DECOR & SETUP OF SPACE
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.
READINGS & VOWS
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.
CENTERPIECES, DÉCOR, & SETUP OF SPACE
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!
MY BEST ADVICE
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]