Tag Archives: hotel

downtown chicago wedding at the blackstone hotel

Beth + Eric were married this spring at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago.  It was through Beth + Eric that I met these lovebirds and was lucky enough to work at the Blackstone twice this year!  Beth and Eric are both super busy lawyers and were planning their wedding from Washington DC.  They both envisioned something clean, elegant, classy with maybe just a little hint of preppy.  The architecture at the Blackstone is no joke and was the perfect backdrop to their white, navy and pop of pink party. Eric’s sister designed the wedding stationery, Beth’s mom scoured the town for flip-flops, ribbons and containers for months and Eric’s mom baked more cookies that I have ever seen in my entire life for their hospitality suite. It was a constant show of support for this couple and a constant parade of so many handy talents!
beth + eric 49

I love this first look sequence.

Beth + Eric’s wedding will forever hold a special place in my heart and was the place where my 2012 “memory of the year” happened.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you this story.  It was unseasonably hot in May and once Colby Bessera and the Party Faithful started playing the dance floor was packed.  For hours.  After an hour or so, Beth was hot.  I told her if her crinoline wasn’t attached, perhaps we could take that off and it would be a lot more comfortable underneath all of that dress.  We headed into the bathroom only to be disappointed by the fact that it was not detachable.  She was desperate and overheated and said “what else can we do?”

“Well, I could cut it off?”

(I said pretty quietly hoping she wouldn’t think I was completely insane.)  She said, “Seriously?  You can do that?”  (Whew!)  She was ecstatic, I was relieved and I snipped that crinoline right off of her wedding dress.  Beth was totally realistic about the fact that if she has a daughter one day, she’s probably not going to want to wear it.  Even if she does, it’s easy to add a couple layers of crinoline as a removable layer.  I was also super happy that some nice guests happened to be in the ladies room with us and snapped this picture.  You know, for posterity’s sake.

My brides are the coolest.

*eye candy courtesy of the kind and talented Jen at JWiley Photography (unless obviously instagrammed by me or my friends in the bathroom)

Beth + Eric’s Vendors
Ceremony+ Reception: Blackstone Hotel
Day-of Coordination: Anticipation Events
Style: Anticipation Events
Catering: Blackstone Hotel
Cake: Take the Cake
JWiley Photography
Florist + Lighting: Kehoe Designs
Ceremony + Reception Band: Colby Bessera and the Party Faithful
Hair: Ginger DeMateo
Make-up: Cynde Cosmetics
Guest Hotel: Blackstone Hotel

eric + mike’s swanky chicago dinner party.

Eric + Mike were married at Public Chicago in Chicago in October.  Full disclosure: Eric and Mike live in Omaha and own an amazing hair salon there.  Eric has been my hair stylist since I was 15 years old.  He loves to tell the story of me running into the salon after a soccer game with a towel twisting up my still wet hair an hour before the Homecoming dance.  So obviously this man can work miracles.  Which obviously this means I love him.
When they told me they were getting married in Chicago I insisted I would coordinate, mostly because I wanted to attend.  I regret nothing.  They flew 20 of their closest family and friends to Chicago and spent the weekend enjoying their company before getting hitched on Sunday.  It was an exquisite event to say the least.  Take a peek.

My buddy!  I love how Pen/Carlson snapped this photo of me seeing Eric for the first time.  It was both odd and so amazing to see him outside of the salon.  Now if I can just convince them to hurry up and move to Chicago (at least part-time!?)


Eric’s vows made Mike cry and Eric was so proud of himself.  Love it!  Since they had just 20 guests at the wedding, they threw a dinner party to end all dinner parties.  Seriously.  It was at least six courses and the Dom was flowing nonstop.  Everyone sat at one amazing table and after dinner they enjoyed the terrace, more drinks and a second helping of dessert.  There’s something to be said for a small and intimate wedding, and this one was quite lovely.

*all photos courtesy of the kind and talented Kiri & Brett of Pen/Carlson

Eric + Mike’s Vendors
Ceremony + Reception: Public Chicago
Day-of Coordination: Anticipation Events
Catering + Dessert Table: Public Chicago
Florist: Botanicals Chicago
Officiant: Chicago Wedding Judge

christine + brett: art imitates love + love imitates art.

My new favorite pictures are these amazing bridal portraits I keep seeing.  First this one, and now the gorgeous Christine. Brett married this lovely lady in July at Holy Family Parish in Chicago.  Their wedding fell on the last day of a historic heat wave that hit Chicago with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees for days in a row.  You’ll see in the pictures below how absolutely stunning Holy Family is, however, one thing gorgeous, old churches tend not to have is air-conditioning.  After fighting rush hour traffic on Friday and the serious risk of melting in church, I made sure we did the worlds fastest rehearsal (seriously, blink and you missed it) and got them out into the (basically non-existent breeze) ASAP.  Saturday we caught a break and hit a high of only 98 degrees but what a difference it made.  In the end, the heat didn’t matter: these two art teachers put so much work and love into their day, they were all smiles all day long and most definitely ready to party by the time the reception rolled around.  Not to mention we found out the American Idols were touring in Chicago and staying at the hotel.

