Sharing love: Chicago’s finest Valentine’s treats

“And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you.” ― Kirsten White, The Chaos of the Stars

We love love. We love it in all sorts of forms and for so many reasons. We love our partners / spouses, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our children. We love sharing things with those we love: things that make us happy, things that make us smile, things that make us grateful. Sharing is one of the most beautiful ways to show love and gratitude.

We love our clients, readers and vendors, so in this post we are sharing some of our favorite local treats (if you are reading from outside of Chicago, don’t worry, nearly everything can be ordered online). Below are some of the most delectable and delightful treats Chicago has to offer. Each treat comes from a true artisan small business owner. Supporting them helps keeps their communities thriving and truly makes an impact on the daily lives of the owners and their employees. But this is not only about supporting small business – – these treats are truly amazing from their appearance to their melt-in-your mouth taste. To be honest, it was really hard to keep our hands off of these goodies long enough to photograph them!

Nothing warms you up on a winter night like Salted Carmel Drinking Chocolate from Katherine Anne Confections, featured here with their handmade marshmallows. Seriously, we cannot believe we ever ate store-bought marshmallows! These handmade treats are like eating clouds. And did you hear us say salted caramel? Chunks of salted caramel melt inside this delicious cup of cocoa making it rich, smooth and nearly sinful.

Salted Caramel Drinking Chocolate

Salted Caramel Drinking Chocolate, Katherine Anne Confections

Katherine Anne Confections has been creating local-focused sweets in Chicago since 2006. Their hand-dipped truffles, soft honey caramels, and pillowy marshmallows are ridiculously good, partially due to their awesome, locally sourced ingredients and local wildflower honey replaces corn syrup. Each truffle is rolled and hand dipped for an elegant look and all flavors are a twist on the traditional. Pictured below are Katherine’s passion fruit and basil truffles.

Passion Fruit Truffles, Katherine Anne Confections Basil Truffles, Katherine Anne ConfectiosKatherine also hosts monthly truffle making parties and “tasting” nights where she debuts her newest flavors.  What a fun date night with someone you love!

Bringing a new meaning to Valentine’s Day candies are these gorgeous handmade candies from Veruca Chocolates. All of these boutique chocolate confections are the brainchild of Heather Johnston, a pediatrician-turned-chocolatier. Veruca Chocolates are made for chocolate lovers with discriminating taste and an eye for beauty. Each piece is handmade from only the finest ingredients, and hand-finished to entice the eye as well as the palate.

Kiss me Caramels, Veruca Chocolates

How cute are these “Kiss Me” Caramels? We secretly snuck these into the little ones’ lunch boxes this morning. Who says artisan chocolates are only for lovers!?

Fruit Pate, Veruca

A special “in-store only” treat are these blackberry pate de fruits. Heart shaped and lollipop like. It’s always fun to stop into Veruca and see what specials they have inside.

Heather says, “I believe that opening a box of chocolates should be almost as fun as eating it. I design each chocolate in a way that incorporates color, shape, pattern and texture to indulge all of the senses.” We could not agree more! Each of Veruca’s chocolates are tiny little pieces of art (that just happen to taste amazing).

Veruca takes new twist on an old favorite with their “Turtle Love” collection. I mean, come on!

Heart Turtles, Veruca Chocolates

Personally, I don’t think any celebration is complete without pie. First Slice, an amazing, local, cafe has this awesome mission from the Chicago Recovery Alliance: any positive change. It’s the idea that each of us has the ability to create a positive change in every needy person we meet. Making a connection, whether simply eye contact, a handshake or, with First Slice, providing a meal, can really help create a positive change in someone who’s living on the street… Everybody has something wonderful in them.

There is nothing quite like the Michigan Cherry hand pies and mini pies.  I may have been known to get a aggressive when it came to getting my hands on one of these babies. Complete perfection.

