “first look” with her bridesmaids and then her father. Their suite was split into two rooms, with a double door connecting them. This was perfect for the first look. The look on their faces say it all…

The First Look

The guys arrived at the Herrington and it was now time for Derek to see his bride. The plan was to use the beautiful main staircase that the Herrington has in their lobby - Derek would wait at the bottom and Alison would walk down to him. It was such an exciting moment. Derek was so nervous and couldn’t stop swaying back and forth (which made it tough for me, thanks Derek!). The entire wedding party along with family was there as well. Everyone could see Alison except for Derek - I made him sweat it out a bit to build the anticipation. Then I told him to turn and see his bride… His expression was priceless and I believe the reality of the day finally hit him.

We had a few minutes before we had to leave which we used to take some more pictures. Meet the wedding party! What a good looking group!

How good do these two look?

The Ceremony

After all the excitement of the first look, it was time to head to Riverside Receptions where the ceremony was being held. Riverside Receptions is an amazing venue that’s right on the river. Alison and Derek had the entire building for their wedding - the first level was setup for the ceremony and also had a bar where cocktail hour was to be held. The second level was setup for the reception. It was beautifully decorated and truly an awesome venue for a wedding.

The seats filled up fast with Alison and Derek’s friends and family, eventually filling every seat in the house. The ceremony was short and sweet and everyone had big smiles on their faces. Being a wedding photographer, I’ve seen a lot of ceremonies, but there was a first for me during Alison and Derek’s wedding… they took shots just before the first kiss! I knew their wedding was going to be a big party, but didn’t think it would kick off that soon! I was able to capture their first kiss as well as their first shot as a married couple!

The Reception

Cocktail hour followed the ceremony and then it was time for the reception. The room looked amazing and was all decked out not only for a wedding, but a NYE celebration. I really liked the table centerpieces, which were balloons wrapped in lights! It was really cool and unique. Riverside Receptions did a great job. Once cocktail hour was finished, the guests started to find their seats. Once everyone was seated, Alison and Derek had their grand entrance! The excitement was high and I could tell everyone was ready to party. Alison and Derek made their way to the cake, which they cut, and then sat for dinner. Speeches by Alison’s father, the maid of honor, and the best man took place soon after. Once dinner was finished, the first dance took place as well as the father-daughter and mother-son dances. Everything was amazing, even the food (I cleaned my plate…). The reception was perfect.

Party Time

After all of the formal events of the day, it was now time to party! It didn’t take long for the dance floor to fill up and it stayed that way for the entire night. Needless to say, everyone had a great time.

Countdown to Midnight

As midnight approached, the dance floor flooded with people. Once the clock struck midnight, the place went crazy! I managed to capture the moment of Alison and Derek’s first kiss of 2019.

Overall what a fun wedding and a great day. Alison told me it was going to be a big party when I first met her last spring and she wasn’t kidding. Both Alison and Derek are fun to be around and are great individuals that are now a great married couple. It’s no wonder they have so many friends that are willing to spend their NYE with them at their wedding! I’m so lucky that they chose me to be the one to capture their day - I had such an incredible time, along with all of their friends and family. I wish them the best and hope to one day work with them again!

Thank you Alison and Derek and CONGRATULATIONS!


Your wedding photographer - John

John Foley