For my first ever wedding post I am so happy to be sharing the wedding of my two friends John Thomas Flemming and Ilana Nutkis! (I did briefly recap it here but that was a summary’s summary and more about my personal experience.)
Choosing Chicago’s Salvage One as their venue, Ilana and John put together a personal, beautiful, well thought-out wedding that was so much fun and filled with a bunch of ideas you’re going to want to steal. Keep reading for more on this fantabulousness:
“Our first priority was fun: we wanted our wedding to be a huge, awesome party for all of family and friends. Our second priority was to have a wedding that felt personal to us. We wanted it to be unique in a way that reflected our personalities, and that would be welcoming, comfortable, and memorable for our guests.
My vision for the wedding definitely evolved during the planning, and we eliminated some ideas that turned out to be unmanageable or prohibitively expensive.
It was hard to make some of these choices: For one thing, there are just so many decisions, big and small, it feels like you’ll never be done choosing. Also, wedding decisions feel very final; all the magazines and websites are telling you, “This is your “big day! It has to be perfect!” The cultural pressure to be the “perfect” bride and have a “perfect” wedding is intense, and it can make even the smallest decisions feel completely overwhelming. Still, despite the craziness of wedding planning, I’m glad that I had the opportunity to craft a wedding I loved. I truly had the wedding of my dreams, and I am so, so grateful for that.
I think of my wedding style as “casual elegance” and “eclectic.” The actual wedding ended up more “vintage chic,” mostly because of our awesome venue. I like deep, rich colors, classic elements with a modern twist, and interesting details that add depth and personality. I think the surroundings really set the tone for the wedding, so venue was a big focus for me. One reason I loved our venue so much was that the reception area was furnished with mismatched vintage wood tables and antique chandeliers; it was so fun and unique, while still retaining functionality and comfort for the guests. I wanted the wedding to feel intimate and personal, so I looked for elements that would add an extra element of unexpected creativity and charm.
I love old-fashioned elegance and formality blended with modern elements to make it more personal and lighthearted. For example, I wanted to wear a cathedral veil for my wedding, because I love the grandeur and elegance of a long veil, but I also wanted it to be fun and reflect my personality – so I bought a polka dot veil! I’m obsessed with polka dots, and it was the perfect way to add a fun, modern element to the classic bridal look.
The venue search was a process. From the outset, we knew that we wanted something different from the standard hotel ballroom or reception hall. My search included art galleries, botanic gardens, historic homes, museums, and zoos (who doesn’t want a penguin at their cocktail hour?). I researched over 100 venues online, narrowing them down by various criteria (capacity, price, location). Eventually, I had a list of 15, and my incredibly patient parents spent two days going around to all of them with me. (It was insane. I do not recommend this.)
In the end I narrowed it down to two choices: Salvage One, which we ended up choosing, and the Women’s Club of Evanston, which is a beautiful historic home. It was a really difficult choice, because both venues had elements that I loved. Historic homes are one of my dorkier obsessions, and I loved all of the old-fashioned details at the Women’s Club, like the elaborate vaulted ceiling in the ballroom. Salvage One was basically the opposite: totally unique, quirky, and perfectly over-the-top. It was basically love at first sight – I walked in the door and was completely captivated.
The groom was very involved, and would have been more so if I had let him :) He trusted my choices, which made it easier to get things done on my busy schedule. He didn’t even see Salvage One until months after I picked it out – and it was too late to get the deposit back, so it’s a good thing he loved it as much as I did! Perhaps most importantly, he was always there to pry me away from my endless lists and spreadsheets when I was going crazy with bridal stress.
I had some ambitious DIY plans, which was…interesting, because I am not at all crafty. My major projects were the ceremony programs, table numbers, and placecards.
I thought ceremony programs would be a nice, inexpensive extra, and, because our wedding was in August, they could double as fans. I typed up the text in Word and then printed it out on ivory cardstock, with the processional order on one side and an explanation of Jewish wedding rituals on the other. Then I cut the paper down the middle, glued the pieces on either side of a curvy popsicle stick, and rounded the corners with a corner-cutting tool. For the final touch, we got a stamp made of our monogram on Etsy and stamped all the programs in purple ink (our wedding color).
The table numbers were a bigger project. For this one, I bought a used copy of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, cut out pages with quotes from favorite authors and historical figures, and pasted them into mismatched antique-style picture frames. Then I pasted die-cut typewriter-style numbers over the pages, in the center of each frame. It complemented the antique style of our venue, and it was a great way to incorporate our love of books into the wedding decor.
The place cards were a simpler project, although it took a long time to gather all the right pieces. The groom loves Coke, so he wanted to incorporate that into the wedding somehow. We came up with the idea to use old-fashioned glass Coke bottles as placecards. There was a kraft paper tag tied to each bottle, with the guest’s name and table number written on it. I found these adorable heart cut-out tags on Etsy, and I bought red-and-white twine to match the Coke colors. That was a fun project for us to put together, because it was relatively easy, but still added a lot of fun. Some guests told us they took their sodas home as a keepsake – wedding favors were a planned DIY project that fell by the wayside when I ran out of time, so that was great to hear!
We also did some simpler projects, like putting a personalized wedding-themed Mad Libs at each place setting, so guests would have something fun to do while they waited for the dancing to start. It was fun for us, too – we read through all of them a few days after the wedding and couldn’t stop laughing. Another little project was setting up a table with pictures of us from our childhoods. That was really special; we included pictures of me with my late grandparents, and of the groom with his grandparents, who weren’t able to travel to the wedding. Finally, I made laminated cards with fun-fact bios for both of us, like our favorite historical figure and ideal way to spend a day off. It was really entertaining to write up, and one of the easiest projects to execute.
This sounds cliche, but the fact that so many of our friends and relatives made the trip out to Chicago to celebrate with us was truly the highlight of the day for us. There’s no replacement for the pure joy of an epic dance party with the people you love! We also continued some family traditions: The top of our chuppah was made of my grandfather’s and great-grandfather’s talleisim, and our mesader kiddushin (officiant) was my uncle, who officiated at my parents’ wedding in 1978. Continuing these traditions was powerful for me, and it felt like the right way to begin our marriage. On a less sentimental note, we were blessed with a rare day of perfect Chicago weather, so we were able to take pictures outside and enjoy our venue’s beautiful garden!”
Venue: Salvage One, http://www.salvageone.com/
Catering: Kosher Gourmet, http://www.thekoshergourmet.net/
DJ: DJ Chicago, http://www.dj-chicago.com/
Photos: T & Hughes Photography, http://tandshughesphotography.com/
Florist: A Gentle Wind
Veil: Melinda Rose Design, https://www.etsy.com/shop/MelindaRoseDesign
Dress: “Julianna,” by Christos Bridal (but I bought mine on oncewed.com)
Groom: Suit Supply, http://us.suitsupply.com/en_US/home
As a guest, I can tell you that Ilana and John got everything they were going for. We had the best time, the venue was gorgeous and everyone who was there was so genuinely happy for them. It made for a stellar wedding.
HAPPY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY ILANA AND FLEMMING!!!!
*All gorgeous photos captured by T & S Hughes Photography. I know, I want them to document my life too.*