Ever heard of Okawville, Illinois? I hadn’t either until my friend (and first boss ever!) Tracey assured me that not only is it a real place (where 990 people live!) but that it was the place she was going to be celebrating her wedding.

A year before, she’d messaged me to see if I’d be available to cover the wedding that she was sure would be coming in the next year (she had a sneaking suspicion that a proposal was on the way – and she was right!) I hadn’t shot any weddings at that point (and hadn’t really planned on it) but she was quite insistent that she wanted NO posed photos, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. So, December of 2018, I loaded up the gear and headed out to Illinois, unsure of what I’d find.

And what I found was the coolest flippin’ wedding venue in the world: The Original Springs Hotel in Okawville, IL. The bonus? It was hauuuunted ooooooooooooo!

Okay, so I wasn’t actually visited by any specters in the night. But what the hotel lacks in ghosts it makes up for in charm – worn, floral wallpapers, wispy lace curtains, faded pictures in gilded frames, creaky floorboards and inexplicable add-ons of dubious architectural influence. Basically, exactly what you’d imagine when considering the layout of the perfect haunted hotel.

Needless to say, I was stoked and ready to roll. First stop, though, was to a local beauty shop to get puffed and powdered (the bride, that is, not me).

And then the party was on. Tracey and her fiancé had chosen to get married in a private ceremony prior to the day of their reception so the only thing on the agenda was fun.  

Oh, and sports (I’m a Pokes fan myself but gotta give a shoutout to the Oklahoma connection).

Photo of a table with food on it and a phone propped up with a football game playing on the screen

I saw such beautiful relationships at Tracey’s wedding and I’m so happy to know that she got exactly what she wanted.

P.S. I apologize for the terrible blog title/movie reference. I am ashamed of myself.

If you’d like your own family or event session (or both!) please feel free to contact me here.


Samantha Hines is a documentary family photographer serving the Denver Metro Area. She is also available to travel any ol’ where your little heart desires. She documents families, events, and weddings. She also hates speaking in the third person and is therefore gonna cut it out now. Holler!