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Liz and James’ University of Chicago Wedding – Bond Chapel and Ida Noyes Hall – Chicago, IL

Liz and James, Chicago. Photo by Emilia Jane Photography.

Liz and James found me through A Practical Wedding, and like most couples who find me that way, they were:
1) Super in love with each other
2) Really nice and awesome people
3) Focused on the most important thing (the MARRIAGE), while still caring about the details of the wedding…
4) …But totally ready to hand all those details off to me so they could focus on the occasion and enjoy the day.

In short, my favorite kind of clients.

You guys, you would be hard-pressed to find a couple more adorable with each other than Liz and James. They are both just the nicest people, and so clearly head-over-heels in love with each other. They met at the University of Chicago, and decided to have their wedding on the gorgeous campus. (Honestly, I don’t know why you wouldn’t take advantage of the beautiful, historic architecture if you had the chance. Which I guess is why I keep getting clients who are having their weddings on this campus. But I digress.)

One of the things that struck me most about this wedding was how open everyone was – Liz, James, their parents, families, and friends – with their feelings. I could see on each person’s face just how much they all care for one another and were so happy to celebrate this marriage and their families joining together. From Liz’s walk down the aisle to a teary father-of-the-bride giving a toast at the reception, there were many tears of joy (some mine) shed over the course of the day. I think this is the epitome of what a wedding should be – an unadulterated outpouring of love from everyone present celebrating the creation of this new family.

It was a beautiful day, and beyond all the emotions, Liz and James put a lot of work into a carefully curated aesthetic for their wedding, so I have to point out some of my favorite details!

First, they really like good food. And you know how I feel about that. City Provisions served a buffet of delectable Mediterranean and comfort foods, which I think I was not alone in loving.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about one of my favorite florists, Lynn at Pollen Floral Design. Liz collected a LOT of milk glass vases for the centerpieces, and until I arrived on the big day, I assumed it would be a kind of standard one-large-vase-per-table centerpiece kind of thing. NO. I should have known to expect more from this bunch. I mean, just look:

I just love the way Lynn uses less-traditional flowers to make bold arrangements, and I love the unexpected twist of such an eclectic assortment of different size and shape vases. Just gorgeous.

I’d like to end by saying how awesome it was to work with a couple that truly shared the work of planning a wedding – James was one of the most organized people I’ve met, and I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to work with a couple who both played equal parts in the planning process. It makes me so happy when I see egalitarian relationships in action – yay!

Congratulations Liz and James!

VENDORS
Ceremony Venue: Bond Chapel, University of Chicago
Officiant: Ellen McManus, Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago
Reception Venue: Ida Noyes Hall, University of Chicago
Photographer: Emilia Jane Photography
Catering: City Provisions
Cupcakes: Hearts and Flour Bakery at Misericordia
Florist: Pollen Floral Design
DJ: Style Matters
Transportation: Metropolitan Limousine
Equipment Rentals: Windy City Sound and Lighting 

All photos were taken by Emilia Jane Photography and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Ryan and Michael’s Intimate Wedding – Olive Park and the Penthouse at Pearson on the Park – Chicago, IL

Well, I’m hopeful that I’ll start catching you up semi-regularly on all the weddings and projects we’ve been working on. If only because I feel guilty when I don’t. We’ll see, as usual.

Today’s post goes way, way back to almost a year ago. Julia knew Ryan through her work in theatre, and in catching up on each others’ lives since the last show, Julia found out Ryan was planning a wedding, and he found out that we’d just launched Crafty Broads. Ryan and his fiance, Michael, had most of the details worked out, but really needed some help making their reception happen.

Who know there were double-man bathroom signs nonchalantly hanging out in Chicago? Not me. More importantly, aren’t these two just adorable together?

Without further ado, let me tell you about it! First of all, you have to understand that Ryan and Michael are ridiculously in love with each other – and when I say that, I mean not only that they love each other a lot, but they have so much fun at it. I don’t think I caught a glance of either of them sans giant grin all night long.

Ryan and Michael held their reception on a crisp October evening in the penthouse party room of their downtown apartment building. They did a fantastic job transforming a somewhat bland space into a very special and personal room for their party – it really was amazing to see the before and after! Bold colors and gorgeous floral arrangements from Andrew’s Garden made the space come alive.

Instead of having traditional catering, Ryan and Michael decided to order all their favorite foods from various restaurants to serve their guests. The sweetest thing was that by each dish, they had a little card describing a special moment in their relationship when that particular food played a role. Stellar idea. And the food was delicious, especially the truffle mac and cheese.

