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Modern Illinois Backyard Wedding

As high school sweethearts AND college sweethearts, these two lovebirds, they’ve got a love that runs deep. So when it came to choosing their wedding venue, an at-home affair with their nearest and dearest made perfect sense. With the help of An Affair To Remember, they pulled of the Kate Spade-esque elegant style they had in mind and it’s pretty darn cute if I might say so myself. Head to the full gallery from Louie Abellera for more!


From An Affair To RememberMariah and Austin were high school and college sweethearts. Their love for each other was undeniable. So grounded and down to earth, they knew all along that they didn’t want to have their wedding reception at a traditional venue, but instead in the backyard of Mariah’s childhood home. Mariah’s vision from the start was simple; she wanted an elegant, backyard wedding. Her style was a bit more challenging; she wanted it to feel like Kate Spade without going overboard or feeling like a circus. I think we achieved exactly what she wanted!

Many, many detail went into the planning of this wedding. First, we hired MDM Entertainment, not only for DJ and lighting services, but to bring in a company to transform the outdoor pool into a dance floor. Then, we meet with Elegant Presentations to bring the “Kate Spade” vision to life. We hired Blue Peak Tents to bring in a large outdoor tent (because no one should take the risk of having an outdoor wedding in Illinois without a tent!). Lastly, we worked with Fleur Couture to dress the tables up and down with beautiful floral. The entire day was captured beautifully with the help of Louie Abellera Photography.

I’ve never seen a bride and groom smile as much as they did on their wedding day. Mariah and Austin were on cloud nine, over the moon with happiness. From their extravagant balloon release at the ceremony, to their 1st dance over the pool, to their send off at the end of the night with giant sparklers, I think they accomplished everything they wished for in their wedding day. We couldn’t have been more honored to have been a part of this beautiful day.

Photography: Louie Abellera | Event Planning: An Affair To Remember | Florist: Fleur Couture | Ceremony: College Church | Reception: Bride's House | Catering: True Cuisine | Tent: Blue Peak Tents | Lighting / Staging / Music: MDM Entertainment | Linens/tables/chairs: Elegant Presentations

Bright, Summery Wedding in Wheaton

This couple has the whole “matrimonial bliss” thing down! A joyful shade of yellow and some DIY touches helped set the mood for the day, but in a weekend jam packed with tons of friends, family and July 4th barbecues, fun was a guarantee. Add a beautiful wedding and that there is a weekend you’ll never forget. Thankfully T & S Hughes Photography was there to capture the heart-warming event.


From The Bride…Mark proposed on our two year anniversary. We spent the entire day basking in beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin sunshine, and Mark put the cherry on top when he surprised me with a beautiful ring on the dock of our friend’s lake house. We immediately hopped in the car to drive home and discussed wedding details the whole way home. I had visions of sunshine and smiles and all things JOY. Mark and I share a deep love of people, so we decided immediately that not only did we want this day to honor God and our love for each other, but we wanted to make it a priority to honor the many meaningful friends and family that make our lives so delightful.

We spent what felt like ten (VERY LONG) months planning and brainstorming and more planning, all the while teaching, coaching and making bi-weekly trips to Chicago for Mark’s job at church. But after those many long months, the weekend of July 7th finally arrived.

We jam packed the weekend with barbecues, softball games, pool parties, time with family, a fourth of July parade, fireworks, bachelor and bachelorette parties and all the usual rehearsal festivities that exist at a wedding. Needless to say, we got the most out of every ounce of time out of our weekend.

The morning of our wedding, Mark and I met for a quiet walk in a park near our house. We sat and prayed for a little while and then said our giddy, anticipatory goodbyes. Next time we saw each other, I’d be walking down the aisle! I spent the morning at home with my three sisters and my mom, enjoying time together as a family and getting our hair and make-up done. Mark spent his morning running around Target like a mad-man, looking for a belt and socks!

We had big wedding parties: ten people each! I also had seven close friends get ready with the bridal party. I chose yellow dresses for my girls; the color is a tricky one to find, but it was worth the search! I loved the bright colors against the navy suits worn by the guys. Mark, not usually a fashionista, found awesome wedges for the girls to wear. It brought in the striped ribbon on their bouquets perfectly! The guys wore ties I found on Amazon! We loved the unique pattern and felt like it gave the men a more casual feel. We spent the morning doing each other’s hair and make-up, jamming to music and enjoying our favorite drinks from Starbucks! 

