Archive of ‘Community Outreach’ category

7 Ways to SPRING into action for the big day and beyond!

If you want to spring into action and get yourself fit, emotionally and physically, for the big day — then you will not want to miss this blog post. I have had the pleasure of knowing our guest blogger, Chris Szabo, for nearly 15 years now and let me tell you, she is a total powerhouse! I asked Chris to write about ways to get “wedding day” ready and then keep those routines long after the wedding. I love her fitness motto: Train – Evolve – Achieve. Train for an Adventurous Life.

The Big Day is fast approaching and there is so much to do! How can working out be something besides just another task to check off the endless list? There are lots of ways to make it happen – here are some main concepts to guide you to success:

1. Prioritize. Remember we make time for the things we want to prioritize. Whether it’s conscious or not, ‘not having time’ is the number one reason clients give for not getting the workout in or the results they want. It helps to reframe this by realizing ‘I make time for’ or ‘I choose to.’ It helps to think of working out as non-negotiable as brushing your teeth. You just do it. It’s part of your day.

2. Start with something you know and LIKE to do. I can’t emphasize this enough. Exercise can be hard work and is challenging. To have staying power it’s got to be something that you find satisfaction in, intrinsically. Is this taking a class on a regular basis? Is this working out with a friend? Do you like to dance? Take a hip-hop class. Rather lift weights? How about cross-fit or a strength class?

3. Make it count. It’s not only what you do that matters, but HOW you do it. You will get much more out of 30 minutes where you try to jog or run versus walk. Exertion counts. Sweat! You need to challenge yourself to make changes and take your fitness to the next level. There’s a place for reading books and magazines but if you read them when working out, you’re not making much of a difference in your fitness.

4. Be Accountable. For many clients, having to answer to someone or something other than themselves creates more accountability and commitment. What motivates you? If signing up and paying for classes will get you to workout, great! Do you hate the gym? Find a group or trainer to work outdoors. Want to spend more time with your spouse-to be? Find a time to workout together, or at least at the same time.

5. Persistence wins the day. So maybe you missed a day this week because you had a work project to do, or you were feeling sick. Make sure to keep it in perspective. Life happens. Keep in mind that missing a day or two isn’t the problem, it’s when that becomes a pattern that you develop issues. You didn’t bring your regular intensity to spin class? That’s ok. You showed up. Take the long term approach.

6. Schedule it, write it down. It’s great to have ideas and goals. It’s more important to write them down. Make things happen by creating goals that are realistic, time-bound, and measurable. These things don’t happen in your head. You’ve got to make them actionable items. Spin class is on the calendar, like a business meeting. Aim to workout two to three times a week on alternate days, for a few weeks. If you stay consistent with that, add in another day. If you already workout, shoot for five days, a recovery day, and a complete day off.

7. Focus on the process. It’s easy to focus on what pounds are coming on or off, or how you will look on the Big Day. While these things may matter to you, it’s most important to focus on how you will feel on that day and beyond. If you stay in the moment and focus on the process, one workout at a time, the rest generally takes care of itself.

Now take time to reflect on your successes and hard work along the way! You deserve it. By the time your Big Day comes around, you will shine with pride and confidence knowing what you did to get there.

greatest-expectations-szabo-fittness-chrisChris Szabo – Szabo Fitness, owner

Chris is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, Bootcamp & Strength Instructor and Cross Country Coach.  She promotes a love of lifelong fitness through unique and fun workouts.  She especially enjoys empowering clients by building a sense of community and using the outdoors as her fitness playground.

Certifications Held: ACE Personal Trainer, AFAA Group Instructor, TRX trainer, USA Track & Field

Specialties: Strength Training, Body Weight Training, Core Training, BootCamp, TRX, Middle Distance/Distance Running

If you are in the Worthington, Ohio area be sure to check out Chris’ classes!

Class Times: Pure Strength: Mondays 7-8pm

Total Body Bootcamp: Wednesdays 5:45-6:45pm & Saturday 8:30-9:30am. All at the Worthington Community Center.

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!


Greatest Expectations

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.

Wish Upon a Wedding Volunteer Film

We know that you have already heard us talk a great deal about Wish Upon a Wedding.  It is clear that this is an organization that is very near and dear to our hearts.  After being a Wish Grantor for Nick and Bahar’s amazing wedding, two years ago, we have worked hard to help spread the word about this amazing organization and the importance of continuing to help them gain support.

Our owner, Heather Vickery, was featured in this beautiful piece produced by I Do Films for this year’s Blissful Wishes Ball.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


Simply Stunning Love Story, retold in honor…

Today we recognize what would have been the two year wedding anniversary of Nick and Bahar Schmidt.  As time has passed, I have been fortunate enough to spend even more time with Bahar.  To know her on an even more personal level than before and to become much more than her “wedding planner” but also very dear, life long friends.

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my time with Nick and Bahar.  I am so thankful.  Today, we honor their love, courage and strength.  Below is their love story …

It has taken me a long time to post pictures from Nick and Bahar’s amazing wedding. I am sorry for that as I know you are all anxious to see them and learn more about this couple. I’m not going to lie, it has been hard for me to sit down and do this…

As soon as I met Nick and Bahar I fell in love with them, as a couple and as individuals. Their story is one that inspires me to be better, stronger and more passionate about my life and the people I love. I am so grateful to Wish Upon a Wedding for giving me the opportunity to plan this amazing wedding and meet these exceptional people.

