I see a whole lot of wedding photos everyday but you know which ones are my absolute favorite? When the bride is laughing, wholeheartedly smiling. And this beautiful bride, captured by Laurie Bailey, looks like she is having the time of her life. Decked out in a Vera Wang gown and saying her vows at the stunning Bacara Resort & Spa, this celebration is one that feeds my feel-good searching soul.
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From The Bride… Falling in love after three years of dating had been easy. Coming up with a brilliantly romantic proposal and then planning and executing it flawlessly was a challenge. But what was truly hard was coming up with and then communicating a wedding vision. We had made Chicago our home. It housed our favorite people and restaurants but when it came to our wedding, all of the things we loved about the city, having people we loved nearby and intimate knowledge of all the bars and restaurants that might host a rehearsal dinner were the very reasons it seemed to fall short. What we wanted, we realized, was to create something that was different from our daily experience. So, in our infinite brilliance, we decided to find a venue where we could trap our friends and family in and force them to spend time with us.
As we looked at nearby venues, Lauren continued to find a problem with each one – why? Because she was trying to recreate her California upbringing in the Midwest. We may have continued down this futile path had we not visited Lauren’s father in Santa Barbara. Staring out the airplane window at the Pacific Ocean it became clear this was where we wanted to get married, but we were not ready to give up the grandeur, architecture, and great food and drink that is indicative of Chicago. Thus we combined these dichotomous concepts and arrived at our romantic-garden-beachy but not gimmicky, black-tie, grand but intimate wedding.
Armed with an image that did not exist anywhere but in our minds we sought out to create it. We probably would not have gotten very far and would still be trolling wedding blogs had we not found the brilliant and equally talented Donna Romani. With her help we hit the ground running. First stop – venue. Some of the venues were just not right, others stretched our budget to its outer limits. Dejected, but not defeated, we began the drive to the Bacara Resport and Spa. As the spacious lobby opened up in front of us, Elliot’s eyes sparkled and he got as excited about “wedding stuff” as a Midwestern man would allow himself. Grandeur – check, beach – check, outdoor gardens – check, great food -check, amenities, pools and restaurants tempting enough to entice our friends to make the trip – check. Giddy fiancée – check.
Creating the wedding combined our ideas with Donna’s. The paper suite was easy. We wanted something grand that would be appropriate for a black tie wedding making calligraphy the obvious choice, but we also wanted something that was beachy and unique. With Betsey Dunlap’s unique, not-your-momma’s calligraphy in the shape of a wave we got just that. Next we set out to ensure that the Midwestern man who had gotten giddy about a wedding venue was properly represented. As a furniture designer, Elliot’s love of wood is only rivaled by his love of Lauren. So obviously, both needed to be at the wedding.
Initially we choose the wooden ceremony structure, dark wood ceremony chairs, and exposed wooden feasting tables as a way to incorporate Elliot into the wedding, but it also created a more intimate feel. We (Lauren) also decided that we could carry this idea further by utilizing our (Elliot’s) talent with laser cutting to make wooden wedding accents. “It will be cool and intimate,” Lauren said, “It will be a lot of work and I don’t know if I’ll have time,” Elliot responded, and so it was decided – Elliot would be making wood medallions for the save the dates, and personalized his and her coasters and signage. Lauren made some sketches on napkins or whatever was around when inspiration struck and Elliot magically (with a lot of hard work) made real objects out of them. It was totally worth it because we literally could not be happier with the end product. Both masculine, intimate, unique, and made by Elliot, these personalize accents were such a hit that people were taking them home by the handful. What they will be doing with coasters that say our names is beyond us.
Our florals were also a combined effort. Wanting something simultaneously masculine and romantic, we decided on an unstructured overgrown design that incorporated neutral colors like whites and greens. This allowed the stunning ocean views and the words themselves to be the star of our ceremony. Furthermore, our loved ones added decoration. The bridesmaids were asked to wear long pastel gowns and the guests were asked to dress black tie. In their finery the guests themselves decorated the lawn and the bridesmaids looked like “flowers” to quote Lauren’s mother.
Leaving an open chair for Lauren’s brother who could not be there, we began our favorite part of our wedding. When not riveted by what our guest called “masterful words of wisdom” by Jon Ireland, and the hand chosen readings from Jane Eyre (one of Lauren’s favorite books), guests could enjoy the unrivaled views. Per our request cell phones etc. were turned off so that guests could watch us exchange the vows we had written for each other directly rather than through their cell phone camera lens. As great as it is to have lots of pictures, we wanted our guests be present and share this pivotal moment with us. Plus, we hired Laurie Bailey as our photographer so we knew we would be getting great pictures. As we walked down the aisle through a shower of rose petals and lavender that our guests had made themselves at our tossing station we thought, “I hope everyone else was crying as much as we were.”
Luckily they were. Our teary eyed guests went down to cocktail hour where a similar neutral palate incorporating the beach with laser-cut seashell escort cards with sea glass and sand, our subtle nod to the beach, awaited them. Everything was beautiful, a simple combination of all the elements we loved without becoming a caricature, but it was not sufficient to demand everyone rent a tux. So we added pops of dark plum to our unstructured centerpieces, chandeliers, candlelight, and shimmering iridescent table clothes and mercury glass containers to our reception. True to our original concept, we did not want anything too over the top but still wanted a grand black-tie wedding, and these unexpected elements did just that and also added an element of surprise for our guests who may have thought they knew what to expect – silly them. As we dined under the open sky, which added to the imitate garden feel, by the light of crystal candlesticks and chandeliers, twinkling lights, and the stars, we thought “this was exactly what we wanted,” immediately followed by “thank god we hired such great vendors.”
Photography: Laurie Bailey Photography | Videography: Lunchpail Productions | Event Planner: Donna Romani Events | Florist: Tenley Erin Young | Wedding Dress: Vera Wang | Cake: Robyn Loves Cake | Stationary: Blackbird Letterpress | Reception Venue: Bacara Resort & Spa | Brides Shoes: Valentino | Calligraphy: Betsy Dunlap | DJ: Gavin Roy Presents | Grooms Attire: Burberry | Ceremony/Cocktails: Ybarra Music | Laser-cut Wood Pieces: Elliot Eakin | Lighting/Draping: LBPS | Linen Rental: La Tavola | Rentals: Classic Party Rentals | Wedding Venue: Bacara Resort & Spa