Modern Weddings/Real Weddings

Gorgeous Chicago Ivy Room Wedding

Gorgeous Chicago Ivy Room Wedding | Kristin La Voie Photography 1

Don’t you love finding those hidden spaces in a bustling city? You know those secret backyard cafes and little speakeasy bars that take you away from the chaos? Kara and Geoff in Chicago found their hidden magic space at the Ivy Room in Chicago, and threw a gorgeous, greenery-filled, “backyard” wedding within the crowded metropolis.

The space is a stunner, covered in ivy (predictably) and oh-so-charming, even a party of nearly 200 people looked intimate in the courtyard. Aside from its stunning aesthetic, they catered to a very important guest – Kara and Geoff just had to find the perfect venue for their adorable pup Duffers.

Another advantage of getting their garden party feel of the venue within the city limits was the ease of slipping out for gorgeous city view portraits with each other and their bridal party. Dressed so sweetly in pink and champagne – and Kara in that eye-catching embellished Hayley Paige gown – the girls were beaming along the waterfront in the windy city.

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Our Love Story

On a Friday in April, we had a double date planned with Geoff’s best friend and his girlfriend. Geoff walked our dog Duffers to pick me up so that we could walk along the Chicago River together. We walked to Monroe Harbor in front of Grant Park. When we first started dating I had told him that Monroe Harbor was one of my favorite places in the city; it’s so beautiful and tranquil, but still right in the heart of everything.

Geoff pulled out a little photo album as an anniversary gift. It had drawings of places that meant the most to us and our relationship. The location of our first kiss, the first place we said “I love you”, our first vacation, my late grandmother’s home, our favorite hotel in Thailand, our dog, and the last picture was Monroe Harbor. Geoff asked me why that last image was so special, and as I was responding, he bent down on one knee and proposed. I had no idea that it was coming and was so bewildered with excitement and surprise!

As if that sweet and romantic proposal wasn’t enough, he called his best friend to meet us. To my surprise, he brought along a group of 10 of our closest friends – even a few of my best friends that had flown in from the East Coast just to surprise me! We celebrated with an engagement party with all of our closest friends and family. It truly was one of the best days of our lives.

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The Dress & Attire

By playing off the Ivy Room’s unique backyard wedding feel in the heart of a big city, we wanted to keep the palette simple and classic, but with a little bit of sparkle and fun to make it unique to us and our personalities. The men wore navy tuxes and my bridesmaids were in a mix of dusty rose and champagne, some with beading and sequins.

Because of my love of flowers and the vision of an intimate, backyard affair, we chose a simple palette for the of green, blush and ivory with plush and beautiful flowers – dahlias, spray roses, and astilbe for the bouquets and the table arrangements.

As if my floral love wasn’t apparent enough, my dress even had some floral designs stitched into the sleeve, which tied it all together.

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The Venue

My mother loved gardening and always had fresh flowers in our home growing up. As a result, I envisioned a kind of floral, intimate affair. One of my coworkers recommended the Ivy Room and I had a feeling that it was going to be the venue for us. Geoff came along to visit and we both fell in love with all the beauty that the Ivy Room had to offer, from the ivy-covered brick walls in the courtyard and the reception area filled with Restoration Hardware furniture. When we asked if they were pet-friendly, they responded “we love four-legged family members”, and we knew we had found our perfect place for our wedding!

We brought our dog for the ceremony as our “Dog of Honor”. We were so close to calling it off moments before the wedding because we were concerned he would cause a scene, but he didn’t! He walked down the aisle with one of my bridesmaids and was so patient during the ceremony. My bridesmaid did have some crackers hidden in her bouquet to keep him distracted (highly recommend). It meant so much to us that he was there since he means so much to us and our relationship. The pictures of him in his tuxedo are truly priceless.

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The Ceremony

We had the ceremony and cocktail hour outside in the courtyard, complete with a chamber ensemble to keep the event feeling classy and magical. We gave them some last minute requests, not expecting them to be able to play them, and they pulled off each and every song on our list for us. It was so special!

Our ceremony was intentionally intimate, using my grandmother’s Reverend, whom we had gotten to know very well since our engagement, and close relatives as readers. Having our dog as our “Best Dog” added another playful and intimate detail to our nuptials that made the ceremony feel personal. We even had a reader do a poem called “How Falling in Love is Like Owning A Dog” by Taylor Mali.

Another favorite moment for us was when my dad stepped on my veil as he was handing me off to Geoff during the ceremony. The veil went flying out of my hair and to the ground. Everyone, including me, laughed hysterically, and it just set the exact tone for the ceremony that we wanted – laid back and intimate. It was a moment that was very true to our personalities, so it helped create a memory that we will laugh about for years to come.

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The Photographer & Videographer

We knew how important it was to find someone that would capture all the emotions and feelings of the day, as well as someone who would make us feel comfortable throughout all of the photos.

Breanna from Shannon Gail recommended Kristin. From her website, her photos were exactly the style that I was looking for. During the interview, she and I just seemed to “click” and I wanted to hang out with her. She uses film, which captures light differently which is how she achieves the look of her photos. She was so easy to talk to and we just adored her, so we went for it. It was one of the best decisions we made during this process. Not only are they the most flattering photos that we have ever had of ourselves, but when we look at these photos we relive the joy and the love of that day. It’s a true talent to be able to capture those feelings in an image, and we couldn’t be more appreciative to have them.

Finding a videographer was another hard area! We didn’t want to have a super cheesy wedding video with bad music that fit all of the stereotypes. We wanted our video to be more emotionally raw. I somehow found Eric through some stalking of weddings online. During the interview, I felt like this was a person I had known my whole life. He was so easy going, so sweet, and seemed to be passionate about what he was doing. We felt like he just “got us”.

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The Reception & After Party

For our reception, we opted to add some café lights over the dance floor and use a mix of round tables and farm tables to give the venue a more rustic like feel. We hired a DJ instead of a band since Geoff loves electronic dance music. DJ Max really understood our music style and was able to keep everyone on the dance floor the whole night! People still are raving about the music he played!

The Ivy Room excelled at every single thing they did, but I think the highlight was their dinner service. Between the food and the servers, all we heard were compliments. A common compliment we received was that it was the best wedding food and service they had ever had! We never would have expected how exceptional the Ivy Room would be during the planning process, and looking back we could not be more appreciative! It was truly a fairytale that day.

Finally, we finished off our night at an after-party at the Rock Bottom Brewery, in the exact section where we met for the very first time. It was such a great way to end our wedding night, celebrating with our friends at the exact table that we met a few years prior.

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Advice for Other Couples

Once you get engaged, don’t start planning immediately. Take a week or two to enjoy being engaged – it is such a special time that I think people can lose sight of.

Don’t lose sight of the main purpose – you are marrying the love of your life and everyone is there to celebrate your commitment to each other. It can get tough and you will get wrapped up in details, but at the end of the day no one will notice or care but you.

Minimize stress as much as possible. No matter how relaxed you are, there are going to be issues that come up, whether it is a vendor issue, family issue, or something else that may not be in your control. Hire the right people that are professional and can handle their own problems – I highly recommend a day of coordinator who will also take over as your main point of contact with the vendors a month before. Breanna did so much stuff I never had to think twice about.

Buy things in advance so you aren’t stressing about the timing of shipments. Don’t make things overly complicated, hardly anyone remembers the details of your day. Lean on your friends and family for help. Try to stick by your partner’s side as much as you can the whole day – no one wants to remember their wedding as a day they didn’t spend with their spouse!

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