CSW Designers Challenge: British Invasion!

Looking back on 2013, we were so happy to be apart of so many beautiful weddings and events.  We were also so excited to be invited to participate in Chicago Style Wedding‘s Designers Challenge!  And since 2013 was such a big year for the royal family, we thought we’d do our part to welcome Prince George to the world with a British themed styled shoot!  Check out what we did with the help of some awesome vendors!

Instead of tea cups, crumpets and fascinators – we channeled the Rock & Roll feel of iconic British Rockers. With bold colors and hard lines, the Union Jack inspired this theme provoking a Kings table designed with a touch of feminine elegance, suitable for the likes of Victoria Beckham and Annie Lennox. Meanwhile, the bar lounge was an edgy take on a Groom’s Room where Ringo Star, Bono, Sting and Led Zeppelin would lounge, drinking pints while having a jam session. All of the elements came together to create a sexy, edgy and elegant affair.  Wouldn’t you agree?


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xo! tm

design: Soirée Weddings & Events

photography:  carasco photography

cake:  alliance bakery

floral design:  avant gardenia

paper, signage, stationary:  noteworthy notes

rentals:  Tablescapes & Precision Sound & Lighting

linens:  Bbj Linens

stemware & decorative accents:  Z Gallerie

wall graphic:  Speedpro Imaging

Chicago Style Weddings Magazine, New Edition!

Last night we celebrated the launch of Chicago Style Weddings September/October 2013 Magazine issue! We could not be happier about our “British Invasion” Designer’s Challenge Feature! It was all about “bold colors, hard lines and the iconic Union Jack.”

photo photo-1 photo-2The party was hosted at The Hyatt Chicago, Magnificent Mile.  All of Chicago’s best wedding vendors were there – such a treat!  Great mingling with friends and enjoying the newest edition of the magazine.  Check out pages 254 and 255! 😉


2012 In Review – a great year. (Part I)

This has been an amazing year — I was truly sad to see it go…

It started with Kelly and Jerry’s NYE wedding at Carnivale.  So incredible!

New Year's eve wedding in Chicago

New Year's Eve Wedding at Carnivale

Florals by Stemline, Creative

Chicago New Year's Eve wedding

Then a trip to New York for Fashion Week/Valentines Day..

30 rock


david letterman nyc

a Day spent at MoMA

moma montage

moma nyc

A walk through Central ParkCentral Park

Some star sightings – Bethenny Frankel and Selita Ebanks at Philippe (thought they weren’t together).  And Justin Beiber at The London Hotel… Sorry – no pics!

St. Patricks Cathedral in New York

Harvard Club

And some drinks at The Harvard Club with my Uncle – so cool!!

We had a blast at the Sixties Social – a Mad Men themed Thursday Therapy! What do you think – did we pull off Betty and Don?

Mad Men Thursday Therapy

Then we hosted our first annual Bridal Event – this one was “Leap Into Wedding Season” and it was held at Fleur de Lis Florist.  It was a huge success – a uncharacteristically warm day (were talking 60’s) led to a great turn out of brides!

Leap Into Wedding Season event

Entertaining Company provided the food.. Cristina G took the amazing photos!

Here’s Team Soirée at the Event…

Soiree Team

Revae from Femme du Coupe provided the delicious cocktails!
femme du coupeLeap Year event

We are so excited for this year’s event – the Wedding March, being held on March 3 at Floating World Gallery! (minor plug!) 🙂 details to come!

St. Patricks day was warm…coco on St. Pattys Day

Really warm! Coco is enjoying the balcony (above).  Chicagoans are enjoying the weather (and the Bars) on Wells St.!Chicago 2012 St. Patrick's Day

We had so much fun planning and creating the 80’s styled shoot at Room 1520.  All the vendors that participated knocked it out of the park!  The creativity and fun factor was off the charts! 80 styled shoot

Room 1520 table settingcolor blocked neon wedding tables

And — It was featured in Ruffled 🙂 paint splatter backdrop photoboothMonique Lhullier bouquet gown

Check out this amazing black and white bridal bouquet from Fleur!black and white bridal bouquet

Then there was Becky and Tony’s wedding at St. Ignatius and The Rookery – And it was featured on Style Me Pretty… 😉 (click here to see it!)

St. Ignatius ChurchBecky and Tony

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Then we took a trip to New Buffalo, Mi.  We brought the pooch and it was so much fun!

Hiking with Bowie

Warren State Dunes

She’s very helpful when she wears the Dog Pack

The Sand DunesBowie on he beach

she was starting to get real tired..

view of Lake Michigan

Our view from the top of the dune of Lake Michigan.  Then we stopped at a local Winery..

