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An Autumnal Affair at the Iconic Drake Hotel

Hard to believe Ashley and Jim’s October 31st wedding was almost a year ago! From the moment I spoke to Ashley over the phone, I knew we would become fast friends; we clicked immediately! I was so excited to plan Ashley and Jim’s nuptials, especially because they happen to be friends with past clients of mine from Food For Thought. Ashley and Jim are two of the most sincere people I have ever met. They are absolutely adorable together and no matter what decision was being made, they always put each other and their family first.

After looking at a few venues, Ashley and Jim chose the Drake Hotel. Ashley had a feeling all along that the Drake was “the one” and they fell in love with the Grand Ballroom for their October wedding. After choosing Kent Drake to document the wedding weekend and Déjà vu to entertain us all night, we focused on floral and décor and selecting the perfect invitations and day of paper from Magnificent Milestones.

Erin at Revel Decor designed this autumnal affair where she created a brilliant fabric archway for the ceremony with suspended votive candles hanging throughout the entire installation. Pops or orange orchid blossoms hung amongst the glowing candles giving an illusion of floating candlelight and blossoms. Since it happened to be on Halloween, Ashley wanted to give her guests a little fun and seasonal accent. We greeted guests with metallic gold painted mini pumpkins that held escort cards designed by Magnificent Milestones. The tables were adorned with rich orange and white botanicals consisting of hydrangea, roses, orchids and calla lilies and touches of green and burgundy floral hanging. We added foliage and branches to add height to the tall pieces and an abundance of candlelight throughout the entire ballroom.

Ashley and Jim had one of the most heartfelt ceremonies and it was truly an honor being a part of the planning experience and wedding weekend. I am fortunate to call Ashley a dear friend and we couldn’t be happier for you and Jim! Congratulations on one year and thank you for choosing LK Events!

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Ceremony and Reception: The Drake Hotel
Wedding Planner: Lauren, LK Events
Photographer: Kent Drake Photography
Hair: Lauren Logan
Make Up: Krystal Hall (bride)
Jessica Bernardi-Meeker (bridesmaids and family)
Transportation: VIP Valet Services
Dress: Jenny Yoo
Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo
Groom’s Tux: Jos. A. Banks
Entertainment: Deja Vu
Officiate: Bruce Otto, Spirited Weddings
Invitations and Day of Paper: Magnificent Milestones
Rehearsal Dinner: Osteria Via Stato

Insider Secret – Budget for Food & Beverage

Chicago is a city known for culinary masters and we find that many of our couples prioritize the food and beverage experience at their wedding. We want to share some helpful hints as you review venue and catering proposals for your special day.

Before you begin thinking of your menu and specialty cocktails, we ask our clients to find their comfort threshold for their wedding food & beverage. A great way to start is to think about this scenario: If the two of you were to go out for a nice dinner in Chicago…have a cocktail and an appetizer, a salad course, a bottle of wine, entrée and dessert…how much would you expect to pay for this night out? Now multiply that by 150 guests…or 250 guests. That begins to put things into perspective as you map out how much you will pay for food & beverage on your wedding day.

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Besides the guest count, here are other items that will affect your food & beverage budget:

    • Chicago weddings are known to be open bar weddings – that is about 4 hours of alcohol being served to your friends and family – with a separate wine service for dinner. Some venues require that your alcohol or mixers are purchased through them, so make sure they provide you pricing in their proposal so that you have a complete understanding of your commitment.
    • Beef and some Fish/Seafood entrees are going to be more expensive than a Chicken entrée and when given the choice, most guests will opt for Beef.
    • Everyone loves the idea of Food Stations, but they are actually more expensive than a plated dinner.
    • While specialty cocktails and late night snacks are a popular option, you never have to apply your full guest count to these items…not everyone will try these.
    • Review your proposal carefully to understand what rental items (i.e. tables, chairs, linens, etc) are included in the cost.

Your guests will remember the food & beverage experience at your wedding, so take the time to understand the costs involved in feeding 150 or 250 guests and then you can have fun with your menu choices!

XO,

LK Events

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Photography: averyhouse, Kent Drake Photography

Irene & Rich, The Racquet Club of Chicago

Congratulations to Irene and Rich who welcomed their son, Luis Felix Paris into the world on March 9th.  He is absolutely beautiful and we could not be happier for you all!

