Wedding Week: Little Touches

ninainthechiUncategorized, Wedding%s Comments


You know those dinner parties you go to or when you’re a house guest and your hosts just make you feel so at home and thought of? That’s how I wanted our wedding to feel like, with little touches that were a nod to our city, our relationship and our guests…without going overboard (Like the day I came home and told Ryan I was going to make — on our back porch, mind you — champagne buckets out of ice for our wedding.). Here are some things I did that I think fit the bill and were super easy.

Signage: I am in love with everything Lindsay Letters and her lettering is such a nice touch to wedding decor. It felt tailored to our day but without the finding an artist/deciding what to say hassle/being super expensive aspect. The above print is sold out but I love the “love never fails” print and of course, the vows print would be perfect too. We put the “Toast!” print on the bar and will absolutely be bringing it out for when we host parties at our house!

Place cards: Chicago was obviously a huge part of our wedding aesthetic (the view from the reception was absolutely the star of the show!) and we wanted it to pop up in subtle ways. Etsy can be a rabbit hole of wedding everything but I found place cards with the skyline on them that I loved and were just a little nod to our hometown. They have tons of other city options too- the cable cars would be the cutest for a San Francisco wedding!

Cake: We were going to have cake anyways so we thought incorporating the skyline would be a good way to continue our Chicago-style wedding vibe. Elysia, of Elysia Root Cakes, is a sugar genius and the second I mentioned maybe, could we, would it be possible…she was saying yes and adding the skyline to her sketch of our cake.

Candles: Since we didn’t use a wedding planner, anything we were adding to the reception space needed to be done by us the day-of and I got a little overwhelmed whenever I would look at wedding blogs with so.many.things. decorating a reception. One word for you: candles. There is nothing more romantic or mood setting or easier than candles. Mix and match glass containers, we stuck to clear glass because we were anti-color for our wedding, but just get as many votives, tapers, and pillar candles as you can and light them. Boom. Done.

Flip Flops: For as much thought and money goes into wedding favors, when was the last time you went to a wedding and 1) remembered to take the favor home with you, 2) ever used it? Right. I have, however, been to a million weddings where I have refused to bring a change of shoes because I am determined to dance the night away in my stilettos and then am in massive foot pain by 9pm. So instead of favors, I picked up flip flops for our guests and put them in a basket to be passed out as soon as the dancing began. Old Navy always has online sales so they ended up being super cheap- way less than I would have spent on an ornament or wine stopper with our faces on it.

Mints: Okay, this one is a bit ridiculous but a majority of our guests have mentioned loving them so I have to…Mr & Mrs mints. It was my sole cheesy Amazon wedding purchase but they were oddly good and we set them on the bar and the bowl was empty by the end of the night. Best 8 bucks I have ever spent. Update: FedEx came while I was writing this and my husband ordered more of these mints. We are going to be eating Mr & Mrs mints forever…





Wedding Week: 6 Things I Am So Glad I Did

ninainthechiWedding%s Comments





1. Address thank-you note envelopes before the wedding. Some people say you have 6 months to send out thank you cards but I like to get them out, wedding or not, as soon as possible. As a giver, I worry someone hasn’t received my gift if I haven’t heard from them and as a receiver, I am just so touched that anyone wanted to mark our celebration with a gift. You know who you are inviting to your wedding and part of what is so time consuming with thank-you’s is the addressing so just do it ahead of time so you can get them out in a timely manner. This way, the only thing you are thinking about post-wedding is filling the note with gratitude for their generosity. And if you don’t receive a gift from a guest, a note thanking them for attending and detailing a special memory from the day is always a lovely gesture.

2. Go with the flow. Here’s the game plan: you wake up unmarried. By end of day, you’re married. If something comes up that doesn’t effect that, it’s all going to be okay. My flower guy called 10 minutes after he was supposed to be there asking if being 20 minutes longer was alright. The only thing that would have happened if I had been all “No! It’s NOT OKAY!” would have been my blood pressure going up and making my mom and bridemaids anxious while we were getting ready. Insert wedding day drama here and if there’s no serious cost to the issue, let it go.