Tabor Hill


Bowie was excited – I am not sure why.  She’s just always happy

BowieThen we went to the beach –Lake Michigan BeachDinner at the Marina

Then we headed to the Marina – and had dinner at Brentwood Tavern

Tiff and Rick at Brentwood Tavern

It was a nice mini vacay before the start of wedding season 🙂

We started June with Susan and Frank’s wedding at Morton Arboretum..

Morton Arboretum Wedding

susanfrank_190 1Then we battled a double header!  Sami and Mike’s wedding at Chicago History Museum and Megan and Adam’s wedding at Newberry Library 🙂

Olive Park wedding Photos

Sami’s bouquet and bridesmaid’s bouquets were so lovely!  created by the Jan and Jillian of Natural Beauties.

Natural Beauties Bouquets

Sami and Mike's first dance

This wedding was featured on Style Me Pretty – click here to see it 🙂Chicago History Museum wedding ceremony

The Chicago Room at the Chicago History MuseumMegan and Adam on Chicago BridgeMegan chose a blush and slate gray color palette – it complimented The Newberry Library perfectly!  
First look wedding photos

Megan and Adam had their ceremony in Washington Square Park across the street – and then moved into the Library for cocktails and dinner.Newberry Library wedding Newberry Library wedding - blush and slate wedding

Don’t you want to smell that bouquet of peonies and ranunculus?  Fleur nailed it again!wedding toasts and first dance blush and gray Newberry Library Wedding

That’s the end of Part I – stay tuned for Part II.  I will cover the rest of 2012 – so many more adventures!


I *heart* the 80s

So lately, I have been noticing many movies, shows and commercials featuring popular songs from the 80s.  And boy I am not complaining!!  For anyone that knows me, it’s no secret that I LOVE the 80s!  I love the movies, the TV shows and of course, I love the music.  Since it has been on my mind a lot lately, I decided to revisit our recent 80s inspired styled shoot that we did this Spring at Room 1520.  We had so many amazing vendors involved in pulling this off, it was even published on the credited wedding blog, Ruffled!

I invite you to take a look back at what our work…and soak it all in – Like Totally!

So I came up with the idea for this styled shoot one night while flipping through the TV channels, and St. Elmo’s Fire just happen to be on. The movie exudes 80s while portraying several different characters, all with different styles.  Then the wheels started to turn…

I was a kid in 80s.  I remember watching John Hughes movies with my big brother and sisters, dancing to their “cool” music with them and being totally jealous of my sister’s yellow high-top Reeboks!  I can recite every word of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club.   Wang Chung, Thompson Twins, Simple Minds and Morrissey (just to name a few) all have a place in my iPod!

As a wedding planner, we are always trying to push the envelope,  come up with the fresh and new ideas.  Because that is what every bride wants.  They want something that hasn’t been done before.  On the same token, the are often a bit apprehensive of doing something totally different than what we are used to seeing.  That is why I took on this challenge, because I knew it was just that – a challenge.  How do you take a theme, like the 80s and make it look good?

The 80’s were about peace, free will, lot’s of color, punk attitude, pop culture, teenage rom-coms and alternative music. Not to mention the outrageous fashion statements as well!  I wanted the shoot to be current – with only hints of inspiration from the 80s.  The fear was that this theme could become too costumey.  We wanted to play on the current runway fashions that we are seeing now, everything from bright neon to color blocking.  Today’s designers are taking what we loved about the 80s, but doing it right!  We wanted to show today’s bride how to take a modern trend and translate into bridal.

I knew exactly where I wanted to photograph the shoot.  The glass block windows at Room 1520 were what sold me, and I knew I wanted to feature them every way I could!

Suzy Rohan of Lily Red Studio came up with the concepts for the invitations and signage.  Fun sayings and song lyrics added just the perfect amount of charm.   She collaborated with Elaina Vasquez of Boutique Bites on the design of the menu.  Elaina designed a TV dinner-styled entrée that mimicked the popular frozen dinners of the 80s.  The menu was designed in sections – as if you are looking down at the plate!  I suggested a game of MASH on the reverse side to serve as a fun favor and entrainment for the guests.  Suzy designed two different coasters for the bar.  One that read “Cocktails and Dreams” along with the couple’s names and wedding date and one for the signature cocktail, “Pretty in Pink.”  The adorable tape cassette place cards added the just the right amount of 80’s to the table.

Kelly Marie Uss of Fleur, Inc. added some color blocking elements with monochromatic arrangements of  purple, hot pink and lime green flowers.  Romantic blooms like peonies and lilacs added the perfect touch of bridal, which was juxtapose with the structured and modern calla lilies used on the rectangle banquet tables.

We chose white shantung linens for the guest tables which made the black Mirage chairs and the black glassware pop with contrast.  The sweetheart table is always an opportunity to do something special. All eyes are on the bride and groom during the reception – so why not add a little bit of drama there?  We chose a teal ribbon rosette linen for the cabaret sweetheart table, adorned with crystal candlesticks and votives.

