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A Vintage Meets Classic Chicago Wedding, Sweet Pup Included

Lindsay and Eddie really, really know how to host a wedding. They took inspiration from their Paris engagement, a perfect European-esque locale right outside of Chicago (hello, Armour House) and enlisted a dream team of vendors to make their fairy tale vision happen. The results? A romantic affair with vintage-inspired details styled by Estera Events and a sweet pup stealing a whole lot of picture perfect moments. See it all captured by Jody Savage in THE VAULT.

From Jody Savage Photography… Every once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. Such was truly the case for Lindsay and Eddie on July 30th, 2016 as they exchanged their vows and began their journey of everlasting love at the stunning Armour House. It was the most perfect backdrop for a one of a kind romantic, timeless wedding for the most deserving couple.

From the Bride… After Eddie and I were engaged in Paris last spring, we were on a journey to find a venue fitting of our love story. Let’s just say finding a European mansion in the heart of the midwest is no small task. And then we found Armour House. We knew it was the one before we even had our visit, and to find such a place just 30 miles away from our home in downtown Chicago was serendipitous. With rooms made of Italian marble, breathtaking gardens, and the longest aisle in Chicago – this venue is what dreams are made of.

With the help of dear friends, incredible family, superhero bridesmaids, and day-of support from the acclaimed team at Estera Events, we had our magical, fairy tale wedding on a perfect mid-summer day. Romantic, ethereal, intimate, timeless, yet authentically us is what we strived to accomplish in every detail; from the candlelit dinner to the “Party Animal” escort cards.

After losing my Mom four years ago, I dreaded, as much as I looked forward to, planning one of the biggest days in my life. I can say without a shadow of a doubt my angel Mama helped in surrounding us with a dream team of vendors who helped fill not only the physical void, but also the matters of the heart. These are wedding vendors that have not only become friends, but family, and I cannot sing their praises enough. From our treasure of a photographer Jody Savage, to the incredibly talented Vale of Enna floral team, to our wonderful Pastor Mike Lonchar, thank you for all you did to create a one-of-a kind authentic experience for each and every guest.

With the sun shining, and tears of joy flowing alongside tequila cocktails, champagne, and more, I only wish we could re-live every intimate, magical moment. One of the best decisions was hiring the rockstar team from Amor in Motion to capture every bit of our fairy tale which will be on sweet repeat until this time next year.

Photography: Jody Savage Photography | Event Planning: Estera Events | Floral Design: Vale Of Enna | Wedding Dress: Alon Livne | Cake: Deerfield's Bakery | Hair + Makeup: Arch Apothecary | Venue: Armour House | Bridal Boutique: Bella Bianca

The Reasoning Behind This Bride’s White Feather Will Make You Cry

No doubt that this wedding is beautiful, but even more so? It’s filled with meaning. Take the white feather tucked into Annie’s bouquet. Fair warning, you’ll want to grab a few tissues before reading through the sentiment behind it below, but suffice to say that Jacqui Cole Photography has captured it all and we’ve got it waiting for you in The Vault!

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From Jacqui Cole PhotographyAnnie and Dave wed at the stunning Lake Forest Armour House. Their ceremony was amongst the greenery of the gardens and their reception in the historic ballroom. Hints of soft lilac and greenery were the focal colors which complemented the lush backdrop of the gardens perfectly. Annie wore a sleek Elizabeth Fillmore gown while carrying a simple, elegant arrangement of white roses. Tears of joy continued to flow throughout the day. When the rain started falling halfway through their garden ceremony Annie and Dave joined hands and announced for their guests to join them inside. A little rain couldn’t dampen their spirits!

From the Bride..Dave and I dated for about three years before we got engaged. We are obsessed with our German Shepherd, Brandy, so naturally Brandy was involved in the proposal. Dave asked me to go on a lake path walk one Saturday afternoon. Midway through our walk, I tried to get Brandy to pose for a selfie with us with the lake in the background, and Dave snuck around behind me and got down on one knee!

The first vendor I booked, even before I knew the venue, was our photographer, Jacqui Cole. She photographed my friend’s wedding, and I knew that I wanted Jacqui to photograph our wedding, too – not only is she incredibly talented, but she is also such a warm, sweet, and fun person to be around (which is pretty important since she is one of the few people around for some of your most special and intimate moments, like the First Look!). I asked Jacqui for a list of her favorite venues in and around Chicago, and Armour House was one of them. Dave and I visited it and immediately knew that we wanted to get married there!

