A Refined Fall Wedding at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, MI

 Glamorous, Michigan, Modern, Real Weddings  Comments Off on A Refined Fall Wedding at Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester, MI
Jan 222014
 

Ask any New Yorker, and they'll tell you just how unlikely it is that you'll meet your future husband at a bar. But Alexandra and Todd are an exception to the rule. Before moving to New York, Alexandra spent a summer in the city and went out with friends for a post-work happy hour. That night, she met Todd, but they didn't keep in touch after she left. When she moved to Manhattan full-time for work, the two reconnected and began dating almost immediately. In full New York fashion, they had their first kiss at Yankee Stadium!

In January of 2013, Todd invited Alexandra up to the rooftop of their new apartment building. He'd strung lights around the roof and hired a photographer to capture the moment as he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. Of course, she said yes!

For their wedding on September 9th, 2013, Alexandra and Todd headed back to her hometown of Rochester, Michigan. Meadow Brook Hall was the perfect venue choice—they were able to have the ceremony and reception all on the property, and delicious in-house catering made planning a wedding in eight months even easier. "The home is so gorgeous and full of little details. It speaks for itself," says Alexandra. They infused the space with a touch of Gatsby glamour, complementing the building's elegance with white flowers and a hint of mirrored shine that brought the couple's wedding dream to life.

Alexandra and Todd kept their wedding party small, both choosing to have only two attendants. The bride and her bridesmaids carried simple rose bouquets, hers in cream and theirs in light pink, wrapped in silk ribbon.

"We chose to do a first look, and it was such a magical moment," says Alexandra. "I was so glad we got to see each other before the ceremony, as well as enjoy the rest of the day without worrying about missing anything to take photos."

Todd and his groomsmen wore classic black tuxedos. Alexandra wore a scoop-neck gown with a tiered skirt from David's Bridal, while her bridesmaids wore black tulle and cream lace ball gowns.

The couple's outdoor ceremony was short and sweet. Rows of white chairs were decorated with pomanders of white chrysanthemums. Alexandra was escorted down the aisle to the wedding classic, Pachelbel's Canon in D.

Meadow Brook's gardens and grounds provided an elegant backdrop for the couple's portraits.

The couple introduced the Gatsby theme during cocktail hour. Place cards, featuring vintage-inspired fonts, were arranged on an antique table topped with a mirrored display of candles and white hydrangeas. Each table was named after a one of the couple's favorite places in New York City, from parks to restaurants and bars.

Tables were topped with either off-white or black and white striped linens. Arrangements of white hydrangeas and glowing candles were a minimal but beautiful finishing touch.

Tall hurricane vases were wrapped in crystals, while oversized arrangements of white hydrangeas rested upon sleek glass vases.

Guests loved getting creative in the couple's photo booth during the reception.

Todd and Alexandra's first dance was to "Annie's Song" by John Denver. As a nod to their hometown of New York City, they served New York cheesecake instead of traditional wedding cake. "It was a total hit," says Alexandra.

While they were planning, a friend gave Alexandra and Todd an amazing piece of advice. "They told us to enjoy the night together instead of splitting up to talk to different people," says Alexandra. "It would have been so easy for us to make the rounds alone, but instead we made a sincere effort to stay by each other's side all night long. Todd even walked me to the bathroom!" Alexandra really cherishes that she and Todd have the same memories from the evening, and that they got to enjoy the whole day by one another's side.

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Meadow Brook Hall || Wedding Planner: Dorothy Burlakowski of Dochelle Custom Creations || Bride's Wedding Dress: David's Bridal || Shoes: Unlisted by Kenneth Cole || Hair & Makeup: Via Linda Salon || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Aidan Mattox || Groom's Tuxedo: Suitsupply || Groomsmen's Tuxedos: Jos. A. Bank || Florist: Viviano Flower Shop || Invitations: Kim Gray of One Girl Press || Printed Materials: Dorothy Burlakowski of Dochelle Custom Creations || Music: Horizon Strings Group, Rare Blend || Catering: Meadow Brook Hall || Cake: Maggiano's || Rentals: Luxe Event Linen || Videography: Tweed Weddings || Photography: Widdis Photography

An Opulent, Cinderella-Inspired Wedding at Chicago’s Peninsula Hotel

 Chicago, Formal, Glamorous, Real Weddings  Comments Off on An Opulent, Cinderella-Inspired Wedding at Chicago’s Peninsula Hotel
Jan 142014
 

When Jennifer met Brandon, a 32-year-old business owner, at a tucked-away wine bar, she instantly knew he was The One. The bride, also 32 and a publicist, called her sister the second she got in a cab on her way home: "Finally, I met him!" she exclaimed. Brandon felt the same way, and called her the next morning during her daily Starbucks run to set up another date.

Six years later, they made it official, in a lavish black-tie wedding in their home city of Chicago. They chose the glamorous Peninsula Hotel downtown because it felt as intimate as it did grand. "I knew the first time we visited that it was perfect," Jennifer says. "It had an intimate feeling about it, and I loved the beautiful terrace overlooking Michigan Avenue."

The grand, formal hotel proved the perfect backdrop for Jennifer and Brandon's fairy-tale wedding. True to her childhood dream of a Cinderella-worthy bash, the couple added a healthy dose of glam, with touches like a chandelier hanging from their chuppah, a crystal-adorned bridal gown and heels, and masses of ivory roses.

For months, Brandon had been planning an ultra-extravagant proposal on a couple's trip to Florida. But on a pre-vaca shopping trip at Bloomingdales, Jennifer tripped on her heels and sprained her ankle. Two ER visits later, they were forced to postpone their getaway. But Brandon refused to move to plan B: a month later, they made the trip after all (with Jennifer back up on her heels), and he pulled it off beautifully, booking a romantic four-course dinner in their presidential suite. The only downside? Jennifer was so excited, she screamed "Yes!" before Brandon even got to break out the ring!

Jennifer knew from the beginning she wanted to wear Monique Lhuillier on her wedding day. "I love fashion, and have always loved Monique's attention to detail and exquisite beading," she says. After three trips to her boutique in NYC, Jennifer chose an intricately embellished gown. She paired it with crystal Christian Louboutin slingbacks. "I call them my 'glass slippers'", she says. "It was a fairy tale come true!"

