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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

Farm Tables are Here!

Just as we predicted, spring and summer weddings have kept us so busy that updating this blog has fallen by the wayside. Gorgeous photo sets are coming in from all of our 2016 events, so you are going to have lots of amazing images to inspire you once they get published!

Meanwhile, we had to pop in here with a big announcement: our new farm table collection has arrived! Until now we had only mismatched tables for rent, and none were custom built for events. These new farm tables are matching so that you can create the perfect dining arrangements for your event, from long king’s tables to more traditional layouts. They fold for easy transport and storage, bringing the cost down and making for easier setup. In addition to our 8′ long dining tables, we also have smaller farm tables and tall bar-height tables. We hope you love these as much as we do!

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

New Vintage Rental Items

chicago vintage rentals weddings events

With the 2015 wedding season upon us, we are receiving many requests for an expanded vintage rental collection. More of you than ever before are looking for the perfect furniture, tabletop, and decor items to make your event unique and beautiful, all without the hassle of purchasing them yourselves and dealing with all that clutter and expense. We love making our clients happy, so of course we had to go and do a little vintage shopping on your behalf!

Most-requested items are vintage china plates and glassware (of course) and lounge furniture such as sofas and armchairs. We already have an enormous tabletop collection and have been steadily adding to that. Latest additions to our already adorable furniture collection include our mauve velvet wingback chair, matching provincial loveseat, matching provincial chairs, and a whole host of other upholstered goodies. Then we have the provincial cabinet–perfect for your unique sweets or favor display–provincial sideboard, gold striped bar cabinet, travel trunk complete with old travel stamps, and lovely little end tables.

Next up are tabletop rentals. We have added more mirrored trays, frames, chalkboards, globes, books, mixed metal items (great for floral vessels!), and mercury glass vases. Mercury glass was too adorable to have as such a tiny part of our collection, so we found more mercury glass votive candle holders for you to rent too. Then there are our apothecary jars and countless other little goodies to add that cute, personal touch.

If you haven’t made an appointment to visit our studio yet, now is the time to make one. You can browse through our collection of glassware, dig through stacks of fine china, chat about design, and, most important of all, reserve your favorite items before they’re booked on your date!

What Not to DIY for Your Wedding

wedding planning advice what not to diy

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

Dog Rescue Dinner with One Tail at a Time

One thing many of you already know about us is that we love supporting our favorite causes, and one of those favorites happens to be One Tail at a Time Dog Rescue. Our owner was a supporter even before founding Chicago Vintage Weddings, so of course it’s pleasure to have the opportunity to use CVW to do good for the pups!

Last night we were the proud sponsor of the first fundraiser dinner for One Tail at a Time. Our friends at green caterer Big Delicious Planet generously donated a five course meal prepared by Executive Chef Melissa. The dinner took place at Chicago Pet Sitters, so we knew we had our work cut out for us in transforming this daytime pet sitting headquarters into a cozy, intimate dinner venue. We decided on a simple, rustic woodland theme to match the space’s existing farm table and industrial seating. Scavenged wood, recycled paper and vintage rentals decorated the table, fitting the eco-chic vibe.

As if helping a dog rescue isn’t good enough, we were joined during set up by the world’s cutest guests of honor: two pit bull puppies who just entered the rescue that day! We don’t even want to tell you how much productivity time we lost to snuggles, but it was well worth every minute. These babies will be needing homes soon. There are also plenty of other adoptable OTAT dogs of all ages waiting to light up your life, all listed here on Petfinder!

Real Weddings: Jill + Johnny

Jill and Johnny are a couple after our hearts. Jill discovered our vintage rentals at the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance annual eco-wedding fair, Committed, way back in February and since then we’ve had a blast coming up with creative vintage rental plans for this past weekend’s wedding at the lofty Chicago Urban Art Society.

According to composting guru Mary Beth Schaye of Collective Resource, these two threw the most sustainable wedding she has ever seen. Composting? Check. Reusable, rented decor? You bet. Recycling? Yep. Vegan fare? Of course! The list could keep going on but we think you get the picture. It was an incredibly stylish, fun, sustainable affair!

Here is just a small peek at some of the day’s vintage design elements. The couple chose a Chicago theme with colors of the Chicago flag throughout. Florist Forget Me Knodt incorporated these colors into her floral choice for an incredibly sophisticated, bright palette. We designed a custom sweet table and appetizer table, and we provided cafe lights, lanterns, champagne glasses, chairs, a lounge area and more for rent. It was certainly an affair to remember–congratulations, Jill and Johnny!

Real Weddings: Nicole and Ben

Robert at Rojo Foto passed these images along to us and they were just too adorable to keep to ourselves. Nicole and Ben got married on the Fourth of July and we were lucky enough to be part of their beautiful day! We provided vintage china plates for rent, a lovely contrast to the modern setting of their Greenhouse Loft reception (the first image you see was captured by event manager Jamie Davis). Jori over at Fab Flora did an amazing job on floral design and Tablescapes provided additional rentals. The event wouldn’t have been complete without the capable management and delicious food from our friends at Entertaining Company. Congratulations to this charming couple!

Weddings at Lincoln Park Zoo and Cafe Brauer

Exciting news! We are proud to announce that Chicago Vintage Weddings is now the preferred vintage rental vendor for events at Cafe Brauer and Lincoln Park Zoo. When we were asked to join the preferred vendor list, the first thing we did after jumping for joy was find out more about what makes the venue unique. Here are a few fun facts about events at Cafe Brauer and Lincoln Park Zoo.

An image of a Cafe Brauer wedding courtesy of Olivia Leigh Photographie

An image of a Cafe Brauer wedding courtesy of Olivia Leigh Photographie

1. Big cats can be your wedding guests. That’s right, you can get married inside the animal houses. As conservationists we wondered, “Doesn’t that bother the animals? Do they really enjoy wedding music as much as humans do?” We asked and learned that our furry friends don’t mind a bit. Resident animals are accustomed to noise from the public, so your wedding will not upset them.

2. It’s more private than you think. Lincoln Park Zoo and Cafe Brauer staff are experts at creating intimate affairs in all parts of the zoo. So, while you might not have much privacy when you’re strolling around the grounds as a zoo visitor, rest assured that you and your guests will have the private atmosphere you desire for your special occasion, wherever that may be.

3. The preferred vendors you will work with are the best in the city. While there are a variety of options for all budgets and styles, two things all of our fellow preferred vendors have in common is their excellent reputation and high professional standards. The list is
carefully curated and monitored for performance.

4. Your wedding supports a good cause. We are an eco-chic business that admires the Lincoln Park Zoo for the groundbreaking work it does to educate the public about conservation and to protect endangered species. How fantastic is it that choosing Lincoln Park Zoo or Cafe Brauer as your wedding venue supports the zoo’s conservation mission?

Interested in planning a wedding at Cafe Brauer or Lincoln Park Zoo? Contact us for assistance with everything from event design and rentals to planning and coordination.