Friday, September 20, 2013

Vintage Q&A with Kate Lerman of Chicago Vintage Weddings

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Between Etsy and Pinterest, I expect my wedding to be completely and totally made out of vintage pieces. However, I am not crafty enough to put old pieces together with new pieces and make it look fabulous. So, instead of giving you my heinous tips (Uh, maybe look through your grandma's house?), I'm handing over the reigns to the adorable Kate Lerman, Owner and Lead Planner of Chicago Vintage Weddings.

I sent Kate a few questions to get to know her and how the heck she does it!

1. Please tell me a little about your organization and why you started it.
Chicago Vintage Weddings began in 2011 when I started building my vintage collection even more and realizing how few vintage rental resources were in the area. As the collection grew and I started planning my own wedding, I became immersed in the world of wedding planning and event design. I just fell in love.

As a lifelong crafter and a very social, organized person, wedding planning and design just worked for me. I began making connections and once I launched the company, I joined the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance immediately, which was one of the best decisions I could have made for my startup company. We've been very present on social media too--this is something I just love to do, and I love getting exposure for my fellow talented wedding vendors. Chicago Vintage Weddings is all about helping people find even more happiness during one of the happiest times of their lives. It's a very satisfying thing to do.

Justine Bursoni Photography

2. Why do you think the vintage look has become so popular?
Well, I think there are many ways to interpret vintage looks. There's no way to be entirely novel, so there will always be some design element that is rooted in tradition and the past. The vintage look, to me, is about finding a connection to inspiring, iconic designs. It lends a serene, timeless feeling to an event that people will remember for the rest of their lives. Nobody wants to look back on her wedding photos several decades from now and think about how dated they are. People want to achieve a personalized version of the classic looks that never go out of style.

Justine Bursoni Photography

3. Where do you go to get your great finds?
I'm obsessed! Garage sales, estate sales, auctions, antique shops--you name it. I often have to travel outside of Chicago to get the best deals. It's really a matter of persistence and a love of shopping. Anyone with a little patience, time and a keen eye can find something fantastic.

4. For a bride looking to DIY-it, what is a good way to restore or refinish a great find? Can you give an example of how you did one?
Spray paint, spray paint, spray paint! Also, invest in a power sander, even if it's just a rental. You'll save so much time and effort and your work will look far more professional. Most of my rehab projects come down to planning--I don't like to go into a project without an exact vision for how I want the finished product to look--and using the right products the right way. Anybody can do it with a little practice. That said, don't bother with pieces that aren't structurally sound or need too much repair. They're just not worth it.

Justine Bursoni Photography

5. How do you mix modern and vintage to create a cohesive look?
All of that really depends on the unique event and look we're going for. I actually adore clean, modern design. If I had to describe a design rule that I use, I'd say I do 2/3 safe and 1/3 risk. That is, most of what I do for an event is very chic yet nondescript, and just enough is unique enough to stand out and make that event personal. Overdoing it is a big no-no. For me, it's not so much about vintage vs. modern as it is about how things accent one another.

Christy Tyler Photography

6. What are your top trend tips for fall?
Every fall we see a return to darker, moodier tones. I'm very excited to design these types of events and I think the art deco revival is going to fit in quite well with all this. Light, neutral palettes with just a pop of bold color are also quite popular. In terms of specific trends, I'd say the big ones are barn weddings and highly designed lounge areas for guests at receptions--almost all of our fall weddings are incorporating at least one of these elements. Some of our fall couples are also skipping cake in favor of delicious pies and other unique desserts for their guests.

7. Please describe a few of your favorite items, tablescapes, or weddings that you've designed.
I'm crazy about metals! Anything we've ever done that has involved lots of mixed metal vases, trays, and gorgeous flatware has floored me; pieces with patina are especially nice. I'm especially excited for one upcoming October wedding that will be using lots of gorgeous draped fabrics and muted warm tones. It's going to be absolutely stunning.

Britta Marie Photography

8. What vintage piece did you feel was the highlight of your wedding? 
In my wedding, I incorporated lots of my own vintage china and crockery. It was great, but I wouldn't recommend that couples use too much from their own collections in their own weddings--it's a lot of extra work. Renting will make you much happier! My now-husband also did a great job with my rings, finding a platinum and diamond set from the 1930s. It was my inspiration to start finding finding fine jewelry for our own clients.

9. What is your number one piece of advice for newly engaged couples who are beginning to plan their wedding? 
Consider a wedding planner! You may not think it's in your budget, but I can't even count the number of couples I know--including my husband and me when we were getting married--who have deeply regretted not working with a planner from the beginning. Much of the planner's fees are covered by the myriad vendor discounts she'll get for you, so a good planner is essentially paying for herself. You'll be saved months or years of stress and have peace of mind that everything will go as smoothly as possible. Having a planner means being able to truly enjoy one of the happiest times of your life. That's one of the reasons why I love wedding planning: I help couples make the most of their big day!

Justine Bursoni Photography

Thanks again to Kate Lerman of Chicago Vintage Weddings! For more information visit their website at They're also very active on Pinterest and Facebook!

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