They guests were treated to a nice surprise after dinner… fireworks! If you live in Chicago, you may know that Navy Pier has regular firework displays throughout the summer. Ryan and Michael smartly planned their reception timeline to include viewing these from the outdoor patio of the penthouse.

My favorite part, though, was the toasts. Their parents said some of the sweetest, most moving words I’ve ever heard directed towards a newly-married couple. I can’t speak for the guests, but I was definitely crying.

Congratulations, Ryan and Michael!

VENDORS
Ceremony Venue: Olive Park
Reception Venue: Pearson on the Park
Officiant: Friend of the couple
Photographer: Green Key Photography
Florist: Andrew’s Garden Floral Couture
Catering: The Southern Mac Truck, Fox & Obel, Lao Beijing, Garrett’s Popcorn
Cakes: Nonnie’s Sweets
 

All photos were taken by Green Key Photography and are reposted here with the photographer’s permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budget: Boston | 40 Guests | $16,600

This is part of our ongoing series, Real Wedding Budgets, bringing you actual numbers from actual couples, along with an idea of what you can get for your money. See more Real Wedding Budgets here.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

Before you read, a note on vendors: We don’t provide vendor information because you never know what kind of discounts they may have given, or if their prices have changed since this wedding. And also because if the couple didn’t love them, we don’t want to be putting a bad review out there. That’s what Yelp and Wedding Wire are for.

However, there is one exception – photography. Because we want you to get a good idea of what the couple was able to do with their budget, we include photos when possible, and credit the photographers. So word of advice – if you like these photos, please do go check out the photographer’s website (linked at the end of the post), and then ask for their current ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$16,617: 40 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Boston in the Summer


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 220
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 2,500
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 9,273
Floral/Decor $ 241
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 205
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 1,312
Rings $ 607
Marriage License $ 35
Officiant $ 100
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 150
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 150
Transportation $ 875
Rehearsal Dinner $ 0
Gifts & Favors $ 380
Other $ 569
TOTAL $ 16,617

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($220)
The ceremony was held in a chapel at the university where the couple met. They had the space for 3 1/2 hours, and it included chairs. It was large enough to accommodate 200 people.

The reception was held in the private dining room of a restaurant. There was no fee for use of the room beyond the cost of catering.

Photography ($2,500)
The couple had one photographer for an engagement session and full wedding day coverage. The package included high-resolution digital files with personal copyright permission.

Videography ($0)
The couple set up two video cameras to record the ceremony; they asked cousins to turn them on at the start of the ceremony.

Catering ($9,038)
The couple had a cocktail hour with five passed hors d’oeuvres and a seated dinner with appetizer, three entree choices, and dessert. They had an open bar throughout the evening, but capped the choice of beverages at $13 per drink. This amount included a $1,200 tip for exceptional service.

Cake ($235)
The couple had a two-tiered cake with different flavors in each layer. Guests consumed just one layer at the reception; the second layer was consumed the day after by guests who came to the couples’ house the day after to hang out and play video games.

Flowers ($191)
One of the bridesmaids made all the bouquets and the bride arranged the centerpieces. This is the cost of the flowers they purchased, including stems for a dry run a few days before the wedding.

Decor ($50)
The venues were already lovely, so the couple only needed to create table numbers and a seating chart.

Entertainment ($205)
The couple hired an undergraduate student at the university where they wed to play Bach pieces on her cello for the ceremony. It was the first wedding she’d played. The couple spent $80 on reception entertainment.

Attire ($1,312)
The bride wore a silk wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline, ball gown skirt, and pockets. She purchased new shoes and borrowed jewelry from her family. She spent $220 on alterations. The groom purchased a suit, tie, and new shoes.

Rings ($607)
The bride and groom each wear plain gold wedding bands.

Marriage License ($35)

Officiant ($100)
The officiant was a mentor of the couple, and they had a close personal relationship with him. The bride created and wrote the entire ceremony.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($0)

Invitations ($150)
The couple designed and printed the invitations themselves; this is the cost of paper and postage. The bride notes that they had a lot of fun making them, they turned out really well, and it, along with coding the wedding website, was one of the best parts of wedding planning.

Hair and Makeup ($150)
A friend of the bride’s did her hair and makeup. This is the cost of purchasing new makeup.

Transportation ($875)
The couple rented a shuttle bus to transport guests from the ceremony to the reception, and from the reception to the hotel where most of the guests were staying.

