Carleigh + Caleb: The Atrium

This week marks SIX MONTHS since Carleigh and Caleb tied the knot. A specific story will forever be one of the first things I think about when I remember Carleigh and Caleb. One evening I went to meet with Carleigh, Caleb and their families to go over some of the wedding plans. Carleigh shared that Caleb was running late for the appointment because of traffic. She later found out that he had actually found a stray kitten on the side of the road and was rescuing it. He couldn’t take the kitten home, and the shelter he visited was closed, so he and Carleigh spent much of the evening on the phone trying to figure out where the kitten should go for the evening, and where it would go permanently after that. It wasn’t the most productive wedding planning evening, but that’s okay. I really got to see why they are such good partners for life… they both deeply cared about doing the right thing for this kitten, which had just kind of stumbled into their lives, they each cared greatly for one another, and they supported one another and problem solved better together. A perfect match.

While that story is top of mind for me (and the inspiration for the first photo I picked on the blog), Carleigh and Caleb’s wedding day was definitely one to remember as well. While it was a humid July day, the couple wasn’t bothered by the weather at all. They had a beautiful Jewish ceremony, an outdoor cocktail reception overlooking the city of Milwaukee and a stunning dinner reception followed by a dancing party to remember. These gorgeous photos were captured by the Milwaukee-based couple Leo and Jenny.

Other partners for the day included: Bakery: Batches. Caterer: Chef Jack’s Catering. Florist: Flowers for Dreams. Ready Space: Westin Milwaukee. Venue, DJ, Photo Booth, Videography: The Atrium, Sound by Design. Music: Caprice String Quartet.

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Can You Believe It? It's National Hot Toddy Day!

You may or may not know this, but Joe and I are big whiskey fans. We love it straight, on the rocks, in Old Fashioneds, and in all sorts of various concoctions. In fact, when we check out a new restaurant or bar, we’ve started a tradition of often asking for two Old Fashioneds to see what we think of the bartender. We tend to have varying degrees of interest in the particular drink that’s served… I like mine a bit sweeter (and with more cherries!) than Joe does, but we can usually agree if it is a well made Old Fashioned or a poorly made Old Fashioned.

Well, several weeks ago, a friend came over for dinner and suggested we each make a Hot Toddy. Perhaps I had enjoyed one several years ago, I’m not sure, but it was the first time I actively remembered trying a Hot Toddy. I feel almost silly writing that, because it’s such an easy drink to make! And it was scrumptious. But I just can’t put my finger on when I would have had one!

So when I found out today was National Hot Toddy day, I couldn’t wait to celebrate… especially when I discovered there are Hot Toddy Sundaes! Yes, you read that right. Sundaes. SUNDAES. I couldn’t pass putting up these two recipes on the blog, as a Hot Toddy can be a wonderful drink to offer while hosting a winter gathering or celebration, and a Hot Toddy Sundae could be a fund spin on a summer affair. I’ve listed “Glenlivet” as the brand of choice because there is an ice cream available, and I got the recipes straight from their site (plus, it’s scrumptious).

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Traditional Hot Toddy

  • 1.5 parts The Glenlivet

  • 4 parts Hot Tea

  • .5 parts Hone

  • .25 parts fresh Lemon Juice

  • Cinnamon Stick

    Pour all ingredients into a mug and stir with the cinnamon stick.

Hot Toddy Sundae

Say what?! When I found out this was actually a thing, you better believe my mouth dropped to the floor!

  • The Glenlivet Ice Cream - found HERE

  • 1 1/2 cups Water

  • 3 cups Sugar

  • 2 tsp. Salt

  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves

  • Squeeze of Lemon

    In a sauce pan, combine water, sugar and salt. Cook over medium heat until sugar caramelizes, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cloves and lemon. Let cool. Put a scoop of ice cream in a bowl and pour over the caramelized mixture.

Think of all the other fun things you could do with this boozy ice cream! Shakes? Floats? Or perhaps just straight out of the container?

You best believe we’ll be enjoying a Hot Toddy of our own tonight… or should we give the Sundae a try?!

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.
 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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