First Slice Pie

First Slice funds its efforts with a “shareholders program,” with some 100 subscriber families receiving home-cooked, restaurant-quality meals weekly. Funds from those subscriptions are used to make the same quality meals for people in need. Community volunteers, working with First Slice staff, serve often 300-plus needy and homeless each week through several social service organizations, such as Streetwise. There are three First Slice cafes (North Ravenswood inside the Lillstreet Art Center, North Ashland Avenue, and Manor Street).

Cherry hand pies. first slice

So when we think of pie, we think of First Slice and when we think of sharing food, love and knowledge, we think of First Slice. Each bite makes a big difference. Now that is a really amazing pie!

So there you have it. Delicious, beautiful and heart warming treats. These are gifts with heart, share them with everyone you love.

Happy Valentine’s Day … We love you!

XOXO,

Greatest Expectations

Mexican Fiesta – Destination Wedding

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

As we continue to suffer through the cold Chicago winter it is delightful to reminisce on past weddings in luxurious destinations. Today we share a really special wedding with you from Los Barriles, Mexico. Julia and Cosmo are a truly delightful couple that wanted an intimate, romantic beachside wedding with those they love most. This was an extra special wedding for us because these clients are also friends. Julia is a very talented photographer and Cosmo is a world-renowned chef. Can we say power couple?

Destination Wedding Greatest ExpectationsLos Barriles is a sleepy little fishing village about an hour from Cabo.  It is also where Cosmo proposed to Julia after working on a destination wedding we did together. Finding a meaningful spot for a destination wedding truly does make the entire experience that much more amazing.

To set the mood for invited guests, Sarah Drake Designs created the most stunning hand-painted invitations. Opening these little beauties was like getting a special gift in the mail. It was the type of invitation that you immediately hang up because you simply cannot stop looking at it.

Destination Wedding Stationery

Kicking the weekend off was one of the most festive and beautiful rehearsal dinners we have ever seen at Hotel Los Pescadores. There was so much excitement and joy in the decor that guests knew it was celebration time! Many of the guests walked to dinner from private beach houses and hotels clustered together in this sweet little village, continuing the personalized and intimate feel of the weekend.

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

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Julia was a stunning bride! Every detail was perfectly attended to and she absolutely glowed. The bouquets were full of the rich, vibrant colors of coral, soft pink and white with a few succulents tucked in to add texture.

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations Floral

The wedding party was dressed in fun and flirty outfits: soft, romantic gowns for the bridesmaids and casual, tropical printed shirts for the groomsmen.

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Everyone gathered on the beach for the sunset ceremony officiated by a personal friend. There was no shortage of tears and laughter throughout this meaningful custom and personalized ceremony.

Beach Wedding Ceremony Greatest Expectations

Beach Wedding Ceremony Greatest Expectations

Beach Wedding Ceremony Greatest Expectations

Beach Wedding Ceremony Greatest Expectations

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

Directly following the ceremony, guests headed back to the house where a poolside cocktail party awaited. They were greeted with unique sea shell escort cards, hand written by the bride herself, such sweet little keepsakes for people to take home.

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

The reception was adorned with long wooden feasting tables overflowing with beautiful centerpieces from Mazarte Floral, candles, custom glassware and rentals from Intuitive Designs and Let it Be Events and, as the sun went down, beautifully strung twinkle lights. There is nothing quiet like dancing and dining under the stars.

Beach Wedding Greatest Expectations

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While all of these other, wonderful things were taking place, Cosmo’s dear friends and fellow chefs (who came in from all over the United States) were busy preparing a wedding feast like nothing any of us had ever experienced before. Upon arriving to Los Barriles, these guys spent days deep sea fishing to catch what would become the wedding meal. The day before the wedding, they went to the local market and purchased the freshest and most delicious items to put the finishing touches on this farm-to-table delight.

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Capping the evening off were homemade cookies (Julia’s grandmother’s recipe, no less) and a speciality bourbon bar coordinated by Julia as a surprise for her new husband. It was quite a feat getting all of these rare and expensive bottles from Chicago to Mexico!

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Bourbon Bar Greatest Expectations Destination Bourbon Bar Greatest Expectations Destination

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It was such a joy to be part of this very happy occasion as a planner and a guest!

