Monday, September 26, 2016

Joel from Conquest Entertainment shares a few tips and tricks that will make sure your celebration goes off without a hitch. 
Planning a wedding is a lot of work and in most cases, it’s a totally new experience.  There’s lots of important decisions that need to be made that can affect how things play out.   The goal, of course, is to throw a party that everyone remembers and talks about for years to come.  There’s lots of angles to consider, so here are a few tips I've picked up over the years as a professional DJ in Chicago.

Work with the Right People.
The right team makes all the difference.   There are TONS of good venues and vendors in your area.   It’ll take some homework to find ones you will enjoy working with, so I always recommend meeting with several DJs and Photographers in order to compare and contrast everyone’s different style and find the ones right for you.  Tips on Hiring the BEST. DJ. EVER!

More Isn’t Necessarily Better…5-6 Hour Receptions are Perfect!
I’ve consulted with brides who tell me, “we have the room from 4pm-1am” and they start planning to use all of those 9 hours.   Trust me, you don’t really need all that time for an amazing party!   Below are some of my observations I’ve seen over the years.
·         Weddings pretty much run their course in 6 hours (cocktail – end).  Anything more and you start to experience the “law of diminishing returns”
·         Most crowds run out of steam after 2.5 – 3 hours of dancing.  After about 3 hours of dancing, guests get worn out and start to filter out.  Even younger crowds.  That’s why it pays to “start strong and end strong” 

Make an “Must Have” and an “If Possible” List. Money and Time are your two biggest limiting factors on your wedding day.   Writing down what you must have and what you can live without can simplify the planning. You can apply this to many aspects of your wedding.  For pictures, let your photographer know the poses, locations, group photos that are super important to you.  That way they can focus on those. For music, have a “must play” and “play if possible” (and a “Do Not Play”).   The more your DJ knows about your music taste, the better they can play for you and your guests.
Listen and Communicate with Your Vendors.
Your vendors LOVE weddings and have a lot of experience and ideas to share.  As with most things, there are lots of angles to consider.  Trust me, everyone wants your wedding to flow seamlessly and come out perfectly. The more we know, the better we can help!  Surprises can be a bad thing!
·         If you’re bringing in a Photo Booth or Projector and Screen for a slideshow, let your vendors know so they can make the most of your room layout.  Communication is the key.  If someone emails you or leaves a message, get back to them with the info as soon as you can. This is something you should also expect from your vendors as well.   Brainstorming in groups can be very productive. Getting together with your vendors or your bridal party and can yield all kinds of fun ideas and solutions.  

A Few Don'ts...
  1. Don’t Over Plan. Scheduling too many events into your itinerary can end up with people getting frustrated. Make sure you leave lots of “extra time” to get everything you want to get done on your wedding day.   Anything from traffic jams, dress repair, bathroom breaks or photo shoots taking longer than expected can and probably will occur.
  2. Don’t Under Plan. I can’t stress this enough.    As with virtually everything in life, you get into it what you put into it.    A party won’t plan itself, even with a wedding planner.   Your vendors still need your input and effort to make the most of everything!
  3. Don’t Wait Til the Last Minute. This tip is pretty simple and doesn’t need a lot of elaboration, but it is just a reminder.  No one is comfortable when they’re rushed.   If you’re stuck, ask for help! 
A successful wedding requires a lot of time and effort.  Even the best of us can get caught up on a small detail that can derail our mood.   Attitude is everything.   Laughter and fun is contagious… unfortunately, so is stress and anger.   If you’re dancing, laughing and having fun, I promise your guests will as well.    If something totally ridiculous happens, make a note and revisit it later…right now it’s time to have a good time!

