Real wedding: Sarah + Nick

Sarah from Truly Smitten emailed me these amazing photos from her recent wedding, and I had to get her to do a write-up of all the details.

Theme / Color / Decor: (Modern with Charm)
My taste in design style has always been described as simple yet sophisticated, modern and charming by friends and family…so naturally, coming up with our wedding theme and decor was very easy. We wanted to go for something simple and elegant and incorporate nice contrasting hues of yellows, marigolds paired up with black. I also designed clustered pattern of ginkgo leafs on all my printed materials such as programs, invitations, signage, etc… it’s a personal favorite tree of my dad’s and I knew he would find this charming.
Ceremony & Reception: (Westin Hotel – Lakeside Pavillion Tent, Itasca IL)
We got lucky and were able to snag our tent at the hotel to have our ceremony and reception in. We utilized the same room to do both and just flipped the room during our cocktail hour (which was in the lobby). Our florist lined the aisle with clusters of lemony yellow and white floral arrangements and tall stemmed votives on both sides. It was very important for me to have both my mom and dad give me away to my husband, so also decided to go with a extra wide aisle runner so that BOTH my parents were able to walk me down the aisle. We chose to go with gold chivari chairs and had my coordinators place programs on each seat and also I designed these “Bride” side and “Groom” side signages to be tied to the very last row of both sides of the aisle so that the guests would know which side to sit at. It was very efficient method and there was no need for ushers either. We had our string quartet play Handel “Water Suites” for the bridal party procession and I picked Vivaldi’s “Winter Largo” for my walk down the aisle. The cocktail hour was when we incorporated both our Thailand and Korean heritage by having thai appetizers and me changing into my traditional korean dress. The highlight of the night was our photobooth! We had a photobooth station with a technician and I also had a photobook/message table set up where guests could paste their photo and leave a message in this book. (
Floral Design: (Grace Ha-Kim from
I have a friend who’s a fantastic floral designer. Grace, Vale of Enna. We worked together to come up with low and lush centerpieces for the ceremony and reception. I told her that I wanted a “spring garden” look to our wedding and she chose lush, wide blooms in hues of yellows and whites and lined each vase with sliced lemons. Our tent ended up smelling so lemony! Grace also used tall dogwood branches and tulips for our ceremony altar piece arrangements and place card table. My bouquet consisted of beautiful creamy white ranunculus and rice flowers with black sash and my bridal party had this gorgeous eye popping green centered yellow-orange ranunculus.
Invitation & Printed Materials: (Myself, Truly Smitten –
I designed all the invitations and paper materials with the gingko leaf patterns. We have a ginkgo tree growing in my parent’s back yard so I took a leaf and just digitally illustrated it and voila! I had a pattern for my letterpressed invitation, programs, signages, menus etc… Designing my invitations was my favorite part about this wedding =)
Photographer: (David Turner Photo –
We had a fantastic photographer and assistant that captured everything so well! I highly recommend him! They were truly a joy to work with.
Bridal Attire:
My dress is actually a generic no-name brand. I had my aunt alter the design of it and I attached the black sash to it. To compliment my dress and sash, I wore a black satin d’orsay heels, a simple silk and feather vintage floral hair piece and a waist length veil. My bridesmaids dresses were from Vera Wang and I had all of them wear bright yellow flats during the reception and cocktail hour and wear their formal black heels for ceremony only. Groom and groomsmen wore classic black and white tux with black ties.
It was HORRID! Raining, storming AND snowing.
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Real wedding: Talida + Timothy

Talida sent me these fabulous pictures of her Houston, TX wedding last month, and they are just too fun! She really is the sweetest person [I still can taste her peppermint brownies from the Holiday Card Swap, yum] and I’m glad to see that her wedding went stunningly. You can find all the details of her day on her blog, Talida Bakes. [how adorable are those cowboy pictures?]

And with this, I’m signing off…..Friday will be filled with running around like a chicken with its head cut off, but I totally look forward to every bit of it. Saturday is the wedding, and Sunday we head off to Europe for 2 weeks! I’m sure you’ll get some immediate photo gratification of the day since Erica and Anne will both be in attendance, but of course I’ll post a ton when I get back. I’ll prepare some posts to tide you over while I’m away…in the meantime, definitely check out some of the blogs in my left column. All have helped me immensely.

OK, here we go…wish me luck!! See you in May!

