Monday, January 9, 2017

Gold Grid Studios swung by the blog to talk choosing a wedding photographer, and questions all couples should ask before making a decision.
As soon as you get engaged, you’ll find that everyone has an opinion! There are unlimited resources about how to organize and prioritize your planning. With all of the blogs and tips out there, we want you to have a bit of insight from the Gold Grid Studios team. Below are 5 questions you should ask every photographer.  These are basic questions that will help you get a feel for the photographer’s experience and professionalism, as well as guide your expectations for before and after the wedding. Your wedding day is too important for you to have to say “Well, I wish I’d asked…” afterward. We encourage you to never stop asking questions!

1) How many weddings do you shoot per year?

Why to ask it: Weddings take a lot out of you. It can be a long, physically tiring day for both the photographer and for the entire wedding party. You want a photographer who has the experience, stamina, and positivity to not only make it through the day, but to excel in the environment. On the flip-side, you don’t want someone who spreads themselves too thin. For example, if your wedding is on a Sunday, and your photographer already shot a Friday and a Saturday wedding, you may find yourself with a photographer running on fumes…or a Trente triple-shot coffee!
Our answer: 20-25. It means we are active throughout the year, constantly shooting at new venues and meeting amazing new couples.  It also means that we are not shooting 3 weddings per weekend. This ensures we have time to give each couple the focus and energy they deserve.

2) Do you have a business license and insurance?

Why to ask it: There is currently no barrier to entry into the field of photography, which makes it hard to figure out who is an official business. You want to make sure you are protected & the photography company is legitimate.
Our answer: Yes.

3) When will we see our photos? 

Why to ask it: There are so many horror stories about couples having to wait months (or even years) for their photos, or concerns about not being able contact the photographer after the wedding. It is important to have an idea of when you will receive your photos, so that you can plan accordingly. And the more specific the photographer can be, the better! There are too many variables in hearing “within a few months.”
Our answer: We set the exact date before the wedding even happens (usually 4 weeks after the wedding). We host an ordering party for you, where you come into our studio to view your photos for the first time. We celebrate your day with a grand unveiling, and help you figure out how to best utilize your photos.

4) How do you back-up the photos and keep them safe?

Why to ask it: Any tech person would agree that when it comes to technology, something always happens. It’s not a matter of IF it will crash or break, it’s a matter of WHEN. There’s no need to take a risk with something as priceless as your wedding photos.
Our answer: From the moment a memory is being captured, we are taking precautions. We always write to 2 memory cards in camera. Then, once downloaded to the studio, images are stored on 2 different external hard drives (along with 1 off site hard drive and 2 cloud based services). Once editing is complete and you have all of the photos, they are permanently stored on a separate hard drive dedicated to the year you got married only. We’ll keep them there for you forever. The JPEGS are also backed up in a cloud-based system forever.
Bonus tip: This is why tangible artwork is the best!!! It’s never going to “crash” or be unusable because you updated your operating system.

5) We don't know all the specifics of our day. Can we change our collection after booking? 

Why to ask it: How overwhelming is trying to make decisions on things you’ve never done before? You’ve decided what photographer you want to work with but then they have all of these different packages with number of hours on the wedding day and different size albums and canvases and… We haven’t even taken any pictures yet! Your wedding is 9 months away, how are you supposed to already know the entire timeline?! You just want to know you have your favorite photographer for your date. Can’t we just figure out everything later?!
Our answer: Of course! You should only make informed decisions. We set up our collections in such a way that we can continue to customize for you after booking. You can always add hours or even upgrade to a full day of coverage. We allow you to make that change in a few months when you actually know your timeline (and we can help you build that timeline too!). We also offer album credits. This way, you know you have money set aside for an album, but the details of it – how many pages, what size, what kind of cover, etc etc – can actually be decided once you have your photos.

Interested in learning more about Gold Grid Studios? Send your questions to -we'd love to hear from you!

