I couldn’t WAIT to start planning my wedding. Literally. As my father was driving me and Brian to the airport for our flight back from Dallas in March of 2010, Brian sat in the front seat and not very casually asked my father for my hand in marriage. (This conversation was supposed to happen earlier in the trip, but since I was adamant about it being done in person and the trip coming to an end, the timing unfolded with me sitting in the backseat listening to the entire conversation). He then asked for a family stone of mine that he could use to make an engagement ring. My father happily said of course, that he would find it when he got home and send it right away. We already had taken the stone from the house. We couldn’t wait.
We had already set the date too — July 2, 2011. What would have been my grandparents’ 75th wedding anniversary were they still with us. And by the time the flight landed into O’Hare we had a guest list. Mind you, we still had no ring, but what we had was an overwhelming excitement to get married, to share the day with our friends, family and everyone who contributed to forming us into the people we are today.
My initial vision was of me in a short “party” dress. The ceremony personal with a bridal party comprised of family. The reception was not a full seated meal, but rather a cocktail reception, of about 100 -150 people, where everyone was able to mingle and have a great time. I knew that I wanted to involve the city of Chicago in my theme. While typically a bride returns to her hometown for the wedding, to me Chicago was where the magic happened. Chicago is where I met and fell in love—plus I knew I was going to be extremely hands on in the planning and couldn’t imagine planning a wedding out of town.
So, first thing first I found my dress. I saw it online (Justin Alexander) and knew immediately that it was for me. I found a store in Seattle that carried the dress and was able to buy it with my grandmother, aunt, cousin and mom while I was attending my grandfather’s funeral. (Side story: the “family stone” used in my engagement ring was from my grandfather so he still was very much a part of the special day). It was the first dress I tried on, and I was hooked. The delicate detailing, the structure and the “party dress” feel, mixed with the fact that I felt like a princess. It was perfect. I couldn’t wait to wear it.
Everything else just started falling into place. With the dress taken care of I was able to really see my vision clearly. We found the most amazing venue, Kitchen Chicago, that offered beautiful vaulted ceilings, plenty of wood character, and a wonderful loft. A co-worker introduced me to Reid Tillinghast of Kenmare Catering and I fell in love with the eco-friendly work of Lynn over at Pollen Floral Design. We were on a roll. We sent out customized invites from my dear friend Lauren Essl from Blue Eye Brown Eye and eagerly awaited the replies.
We discussed the color scheme of the Chicago flag — but wondered if the red/white/blue so close to the 4th would be over-doing it. Instead we decided to embrace it and Chicago flag themed it was. (Serious thanks to Anna Routh Photography for surprising us with the amazing flags as the backdrop for our photo booth—SO PERFECT!)
The day itself was perfect. All my bridesmaids and family joined me in our suite as Shelby George Smith did our hair and April Toofan worked some makeup magic. As my mom zipped me into my dress I got chills. Within a few hours I would be marrying my best friend in the whole world. I couldn’t wait.
The ceremony was so special because we were married by my father-in-law. His words meant so much because he truly knew both of us. My father made a speech and referenced one of my favorite songs, For Good from the musical Wicked. Little did he know that we would be dancing to that song minutes later for the father daughter dance. Not a dry eye in the room.
After cutting the cake (from Molly’s Cupcakes — I couldn’t resist because of the name) we started one amazing dance party. It was exactly how I imagined. A room full of friends and family all mingling together and having a great time sipping some signature cocktails and dancing to deliciously silly wedding music (Miley Cyrus “Party in the USA” anyone!?). It was perfect.
Anna Routh captured all of the DIY details, all of the happiness, all of the love.
But to be honest, the best day of my life was July 3, 2011. I woke up next to my best friend who was now my husband. I knew that truly, that was the first day of a whole new life. (“First Day of my Life” by Bright Eyes was our wedding song). So while my wedding was everything I could have dreamed of — for me the morning of July 3rd was perfect.