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Elegant Tented Backyard Lake Forest Wedding

Personally, I think nothing is more romantic than intimate home spun “I Do’s”… And when your home’s grounds (well, in this case, the Groom’s parents’) looks like this? Swoon! Annie Parish Photography captured this stunning couple at their beautifully tented, all-white backyard bash in the gallery here, so take a peek and get inspired!

From the beautiful Bride… Our wedding day, September 13th, turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, although a bit cooler than we had anticipated! No worries; guests wore shawls and light wraps and were quite comfortable on the front lawn of the groom’s family home in Lake Forest, Il. After cocktails on the rear terraces overlooking the pool and grounds, dinner and dancing took place in warm tented venues on the back lawn. Our inspiration for the reception décor could be described a “twinkly, forest fairyland,” with slender ficus trees as centerpieces and beautiful ambient lighting, as well as gorgeous chandeliers.

The fact that it was the home that Bretton grew up in made everything so special and personal. Although our bridesmaids were limited to our sisters, there were 20 women – all of my best friends, plus moms – getting ready at the house that day, as well as about a dozen guys in separate quarters. It was fantastically fun and so memorable. Lots of champagne! Another special element was that our favorite band from Minnesota, who also played at my sister’s wedding, made the trip to Chicago for us. They played without stopping until midnight, and then we all moved into the “Apres” tent for the after-party with a DJ and pizza from Bretton’s favorite place. The last trolley rolled out at 3 am!

A dear family friend of the Pope’s presided over the ceremony, and my sister Tate —one of the bridesmaids—performed the vows, officially marrying us. Another fun feature of the ceremony was the men’s a cappella group from DePaul University making a surprise appearance, filing out of the house to sing Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” Bretton and I each read a poetry selection that we had chosen for each other; and through a blizzard of confetti we recessed to full volume Stevie Wonder singing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Though the entire day was filled with memorable moments, our favorite part was walking out of the after-party tent, hand-in-hand, after the last guest had boarded the last trolley. I was carrying my shoes and Bretton had taken off his bowtie and jacket; we were both amazed that we were the last guests at the party! We took a moment to look back at the tents and talk about the day and night, and how we felt so lucky to have had the wedding day we did.

We met at Lehigh University on Halloween night, 2005. I was a freshman and Bretton was a sophomore, and we met on the steps of Sigma Chi where his fraternity Chi Phi was co-hosting a Halloween party. Bretton broke the ice by asking, “I think I was supposed to meet you!” Although it sounds like any other cheesy line, it’s actually true: Bretton’s dad had recently played golf with a friend of my dad, and they figured out that Bretton and I would both be at Lehigh that fall. Although we met in 2005, we didn’t start dating until September of 2008, after I got back from a semester abroad.

Bretton proposed on December 7th, 2013—about 18 months after I moved to NYC to live with him. He told me he had to go in to work on a Saturday, which wasn’t unusual. After he left, however, he asked me to check the bedroom for something he forgot, where I found a note instructing me to be in front of our building an hour later. A black car picked me up and whisked me over to the High Line, an old raised train track-turned-garden that I always admired but Bretton thought was over-hyped. Bretton was there waiting, ring in hand, surrounded by twinkle lights (I think he just got lucky, because Christmas was just around the corner!). After I said yes, we went down to the Standard Grill for oysters and champagne, and then uptown to our favorite sushi spot.

My dress was waiting for me, just as I imagined it, at Lovely in TriBeCa in New York City. My mother and sister came in for the weekend, and I had scheduled 5 appointments. The first two were disappointing, but I knew I would recognize my dress as soon as I saw it. It was a simple Theia sequined gown, elegant and sophisticated; and the fun surprise was a beautiful chiffon skirt with a seed pearl waistband that fastened over the gown, creating a lovely, floating bridal effect, which was perfect for the ceremony. When I took it off for the reception it seemed as though I had an entirely different dress on. I never expected to get so many remarks and compliments about my dress!

