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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.


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Eric Yerke Photography
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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.)


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

Iowa Backyard Barn Wedding

When my sweet cousin Kate let me in on plans to transform her parents’ backyard barn into a full-blown ceremony venue, I was the tiniest bit skeptical. But thanks to a little creative dreaming and a whole lot of elbow grease, they pulled off a handcrafted, vintage-chic celebration that’s sure to take Pinterest by storm. Amanda Basteen captured the day, and you can get your hands on it all in the gallery.

Rustic Venue

From The Bride…Ryan and I met about 5 years ago through mutual friends. Our relationship was not the typical love at first site type of romance. We became really close friends before we started dating, and I think that helped us build a really strong foundation. I know we can both say that we truly did marry our best friend.

Once I knew that Ryan was the man I would marry, I started dreaming of my perfect wedding. I grew up on a farm and have always had a love for the country. Ryan also grew up around farming, and we knew that getting married on a farm was the perfect representation of our future life together. I asked my parents if we could get married on their farm, and they were more than happy to get working on turning it into the perfect wedding location. They have an old vintage barn that I knew had the potential to be special. It took over a year to restore the barn for the wedding with help from our awesome friends and family. Ryan and I designed and built the window wall on the front of the barn that really gave it the quirky vintage feel I was looking for.

The day after Ryan and I got engaged, my mom and I started the hunt for the perfect wedding decorations. We had such a fun time hitting up all of the local shops and flea markets in our area, and were able to find the perfect vintage and shabby chic pieces we were looking for. We wanted every detail to have our own personal touch and I couldn’t be happier with how the decor turned out. My mom and I designed all of the decor for the wedding and our dear friend Bobbie Peiffer helped us pull together all of the finishing touches. She has experience in wedding design and I knew that she would take our vintage ideas and top them with the perfect finishings.

Our parents really helped make our dream wedding come true and we can’t thank them enough for letting us transform their barn into the perfect wedding location. Our guests had so much fun walking around the property and admiring all of the hard word it took to get the grounds looking so beautiful. Our wedding day was more amazing than any expectations we had and we couldn’t be more thankful that we were able to share it with our loved ones.

We are so excited to start our new life as husband and wife and are so happy we have all of these amazing memories. We knew our wedding would be a once in a lifetime experience and are delighted to be able to share and inspire other couples looking to create their own special day!

Photography: Amanda Basteen | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Various | DJ: Unique Events | Venue: The Barn | Cake/Dessert Bar: Amber's Eats And Treats | Floral/Event Design: Bobbie Peiffer | Rentals: Vintage Love, Rentals & Annessi | Wedding Party Hair: Hair {by Kailee} | Wedding Party Make-Up: Lindsey Coblentz

Modern and Preppy Elopement Shoot

As a born and raised Iowa girl, I have to give a shout out to these amazing Des Moines vendors, Aly CarrollShelly SarverEphemera Design and so many more. They’re the creative geniuses behind this Palm Spring-inspired elopement shoot, and I, for one, can’t get enough. Think bold patterns, bright colors, and a little touch of gold thrown in for good measure. Ready? The pin party starts right….now!


From Aly CarrollAfter a long, bleak Iowa winter I was dreaming of shooting an event in a warmer location. So, on a brisk April day I assembled a team of vendors to stage a wishful escape, a Palm Springs elopement. Inspired by the light pink wall down the street from my studio, I incorporated shades of citrus, preppy clothing, and nautical accents. 

Photography: Aly Carroll | Floral Design: Shelly Sarver | Bakery: Bite Sized Bakery | Invitations: Ephemera Design | Catering: Big City Burgers And Greens | Hair & Makeup: Penelopie Beauty Bar | Groomsmen's Attire: Badowers | Bride's Attire: Dornink | Centerpieces: Target | Emerald Ring: Shane Co. | Gold Band: Josephs Jewelers | Outdoor: Valley Junction | Rentals: Poppy & Olive's | Rug: Urban Outfitters | Stylist: StyleEsque

SMP Midwest Welcomes Our Advertisers + A Discount + A Giveaway!

Today we’re thanking our lucky stars for WASIO photography, the sole reason your Saturday is about to take a giant step up from normal to extraordinary.  I’m talking an entire portfolio of jaw-droppingly gorgeous images from one of the most talented photography teams you will ever meet.  How’s that for the perfect weekend?  Dive into all of the pretty (+ a discount and giveaway) below!

From WASIO photography… Living in Chicago, we get to appreciate the beautiful architecture and incorporate it in our photographs. The roots of our inspiration are landscapes and being in the moment. True love is one of our greatest motivators that inspires us to capture special moments that literally happen in seconds. By having such a strong passion for love and beauty, we thrive to deliver timeless photographs that will be passed down through generations. Our goal is to always awe our clients with the famous WASIO signature style photographs.

Check us out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram

Discount! Book WASIO photography in August or September and we will add 10 additional images to our handcrafted wedding albums! ($300 value)

Giveaway!  One lucky SMP reader will win a sunset or sunrise 1-hour engagement session* with WASIO photography! (Value $499)  Simply leave a comment below telling us why Chicago is your city of choice for your engagement session!  The winner, chosen completely at random, will be announced right here on SMP on Friday, September 12, 2014.  

For terms and conditions, click here.  

*Session must take place in downtown Chicago on a mutually agreed day. The engagement session includes session time plus one WASIO signature edit 8×10 print. Online gallery will include all color corrected images from the session. Client will have the option to purchase additional prints with WASIO signature edit or all high-resolution electronic images.