Monday, September 30, 2013

"We first met when Jaclyn was a 6th grader and Grant a 7th grader at Old Orchard Junior High in Skokie, IL. We were in the same social circle in high school (each dating each other's good friends), but we were never really friends ourselves. This all changed one night after college when we randomly bumped into each other while out at a bar. We had a fun night together, but no numbers were exchanged. Grant contacted a mutual friend for Jaclyn's number and the relationship grew from there.

We had been dating for almost five years and were on a ski vacation in Vail, Colorado when Grant proposed. Grant was able to incorporate three of our favorite things to do as a couple into the engagement - travel, spending time outdoors, and being active/adventurous. We wanted to have a more intimate wedding that was truly a reflection of us as a couple. We wrote our own ceremony with Grant's twin brother as the officiant, chose venues that had significant personal meaning to us, made much of the decor ourselves, and had numerous other family and friends help out in various capacities (our florist, makeup artist, wedding planner, etc). The night was absolutely perfect; we have never felt more loved and humbled at the incredible family and friends we are lucky enough to have in our lives."


Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Webster's Wine Bar

Amy Kuschel (Ashbury) from The Dress by Nicole

Kate Spade shoes, The Left Bank veil

Amy Miller of Golden Girl Chicago

Izha Zylvanni Artistry

Frank Event Design

Noah from Style Matters

Bittersweet Bakery

Janet Cowel (Friend of the bride)

Handmade by groom & his family

Many people these days have been booking their travel and honeymoons online.  As a professional travel agent for the past 27 years, I am asked on a daily basis, “why use a travel agent?” And my response is always, “Why not?” 

Here are the top seven reasons why booking with an agent can be the better way to go!

1.Travel professionals are constantly traveling, going to training sessions and attending seminars to stay current with resorts, excursions and destinations. As a result, we have tons of personal relationships with representatives from each location. This provides agents with the latest and most up-to-date information on what is happening -- and the best rates!

2. When you visit a travel agency, the pros can sort out the type of property or destination that would best suit your personal needs. It involves making a personal connection. The internet can be a very valuable research tool, but it's best to discuss the details with someone who really knows the industry.

3. Travel is not a perfect science, and things do go wrong! When people book through agents, they have the guarantee that someone is available 24/7/365 to help them. Whether it is a sudden illness that causes a trip cancellation or a flat tire on the way to the airport, we've got you covered.

4. Travel professionals (for the most part) do not charge any fees and are full-service businesses. We offer one-stop shopping from airfare, ground transfers, resorts and hotels, trains, car rentals, ships, tours, excursions, activities -- you name it! Having everything in one place provides you with a wealth of information you won’t find online (such as whether or not there’s construction going on at the property next door, or whether your room will overlook the parking lot even though it says “mountain view”). And the prices are usually same as online or better!

5. Another perk: when booking your travel in advance, you do not pay for the entire trip upfront. Using a travel agent allows you to put down a small deposit for your airfare and reservations, with the final payment usually due 45 days before travel. This allows you to make smaller payments and really stretch your budget.

6. You can always add your travel agency to the list of places where you are registered. Guests can gift payments toward your honeymoon!

7. Lastly, my biggest question to travelers is always, “What is your time worth?" The average amount of time travelers spend doing research for their trip is six hours. With everything you probably have on your plate right now, do you really want to spend hours searching for the best deal? Wouldn't it just be easier to go to a pro who can tailor your trip without wasting your time? The answer is always yes. 

So when beginning to embark on the journey that is planning your honeymoon, just think of the motto for the American Society of Travel Agents -- “Remember without a travel agent, you are on your own”.  

Thank you to Linda Schreiber of Starship Travel. For more information, please visit their website at To talk with an agent, call (847) 394-1155 or email

Photos by Beth Brownstein, Travel Agent and Marketing Manager of Starship Travel.

Friday, September 27, 2013

We all turn to Pinterest for fun, fashion, DIY, wedding ideas...but it might just be time to get your man a page! Check out these dapper dudes in spectacular wedding duds from Pinterest!

Photo Credit:
(specific pins are linked to photos) 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Finding the right venue should be first and foremost on the list of your priorities. Having a clear sense of style is key for hosting a successful soiree, and the venue you choose exudes your wedding style from top to bottom.

Chicago has a huge number of venues. In our magazine, we have almost ten pages dedicated specifically to a chart that maps out venues in your area and price range (2013-2014, pg. 198-207). The first thing to consider when attacking this giant list, is what type of venue you'd like to use. We've laid out your options here for your perusal. 

A lovely place for a wedding, a city park or garden has its ups and downs. It doesn't need a whole lot of decoration; however, you might have to get a lot of permits and make a plan in case it rains.

These locations really know how to host a wedding and offer an added bonus of convenient accommodations for your guests. However, the location might host more than one event per day, meaning there could be less privacy, especially if banquet rooms are close to each other.