One of my favorite parts of wedding planning was finding my wedding dress, and it was such a special moment to share with my mom, Maid of Honor, cousin, and aunt. The dress was by Elizabeth Fillmore, from Belle Vie. It was made of French lace, with a low back and ruched detailing…both simple and intricate at the same time. The dress matched the European, vintage, romantic feel of Armour House and its gardens. The dress was also super comfortable and easy to maneuver in (it felt like wearing a nightgown), and I loved the lack of fussiness about it.

I tried to stay with the theme of ease/simple elegance that drew me to my wedding dress. Armour House has so much natural beauty between its stunning gardens and the amazing architecture and details of the interior of the house, so we kept our flowers, by Lake Forest Flowers, and table linens, by BBJ Linens, understated to complement, not compete with, the venue. We also prioritized music for both the ceremony and reception, handpicking all of the selections of both Wellington Strings Quartet and Kate Porter of Toast & Jam DJs.

One of my favorite moments was when Jacqui, my photographer, found a large white feather in the grass during our First Look pictures on the grounds of our venue. She lost her dad a few years ago, and she knew that I had also lost my dad. She told me that her mom has always told her that whenever she sees a white feather, it means her dad is near to her. Jacqui shared this as she handed me the white feather, and I couldn’t believe it! It was one of the most magical moments of my life. Just moments before the ceremony, Eileen from Lake Forest Flowers helped me add the feather to my bouquet, and it was so meaningful to carry the feather with me as I walked down the aisle. Another favorite moment was when Dave and I walked down the grand staircase at Armour House for our introduction at the reception. It was an amazing feeling to look out and see all the smiling, loving faces of all of our favorite people! It was a feeling I’ll never forget.

My biggest tip to future brides is to have someone besides you be in charge of keeping track of time when you and the bridesmaids are getting ready before the ceremony. It did not occur to me to delegate this task, but I wish I had! You’ll be happy to have one less thing on your plate, trusting that someone else can make sure you leave wherever you’re getting ready at the right time. Another little tidbit to pass on – it really will be okay if it rains on your wedding day! It started raining just a few minutes into my outdoor ceremony, and we had to move our 150 guests inside to a new location. It actually made the ceremony feel more exciting and interactive, and I got to walk up and down the aisle twice!


Photography: Jacqui Cole Photography | Cinematography: Lexoria Wedding Films | Floral Design: Lake Forest Flowers | Wedding Dress: Elizabeth Fillmore | Cake: Deerfield's Bakery | Reception Venue: Armour House | Hair + Makeup: Debra Petrielli Freelance Hairstylist | DJ: Toast and Jam | Groomsmen's Attire: Jos. A. Bank | Bridesmaids' Dress: Nordstrom | Dress Store: Belle Vie Bridal | Getting Ready Hotel: Deerpath Inn | Invitaions: Yellow Bird

Classic + Elegant Armour House Wedding

A bouquet of pink peonies, a gorgeous lace wedding dress, a beautiful al fresco ceremony and a glamorous manor reception—weddings don’t get any prettier than this. And thanks to the incredibly talented Ann & Kam Photography and THE VAULT, you can gush over (and pin!) each and every detail of this pretty Lake Forest wedding!

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From Ann & KamImagine a classic fairy tale wedding. Beautiful sunshine, bright peonies, happy bridesmaids, men in tuxes and a bride who can take your breath away. Erin and Matt’s gorgeous ARMOUR HOUSE wedding was just that. This stunning venue was the perfect backdrop for this timeless wedding, with its immaculate gardens and house right out of a dream. The day was like a dream come true, and we couldn’t have imagined a better group to spend it with than Erin, Matt and their families!

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Photography: Ann & Kam Photography & Cinema | Cinematography: Ann & Kam Photography & Cinema | Event Planning: Merren Events | Floral Design: Janes Blue Iris | Wedding Dress: Essense of Australia | Cake: Lezza | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bill Levkoff | Hair + Makeup: Janelle Bunn | Band: David Rothstein | Groom's Attire: Franc Lloyd | Venue: Armour House

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Lake Forest Beach Engagement Session

Kristin La Voie Photography, you sure know how to make our hearts happy. Because Julie and Will’s beach e-session is one we’re clearly smitten with. For when it comes to stealing a few smooches with your main squeeze, take note from this duo and bring along a blanket for added warmth. It’s the ultimate sandy shore session and we invite you to witness every sweet moment in THE VAULT!

