Vintage-Inspired Wedding in Chicago :: Michelle & Benjamin



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“After 9 short years together, our day was truly a collaboration of our love, vision and dedication to each other.”


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Did you include any traditions in your wedding?  As a bride, I loved the tradition of something old, new, borrowed and blue. My Mom gifted me my wedding jewelry, and I also wore her garter that she had saved from her own wedding day.

If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?
Thinking back, we would have liked to have all of our DIY projects done a week prior, so we could have relaxed a bit before the big day, but c’est la vie!

Do you have any budget tips for other brides?  Have the tough budget conversation early on in the planning process! Be realistic of your hopes and dreams for your day. We kept an up-to-date budget spreadsheet of everything that we were spending which included the projected cost per item, the actual cost, and the +/- balance. And don’t be afraid to try to negotiate costs, especially when it comes to food and beverage.


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What was the best advice you received as a bride?  To do a “first look” before the wedding ceremony. There was so much leading up to that moment and I couldn’t imagine having to coordinate keeping us apart before my walk down the aisle. We found a historic church and park as a backdrop and as Benjamin waited in front of the church, I walked from the hotel to meet him. The pictures of our first look carry the emotion and feeling of being able to take in the anticipation leading up the the very moment. It was simply magical.


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Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about?  Our wedding was truly a DIY effort from start to finish. The design of our save the dates, invitations, place cards, and programs were designed by Benjamin. We assembled every single invitation, complete with a wax seal and carefully selected stamps that we found from a local stamp collector who had an immaculate vintage collection. We also scoured the area for vintage books and vases for our centerpieces. The ceremony, photo wall and photobooth backdrops were made by our super talented carpenter friend, and on the day before the wedding, the bridesmaids were assembling the dried lavender bouquets to line the ceremony aisle while my maid of honor extraordinaire artfully penned all of our chalkboard signage.


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What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding?  We opted to have a rehearsal lunch instead of a dinner. It allowed us the afternoon and evening to write our wedding vows, and our out-of-town guests used this time to explore the great city of Chicago.


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The Ceremony

“We asked our guests to participate in an unplugged ceremony. It was one of the best feelings – everyone in the room was completely present and not attached to phones and devices. All of our guests were very respectful of our request, and it meant a great deal to us.”


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Your ceremony in three words. Heartfelt, inspirational, romantic

Why did you choose this location for your ceremony?  We love old, industrial buildings and we were extremely drawn to the character and history of the building. It is located in Bridgeport, which is near a neighborhood called Pilsen where we have spent a lot of time exploring together and making music. We chose the 5th floor loft space because the city view is simply breathtaking from that vantage. Once you you walk out of the expansive elevator all you can say is, “Wow.” The space really spoke for itself.

Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? My dad walking me down the aisle was one of the best experiences of my life.


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Who officiated your ceremony?  Our great friend Luke officiated our wedding. He had officiated two weddings prior to ours and we knew he was the right person for the job. It was incredible to have someone officiate our ceremony who has come to know us individually and as a couple throughout our years together.

What were your ceremony readings?  The bride’s brother read, “Your Laughter” by Pablo Neruda, and Benjamin’s sisters read an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit.

What were your vows like?  We wrote our own vows. Talk about waiting to the last minute – we each wrote them the night before in our separate hotel rooms! Amongst all the craziness and anticipation leading up to the day, it honestly took us being in the moment the night before to put the pen to the paper, and that night, the words just flowed.


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What was your ceremony music?
Mother’s Processional – “Meditation” from Massenet’s Thais
Wedding Party Processional – “Gymnopedie #1” by Erik Satie
Bridal Processional – “Claire de Lune” by Claude Debussy
Ceremony Music – “The Moon Song” from Her arranged by Stephen and Bethany Smoker
Recessional – “How it Ends” by Devotchka

How did you go about planning your ceremony?  The most important thing to us was telling our story and staying true to our journey together. A friend recommended Rev. Judith Johnson’s “The Wedding Ceremony Planner” which we found tremendously helpful as we built our ceremony.