Kina Wicks Greatest Expectations Destination WeddingWhile there was no shortage of beautiful photographs from a room full of talented photographers, the images shown here are from Kina Wicks — the official photographer for this wedding.  The only exception is the rehearsal dinner shot which was from our owner, Heather Vickery.

Tips on hotel accommodations for your guests

The very first welcome your friends and family receive upon arrival to your wedding weekend is often from a hotel’s front desk clerk. Hotel accommodations immediately set the tone for your out of town guests’ wedding experience yet are often overlooked on your to-do list. When you have guests traveling in to join you on your big day, they must have someplace to stay, and the vibe of that place will set the tone for the celebrations to come.

With the prevalence of online travel booking sites and private home rentals, it can be tempting to refer your guests to one of the many discount travel sites and let them choose their deal. This has dangers, though. You relinquish control over their guest experience and you lose the convenience factor of having your loved ones concentrated in one site, which can aid in providing amenities and transportation.

This is why we recommend investing the necessary time to negotiate a room block that will not only keep your guests together, but keep them comfortable and happy from the moment they arrive for your special weekend.

So, What are the Priorities?

As hotels expand their lists of creative amenities, guests now expect more than just a bed and shower. Start by compiling a list of important factors beginning with how many rooms you might need. Don’t forget rooms where the wedding party will get ready and your own wedding night accommodations.

What kind of properties are your friends and family accustomed to: luxury or budget; full-service or boutique? Most guests want easy access to your wedding venue, but also to major transportation hubs and local attractions. In terms of conveniences, consider a restaurant on-site for impromptu guest get-togethers or a more formally-organized hospitality suite during the day. Jot down every possible priority so you can rank them in order of importance. This list will come in handy when you negotiate with your chosen hotels.

Room Block Contracts

Armed with this information, scrutinize any contract you receive. Compare online rates to the contract rates to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Ask about attrition: it is common for a hotel to hold you financially responsible for a percentage of the rooms after certain cutoff dates. There may also be extra fees for gift bag delivery, wifi, parking or breakfast. Are more rooms available to you at the rate if your initial “room block” fills up faster than expected? Can you reduce the number of blocked rooms, and can guests cancel reservations up to a cutoff date without penalty?

We realize there are a lot of details here and the process can quickly become overwhelming. We highly suggest you enlist the assistance of a wedding planner to help streamline this process. If you are not working with a planner, a company that specializes in guest accommodations like Where Will They Stay is a great option.

Extending the courtesy of making room block arrangements for your guests is just one way to thank them for celebrating with you on your big day. Make it the first of the many expressions of love that result from your new lives together.

What do you consider the most important quality when looking for your host hotel?

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Amy Green is one of the founders of Where Will They Stay?, a free service which offers custom room block procurement for engaged couples. She has worked in the event planning industry for nearly 20 years, booking tens of thousands of rooms each year for conferences, conventions and special events. When staying at a hotel for leisure, she is most likely to be
found poolside!

* Featured image by Husar Photography

Creative gifts for your wedding party

Selecting the people you want to be in your wedding party is a pretty important job. These are people who hold a very significant role in your lives as individuals and as couples. Involving your loved ones in your wedding party puts a great deal of responsibility on them. If they have agreed to be part of your wedding party, they are happy and excited to accept that responsibility and as such, it is important to thank them properly for helping you on this journey.

We think being creative with your wedding party gifts is important. It shows that you are truly grateful and have put a lot of thought into what might matter most to them. In some cases giving “experiences” is a great idea e.g. tickets to a great new show, massages, gift certificate for a special dinner. In other cases, putting together really creative, custom gift collections is a great way to go.

We have created two luxurious and creative approaches to a collection of gifts for your wedding party. At Greatest Expectations we value small, local businesses, and draw inspiration from everything around us. These gifts reflect our love for the finer things coupled with our love for supporting local businesses.