Want more tips from our amazing team of vendors? Check out What to Do at a Tasting, or head over to to browse our collection of expert advice!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Wedding planner Derrick Valenti from the Warwick Allerton Chicago Hotel stopped by the blog to discuss the hottest trends from the past year.

Best Color: Rose Gold
From silverware to bridesmaid dresses, rose gold took over the wedding scene this year. It’s the perfect balance of vintage glamour and modern-day glitz.

Best Food: Late-Night Bites
Sliders and tacos and fries... oh my! Couples have been embracing comfort-style food, but keeping presentation in mind (i.e. monogrammed bags for fries, customized grill marks on burger buns, etc).

Best Song: “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran
According to Spotify‘s “Top 10 Songs for First Dance”, Ed Sheeran’s swoon-worthy song topped the list, followed by Etta James's "At Last" in second.

Best Wedding Dress Style: Cropped Separates
What started as a street-style trend made its way to the wedding aisle. Perfect for fashion-forward brides or those wanting a comfortable, casual look. This style is equal parts chic, edgy and romantic.
Best Theme: Greenery
Flowers have always been center stage at weddings, but recently couples have been opting for lush foliage and greenery. Not only does greenery make for a beautiful backdrop or centerpiece, it’s also a much more affordable alternative to flowers.

Best Drink: Craft Beer
Craft beer-themed bars were huge this year! Especially, when you live in a beer-centric city like Chicago, your options are endless. Another plus is that craft beer can be less expensive than liquor.

Best Dessert: Sweets on a Stick
Since antiquity, it has been customary to have cake at a wedding. While most couples continue this tradition, they are also bringing other sweets into the mix. A popular trend is putting sweet treats on a stick, including pies, donuts or ice cream sandwiches.

Interested in learning more about the Warwick Allerton Chicago Hotel? Swing by their website discover how this venue could be the perfect host for your dream wedding.

For insider tips, check out the Art Institute of Chicago's guide to caterer tastings, or head over to our website at

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cheyanne Jackson, Event Producer for Bon Appetit at the Art Institute of Chicago, swung by the blog to give couples the inside scoop on what to expect when their potential caterer holds a tasting. 

Are tastings something I have to pay extra for?

No. Once you book your wedding date, tastings are complimentary for you and your partner. Parents, friends, and wedding planners are welcome to attend, there is an additional cost.

Is there anything I should do to prepare for the tasting?

Once your space is booked, we begin reviewing wedding packages that best fit you as a couple. To ensure the tasting menu is a good representation of what will be served on your wedding day we recommend scheduling your tasting 6-10 weeks prior to the big day.  Having your tasting closer to the actual date enables our Chef and culinary team to utilize the freshest ingredients available that are seasonally appropriate. The tasting menu includes a selection of hors d’oeuvres, first course, and entrée options from the selected wedding package.

Should I bring anything with me?

Your appetite! Our focus is to make the tasting day an enjoyable part of the wedding experience. It’s an afternoon of tasting delicious food paired with great wines while discussing details about your wedding.

From start to finish, what happens at the tasting?

As we welcome our happy couples into the museum, we start with a walk-through of the contracted event spaces and discuss floorplan options to match what you both envision for your big day. We then head to our onsite restaurant, Terzo Piano, located on the third floor of the Modern Wing, where we enjoy a tasting in our semi-private space. Welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine, we transition into the house wine selections while Chef presents tasting portions of hors d’oeuvres, first course, and entrée options. A display plate of each menu item will be provided as a visual of what to expect on your wedding day.

Additional menu enhancements are available to taste such as late night bites, reception displays, and miniature desserts. While we enjoy the food and wine, we will discuss event details such as your décor, vendors, and timeline. This is a great opportunity to get to know you both better as a couple and chat about how we can help bring your vision to life!

What should I do if I'm not a fan of the food?

Our Chef and culinary team are passionate about their craft and want guests to enjoy their food. Should the menu not be a good fit, Chef will be available to discuss alternative menu options and answer any questions you might have. 