Jennifer and Brandon's ceremony was black-tie and glamorous (think towering arrangements of ivory roses, a Swarovski-encrusted bridal bouquet, and gilded, candle-laden tables lining the aisle), but self-written vows made it feel intimate and personal. "Thank you for coming into my life and making my fairy tale come true," Jennifer said to her groom.

For their 160-person reception at the ballroom in the Peninsula Hotel, Jennifer and Brandon wanted to make the space feel like Cinderella's ball—if it were held in downtown Chicago in 2013, that is. The look was all white, ivory, and gold, with mirrored tables, antique touches, candles galore, and more ivory roses than we've ever seen.

After a three-course seated dinner, Jennifer and Brandon cut the multi-tier cake, decorated with swirling ivory roses. "I literally designed the cake—drew it out and gave it to chefs at The Peninsula to create."

Jennifer and Brandon's first dance was to a shared favorite, The Goo Goo Doll's "Iris". One of the most special aspects of the night, Jennifer says, was bringing her entire family—young and old—together. "Both of our grandmas were able to make it. My grandmother, who's 94, made a wonderful speech and partied past midnight!"

Ceremony Venue: Peninsula Hotel, Chicago || Reception Venue: Peninsula Hotel, Chicago || Wedding Planner: Reva Nathan and Associates || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Hair: Erin Ahern withSalon Buzz || Makeup: Stella Mikhael || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier || Groom's Attire: Giorgio Armani || Florist: Richard Remiard || Music: Ken Arlen Orchestra || Catering and Cake: Peninsula Hotel Chicago || Photography: Robyn Rachel Photography

—Amanda First

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A Winter Wedding in Laguna Beach—and the Bride Wore Pink!

 California, Elegant, Glamorous, Maggie Sottero, Modern, Real Weddings, Romantic, Winter  Comments Off on A Winter Wedding in Laguna Beach—and the Bride Wore Pink!
Jan 092014
 
Bride and Groom at a California Wedding

Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

Julia and Nicholas's first meeting was classic California: They met riding bikes on the boardwalk at Newport Beach. Eight months later, they were engaged. For Julia's birthday, the couple went on a morning hike in Monarch Beach. Nicholas surprised her with the new camera she'd been dying for, as well as a night at the nearby Ritz Carlton Hotel. Once at the hotel, the couple headed outside to test out Julia's new camera as the sun set. While Julia fiddled with the settings, Nick reached into his pocket and pulled out a letter Julia had written her father when she was little. When she recognized what it was, Julia realized that Nick could only have the letter if her father had given it to Nick himself. When she looked up from the letter, he was down on one knee, ring in hand. Of course she said yes!

A two-year engagement allowed Nick and Julia to go with the flow as they planned their simple, modern wedding. "Since we were getting married four days before Christmas, we wanted a wintery feel that wasn't too over the top," Julia says. "We looked for a venue that would be a blank canvas, allowing us to create whatever setting we wanted." On December 21st, 2012, the couple danced the night away with 175 guests at 7 Degrees in Laguna Beach.

Blush Maggie Sottero Wedding Gown

Bride in a Blush Maggie Sottero Wedding Gown


Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography


Julia eschewed traditional white for a full-skirted mermaid gown in blush pink. "I wanted something a little different," she says. "I'm by no means a girly girl, but when I saw this gown, I had to have it!" Layer upon layer of chiffon ruffles filled out the dramatic train.

Pink Rose Bouquet

Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

Julia paired her gown with a bouquet of pink roses studded with crystals, white ranunculuses and hydrangeas.

Baby Flower Girl

Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

The couple's 8-month-old daughter served as their (absolutely adorable!) flower girl. "She wasn't quite walking, but she did wonderfully," says Julia. "She smiled at everyone and clapped throughout the ceremony."

Tented Wedding Ceremony at 7 Degrees in Laguna Beach

Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

The ceremony took place on the rooftop of 7 Degrees, just after sunset. Guests were greeted with a glass of champagne, and then were seated under a tent lit with paper lanterns for the short and sweet ceremony.

Wedding

Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

Nick and Julia's wedding party was outfitted in shades of gray. The bridesmaids' soft gray gowns complemented Julia's blush pink and carried soft white bouquets.

Wintery Indoor Wedding Reception

Simple White Centerpieces

Succulent Centerpieces at a California Wedding


Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography


The reception's cool blue tones gave the space a wintery feel. "We didn't want to waste flowers, so we used succulents in concrete vases and just a few floral arrangements," says the bride.

Bride and Groom's First Dance

Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

The couple's first dance was to an acoustic version of John Legend's "Stay With You." Then, the volume was pumped up and the couple and their friends danced all night. "We had a hard time with my bustle," Julia says, "but my photographer saved the day!"

White Frosted Wedding Cakes

Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

Instead of stacking the tiers of the cake, the couple served four individual cakes in different flavors: White chocolate, vanilla, tiramisu, and red velvet. Clusters of buttercream flowers were the tasty finishing touch.

Bride and Groom's Sparkler Exit

Photo: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

A sparkler send-off was the perfect ending to the evening. "The best compliment I received about our wedding had nothing to do with the details," says Julia. "It was that guests could feel the love we share, and had a wonderful time making memories with us." And isn't that what it's all about?

Ceremony & Reception Venue: 7 Degrees || Bride's Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero || Jewelry & Wedding Bands: Traditional Jewelers || Groom's Attire: Burberry || Music: Ceremony - John Troy, DJ Julius || Catering: 7 Degrees || Cake: Family Friend || Photography: Laura Grier of Beautiful Day Photography

—Jaimie Schoen

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A Girly Bridal Shower and Intimate Formal Wedding in New York

 Elegant, Glamorous, Modern, New York, Real Weddings, Romantic, Spring, Summer  Comments Off on A Girly Bridal Shower and Intimate Formal Wedding in New York
Jan 062014
 

When you've already chosen a rock star planner and photographer for your wedding, why not use their expertise to turn your bridal shower into an event to remember, too? That's just what Rachel, 33, did to celebrate both her shower on May 5, 2013, and her wedding, with a ceremony on June 10th and a reception on June 13th.

