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SMP Midwest Welcomes Our Advertisers + A Discount!

How do you spend the perfect Sunday?  Getting to know the fabulous + oh-so-talented team of eco-friendly wedding vendors at the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance.  Because when it comes to hosting an amazing event that is also socially conscious, this is a group of vendors that will most definitely deliver. Learn so much more about their mission… and their crazy cool wedding show, Committed, below.

From Chicago Green Wedding Alliance… The Chicago Green Wedding Alliance is a group of eco-friendly wedding vendors that is committed to making less environmentally impactful events. We connect vendors with the conscious consumer for mindful weddings and social events. Our vendors create gorgeous events that transcend people’s expectations of “green” weddings.

Check out the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.  

The GWA is hosting a wedding show on February 22nd at Greenhouse Loft!  Any couple that books with the code “SMP” will get $5 off!  The discount on tickets can be redeemed on the Eventbrite ticketing page.


You'll love these vendors in Indiana

Boldly Chic Events
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Lisa Berry Photography
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Boldly Chic Events
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Brideside + A Discount!

I’ll admit it.  As much as I love being a bridesmaid (and, oh, do I love it), trekking to bridal shop after bridal shop to try on gowns is, well, seriously tiring.  Which is why I am all sorts of obsessed with Brideside, the online retailer that brings the bridal shop to YOU by letting you browse bridesmaid dresses online and then try them on in the comfort of your very own home. Say it with me, loves: awesome.

With Brideside, you can choose from a plethora of style choices and colors, all with the help of an amazing stylist who works with you every step of the way to guarantee a fabulous (+ chic) bridal party. Just chat with the stylist about your dream wedding and vision, then let them take over and guide your besties through an array of different designers on Brideside’s online store.  They’ll even provide instructional videos on measuring and selecting the best dress types for your body!  And when every last dress is chosen, they’ll ship the samples to your home, so you can have that girl’s day with mimosas and cozy yoga pants.  Soooo comfortable and soooo fun.

Ready to get started?  Visit the Brideside website ASAP or, if you live in Chicago, make an appointment with a stylist here. And don’t forget this exclusive discount for SMP readers: When you buy your bridesmaid dress in February, the first $20 is on Brideside!  Use discount code “SMP20″ at checkout. (Terms & Conditions: Cannot be combined with any past or future promotions. Readers must purchase bridesmaid dress at full price on or before 2/28/15. Offer does not apply to the following designers: Joanna August, Donna Morgan, Jenny Yoo.)


Elegant Summer Aberdeen Manor Wedding

You might have heard this couple’s amazing story, and today it’s all coming full circle. Following the surprise visit from her military fiance – plus 4 months and 6 rounds of chemotherapy later- this unbelievably courageous bride married her beloved with one of the loveliest weddings we’ve ever come across. Dressed in a tulle skirted Tara Keely, she managed to steal the show, and Lady & The Lens was on hand to capture every bit. Pay a visit to the gallery and don’t miss the film from Wholehearted Wedding.


From The Bride… It was almost 6 years in the making and August 31st, 2014 was the day we had been waiting for. My fiance Drew and I knew it was going to be such a special day with all of our family and friends traveling from all over the country to celebrate our love. My very recent cancer diagnosis made our wedding day even more meaningful. 4 months before our big day, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Adenocarcinoma which is a form of Colorectal Cancer, at the young age of 25. It was certainly something that we were not prepared for. Drew and I had been living apart for just a few short months before I received the devastating news. He was stationed in South Carolina for his work with the Navy and I was back in my hometown planning our dream wedding. Luckily, the Navy granted Drew military leave to move to Indiana to be with me as I underwent aggressive chemotherapy. AOL reached out and did a short story about my husband and I which you can see here.

The following months were a struggle as I continued to plan my wedding and receive a total of 6 rounds of chemotherapy. Thankfully, the chemotherapy I was prescribed did not make me lose my hair. I was so ecstatic knowing that I would be able to have my “dream wedding look”.

