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Jen & Joe, Napa Valley

Planning Joe and Jen’s Wedding was one of the many highlights of last year, especially because the groom happens to be my little brother. We had an absolute blast planning their Napa Valley nuptials!

Jen grew up in the Bay Area and always knew she wanted a Wine Country Wedding. After visiting Napa Valley and Sonoma to look for venues, we decided on The Vintage Estate in downtown Yountville. The Vintage Estate was incredible – large enough to hold 250 + guests, ceremony, reception and dinner could be held outside and we could continue the dancing and reception late into the evening in their barrel room.

We had the most incredible team of vendors. Vrai Photography and I Do Films flew out to Yountville for the weekend to capture every moment, starting with the Rehearsal Dinner at Merryvale. Déjà vu Band from Chicago also came out to celebrate with the couple and kept the dance floor packed until the early hours of the next morning. Sharla Flock Designs created the most beautiful table arrangements consisting of hydrangeas, roses, dahlias and foliage to capture a natural, organic feel for this outdoor wedding. We brought in wooden farm tables, wooden wine barrels for cocktail rounds, tons of candles and lanterns along with hanging café lights to create an intimate feel during this outdoor reception. We placed the escort cards into wooden boxes filled with fresh grapes and vines and displayed them on a wooden farm table. Magnificent Milestones created the beautiful save the dates, invitations and all of the day of items for Jen and Joe. It was incredible!

We had the best wedding weekend starting a Bridesmaid Luncheon at Chandon, Groomsmen Luncheon at Quintessa and the Rehearsal Dinner at Merryvale – which was held in the stunning Cask Room. We adorned one long table with candelabras and an abundance of floral and it was such a beautiful setting. The bridesmaids and groomsmen got ready in separate suites at The Vintage Estate and Joe and Jen had their “first look” at Quintessa – a special place for both families. We took pictures around the estate and made our way back to The Vintage Estate where the ceremony was held outside and guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvre in the lawn while dinner was being set up. Guests enjoyed dinner made from the freshest ingredients from the valley and paired with the couples’ favorite Napa Valley wines. We served dessert and late night snacks in the Barrel Room as guests danced the night away. It was the perfect setting and an unforgettable wedding weekend! Congrats Jen and Joe!

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Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Vintage Estate, Yountville, CA
Getting Ready Location: The Vintage Inn
Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Bridesmaid Dresses: J Crew
Bride’s Shoes: Christian Louboutin
Floral and Décor: Sharla Flock Designs
Lighting: The Lux Productions
Invites and Day of Items: Magnificent Milestones
Cupcakes and Dessert Station: Sift Cupcake
Catering: The Vintage Estate
Photography: Vrai Photography
Videography: I Do Films
Linens: La Tavola and Classic Party Rentals
Farm Tables and Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Ceremony and Reception Entertainment: Déjà vu
Hair and Make Up: Sherrie Long
Rehearsal Dinner: Merryvale
Bridal Luncheon: Chandon
Groomsmen Luncheon: Quintessa
Day of Coordinators: Stacy McCain Event Planning

Melissa & Zach, The Peninsula Hotel

In celebration of our recent Valentine’s Day (yes, I know I am a little behind), I wanted to share my best friend’s wedding with you. Enjoy!

As a wedding planner in Chicago, I knew coordinating my best friend’s wedding was going to be one of the best experiences I could have. I was able to spend this past year doing what I love most, with the friend I love most. More importantly, I was able to work with some of my favorite vendors in Chicago and I cannot thank them enough for creating such a perfect day for Melissa and Zach.

Melissa and Zach were engaged in March. We had originally planned for a June 2013 wedding; until Melissa realized she didn’t want to be engaged for over a year. What meant more to her was marrying Zach…not planning the wedding. That’s where I came in! The next five months were filled with meetings, tastings, samples, site visits, and dress fittings – all completed before Melissa (who is a second grade teacher), started school again in August.

Melissa and Zach met here in Chicago, and live in River North. They knew they wanted a city wedding and a convenient location for their out of town guests. They chose The Peninsula Hotel, which offered a beautiful terrace for their (two hour) cocktail reception and a stunning ballroom that was gorgeous at night. We booked Kristina Carter with Vrai Photography right away, and Ray Pryor with Emotia for videography. Both vendors I work with all the time, who I knew would capture every precious moment of their wedding day.

The moment Melissa tried on the Vera Wang strapless Gemma gown, we knew she had chosen the one. With a dusty taupe sash, organza blossom hem and a tissue French tulle, we knew she would be a knock out….and of course, she was. It was edgy but elegant and Melissa wore that dress so well. I will never forget the moment when she walked down that aisle – she was exquisite (and I was balling).

Nicole Pandola, owner of Fleur Couture created gorgeous centerpieces that matched Melissa’s modern and contemporary style with a classic and traditional feel.  We used hydrangeas, callas and orchids and surrounded each table with dozens of candles at varying heights to capture the romance and elegance of the day.

Deja Vu rocked out from the start of the reception to the last hour of the evening and guests enjoyed every minute.  Zach and Melissa have a love of country music and Déjà vu learned several songs as a surprise to the couple.  Michelle, the bride’s only sister and Matron of Honor, had the best speech I have ever heard.  She wrote and rapped the entire song to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme, and got the crowd cheering and laughing so hard; it was incredible.

