Wednesday, April 29, 2015


If you are like most brides this time of year, you are in the midst of coordinating caterers, dress fittings, cake tastings and making final decisions about table décor. But even though a busy bride has much to do in the final weeks before her big day, don’t let Mother’s Day escape your thoughts along the way. It’s a great time to show your mom how much you appreciate her help and support. Plan a simple Mother’s Day event, to celebrate the women in your life who are making your amazing day possible.

Here’s a guide to some time-saving tips and easy planning to help make Mother’s Day an event to remember:

Keep It Simple

You’re already incurring some expense for your wedding and reception, so keep Mother’s Day on the simpler side. Instead of a venue such as a restaurant, plan to host Mother’s Day in your home or at a home of a girlfriend. Use card tables and cover them with pressed, white tablecloths. Mix and match any plates and silverware to create an eclectic, casual and fun tone. A thrift store is a great place to pick up odds and ends and you can re-donate them after you are done. Since some of your guests might have evening plans with other family, make your event a brunch or lunch and serve sandwiches cut into triangles (just like mom used to make) on platters. Complete the menu with premade options such as mini quiche or muffins. Instead of spending extra time and money on custom invites, use a template from the web instead and print at home on paper you like.

Make It Pretty

Mother’s Day is a feminine holiday in the heart of spring, so play up the spring’s freshest colors by ordering some simple flower arrangements. You are probably coordinating flowers for your wedding at about this time, so just ask the florist to add to your flower order in time for Mother’s Day. Choose fragrant flowers, such as jasmine or gardenia, and arrange them in dainty jelly jars. Lilies, tulips or daisies add a splash of color and can even be in the same color palate as what you are planning for your wedding.

Plan a Gift that Guests Make Themselves

What better way to spend time with your mom and girlfriends than to participate together in making a take-home craft. For the gardening-minded, guests can Mod Podge flower pots with photos they bring. The Mod Podging can be completed at the beginning of the event and then guests can plant seeds or seedlings in the pots before heading home. You can make one in advance special for your mom by taking childhood photos of her and you and creating a model for guests to follow. Or, for the beauty-minded, set out ingredients such as brown sugar, white sugar, olive oil and essential oils so guests can create their own sugar scrubs. The thrift store will have a variety of jars in different sizes. Pre-cut ribbon scraps from the local craft store can be Mod Podged to make labels for the jars.

Make One Simple Cocktail

Prohibition-era cocktails are fun and often are more unusual from what your guests might drink day-to-day. Make one cocktail in advance, like a Mary Pickford which has a nice spring-like pink color, and serve it from glass lemonade pitchers. You can also have ice water with fresh cuts of lemon, berries, or orange infused at the tables as well.

Incorporate Appreciation

Allow some time in your event to ask guests and share something they appreciate or miss about their moms. Or, have guests write their words of appreciation on die cut shapes you scatter on the tables. One of your guests can then read all of them out loud anonymously. People will enjoy hearing the positive words of love and support for and from mothers and it will be a great opportunity for you to connect meaningfully with those who are making a big difference in your life.

Monday, April 27, 2015

John and I immediately knew we were meant for each other when we met in college. I was visiting a friend one weekend and John and I ran into each other and hit it off. We’ve been inseparable ever since!

The night we moved into our first home, John convinced me to go out to dinner to watch the Blackhawks' game. I really didn’t understand why we would leave our new home. To prove my point, I decided to wear my jersey out to dinner. John, knowing he was keeping a BIG secret from me, couldn’t let that faze him, so he put on his jersey, too. Little did I know, John had his parents and brother set up our back porch with string lights, a table and chairs, flowers, and a bottle of champagne. When we returned home from dinner, that’s when it happened, jerseys and all. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Totally surprised and immensely happy!

The wedding day was THE perfect day. I know a lot of brides have casually used that saying, but I honestly mean it. The sun was shining, there was a light breeze, and I was about to marry my best friend. I kept thinking, “I wonder what John is doing right at this exact moment,” and “I wonder if he’s nervous," etc. While all of us girls were getting ready, I was the last to put my dress on. It was a moment of excitement, happiness, nervousness, and joy. When I looked at myself in the mirror for the first time, that’s when it hit me. And let me tell you, it hit me hard. We’re talking instant waterworks and uncontrollable hand fluttering to make sure my tears didn’t ruin my makeup. Thank goodness I put my dress on last, because once it was on, I was ready to go.

