Jennifer + Kyle: Dance Studio 3-D

2017 was a wonderful year. So many folks who I love dearly got married, and it made my heart sing to be able to be there for and play a part in those moments! Jennifer and Kyle’s wedding was an especially meaningful one for me to coordinate. Jennifer and I bonded as small business owners several years ago, and she’s had a place in my heart ever since, so when I found out she was getting married to the love of her life, Kyle, I was overjoyed!

Jennifer and Kyle’s wedding was full of personal touches. They got married and celebrated their nuptials near where Jennifer grew up in Wisconsin. They hosted the day at Dance Studio 3-D, owned by Jennifer’s beloved dance instructor Debbie Otteson-Griggas. While the day had sentimental tidbits spread throughout, one of the sweetest parts was that Jennifer’s beloved guinea pigs, Aldo, Pasquale and Lucca, made the trip up to celebrate with them. They were present in so many ways... in fact, instead of wedding cake, the couple served guinea-shaped cookies that looked like each of the darling guineas!!! And Jennifer and Kyle's hashtag was #guineagetmarried. Awww.

Many partners made this day a success. Photography: Mark Trela Photography, Floral Design: Blumgarten, Catering: Upstairs Downstairs Catering, Hair: Alyssa Herbst, Music: V05 Disco Cover Band, Invitations: Four Hats Press, Sweets: Lush Bites
 

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Christine + Austin: Loyola University

Christine and Austin's wedding was certainly a night to remember. Their special day was not only stunning, but it was filled with so much joy too!! Plus these two are total sweethearts. 

The day started off at the Hampton Inn before we headed over to Loyola University's campus for the rest of the festivities. Christine and Austin selected Madonna della Strada as the church in which to tie the knot. They kept up the tradition of not seeing one another until Christine walked down the aisle, and did that make for an emotional walk (not a dry eye in the crowd!). No matter how many times I witness couples say "I do" in that church, it still is incredibly moving every time. In part, because I love when my couples finally get to commit themselves to one another! And in part, because the sanctuary is just so incredibly gorgeous!  Be sure to also take a look at the flowers... the florists at Vale of Enna outdid themselves with the arrangements they produced for every part of the day. 

The cocktail reception continued at Piper Hall on the lake and guests moved to the Mundelein Auditorium for dinner and dancing. And boy did the evening go late! There was a live band and the groom even got up to perform a 15 minute set part way through the evening! The floor was hopping!

These jaw-droppingly beautiful images were captured by Leigh Ann Cobb Photography. Other amazing partners we worked with on the day included: Loyola University's Conference Services (venue), Aramark (catering), Vale of Enna (flowers), Pin Me Up Chicago (hair), Makeup and Skincare by Jamie (makeup), The Mix Musical Services (emcee and band) and Magbooth (Photobooth). 

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“Thank you so much for being such an important part of our big day! You were so wonderful to work with and we knew we didn’t need to worry about anything with you around. What a gift you have to make everyone feel at ease! Thanks to you, our wedding was the very best day of our lives. It far exceeded anything we thought possible. Have a happy 2018, and best of luck with your own big day!” - Christine, Bride

""Thank you for the awesome wedding planning which you did for our daughter's wedding, Nov 2017. Erin you made the wedding day run smoothly. You helped immensely with our decision making during the weeks prior to the wedding weekend. It was perfect and you helped make that happen for all of us. Great effort on your part and great results for us!" - Colleen, Mother of the Bride

Getting People to RSVP to Your Wedding!

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 Photos by This Is Feeling. Stationery by EJD Design.

Photos by This Is Feeling. Stationery by EJD Design.

I’ve heard the horror stories. Getting people to RSVP to your wedding invitations can be painful. And while your loved ones may not be so quick to confirm whether or not they are attending, you (and your vendors) are eager to finalize the meal selections and guest count! However, it doesn’t need to be painful! Here are some top tips:

 

1. BE SPECIFIC.
Let your guests know exactly how to RSVP (for example, “Please email your RSVP response to ourwedding@gmail.com”) and what your RSVP deadline is. If you are asking guests to RSVP on your website, include that text on your invitation: “Please RSVP on our website at couplesnames.weddingwebsite.com by March 1, 2018.”  