From Kristin La Voie PhotographyIt was a perfect day with the perfect couple. Lake forest beach, one of my favorite locations ever, was the perfect setting for Julie and Will. Beautiful blue skies and turquoise water, abundant sunshine, and not a cloud in the sky. It felt like the entire beach was for us. It was quiet, peaceful, and sweetly intimate for the two lovebirds. A little chill was in the air (my preferred weather!) which was even more appropriate for Julie & Will to snuggle under a blanket together. There is something so magical about this place, but it was Julie and Will together that really created something even more spectacular. Let’s not forget to mention Julie’s to-die-for engagement ring, which was her Grandmother’s! I wish I could relive it over and over again.

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Photography: Kristin La Voie Photography | Venue: Lake Forest Beach | Black Dress: White House | Black Market

Elegant Tented Backyard Lake Forest Wedding

Personally, I think nothing is more romantic than intimate home spun “I Do’s”… And when your home’s grounds (well, in this case, the Groom’s parents’) looks like this? Swoon! Annie Parish Photography captured this stunning couple at their beautifully tented, all-white backyard bash in the gallery here, so take a peek and get inspired!

From the beautiful Bride… Our wedding day, September 13th, turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, although a bit cooler than we had anticipated! No worries; guests wore shawls and light wraps and were quite comfortable on the front lawn of the groom’s family home in Lake Forest, Il. After cocktails on the rear terraces overlooking the pool and grounds, dinner and dancing took place in warm tented venues on the back lawn. Our inspiration for the reception décor could be described a “twinkly, forest fairyland,” with slender ficus trees as centerpieces and beautiful ambient lighting, as well as gorgeous chandeliers.

The fact that it was the home that Bretton grew up in made everything so special and personal. Although our bridesmaids were limited to our sisters, there were 20 women – all of my best friends, plus moms – getting ready at the house that day, as well as about a dozen guys in separate quarters. It was fantastically fun and so memorable. Lots of champagne! Another special element was that our favorite band from Minnesota, who also played at my sister’s wedding, made the trip to Chicago for us. They played without stopping until midnight, and then we all moved into the “Apres” tent for the after-party with a DJ and pizza from Bretton’s favorite place. The last trolley rolled out at 3 am!

A dear family friend of the Pope’s presided over the ceremony, and my sister Tate —one of the bridesmaids—performed the vows, officially marrying us. Another fun feature of the ceremony was the men’s a cappella group from DePaul University making a surprise appearance, filing out of the house to sing Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” Bretton and I each read a poetry selection that we had chosen for each other; and through a blizzard of confetti we recessed to full volume Stevie Wonder singing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”

Though the entire day was filled with memorable moments, our favorite part was walking out of the after-party tent, hand-in-hand, after the last guest had boarded the last trolley. I was carrying my shoes and Bretton had taken off his bowtie and jacket; we were both amazed that we were the last guests at the party! We took a moment to look back at the tents and talk about the day and night, and how we felt so lucky to have had the wedding day we did.

We met at Lehigh University on Halloween night, 2005. I was a freshman and Bretton was a sophomore, and we met on the steps of Sigma Chi where his fraternity Chi Phi was co-hosting a Halloween party. Bretton broke the ice by asking, “I think I was supposed to meet you!” Although it sounds like any other cheesy line, it’s actually true: Bretton’s dad had recently played golf with a friend of my dad, and they figured out that Bretton and I would both be at Lehigh that fall. Although we met in 2005, we didn’t start dating until September of 2008, after I got back from a semester abroad.

Bretton proposed on December 7th, 2013—about 18 months after I moved to NYC to live with him. He told me he had to go in to work on a Saturday, which wasn’t unusual. After he left, however, he asked me to check the bedroom for something he forgot, where I found a note instructing me to be in front of our building an hour later. A black car picked me up and whisked me over to the High Line, an old raised train track-turned-garden that I always admired but Bretton thought was over-hyped. Bretton was there waiting, ring in hand, surrounded by twinkle lights (I think he just got lucky, because Christmas was just around the corner!). After I said yes, we went down to the Standard Grill for oysters and champagne, and then uptown to our favorite sushi spot.

My dress was waiting for me, just as I imagined it, at Lovely in TriBeCa in New York City. My mother and sister came in for the weekend, and I had scheduled 5 appointments. The first two were disappointing, but I knew I would recognize my dress as soon as I saw it. It was a simple Theia sequined gown, elegant and sophisticated; and the fun surprise was a beautiful chiffon skirt with a seed pearl waistband that fastened over the gown, creating a lovely, floating bridal effect, which was perfect for the ceremony. When I took it off for the reception it seemed as though I had an entirely different dress on. I never expected to get so many remarks and compliments about my dress!

