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Real Wedding: Britni + Jack

When Britni and Jack first came to us for planning help in 2015, we fell in love with them and their story. The couple went to high school together but had no clue that they would become an item; she was a bubbly cheerleader and he was a low-key musician. Years later, their paths crossed and, well, you know the rest. After getting engaged on a romantic Hawaiian vacation, the couple decided to tie the knot at Britni’s father’s gorgeous property on Chicago’s North Shore because it was so meaningful to them.

Family is everything to these two, so we collaborated closely with the bride’s family to make the occasion something truly special. Every last detail–from luxurious tenting to adorable signage and tablescapes featuring our vintage glassware–was carefully considered for this black tie affair. The couple’s musical background meant that all of the music had to be just right, and for that we trusted Rendezvous to provide strings for the ceremony and a high-energy band for the reception.

Speaking of music, Jack melted everyone’s heart when he got on stage with his own band to surprise his bride with a song. This surprise was planned for months and went off without a hitch! Meanwhile, the couple’s dog Murphy was another scene stealer as he played honorary groomsman. How cute is he with his flower leash?

This amazing wedding would not have been possible without a very talented team of vendors. So many moving parts came together to create a memorable, magical event. After over a year of working together, we were so thrilled to be part of Britni + Jack’s day as they said “I do,” and we cannot wait to keep up with them to see what exciting things they do in the future!


Planning + vintage rentals : Chicago Vintage Weddings // Photography + videography : Nicodem Creative // Catering: Food For Thought // Tent: Blue Peak Tents // Band: Rendezvous // Florist: Intertwine // Day-of signage: Emily Rose Ink // Invitations: Shasta Bell // Property lighting: Atmosphere Events Group // Makeup: Leesi B Cosmetics // Cake: Bent Fork // Bridal shop: Ultimate Bride // Projector: AV Chicago // Landscaping: Mariani Landscape // Hotel: Renaissance North Shore

Real Wedding: Katy + Jon

Having strong relationships with our clients is the most important thing to us as wedding planners. The connections we build and trust with develop allows us to develop and execute creative, personal events that are unique to every couple. When Katy + Jon came to us, they were living out of state and caught up in work schedules that did not allow them to spend much time planning their wedding day. Getting married was the priority–not planning the details or thinking about design–so we stepped in to help.

One major question mark when we were booked was decor. As a no-fuss bride, Katy wanted something special without all the frills. We decided on a clean, modern vibe with masculine touches to fit the feel of Morgan’s on Fulton‘s sleek urban setting. Florist Beth of Larkspur created lush, green-filled arrangements including a minimalist ceremony arch and tabletop arrangements in our vintage mixed metal vases. Berries in moody tones contrasted beautifully against a palette of deep reds, blues and grays.

Graphic design by Amanda at The Early Word was the perfect complement for the event’s look. Katy gave us license to make interesting choices, so we went with pared-down graphics and stark contrast. Seating was assigned using a large chart with individual envelopes for each guest. Menus at each place setting and clear acrylic menus at the bar set the luxe-yet-simple mood for a stylishly catered meal by Hearty Boys. Vintage glassware rented from us was a hit with guests as well!

Quite possibly our favorite part of the day was pulling off Katy’s surprise for Jon. As an amateur photographer, he has built an impressive portfolio of images featuring Chicago sights. We curated eight of these photos and had them blown up to create a gallery for guests to enjoy when they arrived. It was such a thoughtful touch and now the couple has a gallery collection to display for years to come!

Katy + Jon are the kind of people you want to be friends with. They are the kind whose ceremony moves you to tears because you can feel the love between them. We are honored to have been trusted with the details of their day and feel so lucky to have gotten to know them. Congratulations, you two! We cannot wait to see the amazing things you accomplish in your life together.