My dad was THE cutest dad in the whole wide world. He could not stop tearing up and making me laugh, which is what he’s quite good at. Once I was holding hands with John, I was calm but overwhelmed with excitement. We could not have gotten any luckier with the weather. Our vows went by without a hitch and sooner than later we were Mr. and Mrs.

We walked up the aisle and into the 1905 Barn. This was the first time I had seen all of the décor, including the bar, sweets table, and cupcakes. I cannot thank my family enough for doing such an outstanding job. Cue the waterworks. From there, we went upstairs in the barn. This is where we had the dance floor and another bar. All of the lights made it look like an entirely different space. From there we made our way down to the tent which was semi-“attached” to the barn. We decided to have the intros, food, and speeches in the tent. That turned out to be a great idea! And not to mention, we were the first couple to do that! The night ended back upstairs in the barn. Let me tell you, everyone was dancing and having the best time. The DJ and music were superb!

Our décor was a mix of rustic and vintage carnival. My bridesmaids all wore different shades of lavender and I let them pick their own dresses. The groomsmen wore light grey suits with lavender bow ties and funky socks. Our flowers were whites and lavenders, but we also had some unique fall colors thrown in here and there.

John and I didn’t want the usual hotel reception, no offense to any weddings like that, but that just wasn’t how we pictured our wedding. I loved the idea of 'vintage carnival.' There are so many things about it that were appealing and ‘unique.'

One of the coolest things we did was have drinks, apps, and a popcorn machine before the ceremony. Our programs were printed onto the popcorn bags. So while we were tying the knot, our guests could munch on popcorn, read the program, and enjoy the show! We also kept the theme going with our sweets table. We used an eclectic mix of candy jars, many different types on candies, and red and white striped bags for our guests to pour their candies of choice into and then seal it with a sticker that read “love is sweet.”


Midway Village & Museum: In the Village situated outside of the 1905 Barn.


Family friend

My Uncle Dan Johnson is a pastor in Minnesota. It was so wonderful and special to have him marry us.

Monica at North Park Rental; Mary Friel at Midway Village Museum

Crystal Bride


Every bridesmaid had a different dress from a different designer, including two girls who made their own dress!

Combatant Gentlemen

GlobalRose; our generous family arranged all the bouquets, boutonnieres, and centerpieces for us.

The Radisson Hotel

Auker Artistry


Friday, April 24, 2015

Art De Triumph & Artful Framer Studio

When registering for your wedding, you feel powerful. You get that neat little scanner thing -- or even just use your phone -- and can just beep away at anything your heart desires. But, with great power comes great responsibility. While it would be amazing to register for those $400 pillows, sometimes it's best to take a step back and get some perspective.

Try thinking of your registry in three categories: 
  1. We need this. -- Arriving back from your honeymoon to your marital home is much less pleasant if you have no pots to cook with and no plates to eat on. These are your necessities. Pick them first.
  2. We want this. -- Wouldn't it be nice to have a waffle maker? Think of how much better your lives would be with a waffle maker. These are the things you'd like to have, but maybe wouldn't ever buy yourself.
  3. OMGWENEEDTOHAVETHISRIGHTNOWSOMEONEPLEASEBUYIT. -- Yeah, this category is pretty exciting, but keep in mind that some of these gifts can be a little extravagant. It may be a large piece of furniture, those aforementioned $400 pillows, or something smaller that may be out of any single gift-giver's price range.
NOTE: These categories can often overlap -- here is where the concept of group gifting can be really helpful. For instance, a bed is a "need" item. But you may "want" a bed that's a little fancier. That bed may be $4000 ("OMGWENEED..."). 

Here's the thing: your friends and family always want to buy you something that you will love. So, even if it's above that "single-giver" budget, that doesn't mean there's no way you'll get it. 

Here are a couple great group-gifting options to consider as you go through the process of registering. Remember, the sky is the limit (when you have 300 people going in on a gift together)! 

