There is something so gracious, so absolutely peaceful about this wedding from Paul Carlson Photography. It might be that beautiful Whichgoose floral crown or the communal wedding ceremony that took place, but who would ever think this darling little number took place in the big city of Chicago? From the looks of the Garfield Park Conservatory, I would have guessed we were seeing a wedding straight out of the tropics. And you can see it all in the gallery right here.

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From the Bride… The best planning advice I got was from a friend who said her favorite weddings are the ones that reflect the couple. It is easy to get overwhelmed looking at blogs or feeling pressured to please all your family and friends. I kept her idea in mind and focused on making it personal, even if it meant breaking a lot of traditions. Since our ceremony and reception were at the same venue, we decided to take photos earlier in the day. I got ready at our apartment while David went ahead to take some solo shots. We had our first look at Lincoln Park Zoo. The skyline of the city we both love so much offered a beautiful backdrop for the moment.

Community was the overall theme of our wedding day.  We were so blessed to have friends and family fly in from Mexico, Turkey, San Francisco, Boston, Reno and more. We chose to conduct our ceremony in a format inspired by the Quaker tradition in order to include everyone who has played an important role in our lives and our relationship. Everyone gathered in a semi-circle around us in the Monet Garden. Our parents walked us down the aisle. There was no priest of officient. A variety of speakers welcomed guests and explained the proceedings. Since David’s whole family lives in Mexico, readings were in both English and Spanish.  After we exchanged vows we wrote ourselves, everyone was invited to speak to share their own blessings and advice. At the conclusion of our ceremony, we walked out to a children’s choir singing The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.” I teach at an elementary school that is home to a very talented choir. The presence of so many students I love, and the opportunity to share their gift of song with my guests, was another wonderful moment. The choir also sang Patrick Wolf’s “The Magic Position” since we met at his concert. Their performance acted as a transition from the ceremony to the reception, and it allowed us to sneak away to take a few “just married!” pictures.

One goal was to keep the wedding budget friendly. We chose a venue that is both meaningful to us and serves a mission we support, so the rental fee felt more like a generous donation. Garfield Park Conservatory is free to visitors and offers educational programs throughout the year. It’s one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets! We served heavy hors d’oeuvres instead of a sit-down meal, which allowed everyone to mingle and resulted in less food waste. Instead of hiring a DJ, we rented speakers and used my laptop. It was fun perfecting the playlist in the days leading up to the wedding, and then we had it to listen to again when we first looked at the photographs. And I saved on my dress because teachers get a discount at J.Crew! We also tried to keep the event environmentally friendly. Choosing a venue that is naturally beautiful resulted in less need to bring in decorations. For centerpieces, I saved jars from pasta sauces and purchased candles off Craigslist from a woman who had extras leftover from her wedding. We used a wedding website to cut down on paper use (and postage!). My engagement ring and wedding band are both vintage, and we chose a ethically responsible jeweler who used reclaimed metals to make David’s wedding band.

Wedding Photography: Paul Carlson Photography / Wedding Venue: Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois / Event Design + Planning: DIY / Floral Design: Pollen / Floral Crown: Whichgoose / Pie: Sweet Mandy B’s / Wedding Invitations: Vistaprint / Guestbook Tree Poster: PERSONALIZEDprints / Wedding Dress: J.Crew / Bride’s Shoes: Target / Bridesmaid’s Dress: Ann Taylor Loft / Bride’s Engagement Ring + Wedding Band: Vintage / Groom’s Wedding Band: Leber Jeweler

J.Crew and Whichgoose are members of our Look Book. For more information on how members are chosen, click here. Pollen is a member of our Little Black Book. Find out how members are chosen by visiting our FAQ page.