The big day came and it really couldn’t have been more perfect. It was the Sunday of Labor Day weekend in my hometown of Valparaiso, IN which is a short drive from Chicago. I was feeling great physically as it was my “off” week for treatment. The weather was a perfect 80 degrees which was ideal for our short outdoor garden ceremony. The day started very early with hair and makeup at my parents house. We had to get an early start due to having 10 bridesmaids! 7 hours and a few mimosas later we were ready! The videographers (who generously donated their services ) arrived and it was time for my “first look” with my dad, Scott. I couldn’t have imagined a better reaction from my dad as the one I received that day and I feel so grateful to have that on camera to watch for years to come. It was raw emotion and lots of happy tears that I will never forget.

I chose a stunning Tara Keely by Lazaro gown. 3 years ago, I noticed a beautiful dress on Pinterest that converted into a short lace dress for the reception. I knew I had to have it as I have been a dancer since the age of 3 and I knew dancing at the reception in a huge ball gown would not go over well. I wanted to have the princess look with lots of tulle but still be able to dance/party at the reception. After an exhausting search, I finally located the designer and had it shipped to a store just outside of Chicago. The minute I stepped into the dress, I fell in love. At the reception, I decided I wanted to reveal my short dress in a fun, unique way. During the father-daughter dance, we stopped mid song, my bridesmaids surrounded me while I took off my tulle skirt and then started a choreographed dance with all 10 girls and my father to the song Brickhouse.

Aberdeen Manor was our venue of choice from the beginning. It has the charm and small town wedding feel that we were looking for. The venue has a small chapel on the property but we chose to have our ceremony in the garden which was right outside the reception hall.

The flowers and centerpieces were my favorite part of the entire wedding day look. I knew I wanted to chose a vendor that wasn’t your typical florist so I decided on hiring a local floral designer. We met several times before the wedding to ensure she knew exactly what I wanted. My vision was light neutral colors with hints of pink throughout. I requested her to use my favorite flowers which consist of hydrangeas, orchids, dahlias and roses. For all of the bouquets she traveled up to a dahlia farm in Michigan and handpicked them herself. Our bouquets complimented the floor length, champagne colored bridesmaid dresses perfectly. On our head table that seated 22, I knew I wanted something very romantic so we chose to have 70 lace wrapped candles at different heights to line the center of the long oval table with small hydrangea bouquets in mercury glass vases spread throughout. Our designer really took our vision to the next level and we couldn’t have been happier with the end result.

We decided to have cupcakes for our guests and a small cutting cake for the bride, groom and bridal party. Even though our cake was small, we had it suspended from the ceiling on a platform. Being that Drew is a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy, we cut our cake with his sword that he received when he commissioned as an officer in 2012.

The ceremony and reception was so magical from the minute it started to the minute it ended. The speeches from our matron of honor, best man and my father were the icing on the cake. The room was filled with so much love and happiness. The one thing that Drew and I cherish most from our wedding day is definitely our gifted video from the amazingly talented team at Wholehearted Wedding Film Co.

Even though Drew and I have been through very difficult times, we both feel it made our wedding day that much more unforgettable. In sickness and in health took on a whole new meaning and we really couldn’t be more blessed to have each other. I hope you enjoy our wedding photos and magical video as much as we do. :)

Photography: Lady & The Lens | Videography: Wholehearted Wedding Film Co | Floral Design: Intertwine By Kelly Lenard | Wedding Dress: Tara Keely By Lazaro | Cake: Designer Desserts | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bill Levkoff | Makeup: Krissy Vanderwoude | Hair: Center Of Attention | Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse | Ballroom Reception: Aberdeen Manor | Bridal Jewelry: Kate Spade | Outdoor Ceremony: Aberdeen Manor

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
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Organic and Elegant Laurel Hall Wedding

Weddings like this make my heart happy. For these two triathletes their Big Day was an ode to nature, and naturally with April Foster Events behind the scenes it was extraordinary. Guests gathered for terrace cocktails and merriment underneath twinkling lights while the Bride donned a delicate J P Parker floral crown. Every moment captured by Megan W Photography is pure wedding bliss and we can relive it all right here.


