Friday, April 18, 2014

See other Bridal Beauty series posts: Bachelorette Bash + Stylish Shower + Final Dress Fitting

Photo: Schademann Studios

In this series by makeup artist Tricia Clarke, we're discussing how to beautify the whole wedding process. So far, we've covered your bachelorette party, wedding shower, and final dress fitting. For this fourth installment in our series, we are focusing on something that is becoming more and more popular, your engagement photo session.

It's not a new concept to have engagement photos taken with your betrothed, just look back through family members' scrapbooks and you're sure to find yellowed newspaper clippings from the Announcements section of their local paper. Engaged couples met with the photographer from the newspaper, were told how to pose (and probably only given two options) and the picture accompanied a paragraph or two containing details of how the couple met and where they went to school. These days, with the advent of save-the-date cards, wedding websites and the prevalence of social media in everything, the engagement photo session has morphed into a fun event of its own. This is a good thing because it gives you the chance to audition some of your most important vendors.

Through my work as a makeup artist, I've seen countless occasions in which the bride meets the photographer the morning of the wedding, and it's apparent their personalities don't mesh. Now, many of these photographers might still deliver good results, but do you want to be spending all day with someone's lens in your face when you don't feel comfortable with them? I didn't think so! Just as it is so important to "click" with your makeup artist, it is also crucial that you click with your photographer. Your engagement photo session is a great opportunity to give both a trial run.

Having your photos taken by a pro will give you beautiful images of you and your fiance in non-wedding clothes, and you can take them pretty much wherever you want. Having your makeup done that day will let you see how your makeup photographs, and gives you the chance to make any adjustments with your makeup artist prior to your wedding day. Never worn false lashes before? Don't wait until your wedding day to try them! See how they look and feel by wearing them for your photos--then you'll know for sure if you want them to be part of your wedding look. Don't know how well your lipstick holds up to kissing? Take it for a test drive!

If you are able to use both your wedding photographer and makeup artist for your engagement photo session, you are one step closer to making sure your wedding day is beautiful, and beautifully captured. You will know that you feel comfortable with both people providing services, and can look forward to spending time with them, primping and documenting your special day. IF it turns out that you aren't a fan of one or the other, you still have time to find someone else! Take full advantage of the events leading up to your big day to put together a team that will make your wedding what YOU want it to be! You are your most radiant when you are confident in yourself and in the decisions you've made, so seize the chance to make best choices you can.

For more amazing beauty advice, check out Tricia Clarke Makeup on Facebook. To chat with Tricia about a beauty question or to schedule an appointment for your big day(s), email

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Nina and Joey Glorioso got engaged two months after dating, but their connection started long before that. Both hail from the same Chicago neighborhood and the bride’s stepfather and groom’s father were childhood best friends. “We never knew each other until about five years ago,” says Nina. “When we finally did meet, the rest became history.”

Nina and Joey had a non-religious ceremony (and reception) at Shedd Aquarium that involved a lot of family, including the groom’s cousin who officiated the wedding; the bride’s cousin who gave a reading; the bride’s goddaughter who served as the flower girl; and the groom’s half-brother, who was the ring bearer. The reception’s theme was all about feathers, including varieties of plumes from owls, ostriches and maribus. Even the centerpieces had a feather focus. “The centerpieces were large trumpet vases filled with LED crystal lights. At the top of each vase was a large ivory ostrich feather poof,” says Nina. “At the top and bottom of each vase, was a light pink feather bracelet.” The Aquarium proved to be an interactive venue, which included a live fish feeding in front of guests. The professional diver who conducted the feeding wore a personalized T-shirt showing the couple’s photo, their custom monogram logo and their wedding date. “Every guest remembered that part of the wedding and shares the story with people they know,” says Nina. “It was such a unique detail to have included in an already special day!”


Shedd Aquarium

Aria Wedding Films

Michael Szymanski

Annabella Boutique

JanAshley DeJesus

House of Brides

Pulp & Ink

Shedd Aquarium

Anthony “Frank” Cassano

Lutz Bakery

Second City Trolley

This Real ChicagoStyle Wedding was featured in our 2013/2014 issue! See it on pages 452-453, "Family, Fish and Feathers".