"Instead of one big wedding day, I wanted a bunch of small intimate events so we could really enjoy them and spend time with the people there," says Rachel. "Every time an event was over, it was almost time for the next one!" By having both the bridal shower and the ceremony at her mother's home in Brooklyn Heights, planner Laura Remmert was able to help Rachel create an intimate, family-focused series of celebrations that captured the importance of the event to the couple.

From the playful and girly bridal shower to the intimate ceremony in her mother's dining room, to an Art Deco-inspired reception at the Bleecker Street Arts Club three days later, Rachel and her now-husband Anthony, 37, celebrated their marriage in as many ways as they possibly could.

"The shower was very girly and whimsical," says planner Laura. She mixed rented mix-and-match floral china with Rachel's grandmother's crystal to put an antique spin on the décor, while gold chairs and black and white cushions added a whimsical touch. A date in May meant there was an abundance of fresh, seasonal flowers in vibrant pink. Says Rachel, "Having Laura help with the shower meant we didn't have to worry about rentals or design, and that my mother and sister could enjoy themselves during the party."

The lush centerpieces featured peonies, ranunculus, garden roses, and sweet peas. A combination of gold and silver bud vases carried on the celebration's eclectic feel.

For such a playful event, there was no better choice for food than caterer Peter Callahan. Whimsical hors d'oeuvres, like bite-sized fish tacos served with mini margaritas, kept all the ladies satisfied. Another one of his signature passed treats? Pastry rings topped with caviar and a dollop of cream.

Instead of a traditional guest book, Rachel's friends and family left her messages on a bottle of wine.

There's nothing more fun than s'mores, and they're even better when they come in a one-bite package!

For both her ceremony and her reception, Rachel chose sleek, modern gowns designed by Inbal Dror. "I wanted something unique and different, and Inbal was really able to do that," she says.

The couple, who met 15 years ago, were engaged for almost a year and a half before they began planning their wedding. Once they started, bringing in a planner meant they could pull it all together in 8 months.

Anthony wore a classic tuxedo from Tom Ford. His rose gold Patek watch belonged to Rachel's late father.

In honor of her father, who passed away seven years ago, Rachel had her elegant white and green bouquet wrapped in one of his ties.

Her strapless Inbal Dror gown featured va-va-voom sheer nude lace on the back of the corset.

The ceremony was supposed to take place outside, however the threat of rain caused them to move it indoors. The chuppah, draped in orchids, roses, and hydrangeas in shades of white, was erected in Rachel's mother's dining room, which ended up being the perfect location for the cozy ceremony.

Three days later, on June 13th, 2013, Rachel and Anthony gathered 65 of their friends at Bleecker Street Arts Club for the reception. Rachel donned another Inbal Dror design, this one featuring modern beading and an a-line skirt.

Layered gold, silver, and champagne were accented with fresh white and green flowers. Patterned linens put a glam spin on the tables, which were topped with white peonies and tall candlesticks.

For the wedding reception, Rachel and Anthony turned to Mario by Mary, serving their guests a menu curated by Mario Batali and created by Mary Giuliani. They shared some of their favorite—and indulgent—foods, from blinis and caviar (served with chilled vodka shots) to burrata, tortello puzzone, and strip loin.

When they weren't dining or dancing, guests entertained themselves with a photo booth full of playful props. For dessert, a white-on-white wedding cake was topped with the couple's monogram.

And the party didn't end there! As a nod to their Anguillan engagement, Anthony and Rachel invited friends and family to Cap Juluca resort to celebrate with them yet again.

"I know everyone says this, but don't forget to enjoy your wedding day," says Rachel. "Don't stress over every little thing—just be in the moment." Whether it's your bridal shower or your wedding day, having a great team in place will keep the stress to a minimum, and the joy at an all-time high.

Bridal Shower & Ceremony Venue: The Bride's Mother's Home || Reception Venue: Bleecker Street Arts Club || Bridal Shower & Wedding Planner: Laura Remmert Events || Bride's Wedding Dresses: Inbal Dror || Shoes: Prada, Jimmy Choo, Christian Louboutin || Jewelry: Family Heirlooms || Hair & Makeup: Jessie Riley || Groom's Tuxedo: Tom Ford || Wedding Bands: Michael Herman || Florist: Lewis Miller Design || Invitations & Paper Goods: Regas || Music: Venus Ensembles || Bridal Shower Catering: Peter Callahan || Wedding Catering: Ceremony – KG Fare, Reception – Mario by Mary || Cake: Ceremony – Lady M Confections, Reception – Cheryl Kleinman Cakes || Rentals: Party Rental Ltd. || Favors: Molly's Cupcakes || Photography: Roey Yohai Photography

—Jaimie Schoen

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An Intimate, Serene Destination Wedding at the Hotel Excelsior in Venice, Italy

 Destination Weddings, Elegant, Glamorous, Jenny Packham, Jimmy Choo, Real Weddings, Romantic  Comments Off on An Intimate, Serene Destination Wedding at the Hotel Excelsior in Venice, Italy
Jan 032014
 

Constanza and her family have been visiting Venice's breathtaking Hotel Excelsior for twenty years, spending time each summer surrounded by the island city's history, culture, and magic. Says Constanza, "Nicolai was the first boyfriend of mine to ever accompany us on our family trip. And he loves the time we've spent there as much as my family and I do." It was only fitting, then, that the Miami native and her Colombian now-husband return to the place that has been so dear to her for so long to celebrate their wedding.

Just after arriving for a long weekend trip to Paris (Constanza's second favorite city after Venice), she and Nicolai took a stroll through the Tuileries. As they wandered the garden in the springtime sun, Nicolai got down on one knee and asked Constanza to be his wife. After spending a few months enjoying their engagement, the bride used her creative expertise as an interior designer to plan their timeless Venetian wedding, on June 16th, 2012, in a mere six months. "We felt it was very important to let both the city and the hotel set the pace, so we worked on enhancing it without overpowering the inherent beauty," Constanza says.