SNAIL MAIL BONUS HINT: If you are collecting RSVPs by snail mail, set the RSVP deadline two weeks before you actually need the responses to arrive. Most guests think that by getting the response post marked by the deadline is good enough... but that still leaves you waiting without the responses! 

 

2. GIVE OPTIONS.
Do you have some friends and family who like texts and others who prefer email? Thought so! Make it easy for your guests by giving them permission to RSVP in the manner that they prefer: online, email, and text messages are easiest for some, while mailing in an RSVP card might feel more comfortable for an older relative. Just be sure to have a plan in place for how to document each method of response... or RSVPs can get lost quickly.

SNAIL MAIL BONUS HINT: If you’re using snail mail RSVP cards, make sure you include a pre-addressed and pre-stamped return envelope with adequate postage. Also, on the card, provide an alternative method to RSVP (like an email address or phone number). That will help the busy guest who discovers the RSVP card in her “to do” pile five days after the RSVP deadline! Or the irresponsible guest who loses the RSVP card... 

 

3. GET (AND STAY) ORGANIZED.
As the RSVPs start to come in, make sure they are captured in one place so that you know both who has and who has not RSVPed, and what the responses are. There are several methods of doing this, so feel free to pick a system that works for you. A service like Minted or Glö can help you capture, organize, and tally your responses. However, an RSVP spreadsheet works well too, and an old fashioned guest list on paper may work if you're ready to go old school. When you receive an RSVP, remember to add it to the spreadsheet right away so that nothing gets lost or forgotten. Or at least put a system in place to keep the RSVPs in the same spot (even if it means printing your emails or writing down the text message responses) until you are ready to enter them.

SNAIL MAIL BONUS HINT: If you plan to send paper RSVP cards in your invitations, number each one lightly on the back in pencil and mark down what number card goes with what guest or household on a spreadsheet or notepad. You will be amazed at the number of cards that are returned without a name on them! This trick will make things oh-so-much easier to track.

 

4. FOLLOW UP.
Your guests have lives... and are likely very busy! Although you are spending quite a bit of time thinking about your wedding as the big day nears, they have other things at the top of their minds... and that's okay! Many of your guests will need a gentle reminder that the RSVP deadline is coming up. Email is a great way to reach out to them to follow up. Or try texting if your guests seem like that would be a better method.

BONUS HINT: Early in the planning process, be sure to gather everyone’s emails and phone numbers together to you have them when you need to follow up on those final missing RSVPs.

 

5. PLAN AHEAD.
Give yourself enough time. There is a LOT to do in the final weeks of the wedding planning process so don’t wait until three days before your final guest count is due to start calling everyone in panic. Schedule in some time to do a first gentle reminder a few days before the RSVP deadline and the schedule a larger block of time to pick up the phone and dialing.

BONUS HINT: Plan for the last minute unexpected change. It's common for one or two guests to drop out at the last minute, and for another one or two folks to call at last minute to ask if they can still come. This happens to most couples, so be mentally and logistically prepared for this to happen, so you can more easily accommodate the changes.

 

RSVPs can be a tricky piece to manage in the wedding planning process, but don't panic and keep a system in place. A patient and methodical approach will make the experience much more positive.  You can do it!

Tamika + Dan: Renaissance O'Hare

While winter is underway, wedding season hasn't slowed down! The late fall and early winter months have been increasing in popularity over the past years as many couples are now tying the knot during cooler months... and I'm LOVING it! The winter bridal wraps, deeper colors and greenery are stunning this time of year and, as I plan my own winter wedding, I'm getting such an appreciation for the season!

Tamika and Dan's wedding took place on a chilly day, but that didn't put a damper on the occasion at all. The couple got ready at the Renaissance O'Hare before heading to Old St. Patrick's Church. With snow on the ground, the bridal party plowed through and took gorgeous photos throughout downtown Chicago following the ceremony, before heading back to the Renaissance O'Hare for the reception.

Belen and Ken of Orange 2 Photography took the beautiful images below. Other partners for the day included: Bakery - Oak Mill Bakery, Flowers - Flor del Monte, Hair: Albert Morrison Hair Studio, Make Up - Lena Clark Beauty, Rentals - AEG Production, DJ - Style Matters.