From The Bride…Mitch and I have a somewhat unique story of how we met. We were both at a triathlon (I signed up to compete last minute while I was home from school, and he was reminded the night before that he had agreed to cheer on a friend at this particular race). As fate would have it, he noticed me during the race, and I asked to meet him for coffee. Mitch and I have a shared love of exploring and adventuring, especially in the great outdoors, and when we began planning the wedding, our undeniable love of nature had to be in all our wedding details.

Every piece of this wedding was lovingly thought out. I found an artist on Etsy who helped me custom design our wedding invitations with watercolor. We chose to have the ceremony and reception at the breathtakingly beautiful Laurel Hall, a tree-covered property nestled right in the middle of Indianapolis, Indiana. I knew I had found my dress the minute I put it on – classic and timeless, with a hint of early 1960s glamour. Bridesmaid dresses were found on BHLDN, and perfectly complemented my gown. Friends helped create signage and programs, and streamers were hand-made to celebrate us down the aisle. And when it came to photographing our day, a lot of care was put into hiring an amazing photographer. We are so happy with Megan Wynn’s eye for beauty and her ability to capture our day.

Not long after we had booked the venue, Mitch and I made the decision to move to Portland, Oregon. Instantly, the mood of the wedding changed when we realized this was going to be more of a homecoming celebration. Our wedding was going to be the first opportunity in months to spend time with family and friends since our move across the country, and we wanted to have lots of liveliness, merriment, hugs, and stories to catch up on.

Mitch and I love the wilderness (much of the reason why we’ve always dreamed of ending up in the Pacific Northwest), and we knew we wanted to weave our love of forests and sunshine into the day. Details were left very natural – raw wood, greenery, mismatched crystal glasses, simple lights strung up on the terrace that were reminiscent of stars.

The ceremony was sweet and simple. Guests sat in mis-matched wood chairs, and sang our favorite hymns. Mitch’s dad married us (he also happened to make the weathered wood arbor), and I received the wedding ring worn by my great-grandmother. John Muir quotes were read, and we walked down the aisle as newly-weds to the sounds of a fiddle, guitar, and cello.

Dinner was held on Laurel Hall’s terrace, right before dusk. Guests enjoyed grown-up food stations (pasta, tacos, and sliders), local craft beer, as well as milk and homemade cookies from old family recipes. The evening continued with dancing to the sounds of an eight-piece band just inside from the star-lit backyard.

This was the most lovely day of my life; being married to my best friend has turned out to be even sweeter than the buttercream frosting layered between our unembellished wedding cake.

Photography: Megan W Photography | Wedding Planner: April Foster Events | Floral Design: J P Parker | Wedding Dress: Raimon Bundo | Bridesmaids' Dresses: BHLDN | Makeup: The Makeup Studio By Danielle Wilson | Hair: Terra Salon | Groom's Attire: Banana Republic | Venue: Laurel Hall | Decor: Violet Vintage | Photography Assistant: Melody Carpenter

These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Weddings & Events at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel)

Take just one step inside the doors at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel) and one thing will be certain… this is the place you’ll host your wedding.  Because The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel) isn’t just any wedding venue, it’s the perfect combo of breathtaking beauty (hello, Grand Ballroom) and top-notch service… all wrapped up in one dream-worthy locale.

Located just steps from the amazingness that is North Michigan Avenue and nestled amongst some of the world’s coolest landmarks (think the Museum of Contemporary Art and the John Hancock Building), The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel) is not only a seriously stunning place to say I do, it boasts a team of Wedding Experts that will handle every last aspect of your big day, from providing those much needed vendor recommendations to customizing yummy menus to organizing the guest accommodations.  And speaking of guests, they’re going to love sampling the crazy culinary skills of Executive Chef Martin Knaubert, the floor-to-ceiling skyline views of Chicago and the 400,000 crystal chandelier located in the ballroom.  It’s basically a wedding paradise.

