Friday, March 30, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

...with the modern silhouettes and special details of these fabulous new bridal gowns

The Team
Jewelery: Tiffany & Co.


Gown: Dreamy strapless A-line gown features lace bodice and tulle lace skirt with pick-ups and floral petal embellishments, Fawn by Enzoani. Kathryn’s Bridal

Belt: The lovely belt is “Fern” from Enzoani and is made of velvet with beading and chiffon roses. Kathryn’s Bridal

Jewelry: Tiffany platinum large 2 carat Victoria earrings with marquise cut diamonds,


Gown: Figure flattering soft tulle bridal gown with strapless sweetheart neckline, tiered skirt, drop waist and a bold fabric flower detail. This gown also comes in ice blue, Anjolique. Kathryn's Bridal

Shoes: Lovely layered silk petals frame the open toe of this stylish satin pump, Randall by Badgley Mischka. James Ciccotti

Jewelry: The stunning necklace is Tiffany Swing platinum diamond double drop necklace,

Gown: Fit for a princess, this frothy, multi-layer pleated tulle gown is finished with a silk moiré ribbon sash and a strapless bodice that is adorned with crystal encrusted, hand-crafted tulle petals. Priscilla ofBoston 

Ring: Impressive Tiffany platinum 1.85 carat solitaire diamond ring with channel set side stones
Necklace: Platinum diamond Victoria graduated line necklace
Earrings: Platinum 2.00 ctw large Victoria earrings with marquise cut diamonds

Gown: Sexy, form-fitting silk satin strapless gown with fancy sculpted scallop neckline, low scooped back and flared trumpet skirt by Platinum for Priscilla of Boston.
Priscilla of Boston

Ring: Tiffany platinum Bezet solitaire diamond ring with a round brilliant cut 1.11 carat diamond
Necklace: Platinum diamond Victoria graduated line necklace
Bracelet: Platinum diamond Victoria bezel set line bracelet

Gown: Stunning, strapless A-line silhouette with ruched bodice and asymmetrical draped gaza skirt featuring side ruching and intricate pleating. “Fabi” from Blue by Enzoani collection. It is accented with a removable crystal belt.
Kathryn’s Bridal

Necklace: Platinum diamond Victoria graduated line necklace
Ring: Tiffany platinum 1.53 carat princess cut solitaire diamond ring

GOWN: Romantic, strapless mermaid style gown with lace bodice adorned with a jewel encrusted empire appliqué. The scalloped lace skirt is covered with organza seashell-shaped details “Davis” Blue by Enzoani. Kathryn’s Brida

Shoes: Layered silk petals frame the open toe of this stylish satin pump, Randall by Badgley Mischka. James Ciccotti

Ring: Platinum and fancy intense yellow diamond Bezet ring with a 1.13 cushion cut yellow diamond and pave set round brilliant cut diamonds
Necklace & Bracelet: Tiffany 18kwg signature clasp cultured pearl bracelet and necklace

Gown: Sweet little A-line, tea-length, tulle skirt with a lovely lace overlay and strapless sweetheart lace bodice and intricate ribbon belt adorned with Swarovski crystals Danbury, Blue by Enzoani. Kathryn’s Bridal

Shoes: Sophisticated open toe satin pumps with crystal and bow embellishment. 
James Ciccotti

Gown: This red carpet ready, strapless sequin gown with deep sweetheart neckline is fitted on top and flares at the bottom. Jewell by Priscilla of Boston.  Priscilla of Boston 

Ring: Tiffany platinum sapphire and diamond shared prong eternity band with 1.60 ctw round brilliant cut diamonds and 2.00 ctw round sapphires
Necklace: Platinum diamond Tiffany Swing double drop necklace

Bouquet: Large bouquet of peonies and Cymbidium orchids with accents
of lady’s mantle.  Anthony Gowder Designs


Gown: Breathtaking strapless ball gown featuring a unique sweetheart neckline and corseted bodice embellished with embroidery and Swarovski crystals. The skirt has soft pick-up details that are accented with flowers and feathers, by Allure Couture. Kathryn’s Bridal

Ring: Tiffany solitaire diamond ring with a 2.01 carat round brilliant cut diamond,
Necklace: Platinum diamond Victoria graduated line necklace

Earrings: Platinum large Victoria earrings with 2.00 ctw marquise cut diamonds. 