Photography: Annie Parish Photography | Event Design: Christine Janda Design And Events | Floral Design: Christine Janda Design And Events | Wedding Dress: Theia | Bridesmaids' Dresses: David Meister Collection | Catering: Truffleberry Catering | Band: Trailer Trash | Tent: Blue Peak Tents | Ceremony And Reception Venue: Private Residence | Linens: BBJ Linen | Planning: Christine Janda Design And Events | Rentals: Tablescapes Event Rentals

Romantic North Shore Wedding At Armour House

In the midst of planning my own nuptials, the one consensus I’ve taken to heart is that the entire day goes by in a blur. The solution? Investing in reliving every happy tear and terrific toast in the form of cinematography. And a show stopper like this one from Loudbyte has me all the more excited. Get those tissues ready SMP’ers, because some happy tears are about to arrive!

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From LoudbyteIn our first meeting with Mirini and Jason, we exchanged Netflix playlists and realized our common passion for great movies and TV. Later, as we helped the couple plan their wedding day schedule, we had so many interesting ideas for their wedding film and decided to add a second day of shooting so that we would have enough time to make everything happen. Mirini and Jason had a rehearsal walk-through the day before at Armour House so it made sense to schedule the cinema shoot that day. We met the couple at our downtown studio to record their voice over. They had written a few lines about how they met and what it meant to them personally. After recoding their voice-overs, we drove to the venue and shot Jason driving in his convertible. We captured aerials and car-mount shots. Then we setup an incredible first look under the outdoor pagoda. Both parents were present and we captured some really touching reaction shots. We also mic’d the couple and you can hear their real first reaction’s to seeing each other; so touching. This pre-shoot allowed us to tell the couple’s story in a much more detailed and intimate way.

After meeting Mirini, Jason was deployed to Afghanistan. During a long walk in the desert, he realized how much he loved her. Mirini made herself a promise that if Jason returned from the war, she would marry him. The toasts are not to be missed!

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Cinematography: Loudbyte Cinematography| Photography: Redwall Photography | Ceremony Venue: The Armour House| Reception Venue: The Armour House | Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Shoes: Bruno Magli | DJ:Roberto Monatero | Brides’ Dress: Jasmine Couture

Elegant Summer Wedding at Armour House

Fresh wedding ideas get my heart racing and the thought of a champagne brunch reception, with a little Southern charm tossed in, and I’m sold. Held at the gorgeous Armour House outside of Chicago, this summertime fete has me absolutely swooning – and taking notes. Two Birds Photography worked their magic and I’m adding pocketed gowns, orchids and historic mansions to my list of favorites immediately.

From Gail at GZ Weddings & Special Events… Lauren and Brian were married on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at the historic Armour House on the grounds of Lake Forest Academy in Chicago’s northwest suburbs.

Their ceremony was held outdoors on a beautiful, sunny morning. Lauren’s dream was to have a wedding and reception on a estate that was similar to the look of a southern plantation. Their event included many traditions that described good ole’ southern charm since Lauren’s family is originally from New Orleans.

Their reception immediately followed and included those southern details such as shrimp & grits, and chicken & biscuit benedicts on their brunch buffet! Their “Champagne Brunch Reception” was accompanied by music from the Elmhurst College Jazz Band who played popular tunes from the roaring 20’s and classics that everyone enjoyed.

Lauren’s wedding gown was something right off of a southern plantation! She wanted it to look simple yet elegant for their morning wedding.

The plants and centerpieces that helped achieve the look of an outdoor garden reception were brought in and created by the mother of the bride.

Photography: Two Birds Photography | Event Coordinator: GZ Weddings & Special Events | Floral Design: Stems, inc. | Cake: Poppie's Bakeshop | Venue: Armour House | Music: Elmhurst College Jazz Quartet

Classic Candlelit Lake Forest Wedding

Give me a classic soiree doused in blush pink and you’ll have one happy wedding blogger on your hands. Said wedding? This candlelit beauty from Heather Cook Elliott. With so many family legacies layered in, including the Bride sewing pieces of family members’ wedding dresses into her own and wearing her Groom’s Grandmother’s Tiffany earrings, this gallery is overflowing with traditional elegance at it’s best.