Photography: Annie Parish Photography | Event Design: Christine Janda Design And Events | Floral Design: Christine Janda Design And Events | Wedding Dress: Theia | Bridesmaids' Dresses: David Meister | Catering: Truffleberry Catering | Band: Trailer Trash | Ceremony And Reception Venue: Private Residence | Linens: BBJ | Planning: Christine Janda Design And Events | Rentals: Tablescapes | Tent: Blue Peak Tents

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Charming Illinois State Park Wedding

This adorable couple couldn’t wait to the knot at this rustic ceremony in Beaver Dam State Park and a reception at the local fairgrounds. It’s a small town celebration with a big heart, thanks to personal details like the home-brewed beer favors and a horseshoe bar (a popular local nosh)! The ever so talented Christine Foehrkolb made it all look picture perfect in the full gallery right here.

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State Park
From the beautiful Bride… Aaron and I met by him literally knocking on my front door. I was having a house-warming/graduation party and my cousin and her boyfriend brought their friend, Aaron, along for the party. We’ve been together ever since that night. Fast forward three and a half years, and Aaron proposed in late November. We immediately thought that we would have an October wedding; however, once January rolled around and we started planning, it just didn’t feel right to wait until October. Instead, we thought, ‘the sooner the better’! We started planning for a May wedding; when the Illinois weather would be beautiful and the colors amazing. I am a very detailed-oriented person and the task of planning a wedding in such a short timeframe started to weigh on me. Thankfully, I co-own a flower shop, Main Street Florist, with my best friend who stepped up and took a big chunk of the planning off my shoulders. I knew that I could describe the color-scheme and feel of the wedding I envisioned and she would bring it perfectly to fruition. Of course she did not disappoint! We had a small ceremony at the State Park near our home with our closest family and friends in attendance. During the ceremony, we performed a wine box ritual in which Aaron and I had both written love letters to each other and put them in a wine box along with a bottle of wine. The idea is that during a fight when we feel like our marriage needs help, we can sit down and share the wine while reading the love letters we wrote to each other. I smile every time I see the wine box atop our kitchen cabinets as it reminds me of our perfect-for-us ceremony. After the ceremony, Aaron and I snuck away to take a moment to soak in everything. During this time alone, we exchanged vows that we had written to one another. This is one of my favorite memories of the day. Since we live in a small town, the choices for a reception venue were very limited. We chose the biggest option available: a machine shed at our county’s fairgrounds. With the help of family, friends, and the flower shop employees, we were able to completely transform the shed into a picturesque reception hall. For Aaron and I, it was important that our reception was personal and ‘us’. We didn’t want it to simply be a reception that could fit any couple. Because of this, we added as many personal touches as we could: Aaron, who had found a passion for brewing beer, brewed enough beer for each of our guests to take a bottle home as a favor. Jordan, my cousin who had recently graduated as a pastry chef, made our delicious wedding cake. Instead of having a guestbook, we had a globe for all of our guests to sign since we love to travel. And one of the biggest hits of the evening was our food: a horseshoe bar. While planning the reception, I had told one of my bridesmaids, who is a chef, of the idea since I love a good horseshoe and she immediately took over and coordinated it all. Our wedding day was made possible by all the love and assistance of those closest to us. Our hearts were full with love and thanks: what an amazingly beautiful thing that is.

Photography: Christine Foehrkolb | Floral Design: Main Street Florist | Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero | Invitations: Sara LoBue | Ceremony Venue: Beaver Dam State Park | Reception Venue: Macoupin County Fairground | Hair And Makeup: Coco Bongo | Photography Assistance: Chelsey Barrett

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Cheerful Chicago Engagement Session

We couldn’t imagine anything sweeter than this Chicago couple’s engagement session! Relaxing at their apartment, strolling around the lake and exploring the city they fell in love in, these lovebirds are totally in love and it shows. The talented Kristin Sweeting captured every moment in the full gallery right here!

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Spring
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From Kristin SweetingLorrie and Dan picked out a few places in the city that were special to them, including their gorgeous apartment with a great view of Chicago. I loved getting to see their neighborhood while we walked around the city with their sweet dog Addy. I love it when couples make their engagement session something really personal to them and their relationship, and Lorrie and Dan definitely did a great job of that!

Photography: Kristin Sweeting

Vintage Glam Chicago Wedding

We love a Bride who knows how to rock a fascinator and this beauty in the hands of Nika Vaughan Bridal Artists is quickly approaching Style Icon status. Exuding vintage glamour, it’s a wedding overflowing with elegance thanks to A Splendid Occasion. Each and every snap from Robyn Rachel Photography is better than the last and you can see them all here!