We had so much fun on Irene and Rich’s wedding day.  We began the day getting ready in Irene’s home with her closest friends and family by her side.   After getting dressed in her Amsale gown, Irene met Rich for their first look at the South Gardens of the Art Institute.   Photos continued around the city and then we came back to the Racquet Club to get ready for the ceremony.

Irene carried a textural bouquet composed of blush and white peonies, white ranunculus, blush and white roses and elegant stephanotis blossoms. Guests were greeted by a striking display of monobotanic and monochromatic bouquets in varying glass cylinder vases on mirrored pedestals.  Irene and Rich exchanged vows framed by a collection of pedestals hosting lush floral in an asymmetric configuration.

Irene is from Venezuela so many of their guests were traveling internationally.   It was so important that their friends and family felt comfortable and at home while enjoying the wedding reception. Heffernan Morgan brought in tufted brown leather bars and dark wooden and iron bistro tables for the lounge that allowed their friends and family to sit back and relax throughout the evening.  Guests enjoyed mini chicken empanadas and lamb lollipops and the Racquet Club’s famous sausage en croute along with a gorgeous raw bar display.

The dining tables were adorned with blush peonies, ivory hydrangea, bright green viburnum and pink roses.  We completed the look with tapered candles, pillar candles and etched glass votive candles.  After a delightful dinner of red wine braised short ribs and seared mahi mahi, guests were invited back into the lounge for cake, assorted desserts and dancing. Kent Drake was there to capture it all.  Irene and Rich have one of the most beautiful relationships and I was honored to be a part of their wedding.

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Ceremony and Reception: The Racquet Club of Chicago
Photography: Kent Drake Photography
Ceremony Music: Artistrings
Reception Entertainment: The Chris Sarlas Orchestra
Wedding Cake: Elysia Root Cakes
Floral and Décor: Heffernan Morgan
Lighting: Frost Chicago
Linens: BBJ Linen
Tables: Chicago Farm Tables
Officiant: Bruce Otto, Spirited Weddings
Make Up: Brian Sutherby @ Muse Beauty
Hair: Angelair Salon
Hair on Site: Lauren Logan
Getting Ready Location: Bride’s Home
Honeymoon Suite: The Thompson Hotel
Dress: Amsale
Rehearsal Dinner: Sixteen @ the Trump International Hotel and Tower
Post Wedding Brunch: Fig and Olive
Invitations and Day of Items: Magnificent Milestones
Transportation: VIP Valet Services

Joy & Meta, Private Residence

Where do I even start with these two amazing women? Talk about a love story through the years! They met in grade school on the same softball team, but didn’t start dating until after college. Joy and Meta chose to have a commitment ceremony in 2004 with over 200 of their family members and friends. When Illinois legalized Civil Unions in 2011, they had another celebration to celebrate their Civil Union License. Well of course that meant when the Same Gender Marriage Law was legalized on June 1, 2014, these two knew they had to have one last celebration of their love.

I had the honor of meeting Joy & Meta in early June at the Cook County Clerk’s Office. They had each brought their “witnesses” and the amazing Kent Drake Photography was also present to witness Joy & Meta signing their Civil Union license into a Marriage license. It was an emotional moment for all of us!

A week later, we gathered at Joy’s cousin’s home in Hinsdale for a beautiful reception to celebrate the last hurdle in Joy & Meta’s journey to be legally recognized as a couple. And it was beautiful…a beautiful evening, amazing food and drink, a hoppin’ dance floor and love radiating from every guest. It was such an honor to be a part of this marvelous moment.

Joy and Meta were envisioning a very relaxed celebration, but with a hint of elegance. We worked with Julie at Entertaining Company to develop the evening with rotating stations of food so that guests could meander around the property and find new food at every turn. Joy and Meta also mentioned that they were not “flower” girls, so Julie incorporated their color palette in the linens and glass vases used to accent the dining tables. Guests began arriving at 5pm and were greeted with passed wine, sparkling water and lavender lemonade for refreshments, along with Crispy Gnocchi, a Refreshing Melon and Tiny Tortilla Cups filled with Guacamole and Charred Corn.

