Wedding Blog
JULY 2020

Pamela and Andrew 5.25.18

The First Date

We went to PF Chang’s at Woodfield Mall.

The Favorite Qualities

Pamela: He makes me laugh and I know that I can count on him to always be there for our family. We balance each other out because I am very emotional and tend to make decision based on my feelings and he is definitely more logical. He is great with our 2 month old daughter and I know she will end up being a daddy’s girl! He also makes me yummy tacos every Tuesday. 🙂

Andrew: She is very goofy and I like that we can be silly together and laugh. She keeps me in check when I just want to play video games all day. She is kind-hearted and is always thinking about other people and how they feel. She is a great mother to our daughter.

The Moment

We couldn’t think of one moment in time. We just kind of knew when we first started living together and had to make adult decisions as a couple. Taking care of our home and our cat together. Figuring out our finances and general “adulting.”

The Venue

The Meyer Ballroom was only the second venue we visited. We knew at our visit that we loved it and wanted to get married there. We really wanted a venue that could be our ceremony and reception space. We loved the beautiful floors and windows in the ballroom and the atrium was the perfect place for our ceremony. We also thought the surrounding area was beautiful and would make for great pictures. The packages were exactly what we needed and fit our budget. We really liked the flexibility of the space and that we had a few different options for our ceremony. It was comforting to know that we would have a coordinator with us for the whole process and the day of. Kelsey, our coordinator, was amazing from the beginning as well. She saved the day so many times!

The Wedding Party Proposal

Pamela: I did! I made a personalized keepsake box for each of my bridesmaids with a donut inside. The card said, “I Donut Want to Say I Do Without You!”

The Date Nights

We’re pretty boring when it comes to date nights! We love going out to dinner but since our daughter was born, our date nights are a little different. We love getting take out and binging a show on Netflix.

The Unique Touches

Pamela: I am an elementary school teacher so I had my students answer questions about love and marriage and they were part of the centerpieces on the tables. I also invited my class to come to the ceremony and a few of them were able to make it

Andrew: I am a big gamer so we had a video game area for those who didn’t want to dance.

We also had a donut wall that Pamela’s brothers made specifically for us.

The Vendors

Caterer

Enticing Cuisine: They offered lots of yummy options (including a vegan option!) and were well priced.

DJ and Photobooth

Music By Design: Andrew is actually a wedding DJ on the weekends and works for Music By Design. We knew they would do amazing work and help make our wedding one to remember.

Photography

BJ Aguado Photography: We loved BJ’s photos from the beginning! He did our engagement photos and will be doing a family shoot with our daughter soon. He was super flexible and got all the shots we wanted!

Flowers and Decor

Style & Grace Events: Merna was so easy to work with! She gave us exactly what we wanted and stayed within our price range! She also did the flowers for my baby shower!

Make Up

Dose of Lolade: She does amazing work! She made us all look beautiful while still looking natural!

Hair

Refuge Salon and Barbershop: Loved her flexibility and willingness to try different things until I found something that was totally me!

Wedding Dress

Simply Luxe Bridal

Tuxes

Black Tie Formalwear

Bridesmaids Dresses

Here Comes the Bride

Cake

Jenni-Baby Bakes: She made our engagement party cake and it was delish! She listened to what I wanted and made a beautiful cake for us!

Dessert

The Donut Drop: This is a mom and pop donut shop in Schaumburg. We used to get their donuts when we lived there.

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JUNE 2020

VENDOR SPOTLIGHT

DJS 4 You 2 – Greg Hoover

The Business

Our company has been serving the Chicago land area for 20+ years.

The Why

I would say that it wasn’t a dream in the 3rd grade to be an entertainer. I found some fun in playing music for large groups of people when I was a teenager, spinning vinyl on turntables with a group of friends. I was working at a bar in high school, when karaoke hit the scene. I was so interested in this new form of entertainment that I started working for a DJ company that provided karaoke. That same company needed people to handle weddings and so it was a natural progression. I spent most of my life managing restaurants and Dj’ing and a few years back, turned my “side job” of DJ’ing weddings into my full time. I have done over 50 events a year for the past 12 years. Being a DJ is just the perfect fit for my personality. I get to mix my silly side with my professional skills and the result is someone who loves what they do and (at least from my reviews) does a halfway decent job at it as well.