So what are you waiting for, lovelies?  Head on over to The Ritz-Carlton Chicago (A Four Seasons Hotel) (and their blog!) to start planning your dream wedding… you’ll even receive a guest room stay the night prior to the wedding day and complimentary lunches for the men’s and women’s changing rooms on the day of the wedding!

Photography: Kent Drake Photography | Photography: Gerber + Scarpelli | Photography: Katie Kett Photography | Photography: KingenSmith | Photography: Amanda Hein Photography

Romantic Garden Style Barn Wedding

When the Bride’s family owns and operates Mustard Seed Gardens you know that her wedding day will be filled with all sorts of magic, especially with Bobbi+mike behind the lens and Rewind Documentaries behind the camera. Lori Solomon – Boldly Chic Events spared no darling detail, like those perfectly pink blooms by Design Group and that sweetheart cake by The Topping that deserve a second look here.

Garden Venue

From The Bride…My family has owned Mustard Seed Gardens for the past 9 years, so our choice in venue was never a question. Originally a property for us to accommodate another business, MSG has, in most recent years, molded into one of the premier wedding venues in Indianapolis. Working hand and hand with virtually every bride we accompany, needless to say, not only have I see many weddings, but I’ve also seen a plethora of ideas. Choosing the ceremony and reception site was easy, picking a style, theme, and an inspiration that I hadn’t seen before…now that was the tricky part!

Due to a large number of guests which would simply make our Olde Barn too crowded for a reception, we knew right away we would be having a barn ceremony, with an outdoor reception, (originally slated to be under our canopy of lights, finally settling on a tent due to weather, which I will touch on shortly). Inside the Olde Barn, beautifully crafted from the 19th century, you can see exposed beams from the original structure which hold everything in place. There had been ceremonies in the barn before, so we again faced the challenge of finding something authentic. In came the idea of our “big reveal” room. A small enclosure, only 4×5 feet, at the rear of the barn, which I sat prior to the ceremony. Blending in to the existing framework, I don’t think any guest realized, that the woman of the hour had literally been sitting in there, awaiting the special moment while they filtered past, hurrying to their respective seats. The room was flanked on each side of the doorway by two, 4 foot tall vases which houses a massive display of flowers. Maybe the only indication of my presence behind those doors. The “reveal room” for lack of a better term, was my father’s idea. A symbolic idea for which he would walk down the aisle during the ceremony and open the doors to a waiting daughter. The moment couldn’t have been more perfect. Aside from the ‘reveal room’ we wanted our primary focus to be at the altar. An old ladder hung above our heads as we stood facing each other. Draped with flowers, greenery, and various candles, created a beautiful scene at the altar. The hanging ladder was nothing new to our property, but the way in which our florist designed it, left no detail and amount of elegance to be desired. Behind us and our pastor sat a vintage table topped with a gorgeous centerpiece of flowers, as well as a gold platter which held a single glass of wine and a small loaf of bread. My husband and I decided that we wanted communion to be the first official moment we spent together.

After the ceremony we made our way to the back part of MSG to take photos. While we took pictures, our guests were able to socialize and enjoy refreshments and hor d’oevres on our newly designed patio area. My family designed the stamped concrete foundation for cocktail hour just weeks before our big day. We placed various vintage wine barrels around this area which were used for the purpose of tables. Topped with a solid glass oval and each housing a beautifully crafted centerpiece.

