Something Different: An Op-Ed on Old St. Pat’s Chicago

Well, let me start by saying this kind of post isn’t what you normally find on the blog.  No, there aren’t beautiful photos of couples wedding day.  There aren’t images of moments captured during their engagement session.  No floral, no decor photos, none of that.  The premise of this post is to bring up an issue that has been silently plaguing the wedding industry here in Chicago.  Ask any Chicago wedding photographer or videographer about Old St. Pat’s Catholic Church, and you will probably hear groans, sighs, and spouts of profanity.

Photo courtesy

So here is the story.  A few years ago, a good, VERY good friend of mine from college (GO MARQUETTE!) asked me to be her wedding photographer.  I was over the moon excited, and honored, to shoot her wedding.  When we went to sit down and discuss, she said she was getting married at Old St. Pat’s.  – Meeting Over.  Why, you may ask?  Old St. Pat’s is the only church in Chicago with a “mandatory vendor list.”  Yes, you heard that right. Mandatory.  Choose from their list of photographers and videographers, or, don’t get married in their church.  Needless to say, my friend, and I were crushed that she couldn’t have me as her photographer.  No exceptions.  Even after emails to the church director explaining that I was a reputable long time professional, and close friend of the bride, were of no consequence.  I was astonished to learn that their no exceptions policy was written in stone. It might as well be chiseled in the front door.

Here is the thing: I respect Old St. Pat’s for wanting to retain the sanctity of a wedding ceremony in the Catholic Church.  I get that. I went to Catholic School most of my life, including college.  But I have to ask, why be exclusive instead of inclusive? Why have a list of vendors that (many of them) are frankly horribly outdated, and most are big companies with poor quality? I don’t think most brides would not want to know who their wedding photographer was until the day-of; because some of the companies that work with Old St. Pat’s operate in that manner.

Photo Courtesy

Needless to say, I am not the only one with these sentiments.  There are countless professionals, both photographers and wedding filmmakers, who work hard to make a living here in Chicago, and who are denied clients all the time because they are stuck using the offerings required by Old St. Pat’s.  I for one, have had this happen many times.

Based on the Old St. Pat’s Bulletin, there are references to “A word of thanks to our advertisers,” on numerous occasions.  I just wonder, if I were an advertiser, would I be let in pearly gates on Desplaines Street?

Collin Pierson is a lifestyle and destination wedding photographer as well as fashion/editorial photographer based in Chicago, Illinois. After working for newspapers, professional sports, and in his own studio Collin created a style that is both candid and dramatic. Collin's passionate and personalized approach toward his profession and clients is reflected in the images he captures of their life-defining moments. When he isn't traveling the world taking photos and finding new inspirations, he loves to photograph horses and take in all that Chicago has to offer.

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