Let’s get to the incredible details shall we?  I mentioned they are both art teachers right?  Holy moly did they kill it in that department.  I’ve included some shots instagrammed by yours truly because I was loving it.  So many colors and so much personality in all of their details.  They handmade all of the table cards and holders that went with them, had a candy bar, a chocolate fountain AND a cotton candy machine.  Amazing.  In the cocktail area they put up a bunch of their engagement pictures in which a chalk fight was captured on film. (Why wasn’t I invited? So fun…) In addition, some original artwork they created was displayed and of course a fabulously colorful twist on announcing the bridal party: light sabers, which caused epileptic shock in the absolute best way possible.


Congrats love birds.  I have no doubt the amazing amount of color that will be brought into the world  because of the two of you.  Thanks for letting Phillip Phillips and I both be a part of your big day.

*all photos by the lovely Luis + Clarissa of I Luv Photo

Christine + Brett’s Vendors
Ceremony: Holy Family Parish
Reception + Catering: Intercontinental O’Hare
Day-of Coordination: Anticipation Events
DJ: Annalise (DJ Lion Tamer) of Fig Media
Photography: I Luv Photo
Florist + Rentals: M & M Special Events
Videography: Delack Media Group
Make-up: Stephanie Negrete
Photobooth: Shutterbooth Photo Booth
Cake: Take the Cake
Transportation: The Trolley Car & Bus Co.
Lighting: PSAV Lighting

kardashian kollection.

There are times in life when things line up.  When what’s meant to be is.  When magic happens.  My sisters’ bachelorette party was one of these times.  There were times during her planning where I had to put a lot of thought into things: writing a toast for the reception, how was I going to be a maid-of-honor AND wedding coordinator, if I should get chicken or fish, but choosing a theme for her bachelorette party was not one of those times.  Hence, Saradashian’s Last Stand was born.

I designed and printed the invites (front to back) complete with photshopping my sister in with the Kardashians, tied them up with ribbon and stuffed each envelope with feathers and sequins.  The liners were custom made because really, when other time am I going to get to do something like this?  When you’re talking about the Kardashian’s, it’s got to be over the top.  Bible.

I didn’t tell her anything about the party other than what the invitation gave away which was to meet at a hotel downtown at 5:30.  At 4:30 I had an SUV (just like Kim Kardashian gets driven around in) pick Sarah and her bridesmaid Shannon up at her house and when they got in the car Shannon gave her a card I had had my parents write her (likely ending with, “be safe!”)  Then they stopped to pick up two more bridesmaids and she got a card that I had my brother write (surprisingly sentimental).  One final stop to pick up the last bridesmaid Molly, and Molly gave her a card I had written her (recounting some of our drunken escapades together to ger her in the mood to party!)  I was so happy Shannon send me these pictures as a play-by-play!

So in this case, I had the party in a hotel room.  This makes things difficult for a myriad of reasons: no access to your dishes, kitchen utensils or dishwasher, having just a tiny fridge and a microwave etc.  Even though we used a lot of things that could be thrown away at the end of the party, I still wanted to make it special.  Everyone got two glasses, one for champagne and one for kahlua and creams (my sister’s favorite) adorned with the Kardashian of their choice.


I made the kahlua and creams by freezing the cream in ice cube trays and pouring kahlua over them.  A bathtub full of beer, and the party was on!  As for food, choose lots of things that are easy to eat on your lap and don’t take a lot of prep.  I did sushi, chips and dips, fruit and dip in individual cups and individual popcorn boxes.  Mini cheesecakes and cupcakes for desserts, topped with engagement rings, perfect for taking to the bar afterwards to fend off any unwanted advances.  Oh and candy.  I just filled a bunch of patterened cupcake liners with all of Sarah’s favorite candy.  She is ridiculous and eats it for nearly every meal yet still somehow manages to be as thin as a rail and never has any cavities.


You know I splurged and bought a life-size cardboard cutout of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe to greet guests.  Much to her fiance’s chagrin, the girls are living in their basement, watching over the laundry pile, naturally.

Goody bags for the girls were in little felt buckets I found at Target and I created tags for each using a heart-shaped punch and ribbon.  Easy-peasy.  Included in each was a mini can of Sophia champagne (mini, pink straw included!), a mini-bottle of Kim Kardashian’s perfume, individual packs of Advil, a couple of blow-pops and a ring pop, a pack of Starburst and a pack of Skittles (see: candy obsession above) and then a few things to take to the bar: a stick on mustache, glow-stick jewelry, pixie sticks and mardi-gras beads.  Sarah got a homemade veil and light up diamond to ensure everyone knew who the star of the party was.  Classy, simple and accentuated her outfit.  Seriously, how long did your sister/best friend/future-in-law spend picking out an outfit for her bachelorette party?  Don’t ruin it!

