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Elegant Chicago Wedding at Balena

This Mark Zunino Bride and her handsome groom were literally surrounded with love on their wedding day. Evan Hunt captured the moments that mattered, while close family and friends gathered at Balena for an inviting celebration planned by Kelly Cavanaugh. From the six cakes baked out of love, to Artistrings rendition of Katy Perry, every detail was personal and you can see it all here.

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From The Bride…On a whim, I signed up for a beginners’ rock climbing class, thinking I should try something new and different. I noticed a good-looking guy in the advanced class. He introduced himself and we chatted briefly during class for a few weeks. Eventually he invited me to come climb with him on a Friday night. When I arrived, he encouraged me to try a move that was clearly above my skill-levl, offering to take me out for a drink if I could make it. I didn’t make it and instead fell off the wall injuring my knee, but I still got that drink. We had a blast that night and have been together ever since. We are total partners in life and we love to do things our own way. We added running, mountain biking, and wake surfing and you can always find us taking adventures together, including moving to the suburbs.

Our wedding really reflected our personal choices and who we are as a couple. From the beginning, it was important to us to have a beautiful wedding without all of the fuss. Our favorite parts of other weddings are the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing. So, we decided to mash them all together and skip (almost) everything else — including a formal dinner with seat assignments — in favor of a more relaxed, comfortable atmosphere. We knew immediately that we wanted to have the wedding at Balena; the food is divine, the drinks are spectacular, the staff is amazing, and the decor reflects perfectly the things we like and the mood of the day: warm and inviting, with soft beautiful lighting, rich leather chairs, and exposed wood.

Our ceremony was “in the round,” with my law-school best friend officiating and our moms providing heartfelt personal introductions. Our family and bridal party sat in chairs around the ceremony and everyone else stood around, which lent to the intimate, family atmosphere. The introduction to my favorite Coldplay song “Reign of Love”, played as I walked down the aisle and a quartet played a version of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” for the recessional.

After the ceremony, I changed out of my first dress and heels and into a comfortable ball-gown and flats. Dave kept me company as I had my hair twirled into a bun, and we snacked on appetizers and champagne in the quiet of Balena’s downstairs private-dining room. The reception was divine; we hand picked our favorite items off Balena’s seasonal menu, and Dave’s sister made six gorgeous cakes. We named our signature drinks “The Polly” and “The Reuben,” after the characters in “Along Came Polly” who remind us of each other. Our family and friends were in on all aspects of the wedding, my mom designed our invitations and made the groomsmen’s cufflinks. A family friend handled all the flowers. Almost all our vendors were friends, and all were in attendance to help us celebrate. We were surrounded by love at our wedding and wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Photography: Evan Hunt | Videography: Evan Hunt | Wedding Planner: Kelly Cavanaugh | Florist: R. Jane Morgan Interior + Design: Rjanemorgan@aol.com, 847-275-3530 | Wedding Dress: Mark Zunino | Cakes: Sweet As Cake | Bride's Shoes: Stuart Weitzman | Jewelry: Mark Zunino | Bridesmaids' Dresses: JLM Couture | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Ann Taylor | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Hair And Makeup: Kate Johnson Artistry | String Quartet: Artistrings | Bridesmaid's Dress: Watters | Cake Stands: Nimble Well | Clutch: Judith Leiber | Custom Veil: The Giving Bride | Dress Belt: Ms. Couture | Earrings : New York Jewlers | Flower Girl's Dress: Autolive | Getting Ready Venue: Public Hotel | Groom / Groomsmen Cufflinks: McLaughlin Glazeware | Groom's Suite: Nicholas Joseph | Reception Dress: David's Bridal - Melissa Sweet | Wedding Rings: New York Jewelers | Wedding Venue: Balena

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Elegant Chicago Wedding at the Chicago Cultural Center

I love Olivia Leigh. Seriously. She captures weddings in a way that tells the prettiest of stories, and I always want to reach through the screen and kiss her for it. This chic Chicago soiree is a wonderful example, because boy does it have a story to tell. With literary nods tucked throughout the floral-filled reception, it’s all as gorgeous as it is meaningful, and you can see just what I mean here.

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From Olivia Leigh PhotographieEmily and Angelo are an elegant and intellectual couple that met at Northwestern University. They held a ceremony at the stunning Holy Family Church in Chicago where both families were close to the priest, making it a very warm and personal ceremony. Given their intellectual bent and Emily’s passion for education (she works in education reform in Chicago), the Chicago Cultural Center was a natural choice for their reception, as the stunning building with Louis Tiffany domes is dedicated to arts, culture and learning, with many quotes about education and literature worked into the gorgeous tilework throughout the building. She also loves children and education in the city and we even did some photos outside at a popular water fountain in downtown Chicago as she really wanted a true local, urban, real feel for photos in addition to the beautiful and romantic locales!