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Fall
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Vintage

From Tiffany Siladke of A Splendid Occasion… I knew right from the beginning that Tiffany, the bride, and myself were going to be a great fit for each other, especially since we have the same name! :)

Tiffany and Nick reached out to me in the beginning of January 2014 and were in need of a great planner and designer in the Chicago area, since they both reside in Tampa, FL, with Tiffany’s two daughters – Dallas and Chayse. They knew that the chances of the both of them coming up to Chicago before the wedding was slim, due to their busy work schedules, and really wanted to find someone they could trust with their big day. That’s where I came in!

We did a lot of phone calls, skyping, texting photos and emails, and everything worked out in the end. Tiffany was able to come up one time before the wedding to approve the venue and a few vendors, but other than that it was up to me to create a beautiful, vintage inspired and dinner party-like event. I loved every minute of it!

The one thing thing that was so important for them was for the event to not “feel” like a wedding. They wanted it be an absolute blast for their family and friends, which all were traveling in from other states and we made it happen. We planned a city wide scavenger hunt for them the day before the wedding, unique vintage suitcases were delivered to each guests room with Chicago style popcorn, and other goodies, as well as the awesome hype man that MaryMonica Music, Inc. provided for us during the reception. The party was an absolute fun experience, and looked beautiful too!

Dallas and Chayse, Tiffany’s two girls, were also a huge part of the planning too. Since we knew there would be several kids attending, we wanted them to have a memorable time, as well! They had their own fun kid’s table, an interactive photobooth, and a cupcake decorating station. You can bet, a lot of the adults took part in that cupcake station!

In the end, Tiffany, Nick, and all of their guests had an awesome time and left the wedding full of joy, which is what I love to see! This beautiful little family officially became one, and it was a wonderful day to play such a huge role in. I truly enjoy these sort of planning experiences because the bride and groom really get to be a guest at their own wedding.

Photography: Robyn Rachel Photography | Stationery: Bride | Bridesmaids' Dresses: David's Bridal | Groom's Attire: Men's Wearhouse | Transportation: Empire Limo | Bride's Dress: Zac Posen | Cake/ Cupcakes: Cacao Sweets and Treats | DJ/ Entertainment: MaryMonica Music, Inc | Getting Ready Robes: PajamaSutra | Hair/ Make up: Nika Vaughan Bridal Artists | Miscellaneous Vintage Rentals: Rent Vintage Chicago | Placecards And Custom Signage: Dea & Bean | Planner/ Designer/ Florist/ Custom Chiffon Runners: A Splendid Occasion | Restaurant/ Venue & Rooftop: Epic Restaurant | Vintage Centerpiece Rentals: re:find Joy | Vintage Suitcases: Shadow Box Dreams Vintage Rentals | White Linens: Windy City Linen

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Classic Magnificent Mile Engagement

With a bottle of bubbly in hand this perfect pair brought along Katherine Salvatori Photography as they roamed the city the live in and love. The magnificent mile proves to the be the perfect starting point, a beautiful skyline that beckons sweet kisses and starry eyes. See it all in the gallery!

From Katherine Salvatori PhotographyJackie and Ben met through friends almost four years ago, and were engaged this past June! Ben brought Jackie to a private boat in Chicago’s Belmont Harbor for the proposal (so romantic!), so when it came to their engagement pictures it was a no brainer that we would take them in the city they live in and love. The magnificent mile was the perfect starting location, right in the hub of city life with the beautiful river. After walking around downtown for a bit, we headed over to North Avenue Beach for some champagne and gorgeous skyline views! Jackie and Ben exude style, I absolutely love their classic look (and that RING!!). These two are over the moon for each other, their smiles and Jackie’s adorable giggle says it all. I can’t wait for their wedding next October!

Photography: Katherine Salvatori Photography

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Vibrant + Romantic Illinois Wedding

It takes a bold bride to ditch the traditional white dress in favor of a pale blush or icy blue. But it takes an even bolder bride, like this one, to choose a fashion-forward coral-and-purple watercolored gown, and I am absolutely head-over-(coral)-heels for her bridal style. Captured by Esenam Photography, this couple’s gorgeous wedding is a work of art. See all of it in the gallery.