From Heather Cook ElliottOh where to start. As I look back on Katelyn and John’s wedding day I am flooded with adjectives – elegant, romantic, classic, traditional, sweet, lovely – and yet none of them seems quite enough. Their wedding day was the complete, real deal package, the kind of wedding day that manages to be perfectly beautiful but feels easy, wonderfully traditional but still fun. It starts with Lake Forest, a little seemingly magical place 30 miles north of Chicago where small town luxuries include great beaches, boutique shopping and an elegant family oriented Club called Onwentsia. With majestic willows on its golf course and century old brick architecture to boast of, Onwentsia is the place where John’s parents celebrated their wedding and where John played as a kid. Its close to his family home and close to his heart, and now its close to Katelyn’s too.

So many family details were incorporated into the day it was easy to see that though it all came together as uber-stylish and very “pinnable”, their day was honestly about celebrating their family legacies. John wore his grandfather’s tux studs, Katie his grandmother’s Tiffany earrings; Katie sewed fabric from family wedding dresses embroidered with wedding dates into her own dress and she wore a now-heirloom veil that other women in her family have worn. They said I Do at John’s family church and celebrated at Onwentsia, riding to and fro in a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe Sedan restored by Katie’s late Grandpa Robert as a replica of his first car. Katie’s dad hauled the burgundy stunner from her hometown in Indiana and all the men in her family decorated “Old Bob” on the day of the wedding, a stunning tribute to tradition and family that I adored. The pictures say more than my words can ever hope to, so without further ado, enjoy a peek into Katelyn’s & John’s stunningly beautiful wedding day.

Photography: Heather Cook Elliott Photography | Florist: McNamara Florist | Reception Venue: Onwentsia Club | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid | Hair: The Salon, LTD | Band: Shout Out | Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse | Bridal Shop (Dress & Veil): Nancy's Bridal Boutique | Bride's Dress: Casablanca | Bride's Earrings: Tiffany & Co. | Bride's Hairpiece: Nancy's Bridal Boutique | Cake & Sweets: Three Tarts Bakery | Custom Logo And Decor: McNamara Florist | Groom's Tuxedo: Brooks Brothers | Paper: Ghega Scolari With Cartabella | Robes: Natori

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Elegant Outdoor Wedding at Shoreacres Country Club

Ladies and Gents, get your pinterest boards ready – because this elegant affair captured by Julia Franzosa Photography is overflowing with steal-worthy ideas. Planned beautifully by SQN Events and filled to the brim with florals so pretty by Molly Flavin you won’t even believe they are real, I can promise you’ll want to pin every single image in this gallery. See what I mean here.


From Julia Franzosa PhotographyTheir love for each other is amazingly contagious and their surrounding family and friends shared in the joy of their wedding. Alex and Nicolas’ are one of those once-in-a-lifetime loves. It was incredibly fitting that their wedding was nothing short of a fairytale wedding! The wedding was held in August and was absolutely breathtaking. The ceremony was held in the backyard of the bride’s parents’ home in Lake Forest, IL (with the most impeccable landscaping), beneath a willow tree, trimmed to perfection to serve as the arch under which the bride, groom, and officiant stood. (The officiant is the bride’s brother, a professor of literature at Smith).

The wedding then moved to Shoreacres Country Club in Lake Bluff. The Club is located on Lake Michigan and the lake truly looks like an infinity pool as it is so close to the terrace on which cocktails were held.

We progressed to the Club’s dining room for a delectable dinner, complete with an amuse bouche composed of morel mushrooms the brides’ parents curated themselves.

After dinner, guests retired to a tent that was stunningly decorated, featuring several seating vignettes and a dramatic lattice with greenery and orchids suspended from the tent’s ceiling over the dance floor.

From The Bride…I had so many favorite parts of the day it is so hard to just pick one!! Aside from actually saying our vows a few of my favorites moments were:

*Sending love notes back and forth with Nicolas throughout the day
*Standing with my mom and dad in our dining room waiting for the ceremony to start. It was just such a special moment between the three of us.
*Celebrating with my family in the kitchen immediately after.

Photography: Julia Franzosa | Event Planning: SQN Events | Floral Design: Molly Flavin | Wedding Dress: JLM Couture, Inc | Ceremony Venue: Lake Forest Estate | Reception Venue: Shoreacres | Catering: Shoreacres | Makeup: Andie Cumber Makeup | Hair: Livia Caporale | Band: SWAY Chicago | Grooms Attire: Indochino

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Traditional Lake Forest Wedding at the Armour House

Lesson of the day: if you are looking to tie the knot in a drop-dead gorgeous, fairytale-like setting, the amazing Armour House is most definitely the place.  The towering mansion, beautiful gardens and breathtaking staircase are enough to woo any lover of weddings, but throw in the expertise of North Shore Weddings and Events and Deonna Caruso and, well… perfection, lovelies.  See it all here.