I wanted to showcase modern design but pair it with romantic elements like the flowers and the bridal gown.  I had the perfect dress in mind for this shoot!  It was the Monique Lhuillier “Bouquet” gown from her Fall 2012 Collection.  Ultimate Bride on Oak Street provided us with the gown and …voila!  The pièce de résistance!  The dress stole the show!  Some hot pink pumps, edgy accessories and big hair created just the perfect styling to bring the whole look together.

Styling the models was very important.  I didn’t want them to look too literal.  The Bridesmaids wore Coren Moore and LuluKate dresses in pink, purple and green.  I found some colorful geometric earrings and bangles to add some flare.  I kept their shoes simple with a black pump.  Their hair and make-up is what really tied it all together!  I also wanted the girls to take center stage, so I kept the guys very simple, but added pops of color with their pocket squares and socks.  My favorite were the Tetris socks I found for the groom!  Just perfect!

We also created a photo booth – equipped with bold 80s props, sunglasses, headbands and a DIY paint splatter back drop!

Amy DiTomasso of Sugar Chic Designs created the totally rad sweets table.  Everything from “Gag me with a  spoon jello shooters” to Pac Man cake pops!  The design was colorful and delicious!  I asked Bleeding Heart Bakery to  come up with a cake design that was 80s, but also still very chic and edgy.   A geometric-80’s Mondrian cake in pink, purple, teal, yellow and green was the perfect addition to the design theme.

The photos really capture exactly what we wanted to portray with this styled shoot.  Cristina G’s talented camera work was the final piece that brought it all together.  I hope that this inspires brides to think outside the “wedding” box and envision new, fresh ideas and themes for their wedding day.  If implemented with style and class – it can really work!


To see this photo shoot featured on Ruffled, click here: Ruffled®| 80s Wedding Inspiration.

Venue: Aérée Loft, Room 1520  | Event Designer: Soirée Weddings & Events  Photographer: Cristina G. Photography | Florals: Fleur | Rentals: Tablescapes | Caterer: Boutique Bites | Paper and Stationary: Lily Red Studio |   Sweets Table: Sugar Chic Designs | Cake: The Bleeding Heart Bakery | Linens: Private Label Linens | Bridesmaid Dresses: LulaKate and Coren Moore from Bella Bridesmaid | Bridal Gown: Monique Lhuillier Bridal Salon: Ultimate Bride | Hair and Make-up: Sara Jean Stevens and Jen Brown

Matt + Suzanne: tribute to a tradition (Part I)

Suzanne is not only one of my prettiest friends, but one of the funniest people I know!  So of course when she got engaged to her charming husband, Matt – I was so excited to help them plan their wedding!  Family is so important to Suzanne – so she and Matt decided to get married in her home town of St. Louis at the coveted Forest Park Worlds Fair Pavilion.  The Pavilion itself, has so much charm and history – she knew she wanted to incorporate those classic elements into her wedding theme. (see Part II)

The first thing we did to start off the planning process was shop for a dress!  One of my favorite parts – for good reason.  There is nothing more magical than a bride trying on THE dress, and realizing that this is what she will wear when she marries the love of her life.

Suz was torn, she really wanted to follow in the family tradition of wearing her grandmother’s dress.  Her mom, aunts and a few cousins had all participated in the tradition.  However, when she stepped into the San Patrick dress at Bella Bianca Bridal Salon, we all knew that the new dress was made for her.  It really was the dress of her dreams: ivory lace, cap sleeves, long dramatic train…perfection!

I wanted to be able to incorporate her grandmothers dress in some way for the wedding.  What better way than with a styled shoot?!  I recruited some my cohorts and started planning.  So the equation consisted of: a sunny Spring day in May, blooming apple blossoms of County Line Orchard, hair and make up by Briette, hair accessory by PishPoshes, bouquet and boutonniere by Fleur, styling by yours truly and talented photography of Cristina G… throw in a gorgeous couple and grandmother’s dress — and voila!

We had such a blast putting this styled shoot together. Mother Nature really cooperated with us so we could pull it off.  We even had help from our assistant.. 😉 (Bowie)

she loved the attention…. such a ham!

behind the scenes – primping and adjusting… all the details!

It truly was a magical day.  Honoring a family tradition that could be incorporated into the wedding day was so special to Suzanne and her family.

The ironic part was the shoot took place on Mother’s day, however Suzanne wasn’t able to see mom that day.

But when her mom Susie saw the pictures of her daughter, in her mother’s wedding dress, she cried.  Pretty good mother’s day present if you ask me! 🙂

I will leave you with one final image- look for it again in Part II of this post…

up next in Part II…. the wedding!


Would you wear your mother or grandmother’s dress?

What was your something old?

What are some traditions you would like to incorporate into your wedding?

Who is your favorite dress designer?