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What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Our dearest friends Stephen & Bethany Smoker performing “The Moon Song.” They are a couple that exude love, compassion, and have such a strong partnership. It felt like they were passing on their love and support for us to conquer the world through their sincere performance. It is something dear to us that we will cherish forever.


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The Reception

“We were inspired by the aesthetics of Paris and New Orleans, along with the humor of Wes Anderson’s films, when planning our reception, and we had an absolutely magical evening.”


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Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. We are crazy about music from the 1920’s and ‘30s. We had members of Chicago’s Fat Babies Jazz Band perform during our cocktail hour, and projected an old black and white Clara Bow film on a wall. It felt as if we transformed the room into a party from the past, complete with the sounds of dixieland toe tappin’ goodness!

How would you describe your reception?  So wonderfully us. The details glowed against the sunset, and the Chicago skyline lit up as it grew dark. Friends and family were smiling and having a great time. We watched as all the little details came to fruition, and it was the most marvelous feeling.


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Why did you choose the same location for your ceremony and reception?  We were so happy to have the ceremony and reception in the same spot, which meant that our guests could really enjoy themselves without having to drive from place to place.



What was your wedding menu?  Southern food with New Orleans flair was our inspiration. Jewell Catering really understood our palette and tastes. Our appetizers included petite chicken and waffles, bayou fried shrimp, braised short ribs and mini bacon burgers served with fry shooters and curried ketchup! I still think about how delicious that meal was.


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What type of cake or dessert did you serve?  We realized right off the bat that we didn’t want one large cake, so we explored various options and decided to serve both bride and groom’s cakes. The bottom layer of the bride’s cake was pound cake with fresh strawberries and blueberries, and the top layer featured vanilla buttermilk cake and chocolate diplomat. The groom’s cake was a white buttermilk cake with a layer of espresso mousse and mascarpone mousse. We also had a delicious sweets table with macarons, chocolate and lemon tarts, and petit fours.


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Did you have a signature cocktail?  We chose to feature our favorite local spirits from Few Distillery and Koval Distillery, along with Half Acre Beer. Even the sodas were bottled locally in the Bridgeport neighborhood.


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What was your first dance song?

First Dance – “La Vie en Rose” recorded by Louis Armstrong
Father/Daughter – “I Loved Her First” by Heartland
Mother/Son – “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd

What was your favorite moment or part of the reception?  Our first dance – we took dance lessons in the months before, and practiced a lot in our kitchen! We’ll never forget how we felt together, beaming with joy.


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Vendor Credits

Photography: T&S Hughes Photography / Venue: Bridgeport Art Center Skyline Loft in Chicago, Illinois / Event Planning & Design: An Event Less Ordinary / Dress: Monique Lhuillier / Shoes, Purse: Kate Spade / Veil and Hair Clip: Sara Gabriel / Belt:  Nina via Nordstrom /  Jewelry, Veil, Headpiece via The Left Bank Jewelry and Finery / Engagement Ring: Simon G / Wedding Bands: Steve Quick Jewelry / Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN / Groom’s Suit: Sebastian Grey / Tie, Socks: The Tie Bar / Shoes: Hugo Boss / Cufflinks:  J. Crew / Groomsmen Attire: Bar III / Stationery, Wedding Website: Designed by the groom,  Benjamin Miles / Calligraphy, Chalkboard Signs: Siobhan McNulty / Floral Design:  Asrai Garden / Hair, Makeup: Nika Vaughan Bridal Artists / Rentals: Rent Vintage Chicago / Tableware: Plate Vintage Crockery Rental & Rescue / Ceremony Music: Lindsay Wright String Quartet, Stephen & Bethany Smoker / Cocktail Hour Music: The Fat Babies / Reception Music: Toast & Jam / Ceremony and Photobooth Backdrop: Floyd Davis III of Artpentry / Officiant: Luke Rzewnicki / Catering: Jewell Events / Dessert table: Vanille Patisserie

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