In our first collection we have a necklace made by Chicago jeweler Erin Gallagher. A simple necklace like this is a pretty and thoughtful touch. A great thing about a necklace like this is that it’s perfect for everyday wear once the wedding has passed. Your friends will wear it and think of your special day for years to come. We have also included Veuve Clicquot champagne complimented by beautiful gold gilded French champagne glasses – – we believe you should always drink bubbles in style and if you are not already familiar with French champagne glasses you are going to fall head-over-heels in love with them. They are a super hot trend this year! Lastly we have included delicious macaroons locally made by Sugar Fixe Patisserie.

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For our second collection we have added a personal touch with a monogrammed leather keychain handmade by local craftsman Nick Gerber (who also happens to be an awesome photographer!) In order to toast in style we have included a bottle of bourbon from CH Distillery where their spirits are distilled from Illinois grain and made in small batches at their downtown Chicago, West Loop location. They also have an absolutely incredible bar and restaurant we definitely advise checking out. Complementing this delicious bourbon are two gold gilded Annecy DOF glasses. And to top it off we’ve included macaroons, because quite frankly macaroons complement everything!

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As wedding and event planners, we believe it is all about the details! Taking the time to think through, and add special touches to, each tiny aspect is one things that makes us so good at our jobs. With this in mind, we believe that packaging is an important aspect of gift giving. We assembled our first gift collection in a beautiful wooden box, the top of which can be customized with a monogram or initials. The second collection is a little more rugged box that is still beautiful and the contents fit perfectly. Making sure all of your thoughtful gifts fit properly into the box (or what ever vessel you think is best) is key. We partnered with Nick Gerber to produce these stop motion videos to show you how to make everything fit into the perfect box and present a beautifully assembled, thoughtful gift to your amazing wedding party members.

 

Do you have a creative approach to wedding party gifts?  Please share them with us in the comments. We are always looking for more inspiration!

Bridesmaids dresses: top trends for 2016

When it comes to outfitting your wedding party there are so many choices that many couples find their heads spinning!  Thanks to our friends at Bella Bridesmaids, we have pinned down the top trends for bridesmaids dresses this year. These are some seriously stunning gowns that your bridesmaids will be delighted to wear. 

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(Never) Too Much Tulle

Move over, ballerinas! Tulle is no longer just for pale pink tutus. Brides have been gliding down the aisle in this breezy fabric for years so it’s time the bridesmaids felt the tulle love, too. Looking for an alternative to chiffon, but don’t want your bridesmaids to look so structured? We HIGHLY recommend tulle. Designers like twobirds and Monique Lhuillier have transformed their classic styles with this fabric. We promise they will never want to take it off.

Just when we thought the twobirds dress could do it all…they add tulle. We were THRILLED to welcome this addition at Bridal Market and we are even more excited to share it with our brides in our showrooms. It’s light. It’s airy. It’s a bit more formal. And yes, it can still be tied in a zillion different ways.

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Monique Lhuillier’s tulle gowns feature some seriously stunning colors this season which are perfect for creating an ombre palette. Your bridesmaids will love her delicate details with cool cutouts and sophisticated silhouettes. The tulle fabric ties together this glamorously girly look.

Say Yes To Separates

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Gone are the days where bridesmaids dresses are actually dresses. Designers like Jenny Yoo and Joanna August are giving girls more options with skirts AND tops. The mix and match trend is still holding strong in 2016 and separates are the perfect effortless addition for your bridesmaid.

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Jenny Yoo’s 2016 collection includes classic sweaters and tulle skirts in soft colors and watercolor prints. Audrey would be proud with the new Jenny Yoo closet must haves. Joanna August keeps her California cool style this season with flowy chiffon tops and wrap skirts. Try pairing a neutral top in white or ivory with a colored skirt to stay on the two tone trend. This will give your wedding photos more dimension and keeps your girls feeling fresh and playful.

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Metallics are the New Neutral

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Sparkle and shine are having their moment in 2016. Glitter done. Amsale and Nouvelle Amsale have introduced new fabrics that will quench your thirst for sparkle. Be bold this year because metallics are the new neutral.

