Sara + Anthony: Loyola University

Sara and Anthony’s wedding was a fairy-tale day, followed by an evening of so much fun that even I was moving and grooving! On the wedding morning, Sara got ready at the Hampton Inn before heading over with the ladies to the ceremony at Madonna della Strada. There, as Sara walked down the aisle, she and Anthony saw each other for the first time. It was such a beautiful moment!

After saying, “I Do”, the celebration continued at Mundelein Ballroom nearby. Afincao was the emcee and DJ, while Rumbambere got the crowd pumping with a few long sets up Latin music following dinner. And boy did the band pack the dance floor! For parts of the night, all 200 guests packed the floor; not one person was seated! Nicodem Creative captured the entire day beautifully.

As Sara comes from a Spanish family, there were Spanish traditions scattered throughout the day. One of my favorites was the custom of the giving of wedding coins during the ceremony. Thirteen gold coins (arras) are given to the bride by the groom, signifying his willingness to support her. Often presented in ornate boxes or gift trays, this represents the bride’s dowry and holds good wishes for prosperity. Traditionally, these coins become a part of their family heirloom. 

Many other partners made this day possible. Bakery: The Baking Institute. Caterer: Aramark. Florist: Henry Hampton Floral. Hair: Deisy Toledo. Makeup: Hannah Elizabeth Beauty. Photo Booth: Photo Booth of the Stars. Transportation: Top Fleet.


Weddings that Make an Impact

Have a cause tugging at your heart strings? Want to use your wedding day as more than a celebration of your love, but also a way to give a little something back to the world? There are a lot of ways to bring the spirit of generosity into your wedding plans.

Donate all the "Things" from the Day
Many couples we work with wonder, “What should I do with all the "things" once the wedding is over?"  At the end of a typical wedding night, there are food and beverage leftovers, favors, floral arrangements, décor, and more that need homes. We vote that you donate it! Have a plan in place before the night of the wedding, or everything will likely just go in the trash. Research if there is a food bank or homeless shelter in your community that can use extra food or cake. A thrift store that supports a good cause can take those two dozen vases and the unopened jars of bubbles. One of my favorite ways to share the beauty of your big day is to donate your centerpieces to hospitals or retirement communities. Random Acts of Flowers is a Chicago-based company that delivers hope and healing to people in our community. 

Interested in donating your items? Dotted Events can also help you find places to donate leftover items after the big day. We offer this service free of charge to any of our wedding planning or event planning clients.


Keep the Day Green
It warms our hearts when couples incorporate efforts to give back to the planet on their big day. We've seen many ways this has been done over the years. A recent couple with whom we worked used compostable bamboo plates and serviceware. Another couple planted a tree during their ceremony and donated another couple of trees in honor of tying the knot.


Pass the Dress On
The dress was stunning. You awed the masses and felt like a princess. But now that the big day is over, what should you do with it? Instead of preserving it and storing it in your closet, consider passing the gown on. One of my favorite local charities is Wish Upon a Wedding, which is a nonprofit organization that grants weddings and vow renewals for couples facing serious illness or a life-altering circumstance. 

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Charitable Giving
In lieu of a traditional gift registry, consider inviting your guests to give to a cause that is important to you. A recent couple asked that their guests consider donating to PAWS of Chicago. Another couple donated to a cause on behalf of their guests instead of offering a party favor.


Food For Greater Elgin: Grand Victoria Casino

Another year of planning flew by and we closed out the fifth annual Food For Greater Elgin Pallet to Palate fundraising event, which came to life late this May. We came back again this year with the goal of increasing the revenue, increasing the participation AND making the event more meaningful and more fun.

This year, the event was held at Grand Victoria Casino, in their newly remodeled ballroom overlooking the Fox River. With over 265 guests, this year's event had more participants, and it also raised over $50,000, which was a $25% increase from the year before. The evening was centered around food and beverage tastings, but also included some games, a photo booth, prizes, a raffle, a silent auction and live jazz music. 

Founded in 2011,  FFGE is the largest client-choice food pantry in the Elgin area.  It strives to combat food insecurity in the most effective ways, and also addresses the fight against hunger holistically by coordinating weekly client-choice food distributions full of fresh, nutritious foods, offering a Community Resource Center designed to connect individuals to additional resources to help address underlying root causes contributing to food insecurity. and collaborating with other organizations and businesses. FFGE currently provides stability to nearly 6,000 individuals, of whom nearly half are children. What an honor to be invited to be a part of such amazing work!

The evening featured chefs and mixologists from the Elgin-area, each of which provided tastings of their favorite menu items. From Cajun to BBQ to Italian to Indian, there were scrumptious tidbits of all types to try! A bar stocked with wine and craft beer rounded out the menu for the evening. Vendors included: Cafe Roma, Cooper's Hawk Winery, Crumpet's Luncheonette, Chic Chef Catering, Delish Cakes, Dream Foods, Emmett's Brewing Co., Grand Victoria Casino, Lagunita's Brewing Co., Los Fernandez Restaurant, Martini Room and Rosie O'Hare's Public House. 

Photographs were captured by Gil Feliciano. Marketing and design was done by ColorWord Creative.