Planning + vintage rentals: Chicago Vintage Weddings // Photography: Nicodem Creative // Catering: Hearty Boys // Florist: Larkspur // Graphic design: The Early Word // Venue: Morgan’s on Fulton // String music + DJ: Backthird // Officiant: Walton Weddings // Transportation: Windy City Limo // Hair: Sine Qua Non Salon – Lakeview // Makeup: Nika Vaughan Makeup Artistry // Cake: Oak Mill Bakery // Donuts: Stan’s Donuts

Real Wedding: Lauren + Jason

With our wedding season starting earlier each year, we find ourselves spending more time on events and less time on the blog. Once spring begins the most reliable place to view our real events will on Facebook and Instagram, with added inspiration bonus on our Pinterest page. By the way, have you followed us yet? Go do it! Some of our 2015 weddings are also making their way to your favorite wedding publications and we will share those as soon as they debut!

Meanwhile, before this blog gets quiet so that we can focus on creating beautiful weddings for our couples, Lauren + Jason’s wedding decor is just too pretty to keep to ourselves. Lauren began working with us in 2014 to bring to life her vision of an urban, feminine affair at Room 1520. The venue was the perfect blank slate, brimming with white and gray tones throughout, crystal chandeliers, in-house specialty lighting, and a vintage mirrored bar that makes a big statement.

We paired Lauren with some of the most talented decor vendors in the city and partnered with them to build a cohesive style that would come in right on budget; if there’s one thing you can say about Kate, it’s that she is very dedicated to keeping couples on track with smart spending! Well, that and she loves producing beautiful events to showcase every couple’s personality. And she loves her lists and timelines. Okay, there are a lot of things you can say about Kate.

With a vendor dream team of Field & Florist for local, breathtaking floral design, Dashwood Shop for hand lettered signage, and the Chicago Vintage Weddings team (plus some of our fab vintage rentals and candle treatments) on site to manage set up of the ceremony and reception with Food For Thought Catering, this was one special day. Building a relationship with Lauren meant to much to the process because we were able to get to know her and develop a seamless design concept over time. With any team of creative professionals working together, nothing is more valuable than having a strong connection to the client as well as to one another. We are incredibly thankful to have been trusted with the details of such a special day and are very happy for Lauren + Jason as they continue to grow together!

Venue: Room 1520 // Photographer: We Laugh We Love // Event Design + Vintage Rentals: Chicago Vintage Weddings // Florist: Field & Florist // Caterer: Food For Thought // Calligrapher: Dashwood Shop

Real Wedding: Anne + Jeremy

Some couples, when you meet them, just have “it.” They have that level of comfort, that certainty that everything is going to be okay because they have one another. Anne and Jeremy are one of these couples. When they first came to us in 2014, both were busy professionals living in Chicago. They had inspiration for their dream wedding day but no plan for how to pull it off, especially with such tight schedules and a move out of state looming ahead. We started talking with them about their priorities–an outdoor spring ceremony, comfort food, local craft beer, elegant vintage touches, a rocking dance party–and realized that just like these two were a great match for each other, we were a great match as their wedding planner. Thankfully, they felt the same way.

A few months later, our plan was coming together. We locked in an amazing industrial-chic venue in South Bend, Indiana and a nearby botanic garden, Fernwood, to host their ceremony. After getting lucky enough to secure the couple’s dream date (someone else wanted it!) and making sure that a fantastic band and photographer were available, we started on the really fun part: tasting the food. Enter Smoke Daddy, a Wicker Park barbecue restaurant that is so worth the out of state delivery fee! Between their hearty fare, assorted desserts from another local Chicago vendor, A Baker’s Tale, and The Brick’s seamless bar service, this wedding plan was on track.

Now, what about decor? This is where Anne’s vision really flourished. South Bend florist MichaelAngelo’s created a lush peony bouquet that still makes us swoon. Their tabletop floral arrangements were a perfect complement for our vintage rentals and decor. We designed a sweet little sweetheart table and some paper goods, and set the tablescapes off with vintage sheet music as a little nod to Anne + Jeremy’s Anne + Jeremy’s excellent musical taste. We made sure to cover all the little details too, from providing extra candlelight to plying accent tables with lace to complete the look. Overall, it was a perfect combination of vintage + industrial chic in a venue that we only wish could be located closer to home! Funk Harmony Park, a band the couple already knew, did an incredible job playing every genre imaginable late into the night.