Melissa’s wedding to Zach was the highlight of my year. She was so humbled by the entire wedding planning experience and for that, I am truly grateful. She didn’t stress about the flowers, linens or chairs…she didn’t worry about the food, her hair or her walk down the aisle – the only thing she cared about was marrying her best friend. And that she did. Congratulations to my best friend; thank you for allowing me to play a part in the planning of your wedding and for reminding me everyday how lucky I am, to do what I do!

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Wedding Planner: Lauren Knuepfer of LK Events
Ceremony Venue: St. Joseph’s
Reception Venue: The Peninsula Hotel Chicago
Hotel Location: The Peninsula Hotel Chicago
Hair and Make Up: Antoinette White
Florist: Fleur Couture
Lighting: Frost Lighting
Band: Deja Vu
Photographer: Vrai Photography
Video: Emotia
Invitations and Paperie: Magnificent Milestones
Dress: Vera Wang
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bridesmaids Dresses: Jenny Yoo

Meg & Dave, The Field Museum

I met Meg and Dave two years before his and her wedding date and I still can’t believe how fast the time flew!  Meg and Dave live in Ann Arbor and when they came into town for the planning meetings, we would not only get much done in that short time, but we would talk and laugh for hours.  Meg and Dave are two of the sweetest, most loving friends I know and I was so fortunate to have been a part of their wedding.

Meg and Dave met on an archeological dig in Pompeii….need I say more?  The two of them started dating when they returned to the states and were engaged a few years later.  They knew they wanted a unique Chicago wedding and after a few venue tours, we walked into the Field Museum and they both fell in love – not only because of the beautiful architecture and iconic history this museum has, but it truly captured who they are as a couple.

We had an incredible design team who transformed Stanley Field Hall into a stunning reception site.  Jesse Deckard @ Event Creative gave the room an intimate feel with French Regency style lounge furniture, vibrant lighting and cascading colorful orchids.  The ceremony was held inside, as it was a little too cold to be outside on the northeast terrace but it was magnificent none the less.  Meg made her grand entrance from the south dome stairs with her brother during her processional and guests enjoyed fantastic food by Food For Thought during the reception and danced non-stop, thanks to Déjà vu.

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Ceremony Venue: Field Museum
Reception Venue: Field Museum
Hotel: Hilton Towers, Michigan Ave
Rehearsal Dinner: Hilton Towers, Michigan Ave
Photography: Amanda Hein
Band: Déjà vu
Catering: Food For Thought
Floral and Décor: Jesse Deckard @ Event Creative
Lighting: Frost Lighting
Invitations: Magnificent Milestones
Transportation: VIP
Wedding Cake: Cake
Hair and Make Up: Beauty on Call
Dress: Vwidon
Bridesmaid Dresses:  Dessy
Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss

Kathryn & Zach, Harold Washington Library

I had the pleasure of coordinating a friend’s wedding this past May. The groom, Zach, and I have known each other since the 6th grade and when his fiancé called me about their wedding, I was ecstatic. When Kathryn and I met to discuss her wedding I knew immediately we would become friends. We had a blast chatting about her ideas and visions for her wedding day.

The planning began immediately and Kathryn and Zach selected Harold Washington Library for their venue. We then booked Deja Vu Band, Tammy Leathem of Leathem Photography and Fleur Couture to handle their floral and décor. Although we knew the G8-NATO Summit was taking place in Chicago that weekend, we weren’t informed until February that the Library would be used for Federal Government purposes. Our invitations were printed, Save the Dates had been sent and all vendors were booked, so I knew we had a challenge ahead of us. I immediately contacted everyone in my network, the City of Chicago and all of our vendors to inform them of the situation and prepare them for a back up plan. Nothing was going to stop this wedding from happening – not even NATO!

We ended up having a fantastic wedding weekend! We started at Osteria Via Stato for their rehearsal dinner with family and close friends (and an awesome groom’s cake – thanks to Amy Beck Cake Design). On Saturday, Kathryn and Zach had their first look at the park outside the Sofitel. After photos around Chicago and staying clear of the protests, Kathryn and Zach were married at St. James in Lincoln Park. The reception at Harold Washington Library was stunning! Deja Vu kept the dance floor packed all night long and Blue Plate catered an exquisite meal for the guests. We are so fortunate to Harold Washington Library for their support and all the vendors involved given the circumstances with NATO. Kathryn and Zach had an unforgettable wedding weekend!

Special thanks to our vendors:

Reception: Harold Washington Library
Church: St. James
Catering: Blue Plate
Floral: Fleur Couture
Band: Deja Vu Band
Dress: Lazaro
Shoes: Nina
BM Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid
Grooms Tux: Jos A Banks
Cake: Take the Cake (now known as Cake)
Transportation: VIP Valet Services
Make Up: Brian Sutheby
Invitations and Paperie: Kustom Kreations
Photographer: Tammy Leathem of Leathem Photography
Hotel: Sofitel
Rehearsal:  Osteria Via Stato
Groom’s Cake: Amy Beck Cake Design