As I write this, my heart is heavy at the loss of Nick Schmidt. I ache for Bahar and the life she is trying to put back together. And I ache for the beautiful charismatic man whose life has been cut way too short. At the same time, however, I smile when I think of them together and Nick’s charming sense of humor and Bahar’s eagerness to simply be a “normal” bride. They were in love and they wanted to get married. They hoped for a future together and believed in the possibility of getting just that. They never gave up hope. They were married for 51 days.

As I worked closely with each of the vendors that played a role in Nick and Bahar’s wedding I realized just how blessed I was to be in the company of such selfless people. Each of the vendors gave from deep within their hearts and were thrilled to do so. I consider all of them my friends.

I hope you enjoy these stunning pictures from my friend Amanda Hein. She fully captured the love and emotion of the day. I will never, as long as I live, forget the smile on Nick’s face when he danced with his beautiful new wife for the first time.

Much Love.

We crowned a new couple for the eleven eleven WEDDING last night!

Thanks to Poetic Productions for this fantastic video!

We had such an amazing time at Nellcote last night!  They hosted the eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway’s live reveal party and it could not have been more perfect!

It was great fun to catch up with all four finalists, our fellow sponsors, the press and the winners from last year (Amy and Howard)!

When the big announcement was made we were on pins and needles but could not possibly be more thrilled for Connie and Jessica!  Not only are we excited to work with them, we are proud to be supporting gay marriage!  This is something all of us at Greatest Expectations have always been passionate about.

We know this will be an exceptional journey … Please be sure to visit the eleven eleven WEDDING website to get all the juicy details as we work with our new bride’s on their extra special wedding!

Thanks to Amanda Hein for these beautiful images (more to come soon).


A Look Back at 2011

I am excited to welcome 2012.  I can already tell it is going to be a fantastic year!

It is always good to welcome a new year by reflecting on the previous one … So here are some of our favorite memories from 2011 including weddings we have coordinated as well as events we have participated in within the wedding industry.  It was hard to narrow them down and they appear in no particular order.  I hope you enjoy taking a walk down memory lane with us  (and you can always look back through the blog for more details about each event!).


A special thanks to the following photographers for the above images: Amanda Hein Photography, Bellissima Photography, Danielle Aquiline PhotographyDavid Wolfe Photography, Fred Fox PhotographyGerber + Scarpelli Wedding Photography, Jennifer Kathryn PhotographyJeremy Lawson PhotographyMegan W PhotographySimply Jessie Photography.




Wedding Industry Food Drive!

We are so excited to announce that we have teamed up with the ladies from SQN Events and Engaging Events by Ali to have a Wedding Industry Food Drive for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.  As you have likely heard, food banks all over the country are under extreme pressure this year as the economy has slowed donations and driven up the numbers of families looking for help.  The need in Chicago is greater than ever and it’s time to help raise awareness and collect food for those in need.

As an industry, wedding professionals bring joy to so many people’s lives all year around. We are asking everyone to continue the joy by participating in our Wedding Industry Food Drive December 15th through December 18th.  You can bring your non perishable food items to one of the following locations (hours and addresses listed below) Bella Bianca, Bleeding Heart Bakery, Fleur, The Left Bank Jewelry & Shoes, Magnificent Milestones and Smitten Boutique. Each store is offering a discount for any one who brings in five or more non perishable food items (amount differs at each location but expect 10% – 15% off). We are so grateful to each of our drop off locations for opening their doors and our hearts to this extremely worthy cause. Beth, Ali and I will be collecting the food on Monday the 19th and taking it directly to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.

I’d also like to give a special thanks to Peggy from Erickson Designs for putting together this beautiful poster in a flash!


The eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway, featured on TV and in Newspaper

We are so proud of the work we have done with the eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway.  The event is extremely near and dear to our hearts since we created it in 2010.  This year’s exceptional event took place yesterday at The Chicago History Museum and was featured on the ABC 7  News 6:00 pm broadcast and in the Chicago Sun Times.

Working with the winners, Amy and Howard, was a truly exceptional experience.  They are the kind of people you just want to be around all of the time, infectious, generous, gracious, funny, kind (I could go on and on). It was such a pleasure to introduce them to each of the sponsors and work with them throughout the planning process.

It is important to note that none of this would be possible without the constant support from the vendors in our community. We are so blessed to work with these amazing people who give of their time, talents and resources so willingly and with such grace. We are truly humbled by the experience and thank you simply does not seem to be “big enough” but we hope it will do.

Keep an eye out for some sneak peak pictures from Amanda Hein Photography.

The eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway for 2012 will be announced sometime in February so please check back often and send in those applications, as you can see,  dream weddings really can come true!

You can find all of our sponsors listed below.  We thank them all, from the bottom of our hearts.






Amanda Hein Photography
Amy Beck Cake Design
Bella Bridesmaid
Berghoff Catering Group
Blacktie Formalwear
Ceremonies for your life
Chicago History Museum
Chicago Trolley
Fleur, Inc
Greatest Expectations Special Events & Weddings, Inc
Halls Rental Service
Hotel 71
Jenny Yoo Collection
Joy B Millinery
Magnificent Milestone
Mario Tricoci
Poetic Productions
Private Label Linen
Rappatone Boutique Training
Rosemary Hall Calligraphy
ShutterBooth Chicago
Team Blonde
The Larry King Orchestra
The Left Bank Jewelry  & Shoes
Truffle Truffle

All images are from the Chicago Sun Times Article.

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