At the end of it all, we said goodbye to the couple, their wedding party and their families and returned to Chicago feeling excited for them and just a little disappointed that, with our planning complete, we would no longer be working together. Thankfully, Anne + Jeremy have kept in touch and recently shared exciting news: they are expecting a baby! By the end of this month, these two fantastic people will be proud first time parents; they are going to be amazing at it. Congratulations on your growing family, Anne + Jeremy, and thank you for letting us share in your excitement!

Ceremony venue: Fernwood Botanical Garden // Reception venue + bar: The Brick // Photographer: Rotarski Photography // Planner + vintage rentals: Chicago Vintage Weddings // Catering: Smoke Daddy // Sweets: A Baker’s Tale // Band: Funk Harmony Park // Florist: MichaelAngelo’s // Transportation: Royal Excursion // Wedding party hair: Angie Cave // Bridal hair: Tim Toth of Lather Chicago // Makeup: Makeup by Morgan

Real Wedding: Stephanie + Michael

We work with lots of cute couples, so saying that Stephanie + Michael are one of the cutest ever really means something. Being part of this fun-loving pair’s wedding day was an absolute joy! Even with the weather being less than cooperative in late November, warmth filled every element of the day; we think that shows in these amazing images from Jason Brown of J Brown Photography. We’re obsessed with the Art Institute of Chicago portraits!

Stephanie had an elegant vision for event decor and Art of Imagination executed it beautifully. As with every wedding we’ve ever planned at Bridgeport Art Center, every detail was lovely. Sarah and her team at Berghoff knocked catering out of the park, Dominic Wayne served up the tunes, and the Venue Logic team helped everything come together seamlessly. Our own Elizabeth meticulously arranged each hand-lettered escort card because we know it’s those little details that make a big difference!

This wedding was so fun and cozy–even on a snowy day–because of all the love in the room. We had a blast working with Stephanie + Michael as well as their families and wedding party, and are so happy that they tied the knot (and picked us to help it all come together)! Congratulations to these two darlings!

Photographer: J Brown Photography // Planner: Chicago Vintage Weddings // Venue: Bridgeport Art Center Sculpture Garden // Event Decor: Art of Imagination // Caterer: Berghoff Catering // DJ: Dominic Wayne // Photo Booth: Photo Booth of the Stars // Salon: Maxine Salon // Transportation: Windy City Limo // Hotel: The James

Top 2016 Wedding Trends, Part II

The top 2016 wedding trends are back! Ever since our last post, we’ve been noticing more and more of our trend predictions popping up in magazines and blogs. Have you noticed it too? Last time we told you about the latest in cakes, accessories, tabletop decor and dining. Here, get inspired by gowns, glassware and delicious cocktails.

Top 2016 gown style | Intricate beading

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Pearls! Crystals! Paillettes! Feast your eyes on these incredibly detailed looks gracing the runways of the world’s top designers. Expect to see these couture pieces influencing the style of wedding wear in 2016 and beyond, much like the beloved Alexander McQueen long-sleeved lace gown worn by Duchess Kate did back in 2011. Why not mix it up, too? Don’t be afraid to pair beading with fringe, floral patterns and lace for some luxurious, stylish texture.

Top 2016 glassware | Colorful

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We may be a little biased because we have thousands of pieces of colored glassware for rent, but we’ll be darned if this look isn’t white-hot. Colored glass adds variety and personality to any tablescape, whether it’s all a single color, mixed and matched, or paired with clear crystal. The look can be rustic or elegant, busy or understated. If you aren’t sure you want to commit to too much color, try this at your bar for specialty cocktails, or just incorporate it at the head table.

Top 2016 cocktails | Tikiwedding tiki cocktails chicago wedding planner

Fellow Chicagoans, we know you’ve been loving the tiki trend popping up in bars across the city. What you may not have considered is that tropical cocktails can pair perfectly with your wedding too! These provide a boozy escape in winter and thirst-quenching refreshment in summer. Many classic cocktails are easy to “batch” in advance or serve punch-style, which can reduce wait times at the bar. We especially love these when they fit the event design, so use this as an excuse to fit pineapples and palms (also fun 2016 trends) into your floral decor.

