Downtown Omaha Weddings & Engagements: Goodbye Gene Leahy Mall

As most Omaha residents know, Gene Leahy Mall is getting torn up and undergoing a makeover as part of the Riverfront Revitalization Project. The mall as we know and love it is gone. The trees have been ripped out; dredging has begun and soon tons upon tons of dirt will start leveling the mall up to street level.

Some people are heartbroken at seeing their beloved space changed. I’m optimistic that the new master plan of making the mall a more multi-purpose green space and bringing the city back to the riverfront will be a fantastic upgrade. As the saying goes, “You can’t cook an omelette without breaking some eggs.”

I decided to take a look back at over a decade of photographing couples on the mall. Shortly after moving to Omaha in 1998 the Gene Leahy Mall became one of my downtown go-to spots. The past few years I’ve used it less frequently, but still love the time between Thanksgiving and New Years when Christmas lights transform the space at dusk.

Here’s a far-from-complete chronology of engagement sessions and wedding photos shot at the mall.

 

Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
My first engagement session at the Gene Leahy Mall, best I can recollect. The falls was but a trickle and allowed me to shoot through it. Within weeks I tried this again but the heavier flow made it impossible. It was a fun trick once!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
This adorable couple got married exactly 1 year after their engagement session–about 10 years ago. I’ve gotten to spend every Christmas Eve since then with them. How cool is that?
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
This couple is responsible for the coolest cake-cutting I’ve ever seen. They used Tom’s US Marine Corps saber. Hmmm…sounds like fodder for another blog post.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Goofballs. I love the beautiful fall colors of the ivy behind them.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Wedding
Was this the first wedding couple that I ever brought to the Gene Leahy Mall? Might be!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Wedding
A rare moment where the sidewalks were empty. Cherish those moments! The mall was a popular place!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
To my understanding the archway will survive the renovations. Good!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Did you know that swans mate for life? Here they are being good roll models for my engaged couple. One time while shooting at the downtown Omaha spot, I got attacked by one of them!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Don’t fall! I think I told them to pretend like they were way up high.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
This might have been my first Christmas light session at the Gene Leahy Mall. I’d bring engaged and wedded couples back many times between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
“OMG! Look at the size of that bling! Congratulations, girl!”
Gene Leahy Mall Engagement
Hah! This guy was hilarious. Totally not my idea. His fiance was like, “Really!?!” To anybody that doesn’t know, there used to be this fountain that shot a stream of water. I never saw this location the same after this shoot.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Suppose this is what Bob Dylan was thinking when he wrote the title of “Tangled Up and Blue”
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Wedding
I love how the sky lights up in on foggy winter nights.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Wedding
This was my birthday…and it was frigid. Ashley was amazing not only during this session at the mall but also for amazing fireworks photos later in the night. Soooo cold!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha proposal
This is a fond memory. It was a bitter cold evening, but Chase and Megan didn’t know any better. They had JUST gotten engaged a half hour prior at the Durham Museum. After shooting their proposal (she didn’t know I was there) we went into the mall for a quickie (newly!) engagement session.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
We quit shooting selfies with the phone turned this direction a long time ago, but I still love making this image.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Fun lines.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
This is a reenactment for the purposes of our engagement session, but this is the exact location Stephen proposed to Hailey. I love this.,
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Ruff!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Those Christmas lights though!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Wedding
Such a happy occasion. Greta and I didn’t know for sure if same-sex marriage would be legal in Nebraska in time for her wedding date, but all signs were pointing that direction. What a beautiful day this was!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Wedding
This was during the Olympic Swimming Trials held here in Omaha. Can you see the swimmer art in the water?
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Wedding
Things are always looking “up” in downtown Omaha.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Gene Leahy Mall bling!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Moving in!
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
Here we shot the engagement session….
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Wedding
….then a year later we shot the wedding. I actually thought this would be my last hurrah at the Gene Leahy Mall.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Engagement
I decided right before Christmas 2018 that I would offer a free Christmas-themed photo for any engaged couple that wanted to meet us downtown at the mall. I was especially happy to see Christa and Des, whose wedding I’m shooting in May.
Gene Leahy Mall, Omaha Family
While almost all the photos I took in the Gene Leahy Mall in Omaha were as a wedding photographer, I have a huge sense of satisfaction that this was the last image I made in the mall.

My Family. <3

Thanks for reading!

-Lane

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