Constanza whore a gorgeous Jenny Packham gown for the outdoor wedding. The simple silhouette, overlaid with beaded lotus flowers and a flattering natural waist, "felt right for the setting," she says. "I loved the craftsmanship, how it caught the light, and how comfortable it felt. I'm not one for a lot of fabric."

She paired her gown with sparkling peep-toe Jimmy Choo pumps. Her gorgeous chandelier earrings were a gift from her husband, who'd purchased them for her as a surprise during a trip to Jaipur, India, the winter before the wedding.

Constanza's tulle veil was hand-made by the bride and her stepmother. "We cut the fabric together, and she hand-sewed individual beads along the edge," Constanza says.

The bride's younger sister, Serena, served as the flower girl. She wore a simple empire-waist dress and a crown of pink and yellow roses.

Constanza's bouquet was inspired by nosegays carried by brides at the turn of the century. Pink and peach garden roses were cuffed with white bouvardia and lisianthus.

Nicolai and Constanza exchanged vows beneath an altar of peach and cream roses, eucalyptus, and silk ribbons. The ceremony was officiated by a close friend of the couple.

The hotel's soft pink interior courtyard, featuring architecture inspired by Cordova and Granada, provided a quiet place for the bride and groom to bask in the joy of their wedding day.

Peach, coral and white paper lanterns hung from the poolside gazebo, adding a pop of color to the ornate white structure.

During cocktails, Constanza and Nicolai surprised their guests with an unexpected performance: synchronized swimmers! "I'd seen a similar performance at an event a few years earlier, and was so excited to have them at our wedding," she says.

The reception décor highlighted the hotel's peach, white, and soft green color palette. "The room was already so stunning, so we kept the decorations simple," says the bride. "We dimmed the chandeliers and lit tons of candles."

The flower arrangements were soft, simple and elegant. Peach, pink, and white roses overflowed from urns and low vases.

Nicolai and Constanza kept their destination more intimate, with only 120 guests joining them in Venice. To give their reception an incredibly personal touch, guests were assigned to tables, where they each found place cards featuring photos of themselves with the bride and groom.

Constanza used ornate Florentine stationery for the escort cards and table numbers. At each guest's place was a printed menu, as well as a card upon which they could write wishes for the bride and groom. The wishes were later tied to wish lanterns and released into the sky.

"Crazy hour is so popular across Latin America—the time during a wedding when you pump up the volume and everyone dresses up in hats and costumes," says Constanza. "We put a Venetian spin on ours by providing gorgeous masks for our guests to wear."

The couple's wedding cake was served on the hotel's antique silver cake stand.

The bride, groom and their friends danced all night. "We started the party off with salsa, then changed to pop and Motown," Constanza says. "Once the grown-ups had gone to bed, we had a karaoke after-party that raged until 7 a.m.!"

After a day to rest up in Venice, Constanza and Nicolai were off on an Asian adventure for their honeymoon, traveling to Bangkok, an elephant camp in Chiang Rai, and a luxurious beach in the Maldives.

Constanza's advice for couples is to be true to who they are. "The best weddings aren't just beautiful. They're the ones where the real essence of the couple shines through."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hotel Excelsior || Bride's Wedding Dress: Jenny Packham || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair: Rossano Ferretti || Bridesmaid's Dress: Luca Luca || Groom's Suit: Ermenegildo Zegna || Wedding Bands: Chisholm Collection || Florist: Munaretto || Catering & Cake: Hotel Excelsior || Photography: Shannen Natasha Weddings

—Jaimie Schoen

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Dec 312013
 
Modern Couple Blue Shoes Chicago Wedding

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

When they were freshmen at the University of Indiana, hanging around the dorm with some other students, Jon, now 31 and an IT consultant, told a joke about sausages in a frying pan. Most of his friends dismissed it immediately as another one of his silly wisecracks—to this day, no one can remember exactly how it went—but one person laughed. Jamie, a 31-year-old communications consultant, remembers finding her future husband instantly entertaining—and, luckily, she still does.

When planning their April 2013 nuptials, Jamie and Jon knew they wanted to honor both their shared love of their home city, Chicago, and their wacky sense of humor. They chose the Chicago History Museum for their modern, sophisticated reception because it perfectly represented their city life together: the couple said "I do" surrounded by artifacts and memorabilia from their hometown, and just steps away from the path where they coach a team of runners each weekend.

By adding personal touches like custom notes, a quirky, self-written ceremony, and a visit from their favorite hot-dog truck, Jamie and Jon crafted a party that went way beyond any affair we've ever seen and became a day so completely their own, they'll never forget a second.

Couple Chicago History Museum Wedding Engagement Ring on Modern Stripe Background

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

"Jon believes that the perfect proposal contains three elements," Jamie says. "It should be a complete surprise until the moment it happens, it should be at a location I can go to when I'm having a sad day, and it should include an experience I've never had before." Ever the consultant, he put together a spreadsheet weighing every possible proposal scenario. The winner? A jaw-dropping underwater "will you marry me?" in the whale tank at Shedd Aquarium (he signed them up for a whale-training session), complete with bubble-wrapped ring box. Yes, it really does get that romantic.

Black and White Wedding Portrait Chicago History Museum Wedding Portrait Chicago History Museum Monique Lhuillier Manolo Blahnik Blue Jeweled Pumps Wedding

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

Jamie wore a trumpet-style Monique Lhuillier gown with a Chantilly lace and French tulle overlay, three-quarter sleeves and a train. Paired with a cathedral-length veil embellished with Swarovski crystals, the gown was equal parts sophisticated and modern. Her blue Manolo Blahnik pumps coordinated with Jon's orange socks as a nod to their shared alma mater, the University of Illinois.

White Wedding Bouquet Tulips Roses Peonies Groom Boutonniere White Ranunculus

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

Jamie carried a pale bouquet of French tulips, white peonies and roses tied with an ivory silk ribbon. The groom wore a boutonniere of white ranunculus.

Bride Ceremony Chicago History Museum Monique Lhuillier Ceremony Program Custom Monogram Chicago History Museum Wedding Ceremony Chicago History Museum Topiary Modern Wedding Ceremony

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

In fitting with the French-garden feel of their wedding, Jamie and Jon lined the aisle with boxwood topiaries for their informal, self-written ceremony, which was officiated by a close friend. Jamie walked down the aisle to "Henry the Eighth" by Herman's Hermits, her late father's favorite song. The two vowed to "eat all the chocolate chip cookies you want to bake for me," and "always run at your pace."