Gown: Bring out your inner goddess with this Grecian style chiffon gown with jeweled capped sleeve, belt and neckline. The gown also features a beaded sheer illusion back with crystal button closures, by David Tutera. Kathryn’s Bridal

Ring: Platinum Tiffany Novo 1.31 carat solitaire diamond ring with round brilliant cut diamond
Bracelet: Victoria bracelet with round brilliant and marquise diamonds

Monday, March 26, 2012

Chicagoland couples are invited to share their love stories for a chance to win the eleven eleven WEDDING, Chicago's premier all-inclusive wedding giveaway valued at $60,000, to be held on Nov. 11, 2012 at The Peggy Notebaert Museum.

This amazing wedding will feature everything from food to formalwear, flowers to the last dance. Now is the time!

Submissions will only be accepted until March 26, 2012.
Don't miss your chance to win Chicago's premier
all-inclusive wedding giveaway!

For more information or to enter, please visit

By Ken Arlen, Arlen Music Consultants, Inc.

As a bandleader, I can appreciate the tough decision each Bride and Groom face when deciding on the best entertainment for their wedding.  We all know that a great band or orchestra can make or break a special event.  Although every wedding I perform is different and unique, I believe my clients are looking for one universal result - they want a combination of elegance and fun, with fun being the operative word!!!

“We want all of our guests on the dance floor celebrating with us all night!”

The experience of sharing this day with all of your friends and family is so powerful it is hard to put into words.  I like to ask my couples, “If we are sitting here 4 weeks after your wedding, what had to happen for you to be completely thrilled with your celebration experience?”  This is how I tune into what will make their wedding special and unique. 

As I have grown my entertainment company over the years, I now have 5 bands that can deliver the above result. But my friends and clients often ask me, especially if my bands are not available, how do we decide?  What process should we follow to find the best music for our wedding? 

Here are six tips that I feel would be helpful:

1.  Understand the lingo -- everyone wonders about the difference between a wedding band and orchestra.  A dance orchestra is a larger band, usually with multiple vocalist, horn section and violin section.  For example, my 15-piece Ken Arlen Orchestra has 5 rhythm, 3 horns, 3 violins and 4 lead vocalists! 

2.  Recognize that you have to find a band that plays not only the music you like, but also music that will be received well by all of your guests including your friends, parent’s friends and grandparents.  This requires a high level of versatility and an extensive repertoire.  There is no reason why your band should not sound incredible in all styles.  No compromise!

3.  Start by getting referrals from your family, friends and especially other professionals in the event industry. When you think about it, photographers are a great referral source since their primary job is to document the experience in the room.  Just like your bandleader, you are hiring them to pay close attention to everything that is happening.   Many photographers tell me they love working with Arlen Bands because the guests are more animated, having more fun, and the pictures are more interesting! 

4.  Ask your venue for their referrals.  Having a band that is experienced performing at your venue and has a working relationship with venue staff is a definite advantage.

5.  Keep in mind that you may have a favorite club band but if they are not experienced performing at a wedding I can guarantee you will not be happy with the result.  Leading a band at a wedding is a specific skill that takes years of experience to develop.

6.   Look for a great bandleader.  I often tell clients that great music is only ½ of what makes a wedding successful.  The other ½ is the bandleaders ability to read the crowd, customize the music to your desire, keep the pace of the evening as MC and effortlessly implement a well conceived itinerary that flows from when the doors open to the end of the night!

Let’s assume after following the above advice you have your top bands lined up.  Of course you will peruse their web site, but you need to take the time to meet with your prospective bandleader to make your best decision. 

Here are seven good ideas and important qualities to look for:

1.  You want to have a good rapport with your prospective bandleader.  He or she will be playing a very important role not only injecting personality into your event, but implementing your vision for the evening.  My MC style is fun, warm and inviting.  I do not like the stereotypical and artificial animated MC personality. I like to create a festive atmosphere where the musicians and guests are celebrating together, and I especially want our performance to be from the heart.  This is what people respond to and what will connect with your guests!