Elegant, romantic, and luxurious, mansions and historic locations provide an ambiance that you just can’t replicate. However, you might run into a lack of space—old mansions and historic homes often don’t have a room large enough for a 150-person wedding, requiring guests to split up into separate rooms.

A wedding on the water with the Chicago skyline as your backdrop. If that sound like your style, then a chartered boat or yacht is right for you. Yacht weddings are best for brides who want something different and have a smaller guest list.

A banquet hall offers all-inclusive wedding packages and a host of professionals who know just how to plan your wedding. However, some brides might not like the lack of personality that some halls have—just think of it as a blank slate in which to decorate to your heart’s content.

If you want great food, why not head to your favorite restaurant for your wedding reception? Restaurants typically specialize in smaller wedding groups, around 50 guests, but some have second floor event spaces that can be rented to larger parties.

These venues are some of the most underutilized spaces in wedding planning, offering amazing cultural ambiance, as well as cool architecture or artwork. There’s no need to decorate because the museum is all the decoration you need. However, it’s less likely to have an on-staff event coordinator, and the rules about what you can and can’t do are probably stricter.

Golf lovers will adore the manicured lawns and beautiful views offered by a country club. The club will likely have an event or banquet coordinator—ask him if members will still be allowed on the course during your wedding, and figure out if the lack of privacy would bother you.

This post was originally featured in our magazine and on our website. Visit our website to view this article and others like it.
Imagine the crisp, refreshing autumn breeze around you and your special someone, with splashes of oranges, reds and yellows as your wedding backdrop. Try to picture standing on a brick patio overlooking a delightful pond, with beautiful and colorful trees surrounding you, while your family and friends sit and join you for this special occasion. This is your wedding at Northern Illinois University Naperville.

Along with all this, we have a stunning atrium, full of sunlight and windows where you can enjoy the fall weather and beauty even from the inside. Our event space also features floor to ceiling windows overlooking the pond, and is a wonderful place to create memories that will stay with you forever.

Ceremony to reception, we help you create the perfect event no matter what your wedding style, theme or budget. To start planning your dream wedding at NIU Naperville, contact Gina Kenyon, Wedding Planner, 815-752-8990 or, and visit our website at

Monday, September 23, 2013

Jenny Yoo Collection is celebrating the addition of Nicole Miller to their Chicago showroom Friday, September 27th through Sunday, September 29th with a special Nicole Miller Fall Bridal Trunk Show. This exclusive weekend trunk show will feature the newest Nicole Miller bridal gowns, jewelry by Erin Gallagher, floral arrangements by Fleur de lis Florist, and stationary and decorations from Pulp & Ink. Brides will receive 10% off any Nicole Miller gown order during the trunk show and be entered to win a monogrammed Erin Gallagher necklace. It is the only time that Nicole Miller bridal will be offered with a special discount.

Established in 2002, Jenny Yoo focuses on creating elegant, feminine, and refined bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses. The success of her bridal and bridesmaid collections helped launch her newest social line which is a collection of special occasion dresses. Jenny’s Chicago showroom carries her entire collection and recently added Nicole Miller bridal, a complementary line to the Jenny Yoo aesthetic.

Nicole Miller 2013 Bridal Trunk Show
Jenny Yoo Collection, 300 W. Superior #102

Friday, September 27th 10am-7pm
Saturday, September 28th 10am-6pm
Sunday, September 29th 11am-4pm

By appointment only

To request an appointment, please email or call 312-642-2327
One thing we love about being a local publication is that we get to show off our great city constantly. The gorgeous cityscape, the varying periods of architecture, the fabulous shopping; we even love the crazy people on the "el" (some days). The Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza feels the same. They've positioned themselves in the landscape to become the place for celebrations in the city. With their views from above, you're likely to see why brides are raving about it. 

Even guests are going crazy for this posh place. One recent wedding-goer reviewed the venue, saying it "was the perfect wedding venue and an ideal place for guests to stay...The banquet hall for the wedding was beautiful, the food was great, and the coordinator, Barbara Martin, was an absolute treasure." She also mentioned that the concierge was extremely helpful in assisting out of town guests with acquiring hair and makeup appointments. Now that's service.

Don't believe us? Just look at these views...

Photos courtesy of Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.

Friday, September 20, 2013

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!
The Dress by Nicole is excited to host the Ellis Bridal Collection Trunk Show. This 100-year-old British company is new to the USA and brides love their elegant, yet cutting-edge designs. Visit the store on October 11th, 12th and special Sunday hours on the 13th from noon to 4:00pm to see these gorgeous styles.

Don't miss this chance to try on their newest designs, as well as their best carryover styles!

Brides will enjoy 10% off all Ellis orders during the event. Hurry and make your appointment today, space is limited. For more details, visit