A Chicago Soirée - Wedding Anniversary Edition

My husband Mike is originally from the suburbs of Chicago. When we met in 2012 he spoke so much of this place. I had never been and honestly had no idea what to even imagine what that place was like. Two months after our first hello we took a long weekend off from work and flew to Chicago.


I kid you not as we are driving into downtown, fighting painful exhaustion from our red eye, I felt as if I had found my perfect city. Growing up I had this idea that I would someday live in a big beautiful city, in either a brownstone or a high rise. And y'all, I found that city. So if things with this Mike guy didn't work out I knew just where I was moving to!


On October 14th, day two of our trip, we woke up to a torrential downpour. We had plans to visit the Shedd Aquarium (Mike is a huge saltwater fish enthusiast). Staring out of our hotel window, he tells me it will stop soon. Yeah, no. None the less he drags me out in it. We get to the aquarium, it's raining buckets and we are standing outside in the pouring rain like fools. After about 20 minutes of this I begin to make my way to the cab line. I had reached my limit. Mike climbs into the cab behind me TOTALLY bummed. I remember laughing at him because of how upset he was, so I snapped a picture. I don't think he spoke two words on the ride back to the hotel, haha

Don't worry, we saw the fish the next afternoon.


Fast forward to October 14, 2017.

Exactly five years to the day from when I snapped the above photo of Mike. I'm in my hotel suite in a luxurious downtown Chicago hotel. It's 4:00am. I left the drapes open overnight so the first thing I see when I opened my eyes was a wall of fluffy grey. I crawl out of bed and walk to the window slightly confused as to what I was seeing. The fluffy grey I was seeing was a rain cloud that was covering the top half of my hotel. And it was POURING.


Hello wedding day!


Two years of planning went right out that 25th floor window. I did not have a back up plan for the downtown photoshoot. I stood there for a moment as my wedding planner brain kicked into overdrive, trying to figure out a solution to this. After 5 minutes of pacing I finally stop, let out a deep breath, and just let it go. There was nothing I could do so the only thing left to do was to just enjoy the day however it was going to play out. We will wing it! And boy did we wing it.


Photographer: Brandon of Gin & Sake Productions from Las Vegas

Dress: Maggie Sottero from Celebrations Bridal, Las Vegas | Hair & Makeup: Pin Me Up Chicago



Our first steps out of the hotel to begin our OUTDOOR photo shoot.


Tip: I suggest getting totes with zipper tops. As you can tell by Kristi's, she stuffed hers with everything she needed to get her through the day. I had one for myself too. I didn't even end up using my gold glittery clutch, everything just went into my tote.


There was a slight break in the weather on our trek around the city so we leaped out of the trolley and made a beeline for these amazing stairs at some museum. We got maybe 15 minutes in before the rain started again.


Trolley, Windy City Trolley

Bridesmaids Dresses: David's Bridal in Nashville and Allure Bridal in Las Vegas

Groomsmen Tuxes: Men's Warehouse, Vera Wang


Mike and I were adamant to get some shots of the skyline behind us with Lake Michigan. I knew just where to go to capture this too. The result:


So much for that skyline.


It was beginning to rain pretty hard, but we kept at it. All of a sudden we hear a wall of rain coming from across the lake. Some of the wedding party members came rushing down to us with umbrellas and we make a beeline back to the trolley!



A little FYI on what happens when wedding dresses get wet. Before a wedding gown leaves the factory to begin its trip overseas to your local bridal salon, it is sprayed with a chemical (to keep the bugs out). When wet it releases a scent that smells like a fish market. My photographer had to turn around and walk right out after snapping this picture the smell was so intense.


Cathedral veil, David's Bridal


It's wedding time! Stinky bride and all!


Fun fact: The scene in Home Alone where Kevin made his way into a church was filmed here.


Venue: Trinity United Methodist Church, Wilmette, Illinois


I didn't realize until after I saw these images that half of my guests weren't even at the ceremony. The weather had gotten so severe that most were not able to get to the church. That was such a bummer, but thankfully everyone managed to get to the reception.


Speaking of reception:

My husband wanted traditional (hence the big church), I did not, so the compromise were the spaces we used for the reception. We had dinner in this beautiful semi-circle shaped room that sat facing the Chicago River. I used white linens, white china, gold Chiavari chairs and kept the floral low and neutral. He also wanted a super traditional wedding cake, so this was the cake I pieced together from a handful of images he had seen of other cake styles he liked.


Our cake flavor: White cake with raspberry jam and crème brulee filling with vanilla buttercream icing. Drizzled on top with raspberry coulis and garnished with fresh berries. #divine


Venue, rentals, cake and catering: The Sheraton Grand Chicago | Floral: Dilly Lily

Guest favors: Skeleton key bottle openers, Etsy | Menu cards: Zazzle


For the drinking and dancing we moved up one level to a room where I had originally planned for both dinner and dancing to take place. The massive built in bar provided plenty of room for all of our friends to belly up to. We even turned on the big screen TV's and cheered on the Cub's!


DJ and Lighting, MDM Entertainment


The non-traditional part of me didn't want an ordinary guest book. We used a wood plank instead, which my mom found and painted for us. This now hangs in mine and Mike's home.


At 10:00pm we introduced the late night snack station, a mini Chicago hot dog cart!


Soon after our late night snacks I ran up to our room for the night, just about ripping myself out of my wedding dress. I could NOT take it anymore. I had discovered earlier in the evening that I did not pack my reception dress so I resorted to my navy blue rehearsal dinner dress from the night before. I can't say that I didn't contemplate tossing my wedding dress out into the hallway for I knew the fish stench would just engulf the room. The following morning I called down to the house cleaners just to forewarn them of what they would be walking into when they came up to clean that afternoon. I was humiliated!


Despite the rain, it was a day FULL of love and celebration. I'm told it was the best wedding friends or family had ever attended, so I guess it turned out okay! Would I go back and do it all over again? Absolutely not. It was tremendously challenging for me to be the one in the wedding gown, I'm not even entirely sure I liked it . My brain could not switch off from business to bride, no matter how many people I had that day who were in charge.


My advice from a wedding planner perspective and a bride perspective? Don't expect perfection. Something will happen or many things will happen that may throw a wretch in the day and that is okay. Just roll with it! Besides, there isn't anything a few glasses of champagne can't fix!


xo

Ashley


1957 Rolls Royce, A Dynasty Limo




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