3. Know when to not go with the flow. I was so focused on not being a crazy bride that I took zen to a new level, at least for this total Type A.  My hair stylist for the last four years cancelled 3 days before the wedding. My initial reaction was to agree immediately to an appointment with another stylist. It didn’t feel great, I was making a special trip to the salon to see my girl and now that zero concern about the finished deal was gone but hey, I wanted to be the cool, stress-free bride. Cue Ryan who immediately called BS (he went to her too for his haircuts…not anymore, obviously) and my amazing makeup artist who explained to me that not only was this wildly unprofessional but there was zero need to add stress to my wedding day and not be with my moms and best friends at the hotel. In the end, I got my hair done at the hotel with my favorite people, with zero worry and a ton of fun.  Whatever the situation is, if the cost of going with the flow has adverse effects on your day, even if it’s just prolonged worry, speak up and make a different decision.

3. Incorporate your real life. Yes, a wedding day can be one of the more extravagant events in one’s life but early on, we received some excellent advice: have your wedding invite your guests into your love story, have it reflect the life you share. The first time Ryan told me he loved me was before a Cubs game so when we found out that the Cubs were in town the day before the wedding, we jumped on getting our guests to the game. I buy flowers every week from Mariano’s. I know many people just view it as a grocery store but I love their flowers and how I feel when I am choosing them so I met with their florist…who hit it out of the park for us, created exactly what we wanted and for an incredible price. Our DJ, DJK, is someone I have done events with for work for years and who Ryan and I love running into when we are out. Not only did he kill it at our reception, getting every single guest up breaking a sweat dancing their faces off but I love that our friends and family got to meet him and we got to see him on such a fun day!

4. Speaking of going with vendors you love…go with vendors you love, however unexpected. I was taking a work call from Argo Tea in the Gold Coast when I heard “Radioactive” coming from a bright blue violin. I immediately asked her if she played weddings. I didn’t ask for her website or booking agent, I just talked to her, liked her and invited her to play “Ave Maria” as I walked down the aisle and whatever she wanted during our cocktail hour. She was so lovely that a few months later, I asked if she knew any jazz trios. I signed a contract with the trio she connected me to and I can truly say they made our reception with their insane talent and style. I know there are vendors you should go with, who are big in the wedding industry, and are probably great. And if that feels right, do it. And if you happen to meet someone who can contribute to your wedding who you love who isn’t a who’s who in the wedding industry but you love them…think about it. It could be that special, personal touch that makes your day feel even more like a labor of love.

5. Make a to-do list 10 days before the wedding. After that, you do not add a thing to the list. The week before the wedding, there were a few times when I thought I “needed” something else or just got a little silly questioning if what I was doing was “enough”. By making your final list 10 days before your wedding and sticking to it, you prevent falling prey to the enoughs and made-up needs and driving yourself unnecessarily crazy. Also- send that list to your best friend/mom/organized person in your life who shares your vision for the wedding. They’ll either tell you if you’re crazy (no, you do NOT need another set of personalized cocktail napkins) or if you’re missing something major.

6. Trust your gut: Early on in planning, we knew we wanted an intimate wedding that felt like an extra elegant and extra fun version of the dinner parties we love throwing at our home. For us, that meant keeping our guest list to immediate family and closest friends. For us, this was the right move and allowed us to be fully present with each person at our wedding and do some fun extra events to create a full Chicago experience. We loved the whole weekend, the whole planning process and it was pretty awesome to start our marriage without a single regret.  The same goes with the photographer I met with who wanted me to take a personality profile to be sure the right “vibration” was communicated through my wedding photos. I am sure he was as great as “they” said he was but my gut said no way so I left and now my family is so in love with the photographer we did choose that she may or may not have been invited to Thanksgiving.

Wedding Week Posts & A (bubbly) Guest Book

ninainthechiWedding%s Comment


When people ask me about our wedding in June, the first thing I say is that we did a kind of different wedding. But then I think about it and I realize that isn’t true. We actually had a really traditional wedding; we got married in a church and had our cocktail hour and reception at a hotel. What I think we identify as different is that when wedding planning, we made decisions that felt good. After years of seeing people so stressed out over their weddings, forcing the things they “should” do, we opted to…not. With the guest list, venue, flowers, weekend activities, music, you name it- we went with what was aligned with our priorities, looked fun, was within our budget and didn’t worry about the rest. While it doesn’t sound like it, it felt radical at the time and it resulted in a wedding weekend we loved. So, no- it wasn’t a really “different” wedding but it was so reflective of us, our friends and family had a blast and every time I think of the year we were engaged or the wedding, my heart just swells. I truly wouldn’t have done a thing differently.

I have gotten some of the sweetest emails from readers asking questions about the wedding so I am going to do a few matrimonial themed posts this week. I think everyone should enjoy their wedding planning process and want to share those things we did that we loved and the things we learned along the way.