Want more tips from our arsenal of wedding experts? Check out what The Montgomery Club has to say on catering options, or head over to and get advice from our other vendors!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Overflowing with personal touches, Emma and Andy's River Roast wedding was romantic, festive, and beautifully unique.
Emma, on how she and Andy met...
"Andy and I met shortly after I moved to New York City from Chicago. I wasn't expecting to meet someone so soon, but it seems fate had other plans. One of my good friends had free tickets to a Mets game and invited both Andy and myself--though she wasn't intending to set us up, she always said she thought we'd get along. Because none of us actually cared about the Mets, we spent most of the time talking instead. Andy and I sat next to each other, and I remember the conversation flowing so smoothly and easily. It wasn't long after that day that we began to date, and the rest, as they say, is history. We were together a little over three years before we got engaged."
Emma, on the moment she realized Andy was her perfect person...
"One of the first times I brought Andy home to Chicago, we were supposed to go to a Cubs game with my entire family, but it got rained out. Instead, we all sat inside in my sister's living room for a couple hours trying to figure out what else we could do (no easy task with a big and loud family like mine)--intermittently getting sidetracked and watching funny YouTube videos--before deciding to go to a middle-of-the-day movie, for which we arrived way early, and ended up all sitting together making random conversation again, this time in an empty movie theatre instead of a living room. The entire time, he held his own, chatted with everyone, made jokes, and was fully himself - I knew he was a perfect fit." 
Andy, on how he knew Emma was the one...
"One day, out of nowhere, she looked me in the eyes and rapped every lyric to Salt-N-Pepa's Shoop. How could I possibly let a girl like that go?"
About six months after Emma and Andy moved to Chicago together, the couple returned to NYC for a visit. They set up a dinner date to celebrate their three year anniversary, then planned to meet up with friends for a joint birthday party for Emma and their friend Lauren- the same friend who had introduced the couple in the first place. The restaurant was in the opposite direction of the birthday party so Emma put up a fight, but Andy was insistent.
"Only when we got out of the cab on the Upper East Side did it begin to make sense," Emma said. "Andy was re-creating one of our earliest dates: takeout Chinese food dumplings on the East River. 
loved that date- picking up our dumplings, stopping at 7-11 for drinks, having a picnic on a bench overlooking the beautiful East River. I'd always said I wanted to do "dumplings on the river" again before we moved to Chicago, but we never got the chance."
 After a delicious and nostalgic dinner, Andy announced that he'd brought candy for dessert. He told Emma to close her eyes and hold out her hands and when Emma opened her eyes, Andy was down on one knee, holding not candy, but a ring.  "It was perfect," Emma remembers. "I couldn't have asked for a better proposal."  Afterward, the couple met up with several of their closest friends and went back downtown for the birthday party, which conveniently doubled as an engagement party. 
Emma, on why the couple held their wedding in Chicago...
"I grew up in Park Ridge, close to the city, and always enjoyed coming downtown. Now, living here, we both love the city so much and we knew from day one of our engagement that it was the perfect setting for our nuptials. The majority of our guests were coming from out of town, so we were excited not only to get married in the city we love, but to show our out-of-town guests why we love Chicago so much. That was a big factor in us choosing River Roast for our venue: The location right on the river, the insanely gorgeous views from the terrace- it just couldn't be beat."
Andy, on his favorite memory from the wedding...
"As we were getting ready to start the ceremony, the entire wedding party was lined in up in a hallway. I remember looking back and seeing my parents and siblings, Emma's parents and siblings, best friends from each other's colleges and hometowns, and my soon to be wife all staring back at me at once. It's so rare to catch a glimpse of nearly your entire support system. It was incredibly moving to fully realize the great relationships that had been built over the years, day by day, that will last me a life time. I can still remember that moment incredibly clearly."
Though the couple included a few traditional Jewish elements like getting married under a Chuppah and breaking the glass, the overall ceremony was nondenominational so Emma and Andy essentially crafted the entire thing themselves. "We hand selected every element  and wrote our own vows. It all felt so meaningful and special when it came together," the couple said. The couple's brother-in-law, Rob, officiated the ceremony and absolutely blew their expectations out of the water. 

Emma, on one of her favorite memories from the wedding...
"My maternal grandmother lived in California, and by that point in her life, travel was incredibly difficult for her. We didn't expect her or my grandfather to come to the wedding, but at the last minute (maybe a few weeks or a month in advance), they decided to make the trip. It wasn't easy, but they got to Chicago, and were both there to witness Andy and me getting married, and the celebration that followed."
Emma and Andy, on their Big Day...
"Everything was incredible but aside from the ceremony, the dancing, the venue and decor, it was just so amazing to have so many people we love in the same room at the same time."

Can't get enough Real Weddings? Check out Cindy and Corey's brewery bash, or head over to to browse our gallery of Windy City nuptials!