That’s it for now, loves. We can think of so many other fun and exciting ways to personalize your wedding style, but we have a lot of work to do in the studio! There aren’t as many weddings at this time of year so we are spending our time working with current clients and meeting new ones as we prepare for exciting 2016 and 2017 wedding seasons. If you aren’t working with us yet and want to learn more about what we can do to make your wedding day perfect, contact us today!

Top 2016 Wedding Trends

It’s that time of year again! Of course we mean that the holidays are here, but we also mean it’s engagement season. Anyone with a Facebook feed knows that the time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s day is full of posts from happy, newly engaged couples. For those of us who are lucky enough to be able to share in this joy as part of our work, we think of engagement season as the time to look forward to the coming year, when weddings will abound during the warmer months.

What does all this mean for you? It means we’ve used our insider knowledge to forecast the top wedding trends for 2016. Remember when we predicted that bright botanicals would be all the rage and then you started seeing them everywhere? Trust us, babies, we don’t take these predictions lightly! Think of this as Fashion Week for the bridal set: what you see here now will be what you see in real weddings sooner than you think. If you’re feeling especially daring, maybe you will even go for some of these options for your own wedding!

With so many exciting new choices popping up in our world, we can’t limit ourselves to just one post. The second installment of our trendspotting series will be making its way to you in December. Meanwhile, enjoy these first four winners and, as always, happy planning!

Top 2016 wedding cake | Drip icing

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These cakes are literally dripping in ooey-gooey goodness. Icing dripping down the edge of a simple cake makes a statement that this dessert is meant to be enjoyed in all its sweet and sticky glory. We love our ornate cakes too, but this simple look is so fun and inviting, and we anticipate seeing a lot more of it in 2016. For an extra trendy style, layer this over 2015’s top cake–naked or seminaked–to change up the look. Guests will be watering at the mouth to try this one!

Top 2016 bridal accessory | Crown

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We know it’s bold, but hear us out. Crowns have been all over the 2016 bridal fashion runways. Flower crowns were all the rage in 2014 and 2015, and of course we expect that they will stay popular in the coming year. A real crown, though, makes such a statement. It’s regal, it’s commanding, it might even be a little intimidating. There are so many ways to wear this look, whether it’s shimmering with crystals, under a veil, or completely over-the-top. Crowns can be goth, Deco, feminine and everything in between. If you’re not so sure about pulling this off on your wedding day, try the look for your engagement shoot instead.

Top 2016 catering fare | Fresh, earthy eats

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If there’s one thing we are so glad to see coming into style, it’s fresh, sustainable food. The benefits are endless! Many of these dishes are already vegetarian and can be easily adapted to specialized diets such as vegan or allergy-friendly. The quality of farm-to-table food can’t be beat and the environmental impact is well worth the investment. As more caterers begin to focus on local fare for events, some are even opening their own gardens to give you the freshest and most colorful seasonal eats available–we love seeing floral garnishes direct from the urban farm. Plus, why not give your guests a little healthy food to balance out all that indulging at the sweets table and the bar?

Top 2016 tabletop look | Black matte stoneware

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You thought it would be gold flatware? Think again. Black, matte plates are going to be all the rage in 2016. Obviously these can be part of a moody tablescape or one for the colder months, but with a little creativity (hey, that’s why you hired us to plan your wedding!) they can also be incorporated into a chic design to fit any style. Mixing them with our mismatched china is a unique stylistic choice that can pack a punch, especially when we help you pair the plates with fabulous glassware, flatware, florals and paper goods to complete your look!

That wraps it up for our first installment of the top 2016 wedding trends. Check back in December for more winners and, of course, don’t forget to contact us about your date!

2016: Get It Before It’s Gone

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Next year is looking bright! We’re thrilled that so many of you are interested in our planning + vintage rental services, especially with some major announcements on the horizon that we can’t wait to share! (Hint: wayyyy more gorgeous finds for you to rent.)

