image coutesy LCD Photography
A groom brushes his bride's cheek as she looks up at him with wide eyes and a sweet smile, causing the normally busy cityscape behind them to retreat into stillness. Another couple kisses passionately, seemingly embraced by the towering skyscraper looming above. And when a new husband and wife spin in a spontaneous jig, a glassy pond nearby mirrors the moment.
According to area wedding photographers, there is nothing more beautiful than a happy couple showing affection amid a naturally gorgeous backdrop.
"I can't tell you how €˜blah' a wedding album is when it just contains pictures from the church and reception hall,€VbCrLf says Kay Ronevich, owner/photographer/designer, BCR Studios/VisCom Commercial, Cleveland. "All of today's couples want to go to a third or fourth location to get a chance to show off their personal style and creativity, and [they] end up with amazing, one-of-a-kind, unforgettable images.€VbCrLf
Ronevich and other Cleveland wedding photographers reveal Northeast Ohio settings perfect for capturing memorable moments on film.
1. Terminal Tower
Though it's no longer the tallest building in downtown Cleveland, the 708-foot Terminal Tower is the best-known part of the Cleveland skyline. Many couples who want this lofty landmark in their photos have sentimental reasons for doing so, points out Jean Schnell, owner, Schnell Photography, Cleveland. "A couple posing in front of this building captured in black and white creates a timeless look and an instant connection to home,€VbCrLf she says.
2. Chagrin Falls
With its picturesque white church, small bridge and the Pine Lake Trout Club, local photographers continue to mention that Chagrin Falls locations are lovely enough for long-lasting nuptial images.
"There is a little white church with a creek that runs behind it - I can't tell you how many times I've pulled in there just to take a few images of a couple in front of this beautiful scenery,€VbCrLf shares Lauren Petrella, photographer, LCD Photography, Mentor and Rocky River.
3. Headlands Beach State Park
The flutter of birds flapping their wings, waves hitting the shore and the soft crunching of sand underfoot - sometimes nothing brings out a couple's adoration for each other more than a beach setting. The best local place to capture a waterfront pose is Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor, according to photographers. In addition to its mile-long natural sand beach, lake and lighthouse backdrops, this setting also showcases tall grasses growing on sand dunes for fresh, almost effortless images.
"I'm trying to create romanticism in wedding photos,€VbCrLf Schnell explains. "I personally feel like nature is more conducive to creating a really romantic shot where the bride's dress is flowing along with the tall grasses - it creates unique movement and emotion.€VbCrLf
4. Severance Hall
With its soaring ceilings and lotus flower and papyrus leaf architectural patterns, striking a glamorous pose in Severance Hall is easy. "The large steps also create a dramatic setting - a picture of grand elegance,€VbCrLf Schnell says.
"It's very grandiose,€VbCrLf agrees David Cartee, photographer, LCD Photography, Mentor and Rocky River. "And a place this impressive fits proportionately as a backdrop with a large wedding party.€VbCrLf
5. Cleveland Cultural Gardens
Touring the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, located along Martin Luther King Jr. and East boulevards between Interstate 90 and University Circle, is like touring the globe. The gardens, each of which differs in plant choices, style and use of art, represent more than a dozen nationalities.
"Many gardens along here have iron gates, columns, small structures, little reflecting ponds, staircases, brick walkways or fountains, which create great backdrops for a variety of poses,€VbCrLf Ronevich says.
6. Cleveland Botanical Garden
The Cleveland Botanical Garden, located in University Circle, boasts 10 acres of picturesque gardens, from a rose garden to a Japanese garden to a topiary garden to a terrace and lily pond. "There is always something blooming no matter what time of year we're there,€VbCrLf Ronevich says.
7. Society For Savings Bank & The Arcade
The inside architecture of two Cleveland buildings in the National Register of Historic Places serve not only as historical city landmarks, but also as striking backdrops for memorable wedding art.
The Society for Savings Building on Public Square, next to Key Tower, is the most important remaining building in Cleveland by John Wellborn Root of the Chicago firm Burnham & Root. Erected during the late 1800s, the building combines elements of Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance styles.