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Steven + Kevin: Walker Art Center

Sometimes in my line of work I have the honor of working with those I love dearly to plan and execute their special moments. Steven and Kevin's wedding was one of those times. It was a joy to work with them throughout the planning process, but also an emotional and beautiful occasion to witness as they committed themselves to one another.

Their wedding was held at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. The beautiful images below were captured by Andrew Morrell Photography.

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Claudia + Eric: Warehouse: 109

I love the fall. The leaves and grasses are changing colors. There is a crispness to the air. Claudia and Eric's fall wedding happened to take place on an unseasonably warm day, which meant we got to enjoy the occasion and the season without our coats on!

Claudia and Eric selected beautiful fall florals and grasses for their bouquets and centerpieces, which were designed by Cornell Florist. The Bird's Nest Salon and Nina Trader Makeup put together Claudia's look for the day.

After getting ready at the Hyatt House, Claudia and Eric headed to Eaton Preserve Park for their first look and then to Warehouse: 109 for the ceremony and reception. Wooden Paddle Pizza and The Sugar Path provided the scrumptious edibles for the evening. Jack of Studio 2 Imaging captured all of the images below!

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Amanda + Brandon: Private Residence

It's amazing what a difference just two months makes! As we are at the end of November, I look back on this September wedding and can't believe how much the landscape has changed... and how much the temperature has dropped!

Amanda and Brandon were married at the private residence of Amanda's parents this past fall. When selecting wedding venues, Amanda told her mom that she had so many meaningful memories in that home, and she couldn't imagine being married anywhere else. Her mom was set on making her dream come true. As many of you know, it's a lot of work to throw a celebration of this magnitude outside of a traditional venue, but the day came together beautifully, and Blue Peak Tents created their own venue of sorts using a gorgeous clear tent and flooring.

The day was full of personal touches. Amanda is Jewish so the ceremony included many Jewish traditions, including marriage under the chuppah, the bride and her family staying on the right side during the ceremony and the breaking of the glass by the groom to complete the ceremony. Before dinner the challah was blessed and broken. Amanda and Brandon's darling pup was the ring bearer and an impromptu wedding guest. The couple also exchanged about five small gifts throughout the day with one another so they had a chance to step away, soak in the moment and just be together. And finally, Brandon handcrafted all of the candle holders, charcuterie boards and escort card boxes out of cement and wood... and they turned out STUNNINGLY! Be sure not to miss thein se crafted pieces in the photos of the reception below.

Many partners made this day possible. Wooden Paddle Pizza provided the wood fired pizza for the meal while St. Roger Abbey Gourmet Patisserie baked the treats. Flowers for Dreams crafted the florals and Windy City Linen provided the linens. The day was captured beautifully by Candice of Cusic Photography.

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A Noteworthy Festive Trend: Grazing Tables

As Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, it is the perfect time to feature one of this year's hottest trends... grazing tables! A common sight I first noticed coming from Australia, these artful arrangements are made of crudites and charcuterie, This type of table is full of vibrant color and seasonal flavor.  Below are a few samples of how the arrangements might look. They are an awesome addition to any corporate event, wedding reception or holiday party... and certainly a way to wow your guests!

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This grazing table was put together by Your Platter Matters, an Australian-based catering company for a beautiful summer wedding. Can you imagine guests leaving a ceremony to find this spectacular work filled with tasty tidbits available for them to peruse?!


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This grazing table was the dreamy creation of KaraKara for a foodie styled shoot, shot by Bird on the Wall Photography and Home Thugs n Harmony as a part of a decadent soiree for a bride. The rustic vibe was formed on a pallet table, where an abundant charcuterie feast is spread between crystal glasses, antique silverware and black crockery – think juicy figs and grapes, creamy international cheeses, sweet cinnamon poached pears and fresh honeycomb.


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This amazing grazing table was from an Australian wedding. It was pieced together with care by Jo from Garnish Creative Catering. This legendary feasting table was complete with a 12 hour smoked ham, fine cheeses and arancini balls.


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I couldn't help but include this darling breakfast version of the grazing table. Not only is breakfast one of my favorite meals of the day, but then to be offered on a generous spread on the table is just too much! This spread was designed by Honestly Yum for Mother's Day. I wouldn't mind celebrating a bridal shower, baby shower or Mother's Day in this style!