Gifts ($300)
The couple gave gifts to the wedding party and other people who helped out with the wedding.

Favors ($80)
The couple ordered personalized fans from Etsy.

Rehearsal Dinner ($0)
The couples’ parents split the cost of the rehearsal dinner, the only expense not paid by the couple. The rehearsal dinner was fort he two families and wedding party in an upscale restaurant. They believe the cost was approximately $500.

Other ($569)
The couple hosted a brunch on the day after the wedding ($414) and provided gift bags for out-of-town guests ($155).


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?

Our biggest splurge was on food and alcohol at the reception. It was well worth it — all of our guests raved about the food and drinks afterwards! We also splurged on our honeymoon, which ended up costing the same amount as our wedding. It was an unbelievable trip, and it was definitely worth it!

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?

I wish I didn’t panic and decide to assemble out-of-town bags at the last minute, but it wasn’t that big a deal, and it made me feel a little better.

I also wish the shuttle bus wasn’t quite so expensive, but we were happy to provide transportation for our guests (particularly since a lot of them weren’t used to public transportation).

What was the best thing you spent your money on?

The food and drink at the reception! And the honeymoon!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Our wedding honestly turned out exactly the way we wanted. Even if we had a lot more money, there isn’t anything we would want to spend more on.

Real Wedding Budget: Atlanta, Georgia | 150 Guests | $18,900

This is part of our ongoing series, Real Wedding Budgets, bringing you actual numbers from actual couples, along with an idea of what you can get for your money. See more Real Wedding Budgets here.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

Before you read, a note on vendors: We don’t provide vendor information because you never know what kind of discounts they may have given, or if their prices have changed since this wedding. And also because if the couple didn’t love them, we don’t want to be putting a bad review out there. That’s what Yelp and Wedding Wire are for.

However, there is one exception – photography. Because we want you to get a good idea of what the couple was able to do with their budget, we include photos when possible, and credit the photographers. (The photographer for this post asked not to be credited, as their aesthetic has changed significantly since this wedding.) So word of advice – if you like these photos, please do go check out the photographer’s website (linked at the end of the post), and then ask for their current ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$18,849: 150 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Atlanta, Georgia in the Summer


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 450
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 3,850
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 7,720
Floral/Decor $ 423
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 0
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 1,145
Rings $ 1,900
Marriage License $ 26
Officiant $ 400
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 390
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 540
Transportation $ 0
Rehearsal Dinner $ 1,000
Gifts & Favors $ 300
Other $ 705
TOTAL $ 18,849

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($450)
The ceremony was held in a Presbyterian church with a contemporary feel and room for up to 250 guests. The church also had a private art studio/gallery that they were allowed to use for photos. The fee included a sound technician for the ceremony and all day access.

The reception was held at a nearby Chinese restaurant. There was no specific charge for the space; use of it was part of the catering fee. They had room for their guests to fit comfortably and still have a dance floor. There was a stage, which they used to set up the desserts and champagne. The restaurant was all-inclusive: chair covers, linens, tableware, cake servers, a champagne tower, mirror ball and lighting, screen for a slideshow, and a sound system were all included with the cost of catering.

Photography ($3,850)
8 hours of coverage with two photographers; files with print rights, an engagement session, a photo slideshow;  online gallery of that friends/family could order prints from, and a gorgeous leather-bound album. When the couple realized that the photographers had lost a chunk of the files from a portion of the day, the photographers gave them a free canvas wrap and some print credits.

This photo is from the bride's personal collection.

Videography ($0)
The couple wasn’t planning to take any video, but the groom’s father brought his camcorder and roped a friend into filming. A cousin of the groom edited the footage after the wedding, and the couple says, “the resulting DVD is totally homespun, shaky cam and all, and we wouldn’t trade it for any of the professional videos in the world!”

Catering ($7,470)
The restaurant served a sit-down style traditional ten-course Chinese wedding banquet. The venue charged a flat per-table fee for the food, soda, and a bottle of champagne for each table, and the couple spent $7,150, including tips for the staff. There was no corkage fee so they purchased two kinds of craft beers ($320 for 12 cases) to serve their guests. The catering fee included the venue (see above), four waiters, three busboys, and an on-site manager to take care of the event.

Cake ($250)
The couple didn’t care for cake, so they asked a friend of a friend who is a budding baker to bake cheesecakes. He created ten cheesecakes in five different flavors. The couple note that he charged a very reasonable rate, and they made sure to advertise his business all around.

