On Saturday, Allison Baker and Marko Milincic weren’t initially paying very much attention to the women’s marches taking place in Chicago and around the globe. It was, after all, their wedding day. Then their limo got stuck six blocks away from the Palmer House Hilton, where it was supposed to pick up the wedding party and photographer — and they got more involved in the march than anyone could have anticipated.
Baker, speaking to Yahoo Style from the airport on the way to her honeymoon, says, “Our plans were to go around the city of Chicago with our photographer. … I just looked at her and said, ‘We’ve got to walk. We’ve got to go.'”
The wedding party just planned to wade through the protesters on Monroe Street to get to their vehicles. Their wedding venue was an hour away in Lansing, Ill. But who can resist the sight of a bride and groom?
“Once we stepped out the door of the Palmer House, everyone was clapping and cheering and telling us congratulations and how amazing we looked,” Baker said. “They parted the march for us and then they started surrounding us. They started chanting, ‘Love wins!’ and ‘Love trumps hate!’ It was all about love and acceptance.”
Photographer Jai Girard was ready to capture the moment.
“We walked right into the middle of the march, and they just went crazy, so I said [to Marko], ‘Dip her and kiss!'” Girard tells Yahoo Style. “Everybody started going crazier. It was really wonderful.”
An estimated 250,000 people attended the march in Chicago, a turnout so big that officials tried at one point to cancel the marching component altogether. But the crowd’s high spirits, no doubt boosted by unseasonably warm weather (the high reached 59 degrees), paved the way for Baker and Milincic. While Baker gave credit to Girard, wedding planner Derrick Taylor, and the dutiful bellhops who pulled a cart full of bags through it all, Girard said everything came together thanks to the couple’s positive attitude.
“I’ve had so many brides and grooms that wouldn’t even let their dress touch the hotel carpeting, let alone go outside,” Girard says. “This bride was literally walking six blocks down Monroe Avenue without one complaint, with her hair flying everywhere.”
In her 10 years of shooting weddings in Chicago, this actually isn’t the first time Girard has photographed a couple in the midst of a protest. She recalls one couple getting out of their limo and joining a crowd that included Jesse Jackson, for what she assumes was a labor protest. Their signs, appropriately, read, “Unite now!”
“Instead of getting upset about what was happening, you’ve just got to make it work for you — and have the courage to do it,” Girard explains.
On Saturday, after the wedding parting made it to the limo, Baker said the surrounding traffic made way to let them turn around and get to their wedding on time.
“The whole day was way more than we could have ever hoped for,” Baker said. “I’ve never participated in a protest, but the protest participated in my wedding.”