Traditional with a twist is one of my favorite ways to say “I do.”  And this stunning Chicago affair?  It’s delivering the aforementioned and then some with a crazy cool mix of gorgeous details.  I’m talking vibrant blooms from Stephanie Robinson, a ballroom decked out in chevron and gold (my fave) and a world of pretty captured by Two Birds Photography.  See it all here.

From The Bride… Our theme was ““Our Story”.”  It was inspired by the story of our love. It stemmed from a book that I had created for an anniversary gift for Nick. The book was in the form of a chapter book and it contained all of the messages that Nick and I wrote to each other via Facebook, mail and e-mail when we were dating long distance (Chicago to New Orleans). To incorporate this theme on our big day, I included this book along with the following: our love letters and envelopes, a mailbox for our gifts, cocktail napkins that included funny stories of our relationship and chapters for table numbers. We also searched through old photo albums and found a wedding portrait of each of our family members, as they are the beginning of our story. We had them all hanging by a string by our guestbook. This was a surprise and our guests loved seeing their very own picture celebrated on our day. My absolute favorite tie into our theme was Nick and my silhouettes on the menu cards. I believe that these little details made our ceremony unique.

As we were planning our wedding, Nick and I both found it important that our wedding day represented both of us as individuals as well as together as a couple. Nick knew how important it was to include all of the little details that described my personality. Confetti polka dots, chevron groomsmen socks, pink and orange color scheme, and way too many crafts was a perfect representation of me on our wedding day. Nick’’s past history was included in a special New Orleans dance. The entire bridal party was given beads to pass out to the wedding guests. Nick and I were given big, heavy beads to wear and Mardi Gras masks. The second line song filled the room as we entered the dance floor. I twirled a white umbrella and the crowd picked up napkins to spin around in circles. Soon enough, everyone was on their feet participating in this New Orleans wedding tradition. We loved that everyone was so excited as they took part in this unique twist to our reception.

My favorite part of the day was walking down the aisle. Nick and I chose not to see each other before the ceremony so there was much anticipation for this moment. I remember standing in the bridal room at the church feeling a little nervous, but mostly excited. It was all a little fuzzy as they called us to line up. Soon enough, our bridal party had entered the church and it was just my dad and I. I begged him to tell me a joke, as both of us were having a hard time keeping it together. It was finally our cue and in that moment I felt the true meaning of marriage, forgetting all of the stress and crazy wedding plans we had been focused on within the past year. It was a crazy feeling walking down the aisle. I remember being surrounded by all of our family and friends in the church, but feeling like it was just Nick and I alone. I remember looking right into his eyes the entire way down. I can vaguely remember my dad holding my arm tightly and the faint sound of a violin playing Canon in D. I held back tears of happiness as I approached Nick. Hugging my dad was an overwhelming feeling, as he put Nick’s and my hand together, giving us his blessing to begin our life together. As the ceremony went on I was able to sneak a peek at the packed church of people we loved so dearly. It was an overwhelming feeling to have them witness this special day in our life and I felt so grateful. I will always remember Nick’’s smile as he saw me for the first time. In the end, it was worth every minute of waiting.

Nick and I met in confirmation class freshman year of high school, so it was important to us both that we were to be married within a church, as our faith is important to us. We picked St. Clement Catholic Church in Chicago, because it is the church we attend every Sunday. We also love the architecture and beauty of this breathtaking church.

I knew walking into the Woman’s Club of Evanston that the venue was perfect for us. Nick and I knew all along that we wanted a different venue, one that was more unique. The Woman’s Club had everything we were searching for and more. The beautiful chandeliers, the arched ceilings in the ballroom and the character of each room allowed me to envision us there on our wedding night. My sister told me as we left that she knew by the smile on my face that I had found the venue I had been searching for.

Stephanie Robinson was our florist for the event. I was referred by a friend to use Stephanie and could not have picked a better person to create the exact vision I had hoped to achieve. Stephanie works freelance so my experience was different than going into a flower shop and looking through a binder to pick the exact arrangements for the big day. Instead, Stephanie and I met over coffee and I explained to her how much I loved flowers, my way too many ideas from Pinterest, and a budget to stay within. As we talked, she helped me finally pinpoint my style and color scheme (any bride will contest how much harder of a decision this is than it truly seems) and gave me so many ideas of her own. It was cool because I felt an instant connection with Steph. I realized instantly that she was so similar to me; we shared the same style, personality and passion for flowers. I told her leaving Starbucks that day that I trusted her 100% and that she could run with my color scheme and surprise me. It was a weight off of my shoulders to allow her to be creative and it felt great to cross something off the never-ending wedding to do list. The moment she knocked on my room at The Drake Hotel was one of my favorite wedding day memories. I didn’t know what my flowers were going to look like until the day they were in my arms and I had been waiting months to see what she had picked out for me. I had tears of happiness in my eyes when I saw the vibrant colors and unique styles. Not only did she create perfect bouquets but she also transformed my venue into a floral masterpiece. I could not have even envisioned more perfect flowers than what Stephanie picked and designed for our big day.