Nouvelle Amsale’s new liquid metal dresses are perfect for the boho bride that wants some red carpet flare. The rosegold and wheat colors are subtle, yet still make a statement. Plus the touch of glam is a flower crown’s best friend.

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Amsale raised the bar this season with sequin styles that are a major must have for any black tie wedding. Their color options include gold, rosegold, navy, gunmetal and black. PLUS the sequins are soft so your bridesmaids won’t have to itch about it.

So tell us … What are your favorites?  What will your bridesmaids be walking down the aisle in? We cannot wait to see all of the beauty.

Photos courtesy of Bella Bridesmaids and Krista Mason Photography

Engagement photos: how to do them right!

Last week we shared some fantastic tips on how to propose.  Today we have some great tips from Husar Photography on engagement photos.  

Engagement photos are really important. This is not just because you need cute photos to put on your save-the-date cards or your custom guest book (although that is a fun byproduct). This is an important step because it allows you to get comfortable in front of the camera and get to know your wedding photographer.  I promise, you do not want your wedding day to be the first time you have a photographer capturing your every move. Other than your wedding planner, your photographer is the vendor you will be spending the most time with on your wedding day. Being comfortable around them and making sure they know your personalities and how you interact as a couple, is absolutely imperative. 

We were so enamored with our clients, Caitlin and Melissa’s, engagement photos that we simply had to share them with you. We also asked Chad to share his tips on making the most of your engagement shoot.  

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Let’s talk engagement photos! When choosing locations for your engagement photos we encourage you to select spots that are truly special or meaningful to you. If you don’t have any specific spots in mind give your photographer some general guidance about things you like to do as a couple, favorite places to visit, restaurant’s you enjoy etc… Let your photographer know what you love about Chicago (or whatever city you are doing the shoot in). Is it the neighborhood you live in? Being downtown? The grittiness of the city? The skyline, or maybe the parks? Allow your photographer to be your expert guide; they know all of the hidden gems in the area and can take you to places you never even knew existed.

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When preparing for your engagement photo shoot we suggest you take the opportunity to buy new clothes. New clothes. Putting on a new outfit makes you feel awesome. A little pop of color looks really nice in photos. Try to coordinate with your partner – but don’t match!

We shoot full-length shots, so your shoes matter. There are a lot of things you can put on your feet that aren’t flattering. Flip flops are the most comfortable thing in the world, and I actually recommend you bring them because we’ll be doing a lot of walking during your shoot. But don’t wear them in the photos. Bring a few pairs of shoes. The newer, cooler and fancier they are, the better.

Lesbian engagement photo's Chicago

A lot of people get really nervous because they think they have to be something they’re not. They see other engagement photos and think, “I have to be like that, but I’m not like that.” We hear you and rest assured, you don’t need to worry about it. You don’t have to practice weird poses in the mirror before your shoot, because a photographer’s job isn’t just to take photos: it is to put you at ease and guide you in the moment, get you in the right spot, and in the most flattering light. Besides, it’s just you and the person you love the most having a good time together. There just so happens to be a photographer there to capture it. This will make you a lot more comfortable on your wedding day and will ensure we get the best photographs possible.

Remember, you’re getting married because you’re in love. Just be yourselves and have a great time – that is your job. I’m going to make you both look adorable – that’s my job!

Lesbian engagement photo's Chicago

 

Chad Husar

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Over the past decade, Husar Photography founder Chad Husar has photographed more than 300 weddings following a simple philosophy: the pictures should capture not just how the wedding looked, but how it felt. The result is thoughtful, artful and imaginative photography that reflects the candid personalities of his clients

Chad knew in high school that he wanted to be a photographer and began his career working on editorial and fashion shoots. After working in such diverse cities as L.A. and Milwaukee, in 2004 Chad rooted himself in his favorite city of all, Chicago!  He especially fell in love with wedding photography, because it allowed him to build relationships with real people and help tell the stories of their most special moments.

 

So you’re ready to propose …

This is it. You have met “the one” and you are ready to propose. Wait. Whoa.  This is a really big deal!