And The Arcade, which has been redeveloped into downtown Cleveland's first Hyatt Regency hotel, features a five-story atrium with extensive decorative metalwork and a top floor with gargoyles that circle the entire atrium area.
8. Holden Arboretum
Originally, Albert Fairchild Holden planned to found his Holden Arboretum at Harvard University, but his daughters convinced him the Cleveland area deserved an arboretum of its own - hence, its Kirtland home. Ronevich highlights the butterfly, rhododendron and rose gardens as colorful bridal settings.
9. Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
In Akron, a Tudor Revival style mansion flows into its garden surroundings on 70 acres at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens. Each of the gardens provides its own history for visitors, one of the most beloved being the fully restored walled English garden, where dramatic colors and blooms change with the seasons, providing wonderful photo opportunities. One of Ronevich's other favorite spots for wedding shots at this special spot is the infamous quarter-mile birch alley.
10. Squire's Castle & Manor House
Squire's Castle, Willoughby Hills, is located in the Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks and was intended to be merely the servant's residence for an elaborate, sprawling mansion that was never built. Today, its windows and stone walkway serve as historical backdrops to bring a little old-fashioned Renaissance to wedding pictures. "We try to catch images of couples peeking out of the windows, or get their silhouette in the hallway that has filtered light coming in,€VbCrLf Ronevich describes.
Another stone country house that was constructed to replicate cottages found in England's Cotswold Hills is the Manor House in Hunting Valley. The house has served as a residence of some of Case Western Reserve University's presidents. Today, the elegant building at Squire Valleevue Farm is home to weddings and receptions, as well as picturesque photos.
11. Cleveland Metroparks
The Cleveland Metroparks system spans from east to west and north to south, forming an "emerald necklace€VbCrLf around the city. Many public trails and nature centers throughout the park's various reservations attract wedding parties. "In the fall, I love to capture an image of the couple walking off down a nature path, holding hands, with fall leaves all around them,€VbCrLf Schnell describes.
12. Fine Arts Garden & Wade Lagoon
The Fine Arts Garden and Wade Lagoon at the Cleveland Museum of Art is a venue that draws more wedding couples to its 15 acres than any other. The reflecting pond, outdoor sculptures and relaxing, sprawling setting is room enough for many bridal parties to capture creative candids. "There are columns and steps and a grassy area near the reflecting pond for a bride and groom to sit down,€VbCrLf Ronevich says. "There are even large light posts that the guys can climb up on to get a different shot.€VbCrLf
13. Downtown Bridges
When a couple wants a great photo of themselves on their wedding day amid a city skyline, standing on top of a bridge often gets them the best view, according to local photographers. In Cleveland, two specific bridges stand out - Hope Memorial Bridge and the Detroit Superior Bridge.
The four large stone pylons with their eight figures at the entrance of the Hope Memorial Bridge represent the guardians of traffic and symbolize transportation's progress. They also provide intriguing foreground details in a photo with an elaborate skyline background.
The Detroit-Superior Bridge over the Cuyahoga River connects downtown Cleveland with the near West Side. Opened in 1918, it replaced the original Superior Viaduct, whose stone arches still stand today. Both areas offer excellent photo opportunities, say local wedding photographers.
14. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
When I.M. Pei designed the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, he said, "It was my intention to echo the energy of rock 'n' roll.€VbCrLf But the 41,000-square-foot plaza in front of the legendary museum serves as more than just a meeting place of rock fans or an outdoor arena for musical
performances - it's a great spot to get an image of a bride and groom posing in the centerpiece of Cleveland's North Coast Harbor, Schnell says.
15. Secret Spots
Whether it's the perfect expanse of lush jade grass just off the side of an unknown side street or a small arching bridge that is perfectly centered among trees vibrant with autumn hues hidden in the woods, sometimes the most photogenic spots have no name, and they're just scenic venues that local wedding photographers noticed for having remarkable potential during a specific time of the year.
And often the best spot is one that has even greater significance. As Schnell says, "Sometimes we go to a place where the bride and groom met or had their first date or where he proposed to get a photo for the sake of sentimentality.€VbCrLf