Art is always in all three categories! Art is intellectual and moving. It can carry great meaning or even provide the viewer with wonderful memories. Consider registering with an artist or framer. How special would it be if your bridal party banded together to have an artist paint a custom portrait of your wedding day? And how wonderful would it be if your cousins pooled their money and presented you with a beautifully framed invitation from your wedding. Places like Art De Triumph & Artful Framer Studios offer registries for custom orders. Send your guests the link to ensure that you get the perfect art for your "together" home. 

The sky is the limit! When you have 300 guests going in on a gift together, it's worth it to make sure they're purchasing you the perfect thing. Think about using something like Macy's Dream Fund. Through that program you can register for both hand towels and a new couch. There's a price range for everyone -- and every group. Clinton Kelly had some really great ideas about utilizing this particular tool in his interview with us! Check out our digital magazine to get his thoughts on the perfect registry (click "Go To" and type in pg. 247 -- in the print magazine, it's on pg. S-24)! 

Aloha, honeymoon! Everyone knows your honeymoon is the trip of a lifetime. No friends or family, no commitments, no worries. Just sun, fun and maybe a few amazing adventures. Did you know there are sites that allow your friends to purchase excursions for you to take while on your honeymoon? All you have to do is register for the things you want to do, and voila! All your aunts and uncles can purchase your day-trip to swim with the stingrays. Here's a great review of some of the most popular honeymoon registry sites!

Whether you're into art or you're ready for that trip of a lifetime, your registry is a huge exciting part of the wedding planning process. Do your research. Think about your categories. And really have fun. Your friends and family just want to make you happy! 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Hold on to your hats ladies, we're about to get personal.

As I went to bridal shop after bridal shop trying on dresses and selecting my favorite options, I made sure to bring along my trusty nude, strapless bra. We all have that one bra. It doesn't sit quite right unless it's on. And even then, it's probably not right, you're just used to it.

That brassier has seen some pretty amazing outfits with me, and I assumed it was my best bet for trying on gowns. But the fact is, when it comes to wedding attire, you need a bit more support than that trusty ol' bra that's been in your drawer for a few years now.

To make sure you know exactly what kind underthings (a.k.a. "foundations") you need for your wedding gown, we did a Q&A with an expert! We asked Nisha Williams, an amazing Neiman Marcus Foundations expert exactly what should be going on under all those layers of tulle and how to find it.

CSW: Why is it important to have the right foundations when it comes to wearing bridal fashion?

NW: The right foundations are not just important for bridal fashion, but all fashion! How many times have you obsessed over a dress, put it on, and you look like the Grinch that Stole Christmas because your bra was not supportive? The wedding is just one day. Why not look your best throughout the year?

The perfect foundations for your bridal gown will provide support, enhance your curves, and won't move around causing you to tug at them all day. I also recommend a fit party for all ladies and gentlemen (we have male Spanx too!!) involved.

CSW: Should you be fit and purchase your undergarments before you begin trying on bridal gowns or after you’ve selected your dress?

NW: Foundation fittings should be done at least once a year. Let's face it- things change, so you want to make sure your size is correct for optimum support. Not only should you have proper fitting foundations before dress shopping, but also bring a strapless bra with you as you browse gowns. Having the strapless bra during the appointment will let you focus on the wedding gown on your body.

CSW: What are the pieces you should purchase to wear under a bridal gown?

NW: I always recommend an amazing strapless bra or bustier, and shape wear. All of the foundations are dependent upon the fabric & cut of the dress.

CSW: What are your choices in type of bra to wear?

NW: The bra choices are dependent upon the bride's bra size, fabric, cut, and her personal comfort level. Talk to a professional and try on different options. The more you try, the more likely you are to find your perfect fit.

CSW: What do you wear if your gown is backless or has a deep cut that would show a normal bra?

NW: I have adhesive bras cups for those brides who are "C"cup & under. I have another bra that attaches to the sides with clear tabs. If the dress is open back that is deep (down to the small of your back) I have a wrap-around-your-waist strap solution that can be worn with a regular bra. Again, all of these options are dependent upon the fabric of the dress, deft master tailoring, and the bride's own comfort level.

CSW: How do you know if you’re getting a good fitting?