And a little something special from Twelve Twelve Studios… enjoy.

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From The Bride…The Armour Mansion at Lake Forest Academy truly was the quintessential venue for a fairytale wedding. The venue’s old world charm, lavish gardens, and breathtaking architecture left all of our guests speechless. Choosing this venue was very special bonding moment for my father and me, as he handpicked this venue to give away his little girl. Interestingly, Jonathan Ogden Armour shared the same sentiments; designing a grandiose bridal staircase in the mansion for his daughter. This historic mansion set the ambiance and overall design of our wedding. As we planned our honeymoon in Tuscany, Italy, we also wanted to make our guests feel like they had escaped to an Italian countryside. Our guests filled the lush gardens, as the harpist played “The Gentle Maiden”, Irish Air, in significance of my husband and my family’s Irish decent.

From Deonna Caruso Photography… On July 13, 2013, Dana Parkhill and Frank Miller were married at the beautiful Armour House in Lake Forest. What a perfect day for an outdoor wedding and when I say perfect, it was truly that! The day could not have been better for the two of them. Dana and Frank met each other a couple of years ago through a mutual friend. When they first met their friend said “Mr. Nice Guy meet Mrs. Nice Girl.”  When you meet both of them you realize that pretty much sums it up. After they met each other they dated and endured a long-distance relationship for awhile. Frank was finishing up undergrad at Wake Forest in North Carolina and Dana was finishing graduate school in Bloomington, Indiana. They spent summers together and saw each other when they could. When Frank graduated in 2012, he came to Bloomington and got a job. They were so grateful to finally be in the same town! Frank proposed to Dana at a local winery in Bloomington in October of 2012 and the rest is history. When you see the two of them together you can see how much love and respect they have for each other and it was such an honor to capture their gorgeous wedding day!

Photography: Deonna Caruso Photography | Videographer: Twelve Twelve Studio | Wedding Planner: North Shore Weddings & Events | Wedding Cake: Deerfield's Bakery | Band: Final Say | Harpist: Renee Wilson | Floral And Decor: Ashland Addison Floral & Event Decor | Hair/Make Up: Antonette White | Wedding Reception and Ceremony: Armour House

Lake Forest, Illinois Wedding from Laura Ivanova Photography

I’ve said it a million times before, but this wedding really makes me wish I could be a bride. To get married all over again to the one I love with a wedding that looks Exactly. Like. This. Elegant yet understated, refined yet fun. It’s a day that dreams are made of and Laura Ivanova captured every bit. Grab that second round of coffee and join us in the gallery. We’ll be there a while.

From the Bride… Adam and I met, fell in love, and got engaged in Illinois but moved around to various cities thereafter to support each other’s life endeavors. I was finishing up graduate school in Connecticut last year while he was working in New York, and we felt it was time to start planning our wedding before hitting the five-year engagement mark! I’ve never been much of a planner, and had to do most of it from afar, after we settled in Savannah, Georgia. Despite the southern charm of Savannah, we wanted to get married in Chicago because our families and many close friends reside there. Everything fell into place after we found our venue, the Armour House in Lake Forest, Illinois. I always envisioned a dreamy outdoor wedding and was blown away by the natural beauty and elegance of the Armour House.

The wedding day went by so fast; it really was surreal and a whirlwind. We wanted our celebration to have a sense of drama yet still reflect our laid back personalities. I chose a ball gown with ruffles for the ceremony and Adam looked dashing in his James Bond suit. The ceremony took place outside on the gorgeous lawn of the Armour House. My bridesmaids/best friends looked so beautiful and picturesque in their pastel pink chiffon dresses. I changed into a red dress before the reception because it’s Chinese tradition for the bride to wear red. I think it definitely added to the drama when Adam and I were announced and almost fell down the grand staircase to the James Bond theme song. After dinner, we shared our first dance to the song, Home by Edwarde Sharp and the Magnetic Zeroes. This was a very special moment to me because we actually put a lot of time and effort into ballroom dancing lessons, which was a bonding experience in itself. The lyrics “home is wherever I’m with you” really captured our journey through many places together.