Besides the amazing food, guests enjoyed taking photos in the Shutterbooth and dancing all night with spinning tunes from Mark from DJ-Chicago. There were also a few very heartfelt toasts that left not a dry eye in the place. Thank you, Joy and Meta, for allowing us to be a part of your very special day! We are so proud of you and your commitment to each other.

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Beverages: Binny’s Beverage Depot
DJ: DJ-Chicago
Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverage: Entertaining Company
Linen: M&M The Special Events Company
Photographer: Kent Drake Photography
Photo Booth: Shutterbooth
Stationery: Clementine Ink + Paper
Tent: Partytime-HDO Productions
Valet & Transportation: V.I.P. Valet Services
Wedding Planner: LK Events

Getting Ready Photos with Kent Drake Photography

Planner, Check.
Venue, Check.
Caterer, Check.
Photographer, Check.
Band, Check.
Dress, Check.
Prep Location….?
A wedding checklist can be long and overwhelming, with some items feeling more rushed or important than the next. It’s a day you’ve thought about for years, envisioning the dress, the spouse, the venue, the portraits and everything in between, but you can’t . One item I wish to remind you of today, is another location you spend a good part of your time… The prep location!
For many of us, we aren’t born and raised in downtown Chicago. The city is full of transplants and professionals from the surrounding suburbs. You may also have out of town guests, and there is no way a bride & groom should be spending your wedding night in your own bed. The hotel you choose to call “home” for your wedding weekend has a few important factors, which I wanted to provide some insight on from the experience of a professional photographer. I hope this can serve you as some help!

Hotel Service

It’s possible you are having your ceremony and/or reception at the hotel you do your prep at. This is very convenient option for the day, and the hotel staff is there for you all weekend long. Whatever you need (within reason), they understand you are bringing in a lot of business, and should be providing flexible assistance to you and your guests during your stay. This makes the rehearsal process easier, and it’s a one stop shop for your wedding experience. Luxury hotels are not only immaculate, but they excel at high quality service, and that cannot be overlooked.
There are of course downsides to the all in one approach. Most obvious, being you miss out on some of the great venue spaces that are in Chicago. It’s a matter of taste, but there is no shortage of venue options. So due your research, and if you have a planner like LK Events, they know venues and staff inside and out. This is why you brought them in.

Getting Ready

As a photographer, this section will carry the most weight for me. Photographically, the room you decide to dress in, is a big part of your wedding day story. First and foremost, it should fit your style. If you are into modern furniture and sleek lines, that’s the hotel you should be looking for. If you are into classic Chicago architecture and motifs, you should be looking in that direction. Whatever it is, here is what is important to make those images really shine.

1. Windows:

Where ever you end up, ask for the room with the best light. In Chicago, that generally means south facing, and a high floor. That may not be the case for every hotel, so ask the hotel coordinator as you book your suite. Floor to ceiling windows are fantastic, and allow the photographer the most flexibility to control the room.
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2. Suite:

You will have anywhere from 5 to 20 people in that room, depending on your bridal party and family size. That’s a crowd, and has the potential to overwhelm both you and the space. Having a large open suite with a living room set up is great, and multiple rooms are also a plus. I prefer to clear out a room of excess luggage and food/bottles before we starting photographing you putting on your dress. This also allows more flexibility for the photographer to shoot the dress, shoes, accessories without being in the way, or your bridesmaids can dress in the other rooms if need be.
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3. Mirrors:

Once that dress is on, you need to see yourself from head to toe. After all the work you’ve put in, you deserve at least that much! If the room doesn’t have a full length mirror, ask the hotel what they have on hand.
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4. Bridal Party:

I stress this with every couple I meet, and I will do so again here. Please consider having your bridal party dressed if they are done with hair & make up. At the very least, by the time you are putting on your dress. When you flip through your wedding album years down the road, you will appreciate the difference between your friends in their dress versus pajamas. This is so often overlooked, but it does change the tone, and adds that extra touch of class to the room. Now, I am all for getting your girls something personal and that matches to wear all morning long. I think this is great, and is really the best alternative. Whether it’s a robe, monogramed shirt or anything in-between, I love it. It’s a great idea, and is a wonderful favor.
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5. The Gents:

Everything I said above stands here too, with just a little less stress on the suite and mirrors part. The biggest thing, is having the guys get ready in the same building as the girls. You ensure nobody forgets something, the planner/photographer can balance the schedule better, and if you wish to do a first look, it’s very complimentary to first looks. If you have the whole bridal party, parents and more at the same location, no one should be left behind, and everyone has someones cellphone number.
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6. Perks:

What else does the hotel have to offer you? What is the aesthetic and environment of the space? Keep in mind, that many hotels have luxurious bars, lounge spaces, or even rooftops and terraces for you to access. These are priceless perks on your wedding day, so don’t forget to look beyond the suite itself!
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Call an Audible! Private Residence

Let’s just say for a second you have no desire to use a hotel for yourself at all. I’ve photographed in many different prep locations, and it’s not the end of the world. If you have a space in the city that can hold your bridal party, is open and clean, I see no reason to dissuade you. I’ve been in friends homes, and also in more intimate settings with only immediate family present. I honestly loved that too. It was classy and personal, and that fit the bride.
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Everything I’ve shared is about finding what suits your tastes the best, and promoting a relaxing wedding environment. I hope that this was able to provide some insight and help to you in your planning process. Remember to seek advice from other professionals around you, our insight comes from nothing more than experience!

Jessica & Michael, The Ivy Room

I had the absolute pleasure of helping coordinate one of my dearest friends and colleagues’ wedding this past March.  Jessica and I have been working together for several years as she is a talented senior floral designer for Heffernan Morgan.  We became fast friends and have worked on some of our most memorable weddings together.  I was honored when she asked me to help with her wedding plans.

Jessica knew when Michael proposed, that she wanted her ceremony at St. Michael’s Church in Old Town.  The reception was at her favorite venue in Chicago, The Ivy Room.  Given her event schedule, Jessica decided on having the wedding in March, which worked out perfectly, given that March is one of the best months for floral! Jessica designed her entire wedding, starting with the gorgeous bridesmaids gifts.  She made each of them custom wooden boxes with wedding inspirations and personal messages about how important each of the girls were to her.  The bridesmaids all wore variations of gold, champagne and ivory dresses that looked beautiful with the groomsmen’s grey suits.

For the reception, Jessica used bold patterns in shades of gold, ivory and grey, with an abundance of candlelight and modern lighting.  These elements created a sophisticated yet warm and intimate feel.  The floral centerpieces consisted of garden roses, white sweet pea (the bride’s favorite), ranunculus, dusty miller and camelia.  For the “dinner club” feel, banquettes were used that surrounded custom mirrored top tables.  There were custom grey patterned linens on the round and long rectangular tables.  The gold sequin linens that adorned the head table were stunning, along with the custom sputnik chandeliers that hung low over the banquettes.

Jessica created and assembled all of her own invitations, programs, menu and place cards.  Her father made the backdrop for the band, Michael’s dad made the wooden table numbers and Jessica’s mom made the late night cookies to go.  A real family affair! Jessica even baked her own wedding cake!!  Her delicious carrot and chocolate cake was THE best wedding cake I have ever had.

Jessica’s design expertise showed in creating her own magnificent wedding reception.  She had so many personal details that made her wedding day truly special and unique to her and Michael.  It was such an honor to be able to help one of my dearest friends with her wedding.

Congratulations Jessica and Michael!

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Ceremony Site: St. Michael’s Church in Old Town
Reception Venue: The Ivy Room
Photographer: Kent Drake Photography
Caterer: Entertaining Company
Band: Green Light Band
Rentals: Halls Rentals
Linens: BBJ Linen & Tailored Elements
Floral and Decor: Heffernan Morgan Ronsley (HMR) Designs
Planner: LK Events
Cutting Cake: Tipsy Cake
Wedding Cake: THE BRIDE!
(Jessica baked the cakes that were served to the guests – carrot and chocolate)
Bride’s Dress: White by Vera Wang
Bride’s Shoes: BCBG
Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss
Groom’s Shoes: Gucci
Groomsmen’s Ties: Men’s Warehouse
Bride’s Fur: A vintage find borrowed from a colleague
Band Backdrop: Father of the Bride
Table Numbers: Father of the Groom
Guest Favors: Mother of the Bride
Programs, Invites, and Day-of Paperie: The Bride
Bridesmaid ‘s Boxes: The Bride