[images by Laura Kay Photography]

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Real wedding: Amanda + Matt

A few months ago I showed you Amanda and Matt’s bridal portraits taken in Brooklyn, and now that they are finally hitched, Amanda sent me some of the amazing photos Jessica Johnson took.

All of our decisions were based on our venue – our colors, orange and gold, matched the elaborate ceiling tiles and the theme, “bohemian Art Deco”, came naturally. I DIYed everything except for the flowers!

Bridal attire – I went for a very glamorous look, with a vintage up do and a birdcage veil. My makeup was little heavier on the eyes to resemble a classic 1930’s look. The earrings had an Art Deco pattern that subtly tied with our theme. My bouquet consisted of orange and peach roses, orange ranunculus and peach sweet peas, that were tied to an antique gold satin ribbon with a burnt orange bow. The shoes – were dyed in peach/orange. I bought a pair of vintage clip on earrings to add a bling and also doubled as my something old!

Both ceremony and reception were held at the Guardian Building, in Detroit.

Ceremony – Tissue paper pomanders were hanged from chairs to decorate the aisle. I made the pomanders using tissue paper flowers a la Martha Stewart, and glued them onto a styrofoam ball – about 50-60 flowers were used to each pomander that my husband and I made while watching tv in the evening over the course of a month. Our programs were telegrams, with an Detroit “stamp” on each envelope (the image is blurry but even the date of the stamp matched our wedding date, all done on Photoshop).

Reception – We hanged our escort tags on manzanita branches, with white pebbles in a clear vases to contrast with the black marble of where they were placed. We had candles on the tables, lots of them! The entire room was glowing when the lights went down for dinner. The table linens matched the ceiling and the color flowed with the venue despite the heavy and bold look to it. Our place cards carried the Art Deco elements from our invitations.
The cake design was clean, white on white, with a simple Art Deco pattern. The vintage cake topper is from the 1930’s. Our vintage cake knife (not shown in the pics) was a Depression glass cake knife (all found on Ebay).

The photobooth was a fun project. My husband is a photographer, so he had most of the equipment necessary (check out his page, – he’s now starting in the wedding business too). We sent 4×6 prints to each guest along with our thank you notes, with directions to where the photos are being hosted.
Pics from the photobooth :

[images by Jessica Johnson]

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Real wedding: Melinda + Dan part 3

I received a few emails about Melinda’s vendors, so here they are….

Prairie Production
1314 West Randolph
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 829-7499

KingenSmith Productions
Chicago, IL
(773) 278-8401

Parties Etcetera
Chicago, IL
(847) 825-0028

Rev. Ron Crowley-Koch
Mount Prospect, IL
(847) 818-0918

100 E. Walton, 2nd Floor
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 654-9078

Blue Tux Shoes
1920 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647
773) 252-3290

Lilian Laureano
(704) 315-7458

Formally Modern Tuxedo
2112 North Clybourn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
(773) 975-7700

Statement Design
Chicago, IL
(773) 525-1047

Chicago, IL
(773) 269-3142

Hall’s Rental Services
Niles, IL
(847) 929-2222

BBJ Linen
Skokie, IL
(847) 329-8400

Calihan Catering
Chicago, IL
(312) 587-3553

The Brass String Chamber Ensemble
Streamwood, IL
(630) 830-7464

Speak Easy Swing
Chicago, IL
(773) 406-6603

Memory Snaps
Chicago, IL
(773) 457-8851

[image from KingenSmith Productions]

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Real wedding: Melinda + Dan part 2

Here’s some more information from Melinda of the ceremony and reception. Thanks Melinda!



Our ceremony space was very clean and simple…almost all white (chairs, fabric, etc.) with a few green details. The stage was covered with crisp white fabric and framed with a gorgeous backdrop of pleated white lamour and gauzy white chiffon. The chiffon was pulled open like chic billowing curtains and secured with green Kermit mum tie-backs. Dozens of white paper lanterns also hung from the 20 foot ceiling.


All of our invitation pieces (save the dates, invitations, banner, programs, menus, and thank you cards) were designed by the fabulous graphic designer I use at work. She did an absolutely amazing job creating the very modern, clean look we wanted. It was also important to us that we not have too many pieces or have them be too fussy. The design had a very organic feel that matched the space perfectly. One of the things I dislike about most wedding invitations is all of the pieces that fall out of the envelope upon opening it. All your guests need is a beautiful invitation that tells them who, what, when and where! Your save the date card should address accommodations and transportation details.


