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Chic Cocktail Party Wedding in St. Louis

When this darling duo got engaged in 2013, before the real planning even began, they knew exactly what they wanted for their Big Day: a fun, dance-inducing cocktail party, with late night flatbread pizzas and minimal sitting involved. They didn’t even have a seating chart! MNC Photography captured all the fun throughout the day and night, and you won’t be able to get enough in the gallery right here!

Colors
Seasons
Spring
Settings
Cottage
Styles
Elegant

From The Bride…When Chris and I became engaged in the summer of 2013, we knew we wanted our wedding to be a big party where all of our family and friends could get together and have fun. No rules; no assigned seats; just endless food, alcohol, dancing, and mingling. We also decided right away that we would forego a wedding party. Just us and our families and our friends, having a blast.

We were limited in geography to our mutual hometown – St. Louis, as both our families currently live there. Luckily, we had almost two years to plan from afar (we were living in Omaha at the time) The first thing we did was to contact our photographer – who also happens to be Chris’ brother. He helped us pick a venue that would accommodate our ideal party ambiance. We visited City Cottage in St. Louis and were immediately taken with its vibe. Beautiful exposed brick walls; open rooms that facilitated movement throughout the night; and a fantastic patio with comfortable seating. The only thing we weren’t in love with were the burlap linens that come standard with the space. With the help of our event coordinator at City Cottage, we were able to give the space a more clean and modern vibe by substituting in ivory linens.

We decided early on to have a cocktail party instead of a sit-down dinner. This would allow us to mingle with our guests as much as possible. We really wanted to connect with everyone after they had traveled so far to be with us. In addition, the cocktail party setting provided food and alcohol for everyone to eat and drink all night long. Our venue also had a pizza oven on the patio, so we served flatbread pizzas to guests as late night munchies.

What was your color palette and your style vision? Romantic, sophisticated, simple, and fun. From the start, Chris wanted to buy a suit that he would be able to wear again. We didn’t give any direction in regards to color to any family members either – we told everyone to wear what they felt most comfortable in. Naturally, this led to a grey/navy/pastel palette.

I fell in love with the gold foil invitations at Minted, and suddenly my vision became “a bit of a Gatsby party”. I thought gold accents that contrasted with the pastel flowers and ivory linens were simple, classic, and beautiful.

What unique elements or DIY details did you include? My engagement ring was an heirloom from Chris’ family that he had re-set. His wedding band is old Soviet “red gold” that came from my maternal grandmother’s wedding ring and some of her other jewelry. She passed away 10 years ago, so this was very special for us and especially for my mother.

What was your favorite moment? Your favorite crafted detail? My favorite aspect of the wedding was probably the ceremony. It was outside, tucked away near the patio at City Cottage. It had a very intimate, secret hideaway feel. Our ceremony took place as the sun was setting, so the light was very soft. We hired a cello/guitar duo for the ceremony, and the music resonated so well within that confined space. I remember walking with my father, and as I turned the corner into the aisle, I heard the cello and saw all of my friends and family, and at that moment, I was incredibly happy. The ceremony itself was very personal. There was a lot of laughter; honoring of family members (passed and alive) and in general, it was very tailored to us as a couple. I think while planning our wedding, the ceremony seemed not as important as the reception, but in reality – we were so happy that we spent the time and effort making it what it was. It set the tone for the rest of the night.

Tell us about your flowers, your gown, your favors, your cake, etc. My first wedding purchase was my gown. We had originally planned to elope in Greece, where Chris’ father is from – so I looked at dresses that would travel by jet without issue. I tried on many dresses, mainly strapless or lace gowns, but didn’t really feel like any were my style until I visited Ready or Knot. I fell in love with my gown almost immediately. It was a thick luxurious taffeta silk, with boning and lace in the bodice. I had never seen anything like it, and I decided that I would buy it despite not having a wedding venue (or location for that matter). It was modern, sophisticated, flattering, and that was it for me.

We searched high and low for fun, lively, jazz music. I had been to many weddings with live bands, but they all played the same “wedding” repertoire. We wanted something classic – old standards; an upright bass; a smokey voiced singer. We were so excited when we stumbled upon Sarah Jane and The Blue Notes. This was a group of classically trained musicians who play jazz at bars and festivals. It was the perfect band for us. For our first dance, they created a sultry rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Dance me to the end of love.” It was perfect.