2.  When you meet with your prospective band leader ask him about the process he will take you through to plan your wedding.  At Arlen Music, we want to work closely with our clients to customize the flow of the evening and to discuss the many specific details that will make your wedding unique.  This involves a series of steps we will take you through as our client.  We want the process to be enjoyable, easy and fun for you. We especially want you to sleep well the weeks before your wedding confident that Arlen Bands will deliver the goods. 

3.  Your bandleader should be able to show you the personnel in the band.  Beware of the revolving door band.  Only well established bands with lots of work can demand an exclusive commitment from their musicians.  At Arlen Music, we do not hire freelancers.  All of our bands have set musicians and vocalists that have agreed to make your wedding date their top priority.  When you hear the audio demo make sure the musicians and vocalists you are hearing are what you are going to get. 

4.  Check out how well the band performs contemporary dance music.  It is much more challenging for a band to perform new music with an authentic sound then music that has been around for 20-30 years.  Production values are much higher today then 10 years ago.  Also, beware of bands where the vocalists perform behind a music stand looking at lyrics -- how can you connect to the audience as a vocalist while reading lyrics?  Our guests often tell us that our Arlen bands perform and sound like a live concert of the original artist.  We deliver authentic vocal performances as well as instrumental arrangements. 

5.  Please do not expect to audition your band at someone else’s wedding.   Imagine a dozen uninvited folks crashing your wedding to hear your band perform.  To me the bandleaders that invite you to hear them at someone else’s wedding are displaying poor judgment.   At Arlen Music, we invite you to our conference room to meet in person, which allows us to direct our full attention on you and your wedding.  We also have extensive materials to show you including current live performance video.

6.  There is an old saying in the music business that “Frank Sinatra did not move pianos.”  You want to make sure your bandleader has a solid support staff to free him up to perform at the highest level for your wedding.   Take a look at both the front stage and the back stage of an organization.  If the bandleader does not have a strong back stage, then rest assured his front stage is operating on thin ice.  At Arlen Music, we have 6 full time office staff ready to take your call from 8:30AM to 5:30PM every day, and multiple conference rooms all designed to support our wedding bands. In order to address new repertoire and our client’s musical requests, we have 8 arrangers on staff to create multiple new musical arrangements on a weekly basis -- rest assured any requests you have we can prepare for your wedding.   In order to make the front stage performances sparkling, we also employ a choreographer, and a wardrobe consultant to keep all of our musicians looking their best.

7.  Sound reproduction is a HUGE component to the success of your wedding.  So many bands play too loud and the mix is poor, or you hear horrendous feedback when your father or the best man is giving his toast.  At Arlen Music, each band has two full-time sound engineers that know the band inside and out.  At your wedding, one mans the controls at the back of the stage and one walks the room to ensure levels are set correctly.  Our mandate is that during dinner all guests must be able to talk comfortably across the table without leaning in.  When our bands perform it will sound like a well-mixed recording throughout your room. 

I hope these ideas are helpful to you.  As you are making your final decision, remember that wedding entertainment is an investment with a huge payoff.  Every wedding has a budget but a great orchestra is very much worth the extra dollars.  Ten years from now your guests will remember the music because dancing to an awesome live performance is an incredibly powerful experience.  But do not forget that you are the stars of the evening not your band.  This is your night!  

*Arlen Music exclusive roster wedding Bands and orchestras

Ken Arlen Orchestra (15pc)

Indigo (11pc)

Front of House (9 pc)

Entourage (8 pc)

Arlen Music exclusive roster of Specialty ensembles:

Adagio Strings (ceremony ensembles)

Sirens  ( A Rock Violins Show)

Quartess (Instrumental Jazz and Pop)

Twilight Combination (Lounge Trio)

Glitter and Tonic (A Cappella Girl Group)

Lake Effect (Smooth Jazz)

Soul Motion (6 pc)

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Meatpacking District in Chicago is no longer that—it’s been reinvented as a stylish and high-end district with sleek venues for meeting and event planning and a plethora of dining options. “The Victor” is located a few blocks north of Randolph and Halsted in a converted freezer building. The Victor is a new venue space that is used for numerous corporate and private events as well as nightlife entertainment. Our space can accommodate groups of 10 to 300.  Designed to resemble a European Hotel lobby The Victor will impress your guests . If you are looking for a unique place to host your intimate wedding or your special event contact Kevin at 312-733-6900.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vote for your favorite design.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Friday, March 16, 2012

Chicagoland couples are invited to share their love stories for a chance to win the eleven eleven WEDDING, Chicago's premier all-inclusive wedding giveaway valued at $60,000, to be held on Nov. 11, 2012 at The Peggy Notebaert Museum.