The Favorite Part

Easily the introductions of the bride and groom after cocktail hour. Couples don’t know it while planning, but there are two moments in the day, that are “we made it” moments. The first is when you turn around after being pronounced husband and wife at your ceremony and the other is when you walk into that dinner hour and all your friends and family are hooting and hollering to show their excitement. I like to bring the energy to this particular event, which also sets the tone for the rest of the evening

Working with Meyer Ballroom & Paramount Theatre

Well this is a 2 part question so I will give a 2 part answer. The Paramount is one of my favorite venues in Chicago. I’m a movie and theater type of person so being in this classic old fashioned theater for ceremonies, cocktail hour and dinner really let’s you spend time in the entire facility. As a guest, you spend the first half hour in the theater for a ceremony, then you go to the old box office area for your cocktails followed by 4 hours of dinner and dancing in the new entrance/atrium. It’s gorgeous and unique while moving people around which keeps the blood flowing and makes for a great party.

The Meyer Ballroom has a beautiful place in the front entrance for a ceremony. I love the open space in the main ballroom and the windows help enhance that. Your guests can mingle outside by the river or hang out at the bar which is close to the dance floor. Both of these places are tough for load in and out, in comparison to many of the other venues in Chicago. That doesn’t even bother us as a company because every time we work there, the hospitality is off the charts. If I get that as a vendor, I can only imagine how the guests feel

Using a Pro

This is a great question. I guess to break down the other options, it may help fully answer the question.

Live Band: While hiring a live band can be a great idea, live bands tend to charge more. Remember, these are entertainers (like DJ’s) who really only have 2 weekend days and about 45 non holiday weekends to make their money for the year. It’s pretty normal for each musician in a group to want to make $1000, so you can see how that can get very expensive depending on the size of the group. Hiring a band has 2 other drawbacks. 1 They usually do not MC and provide wireless mics for speeches or ceremony, so you need to hire a DJ both for equipment and to make your announcements and keep the day moving along. Also, bands tend to play a song that is normally 3 minutes and play it for 8 minutes with drum solos and such you get extended entertainment, but usually less dancing. This means you get less songs and less variety of songs. As a side note, they also take breaks so you will need a DJ during that time to keep the energy flowing.

An iPod and some speakers: We have had a ton of clients call us about renting speakers so they can hook up an iPod. iPods don’t read the crowd, they don’t do announcements and they will cause someone (usually the bride or groom because they made this decision) to have to man the iPod all night. It’s very hard to pre-plan a wedding playlist because who knows the groups of people who may be on the dance floor at any given time. It may be cost effective for very small group, but I wouldn’t expect a ton of dancing with this method. You also would not have some of the other things that a DJ brings like microphones and dance floor lighting.

A “non professional” DJ: I hear all the time that someone’s uncle or friend has sound equipment and he is going to “take care of everything”. If this is not what people do for a living, or AT LEAST has done over 20 weddings recently, then they are not going to get the most out of your big day. Again, usually this is cost effective, but when you spend as much money on one day, as most people do, why would you skimp out on the one service that truly will make or break the success of your day? Not to mention, is the equipment reliable and do they actually have all the equipment that you need? Wireless mics? A secondary ceremony set-up? Surround speakers for a large group? Back up equipment? Back up DJ’s?

Hiring a “Pro” is important in anything you do. People all know that, but they also know the risk of not hiring a professional. You my get results that reflect their level of professionalism, and I don’t think risking that on such an important and expensive day, is worth it.

The Unique Touches

I have done just a ton of unique things for clients, from mixing their first dance song or father/daughter song to mixing songs to honor parents or loved ones. I love doing events during the night like “the shoe game” or “the anniversary dance (with my own twist)”. I have had a bunch of things that clients have asked me to do like entrances in the old Bulls theme or putting dollar amounts on “do not play” songs to raise money for the honeymoon fund. I’m always up for new ideas and happy to make visions a reality. Couples are so lucky today to have sites like Pinterest and YouTube to fish ides from. I can say that with their instruction, we can pull off just about anything they dream of.

Why You

Well here is another tough question because I never DJ along side of another company, so I don’t know EXACTLY what I do better (or worse). I don’t even get to attend family weddings and see other DJ’s because I am typically working my own events. From my reviews, what I read about is that my client’s guests talk about their weddings for long after the day. The dance floor is always packed and I was very organized both in planning and while running the event like a coordinator.

In my heart, it would be hard to think of anyone who loves what they do as much as I do, or that cares about the end result as much as I do. They may be tied, but I don’t think they can surpass my feelings in these two areas.