I didn’t want to have any specific rules or themes. When I met with our florist, Melinda, of Les Bouquets, I showed her some flowers that I loved, and let her run free with the arrangements. Our venue had many surfaces, from cocktail tables, to the bar, to indoor and outdoor coffee tables. I wanted each surface to have its own arrangement. Nothing too manicured. She did a perfect job. For my bouquet – I wanted something delicate and spring-like; buds and peonies that hadn’t yet bloomed completely. The ceremony space at City Cottage is an enclosed wooden structure open to the elements. We loved it, but we also wanted to make it a bit more personal. We imagined some sort of floral backdrop that would contrast the wood altar, and Melinda helped perfect our vision with hanging vases.

Keeping with the party vibe, we wanted guests to arrive at the venue and immediately feel festive. We had a table set up in the patio that guests would walk by as they arrived, that had cheese, nuts, and fruit. In addition, champagne flutes were passed around to guests at the entrance. This made everyone a little less hungry, and a little more warm and fuzzy right from the start.

For dessert, we went with a traditional Russian wedding dessert table (my family and many guests are Russian, so my parents loved this). We served mini napoleon pastries, chocolates, and fruit instead of a wedding cake. Guests could have multiple servings and mix and match. This was a huge hit.

What is one piece of advice that you could give brides-to-be? Don’t give in to the pressures of wedding “tradition”. Do what you want, and make it about you and your partner. This may be the event you remember most in life, and probably the biggest one you plan. Any decisions we made were based purely on practicality and fun. There were numerous times I was asked, “what are your colors? What are your bridesmaids wearing?” and the truth was, we had no colors, and no bridal party. I was afraid this would be weird, but in reality it was the best decision I could have made. We were able to optimize time spent with our guests the weekend of the wedding; and more importantly, it made the event more about our union.

Specifically, our photographer’s suggestion to get ready together was such a great one. Not getting to see one another until the evening of our wedding seemed like such a waste. We co-habitated for four years and we loved getting ready for events together. It was always special, and it seemed very fitting that we would do that on our wedding day. My mom joined us as well and helped me with my dress and jewelry. It was lovely and intimate.

Photography: MNC Photography | Floral Design: Les Bouquets | Wedding Dress: Legends By Romona Keveza | Invitations: Minted | Catering: Catering St. Louis | Hair: Stacy Hildebrand Of Dominic Michael Salon | Band: Sarah Jane & The Blue Notes | Groom's Shoes: Cole Haan | Groom's Suit: Hugo Boss | Boutique: Ready Or Knot Bridal Boutique | Bridal Bracelet: Macy's | Bridal Sash: Modern Trousseau | Bridal Shoes: Kate Spade | Bride's Makeup: Bride | Dessert: Dierberg's European Bakery | Event Space: City Cottage On Chouteau | Groom's Shirt: Banana Republic | Groom's Tie: Calvin Klein | Groom's Watch: Skagen | Groom's Wedding Ring: Bride's Grandmother's Wedding Ring From USSR | Hair Comb: Mila Kolitsova | Wedding Ring: Perspective Design Studio

These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
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Vintage Glam Minnesota Outdoor Wedding

When a Bride admits that she used SMP as her wedding reference from the get-go, you KNOW it’s bound to be a pin-worthy affair. And with Geneoh behind the lens, this vintage inspired fete proves to be all that and more. From the serenading Groom to the sequined studded Bridesmaids’, it’s a gallery that sparkles with serious style.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Golf Club
Styles
Elegant

From the beautiful Bride…While we had a specific design aesthetic in mind when planning, the most important thing to us was that our day reflected our love. We wanted people to not just see that but feel it. We’d been dating for eight years before we got married so by now everyone knew us well as a couple. What people maybe didn’t get to see as often was just how deep our love ran. Ultimately, we wanted the day to recall those feelings of first falling in love again. We kept coming back to that in every element of our planning.