This amazing wedding will feature everything from food to formalwear, flowers to the last dance. Now is the time!

Submissions will only be accepted until March 26, 2012.
Don't miss your chance to win Chicago's premier
all-inclusive wedding giveaway!

For more information or to enter, please visit

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In February, Open Books a Chicago-based bookstore and literacy nonprofit, had two marriage proposals take place within its walls.

Love the smell of books and bookstores and want to involve them in your own wedding planning? Here are some words of wisdom from Open Books’s manager Kevin Elliott:

What kinds of wedding-related books do you have in the store?

We have some great books on wedding planning, fashion, and empty planners, as well as some humorous books for those with a more casual approach. The beauty of our store, though, is that throughout the 50,000-plus books in stock, you can find something personal—something that will work for your specific relationship and your special day that belongs to no one else.

We’ve had engaged couples come into the store to purchase books as centerpieces and gifts for their wedding guests, as well as décor to line the aisle and represent the next chapter in their life. One bride-to-be found an antique copy of the book her parents read to her as a child and planned on giving it to them on her wedding day to show that she will always remember the time and love they spent with her growing up.

Has anyone ever had their wedding at Open Books?

We’ve had some initial interest from a couple who are regular shoppers in the store, but we haven’t had a wedding at the store yet. It would be an awesome venue for it. We receive many compliments on the physical layout, location, and look of the store, and we would deck the place out with the best looking literary décor you could imagine—centerpieces with the classics, poetry readings, and specially designed Open Books bookmarks so they are sure to remember the most unique wedding they’ve ever attended every time they added to their story.

What makes a great proposal?

My only advice for couples who are thinking of taking the next step would be to make it personal. I would add that a space filled with stories, color, life, and joy every day can be the perfect place to find something meaningful for the one you love. Many have done so already, and we are eager to help other couples write the perfect story of their life.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Bring a taste of home to your wedding reception—but give it a slight twist. Your guests will love nibbling on familiar dishes, such as stacks of pancakes, liders, or meatballs—but that short stack has a brandied blueberry and maple syrup, the sliders are made of elk, and the meatballs have a mouth-watering toasted coconut crust.

“Late Night Dinner Delight” Chicken Fried Slider served with a Poached Quail Egg
Created by Phil Stefani Signature Events

 Lemon Curd Shortstack with a Brandied Blueberry and Maple Syrup
Created by Entertaining Company

Mango Elk Slider with a Radish Cilantro Mint Relish
Created by Kenmare Catering and Events

Asian Style Meatballs with Toasted Coconut Crust
Created by Cork Catering

BBQ Short Rib Cornbread Muffin with Horseradish Aoli
Paired with Goose Island Pepe Nero and Matilda Beers
Created by Jewell Events Catering

Victoria Sdoukos arrived on the bridal scene in September of 2005 with her West Loop bridal salon Boutique Victoria. The Boutique carried well known bridal designers along with her personal collection of handmade jewelry and veils. By 2009, Victoria launched her own label and in 2011 changed the boutique name to Victoria Sdoukos Couture Bridal. Sdoukos is the only designer in Chicago that offers a unique service of custom jewelry, veils and wedding gowns. Together with Victoria, brides can create their dream wedding look. Victoria Sdoukos Couture Bridal is the perfect destination for a bride seeking a completely unique and personalized experience.