The Advice

I have so much advice for couples but here are my top few:

  1. Your wedding day is not really for you! Ha Ha, I know, I know but think about it…Your wedding is a success if your guests leave with smiles and are tired from dancing all night. They will talk about your day for years to come if they have a great time AND, you can trust me that if they are having a great time, you will be as well. Keep this in mind while making playlists or “Do not play” lists.
  2. If you don’t have a planner, recruit some of your friends, or siblings to help clean up at the end of the night. It’s always sad to me when everyone is gone and the bride and groom are the last people there cleaning up. Those people around you love you and they are going to ask what they can do, during the whole process. Giving this task out will make them feel like they have helped and will help you to get in your ride after the event and off to do what newly married couples do.
  3. Enjoy the moments: The group of people that under the roof at your wedding is specific to your two families. You will most likely never have that group under the same roof again. Take a moment to stand on the side and take it all in. Appreciate all the family and friends that have put their lives on hold for a day, to help you celebrate.
  4. Let Go! Once your wedding day starts, you can no longer plan and the cards are going to fall where they may. Don’t get stressed if the cake topper falls and breaks or the bar forgets to bring in Tito’s for your day. These things are insignificant in the big picture and the more you let roll off your shoulders, the more you and the people around you will enjoy your day. Not to mention, most the time the things that go wrong at a wedding are the most fun to laugh about in years to come.

MAY 2020

Christina and Kelly 6.22.19

The Years

We met in 2010 at Illinois Wesleyan, and began dating at the end of May of 2012, for a total of eight years together so far. We got married on June 22nd, and are approaching our first anniversary! As of April 17th, 2020, we’ve been married for approximately .819 years, on account of the Leap year.

The First Date

Christina: Our first official big date was for Kelly’s birthday on June 16th. Honestly, we were not out to any friends or family at that time, and we were very close friends prior to starting our relationship. Kelly’s birthday was our first chance to really go out together without drawing a lot of attention! We ate dinner in the city, and I surprised her with tickets to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble she had somehow NEVER SEEN, even though we were both music education majors at IWU. It was a fantastic concert, as always, and I had arranged for us to stay at my aunts’ condo that night, just off the lake (they were out of town and offered, so the timing was awesome). We ate birthday cake on the roof to end the evening, and may or may not have shared our first kiss too!

The Traditions

For the most part we kept it pretty traditional. There were only a few things that we didn’t do. We didn’t do a garter toss and we didn’t play any modern music, all of the songs on our dance floor were oldies and throwbacks and it was the best decision we made.

The Unique Touches

It was really important for us to have personal touches around the venue and woven into the events of the day. The date was important to us, as June 22nd is the middle point between our June 16th and 28th birthdays. Our brothers were our officiants, selected readings that were personally meaningful from experiences in our lives, and wrote our own vows. Brittany’s signage was key in explaining all of the details we had chosen to make our wedding tell our story; the colors we chose, the symbolism behind particular floral arrangements and centerpieces, cultural traditions from the ceremony. We enlisted the help of several creative friends to add other dimensions- a graphic designer who portrayed us in a few musical poster mock ups, a woodworker who mounted baseball bats to act as our guestbook. Our signature drinks were created and named for our baseball teams’ mascots. We printed the actual sheet music our friends were performing on the paper cones that decorated the aisle. We all walked down the aisle to Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral, a piece we have both loved and performed countless times. The processional, special ceremony music, our first dance, all important and personal choices of pieces that were performed by close friends and family. During the reception, Kelly sang with her a cappella group from college, performing a song she arranged, and the same song/arrangement that Christina used in her proposal. Christina built our wedding arbor with help from wedding party members, and our best lady’s mom worked with us on the eve of the wedding to assemble our oranges and succulents for the centerpieces. There was no detail left unconsidered, and we worked really hard to make each choice purposeful, meaningful, and representative of our journey and relationship.

The Venue

We pretty much knew the Meyer Ballroom was going to be our spot after first walking into the ballroom. All of the windows, the sunlight pouring in, the river next door, and lights from the theater across the street, it truly combined all of the details we were looking for. We wanted a space that was open and inviting, surrounded by areas with a variety of photo opportunities. We then learned about all of the inclusions that Paramount offered as a part of their wedding package, and really loved that our guests would all receive a ticket to the theater as a gift. To have the atmosphere and service that the Meyer Ballroom provides, all while supporting an incredible theater at the same time? What more could we ask for? Everything about the space was unique and thoughtful, and we quickly learned that we wouldn’t need to compromise on any aspect of our vision. (Remember when I referenced Kelly’s passion? It certainly applies to wedding planning!) Kelsey, our coordinator from Paramount, was just incredible throughout the entire process. There was never a point where she hesitated; she took our dream and made it happen! From helping us with a unique ceremony set-up, her perfect boutonnière pinning technique, and what can only be described as mind reading abilities, she helped schedule, plan, and carry out our wedding to absolute perfection.