I carried a gorgeous, densely rounded bouquet designed exclusively with chartreuse green toned flowers. Green cymbidium orchids, lotus pods and lisianthus were further enhanced with delicate loops and wisps of lily grasses. My bridal party carried sophisticated bouquets in shades of white including peonies, lisianthus, and cymbidium orchid blossoms.

Dan’s boutonniere was a trio of green dendrobium orchid blossoms with a few simple bear grass loops. The other men wore a pair of sleek, white dendrobium orchid blossoms with the stems wrapped in thin black ribbon.

We had 3 centerpiece designs among the 14 guest tables. Each rectangular banquet table featured a stylish rolling design of green and white florals and elements. These included a vase hosting a tall column of bamboo-like equisetum bound with flax foliage climbing with white dendrobium orchids, a narrow rectangular glass vase containing a single exquisite phalaenopsis orchid stem fully submerged within the water, a narrow rectangular vase hosting a tailored hedge of white peonies, and paved green button mum spheres.


Our processional included our parents and wedding party. The processional, ceremony, and recessional were all less than 30 minutes. Everything was very intimate and personal. We also used traditional vows and our readings were done by my grandfather and brother.


A String Quartet performed our ceremony music. The Processional Music for our parents and wedding party was Air by Bach and mine was Canon in D by Pachelbel. So often you hear Canon in D for the wedding party and I loved using it for my bridal entrance instead.

Our recessional music was Bittersweet Symphony by Verve. This was one of my favorite details! It’s such a modern song, but when performed by a String Quarter it’s really beautiful and refreshing.

After the ceremony, we decided to forego the traditional receiving line and instead chose to personally dismiss each row of guests. This was a great way to have a moment with everyone who attended. As we did, our String Quartet played upbeat Beatles music which everyone loved.


We hired a Coach Mini Bus to transport our out of town guests to and from their hotels. This really allowed people to enjoy the day and not worry about the stresses of transportation, especially in an unfamiliar city. My bridal party, parents, and I took a limo from the Sofitel (where I had gotten ready) to the ceremony.



Having the ceremony, cocktails, and reception all at the same site really allowed our guests to relax and enjoy themselves without having to worry about the stresses of travel.

After our ceremony, guests moved into an adjoining space that was divided by a white lamour curtain. We had two cocktail areas set-up for guests to use and enjoy. The first was a clean-lined lounge which included a collection of white fabric couches, ottomans, end tables, and high boy tables. The couches were highlighted with white pillows with chartreuse stripes and the high boys were covered with white fabric and apple green ties. Second, guests also mingled in the attached courtyard which had beautiful skyline views. The courtyard had a blend of high and low boy tables covered with apple green linen with white ties. It was a gorgeous June day, so our guests used both areas throughout cocktail hour and well into the evening.

After cocktails, contrasting green Kermit mum floral tie-backs secured the curtain when it was re-opened for entrance into dinner which was the same room we had previously hosted the ceremony. It was amazing to see the transformation and the space continued to change throughout the evening as the walls and stage were highlighted with green gelled up-lights and the hanging paper lanterns began to glow.

After dinner, guests were able to dance, relax in our custom lounge, or even step outside on the balcony or in the courtyard for some fresh air and drinks! It was really important to us that we create this environment for our guests. We wanted them to have as many options as possible and not feel trapped in just one space.


Before our ceremony, waiters passed lemonade and sparkling water and during cocktails, they passed green apple martinis to perfectly match our décor.

The cocktail music was played off of our own personal iPod. Dan did a great job of creating a play list that had the perfect lounge vibe.


Appetizers: Gougere filled with Gorgonzola Cheese and Sliced Strawberry, Sliced Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Thin Crust Pizza Wedge, Spicy Beef Wontons with a Ginger Dipping Sauce, Seared Beef Tenderloin Set on Sour Dough Toast with Shallot Cassis Marmalade, Herb Roasted Shrimp set on a Rosemary Skewer.

Salad: Deconstructed Classis Caesar Salad with Romaine Hearts, Shaved Parmesan, and Herbed Croutons with a Kalamata Olive Tapenade and Roasted Tomato Caesar Dressing.

Entrée: European Style Chicken Breast Stuffed with Flat Leaf Parsley and Double Blanched Garlic, Roasted Chicken Jus, Classis Potato Gratin, and Sautéed Baby Vegetables.