Let’s all start by taking a deep breath.

Proposing can be nerve-wracking! You want it to be “just right.” You want your partner to be blown away.  After years of helping clients plan the perfect proposal, we thought it would be a good idea to provide a few helpful hints when planning an unforgettable proposal.

Type in “proposal” on Pinterest and you are bound to discover hundreds of posts about “the most creative proposals.” While we love the idea of getting creative (and we hope you will allow us to help plan this momentous occasion with you) there are things to consider.

First, lets consider your partner. Are they sentimental? Do they have champagne taste? Would they be considered “traditional”? Do they love crowds (or hate them)?

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For those that are more sentimental we might suggest proposing where you had your first date or the street corner where you realized they were “the one.” Now, if your significant other has more extravagant taste, we suggest taking them to the restaurant that is the hottest ticket in town followed by a walk at exactly the same time the fireworks on Navy Pier are going off. Buying out the skybox at the Willis Tower could also be a big hit for your extravagant partner.

It is important to really know your Forever Human well enough to decide if a public proposal would thrill them or horrify them. Remember, this moment needs to be about rocking their world, not necessarily what you would want if the situation was reversed.

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We find that many people want to have a photographer document their proposal. We highly support this idea as it makes for really beautiful memories.

But let’s discuss a few very important and often-overlooked factors when having a professional photograph your well planned and extremely special proposal.

1. No one likes an under lit photograph, especially a photographer. If the lighting is poor, the photographer cannot properly capture this momentous occasion. So be sure to consider the lighting when selecting your venue. Are you proposing at nighttime? Will there need to be additional lighting? How can one make the additional lighting relatively hidden (you should count on your proposal planner or photographer to help you with this one)?

2. How can the photographer capture the moment without giving anything away? Often a professional photographer will have a decoy situation set up that would prevent your special someone from suspecting a thing. However, at a private dinner and in smaller venues,  a photographer holding an unusually large camera is more noticeable. Talk through these details before the big day so that everything goes smoothly.

3. This one would seem obvious, but we have to say it: hire a professional photographer! Do not hire your friend with a “nice” camera. There is no guarantee that your photographs will turn out the way you want them to. You also run the risk of spoiling the surprise when your partner sees a friend of yours with a camera strapped around their neck.

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Finally, lets talk friends and family. This is when you really need to know your future spouse. Often, after a proposal a couple wants to do one of two things: spend as much one on one time together as possible or shout “I’M ENGAGED” from the rooftops with forty of their closest friends and family members. If you think your partner would prefer the latter then invite away! We suggest renting a private room at a restaurant or planning a party at a spot close to where you’ll propose. For those partners that would rather spend a romantic night one on one, rent a room at a hotel for a special getaway evening or plan your proposal over a vacation (and yes, those professional photographers and proposal planners will travel to your destination with you!).

One thing is for sure: no matter what you do or who is there your partner will have eyes only for you. The funny thing about love is that it can make you feel like you’re the only two people in the whole world, even if everyone’s watching.

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Custom Cocktails – Femme du Coupe

Happy New Year!  All of us at Greatest Expectations are excited to usher in the new year with a bang, and we hope you are also!  In 2016, we are dedicated to bringing you new, exciting and very valuable content.  Be sure to follow us on Facebook and keep an eye out for some amazing content.

There’s no better way to kick off our Guest Contributor posts than to welcome the Revae Schneider, Founder of Femme du Coupe, with a custom cocktail intended to help you welcome the new year in style! If you are looking for a creative twist to your events (think birthday parties, bachelorette / bachelor parties, wedding showers even rehearsal dinners), Femme du Coupe is the answer. This is how you take speciality cocktails to a whole new level and have a blast while doing it!


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New Year, new you, eh? In the midst of becoming a new you, you may need a cocktail! Along with trying to get your waistline in shape, there are a few tricks to ensure that you have a delicious cocktail that will keep you on the healthy track and celebrate that new engagement ring at the same time!

