2017 RefugeeOne Annual Gala & Late Night Party: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel

As many of those close to me know, I have been a supporter of RefugeeOne for many years. This year I again served as a member of the gala planning committee. With the bulk of the planning starting about six months prior to the event, it was an honor to be involved in such an extraordinary evening to raise money for an incredible cause.

At this year's April event, we celebrated 35 years of refugee resettlement by RefugeeOne. After a year of welcoming a record number of courageous refugees during the worst refugee crisis of our lifetime, RefugeeOne was humbled and amazed by the unprecedented amount of community support. Due to the generosity of the event sponsors, the 750+ Gala and Late Night Party guests, silent auction and raffle donors, and dozens of event volunteers, the organization raised more than $373,000 at this year's benefit to support refugees building new lives in Chicago!

One of my favorite parts of the evening took place during the program. We had the opportunity to get to know the Mweniake & Mwenembuka family through a video featuring their story, and then they joined us to perform a song. Both videos are below, along with some other pictures from the fantastic evening!

Susan + Rob's Wedding: Warehouse: 109

Susan and Rob are full of charm, so it was suiting that their wedding was full of it too! While there was initially the threat of storms on their special day, it turned out to be a gorgeous summer afternoon and evening.

The occasion kicked off with the two meeting at Eaton Preserve in the early afternoon for their first look. They then headed to Plymouth Congregational Church for the ceremony. After saying "I do", they closed out the evening at one of my favorite venues, Warehouse: 109, which is a unique event space with incredible vignettes, including a gallery of antique motorcycles, a vintage bar, and a 1958 Airstream turned into a lounge. 

Appetizers, pizza and gelato were created and served by Wooden Paddle Pizza, another one of my favorite wedding partners. The guests absolutely loved watching them bake the pizzas in their custom wood-burning stove, and believe me... the pizzas tasted as good as they look in the pictures. Yum! To finish off the celebration, Backthird Entertainment opened up the dance floor with a mix of today's hits and some throw-backs, while Cupcakes for Courage served scrumptious treats from their food truck. Kio Kreations put together the lovely floral arrangements, M&M Special Events provided many of the rentals and Poe Photography captured all of the images for the day!


Food For Greater Elgin Fundraising Event: The Haight

After six months of planning, Food For Greater Elgin's fourth annual Pallet to Palate fundraising event came to life late this May. This was the first year Dotted Events had an opportunity to work with the organization as the event planner. The event was held at The Haight, which was an amazing venue at which to host the event's 250 participants, a 25% increase in attendance from the previous year's event. We were thrilled that the organization was able to raise 68% more funds at this year's event to help make a difference in the community. 

Having grown up in Elgin and with a strong tie to the community, I had heard great things about the work of Food For Greater Elgin (FFGE) over the years. 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 BBQ to Italian to Indian to French, 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: Aliano's Ristorante, Blue Box Cafe, Cafe Roma, Crumpet's Luncheonette, Chic Chef Catering, Delish Cakes, Duke's Catering, Emmett's Brewing Co., Francesca's Campagna, Grand Victoria Casino, Lagunita's Brewing Co., Martini Room and Rosie O'Hare's Public House. 

A new addition to this year's event included a "passport", in which guests visited four interactive stations to learn about the work of FFGE in a fun way, and then were able to turn in the completed passport to have their names entered into a drawing to win prizes. The evening also included a short program, raffle and featured a live jazz band from Backthird Entertainment. Below are some pictures from the evening. The event was captured by James of James Harvey Photography.


Eileen + Michael's Wedding: Ignite Glass Studios

Eileen and Michael both met in law school. Originally from the Chicago area, they both moved back to the city after school, and actually work in law firms in the same building downtown! These two love birds were a joy to work with, and their day was incredibly beautiful. The ceremony took place at Holy Name Cathedral, followed by a reception at Ignite Glass Studios.  

Eileen and Michael are both so genuinely sweet that the day was incredibly emotional. It was clear that each and every person celebrating the day with them was filled with joy, energy and happiness that the two were tying the knot.

The beautiful images below were captured by Danielle Heinson Photography. The many other incredible partners involved in this lovely day included: D'Absolute Events & Catering, The Bread & Butterfly, West Town Bakery, Antje Kastner Studio, Style Matters, Tablescapes and Classic Party Rentals.


