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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.


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: Z by Zegna | Groom's Attire: Z by Zegna | Flower Girls Dress: Laundry By Shelli Segal | Groom's Shoes: Z by Zegna

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Woodland Fall Styled Shoot

Fall screams romance to me. As the temperatures begin to drop, and that crisp feeling in the air becomes the norm, you just can’t help but want to get a bit cozy. Well, this woodland fall shoot has me craving my favorite season this morning. Captured by Ann & Kam Photography & Cinema at the gorgeous Cuneo Mansion this shoot does cozy and chic oh so well. See so much more here.

From Ann & Kam Photography & CinemaThis shoot started with inspiration from the beauty of the Midwest in the fall. We wanted to create a woodland setting with fall colors like gold, burgundy, and blush, and the romantic feel of a fairy tale. We were so lucky that Megan from CityGirl Weddings and Life Made Pretty were inspired by our vision, and brought their full creative force to create a shoot that we couldn’t even imagine. We were over the moon when Cuneo Mansion joined our team and allowed us to use their amazingly gorgeous grounds for our setting. There really may not be a wedding venue in the Chicago area that is more beautiful than Cuneo.

The combination of the amazing setting, the creative work from CityGirl and Life Made Pretty made this shoot blossom into a whimsical, vintage-inspired fairy tale. We were inspired by the combination of indoors and outdoors, glamour and wildness, brought to life by the combination of pretty vintage furniture and decor, lush textures, and a touch of wildness from elements like vines, furs, and loose curls. The decorative elements were designed to be flexible so that they could be used indoors as well as out, as a wedding in the Midwest is rarely held entirely outside.

Photography: Ann & Kam Photography & Cinema | Hair And Makeup: Jen Johnson | Suit: Formally Modern Tuxedo | Ceremony/Reception: Loyola at Cuneo Mansion and Gardens | Decorative Furs: Hunter Kaiser Creative For Life | Design And Coordination: Citygirl Weddings | Dresses: BHLDN | Floral And Decor: Life Made Pretty | Linens: Private Label Linens | Models: Intrigue Talent | Table Decor: Tablescapes | Vintage Fur Stolls: Mary Burlingame

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Cuneo Mansion Bridal Shoot from Emilia Jane Photography

I don’t have many regrets from my big day, but after seeing this gorgeous bridal shoot from Emilia Jane at the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens I am super bummed I didn’t think to do a similar shoot. Because these images of this stunning Bride are completely breathtaking, and you can see them all right here.

From Emilia JaneIt was such a joy to collaborate with a stylish bride and amazing hair, make-up, and floral team to put together Katharyn’s bridal photo session at Cuneo. Honestly I believe it’s one of the most beautiful venues in Chicagoland. So often wedding days are too rushed to have enough time for real bridal portraiture. I love the southern tradition of bridal portraits and am trying to bring it north! I just adore when my brides take the time to set up a separate session for photos in their dress. It’s a great excuse for a professional hair and make-up trial too, to see how flawlessly everything fits together.

From Daphne at Loyola’s Cuneo Mansion and Gardens
Loyola’s Cuneo Mansion and Gardens is unique in that it is not only a historic mansion but also a living museum encompassed by 97 acres of lush gardens. The Venetian style architecture of the mansion and embellished gardens with neoclassical statuary and fountains allow wedding couples to have their fairy tale wedding come to life. The best part is wedding couples have access to take unlimited photography on the grounds of the mansion encapsulating their special day. Also included is the rental– guests have the ability to tour the mansion and view European artwork and tapestries while sipping on cocktails.

Photography: Emilia Jane Photography | Flowers: Pistil & Vine | Dress: Tadashi Shoji | Shoes: Nordstrom | Make-Up: Shannon O'Brien MUA | Hair: Your Stylist AJ | Venue: Loyola at Cuneo Mansion and Gardens | Veil: Etsy

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