As a boutique company that places a high value on the quality of our service, the events we take on are limited. Many weekends in 2016 are already booking out, especially in June, July and September. If you’re reading this and you haven’t yet reached out to reserve your 2016 rental or planning service, now is the time to do it, especially if your date falls between March and October. Don’t miss out on getting exactly what you want!

Real Wedding: Jessica + Wyatt

We can’t say enough about how much fun Jessica and Wyatt’s wedding was! With elegant, classic details throughout, it would have been enough simply to stare at the gorgeous scenery at their Holy Name Cathedral ceremony and Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile reception. The bride and her entire bridal party were beautiful in their full length gowns and delicate florals. The groom and his groomsmen looked fab in summery gray suits with striped ties and elegant boutonnieres. Husband-wife team Christy and James of Christy Tyler Photography captured everything with a talented eye. There’s so much happiness in these images!

At the reception, guests enjoyed a refreshing cocktail hour to beat the heat and made their way to a fantastic meal in the hotel’s ballroom. Once dinner ended, a serious rager broke loose. Toast and Jam’s DJ Kate kept the dance floor packed all night, not that she needed much help prompting this crowd to get moving! With a little help from their families, Jessica and Wyatt kept guests decked in enough glowing party gear to give the lights on the Vegas Strip a run for their money. Chicago-style late night bites and thoughtful favors were a perfect way to end the night.

We loved being part of this fantastic couple’s day and are excited to see what the future holds for them. Congratulations, you two!

Photography: Christy Tyler Photography | Ceremony: Holy Name Cathedral | Reception: Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile | Videographer: Robert Cawthorne Wedding Films | DJ: Toast & Jam | Florist: Bunches | Bridal hair: Salon U | Bridal party hair: Debra Petrielli | Makeup: Anjelica Bannos Artistry | Photo Booth: ShutterBooth

What Not to DIY for Your Wedding

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Doing it yourself is all the rage for weddings, and for good reason. At its best, getting crafty means you can save money, have fun creating personalized projects, and wow guests with your awesome design skills. In reality, though, DIY projects often don’t turn out exactly as planned. Going down the Pinterest rabbit hole can lead to lofty ideas of creating everything for the wedding day all by yourself. Custom backdrop? Sure. Calligraphy for every invitation and place card? You can learn it. Self-designed and printed invitations? Piece of cake. That perfect floral crown and cascading bridal bouquet? No sense paying hundreds to a florist when you can create your own.

Well…not really. We often see brides falling into the trap of biting off more DIY projects than they can chew. There’s so much inspiration out there that it’s easy to become convinced that these undertakings will be simple, affordable, and have stunning results. In our conversations with couples, though, we often hear brides lamenting their DIY undertakings as the wedding approaches. The supplies are taking over the apartment. After-work hours and weekends are consumed with crafting projects. Everything ended up being more expensive than planned. Learning origami or calligraphy or floral design was harder than expected, and the results aren’t looking so good.

To save their sanity and their budget, what’s a creative couple to do? We’re offering up a few guidelines for how to DIY smarter, including what to absolutely NOT do yourself!

Limit the scope: Suddenly your idea for a cute custom chalkboard or two has snowballed into a list of ten different DIY projects. You’ve pinned them all to your wedding inspiration board and absolutely HAVE to have them. Do you really, though? Consider the value of your time and whether there are low-cost alternatives that you can purchase. Take a step back and think about whether this project will be something you regret not having years down the line, or whether it’s a passing trend. A good rule of thumb is to clarify your vision before deciding which projects to take on, and to not plan on doing any more than 10 hours of work yourself (believe us, you’ll underestimate how long things will take).

Have a backup: What if your project doesn’t end up as picture-perfect as you had hoped? What if you don’t have a chance to complete it? Don’t torture yourself by taking an “it’s this or nothing” approach. That kind of pressure will drive you nuts, and can result in losing perspective of the things about the wedding that really matter. Start early and go into each task with a non-DIY backup in mind. If you begin to sense that things aren’t working out as well as you had hoped, go with your alternative. No need to guilt trip yourself—you don’t need to do it all!

Start early: Beginning a project one or two months before the wedding is a recipe for frustration. You don’t want to start so early that you risk changing your mind about style and scrapping your work, but you don’t want to experience any deadline or budget stress as the big day approaches. Allot twice as much time as you think you’ll need and your future self will thank you.