NW: A great fitting begins with being measured and physically assessed. Although I can look at someone and tell what size bra she wears, I always use the tape to measure. Your new bra should give you lift and support without lots of padding. Padding does not support breast tissue (it serves to give a more pronounced look). The underwire should be flat against the skin and go behind the breast tissue.

A great source of controversy is the band: it should be snug, not tight. The band is what gives you support- not the straps. The straps customize the bra fit. A loose fitting band thus causes movement such as wires irritating the skin, straps that constantly fall off the shoulders, and visible bra lines under fitted tops and dresses.

CSW: Is it better to sew an undergarment into the gown or leave it as a separate piece?

NW: It depends on the bride's choice of gown, fabric, bra size, and master tailoring. Don't be afraid of daring designs if you are fuller busted, however, you must start early finding foundations to fit your body type.

When in doubt, call a professional like me! Bring your dress or a swatch of fabric so that a foundations expert can quickly pull the right garments for you. Make an appointment, send pictures of the dress front and back so that the expert can really see your body in the dress. I am always here to help you look your best -- not just on your wedding day, but every day!

Thanks so much to Nisha Williams for all her expert advice on finding the perfect foundations to go under your bridal attire! For more information, you can contact Nisha at You can also get in contact by calling 312.241.7096 (mobile) or 312.642.5900 ext. 2139.

Image via

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring is here! Equality Illinois is shaking up their annual women's event this year, so join them to dance the night away at the Equality Illinois 2015 Spring Fling at the National Hellenic Museum on Saturday, April 25th from 8 to 11:30 pm!

With a DJ, dancing, wine and craft cocktails bar, exclusive entry to all museum exhibits throughout the night, and access to the museum's beautiful rooftop, this event is not to be missed.

There will also be some great silent auction prizes to bid on. And, we'll be hanging around handing out magazines and meeting with everyone! We can't wait to see you there!

Click the image and get your tickets now! 

For any inquiries, please contact Sara Jo Malinske at

Friday, April 17, 2015


If all goes according to plan, your wedding will be perfect—in fact, it will be bliss. To make sure that's exactly what happens on your special day, here are a few items to add to your wedding day survival kit:

Bride’s Survival Kit

Nude Pantyhose. You may need a few extra pairs of pantyhose, since it's likely that at least one member of your bridal party will forget her pair. Nude works best because of its versatility with any skin tone, and it can also help blur blemishes.

Clear Nail Polish. There are several unique uses for nail polish that may help save the day. Pack clear nail polish to stop pantyhose runs at the source. Clear polish will also help to bring some extra shine to neglected nails or add a brilliant topcoat to a day-old manicure.

Earring Backings. Bring extra earring backings to replace the ones that may get lost during the hustle of getting ready.

Bobby Pins. Plan ahead with a handful of extra bobby pins for all the lovely updos. It's likely that someone's hair will need to be touched up with some last-minute pinning before the ceremony, and photo sessions.

Razors. Stubble? Not sexy. Bring a razor for sensitive skin just in case you find a spot you've missed!

Lip Balm. Pucker up for the camera and for your first kiss as man and wife with a luxe chapstick like Beecology Lemon Lavender Lip Balm. Layer it on before applying lipstick to keep lips smooth and supple.

Fashion Tape. Rescue an awkward, gaping neckline with fashion tape so clothing stays where it’s supposed to. This is a must-have for strapless dresses.

Water Bottle. Hydration is key. To keep your energy up, your skin fresh, and your body healthy, keep a water bottle nearby throughout the day. For extra potassium and electrolytes, sip on coconut water instead.

Groom’s Survival Kit

Black Socks. For the guy who wears striped socks with tennis shoes every day, black socks won’t be on the radar. But they will look a lot better with a tux!

Replacement Sunglass Lenses. Make sure you have an extra pair of sunglasses and/or replacement lenses handy. There's a chance you'll be taking pre- and post-wedding photos outdoors, so keeping your shades nearby and in tip-top condition is a must.

Lint Roller. Black formal wear is like a magnet for all hair—even poodles shed on tuxedos just to make a point.

Shout Wipes. Did someone say there was coffee? Yes. And now it’s on your shirt. Thank goodness for whoever invented stain-remover wipes.