Miniature Late Night Snacks: Cheeseburgers, French Fries, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Hot Dogs, and Chocolate Milkshakes.


By far, the most memorable toast came from my father. He told an extremely heartfelt story beginning with the day I came into his life and ending with the woman I had become and the man I chose to marry. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house!

My Uncle also gave the prayer before dinner was served. Before he did this, he recited a special poem he had written about Dan and me:

Who knew that meeting at DePaul would lead up to this;

Today you exchanged vows and sealed them with a kiss.

You answered with a couple of I Do’s;

But here are some new questions we want to ask you.

The Bears lost the Super Bowl…I almost cried;

Now is the time to ask…Can the Bears’ chairs come inside?

The Bulls have improved, I’m not gonna lie;

You think what they need now is to draft an Illini?

Your White Sox have won it, my Cardinals have too;

Now, will you root for the Cubbies when they finally pull through?

Well Euchre’s a game; Melinda loves to play too;

You think we should start letting the girls win a few?

When the time comes tomorrow, and there’s only you two;

Tell each other once more why you answered I Do.

This poem really added a personal touch for us that was both funny and sincere.


Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we chose to serve alternating desserts of molten chocolate cake and chilled lemon soufflé. They were a huge hit and allowed guests to share with one another and try more than one thing!


Our band was Speak Easy Swing, which is a 10 piece swing band! Dan and I love big band music and we definitely wanted to incorporate that into our day. We first went to listen to Speak Easy’s band leader with his Trio at a Chicago restaurant. We loved the restaurant’s atmosphere coupled with the music coming from the singer, piano, and bass. To re-create this mood, we had a quartet (piano, bass, drums, and vocalist) play jazz throughout dinner.

After dinner, the band played everything from rock and pop to Motown and R&B. We loved that they were so versatile and appealed to everyone’s tastes. So, even if guests didn’t know how to swing, they could enjoy the live music.

First Dance Song: I’m Beginning to See the Light by Bobby Darin

Father/Daughter Dance: Fly Me to the Moon by Frank Sinatra

Mother/Son Dance: Unforgettable by Nat King Cole

Last Dance Song: Only the Good Die Young by Billy Joel

Around 10:30pm, guests were treated to a buffet of miniature classic munchies which included cheeseburgers, french fries, grilled cheese sandwiches, hot dogs, and chocolate milkshakes. For those guests who couldn’t pry themselves away from the dance floor, waiters also passed these miniature treats on trays.

For the last hour of the evening, the band ended and we turned on our iPod to another great, energizing play list we had created for the younger set who were still going strong.


We left with the lasts of our guests on the final mini bus trip back to the hotel. It was great ending the night with everyone and dancing to the very last song!


In place of a traditional guestbook, we had a photo booth for our guests. There were able to take one strip of pictures to place in a memory book for us with a personal note and then as many additional photo strips as they liked to take home as favors. The photo booth really gave guests something fun to do the entire night. It was a huge hit and one of the elements everyone is still raving about!

Another great aspect of the photo booth was that we were immediately able to take home two albums from the night that captured our guests’ photographic creativity, along their written words of advice, well wishes, and congratulations. It’s a keepsake we will always treasure.

We also had a candy buffet for guests to take home something sweet on their way out…all green candy of course!



Looking back, one of my favorite moments didn’t even happen at the wedding. It was actually the planning process, leading up to the wedding, with my mom. We spent a great deal of time together selecting all the details and we had a fabulous time doing so. We grew closer together and really enjoyed our shopping trips, vendor meetings, and of course…the tastings! As a planner, I’ve seen so many brides only focus on the day of and I know how quickly it goes by. You have to enjoy the planning process just as much!


After we were introduced into the reception, we went to take our seats at our table. Just I was sitting down, my Maid of Honor’s wine glass spilled all down the front of my gown. Luckily, it was white wine! I didn’t want to get up because my parents were waiting to give their welcome. So I sat down and forced myself to be in the moment as much as possible. As soon as the toasts were over I raced to the bathroom. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even that noticeable. The fabric of my gown had just the right amount of texture that you couldn’t really see it and the wine almost slid off before it could absorb. It was definitely still a heart racing moment but, looking back, it was just one of those things you can’t prepare for and really wasn’t a big deal!

[images from Kingen Smith Productions]

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