Chicago History Museum French Tulips Chandelier Chicago History Museum Main Room Wedding Escort Cards Chicago History Museum Wedding

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

In the museum's quirky main room, surrounded by reminders of the industrial history of Chicago, Jamie and Jon created a modern organic paradise, lighting the room in soft green tones. As guests walked into the reception, they found their seat assignments under a giant arrangement of French tulips under a crystal chandelier—talk about a grand entrance!

Guestbook Tree Idea Jaime_Jon_16_guestbook2.jpg

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

"In lieu of a guest book we had a "Wishing Tree" where guests wrote their wishes, wisdom and wit for us and placed them on the tree. Our families read their wishes as part of the ceremony," Jamie says.

Green Centerpiece Chicago History Museum Wedding Long Table Grey Tablecloth Chicago History Museum Wedding Candle Centerpiece Chicago History Museum Wedding Jeweled Initials Bride Groom Chairs Topiary Centerpiece Wedding Reception

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

The couple swapped out round dinner tables for long ones and covered them with grey silk tablecloths, white linen napkins, white china, and green and black glassware. Boxwood-wrapped planters of white tulips, roses and ranunculus served as centerpieces, and freestanding topiaries around the room added to the mod-garden vibe.

Personalized Monogrammed Family Style Wedding Menu Square Tiered Wedding Cheesecake Dessert Lounge Wedding Chicago History Museum

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

Jon, the foodie half of the newlywed couple, took care of the menu. He included a note on each guest's custom-monogrammed card explaining his selections, and letting everyone know that he made a donation to the Kidney Cancer Association in their honor. The spread was way beyond your standard filet mignon and seasonal vegetables. Each dish was Italian-inspired, family style, and absolutely mouthwatering: think individual cheese plates for each guest, rust artisan pizzas, and baskets of warm garlic bread. "We loved to hear that guests felt pampered when they sat down to our tables," Jamie says.

The biggest surprise of the evening? Everyone got to munch on hot dogs straight from the Chubby Weiner truck, a Chicago institution, during the reception.

As for dessert, Jamie and Jon ordered their three-tier cheesecake from a local, family-run vendor to show support to their city. And that's not all: After getting down on the dance floor in flip-flops the couple provided, guests were treated to a sweet session in Jamie and Jon's dessert lounge, complete with Lucite chairs, embroidered pillows and tables with warm chocolate chip cookies, whipped chocolate souffle, and s'mores supplies.



Bride Groom Chicago History Museum Wedding


Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio


What everyone loved most about the wedding, Jamie says, is the wit they took care to weave throughout the fun-filled evening. Jon and Jamie's shared sense of humor was everywhere: in their vows, in little notes they left guests everywhere, in their whimsical song choices, and in their quirky, playful venue. They met because Jon made Jamie laugh, and—she says—years later, they're still laughing together.

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Chicago History Museum || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Veil: Nancy Shefts || Shoes: Manolo Blahnik || Jewelry & Wedding Rings: Family heirlooms || Hair: Roger Gumm of Colette Salon and Spa || Makeup: Nicole Jacob || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Of their own choosing || Groom's Tuxedo: Nicholas Joseph || Florist: Beth Tarrant of Anna Held Floral Design Studio || Catering: Jewel Events Catering| |Invitations: Pioneer Announcements || Music: Amaryllis Strings, Michael Walters Orchestra || Cake: Swedish Bakery || Favors: Donations to The Kidney Cancer Association || Wedding Planner: Frank J. Andonoplas || Photography: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studios

—Amanda First

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A Romantic June Wedding at Martinelli Event Center in California

 California, Glamorous, Jimmy Choo, Monique Lhuillier, Real Weddings, Romantic  Comments Off on A Romantic June Wedding at Martinelli Event Center in California
Dec 272013
 

For Angela, 28, an elementary school teacher, and Jacob, 30, an energy trader, a California wedding was a no-brainer. The two were both from SoCal's Central Valley—just 45 minutes apart—and attended UC-Santa Barbara, where they met nine years ago. But even though they'd lived so close (if unwittingly) for their whole lives, they didn't start dating until Jacob had already graduated and moved away, and they didn't live in the same city throughout their six-year courtship.

Finally, after a holiday proposal in San Francisco's Union Square, they were ready to come together for good. The couple worked for months with Angela's mom and aunt to create a classic, romantic, and vintage-inspired reception filled with DIY details at Martinelli Event Center in Livermore, a Mediterranean-style event space and winery in California's Garré wine region.

Angela had two goals: to stick with decor so timeless, she wouldn't cringe when she flipped through her wedding album decades later, and to incorporate elements both of her Chinese-American heritage and Jacob's Dutch roots. Throw in some genius desserts and a string trio, and you've got one of the sweetest weddings we've seen all year.

Steven Paddis Bride and Groom Ring.jpg
Photo: Annie Tao Photography

Jacob had planned to propose on ice skates, at San Francisco's Union Square ice rink a week before Christmas in 2011. Angela arrived ready to go, bedecked in spandex in sequins, but the two realized they wouldn't have enough time for a twirl on the ice before dinner. Angela was starving, but Jacob convinced her to take a walk around Union Square before they arrived at the restaurant. When he got down on one knee, she was so surprised and overjoyed, she couldn't eat all night!

"I've always envisioned an elegant outdoor wedding that incorporates my Asian-American heritage and the Dutch-American heritage of my fianc," Angela says. Chinese accents and parasols to keep guests out of the sun lent the affair a unique, global feel.

Angela and Jacob stuck with a color scheme of blush and ivory, incorporating gold and silver accents, which came through on their elegant lace-trimmed invitations. Angela, her mother, and her aunts created the details themselves, inspired by the lace and rhinestone accents on her gown.


Angela knew her ivory lace Monique Lhuillier gown was "the one" the moment she saw it. "I love the details that went into the dress—Alencon lace, Chantilly lace, sheer tulle, satin-covered round buttons, and a little bit of sparkle from the shiny rhinestone sash," she says.