Timeline wise, for a shower or bachelorette party I like to welcome guests with a drink as they are arriving, let them eat and chat for a bit, play a game, open gifts and call it a day.  At a shower, people can stay and mingle, at the bachelorette party we keep drinking and told some hilarious Sarah stories.  I really hate forced bachelorette party games, but think they can be a good ice-breaker when people don’t know each other well.  I created a “Kardashian Kuiz” full of questions about the infamous family (which my sister promptly won) and then took a bag full of props out to the bar with us. And obviously the penis straws and Scott Disick.  Did you think he was going to let us go without him?  Not a chance, doll.

katie + jeff: rock + roll.

Katie & Jeff were married at the Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue on 9.10.11.  A fantastic date to get married and even more special because while they celebrated their wedding weekend, Katie’s parents celebrated their wedding anniversary too!  It was so sweet!  I am particularly tied to this crew as I had the pleasure of helping Katie’s sister Elizabeth with her wedding to Mike last year.  It was so fun to see the whole family again! 

Katie and Jeff shared their first look before the ceremony and then had their bridal party join them for a photo shoot around the city courtesy of Mr. Michael Rastall himself. 
Back at the Hard Rock we were ready to begin. Katie’s dad escorted her down the aisle to her beaming groom.
One of the major style elements Katie wanted to do was transform the Hard Rock’s conference room into a beautiful space to get married.  We nearly set the room on fire with massive amounts of candles.  We created aisle decor using records, ribbon and paper flowers and Janessa of Forget Me Knodt made sure we had some towering floral pieces in the room.  The biggest piece I made was the floral backdrop.  It included paper, satin and grosgrain ribbon along with dozens of strands of flowers made from tissue paper, deconstructed faux flowers and yes, coffee filters.  Who’d have thought? (this girl!!)


Some vintage sheet music punched into heart shapes played into the vintage rock & roll theme we had going on and guests were invited to shower the newlyweds with love on their way back down the aisle…  
…and showered they were! (Side note: I found these miniature cups at the craft store and they were perfect for holding a handful of confetti. They are meant for individual portions of mixed nuts and therefore called “nut cups.” Katie and I found that pretty hilarious and it was pretty tough to type it or say it aloud to each other without giggling uncontrollably.)

I hit the jackpot one afternoon at my neighborhood thrift store and feverishly send texts to Katie about finding a giant box of old 45′s that we HAD TO HAVE.  She agreed (I like her SO much) and even though we weren’t sure at the time how we were going to use them. To go with their vintage rock and roll theme, I built a structure out of PVC to hang the place cards from (I mixed my own concrete for the first time, which was as awesome as it sounds.) Each couple received a hand-painted record with their name and table number on it, we used light pink, ivory, silver and gold and strung them from black ribbon via clothespins.  This really turned out exactly how I envisioned in in my dreams (yes, I dream about bring crafty) which almost never happens.

We hired Chicagoland Photobooth to entertain their guests and boy, did they ever — complete with props Katie gathered up and a guest book so they could enjoy each ridiculous photo after the fact!

Janessa created some amazing centerpieces and Katie had personalized Jones soda bottles for each guests at their seat.  Personalized Jones soda is pretty awesome, but not as awesome as personalized Jones soda when it’s your new last name!  I also scoured thrift shops to find enough vintage silver platters to create their table numbers.  I painted each one with chalkboard paint and voila! 

We used some of the remaining records to create Mr. & Mrs. signs for the back of Katie & Jeff’s chairs, the cake table and the card box.  Katie found this amazing cake topper on Etsy and we had many a conversation on whether she wanted to spend the money on it.  Totally worth it, it’s so stinking cool.
Yum.  Amazing cake by Swedish Bakery for the cake topper to reign over.

 Katie found this awesome pink suitcase and by the end of the party is was chock full of well-wishes.


One last photo shoot with Michael Rastall capped off an incredible evening for Mr. & Mrs. Jones.  What a fantastic party for a fantastic couple.

Katie & Jeff’s Vendors


Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hard Rock Hotel Chicago
Planning & Styling: Anticipation Events
Photography: Michael Rastall Photography
Florals: Forget Me Knodt
DJ: Alexander with Cage & Aquarium Productions
Cake: Swedish Bakery
Ceremony Musicians: Panache Entertainment
Photobooth: Chicagoland Photo Booth

Cake Topper: Tilly Biedron 
Groom’s Custom Fingerprint Wedding Band: Fabuluster 
Invitations: Invited Ink 
Bridesmaid Dresses: J.Crew
Bride’s Shoes: Vera Wang Lavender
Bride’s Jewelry: Nadri
Bride’s Dress: Tara Keely (Fall 2010) from Wedding Belles