Phil and I elected to not use a wedding planner. Phil is a professional pianist and vocalist and has played at hundreds of weddings so he had a lot of ideas he had been collecting along the way and I used Style Me Pretty to gather all of our décor ideas. Our florist, Dani at Studio Fleurette, was a huge help too!

Although we’d been living in Los Angeles at the time, we elected to get married back in our home state of Minnesota. We chose a golf club located just miles from where we both grew up. We immediately fell in love with the sprawling hillside view and gorgeous draped tent. When it came to colors, we chose a soft color palette to evoke a natural, organic aesthetic. Adding gold accents and three large crystal chandeliers added the perfect amount of glamour to the tent—which we used for both the ceremony and the reception.

Since Phil is a professional musician, the music was one of the most important elements of our day. As guests shuttled into the ceremony, we had a string quartet playing “Bittersweet Symphony” and I walked down the aisle to Christina Perry’s “A Thousand Years.”

We chose to write our own vows (which we could barely get through because we were crying so much) and my sister and brother-in-law sang a couple of our favorite Christian songs to reflect on the real reason we were standing at the altar! We walked out to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.”

Cocktail hour was held inside of the golf club while the tent was flipped for the reception. When guests came back into the tent they were welcomed by an acoustic set performed by one of our favorite local singer/songwriters (who happens to sound just like Jason Mraz!). He also sang “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes for our first dance.

Perhaps the most meaningful part of the night (and my favorite) was Phil’s surprise performance after dinner. He pulled me over to the piano, sat me down and sang a few songs to me. That moment was so special because it represented not just a romantic gesture, but so much of what we’d been through as a couple. Phil’s music career has been a journey we’ve been on together and I couldn’t be more proud of how far he’s come.

The night ended with an impressive fireworks display coordinated to our favorite songs including Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful”—which was selected as the soundtrack to our wedding video. Reflecting back on our day, we get teary eyed just thinking about it. It was the culmination of so much love and joy. It really was the best day of our lives!

Photography: Geneoh | Videographer: Visual Masterpiece | Event Planning: The Bride | Floral Design: Studio Fleurette | Wedding Dress: Rivini | Cake: Buttercream | Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Engagement Ring: JB Hudson | Wedding Bands: Icing On The Ring | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Adrianna Papell | Calligraphy: Quill Muse | DJ: Level11 | Band: Level11 | Groom's Shoes: Hugo Boss | Tux: Hugo Boss | Officiant: Pastor Ralph Olsen | String Quartet: Loring String Quartet | Hotel: The Saint Paul Hotel | Wedding Venue: StoneRidge Golf Club | Bride's Hair & Makeup: Peter Phung | Bride: Blogger & Stylist: Maria Vizuete | Bridesmaids' Hair & Makeup: Jennee Wathanaphone | Draping: Avant Decor | Groom's Bowtie: Tom Ford | Groom's Cake: Dorothy Ann Bakery & Cafe | Groom: Pianist & Vocalist: Phil Thompson | Headpiece: Erica Koesler | Linen Rental: Linen Effects | Menus: Platinum Designs | Music: Phil Thompson | Rolls Royce: Gary's Collector Car | Sash: Allure | Vintage Furniture Rental: Rudy's Event Rentals

These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Elegant + Organic Chicago History Museum Wedding

Get ready, lovies, because there’s a whole lot of pretty coming your way from this Chicago wedding. From the Bride’s bejeweled Carolina Herrera gown, Manolo Blahnik shoes and stunning makeup from Nika Vaughan to Chicago History Museum‘s gorgeous garden and ballroom, this wedding, captured to perfection from Ann & Kam Photography & Cinema, is oh-so-lovely. See it all here.

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Museum

From Ann & Kam Photography & CinemaI knew I liked Rachel from the first time we talked—her easy laughter and kind nature came through even on the telephone. Then I had the pleasure of a little phone call from her mom, when I really fell in love with their whole family. It was easy to feel how much this family loves and cares for each other, and I was in love with them for it. Aaron and Rachel seem to be the perfect fit – laughing often, affectionate, caring, smart, fun, easy going. I could go on and on, obviously! We’ve been looking forward to their wedding for a year, and I am still smiling even as I edit their collection!