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New Year, New You Punch
1 bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin
1 1/2 Cups fresh lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in one large bowl for punch and top with soda water (for a few less calories) or sparkling wine (if you’re throwing caution to the wind).

(For a single cocktail, use 2 ounces gin, 1 ounce Le Sirop, 1 ounce fresh lemon juice and soda or bubbly.)

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As we throw away the slobbery blow horns and clean up the confetti, keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, fresh citrus. If it is not from the juice bar at Mariano’s or somewhere that juices fresh daily, don’t put it in a cocktail. No fake bottled lemon juice. There are all kinds of preservatives that also make it taste like Pine-Sol!

Second, moderation. The more sugar, the more calories, blah, blah, blah. But really if you’re trying to start fresh, I want you to drink something that tastes good but isn’t going to kill your hard workouts!

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Lastly, enjoy yourself! It’s a new year full of exciting new possibilities so live it up, enjoy a cocktail, and live life to the fullest or at least make sure your coupe glass is always the fullest!

Cheers and Happy New Year!

Revae Schneider, Founder of Femme du Coupe

 

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Revae Schneider, is the Founder of Femme du Coupe. Since its debuting Revae has personally taught nearly 5000 cocktail enthusiasts better ways to make cocktails at home. She was named to Zagat’s Inaugural 30 Under 30 in 2012, recognized as BizBash’s 23 New Talents To Watch, and nominated for Bartender of the Year by Eater.com. Revae also develops cocktails for highly touted restaurant concepts such as Siena Tavern and Bar Siena located in Chicago along with working with various wedding and bachelorette parties along the way.

Julie + Laura: super epic funtimes wedding (to quote the brides)

Happy Brides

Sometimes couples walk in the door that we just know are meant for us.  That was the case when we first met Julie and Laura.  These brides had a flair for the creative. We knew the moment Laura insisted we hold all meetings in a bar that their fun and very big personalities would make the wedding planning process full of laughter and such a complete delight.  We were not disappointed. Even their first glance was full of fun and laughter.

First Glance

First Glance

First Glance

We not only had the opportunity to work closely with the brides but also their amazing families.  This wedding was truly a family affair.  Getting to know entire families and feeling like we were welcomed into the fold is one aspect of our jobs that is so unique and truly adds to the enjoyment of the process on our end. We also loved the “Party People” which is what the brides affectionately called their wedding party. We even had a Ring Bear (ala How I Met Your Mother, but this little guy was adorable and refused to wear the entire bear costume).

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Wedding Party Fun

Ring "Bear"

Invitations set the precedent for all things awesome.  In this case Courtney Callahan Designs created the perfect invitation set to capture the look and feel for the event but also truly managed to embody the spirit of the brides. The event was also peppered with fantastic signage throughout, including “thoughts to consider” on each table.

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Custom Wedding Invitations

Welcome to the party!

Custom Table Assignment Display

Menu Cards

Wedding Program

Speciality Cocktails

The perfect location for the big day was Ignite Glass Studios.  This little gem of a venue is nestled in the heart of the city and has a gorgeous roof top deck, perfect for a ceremony with a view of the city.  The cocktail hour was held in their courtyard which is a little bit like a secret garden.  Inside we decided to leave the garage door up, revealing the glass blowing studio beyond the band. We also added some really cool lighting from Chicago Lighting Design behind the band and cafe lights strung throughout the room.

Ignite Glass Studios

Outdoor Ceremony

Back down the aisle

Just Married!

Because the brides wanted to really warm up the otherwise very urban space, we used wooden farm tables and French industrial chairs (from Tablescapes), chevron table runners (from BBJ Linen) and warm floral. One of the biggest challenges we had during planning was Laura’s severe allergies.  We worked with the ever talented Kelly from Fleur to create the most stunning centerpieces that would really represent their style but not cause Laura to be miserable.  What Kelly created was perfectly breathtaking.