J&L Catering catered our event at The Woman’s Club. We worked with Jim Bailey and he was absolutely phenomenal. He was not only responsible for creating a fabulous menu that worked within our budget but also served as our wedding planner during the entire planning process. It was such a wonderful feeling to know that I could email him at any time of the day or night and hear back from him within the hour with an answer to so many of my wedding questions. Our menu included a strawberry and almond poppyseed salad, chicken and salmon with a lemon crème sauce and risotto paired with seasonal vegetables.

I can’t even express in words how wonderful our experience was with Two Birds Photography. Jake and Jennifer are not only incredibly talented but such a joy to work with. Finding the perfect photographer was the first thing on my wedding to do list, as I believe that the photos are the only thing you will have forever. It was such a relief when my husband and I met Jake at a coffee shop because I knew within the first five minutes that he would be our perfect wedding photographer. Nick and I had a blast with Jake as he shot our engagement pictures. We felt so comfortable with him and were laughing the entire time. We were amazed at his artistic eye and how well he was able to truly capture our love. On our wedding day, Jake was there early to shoot pictures of the landscape of our hotel and the amazing architecture of Chicago. Our entire bridal party raved about how much fun and how professional Jake was on the trolley with us, as he was able to capture our trip from the city to Evanston. Our families and our wedding guests had nothing but amazing things to say about him as well. When we received our wedding slideshow, I couldn’t help but cry with happiness. I felt like I was reliving the day all over again. I was so overjoyed at how well Jake was able to capture every emotion on our wedding day. Two Birds Photography was everything we could have asked for and way, way more.

We hired Zach Moss from Boom Entertainment as our DJ. Zach was amazing! He was able to mix three songs into one and kept the dance floor packed the entire night. I danced with family members I had never even seen dance before! I credit Zach for the amount of fun everyone had that night. Nick and I still love to look at all of the dancing photos to see everyone have the time of their life.

Nick and I consider ourselves foodies, so when it was time for our cake tasting we were really excited. We picked a bakery on the street we live on to try out first, thinking we would try out a few bakeries in Chicago. We had a wonderful experience working with Judy. She sat down with us and explained each flavor combination. The cake was amazing! She also hand sketched my perfect cake: gold chevron, polka dots and pink peonies. We picked a lemon and raspberry flavor for Nick’s half and a double chocolate mousse for mine. It was perfect and we didn’t even have to look anywhere else.

I found my dress at Volle’s Bridal in Lake Zurich and it was designed by Pronovias. Dress shopping was really exciting at first, but after searching at seven bridal stores, I was beginning to feel frustrated. I had been told by many people that I would cry when I have found the perfect dress. I kept waiting for this to happen, and when it hadn’t, I knew I didn’t want to settle. I finally brought my dad with me to Volle’s and when I put this particular dress on, he began to cry. At that moment, I knew it was perfect and tears streamed down my face too. I loved that the dress was vintage with a twist of modern style, a perfect mix of sassy and classy.

The biggest piece of advice as you plan your wedding is to remember that the day is about you and the love you and your fiancé share. Although it all can be very stressful at times, take time to go on dates and talk about things other than the wedding. Also, do as many DIY crafts in advance, if you plan to go this route. I was so pressed for time that I had my dad executing my last minute crafts in order to achieve the theme and style I was going for!

Make sure to take a moment to step back and admire everyone celebrating your big day. Nick and I snuck on stage for a few minutes and it was such an overwhelming feeling to see all of our favorite people having such a wonderful time celebrating us. We squeezed each other’s hands as we felt so blessed to have everyone there on the most important day of our life.

Photography: Two Birds Photography | Floral Design: Stephanie Robinson | Wedding Dress: Volles Bridal (Pronovias, Spain) | Cake: Bittersweet Bakery | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Caterer: J&L Catering | Hair Stylist: Juan Jose Herrera (Mario Tricoci) | Calligraphy: Emily Cavanagh | DJ: Zach Moss from Boom Entertainment | Church: St. Clement Catholic Church | Hotel: Drake Hotel | Makeup: Elana Darrus | Reception Site: Women's Club of Evanston | Transportation: Second City Trolley

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