Monday, April 14, 2014

I was lucky enough to chat with Katie O'Reilly, Co-Owner and Co-President of Kenmare Catering & Events in Chicago. Katie's background lies in Protocol and Event Management for dignitaries, counsel generals and presidents from all over the world! It was amazing to listen to her philosophies on food, service and excellence in quality. Below are a few of my favorite excerpts from our discussion. Read on about "Food as Art" and always making sure the client is happy! 

The Philosophy
"We strive for excellence. What we want is for the whole event to be excellent for the client. We want the food quality, the luxury, the ease and the energy of the event to be very, very high according to the dream and the vision of the client. That's what's really important - that we have to capture what they want for the event. And excellence can be food quality, food presentation, eating with your eyes first, and it's also staff, general nature of our employees and the presentation, and their joy in serving things to the clients. That they actually find a passion in doing what they do...The goal is the same for everybody in our company: make sure the client is happy."

Crafting Menus
"Figure out who's vision it is - who's making the decisions? I get that person on the phone with me. I listen to what they present to me first, and then I ask them questions: What's important to you? Did you meet somewhere significant? Is there something you're trying to deliver to your guests at the event that is significant? Is there something about you that we should know -- not only food and taste, but also that underlying 'What else'? What makes it that much more special for you? And I take in all of that information.

"I always ask their likes and dislikes because sometimes people forget to tell you. Let's say there's a salad with blue cheese on it and one of them doesn't like it, but they say, "It's okay, I'll just pick around it.' My theory is why would you pick around it? Just tell us and we'll take it off! It's that easy. Or we can replace it with something you do like. Let's make exactly what you want. So, we're extremely flexible, but also help them to vocalize and to actually put into words what they like and don't like. Before that point it can be a little overwhelming and confusing and they think, 'Eh, I'll just settle.' We don't want people to settle. We want to be exactly what they want. So we help them create that by having conversation and asking questions to help them develop that vision."

"Everything that comes out of our kitchen has to look beautiful...Because we use such fresh ingredients, we are always looking for natural colors in produce that can enhance things without changing the flavor - or at least by enhancing the flavor. Or we use seasonal items! We go outside the box in terms of living green, where we can trim our own things that are season. We get edible flowers all the time! We get things to add color without adjusting the flavor.

"Then we use different color profiles in the vegetables we use. So, say it's a carrot. We use an heirloom carrot, so we get a purple with the yellow inside, we get an orange with a yellow inside, a white with a green inside. And then we slice those so that you can see all the color. So we actually take that and make sure we're displaying the beauty of that to the client while still making it very easy to eat and very palate-forward.

"It's kind of a complex thing, but it works. Everything that comes out has artistry. [It's] behind every single thing that we design. I draw pictures, I lay out places, I see bite sizes, I choose colors.

Bite Size
"It's a huge consideration. Actually that's one of the biggest considerations. When you sit down with people at a party, watch how many bites it takes for someone to eat something. There's an actual method behind it! Because if you have passed hors d'oeuvres, are they one-bite or two-bites? If it's a two bite, does it fall apart after the first bite? Then we have to redesign it. Because I don't want to wear it, do you? That's what it actually comes down to: what is the actual functionality of that piece? So there's function behind it. Art and function. There's a lot that goes into it.

"Usually by the time they sit down with me and they see the hors d'oeuvres come out, they'll see a selection of probably four on a plate set in front of them for a tasting. They'll see the variety of beauty in those pieces. And then as we eat it, you're focusing just on that. If you were standing at a party, how would you envision this? And you make your decision based on that. The benefit to us is that everything is homemade. So if the size isn't working or we need to make adjustments, it's so easily done -- because we do it! It's up to us! We just have to make those decisions and see what the client wants."