Flowers ($323)
The couple bought all the flowers wholesale and a friend made all the arrangements: a bridal bouquet, 3 bridesmaids bouquets, 6 corsages (for the groom, groomsmen, and fathers), and 2 presentation bouquets made for the mothers. They saved money by buying wholesale and trying to stick with in-season florals.

Decor ($100)
The bride thrifted 14 different frames during their engagement and filled them with favorite quotes and poems about love. They were combined with votive candles for table centerpieces.

Entertainment ($0)
The groom’s cousin played some classical pieces on the piano before the ceremony, as guests were being seated. A friend played two songs on guitar. The processional and recessional songs were played from an iPod on the church’s speaker system. The groom put together an iPod playlist that kept the dance floor packed for two full hours.

Attire ($1,145)
The bride wore a fit-and-flare wedding dress, crinoline, long-line bra, and purple peep toe heels; the groom wore a rental tux. The bride’s wedding jewelry was a gift from a family friend and she borrowed another friend’s veil. Dress alterations were also a gift from a family friend who owns an alterations shop.


Rings ($1,900)
The bride wears a pave diamond 3/4 eternity ring in white gold; the groom wears a brushed white gold band; both were custom-made by the couple’s jeweler.

Marriage License ($26)

Officiant ($400)
The couple’s college pastor officiated the ceremony. They met several times prior to the wedding to talk about the ceremony and timeline for the day. They followed a fairly traditional Protestant wedding ceremony. The couple chose the readings and music; the pastor wrote the homily. He didn’t charge a fee, so the couple gave him a $400 honorarium.

Wedding Planner/Coordinator ($0)
The couple planned the wedding themselves and a friend stepped in on the day of as a gift to them.

Invitations ($390)
The couple purchased 150 invitations, 130 reception card inserts, and 170 envelopes from Wedding Paper Divas. They designed and emailed their own Save-the-Dates and having guests RSVP online with a free wedding website. They purposely picked a rectangular design after learning that square envelopes cost more to mail.

Hair and Makeup ($540)
The bride hired two stylists for up-dos and full makeup for herself and three bridesmaids.

Gifts ($300)
The couple spent about $200 on wedding party gifts and $100 on gifts to each other – she gave him a pair of Star Trek cufflinks; he gave her a custom jewelry box.

Favors ($0)
The groom’s mother bought small coin purses in Korea as favors (cost unknown); otherwise they would not have had favors.

Rehearsal Dinner ($1,000)
The rehearsal dinner was at a Japanese sushi bar and steakhouse, owned by friends of the bride’s parents. They hosted everyone who helped with the wedding in any capacity as well as their extended families and some out of town guests – about 40 people in all.

Other ($705)
Miscellaneous costs included thank you notes from Target ($25); printing for ceremony programs that they designed ($100); materials to make escort cards, table numbers, and guestbook ($30); and pre-marital counseling sessions with a professional counselor ($550).


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?

We felt our biggest splurge was on photography, since photography-as-art is something that’s super important to me and photography-as-memory-preserver was super-important to both of us. Even with losing some pictures from the day, we feel that it was worth every penny (and then some) that we paid.

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?

This might be a little weird, but I actually somewhat regret the cost of my wedding band. Wearing diamonds daily isn’t practical with my lifestyle, so about a year after we married we got a simple, plain gold ring that I now wear all the time instead of my original band. I wish I’d thought those issues through before our wedding so we could’ve saved the expense.

What was the best thing you spent your money on?

Pre-marital counseling was hands-down our best wedding-related expense. I would recommend that all couples do their counseling with a professional if they can at all afford it!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Yes! I remember getting really frustrated when reading these blog-beautiful weddings during our planning. “Who are all these people with professional graphic designer, chef, florist, and seamstress pals?” I’d scoff. Looking back, I’m *always* a bit shocked at how much of our wedding ended up being handmade or homemade and how many of our nearest and dearest volunteered their time and skills toward absolutely beautiful results. So I’d encourage couples to think outside the box in terms of who they might ask for help. You might not actually know wedding professionals (we certainly didn’t!) but maybe you have a friend who’s been dying to bake a wedding cake or who’s really great with flowers or Photoshop. I was also really shocked at how many contacts my parents had (my mom pretty much singlehandedly pulled together our rehearsal dinner in a week when our original plan fell through), so allow your community to help you if they want to!

Also, when potential vendors try to sell you on regret, run the other way. 🙂

Also, wedding magic is real. I promise.

All photos are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.