Rachel and Aaron’s day was a delight because of the wonderful people involved, but it was also flawlessly beautiful. The Chicago History Museum was the site for the ceremony and reception, and provided a stunning setting, as always. I am still swooning over the gorgeous florals by Life in Bloom and Rachel’s Carolina Herrera gown. Five Grain Events planned the day to perfection, and the David Rothstein Band kept the party rocking all night. Truly, a perfect day.

Photography : Ann & Kam Photography & Cinema | Event Planning: Five Grain Events | Floral Design: Life In Bloom | Wedding Dress: Carolina Herrera | Makeup: Nika Vaughan | Hair: Salon Blue | Band: David Rothstein Band | Venue: Chicago History Museum | Caterering: Food For Thought

These Vendors are members of our Little Black Book.
For membership information, click here
These Featured Designers are members of our Look Book.
For membership information, click here
Rustic Chic Estate Wedding in Northern Michigan

After deciding to tie the knot in the tiny Northern Michigan town where they fell in love, this darling duo let nothing stop them from having the “I Do’s” of their dreams — from having La Tavola linens flown out from CA, to buying the silverware and decor they couldn’t rent, to DIYing ceremony signs from old barn doors! Tec Petaja captured it all to perfection, and you won’t be able to get enough in the gallery here!

Colors
Seasons
Summer
Settings
Estate

From the beautiful Bride… Jonathan and I were living in NYC when we met through mutual friends at a Christmas party. He grew up in Manhattan and went to school in Philadelphia, I grew up in Michigan and went to school in Arizona, so when we got engaged the biggest decision was…where? We had a specific vision for what our wedding would be and our number one priority was choosing a meaningful location. I grew up spending summers in northern Michigan and took Jonathan there to meet my family shortly after we started dating. That weekend was the first time he told me he loved me, and in the 6+ years we’ve been together it has been a place of nothing but happy memories. It became even more sentimental after my father passed away in 2012, because it was one of his favorite places to be. Getting there is not easy and the reaction of most of our friends was … “You’re making me fly to Michigan?” But we knew once they were there it would be worth it.

This is dedicated to all of the Brides out there who want to throw a stylish, personal and unique wedding on a budget in a small town. I live in New York City where you can rent or buy pretty much anything you want at any time. When we started our research every venue and rental company we found in Michigan felt generic, cheesy or expected. Even at the risk of giving my mom a nervous breakdown, we had our hearts set on having everything outdoors. We were close to accepting that we might not be able to do what we want “up north” when we came across photos of an outdoor wedding at a home in Boyne Falls, just minutes down the road from my family’s cottage growing up. The perk of a small town is that everybody knows everybody, and that photographer was nice enough to connect us with the owner of the private property. As soon as we saw it in person we knew nothing else would compare.

Being a Graphic Designer and Art Director, I’m a bit of an aesthetic control freak. The first decision I made was our photographer, Tec Petaja. He shoots film, has an amazing eye and when you look at weddings he has photographed you feel like you were there. I wanted someone who would capture the authentic moments of our day, and he did not disappoint! As a bonus, he lives in Nashville but is from the area and appreciates it as much as we do.

Having an outdoor wedding on private property means you bring everything in, and when we started calling rental companies I felt discouraged. We wanted our decor to feel inspired by the venue: natural, rustic and the perfect balance of casual and elegant. Every company seemed to have the same options and nothing felt unique. So what we couldn’t find, we bought (silverware, napkins, runners, miscellaneous decor) or had made (the ceremony arbor), which is not as extravagant as it sounds when you get resourceful and creative.

We found wood from old barns that had been knocked down and made all of our signage, and bought chalkboards with coupons from Hobby Lobby for menus. My mom and aunt sourced vintage mismatched silverware and coordinated each and every place setting to be the perfect mix of patterns. We searched all of Michigan for farm tables before connecting with Ben at Fancy Fray who had just started building 20 of them. We called every rental company in Michigan to find chairs that looked rustic. (“Those old ones you have in the garage that you don’t even advertise? Yes, that’s exactly what we’re looking for.)” Linens for our serving and cocktail tables came from La Tavola in California, which we assumed would be over budget but was comparable to some of the options we found locally. My advice to Brides is to make as many phones calls and do as much research as you can, because these days there are no limits to your options. We also had a number of rental companies interested in expanding their assortment because we insisted that updated options would be worth the investment. I was able to sell most of what I purchased to our vendors. You never know until you ask!