What if I start feeling overwhelmed at the tasting? 

No decisions need to be made immediately; there is plenty of time to discuss your final selections with your partner and let us know what you decide. As you begin pulling all your details together, we always recommend a professional wedding planner to ensure the process remains stress free. 

 If I like the caterer, what's the next step?

As the exclusive caterer for The Art Institute, we will then work together to finalize day of menu selections.

What advice does Bon Appetit have for couples who are in the middle of the wedding planning process?

When selecting your wedding menu consider if there are menu items that speak to you as a couple. Don’t put too much focus on meeting all of the needs and wants of your guest’s, instead make decisions together about what the two of you want on your wedding day! Have fun, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and do your best to enjoy each phase—it really does go by quickly!

Interested in hosting your wedding at the Art Institute of Chicago? Direct all your questions about catering and more to

Want more tips from our amazing team of vendors? Head over to to browse our collection of expert advice!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sabrina and James tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony at Oak Brook Hills Resort and then celebrated with a glimmering, silvery reception. 

Featured Vendors

Garbo Productions (photography), Hilton Oak Brook Hills Resort (ceremony/reception/catering/sweets), Bruce Moore (officiant), Frank Event Design (wedding consultant), Stephen Yearick (gown designer), Dimitra's Bridal Couture (bridal boutique), Badgley Mischka (bride's shoes), Ambience Salon & Day Spa (bride's hair), Jacqueline Danielle Makeup Artistry (bride's makeup), Bella Cosa Jewelers (bride's jewelry), Jasmine Galleria (bridesmaids' dresses), Jos. A Banks (formalwear/shoes), Anthony Gowder Designs (floral), Checkerboard (invites), Phil Thompson (pianist), Jennifer Lowe Quartet by Artists, Events, & Entertainment Inc. (quartet), O'Dea Entertainment (DJ), Elegant Event Lighting (lighting/drapery), Tablescapes (linens/chairs), AFR (lounge furniture), Nadeau's Ice Sculptures (ice luges/sculpture)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Kensington Florals & Events delivered a timeless, Downton Abbey-inspired shoot. All photos by Ryan Brandoff Photography
"When walking into the Merion, you are instantly taken by the elegant theme that surrounds the hotel.  From the Evanston Crystal Ballroom, their beautifully decorated foyer & corridor, their atrium and their tucked away library, each has something magnificent to offer and is a beautiful place to create wonderful memories..."
"...The space is filled with a wall of books on one side and to the other side is this beautiful fireplace with wooden shelves to the left and right. We could just picture what an intimate wedding there would be like ...candelabras, flowers, stunning dresses, jewelry and that dash of regal elegance.
We decided to bring this beautifully traditional space into the 21st century by mixing modern decor like floral runners with classic elements like candelabras..."
"...The soft colors of the linens and floral pieces balanced the bold statement furniture pieces in the room..." 
"...Each model wore a beautiful gown from Eva's International Bridal or a tailored tux from Emanuele Tuxedo. The looks were completed by timeless jewelry from Calla Couture, and Kensington provided the styling for the shoot as well as floral pieces that included hydrangeas, Ecuador roses (cool water, faith , quicksand, ocean song, creme de la creme, tibet, and earl grey), and creme tulips from Holland."

Featured Vendors

Ryan Brandoff Photography (pics), Kensington Floral & Events (planning/styling/decor), Evanston Crystal Ballroom (venue), Eva's International (dresses/veils),  Sarah Delaine Agency (hair/makeup), Emanuele Tuxedo (formalwear), Calla Couture Jewelers (accessories), Manolo Blahnik (shoes), Versace (clutch)

Want to see more styled shoots likes this one? Check out the Gems & Geodes shoot at the Haight, or head over to and check out our list of top Chicagoland wedding vendors!

Models: David Mahler, A. Jason Lloyd, Lidia Fitasova, Mercedes Small, Gabija Guzauskaite