Real Wedding Budget: Washington, DC | 35 Guests | $10,000

This is part of our ongoing series, Real Wedding Budgets, bringing you actual numbers from actual couples, along with an idea of what you can get for your money. See more Real Wedding Budgets here.
Want to make this series run longer? Submit your real wedding budget (anonymously) here.

Before you read, a note on vendors: We don’t provide vendor information because you never know what kind of discounts they may have given, or if their prices have changed since this wedding. And also because if the couple didn’t love them, we don’t want to be putting a bad review out there. That’s what Yelp and Wedding Wire are for.

However, there is one exception – photography. Because we want you to get a good idea of what the couple was able to do with their budget, we include photos when possible, and credit the photographers. So word of advice – if you like these photos, please do go check out the photographer’s website (linked at the end of the post), and then ask for their current ratesDo not expect that you will necessarily get the same package and pricing you see here.

$10,000: 35 Guests on a Saturday Evening in Washington, DC in the Spring


The Numbers

Venue(s) $ 700
Photography/Video (including albums, prints, etc.) $ 1,000
Food/Beverage (catering, alcohol, and cake) $ 4,000
Floral/Decor $ 65
Entertainment (Band, DJ, Ceremony Musicians) $ 160
Attire (including shoes, jewelry, etc.) $ 750
Rings $ 1,600
Marriage License $ 45
Officiant $ 0
Wedding Planner/Day-of-Coordinator $ 0
Invitations, Save-the-Dates, Programs $ 210
Rentals $ 0
Hair & Makeup $ 42
Transportation $ 0
Rehearsal Dinner $ 0
Gifts & Favors $ 275
Other $ 815
TOTAL $ 9,662

What They Got For the Money

Ceremony & Reception Venue ($700)
The couple rented two private rooms at a local inn for 6 hours. The rental included chairs (for the ceremony and reception), tables, and linens.

Photography ($1,000)
10 hours of coverage with one photographer; CD of digital images with print rights; engagement session.

Catering ($4,000)
The couple had passed appetizers; a plated three-course dinner of salad, entree, and wedding cake; beer, wine, coffee, and assorted non-alcoholic beverages.

Cake ($0)
The wedding cake was two layers of Espresso Gateau, and was included in the catering package.


Flowers ($65)
Flowers for the table were purchased at Whole Foods and arranged by a friend. The bride bought a boutonniere for her wife from a florist on the day of the wedding.

Decor ($0)
The couple specifically chose a venue that was so lovely it didn’t require additional decoration.

Entertainment ($160)
The couple rented the venue’s iPod speaker; a friend who is a DJ made a playlist for them.

Attire ($750)
The bride wore a short, white bridesmaid dress from J. Crew. This cost includes undergarments and hosiery. Her wife wore a suit and dress shirt from Banana Republic. They both purchased new shoes.

Rings ($1,600)
The couple both wear plain platinum bands.

Marriage License ($45)

Officiant ($0)
The couple were members in an Ethical Society, which provided an officiant at no cost. (They contributed to the Society generally.) They met with the officiant 2-3 times prior to the wedding and had a pretty customized ceremony.

Invitations ($210)
The couple ordered letterpress invitations from Etsy.

Hair and Makeup ($42)
The bride had her stylist wash and blow out her hair. She did her own makeup with products she already owned. Her wife did her own hair and did not wear makeup.

Gifts ($150)
Each of four attendants received a gift chosen for them personally by the couple from Etsy.

Favors ($125)
Birdseed hearts from Etsy in cellophane bags, sealed with personalized stickers, also from Etsy.

Rehearsal Dinner ($0)
The couple did not have a rehearsal dinner, but hosted a happy hour the night before the wedding. Guests purchased their own drinks; snacks were provided by the bride’s mother-in-law for about $250.

Other ($815)
The couple hired a sign language interpreter ($250) since the bride’s sister is deaf. They opted to stay at the inn the night before and the night of the wedding ($465). They purchased a Quaker wedding certificate ($10).


Reflections

What was your biggest financial splurge? Why did you choose it? Was it worth it?
Our photographer – I really wanted excellent photos and we totally lucked out finding such a great photographer in our budget. She was definitely worth much more than we paid her.

Was there anything you regret spending your money on or anything you wish you’d spent less on?
No.

What was the best thing you spent your money on?
The venue – they were so easy to work with, and included so much (chairs, linens, etc). AND they did the catering, including the wedding cake. EASY.

All photos were taken by Eva Russo and are reposted here with permission. Photos in this and all posts are protected by copyright, and are are not available for reproduction, redistribution or any other purpose without written authorization from the photographer.