She went ultra-glam with glittery gold Jimmy Choo sandals for the ceremony, a surprise gift from her maid of honor, and paired her feminine trumpet gown with dangling drop earrings and a fingertip veil. A classic nosegay of white, ivory and blush peonies and roses rounded out her timeless look.

Jacob wore a classic black Hugo Boss tux that reminded Angela more than a little of James Bond. His fitted white shirt was fastened with silver cuff links Angela gave him on their first dating university, one of only a few belongings to survive a house fire in 2010.

Before the ceremony, she says, Angela was so nervous about everything going smoothly, she twitched for two hours! Jacob is still giggling about it—in all their eight years together, he said, he's never seen it happen before or since.


Angela's bridesmaids looked ethereal in blush silk chiffon dresses by Amsale. Groomsmen were decked out in Vera Wang tuxedos, chosen by the best man. They chose to forgo vest, cummerbund, and suspenders for a cleaner, more streamlined look.

Angela and Jacob were married on a hill overlooking the vineyard. "The ceremony site was decorated with a light layer of white rose petals running down the aisle. The site was so amazing on its own with the rolling hills and grape vines that I didn't want to take away from the natural beauty of the landscape with too much decoration," Angela says.

Handmade lace doily cones, filled with flower petals for guests to toss during the processional, hung on the backs of aisle-lining chairs during the ceremony.

Angela and Jacob's two flowers were both just 3 years old, and when it came time to walk the aisle they got lost and wandered over to a few guests standing away from the ceremony, to hilarious results. The girls were eventually redirected to the right path, but not before everyone had a good laugh!


The traditional ceremony was officiated by Jacob's great-uncle, a retired court-appointed judge in Sacramento. "It was special," Angela says, "because he'd officiated many weddings in Jacob's family."

As Angela walked down the aisle, a string trio played Edelweiss from The Sound of Music, one of her (and her family's) all-time faves. In fact, Angela was named after Angela Cartwright, who played one of the Von Trapp children in the movie! After saying "I do", Angela and Jacob led the recessional to "All You Need is Love" by the Beatles.

After a short and sweet ceremony—no longer than 10 minutes, but still too long for their ring bearer to stand still—the couple led guests through the vineyard to an indoor cocktail hour in Martinelli's Italian-style villa, before an outdoor seated reception in the courtyard.


"Anyone who knows me knows that I'm obsessed with oysters and a good steak," Angela says. The couple served oysters on the half shell, filet mignon, scallops, and Cornish hen. Guests quenched their thirst with colorful lemonade in between rounds on the dance floor.

Angela and her family DIY'ed the menus to reflect the lace accents on their invitations and their blush, ivory, and metallic color palette. The menu cards were made up of three layers of ivory, pink, and taupe shimmer paper with raised gold lettering, accented by ivory lace and a rhinestone. The couple used low centerpieces of blush and ivory roses, hydrangea, dusty miller, stock and dahlias with ivory votive candles and linens. The result? A soft, ethereal, classic look in fitting with the romantic surroundings.

To incorporate her heritage into the reception, Angela entertained guests with traditional Chinese lion dancers. They were a smash hit: most of the attendees had never seen anything like it before, and some raved that it was the best part of the party.

Angela has a major sweet tooth. Fittingly, guests received pink candy in lace-trimmed apothecary jars as favors (and sampled it on the dessert table) for a delectable end to the evening.

Angela, Jacob, and Angela's mom traveled far and wide, from San Francisco to Paris, to test the very best French macarons around for their wedding. They settled on a pink (apricot-peach flavored) tower sourced from Sugarie, a local bakery, to coordinate with their warm color palette.

The pice de resistance of the dessert table was a three-tier ivory cake, embellished with floral appliques and topped with pink roses edged with rhinestones. "The design of the cake was based on my wedding dress," Angela says.

For a keepsake they can return to throughout their lives, the couple decorated six jars in which guests could place written well-wishes and advice for their first, fifth, tenth, twentieth, twenty-fifth, and fiftieth anniversaries.

Angela's advice to future brides? "Find a photographer you absolutely adore and trust. We gushed over the photos of Annie Tao, our photographer, for five years before I even got engaged!"


Ceremony & Reception Venue: Martinelli Event Center || Bride's Wedding Dress: Chinese Cheongsam: Ling Ling Chinese Dresses, Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier, Reception Dress: Sue Wong || Shoes: Ceremony: Jimmy Choo, Reception: Miu Miu || Jewelry: Nina and Nadri, from Nordstrom || Hair and makeup: Skyla Arts || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale || Groom's Tuxedo: Hugo Boss || Groommen's Tuxedos: Vera Wang at Bridal Galleria || Bride's Wedding Rings: Steve Padis || Florist & Rentals: Delford West Flowers and Gifts || Invitations & Paper Goods: DIY, sourced from Papyrus, Cards and Pockets, and Lace Place|| Music: Ceremony: An Elegant Touch of Strings, Reception: Amos Productions || Catering: Garré Winery || Cake: Cake Delight || Favors: Sugarie || Videography: De Novo Studio || Photography: Annie Tao Photography

—Amanda First

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A Glamorous Winter Wedding at the San Francisco Design Center

 California, Formal, Glamorous, Peter Langner, Real Wedding, Real Weddings, Romantic, Traditional, Winter  Comments Off on A Glamorous Winter Wedding at the San Francisco Design Center
Dec 202013
 

The holiday season has brought lots of good luck and good fortune to Angela, 28, and Kevin, 29, over the years. Though the pair met when they were in high school, it wasn't until a New Year's Eve party in 2008 that they reconnected and their romance was kindled. Three years later, on Christmas morning in 2011, Kevin hid Angela's engagement ring in her stocking. As she pulled out the box, he got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.

A few days shy of a year later, the couple wed at St. Ignatius Church, a location full of significance. The bride and groom both went to St. Ignatius College Prep, as did their fathers. During the planning process, they were looking at Angela's grandfather's football program from his days at the University of San Francisco, which St. Ignatius Church is affiliated with, in the 1930's. Seated directly in front of him in the team photo was Kevin's grandfather! There was no question that the church was the perfect place for the couple to tie the knot.