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Ellen + Nate: The Joinery

It was a year ago that Ellen and Nate tied the knot at The Joinery. The two are a match made in heaven, and the day radiated with love and was filled with some of their favorite things. A florist, Ellen and one of her close friends designed the arrangements for the day... and you can see in the backdrop of the ceremony how florals were incorporated into a stunning and unique piece of living art. The two love Costa Rican food, so Chicago's only Costa Rican restaurant, Irazu, catered the dinner. Ellen adores vintage clothing and selected a vintage dress that fit her like a glove.

A few partners that made the day magical included: Bakery: Tubby’s Taste, Florist: Stephen Hill, Hair: Chelsea Frye, Photographer: John Troxel

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Kate + Eric: Radisson Blu Chicago

This winter wedding was both beautiful AND fun! Kate and Eric’s wedding at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel was stunningly unique with its woodland-themed decor and hundreds of candles. There were surprises scattered throughout the evening... from butterflies nestled in the arrangements to a blue wedding dress to a second line that popped out and led the guests from the cocktail reception to the dinner. "What's next?" was what the crowd wondered all evening. Plus, I got to work with a few of my favorite vendors... including Belen from Gerber + Scarpelli Photography.

Many key partners brought this day together with beauty and charm, including: Navjot Design, Art of Imagination, Taylor &Co., 2nd City Diamonds, Greenvelope, Kate Johnson Artistry Bridal Team, Clix Imaging, Gerber + Scarpelli, West Town Bakery, Okyne Media Lab and Biossat Custom Productions.   

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The Chemistry of Love

I usually take on planning and designing photo shoots two to three times a year. They are big projects, but also a lot of fun. And each and every time something about the shoot excites me in a way my other projects I'm working on don't, which makes the endeavor totally worth it. This time, I loved getting to know the couple. Krystle and Alyssa are a real couple who bonded over language. Krystle is deaf and communicates through sign language, and Alyssa also knows how to use sign language. In addition to their shared ability to sign, they are both teachers. 

Now, don't get me wrong, teachers of all subjects are wonderful. But I needed an extra twist to add to the shoot, so I decided they were science teachers... much to the chagrin of Krystle, who is actually a sign language teacher. Ha! We sprinkled the shoot with hints of science-related details. For example, the custom stationery suite included hexagons and other soft chemistry touches. Their first look was at a luscious botanical garden. The reception venue, Room 1520, has floating molecules hanging from the ceiling. The table numbers and escort cards used elements of the periodic table to inform guests of their seating. 

The shoot took place in Chicago and started off at the photographer’s studio, Nomee Studio. There, the brides got ready and took portraits. The two ladies then headed to Garfield Park Conservatory for their first look and some pictures together amongst the greenery. Finally, the day concluded with the ceremony and reception shots at Room 1520.

Other incredible partners in this shoot include: Bakery - Arlyce Giudice, Accessories - Stiletto Boss, Florals - Blossom and Branch Designs, Floral Wall - Lil Epic Design, Hair & Make Up - Milian Bonillo, Hair & Make Up Assistant -  Beauty by La'Yanna, Rentals - Blossom and Branch Designs, Stationery - Paper Love Club, Videography - Steve Miller.



Behind the Scenes at Culture Without Borders: The Ivy Room

We don't always get behind-the-scenes photos from events, but photographer Nancy Valladolid did a fantastic job of capturing the activity throughout the afternoon and evening leading up to our Culture Without Borders fundraising gala, which raised money for the Pan-African Association and which took place at The Ivy Room. Find out more about the event HERE.

With nearly 20 adult and children models, many of whom are refugees directly affected by the work of the organization, there was a lot that needed to happen the afternoon of the gala to get everyone fitted into the clothes they would be wearing and to have hair and make-up finalized. Four amazing hair stylists and make-up artists volunteered their time and talents to do incredible work! A huge thanks to Milian Bonillo, Kate Johnson Artistry, Tricia Davis and Kendyl Beauty for all they did to put together the looks. Fashion designers Joquette Boutique and Akese Stylelines showed off their unique pieces in the fashion show.


Culture Without Borders Gala: The Ivy Room

Last week we executed Pan-African Association's annual Culture Without Borders gala at The Ivy Room. After months of planning, we couldn't wait to kick off the fun and informative affair... and raise money for a good cause!! The evening started off with a cocktail reception, silent auction and raffle. It led into a dinner and program and concluded with passed desserts, group photos and a fashion designer showcase.

We had many incredible folks and groups involved in the evening. Sarah Schulte, news reporter for ABC 7 News, was the emcee. Two refugees, Semere and Francine, shared their stories. Dance group Afrikan Heat from University of Illinois at Chicago and master drummer Prince Malonga with Beto Bantu performed for the evening. Fashion designers Joquette Boutique and Akese Stylelines showed off new pieces in a fashion show. And guess what... most of the models were actually refugees who had benefited from services like those provided by Pan-African Association. DJ Malik and DJ Teebot kept the energy high with their music.

We also had many great behind the scenes folks who made a big impact on the evening. There were four hair and makeup artists who donated their time and talents: Milian Bonillo, Kate Johnson Artistry, Tricia Davis and Kendyl Beauty did hair and makeup for the models. Escandar Group Events helped with some planning in the final weeks, and helped coordinate the many moving parts the night of the event!

All photographs below are by the talented photographer Nancy Valladolid. I LOVE the colors she captured. How beautiful and how full of life!