The Favorite Qualities

Kelly: Christina is the most compassionate person I have ever met. The support she offers me, whether it’s something big or small, is always there. She is so patient and understanding, and will do anything and everything for the people she cares for. She has the biggest heart!

Christina: I love Kelly’s spirit! She is a fierce advocate for her students, a brilliant musician, and pours her heart into whatever task is in front of her. Whatever the situation, I know the outcome will be exceptional, thanks to her commitment and drive. She gives me the energy and inspiration I need for my own teaching, and has helped me grow so much throughout our relationship.

The Vendors

We really worked hard to search for vendors that had similar values to us, that were local businesses that we wanted to support, or people we felt a connection with upon meeting them. All of our vendors felt like friends and true guests of our wedding, not merely a company or person filling a need.

Carol DeAnda, DeAnda Photography — Carol is the first person we hired, and we would make that same decision again every single time if we ever had to do it again. Kelly actually found her website through searching for LGBTQ+ friendly photographers, and when we met her, we instantly knew she would capture our day perfectly. At the conclusion of a wedding, you’re left with memories, momentos, and photos, and it was so important to us that the photos tell the story of our day. She also helped us create a timeline for our wedding with a realistic schedule, but was more than accommodating with any requests we had. We even got a group picture with all 200 people at our wedding!

Cuisine America — Mary Catherine’s attention to detail is bar none. Her husband Jim is a magician in the kitchen, and every single dish we’ve ever had at their tastings was just impeccable. For dinner, our goal was to ensure that we could accommodate each and every guest’s needs, and that they would not leave feeling unfulfilled. With Mary Catherine and Jim, our guests did not have the stereotypical “wedding food” experience. We had nothing but great reviews from everyone afterwards! The entire staff worked so hard to provide amazing service and really took great care of all of us!

Brittany Williams, Calligraphie à la Brittany — Brittany is an incredible artist, and created SO MANY custom signs for our wedding. Not to mention, she is Christina’s cousin! She also did the calligraphy for our wedding envelopes. The number of people who reached out, telling us they were keeping their envelope as art was crazy! Brittany’s work not only helped convey the details and symbolism behind many of our choices, but also has become a part of our home decor.

Tim Scanlin, Answer Back Entertainment — Tim is a family friend that Christina grew up with from her family’s church. His flexibility and planning helped us create perfect playlists, order of events, and kept the event moving at the pace we needed. He was so easy to work with, created amazing medleys of songs, and kept everyone on the dance floor until the very end of the evening!

Donut Drop — This is a local place near our home in Rolling Meadows that we frequent, perhaps more often than one should. Trust us, you’ve never had a better donut. They are THE place to get your donut needs met.

Courtney Twomey, Chalet Florist — Courtney was another “meant-to-be” person. Christina’s mom is a 2nd grade teacher, and Courtney was a parent of a student in the class. They were casually chatting about our upcoming wedding, and it wound up being the only summer date that Courtney had open on her schedule! She was able to make Kelly’s dream come true- walking down the aisle with a trumpet incorporated into her flowers, adding another unique touch to the wedding.

Attire:

Razny Jewelers — Christina found Razny while looking for jewelers to shop for engagement rings, and we immediately returned for our wedding bands. Their commitment to us as customers, and the level of care we receive each and every time we walk through their doors is unmatched.

Bijou Bridal — Personalized design and alterations by Juliette Lim, family friend

Suit Supply Chicago — Christina’s custom suit and wedding party’s suits

Azazie — Wedding party’s dresses, super convenient when the wedding party is spread across the country!

Knotty Ties — Custom designed bow-ties and neckties with customized color palettes to match our wedding colors. Our fathers, brothers, and wedding party got custom patterns with the exact colors incorporated into the designs. They all coordinate and match!


APRIL 2020

Caitlin and David 7.27.19

The Meeting

We met in 2nd grade at St. Hubert’s Catholic School and then reconnected a few years ago.

The Engagement

David made a video montage of all memories and experiences that we shared throughout the years we were dating and at the end he called me downstairs and that’s where he popped the question. He later surprised me with an engagement party that same day with our families. It was AMAZING!

The Traditions

For the most part we kept it pretty traditional. There were only a few things that we didn’t do. We didn’t do a garter toss and we didn’t play any modern music, all of the songs on our dance floor were oldies and throwbacks and it was the best decision we made.