Her History of Excellence
"It's shaped our company based on the level of excellence that we demand, because that was where I started. I started at the highest level [of excellence]. Plus, background-wise...I was exposed to a lot. I've been exposed to the highest quality luxury hotels, the finest dining restaurant experiences throughout the world, I've traveled a lot. I've had first-hand experience with a lot of this stuff. And to understand what my high level of clientele demands, well, it's often times what I'd demand myself. I've seen it. I've experienced it. So I know the differences. And then to cater to people visiting a cultural institution, there's protocol that requires us to have a certain level of standards. And when you are dealing with people from different cultures, there's already a predetermined level of excellence. That was my starting point. That was where I started from and I've only worked up from there. So that's what I require to see at every event. And it could be a backyard bar-be-que. It's not that it has to be formal, it just has to be the best."

Irish hospitality
"What happens in Ireland is that you get the pure ingredients. When we go over to Ireland, we leave our cell phones behind, our computers behind and we just live. So you simplify everything and see what's right in front of you. We're really present with the ingredients, with the people, with the surroundings - that's excellence in itself: purity is excellence.

"It doesn't have to be the most formal event, it has to be beautiful, it has to be fresh, it has to be presented in its best form - even if that's just simple. Simple done perfectly is excellence, as well...We have to deliver the product uncompromised. So, it allows us to kind of strip down to our true nature and just live, which is nice. And then we transfer things like that into everything we do. We do keep the ingredients real simple, and then we present them beautifully. But they're still fresh and we don't compromise the integrity of the ingredients."

Germania Place
"That's actually where we started our company...Reid started the company at Germania Place. He started the foundation of our company there because it was an amazing venue and we began catering out of there. So our main kitchen is actually located in that location...In building that, Kenmare is our off-premise division. Same chef, same staff, same everybody, same quality."

Thank you so much to Katie O'Reilly for sharing her philosophies, techniques and the art behind the food at Kenmare! 

Kenmare Catering & Events is located in Chicago at 108 West Germania Place. Call 312-787-0190 or email to discuss catering or renting space at Germania Place.

Friday, April 11, 2014


In the Bridal Beauty series, we've been talking about how to make all the events leading up to your wedding even more beautiful. So far, we've covered the day of your shower and your bachelorette party. In this installment, we'll take a look at one of the final events that occurs before your big day: your final dress fitting.

On the day of your final dress fitting, you are helped into your gown and you turn to face the mirror--there you see what you've been dreaming about for months, your gown tailored and tucked to fit you beautifully. You might see the payoff from weeks of hard work in the gym, or your glowing face as a result of taking extra good care of your skin. What will make you feel truly bridal though, is to see the whole picture, how your entire look comes together. A big part of your wedding day look is your crowning glory--your hair! For this reason, it is a great idea to schedule your final hair trial for the day of your final dress fitting.

If you are having your wedding hair done by your usual hair stylist, and you really click with her, you might only need one trial. However, if you're working with a new stylist for your wedding look, it might be a good idea to plan for two sessions. You could schedule the first appointment on the same day as your makeup trial (you might even use the same stylist for both services) and then you can see how your hair and makeup look together. It's up to you and your budget, of course, but if you can have your final hair styling session just before you go try on your dress, you will truly feel like a gorgeous bride to be!

Ideally, you could schedule both your trial and your fitting in the morning, so you can see how your hair lasts through the course of the dress fitting and the rest of the day. This might not be realistic for everyone, so if you must go at night, make sure you throw a mini-dance party and move a bit to see if your style holds up! Also, if you can, bring pictures of your dress to your trial--your stylist will likely have great input about what looks will go well with different dress styles. Pictures of hair styles you like are helpful, but not necessary, and a good stylist will be able to interpret your personal look and translate it into something beautiful and bridal! As with all the events leading up to your wedding--remember to have fun! It is a time of celebration and you should enjoy all the moments of preparation. Having your hair styled for your final dress fitting gives you one more opportunity to feel glam, and to make sure you are confident you will achieve just the right look on your wedding day!

For more amazing beauty advice, check out Tricia Clarke Makeup on Facebook. To chat with Tricia about a beauty question or to schedule an appointment for your big day(s), email

Photo source:

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I am the type of person who constantly has something going on. My now fiancĂ© Michael knows me so well that he purposely made sure I had plans all Holiday weekend for 2012. In my world, Saturday was dedicated to viewing the production “War Horse”. This was my Christmas present from Michael. We had a group breakfast then I had a shopping date with my good friend on Sunday. Monday was Christmas Eve with the families and Tuesday was Christmas Day on my Father’s side.