Featured Vendors: Kenny Kim and Rob Ramirez for Kenny Kim Photography (pictures) RiverRoast (ceremony/reception), Two Sisters Events (wedding coordinator), Reddington Bridal  (bride's gown),Nicholas Joseph Custom Tailors (groom's suit), Chi Chi Styles (bridesmaid's dresses), Macy's (groomsmen suits), Kiko's (flowers), Maddiebird Bakery  (cake). Better Off Wed (cake topper), Debbie Davis Makeup (makeup). Irene Jones from Salon 9nb (hair), Peter Merkle/Chicago Wedding DJs (entertainment), Janelle Lake (harpist), Chicago Chuppah Rental  (chuppah frame), Windy City Limousine (transportation), Real Star Media  (videography) 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The experts at Kathryn's Bridal share a few tips on how to say "yes" to your dress and never look back.

We love helping our brides find the dress of their dreams for the most important day of their life. We love the emotions! We love celebrating love!

So, imagine how our hearts sink to the floor when a bride questions or regrets their gown choice.  This syndrome is called buyer’s remorse. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, our hearts break along with the bride’s. This sad condition of extreme regret is easily preventable thanks to our four simple rules for brides that have purchased a gown.

1.  Stop Shopping.
Don't tempt yourself by continuing to shop for other dresses. Selecting a wedding gown is like an engagement- it's a commitment. There are an infinite number of gowns to choose from, but you’ve already said “yes”, so stop looking! Love your dress and be committed by not shopping or looking around for alternatives.

2 Look at Your Photographs.
Remember the heightened emotions you felt when everyone present cheered you on and declared their love for your dress? Were your family and friends lying to you when they said you look beautiful? Of course they were being truthful and supported your choice! Relive that feeling of love in your photographs on a daily basis.

            3. Play the Waiting Game like a Winner.
!     We know how frustrating it is to wait months for your dress to arrive. Patience is a virtue few of us possess. But, we assure you that patiently waiting is what you must do to distract yourself. In our experience, this is the perfect time to begin working on the embellishments for your gown including accessories, makeup, and even fitness. Be devoted to looking your very best in the dress and you will feel like the winner you truly are.

4.       4. Don't Second-Guess Yourself.  
      There is a genuine, joyful reason you selected your dress. You felt amazing, you looked beautiful, it was within your budget, and your support team loved you in it. Part of the fun of the process is getting caught up in the emotions and exhilaration. Would you have been as excited to accept your fiancĂ©’s proposal if you had to sleep on it?  Don’t second-guess yourself by reexamining your choice; instead, be faithful to your dress!

Any Last Tips?
Envision the moment you saw it for the first time and how your heart fluttered with anticipation. Dream about that very first look in the mirror and the sense of excitement of those who witnessed that euphoric smile on your face. Remember that the actual dress you will wear will be so much better than sample because it will be properly sized and brand new!

It's also important for brides to be aware that the process of shopping for a wedding dress has been affected by social media and television. Shows devoted to the hunt for the perfect wedding dress have resulted in misconceptions about how brides should feel in their dresses. This can make loving your dress a stressful ordeal full of endless options and doubt rather than the amazing and exciting experience that it should be! 

So rather than allowing yourself to suffer from buyer’s remorse, commit yourself to observing our four rules and continue to love your dress and live happily ever after!

Want more tips from our arsenal of wedding experts? Head over to and see what our vendors have to say!

Monday, September 19, 2016

"For one night Nick felt like a normal man who was loving me. And for one night I felt like a woman who was able to love her husband instead of wondering what was going to happen next.“ - Bahar, Wish Recipient

WishUpon a Wedding is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization granting weddings and vow renewals for couples facing serious illness or a life-altering circumstance. WUW is a national organization that grants wishes all over the country with the assistance of local city chapters, one of which is here in Chicago.

Chicago’s annual Gala will take place this year on Monday, November 7th at Morgan Manufacturing with food and beverage provided by Food for Thought, Photography by Studio This Is, Videography by Wholehearted Films, Music by BeatMix Music, Invitations by Magnificent Milestones, Linens by Nuage Designs, and more partners to be announced soon! Information and tickets will be available via the organization’s Facebook page in the coming months.

Wish Upon a Wedding seeks to celebrate the courage, determination and spirit of couples by granting their dream wedding wish, and for these chosen recipients to inspire other couples facing similar situations to find hope and strength. Wish recipients have either been diagnosed with less than five years to live or have endured serious life-altering circumstances. The city’s industry professionals join together with the local board to give the couple the wedding of their dreams.