There were so many important people and personal details that made our wedding unique and possible, including support from our parents and relatives from China and Poland, our friend Dave officiating the ceremony, our friend Tom playing the guitar during the ceremony, our friends Dan and Yvonne Heil videotaping the entire day, the wedding party helping out, and all our friends from different parts of the country sharing in our celebration. I was thrilled about the breathtaking roses, hydrangeas, and berries created by Eileen from Lakeforest flowers, and the phenomenal wedding photos from Laura Ivanova. Finally, I’m proud of the mini Adam and Sarah cake topper that I made out of clay, which is currently on our fireplace mantle as a reminder of our special day.

Photography: Laura Ivanova Photography | Videography: Friend of Bride | Florist: Lake Forest Flowers | Cake: Deerfield's Bakery | Bride's Shoes: Kate Spade | Bridesmaid's Dresses: J.Crew | Catering: Armour House | Hair and Makeup: By the Bride | DJ: Toast and Jam | Bridal Gown: Pronovias | Bride's Reception Gown: Jessica McClintock | Ceremony & Reception: Armour House | Programs, Placecards, Cake Topper: By the Bride

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Lake Forest Wedding by Fig Media

What could be better than a whole lot of romance with a little bit of rock n’ roll mixed in?  My heart did a few (hundred) little backflips when I first spotted this Lake Forest wedding by Fig Media.  The chic color combo of black, white and hot pink is elegant, unexpected and oh-so much fun.  The fluffy love cloud of baby’s breath surrounding the ceremony alter is straight of a dream and the hot pink centerpieces are out of this world amazing. Click here to see it all!

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From the Bride…Jason and I met almost six years ago when I was working as a live-in nanny for the Walgreen family.  We had an instant connection but it was difficult dating with such an unconventional job (my time off was quite limited). After five months of dating and not being able to see each other very often Jason asked me to move to Australia with him for graduate school.  As someone who suffers from wanderlust, I jumped at the opportunity although most everyone I knew thought I was a bit crazy.  Living abroad together created a strong and intense bond between us and helped shape who we are as a couple.

For our wedding we wanted our international adventures, personality, and style as a couple to be reflected so I made it my mission to do just that while sticking to a tight budget (we paid for the wedding ourselves).  The location for our wedding was certainly unique and was a kind and generous offer from my former employer.  They offered their backyard and courtyard to us for our ceremony and reception.  It was the perfect setting for our vision of a intimate, outdoor wedding. What helped make our wedding so personal and intimate was that almost everyone that contributed was a friend of ours including my make-up artist, hair stylist, Rabbi, and violinist to name just a few.  Being around so many familiar faces certainly helped relax me on the big day.  DIY ideas from SMP were also a huge contribution!  My morning routine for the entire year leading up to the wedding was checking SMP updates.  We created our chuppah from a wooden pergola and bunches and bunches of baby’s breath (I saw something quite similar on SMP and had to have it).  It was the centerpiece for our ceremony and truly set the mood for the evening.  Our service took place at sundown and the Lake Michigan background was spectacular.

Following the ceremony our guests enjoyed signature cocktails, Graham Beck sparking wine (my husband is a wine rep so all the wine was hand-picked with a great deal of passion), and a raw bar.  Dinner was served family style with five long tables.  My mother-in-law donated her time and expertise and made the tablecloths with my vision in mind.  Instead of traditional chair covers I used black tulle and tied big bows on the back of the chairs.  It helped create a dramatic look while keeping costs down.  The lights wrapped around the trees and tent were done by my father-in-law and created an intimate and magical ambiance.  The speeches before dinner tugged at my heart strings.  My dearest friend, Jennie flew over from Adelaide, Australia with her five month old baby girl (what a committed friend), my husband’s best friend, my father-in-law, Brooke, the now young adult who I used to take care of as her nanny, and my mother made us both laugh and cry at the same time!  I felt so loved and honored by their words.  The night concluded with dancing and a hot dog cart at midnight.  Who doesn’t enjoy a Chicago style hot dog at the end of a night!

Through the process lots of people give you advice (wanted and unwanted) but what resonated with me the most was to remember what the day is about (you and your husband not the bad weather forecast or not getting the flowers you want).  For me it took a village to make our day happen and it was such a beautiful reminder of all the people that love you in your life.