Detail wise, this one was a stunner, with an enormous and lush bouquet which we often don’t get in the city. The maids wore a dress of their choosing in pink, gold or blue. Table decor paid more nods to the literary bent with many different quotes about love from a variety of authors printed on one side of the menu cards along with, of course, the menu on the other side. It was so fun to walk around and read all the different quotes and it really lent a super personalized feel to the day! Card tables were done as library call number cards with ivy and greenery spilling out of card catalogs. Tables featured rustic summer blooms along with golden pears and candle light. Angelo is Italian and many of the guests were from Italy. Limoncello paid homage to his heritage with his dad giving a beautiful toast, and the backs of the bride and groom chairs reading Avere & Tenere (to have and to hold). All of this of course was beautifully accented by the amazing architectural gem that is the Cultural Center! Emily and Angelo did my favorite first dance EVER to Be My Baby by the Ronettes which was just so special in this space. Lastly, the invitations were AMAZING with vintage postcards of Chicago reproduced as Save the Dates and beautiful custom calligraphy by Jilly Ink & Sarah Drake Design pulling in their beautiful color scheme. It was just gorgeous!

Photography: Olivia Leigh Photographie | Coordinator: Estera Events | Florist: Fleur | Wedding Gown: Jenny Packham | Cake: Dominos Pastries | Invitations: Sarah Drake Design | Ceremony Venue: Holy Family Church | Catering: Blue Plate | Calligraphy: Jilly Ink | Groom's Attire: Suit Supply | Officiant: Fr. John Belmonte | Music: Style Matters DJs | Rentals: ReFind Joy | Venue: Chicago Cultural Center

Whimsical Summer Chicago Wedding

Some weddings are romantic, some are adorable; others are whimsical, and some just look like one fun party. This Chicago celebration is all of that and more. A beautiful bride, gorgeous florals, cool venue, and a gelato AND cookie bar make this celebration unlike any other. Cristina G caught every smile and this gallery leaves me feeling very jealous of all those lucky guests.

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From Cristina G Photography… There are some weddings that are too beautiful to be real so when you are there taking all this beauty into your camera, you pinch yourself hard to be sure you are not dreaming. Holly & Dan’s wedding was one for the books. And more real then any wedding I have ever photographed. The love for each other is so big, you can feel it when you are around them. You can see it all the way inside Dan’s heart as he is embracing Holly, eyes closed, holding her tight. And if that weren’t enough, they sprinkled it onto every single detail of their magical day.

From The Bride… We met in the theater in 2007. We were cast in one of the best and most romantic musicals of all time, “West Side Story.” Daniel played “Baby John” and I was a dancer and “girlfriend of Diesel” in the “Jet” gang. We became great friends through long rehearsals and the run of the show. We started dating and realized very quickly we were good for each other’s soul. We dated for seven years which took us from our hometown Milwaukee, WI to Chicago, IL. Along the way we “grew up” together, became best friends, held each other’s hand through really hard times, and supported each other through our greatest successes. Being struggling artists is not easy, but Daniel is the person you want at the finish line when you have nothing left and I’m the person encouraging you along the way. 

It was in year six when the proposal happened. We had finally found our place in Chicago. I was coming home on a rainy evening from work and messaged Dan to see if he’d pick me up from the train to avoid the wet walk home. He replied “I’m at work babe.” I walked home and noticed on the front door to our building, was taped a white envelope that said “Holly.” Inside read a list of reasons why Dan loved me. I walked up the three flights of stairs to another envelope – more reasons. I paused, knowing what was going on, and took a deep breath. Inside I found more letters, flowers, and pictures of our 6 year journey scattered everywhere amongst candles! I walked through our apartment and found more letters leading me to our back porch. I opened the door and found Dan, in a fancy suit surrounded by twinkle lights with our song playing. He got down on one knee and opened the box. In true fashion, I swore like a sailor, and said YES! The ring was custom made by Dan and is spectacular!

Photography: Cristina G Photography | Wedding Planner: Soiree Weddings & Events | Florist: Vale Of Enna | Wedding Dress: Rivini | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid - Johanna August | Catering: Jewell Catering | Makeup Artist: Shannon O'Brien MUA | Hair Stylist: Jane Roberts Salon - Kelly Cunningham | DJ: DJK Entertainment | Mens Attire: Jos A Bank | Ceremony & Reception: Salvage One | Gelato Cart: Black Dog Gelato | Musicians: Acoustic Generation | Transportation: Loyalty Limo

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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