Enlist help: Delegate, delegate, delegate! Host a crafting event where wedding party members help you accomplish whatever needs to get done. Ask interested family members to take on a project or two. Find out who wants to be involved and let them contribute. Just consider whether that person will be reliable and will have the skill to achieve the results you want; this will avoid friction later on. On that note, be sure to express gratitude for any help offered!

Manage expectations: We can tell you from experience that styled wedding shoots are just that: styled. By professionals. The inspiration photos you find online are the result of the collaboration of teams of experienced wedding vendors, often with little consideration for budget. A photo shoot is very different from a real event and photographers have a much more controlled environment in which to get that perfect shot. Don’t compare your skills or your event to these professionally created, one-off (not for 100+ guests!) designs. Remember that your guests will be at the wedding to celebrate with you, not to critique your style. Nobody is going to be as much of a perfectionist about the big day as you are, so keep the pressure you put on yourself in check.

Now for the list of what to leave to the pros.

Invitations: Invitation design is trickier than it seems. It requires a familiarity with graphic design as well as access to a high quality printer. Not all paper types or printing methods will work with all printers, so providing your own paper stock is not the best idea.  You’ll need to consider very specific measurements and eliminate all chance of error, or you risk a costly reprint. Custom printing jobs for a variety of cut paper sizes and colors can also end up costing quite a bit of money. If you’re looking for some level of involvement in the design process, find a designer to fit your budget and go from there; Etsy has great options, just do your homework to find someone reliable.

Floral design: When it comes to doing flowers yourself, just say no. Creating a good look is harder than it seems, and so much more goes into it than you might initially consider. Arrangements are created a few days in advance of the wedding, a time when engaged couples shouldn’t have to worry about complex, time-consuming work. Transport is difficult. Flowers wilt if not properly refrigerated and hydrated. We could go on but the bottom line is this: DO. NOT. DIY. YOUR. FLOWERS! Can you tell that we have strong feelings about this one?

Vintage items: Buying your own plates and providing that cute vintage sofa you found can be an enormous, stressful pain in the butt. The popularity of these items means they are more expensive and harder to find than ever before. They need to be stored, organized, transported, and cleaned after the wedding. You may be able to sell them after the big day but that’s not guaranteed and it could take a while. Renting costs less than purchasing and it’s hassle-free. We offer vintage rentals so we’re a little biased, but we still stand by this advice no matter where you get your rentals!

Makeup: Makeup artists are called artists for a reason. Every one has a unique style and you should find one that fits your vision and the tone of the event. Unless you’re in the beauty field, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get yourself looking as photo-ready as a pro will. Even a lighter touch, sans fake lashes and airbrushing, will look smoother and more flattering in photos when it’s handled by someone who has done this hundreds of times before. The cost of hiring a bridal makeup artist is relatively low for the returns you’ll see in your photos, and it’s one less thing for you to worry about on the morning of the wedding.

Day-of coordination: Weddings have a lot of moving parts. This is a celebration and you should have every opportunity to enjoy it, not to engage in logistical firefighting. Your coordinator will be a point of contact for every vendor and wedding participant. The coordinator will ensure in advance that everything is on track to go smoothly and will be prepared to meet any emergency situation that may arise on the wedding day. A good coordinator makes all the difference, from facilitating your ceremony, to keeping you calm, to advocating on your behalf and keeping the timeline moving along. Other vendors appreciate working with wedding planners because it means that there is less chance of something unexpected happening that might limit their ability to do their jobs well.  An experienced planner’s coordination fee is a seriously smart investment in your wedding.

 Hopefully this advice has you feeling more comfortable with your DIY aspirations and the planning process in general. We love helping couples create events that reflect their personalities, and if you follow these guidelines you’ll be on the right track to add a personal touch without going overboard. Still have questions? Contact us for a little extra help. Happy planning!

Photo by Amy Jo Royall, design + rentals by Chicago Vintage Weddings, floral by Asrai Garden, collaboration with BHLDN