On December 22, 2012, Angela and Kevin wed in a wintry-themed wedding full of holiday joy. They ended 2012–and began their lives together–with a black-tie affair inspired by Frank Sinatra and a love of snow.

"My sister was married at the same time of year, but on a vineyard in wine country," says Angela. "We chose a more formal holiday celebration so that each of our weddings would be different and special."

Angela wore a two-piece gown by Oscar de la Renta. The duchess satin princess skirt had a retro, 40s feel. The lace bustier was studded with taffeta flowers and crystals. To fight the chill, she topped her gown with a faux-fur wrap.

The bride carried a soft bouquet of white peonies, garden roses, ranunculus, sweet peas, and lisianthus. The bow echoed the detail on the back of her dress.

Kevin and Angela got lucky when it came to their ceremony décor. "The church was already decorated for Christmas, so we didn't have to do anything! The trees, lights, pinecones, and ribbons were breathtaking," Angela says.

They had a traditional Catholic ceremony, including two cantors. Says Angela, "You could hear a pin drop when they sang 'The Prayer'."

Escort cards were displayed on gray and silver ribbons hung from birch branches. The same wintry theme was carried though to the reception, where votive candles hung from silver branches nestled in piles of snow.

White and soft green floral arrangements of roses, hydrangeas, and dusty miller topped the tables. Angela and Kevin's chairs were marked with wooden Mr. and Mrs. signs.

Layer upon layer of sparkle, textured chargers, sequined tablecloths, and crisp gray and white hues transformed the tables into snow-covered vignettes. Angela set favors for her guests–winter-themed candles tied with pewter ribbon to look like Christmas presents–at each place.

The five-tiered cake was frosted with buttercream. Two tiers were piped with a lace pattern to match Angela's dress.

"Make sure you take a moment together, just the two of you, to absorb it all in," says Angela. "The day goes by so fast." The couple has yet to take their honeymoon, but they're looking forward to a trip to Europe in 2014.

Ceremony Venue: St. Ignatius Church, San Francisco || Reception Venue: The Galleria at the San Francisco Design Center || Day-Of Coordinator: Celia Barbaccia || Bride's Wedding Dress: Oscar de la Renta, from Marina Morrison || Veil: Peter Langner, from Marina Morrison || Shoes: Kate Spade || Hair: Antonio Venegas || Makeup: Raina Rombeiro || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Siri || Groom and Groomsmen's Suits: Jos. A. Bank || Wedding Bands: Giraux || Florist: Michael Daigian Design || Invitations & Paper Goods: Hyegraph || Music: The Fundamentals || Catering: Christopher's Fine Catering || Cake: Branching Out Cakes || Rentals, Lighting, & Linens: Hartmann Studios, Got Light, La Tavola || Videography: Thomas Hughes Films || Photography: Tia & Claire Studio

—Jaimie Schoen

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One Couple’s Modern Winter Wonderland Wedding at Studio450 in New York City

 Christos, Elegant, Formal, Glamorous, New York, Real Weddings, Romantic, Winter  Comments Off on One Couple’s Modern Winter Wonderland Wedding at Studio450 in New York City
Dec 192013
 

Erica, 30, and Josh, 29, were high school sweethearts, but meeting as teens didn't stop the couple from dating for more than ten years before Josh popped the question. At 7 a.m., Josh tied the ring around their dog's paw, then let her loose on the bed to wake Erica up as he got down on one knee. "We are private, simple people," says Erica. "I wouldn't have changed a thing about our proposal!" Once Erica was fully awake, they met their families for brunch to celebrate the good news.

The couple, who both have December birthdays and got engaged in February, knew they wanted an ethereal winter wonderland celebration for their wedding. "Incorporating elements of snow, pine cones, and bare branches felt right for both of us," Erica says. On December 22, 2012, they invited 200 guests to join them at Studio450 in New York. The panoramic views, as well as lots of frosty white décor, filled the room with touches of their favorite season.

Erica turned to Pinterest for inspiration. "I didn't have to fill my tiny studio apartment with stacks of magazines!" she says. How Pin-worthy is this shot of her wedding band in a tray of mouthwatering macarons?

The bride's lacy Louboutins were a serious score from an invite-only sample sale. "Leighton Meester previously wore them to the Teen Choice Awards!" says Erica. "She's the one who put the heel-cushions in. I left them there because they fit perfectly! Thanks Leighton!" Erica did make one big change to her footwear, though. She removed the oversized flowers on the toes and replaced them with shimmering brooches.

All of the bouquets featured white, ivory, and soft, dusty roses. The flower girl, in a nude tulle gown, had a moment of drama on her way down the aisle. "She dropped her basket, and was sad that the petals had spilled," says Erica. "Her brother tried to help by kicking the basket down the aisle to spread out the petals, which ended up putting the flower girl in tears. But I wouldn't change a thing!"

The winter-inspired chuppah featured handmade garlands of orchids and carnation pomanders draped over bare branches and birch poles.

Erica's father accompanied her down the aisle to the traditional Jewish ceremony. She wore a layered tulle Christos gown with a bejeweled belt that she made herself. For the ceremony, she topped her gown with a tulle jacket borrowed from her cousin. Josh wore a classic tuxedo. "The bowtie was for me!" says the bride.

The couple used a gorgeous oversized mirror instead of traditional escort cards. Guests' names and table numbers were written in white calligraphy.

A combination of rectangular and square tables filled the room. Floating candles, birch vases, and lush white flowers topped the tables. The couple served seasonal foods in a buffet format to keep things moving. "The sushi station was a highlight. I'm a huge fan, so we had sushi chefs rolling from cocktail hour until the end of the night!" say Erica.

Erica always wanted a dessert bar, but couldn't bring in sweet treats from around New York City because she and Josh used a Kosher caterer. Her caterer surprised her by going heavy on the desserts, serving up monogrammed macarons, cake pops, chocolates, and more.