Wedding Photography: Fig Media / Flowers: Cattails Inc. / Ceremony + Reception Location: Private Residence / Invitations: Anjenu + DIY / Wedding Dress: Jenny Packham via Le Salon Bridal / Bride’s Shoes: Steve Madden / Bridesmaid Dresses:  J.Crew / Groom’s Attire: Sebastian Grey / Make-up: Lauren Rubenstein / Hair: Aja Wong / Tent: HDO Production / Lighting: Blanford Design / Midnight Food: Hubby’s Dog House / Flowers: DIY

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Winter Wedding Photo Shoot by Redwall Photography

I’m definitely smitten with the color palette of this winter wonderland photo shoot but what I really love is that the team behind it, Redwall Photography, Kio Kreations and RBK Creations, warmed up the white, silver and cool blue theme with loads of cozy textures and totally accessible and eclectic elements.  The sweet decor feels ethereal, organic and serene but, best of all, I think all of our snow-loving brides and grooms will find loads of attainable inspiration from this wintry shoot.  The full gallery has more inspiration and ideas for you to make your own!

Click here for more winter wedding inspiration in the full gallery!

We designed a Winter Wonderland Wedding with a chic eclectic feel to go with the Armour House, beautiful historic venue in Lake Forest, IL.  Rather than have icicles and snowflakes everywhere, we kept it more understated with a handful of snowflake button details, small amounts of gel ice and scattered snow. We went with mostly white tones with touches of silver, pewter and icy blue. All of the flowers consisted of white blooms and silvery foliage with a little color brought into the mix with the organza and button stems. These organza flowers were also featured on the birdcage veil hairpiece, the necklace, and we also included them as an accent on the bride’s shoes.

Speaking of accessories, the beautiful funky asymmetrical necklace is a new item created by RBK Creations. The necklace has three layers of high quality glass beads in clear, silver and creamy pearls. There is a vintage inspired brooch on one side and a flowy handmade organza flower on the other. The necklace is finished off with a white satin ribbon used to tie it. This style of necklace is completely customizable from the color of beads, organza, brooch, ribbon…you name it!  As a cute, simple DIY, we bought a pair of pewter flats for the bride that we decorated with organza flower accents. For less than $30 she had a totally unique pair of shoes that fit her theme perfectly.

Instead of matchy-matchy centerpieces, we created a stylish, fresh, collected look of mismatched pieces filled with white flowers and silver foliage. We grabbed every vase and container we could find in clear, white, silver or ice blue including some silver mercury glass votives, vintage mason jars and bottles in blue and clear and some old milk glass vases. The vases and containers were both old and new, but worked perfectly when mixed together. Most of the vases were filled with white flowers and silver foliage including peonies, ranunculus, football mums, lisianthus, Dutch tulips, parrot tulips, Star of Bethlehem, dusty miller, silver sage and spray roses. We also filled a bunch of votive holders with gel ice and candles. One added touch we did was to include some white candies (Jordan almonds, yogurt-covered pretzels, and Lifesavers mints) to the mix, which made for some edible décor for the guests to enjoy. The collected containers and vases were placed on a long, beveled mirror that we repurposed as the “table runner”. It used to be part of a piece of old furniture! To complete the centerpiece look, we sprinkled some faux snow around everything and lit the candles. With the final touch of the crinkly white lamour tablecloth, it all worked perfectly together.

The bridal bouquet was a hand-tied, swooping bouquet of peonies, tulips, lisianthus, ranunculus, spray roses and some button and organza stems. The boutonnière was made to match and featured a mix of white flowers and silver foliage with 2 button stem accents. The button stems are created with RBK’s special stash of vintage buttons in whites, ivories, blues and grey with rhinestones mixed in as well. The organza flowers are created by hand and include numerous layers of fabric. Each petal is hand cut; there are around 16-20 layers per flower! The same vintage/rhinestone buttons finish off the flowers. They have a very romantic feel and resemble ranunculus.

We really loved creating this eclectic Winter Wonderland wedding featuring a beautiful bride at a stunning venue with subtle winter elements and chic mismatched details.

And as a super special treat for you today we have included the low-down on how to create those adorable shoe clips so you can get your DIY on!  There are more images from their project in the full gallery!

Bridal Flats

Supplies:

Metallic flats with plain front (no details on toe of shoe) We bought ours at Payless Shoes

Velcro circles (stick-on kind)

Organza floral stems (from RBK Creations)

Directions: This project could not be easier! Just add the Velcro to both the shoes and the cut-down organza stem and you’ve got some custom flats. You can even change out the flower later to a button or brooch and wear them for other occasions!

Photography: Redwall Photography / Flowers + Décor: Kio Kreations / Accessories + Specialty Button Flowers: RBK Creations / Makeup + Hair: Cynthia Sally Makeup and Hair Artistry / Venue: Armour House / Linens: The Chair Couture / Model: Amy Christian