March 5, 2021
Built in 1917, Elawa Farm in Lake Forest was initially a gentleman’s farm; it is noted for its refined design from the North Shore’s premier estate architects, David Adler and Alfred Hopkins. Named for its original owners, Elawa Farm is one of the last remaining Midwest estate farms.
The Garden at Elawa is a slice of perfection. Overlooking the stunning Middlefork Savanna on the western border of Lake Forest, the garden was initially commissioned in 1918, and it is now carefully re-established.
Full, lush greens form neat aisles lined by statues; it one of my favorite backdrops for family portraits. There are so many places for a couple to walk hand in hand or a young, excited toddler to give chase; it’s just picture-perfect.
It’s a place that I often suggest to people because no matter how often I photograph there, I find hidden treasures on the property. It’s got so many pretty little nooks and crannies for photography!
The Paddock, overlooking the spectacular Garden, is an outdoor space featuring the Hay Barn, which is most often used for weddings and events. The versatility of this gorgeous space allows for indoor seating or festive outdoor dinner served family-style. It’s the perfect place for an intimate wedding!
The grandeur of the historical setting means that Elawa Farms is also host to amazing black-tie affairs. The warm, original brickwork of the Hay Barn is a raw canvas where couples can add sophisticated touches like candelabras on perfectly set buffet tables. The Hay Barn can host both an indoor ceremony and reception for up to 175 people.
Both the Hay Barn and the Wagon Shed have a natural, rustic elegance that feels warm and inviting. The Edison lights and wildflowers found on the grounds have an upscale, chic feeling to the grounds. Organic vegetables grown at the working farm offer a truly farm-to-table experience for guests and can be coordinated with the catering staff.
A premiere Lake Forest wedding venue, Elawa Farms offers couples the option for indoor and outdoor ceremony options. Say “I do” in the Garden or under a custom arbor overlooking the Middlefork Savannah. You can also arrange for a ceremony or reception to be hosted in the green space under a fantastic tent.
One of my favorite places to do family photography and wedding portraits is the Middlefork Savannah at Elawa Farms. Just a short walk away from the barn, you find yourself standing in the rare tallgrass savanna, which features almost 100 acres of oak savanna, woodlands, wet and mesic prairies, sedge meadows, and marshes. It’s amazing to think this property is a mere 40 miles from Chicago’s Loop, it feels a world away!
Each space on the estate’s grounds is beautifully maintained, from the rolling hills and unique tallgrass to the plantings of native wildflowers. Creating outstanding wedding portraits from fun candids walking along the path or fantastic family formals is easy to do at Elawa Farms.
Elawa is it’s a truly remarkable place to have your family portraits done in nearly any season. In the spring, I love the lush green of the gardens and the flowers starting to bloom. Summer is glorious, with so many places to take photos it can make your head spin! In the fall, the mature trees around the property begin to burst with color, along with the other native grasses supplying texture and warmth to the photos.
If you’re looking for a place where you can get many different looks to your photos without having to travel around Lake Forest, I can’t think of a better setting than Elawa Farms. Let’s talk more about what you envision for your portraits; I’m always happy to make suggestions on the best time of year for family photos there that you will love to show off on your walls!