Pain Reliever. For hangover headaches, stick to anti-inflammatory pain meds like aspirin or Ibuprofen. Don’t take Tylenol, which can cause liver damage when metabolized with alcohol.

Hair Gel. Bring some extra hair gel for last-minute touch-ups (for both you and your groomsmen).

Shoe polish. You're dressed to impress, and shiny shoes will be the perfect finishing touch.

Deodorant. Pack an extra travel-sized deodorant in a shower-fresh scent. Cold feet happens to the best of us, but no one else has to know.

By planning ahead, you're sure to eliminate any added stress to your big day. Make sure you think ahead with these survival kit items, and you and your wedding party will be prepared for life's little emergencies.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Excellent news, everyone! The Big Fake Wedding is coming to Chicago on April 30, 2015! Join us at City View Loft for food, fun and a big, fake wedding that will knock your socks off.

Confused? It's okay, here's what the Big Fake Wedding team has to say about how this bridal show alternative works: 
"The Big Fake Wedding℠ is a bridal show alternative complete with an emotional ceremony, a tasty dinner and a dance-party reception. "Wedding guests" are brides-and-grooms-to-be who get to truly experience the wedding vendors in action."

You're not going to want to miss this event! Click here to get your tickets now!


As any couple faced with the endless to-do list topped with the heading of “My Wedding” will tell you, the logistics of the “big day” are likely to leave you drained, stressed and overwhelmed. The prospect of adding an engagement party, bachelor and bachelorette parties or a rehearsal dinner on top of everything else may leave you desperate for a cold one…or two. But, celebrating your nuptials can be easy and fun when you find the right venue -- one that will not only offer you tons of options, but tons of opportunities to cut loose (not to mention tons of tasty beer!)

Here are a few things to keep in mind while searching for that perfect venue:

1. Convenience: Pick an area or town that’s easily accessible and that you and your family will enjoy

Chicago is a fabulous city, but family and friends who are visiting can easily become frustrated navigating the urban terrain -- and no one likes being late because of traffic. Suburban towns and cities offer all the excitement and activity of the city with the convenience of the suburbs, making it an ideal destination for your pre-nuptial celebrations.

Rosemont’s entertainment district is the perfect example, not just because it is close to O’Hare International Airport and has plenty of lodging, but it also offers countless fun-yet-upscale venues. From bowling, to movie theaters, to comedy clubs, to fine dining, there's something for every palate. My favorite is Hofbräuhaus Chicago, a Bavarian brewery, beer hall and restaurant.

2. Uniqueness: Find a restaurant or venue that incorporates your personal flair

It’s important to keep in mind that this is meant to be a celebration of your union, so it’s a good idea to pick a venue that reflects the personal style of you and your significant other. Some interesting dining and entertainment options include wine bars, bowling, indoor skydiving or restaurants offering unique fare. My pick of Hofbräuhaus Chicago is perfect for beer lovers, like me, who want to embrace the German inside all of us.

3. Engage: Have entertainment or an activity that will keep your guests entertained 

When choosing your perfect wedding party venue, make sure it captures Munich's legendary Gemütlichkeit (a friendly, relaxed atmosphere) –making it the perfect place for my friends and family to kick back and celebrate. Live music and dancing, bowling or beer tours can really create a memorable event! Imagine your guests getting an up-close and personal look at how a Brew Master specially creates centuries old craft beer. That's something your friends and family will be raving about for years to come.

4. Versatility: Make sure the dining options are varied enough to please everyone in your party

It's important to find a venue with flexibility in their menu. Food allergies and dietary restrictions can wreak havoc on a pre-selected meal. Choosing a location that accounts for those kinds of changes will make your life a lot easier.

Also, fun fare makes for a fun evening. I love the Bavarian pretzels and authentic German tastes from Hofbrauhaus! Your guests will love something unique!

5. Make sure there is enough space for you and your guests to feel at home

As with your menu, the key to picking the size of the venue is flexibility. For a larger party, make sure there's room for everyone to sit down and enjoy their meal. There's nothing worse than feeling crammed in to a tiny room. Unfortunately, if guests are uncomfortable, that's what they'll remember -- not the food, not the entertainment, the feeling of being squished between Aunt Mildren and little cousin Bobby.