Our reception was filled with beautiful, crafty touches, courtesy of my creative Mama! We wanted a look that I could not find anywhere on the web. I love the color yellow, but didn’t necessarily want a rustic feel. I wanted clean, crisp, bright, joyful yellow. I loved the look of yellow, white and navy, so we went with that color theme. I wrestled (almost daily) with finding the right shades of yellow, but eventually I found what I was looking for. My mom helped design the centerpieces: beautiful lanterns, decorated with flowers. We had a large wedding, so we didn’t need the centerpieces to overpower the already full room. We chose yellow napkins to make the color pop and let the beauty of the venue do most of the talking! My mom made sweet vases of flowers from our farmer’s market the day before and we spread those around the rest of the venue. Our florists did an amazing job of capturing the yellow color, while making it tasteful and not obnoxious. Our cake was topped by my grandma and grandpa’s cake topper. We made table numbers from stationery and had our calligrapher write beautiful numbers in white. Each guest received a delicious homemade cookie made by my mom’s close friend. Our giant head table (22 people long) was donned with candle holders of various heights. The room looked amazing.

We enjoyed a joyous reception, complete with three beautiful toasts from my dad, sister and Mark’s brother, delicious food, wild dancing and an amazing send off of paper lanterns (which may or may not have almost lit a tree on fire!). It was a perfect day. We were able to look back on other’s memories through our wedding hashtag on instagram! This was one of my favorite things to look through. It was fun to experience that day through someone else’s eyes.

The hard work was completely worth it! I loved every minute of our special day and could not have asked for a more beautiful, festive and special day!

Photography: T&S Hughes Photography | Flowers: Tree House Weddings | Wedding Gown: Wedding Belles | Invitations: Tree House Weddings | Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church | Reception Venue: Danada House | Bridesmaid Dresses: The Dress By Nicole | Catering: My Chef | Desserts: Tree House Weddings

Marine Corps Danada House Wedding

A Stem Above really nailed classic minimalism with this wedding. Keeping the floral count low but the impact high is not easy, but holy cow, you’re about to see it done so, so right. Misty Winter captured this beautiful military wedding and it’s the kind that will leave you wishing for more. And when that happens, click here.


From the beautiful bride…  As a fun, spirited couple, our journey as a couple becoming husband and wife involved new adventures from desert hikes in Arizona, to snowboarding down the Rockies, to cycling centuries around Ohio, to permanent cross country moves. So, it was our inspiration to include the outdoors in our wedding plans with a classic, romantic feel. It was essential to us that our personalities were reflected throughout the day in all the little details: vintage style Chantilly lace of my wedding gown, ceremonial Marine Corps Arch of Swords, cocktail napkins with fun anecdote, beer & wine tastings during cocktail hour, East Coast Swing dance lessons, outdoor dancing with twinkle lights. We wanted to create a unique, warm, inviting and fun day for our guests.

For the ceremony, we wanted to be surrounded by beautiful gardens and the outdoors as our dear families and closest friends witnessed the exchange of our vows. We chose the Danada House because it provided the perfect back drop for an outdoor wedding with the ability to create a personal home feel. For cocktail hour, the veranda was flooded with custom wine barrels displaying our wine, cheese, and beer stations featuring our favorite selections. Guests could meander between food stations including bites inspired by our roots in Chicago and new home in California. The bites included mini pizza pops, mini chicago style hot dogs, mini fish tacos, and mini empanadas. Guests were also treated to the chance to take a group East Coast Swing Dance Lesson to prepare for keeping the dance floor hot throughout the night.

The modern addition of the Danada House was warmed by arrange a combination of wooden farm tables within a sea of Federal Blue Shantung linen with arrangements and décor by A Stem Above. Each table included a custom rod iron lanterns, mercury glass candles, and textural floral in a sophisticated palette of monochromatic green to match the bridesmaid’s floral. The wall-to-wall windows of the space in combination with the rustic floral and farm tables created a perfect ambiance for guests. The entire Entertaining Company staff was a pleasure to work with, offering each and every guest personal attention. The meal concluded with a phenomenal three-tiered, double chocolate cake prepared by Bent Fork Bakery that we ceremoniously by sword.

Our celebration continued outside on the patio deck with dancing under Italian twinkling lights. Our first dance was serenaded by the smooth voice of Amanda Wolff from the Flat Cats and guests continued to dance the night away with lively music putting their dance lessons to use.

Upon meeting with our photographer, Misty Winter from Misty Winter Photography, we knew she was a perfect match. Her fun, fresh, and photo journalistic style perfectly captured our day. Equally as important, we genuinely enjoyed the company of Misty. It was as if a dear, close friend was documenting our day instead of a professional stranger. Our wedding planner, Joede Berman created a seamless parade of moments throughout the day that allowed us to enjoy our wedding. It really was THAT easy thanks to all our amazing vendors. We are so thankful for the creativity, professionalism, and quality which created a truly memorable day for us, our families, and friends.

Photography: Misty Winter | VIDEOGRAPHER: Jaime Rozen | Event Design: A Stem Above | Planner: Joede Berman | Cake: The Bent Fork Bakery | Catering: Entertaining Company | Make Up: Makeup By Beth | Hair: Glamour Salon | Converted Horse Farm: Danada House | Music: The Flat Cats

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