“It’s truly touching to see the way the industry comes together in support of these couples, and to witness the strength and powerful love our couples share with one another.  Getting to know such courageous and kind individuals is beyond inspiring and being a part of an organization with the sole purpose of giving back to those who need it most has given me a whole new outlook on the true meaning of a wedding.”     – Shannon Gail Clemonds, Wish Upon a Wedding Chicago, Marketing Chair
The Chicago Chapter is always looking for more individuals to be a part of spreading love. You do not need to be a wedding professional to get involved. From broadening their reach and sharing their message to opportunities to participate in events with board members, wish granters and wish recipients, there are many avenues to get involved with the organization.
Photo Credit (from top to bottom): Stewart Imagery, LLC., Chadwick Fowler

To learn more or get involved, head over to 

Friday, September 16, 2016

The happy couple tied the knot at Bottom Lounge and celebrated long into the night, enjoying a variety of sweet treats and stunning views of the Windy City skyline. 
"Kevin and I worked for different branches of the same company and in 2014, he came to my Chicago branch to be a group manager," Diana remembers. "It turned out he was put in charge of my group. That first day, I actually got into a small confrontation with him when he tried to tell me about the procedures of my job. We had absolutely no idea that in a few months, we'd be dating!"

It was when the couple began to get together outside of work that the sparks started to fly. "In my mind, dating and working together wasn't really an option," Diana said. "But soon enough, we were quietly dating." The couple stayed super focused on their work and never gave any hints that they were together but outside of the office, they simply couldn't get enough of each other. Kevin started learning Spanish, and after telling Diana "Te amo" one summery afternoon, the couple was absolutely inseparable. They took a trip to Ecuador and after seeing what a good impression Kevin had made on her family, Diana knew that he was the one.
On the day they got engaged, Kevin took Diana to see The Lion King: The Musical. The couple had an hour to kill before the show and decided to stroll through Millennium Park. In front of the Bean, Kevin told Diana that he couldn't imagine his life without her and asked her if she would be his wife. "I knew that I wanted to marry him," Diana said, "but when I found out that all of our family already knew that the proposal was happening I got even more excited!" After celebrating for hours, Kevin surprised Diana again: that same night, they were flying to Baton Rouge. There, they were met by Kevin's sister and cousins and the celebration continued. "The surprises were amazing," Diana gushed. "The only one I wasn't too crazy about was the half-marathon that he registered us for in Baton Rouge... but somehow, we both managed to get a personal best that race." 
The couple decided to get married in Chicago not only because it was where they'd met, but because they knew it had a ton to offer their out-of-town guests. They chose to have their ceremony and reception at Bottom Lounge in the West Loop and with the help of their dedicated event coordinator Natalie Meletsis, the couple had a wedding that excited their wildest expectations. "The rustic look, the signature drinks, the breath-taking views of the Chicago Skyline- it was all beyond words," the couple told us. "We were so impressed by how it all came together."

Aside from seeing Diana walk down the aisle to meet him, Kevin's favorite memory of the wedding was the handwritten letter and Sour Patch Kids that Diana gave him as a present while he was getting ready. Diana's favorite memory was their first look. "He told me I looked beautiful," Diana remembers. "He said that he was so proud to be marrying such an amazing woman. Hearing these things from him made me fall in love again and again."
But what made the wedding truly special? "Having such an amazing group of friends and family who came from all over the world to celebrate our family," the couple said. "We were so happy to see everyone celebrating on the dance floor and having such a good time. We only had six months of planning and there were certainly some stressful days, but it all came together so well and definitely paid off in the end!"

Can't get enough Real Weddings? Check out Real Wedding: Rucha + Nihar , or head over to and discover our gallery of Windy City nuptials!

Featured Vendors: Christopher Paul Photography (photos), Bottom Lounge (venue), Formally Modern Tuxedo (formalwear), Teresa's Wedding and Fashion (bride's gown), Steve's Flower Market (floral), Alliance Bakery (dessert), Stan's Donuts (dessert), Reggie's Bus (transportation), Magic Scissors Beauty Salon (hair), DJ Magic (music), Alan Parson (stationery), Natalie Meletsis (venue coordinator), John Laurie (officiant), Tess Penas (makeup)