Make sure you do a guest count well ahead of time for your party. Then, as the date gets closer, get a final head count to your chef to ensure that everyone is accounted for on the day of your event. Also add one or two extra -- just in case! And when selecting your venue, be very sure they can accommodate the number of guests you expect.

The important thing to keep in mind is that you're celebrating for a reason. Everyone is excited to be there to toast you and your soon-to-be spouse as you embark on this adventure. Treat them well with tasty food, a great atmosphere and a fun time.

Thanks so much for our friends at Hofbräuhaus Chicago for these excellent tips on picking wedding celebration locations! Be sure to check out Hofbräuhaus Chicago, located in the bustling MB Financial Park in Rosemont, right near O'Hare. It's the ideal spot for wedding parties to celebrate with house-made beer, authentic German cuisine and a lively environment. Call (847) 671-BREW (2739) for more information.

Monday, April 13, 2015


Since a wedding is typically the first large event a bride or groom is planning, it can be easy to overlook or not know things that, to event planners and caterers, are standard. The whole process can be a little confusing, so our fabulous Jewell Weddings Team is sharing their ‘must ask’ questions that every couple should ask their caterer.

1. Where will the food be prepared on my wedding day?

2. How much customization are you capable of handling? How will you handle guests with specific allergies or dietary restrictions?

3. What equipment is provided in your proposal? Will any additional equipment need to be rented, and at what cost?

4. Do you provide wedding cakes? And if so, is there a cake cutting fee? Are there specific restrictions on working with an outside baker?

5. How involved are you in the typical reception? Will you assist with setting up place cards and decor AND keep the event running smoothly?

6. How closely will you work with other vendors we have already hired?

7. My venue allows me to bring in my own alcohol, how will you handle this process?

Hopefully these questions will help you on your big day!

Thank you so much to Tatiyana for the excellent tips on selecting the perfect caterer! For more information about Jewell Events Catering, visit their website or call 312 829 3663.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Evanston artist Eve J. Alfillé has announced the launch of her latest jewelry collection, "Pompeii." The new series will be released and celebrated on May 2, 2015 from 1:00 p.m - 7:00 p.m. at the Eve J. Alfillé Gallery and Studio, and will allow guests to indulge in champagne, food, live music, and of course, phenomenal jewelry.

In the late summer of 79 A.D., fire and ash rained down from Mount Vesuvius onto the Roman town of Pompeii, sealing its residents and their secrets away into a perfect time capsule of beauty, art, and destruction.

Nearly two thousand years later, while visiting Italy, Evanston artist Eve Alfillé was able to experience the famously rediscovered ruins of Pompeii. Arising from the ashes, a series has taken shape in Eve’s mind that utilizes her medium of art jewelry to give form to both the Pompeii of today: a place of tragic beauty, frozen in heartbreaking detail...and the gilded Pompeii of ancient Rome: a bustling, vivacious melting pot of color and life.

As Eve warns, “Bear in mind that this series’ effect is twofold: I mean on the one hand to celebrate the magnificent jewelry and lifestyle of the Pompeiians, and on the other, to evoke the beauty and wistful appeal of its ruins.”

Regarding her materials and her methods, Eve plans to employ nothing less than what Caesar himself might choose. “There will be rich, patinated gold, plump pearls and emeralds as in the year 79 A.D., and in contrast, tourmalines, greyed agates, and grey diamonds like the ash and cinders of Vesuvius.”

From archaeologists, to jewelry connoisseurs, to those who simply enjoy beauty, Eve’s “Pompeii” series is guaranteed to please all as we celebrate with a splash of Roman indulgence. Live music by renowned pianist George Lepauw, sinfully delicious treats, champagne, and fanfare all await.

Call to reserve your space at 847-869-7920 or send an email to To learn more about Eve Alfillé and her inspiration, go to

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

We had such a great time at Abbington Banquet's Wedding Showcase in Glen Ellyn last week. Thanks so much to our friends over there for putting on such a fun event. We loved the inspirational tablescapes and the gorgeous ice sculpture. All that plus amazing food? Definitely a winner. We're so honored to have been part of this event!

Check out some of these awesome photos from the event by our friend Duron of Duron Studio Photography. Thanks, Duron!


Thanks again to Abbington Banquet's and  Duron Studio Photography!