The Venue

The Grand Gallery was completely different from any other venue we had seen and it had this level of elegance that we were looking for. Plus the staircase was just incredible!

The First Dance

Our first dance song was You Are by Lionel Richie. When we heard it, we both just knew. The song spoke to us as a couple.

The Favorite Part

Finally being introduced as Mr. & Mrs. Perri for the first time and then walking down the aisle as husband and wife.

The Advice

Go into your wedding day with an open mind because unplanned things will happen and you just have to roll with the punches and know that the day will still be perfect and no one will notice the little things.

The Vendors

I have a gluten allergy so we went with vendors that were offered by the Paramount Theatre and also were accommodating to my allergy as well. Angeli’s Restaurant was our food vendor and they were just PHENOMENAL! We got our wedding cake from Two Wild Seeds and it was the best cake I have ever eaten. And then with our other vendors we went with small businesses. We just loved their work and dedication. Our florist was Two Sisters Events. Our photographer was Lauren Ashley Studios. And our videographer was True Shot Studios.


APRIL 2020

Mariah and Tony 5.26.19

The First Date

Tony took me to see the 5th “Pirates of the Caribbean” at the Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton…I picked that movie because I figured it’d be okay to chat together and laugh during it, since we all know the plot of every “Pirates” is pretty much the same.

Their Favorite Qualities

M: Tony is so wonderfully playful and down-to-earth. He makes life fun and keeps me laughing all the time.

T: I love Mariah’s determination.

The Moment They Knew

M: We were “just friends” for about four months before we made our relationship official, and by the time that happened, I knew I wanted to marry him.

T: I knew I wanted to get married shortly after meeting her. (Then after she said “yes,” I REALLY knew.)

The Venue

A good friend of mine recommended we check out the Meyer Ballroom, because it had been her top choice for her own wedding venue (before finding one closer to where she lives). I felt confident saying “yes” to the Meyer Ballroom after our first visit! Every staff member we met was knowledgeable and friendly, and this venue definitely offered the most value and service (by far) for our wedding budget. Having grown up as a dancer and spending a lot of time onstage, I also loved the idea of getting married at a theater – it felt like home, in a way.

The Wedding Party Proposal

M: We didn’t do anything too fancy to propose to our wedding party members. I sent each bridesmaid a cute card (from PaperSource, one of my favorite stores) and gifted each of them a mug from Anthropologie (their tiled Margot monogram mugs go on sale periodically, and everyone loves them).

T: I sent a group text…

The Unique Touches

We wanted our wedding to reflect who we are as a couple, so it ended up being an eclectic mix of things. First, there had to be swing music and dancing (we met at a swing dance club). We definitely wanted to serve steak tacos and endless guac (I’m from Arizona, and Tony is Mexican, and steak tacos are his signature dish). Personally, I wanted a subtle princess Cinderella element, too, because I’ve always loved fairytales, and because I finally met my Prince Charming (at “the ball,” too, of all places). My mom made these flawless glass slipper and pumpkin sugar cookies for our guests, and I worked some Cinderella decor into our dessert table design.

The Vendors

Alex Marquardt (Alexandra Lee Photography) was our photographer, and wow – I can’t recommend her enough. Besides being an expert photographer, she is also an excellent honorary bridesmaid / coordinator / extended family and unruly groomsmen wrangler, etc. She helped keep things running smoothly, and she kept the energy up and fun going all day.

Lisa Mola (Blooms & Bliss) was my florist – she was incredible and put so much careful thought into every detail, making sure the floral arrangements reflected my “elegant / whimsical / fairy princess” vision (which is a pretty tall order). Lisa was a recommendation from my good friend and bridesmaid Kristen Cloyd, who is also an incredible wedding photographer and had worked with her before.

We chose Cuisine America as our caterer. We appreciated their menu options, organization, and excellent customer service. (For example, they were willing to carefully itemize every single item on our original quote, so we’d know exactly what to cut/add in order to help us stay within our budget). Also: almost all of our reception decorations were borrowed from them. That was a huge factor in our decision!

Our delicious cake and cupcakes were custom-created flavors from our sweet friend Betsy (and her lovely mom) of Hey, Sweet Cheeks! bakery (based in Joliet). Three words: dulce de leche. So good.

My dress was from Veiled in Elegance in Geneva. I send every bride-to-be I know their way. The VIE team is absolutely lovely; so helpful and kind. I loved finding my dream dress at their boutique!

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