What should have tipped me off was Michael’s attire heading for breakfast on Sunday. He was wearing a nice tie and vest. I questioned and teased him for this outfit, but he insisted on looking good for me. We headed to breakfast where he lucked out. My friends planned on going to a Christmas party after breakfast and were coincidentally also dressed up. This distracted me from Michael's random formality. Another hint I never caught was that Michael constantly took every moment he could to excuse himself from breakfast. I was annoyed for his periodic disappearances.

Once breakfast was over, we paid our meals and headed out. My good friend then hands me a big manila envelope containing a personalized message and clue. As soon as I received this package, I instantly knew this was a proposal. Michael already gave me my Christmas present (watching “War Horse”) and my birthday is not until January. The personalized message marked the significance of the location to the person delivering me the clue and mentioned phrases such as “our future” and “being together”.

I wanted to open the envelope immediately, but Michael told me to follow the clue. It was a Scavenger Hunt Proposal throughout Downtown Naperville. I followed the clue to the next location and was surprised to find his cousin with another manila envelope containing a message and clue. This continued on throughout the town meeting more friends and family along the way. I got excited each time running and skipping to the next location. Michael urged me to slow down as he feverishly called our friends, directing people to get into position. The journey finally ended at the Dandelion Fountain at the River Walk where about 25 of our close friends and family gathered with cameras in hand.

Michael then instructed me to open up all the clues I collected from the locations. I ripped through the envelopes to discover letters. A white board was provided to place the letters. I am a goof ball and had already guessed the message, so I purposely misspelled the letters. As soon as all the clues were opened, I correctly revealed the message “Marry me?”

Michael got down on one knee and attempted to have a beautiful speech. He was so nervous. Michael tripped on his words and stumbled throughout his proclamation of love. He muttered, “I just wanna marry you!” The crowd burst into laughter. He got his bearings and busted out the antique, round engagement ring with a halo. Michael asked me formally. I said, “Yes!”

Congrats and best wishes to Michael and Janelle! Such a cute idea! May your marriage always be this much fun!!

On #weddingwednesdays, we're featuring one bride's story in her own words! If you're interested in being a Bride of the Week, email with your love story and a picture! Don't forget to add the subject line "Bride of the Week"!

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Steve and Brittni were the epitome of a stylish couple, and it showed in everything about their wedding! From Brittni’s crystal-studded Valentino shoes, to her to-die-for Lanvin gown, to Steve’s custom tux and skull cuff links, this was a stylish wedding! The couple got ready for their big day at Trump International Hotel & Tower, with Sonia Roselli creating the perfect hair and makeup looks for all the girls. When everyone was ready, the couple moved to the breathtaking patio of the Trump, and Carasco Photography captured the couples’ first look perfectly. After a glass of champagne, the bridal party ventured through the city to get some wonderful shots. The photos were completed with gorgeous floral from StemLine Creative. The Bridesmaids carried full pink bouquets, while the bride complimented her simple sheath dress with a round white bouquet.

"The Chicago Illuminating Company was the absolute perfect place for this special wedding, as it offered a modern blank canvas that Steve and Brittni turned into their very own with lots of gorgeous details. The ceremony took place in the sunny courtyard under a birch altar and then guests enjoyed cocktail hour in the shady side of the courtyard, which was a relief on the hot day. After libations, guests were invited to have dinner in the stunningly gorgeous ballroom. StemLine Creative mixed high centerpieces of hydrangeas, peonies and roses with low, long arrangements in an ombre style. Ghost chairs from Hall’s Rental and platinum linens with pale pink napkins completed the dining area stunningly. The bride made a nod to her Lanvin gown with the simple white cake by Toni Patisserie & Cafe, completed with a perfect bow. Guests danced the night away to One Night Band and this wedding will long be one of the most stylish weddings in everyone’s mind!" -Sterling Berry, Michelle Durpetti Events













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