Jen Haf at Bloom Floral Design was our florist and so much more. We immediately connected and she really made sure she understood our style and vision. She was reassuring about the ability to pull it all off in an unconventional venue and went above and beyond to partner with us on decor choices and coordination with other vendors. We went with a neutral palette that beautifully complemented the venue; lots of greens and textures arranged organically. We mixed wooden boxes with interesting small vases in different materials, and did tons of simple votives for candlelight. Jen also worked with the caterer to decorate the food display with mixed vases of leftover flowers from our welcome party on Friday night. If you find a vendor that you really connect with don’t be afraid to ask them if they can help you in other aspects beyond what they do. These people have worked on hundreds of events, seen it all and therefore are your best resource.

We talked to a number of caterers who warned us about the complexities and costs of serving food at an outdoor location, and at one point considered pulling the plug because it seemed like too much. Dan Kelly on the other hand told us we could drop him in the middle of a corn field and he’d be able to feed 500 people. He helped us build a unique and non-traditional menu for the cocktail hour and dinner buffet that included things like grilled cheese bites with tomato soup, mini BLT’s, local whitefish, a baked potato bar and fresh veggies. The food display was important to me and Dan was incredibly accommodating, allowing us to provide dishes and serving pieces of our own even though they all weren’t the most functional. Boyne County Provisions helped us complement the vibe with a mix of wine, liquor and craft Michigan beers. We weren’t interested in the traditional things like bouquet toss or wedding cake, and instead opted for individual key lime pies for dessert from our favorite local cafe.

We exchanged hand-written vows under a custom made arbor and were married by a dear family friend, which made our ceremony special and personal. Our music was simple and beautiful, played by a Spanish Guitarist, and two of my cousins sang a song together. One of my favorite parts of the day was hearing speeches from my Mom, MOH and our best man. Later in the night our caterer served grilled pizzas and guests warmed up by the bonfire with s’mores and sparklers after the sun went down. Our band played mostly Motown and we danced until 1am.

All Brides know that planning a wedding can be like a full time job, and with a different budget I might have opted to pay to have a lot of it done for me. But as we looked around us that day it felt that much more special knowing all of the love that went into making it happen. It was a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. While planning I looked at blogs and couldn’t get over how idyllic so many of them look in photos. You don’t see pictures of the bathroom trailer that had to be parked behind the tent, or the tire tracks that one of your vendors carelessly left in the mud. It’s important to realize that there are things you won’t be able to control, and letting go of some of those will allow you to enjoy your day.

As perfect as ours was for us, a lot did go wrong. We lucked out with the weather but it was questionable in the days leading up as an electrical storm blew through Wednesday and Thursday. The ground was very wet, but as some friends put it, that only added to the fun because people had to go barefoot. (Those are the kinds of guests you want at your wedding!) Because of the rain we had to swap our layout and a bunch of family ended up at the wrong tables. We lost power in the tent for about ten minutes before dinner was served. But those aren’t the things that people remember, so don’t sweat the small stuff. The imperfections are sometimes the best part. Prepare as best you can, make it personal and let go of the rest on your wedding day, because you only get one shot and it is over before you know it.

Photography: Tec Petaja | Videography: This Is Practical | Floral Design: Jen Haf of Bloom Floral Design | Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier | Catering: Catering By Kelly's | Makeup Artist: Mari At Talulu | Band: Soul Xpress | Ceremony Music: Music By Gael | Transportation: By The Bay | Bartending & Spirits: Boyne County Provisions | Ceremony Chairs: GJ's Traverse City | Day-of Coordination: A Moment In Time | Farm Tables: Fancy Fray | Invitations, Hand Lettering And Signage: Ashley Meyers Design | Linens: La Tavola | Maid Of Honor's Dress: Joanna August | Private Property: Double K Estate | Reception Chairs: RentalEx | Silverware, Napkins And Runners: Ashley Meyers Design | Tent And Dishes: Rental Express

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