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From the beautiful Bride… Just before we got engaged, Frank had just relocated from Charlotte North Carolina to live with me in Southern California where I had lived for the past twenty years. Frank and I had been neighbors as kids in a small rural town north of Chicago, Libertyville, Illinois. We knew each other through our siblings and had only one brief encounter before we each left Libertyville as young adults and began our independent lives. By chance, we reconnected after nearly twenty years by virtue of Facebook Scrabble and played diligently from across the country with each other for about a year. We finally met again in person and quickly fell in love.

When Frank and I got engaged, we struggled with our “where” for a couple of years until one day it just all made perfect sense! We had so many options in front of us that it just seemed so overwhelming to simply decide on a location for our big event.

One day, while browsing my Facebook news feed, I noticed a post from a high school alumni that had graduated in my Frank’s and my eldest sister’s class. Father Matt Foley had been the captain of the football team and the homecoming king of his class and a very dear friend of my fiancé. “Let’s get married in our hometown at St. Joseph Catholic Church (where both of us had attended as children) and see if Father Matt would officiate our ceremony!” I exclaimed to Frank, and he excitedly agreed! I don’t know why that wasn’t the first idea that popped into our heads because it certainly was the perfect place to have our wedding!

When Frank and I were children living in Libertyville, the Cuneo Mansion had been a privately owned home along the main street through town and a mysterious place behind a forest of trees on the way to the local mall. In 2009, the mansion was donated to Loyola University. It is now a museum and has a beautiful event pavilion for private events. Since our families no longer maintain homes in the area, we decided on this hometown landmark for a perfect, homey garden wedding feel.

The true inspiration for our wedding was the children in our families. All of the children in my family were eagerly anticipating the addition of a new cousin with Frank’s twelve-year old daughter. When my cousin relayed a conversation between her three children about how excited they were to have a new cousin, our procrastination had come to an end and the wedding planning had begun!

I knew that I wanted a dress from Monique Lhuillier, and I knew that I wanted the dress to be unique, and oh, was it ever! I was so excited to find a gorgeous skirt that reminded me so much of my Grandmother Ruza who had been a dressmaker on Michigan Avenue in Chicago during her day. My dress was gorgeous and colorful, reflecting the colors of our favorite Hawaiian Islands, Hawaii, Maui, and Kauai! I was also thrilled with the idea that my wedding dress was not going to wind up in a box like the fate of so many traditional wedding dresses after the wedding never to be worn again. I can easily tailor the skirt and wear these separates again!

Once I chose my dress, I was able to find my adorable Jr. Bridesmaids dresses from Laundry by Shelli Segal. I loved that all of the little girls would be in beautiful light layered white dresses that were perfect for running around the gardens on a summer evening and spinning on the dance floor at the reception!

I commissioned Jill Tegtmeyer, another LHS alumni to be my “day of” director as well as to do my flowers, which were beautifully administered to compliment my dress from Joseph’s Flowers in Libertyville.

Most important to us for our reception was to have fabulous food and we were very pleased with the selection of vendors that The Cuneo Mansion and Gardens required us to use. We chose Blue Plate for our “touch of blue” and for their very wonderful tasting that we enjoyed a few months prior to the event.

Our wedding ceremony was a traditional Catholic Mass but instead of walking down the aisle to the traditional bridal entrance march, I walked down the aisle to the Christina Perri Instrumental – A Thousand Years.

For a whimsical touch, I made place cards for each guest using a scrabble letter in each name, and place cards for the bride and groom were scrabble letters as well! Frank and I designed a beautiful corn hole game for the garden with our beny-bachi “good kiss” logo, which was a big hit with the kids and the adults! Beny-bachi is a play on our names and, since we had shared a kiss in our youth, perfectly befitting: “a good kiss”!

At the reception, welcome cocktails were colorful and complementing our color palette. We had a Jazz Trio during cocktail hour and during dinner, and then a seven- piece orchestra with male and female vocalist that kept everyone on the dance for the duration of the evening! It was a perfect hometown family reunion and close friends celebration – exactly what we had hoped for!

Photography: Esenam Photography | Videography : Wedding Films | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Cake: Bittersweet | Church: St. Joseph's Catholic Church | Reception Venue: Loyola At Cuneo Mansion And Gardens | Bride's Shoes: Monique Lhuillier | Catering: Blue Plate | Band: David Rothstein | Groom's Attire: Zegna | Groom's Attire: Zegna | Groom's Shoes: Zegna | Flower Girls Dress: Laundry by Shelli Segal

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