For their wedding, Erin and Rob wanted guests to experience the thrill of Chicago without all the hustle and bustle of traffic and tourists, so they chose their venue Prairie Production, where skyline views were available from the cocktail hour. With a completely blank modern loft space, Erin turned her initial feelings of intimidation into total freedom and creativity! With nothing but white space, she had nothing but possibility–and we love that she turned to total romance (including plenty of coral peonies and soft roses by Floral Del Monte) to fill up the modern room. The couple leaned on tradition and family to add a sense of history and personality to the big day! We’ll let the bride, Erin, tell you the rest of the story, while your eyes feast on images by Kina Wicks Photography.
What made the wedding special and unique?
What made the day most unique for us was being able to customize every aspect of our wedding to reflect our personal tastes and preferences. We wanted to show our guests a bit of who we are as a couple, rather than following standard protocol. My step-mother is a judge and she married us at the venue. We created the entire ceremony ourselves and recessed to a favorite reggae song. We opted to each have one person in our bridal party and asked close friends to help in other ways, like making a slideshow or helping with place cards. Guests sipped our favorite drinks during cocktail hour while listening to music performed by Rob’s long-time friend and fellow musician Hector Anchondo. For dinner, we served grilled shrimp and steak kebabs, which is what Rob made for me the night we got engaged (and also one of our favorite meals). We wanted to get the dance party started and opted for a sweets table instead of serving wedding cake to the guests at their tables. This allowed people to enjoy a variety of sweets when they felt ready and also helped people pack the dance floor.
We also wanted to have a Chicago wedding without all the chaos of a traditional downtown Chicago wedding (traffic, tourists, etc.). We chose our venue, Prairie Production, in the West Loop neighborhood because it provided our guests an urban feel in a more accessible area of Chicago. We were able to have cocktail hour outside and guests could catch a glimpse of the Chicago skyline without the screech of traffic.
Tell us about the gown and where/how you found it!
I knew I wanted a lace gown. My mother wore lace and I wanted to carry on in that tradition. Like the way I approach many other things in life, I had a vision of what I wanted in my head and the struggle was to find it out in the real world. I went to six different boutiques. I thought I had found “the one” and had an appointment to purchase what I thought was the gown. However, my future mother-in-law was coming in town for our engagement party and I wanted to take her dress shopping with me. Turns out she was good luck! The Alvina Valenta dress I tried on that day at Bella Bianca Bridal Couture ended up being my wedding gown. It was sweetheart lace with buttons all the way down the back. The belt it came with had a large raw silk flower, which was perfect for our garden party theme. I purchased a rhinestone “party” belt that I wore during the reception. I still love my wedding dress! Every time we look at our wedding photos, my husband laughs because that is the first thing I say. Through Pinterest, I was able to locate beautiful Badgley Mischka shoes that perfectly matched the gown.
I was lucky enough to borrow two incredible accessories from close friends. My veil was Vera Wang, borrowed from my good friend from graduate school. I loved it so much I joke with her that I am not giving it back. My college roommate let me borrow her gorgeous (and enormous) rhinestone and pearl hairpiece. She purchased it at the Monique L’Huillier boutique in Minnesota. I loved having a piece of my friends’ with me throughout the day.
If there is a wedding video, we would love to feature that as well!
What were some touches added to make it personal?
Our venue is a completely blank space. At first it was overwhelming to make the space our own, but in the end, the flexibility that the venue allowed is a huge part of what made our wedding personal. We loosely based the decorations on the idea of a formal garden party. My father constructed a large white trellis on which to hang the ombre watercolor place cards. The place cards were attached to satin coral ribbon (same type of ribbon that was used on the wedding invitations). My friends and I made the place cards and table numbers to match our Paper Source invitations. Our florist hung bud vases on the trellis and placed bunches of bud vases throughout the venue to carry on the floral theme. Peonies have always been a favorite of mine and I was thrilled we were able to make them a large part of the wedding decorations. I love how our wedding cake turned out – a small, delicately decorated white cake with a large coral charm peony on top. I even purchased a peony essence eau de parfum by L’Occitance to incorporate the fragrance of the flower into my attire.
Our families were also a big part of making the day more personal. My mother surprised us by having her wedding dress deconstructed and turned into a box in which to hold cards. There is a special lid that will allow this box to become our wedding keepsake box. Rob’s mother, Kim, is well-known for her delicious cookies. She made the wedding favors, which were coral spritz cookies (Rob’s favorite) and raspberry thumb press cookies (Erin’s favorite). Our sweetheart table was candlelit by handmade candle sticks that Rob’s grandfather, Robert, had made for his wife as a wedding present. We were each able to enjoy our favorite beverages with our His & Her signature cocktails (Buffalo Trace Old Fashioned for Him and Pomegranate Prosecco Cocktail for Her). We ate dinner at a sweetheart table and shared a bottle of 2009 Justin ISOCELES wine (Rob works for the company).
What was the most memorable part of the day?
Sitting at our sweetheart table together, enjoying the speeches of our bridal party and looking around at the people whom we love most who were there celebrating with us. Both of us were surprised at how much fun we had at the wedding! From getting ready to the encore performed by our band, it was truly the time of our life.
Tell us how you met and became engaged!
We met at a bar in Wicker Park in 2009 (we went back to the same bar in 2013 to take our engagement photos there!). I initially tried to set Rob up with one of my friends, but it did not work out. I kept in touch with Rob and we went on our first date a few weeks later. We’ve been together ever since.
Our condo has a rooftop deck that overlooks the skyline. It’s one of our favorite places to spend time together. In April 2013, Rob told me her was going to make dinner for us on the roof. I thought nothing of it, even when I got up there and there were candles lit and music playing. When he came up, he had a bottle of champagne and the sun was setting. I actually did not know that he was proposing until he got down on one knee! I was so shocked and deliriously happy that I remember little of what he said while proposing. He reincorporated his proposal speech into his wedding vows when we were married so I could hear what he originally said.
Vendors: Photography: Kina Wicks Photography // Bridal Gown: Alvina Valenta // Groom’s Clothing: Suit Supply // Catering: Honest Foods Catering // Custom Printing: Paper Source // Florals: Floral Del Monte // Hair & MU: Chicago Bridal Hair and Makeup // Band: Connexion Band // Venue: Prairie Production