First up: guest book.

Read More

On Cake Tasting

ninainthechiUncategorized%s Comments


Why, why, why when people talked about wedding planning, no one talks about cake tasting? After a few rounds of mixing and matching carrot, coconut and vanilla bean cake with salted caramel, raspberry, Kahlua and cream cheese butter cream and chocolate ganache, it’s all I am going to talk about.

Oh, you’re getting married?

I went cake tasting!

When is the big day??

Cake tasting! Let me tell you!

We’re only one session into our pre-marital counseling but I bet session 2 is all about how cake tasting is the single best thing you can do for your marriage. Because, well, cake.

It was such a fun way to spend some time. And to have my parents there to partake in the aforementioned sugary glory, in the most darling cake themed place ever? Best. Day. Ever.

This message was brought to you by the opposite of clean eating and GP’s cookbook…all about balance, folks.


Wedding Update- Working with People You Love

ninainthechiUncategorized%s Comments


I have to be honest- the idea of wedding planning was really hard for me at the beginning because a lot of it feels really….contrived. You have to do this, you have to do that, hire this random person, go with this photographer who has you take a “personality profile” (seriously)…. I had someone ask me who was “branding” our wedding, who was doing my “paper” and when I said I was probably going to order invitations from a website, she looked like I had just told her I killed a unicorn.

I ordered my invitations from there anyways. They’re lovely and totally sufficient as a tool to let people know where to be and when. The further I get along in this process, I see there are not nearly as many rules as people want you to think. We are basically doing what we want and making decisions that feel good.

As the wedding gets closer and we are making decisions about vendors, what is working for us is going with people we know and have relationships with or who friends of ours know and love. Our DJ is someone I have worked with for events for my job, my hair stylist has done my hair for years, the jazz trio are guys from one of our favorite places to grab cocktails. My makeup artist and photographer are friends with dear friends of mine. Sure, we have done our research on who the best of the best in wedding is in Chicago and have found that someone always knows someone who is amazing at their craft to work with. It makes me so much more comfortable knowing the people we are going to be spending portions of our wedding day with. And it makes me excited- these people are amazing, professionals in their field and genuinely people I want to be around.

Back to wedding invitations- I admit that ordering them wasn’t high on my “ohemgee these have to be perfection” list (that is reserved for shoe related purchases) but I am excited to share the details of our wedding weekend with our loved ones. When I saw the lettering on my friend Renee’s save-the-dates, I knew I wanted whoever was responsible for that gorgeous hello to take the reigns on addressing our invites. The girl with the golden touch is Liz Gaines, out of Nashville and I am so excited for her lettering to be the first thing our guests see when receiving our invitations. Not only is Liz super talented but she’s also absolutely lovely and I am thrilled the law-of-attraction that is Renee brought her into our wedding fold. Email me if you want her contact info- she should probably do some lettering for you too.

Moral of the story: do what makes you feel comfortable when planning your wedding and when making decisions, make one that is going to bring the most fun to the day.

Tuesday Brain Dump

adminUncategorized%s Comments


I am smack dab in the middle of what I consider busy season in my job. I love the work I do and I am so lucky to do it and I genuinely forgot to shower today. And eat yesterday until 3pm. And have been consistently having work dreams for about 3 weeks, to the point where Ryan says I have been mumbling about emails in my sleep.

So there’s that.

I think it’s a good thing though, being so consumed with work, in terms of wedding planning. I’ve heard women say how when they got engaged, all they did at work was look at Pinterest and want to wedding plan. 1) I still think Pinterest is ridiculous and is breeding ground for copycats and unoriginality and 2) since my work time is my work time, my time to think wedding is so concentrated and separate that it’s fun and really efficient. This is another conversation for another time but in the last year or so, I’ve developed a zero-tolerance policy for when something doesn’t feel like a good fit or I am not being treated well and that includes wedding venues sooooo we made a switcheroo. People weren’t rocking our world at the original place we chose and there’s a new place in town with killer river views…done and done. Our 5 prong filter is working and once we secure a location for the ceremony, we’re in pretty good shape for awhile. #naptime

Luna Bell loves sitting on whatever magazine/iPad/important document you have been looking at but I think she especially loves blocking wedding magazines.

Oh and I got a FitBit and am OBSESSED.

That pretty much sums up my life right now- work, wedding, LB sitting on stuff, FitBit. I am going to try to not be such a deadbeat blogger now.

Happy Tuesday, Friends!