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