Brides sweetheart tableCenterpiecesIgnite Glass Studios evening view from courtyardTable DisplayIgnite reception at night

Dining Brides

When a super foodie couple walks in the doors it is always fun to work with a speciality catering company.  In this case, Boutique Bites really pulled out all of the stops. The attention to detail is outstanding, the food is unbelievably delicious, the bespoke cocktails were insane (the “Sofa King Good Whiskey Cocktail” and “Hakuna Some Vodka”), and the s’mores station was a massive hit.

s'mores station

S'more!

Speciality Cocktails

Everyone danced the night away to the sounds of Matt Lewis and The Union.  We knew this was a special bond when the brides first met Matt before a gig at The Green Mill while he was dressed as Doc from Back to The Future for a Halloween event. Matt was instructed to have the band dress in their most fun attire and bring their sense of humor.

View from behind the band

Dancing!

Brides dancing

Glow sticks, wine from a family winery and candles handmade by Julie capped off the night.

Glowing Bride

Glow Sticks

Family winery

Handmade candles

A giant thank you to Steve Koo Photography for making magic happen with his camera. Steve’s photographs show the extreme joy, happiness, love and over all insanely fun day.

I will bring this little love fest of a blog post to an end with the video from Smiling Toad Productions. They did an outstanding job.  Truly outstanding.

Laura and Julie from Smiling Toad Productions on Vimeo.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank Julie, Laura and their families for allowing us to plan their super epic funtimes wedding with them.  It was one of the most fun events we have ever had the pleasure of planning.

Laura’s bespoke suit was made by Boris Powell and Julie’s beautiful dress was by Jesús Peiró.

Brides

Love is Love – Celebrating 1 Year of Marriage Equality in Illinois

Love is Love Logo

Last month we worked with an outstanding group of Chicago wedding vendors to plan and produce Love is Love, a celebration of 1 year of marriage equality in Illinois.  We had hundreds of people in attendance and it was quite the celebration!  It was such a delight being part of this event and we were thrilled to see many of our past and current same-sex clients in attendance as well.

That night, we all talked about how proud we were of Illinois and how awesome it was to see equal rights for all couples in love in our home state of Illinois.  Finally, we can say the same thing for the entire country!  We have celebrated and rejoiced for over a week now that the SCOTUS ruled in favor of marriage equality! We are seeing same-sex weddings happen all over the country, in cities and counties that some of us never dreamed would be a reality.  As a wedding planner who works with a lot of LGBT clients, my heart is overjoyed to see this wave of love wash over our nation.  This Independence Day we have something extra to celebrate.  While we know there is still a lot of work ahead for equality across races, religions, gender and sexuality, it is important to still take a moment to be thankful and celebrate our victories.  They may come slowly, but they are coming.  Our hard work and dedication to equality makes changes day by day, one step at a time.

I am delighted to share this beautiful video from my friend Keith at Poetic Productions.  He did a beautiful job capturing the Love is Love celebration for same-sex marriage.  We also have a really fun stop motion video from Doug and Doug McGoldrick Weddings.  It is a pleasure to share these beautiful pieces of art with you all.

love is from doug mcgoldrick on Vimeo.

I giant thank you to all of the outstanding vendors who came together to make Love is Love such an exceptional celebration.  Everyone at Greatest Expectations is thrilled and honored to work with each and every one of you!

Amy Beck Cake Design

Limelight Catering

J & L Catering

Entertaining Company 

Wolfgang Puck Catering

Modern Luxury Brides Chicago

ChicagoStyle Weddings Magazine

Lincoln Park Zoo

Halls Rentals

BBJ Linen

Revel Decor

Sound Investment

Greatest Expectations

SQN Special Events

Liven It Up Events

Emily Wheeler Custom Cakes

Rick Aguilar Studios

Doug McGoldrick Photography

Lofty Wedding Photography and Videography

Sprung Photo

Hendzel Productions

Poetic Productions

Beatmix Music

Okyne Medialab

Shutter Booth Chicago

KGA Garret Associates

Loft on Lake

Stand Up – Wedding Professional for Marriage Equality Chicago

All proceeds for Love is Love benefited Equality Illinois.

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