Victoria Sdoukos Couture Bridal

924 West Madison Street | Chicago, IL | 312 226 9880

Friday, March 9, 2012

Frank J. Andonoplas, MBC of Frank Event Design was awarded Event Solutions Magazine’s 2012 Spotlight Award for Event Planner of the Year. This was given at the 2012 Catersource/Event Solutions Idea Factory Conference in Las Vegas on March 28th. Andonoplas, one of 71 Master Bridal Consultants in the world, has also received The Gala Award from Special Events Magazine for Best Wedding , Budget over $1000 per guest in 2011, The BizBash Award in 2010 for Best Event for an Association, The Penner Award for Excellence to the Wedding Industry from the Assoc of Bridal Consultants in 2000, as well as 16 Chicago Excellence Awards for his work since 1994. For more information CONGRATULATIONS FRANK!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

GOWN: Scoop neck A-line gown made with duchess silk satin and chiffon flowers. “Sophie” by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Boutique Victoria

Earrings: Hand-made drop earrings of Swarovski rhinestones and crystals. “Krista” by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Boutique Victoria Necklace: Hand-made from Swarovski rhinestones and crystals. “Love” by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Boutique Victoria

Hairpiece: Custom feather clip. Emplume CoutureBouquets

GOWN: Strapless A-line silk taffeta gown with pleated and ruched bodice and flared skirt. The gown is embellished with a fabric flower and matching silk taffeta shrug. “Dartmouth” from Blue by Enzoani. Shelley’s Bridal Couture,  Earrings: Custom designed by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Exclusively at Boutique Victoria
Bracelet: Susan G Allen, exclusively at Macy’s Bridal Salon, State Street, 312.781.3545. 

Hairpiece: Feather and pearl hairpiece with attached birdcage veil. Macy’s Bridal Salon, State Street 

GOWN: Sheath style gown with corset closure featuring ruched gossamer chiffon fastened at the empire waist to create a slender baby-doll silhouette. Delicate petals and a subtle hint of glimmer beautifies the strapless neckline. “Carmella” by Maggie Sottero. Shelley’s Bridal Couture 

Earrings: Susan G Allen, exclusively at Macy’s Bridal Salon, State Street, 312.781.3545. 

Hairpiece: Swarovski rhinestone and crystal headband with attached side fascinator placed off center for a dramatic look. Shelley’s Bridal Couture 

GOWN: Dramatic one-shoulder full trumpet cut gown made with duchess silk satin. The shoulder strap is made of silk flowers and accented with Swarovski rhinestone hand beading. “Dionna” by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Boutique Victoria

Earrings and Bracelet: Macy’s Bridal Salon, State Street, 312.781.3545 

Headpiece: Macy’s Bridal Salon, State Street

GOWN: Taffeta one-shoulder gown with flowers and a ruched bodice and skirt, with a chapel train and lace-up back. From the Demetrios, Sensualle collection. Macy’s Bridal Salon, State Street, 312.781.3545.

Earrings & Hairpiece: Custom designs by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Exclusively at Boutique Victoria

GOWN: Mini bridal dress with scoop neck, pencil cut made with duchess silk satin and Ostrich feathers. “Brittany” by Victoria Sdoukos Couture.
Boutique Victoria

Necklace: Swarovski crystal lariat. “Victoria Glam” by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Boutique Victoria

Earrings: Custom designed by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Boutique Victoria Hairpiece: Custom Ostrich feather hair clip designed by Victoria Sdoukos Couture. Boutique Victoria

Shoes: Modern black Italian silk satin sandal with single toe band, vintage inspired crystal brooch and stiletto heel. A slim ankle strap crisscrosses high behind the ankle and is finished with a silver buckle. “Aida” from James Ciccotti

Monday, March 5, 2012

Big changes are around the corner at Swissôtel Chicago! In early December, the Four Diamond hotel revitalized its lobby and classic meeting space, pulling inspiration from its original architect, Harry Weese, tocreate modern design paired with natural elements, reflecting the hotel’s Swiss heritage.

Guests will be greeted with one of the largest changes. Check-in pods will replace the bulky front desk setting, providing a more welcoming experience. The concierge will be armed with iPads for quick access to any necessary information.

From wall coverings and carpeting to technology, a modern design will transform the classic meeting space utilizing a simplified monochromatic palette with pops of red and gold tones. This makeover compliments the hotel’s 38,000 square foot Event Centre, introduced in 2009.

Swissôtel Chicago

323 East Wacker Drive | Chicago, IL | 312 565 0565

Friday, March 2, 2012