Kelsey + Jeff: Two Brothers Roundhouse

At the tail end of last year, I had the privilege of working with Kelsey and Jeff to plan and coordinate their wedding. Kelsey and Jeff shared an awkward third date on Valentine's Day, but by the fourth date, Kelsey knew Jeff was the one! Now this darling couple has sealed the deal and will be spending all future Valentine's Days together!

I met Kelsey through Kelsey and Jeff's wedding photographer, Jennifer of Jennifer Claire Photography. Something about Kelsey struck me from the start... not only is she incredibly hard working, but she is also one of the kindest souls I have met. I couldn't wait to work with her and her fiancé.

Their ceremony was held at Gary United Methodist Church and their reception at Two Brothers Roundhouse. The day also included a stop for a first look, at which the couple's pup Bailey made an appearance. Awww! AND there was an apple cider donut reception between the ceremony and the cocktail reception. Ummm... yum! The day was filled with cute touches.

Many incredible vendors helped make this day a special one, including: The Cakery, Town and Country Gardens, Appease, Inc., Red Letter DJs and A Posh Production.


Sara + Calvin's Football-themed Baby Shower

We're already into post-season, with Superbowl Sunday quickly approaching, what better way to celebrate the coming birth of a little boy than with a football-themed party?! Calvin and Sara are expecting their first son Daxton around the middle of February. In honor of the two, some of Sara's closest friends and family (including me!) joined together to host the baby shower. Nearly 30 women gathered together for the special event.

The party boasted football-themed lunch foods and desserts, a "Stats" board for attendees to predict height, weight and birth date, a photo booth, and time to open up gifts for the couple and baby. Some of the gifts were even football-themed! So cute! 

Out of the Box Winter Shoot: Morgan Manufacturing

This month marks the one year anniversary of a winter shoot planned and executed by Jennifer Claire Photography and Dotted Events.  The shoot was part of the "Out of the Box Challenge" by Catalyst Wedding Co., in which we recieved a variety of surprise shoot elements to incorporate and had just days to come up with a concept and execute the shoot. The challenge was certainly stressful, but was also an opportunity to be creative and work under pressure with some incredible Chicago vendors. 

A bit about the inspiration: The elements in the box were classic elements that seemed to be a perfect fit for a wedding shoot inspired by the 1930's hit "Shall We Dance," but set in modern times. The included wedding dresses were especially crucial elements that influenced our theme and look. Our two brides had actually met as children while taking ballroom dance lessons; they grew up dancing together. As both brides are dancers, we wanted to physically show the act of "moving forward" through their story. As in the film, both artists start off by dancing alone. The dances are beautiful, but they are missing something. After finding one another, they fall in love and begin dancing together, a beautiful dance that will continue for the rest of their lives!

The inspiration was also suiting because we could highlight the barriers that have been broken down over the decades, and how our society is moving forward into times of acceptance and openness. Though we featured some classic 1930's-inspired elements in the shoot, we brought out modern elements intentionally. 

Featured Vendors: Bridal Dresses: Ash + Light, Celia Grace - Bridal Accessories: Kerry Ann Stokes, Alyssa Kristin, Left Bank Bridal - Photography: Jennifer Claire Photography -  Planning and Design: Dotted Events - Venue: Morgan MFG - Floral Design: Blumgarten & Co. - Cake Design: Swedish Bakery - Apparel Styling: Patrick Niles - Hair: Holli Beauty - Makeup: Debra Petrielli - Stationary: Emily Rose Ink - Cocktails: Valcohol - China and Rentals: Rent Vintage Chicago - Models: Alexandria Odekirk, Evelyn Smesh

A 70th Birthday Surprise Party

For Patrick, a 70th birthday celebration was just another milestone. A spry man for his age, he didn't appear to be anywhere near 70 years of age, so to him it was just a number. However, his family wanted to celebrate the day in style and planned a surprise party for him that incorporated all his favorite things... motorcycles, books and Italian cannoli! We reserved an outdoor tent for the festivities at Fat Duck, and the place was packed with friends and loved ones. And goodness was he surprised! The party was a hit!

Dotted Events worked with the Escandar Group to make the birthday surprise come through by finding and booking a venue, developing the party theme, setting up the event space and overseeing the event budget and final payments.