The couple said "I Do" just before their birthdays and the holidays, so they spent the days after their wedding at home with family and friends. "I slept for two days straight!" says Erica. Her advice for brides-to-be is to go with your gut. "If you feel strongly about something, do it. Remember: this is your day."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Studio450 || Wedding Planner: Danielle Bobish of Curtain Up Events || Bride's Wedding Dress: Christos || Shoes: Christian Louboutin || Jewelry: Effy Jewelry || Hair & Makeup: Jess Steinke || Wedding Bands: The Groom's Grandfather, The Bride's Mother || Florist: Anthony Brownie Flowers & Events || Invitations: Written Confections || Music: DJ Josh Sparber || Catering, Cake & Rentals: Zami Caterers || Photography: Josh Wong Photography

—Jaimie Schoen

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A Four-Day Multicultural Wedding Extravaganza in Chicago, Illinois

 Chicago, Elegant, Fall, Formal, Glamorous, Real Weddings, Romantic  Comments Off on A Four-Day Multicultural Wedding Extravaganza in Chicago, Illinois
Dec 122013
 

Chances are, by the time your wedding is over, you'll wish you'd had a few more hours to celebrate. Lisa, 30, and Vinay, 31, knew a single day wouldn't be long enough for their Hindu and western wedding celebration, so they had their family and friends join them in Chicago for a four-day weekend that brought their cultures together in an extravagant, colorful way.

This couple's over-the-top wedding started with a quiet proposal on a lake. Pretending that the sailboat they were supposed to take had left without them, a captain took Vinay and Lisa out on the water to "catch up with their party"–though what Vinay really wanted was to get Lisa out on the boat alone. Suddenly, an airplane appeared overhead with a banner reading "Lisa, Will You Marry Me?" and Vinay got down on one knee.

Lisa and Vinay met at Northwestern University and still live and work in Chicago, so they knew they wanted to get married in the city. The entire celebration took place at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel on the weekend of September 2nd, 2012. "We had multiple events and many out-of-town guests, and didn't want people to have to run all over the city, so having everything at the hotel worked perfectly," says Lisa. Here are the gorgeous, colorful details of their marathon wedding celebration.

Bridal Henna

As is tradition for Hindu weddings, Lisa had intricate mehndi, or henna, done for the celebration.

Bride in Gold and Red Lengha

Lisa wore a bridal lengha, which is traditional Indian attire. "I wanted something more gold than the traditional red that Indian brides wear because the ceremony décor was all red," she says of her outfit. Her bridesmaids wore brightly-colored saris with matching beading and embroidery.

Vinay arrived at the ceremony according to tradition, on a horse decked out in beaded and embroidered fabric. He was escorted by family members and friends.

Hindu Wedding Ceremony Mandap
Hindu Wedding Ceremony Decor

The Hindu ceremony took place in the hotel's Empire Ballroom. The couple's families joined them under the mandap, or canopy, for the ceremony. Vinay and Lisa's priest helped them keep the traditional ceremony on the shorter side ("Hindu ceremonies can be three hours or more!" says Lisa), and also said the blessings in both Hindu and English so that everyone could follow along. Pillows were arranged on the floor so that guests could get close and feel comfortable.

"Our family and friends practiced for weeks to perform dances for us," Lisa says. "It was so touching to see how our two families came together. It made me realize how lucky we are to have so many people dedicated to being a part of our lives."

Purple Stuart Weitzman Peep-Toe Pumps

For the Western wedding, Lisa couldn't help but include a vibrant pop of color. She paired her gown with purple Stuart Weitzman pumps and carried a bright bouquet of fuchsia garden roses and spray roses, phalaenopsis orchids, purple hydrangeas, and lisianthus.

Bridesmaids in Floor-Length Magenta Dresses

The bridesmaids wore magenta chiffon gowns and carried smaller versions of Lisa's bouquet. Vinay and his groomsmen wore three-piece tuxedoes.

"Because our Indian ceremony and other events were pretty bold and flashy, I wanted the western ceremony to be more simple," says the bride. She let the ornate room speak for itself, adding a simple stage cover and aisle runner. "Having two wedding ceremonies seems like a lot," she says, "but it was important for us to have both of our cultures represented."

Formal Pink and Purple Wedding Reception
Pink and Purple Floral Centerpieces
Pink and Purple Floral Centerpieces with Candles

The ceremony décor featured rich colors and Indian touches. Metal lanterns and elephants were a nod to Vinay's heritage. Orange and fuchsia roses, dahlias, and purple hydrangeas were arranged in low vessels. A touch of shine from the mercury-glass candle holders broke up the colorful displays, while the glow of candlelight warmed the room.

"Vinay designed the monogram that we used on the cake," says Lisa. Henna-inspired piping decked the colorful confection, which was topped with bright fresh flowers. Alternating layers featured red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting.

The groom's cousins played Sugarland's "Stuck Like Glue" for the couple's first dance. "Vinay and I put so much time and effort into everything, and we wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of our family and friends," says Lisa.

After planning such an involved wedding, you can be sure that Lisa has some great advice. "Figure out what is most important to you, and make sure that you make those things happen," she says. "Don't worry about the small stuff."

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Palmer House Hilton Hotel || Wedding Planner: Lauren Carter of lola Event Productions || Bride's Wedding Dress: Lengha: Studio Elite, Wedding Dress: Augusta Jones || Shoes: Indian Wedding: Gucci, Western Wedding: Stuart Weitzman || Jewelry: Bloomingdale's || Hair: Cathy Battistoni of Beauty on Call, Pamela Moore of Avieve Salon & Day Spa || Makeup: Rebecca Males of Sonia Roselli, Joshua Graham of Façade Make-Up Artistry || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Saris: Studio Elite, Western Dresses: The Dessy Group || Groom's Tuxedo: Armani || Groommen's Tuxedos: Calvin Klein at Men's Wearhouse || Bride's Wedding Rings: Harry Winston || Florist & Rentals: Event Creative || Invitations & Paper Goods: Designed by Lindsay Chenault Bolton, Printed by Gary Mordhorst of AccuColor Plus, Inc. || Music: Tabla Dhol, Rendezvous Music || Catering: Palmer House Hilton Hotel, India House || Cake: Take the Cake || Favors: Indian Sweets from Devon Street in Chicago || Videography: Epic Motion || Photography: Jen Lynne Photography

—Jaimie Schoen

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