The flow from the ceremony to our reception was an easy one for our guest. With everything being right there on the grounds, our guests didn’t have to go far to find their way to dinner. Our table arrangements were beautifully etched in cursive font on a vintage mirror. As I mentioned before, our original idea was to have an open air reception outdoors, under a canopy of lights which would be strung high in a tree and spider webbing down, crisscrossing above our guest’s heads. As one can imagine, weather was our only concern. Although our wedding day couldn’t have had better weather, the same cannot be said of the the days prior. Due to the rain earlier in the week we were forced to construct a tent in order to keep the grounds dry. It wasn’t what we originally wanted, but we both can say without a doubt that we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Inside of our tent couldn’t have been more beautiful. Our centerpieces featured various gold vases and gold candelabra’s atop with garden like flowers. During our planning process, we searched the city for vintage pink depression glasses. We found various size vases to use for centerpieces but we also found pink wine glasses which we intermixed with crystal wine glasses to give our tables an eclectic look. We had our menus custom designed which we placed on top of each gold rimmed plate. We tied a pink ribbon around each menu and placed a sprig of willow eucalyptus to add texture and greenery. Our table numbers were made out of acrylic which were tucked nicely into the floral arrangements. We also incorporated framed table numbers to again add to the eclectic look. Each table was very romantic!

We didn’t go your traditional route where the entire wedding party sits together. Many of our groups had spouses and children, we felt it more of a convenience to sit near or with their family. So a small sweetheart table was the primary focus and the place in which we sat. Atop our table sat our sweetheart cake and a massive display of flowers that began in a large cluster on top and cascaded off the edge down to the ground. Mixed with flowers matching the colors of our wedding, the centerpiece was astonishing. We also sat in two large wing-backed chairs which made for a unique and cozy seat option.

Dinner was served and our meal was presented first. First came a refreshing spinach, strawberry and candied walnut salad with a strawberry champagne vinaigrette followed by the main course, a duo of Filet Mignon and chicken with a smoked Gouda and potato side along with some asparagus. After dinner our guests were able to enjoy various desserts. We chose small pie shooters which were gooey, crumbly creations housed in a shot glass and accompanied by a very small spoon. Miniature cupcakes and small macarons also were incorporated, each consisting of our favorite flavors and colors of our wedding, blush and gold. Next to our dessert station was a self-serve coffee bar. A large metal “tree”, (for a lack of better terms) held each mug for guests to better serve themselves. Guest could choose between regular and decaf coffee, as well as choose between varieties of flavored creamers which we placed in vintage milk bottles.

Music and dancing, laughter and singing all could be seen and heard for the remaining few hours of the reception. One particular detail that we decided was an absolute must was the presence of a late night snack for our remaining party goers. A hard menu decision for us, we finally settled on miniature cheeseburger sliders with a self-serve condiment station.

Time was drawing to a close, but not before a little surprise for my husband. I arranged for a small sitting area to be set up, just outside the tent and snack station, under the canopy of light which hung from the trees. The sitting area would be a spot where the remaining guests could each enjoy a cigar. As we looked back at the evening, we both agreed that, even though the night was inevitably drawing to a close, the time sitting at the cigar bar was one of the more special moments of the entire evening. We were finally able to relax, and enjoy a special moment with a small group of close friends and family that had remained till the end.

Sadly, our send off. A bitter sweet moment it was. Happy to be beginning the journey of our lives together, but sad to end the celebration. Having coordinated several weddings on our property, I had been accustom to a number of send-off techniques. But we wanted something we hadn’t seen before. After many hours scouring the web, I found candle lit balloons. The balloons housed a small LED light which made the sphere glow a softly that was truly remarkable at night.

Photography: Bobbi+mike | Videographer: Rewind Documentaries | Coordination: Lori Solomon - Boldly Chic Events | Florist: Design Group | Wedding Dress: Martina Liana | Cake: The Topping | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale | Catering: Mills Catering | Makeup: Tara Dumser | Hair: La Dolce Salon & Spa | DJ: Event One | Groomsmen's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Officiant: Mark Wright - Hazel Dell Christian Church | Bridesmaids' Dress Shop: Bella Bridesmaid, Indianapolis | Ceremony And Reception Venue: Mustard Seed Gardens | Dress Shop: The Wedding Studio | Papery: Interprintations | Rentals: A Classic Party Rental | Suit: J.CREW

These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here