Archive of ‘GE Updates’ category

On trend with spring bridal fashion!

Wedding day fashion is a big topic. It’s something most brides and grooms spend a lot of time thinking about. We featured a great piece on men’s fashion several weeks ago and now we are delighted to get the bridal trends, direct from market week in NYC, from our friend Beth Chapman from Beth Chapman Styling. Prepare to feast your eyes!


Having just left New York Bridal Fashion Week. I must say, it is a fabulous time to be a bride, as there are so many beautiful options. Here are the top trends straight from the catwalk! 

Peplums:  Many designers showed peplums this season. The peplum is a flirty feminine detail.  In most cases, it was detachable, so that the bride has one look for the ceremony and another for the reception.

Plunging Necklines: Designers are once again taking the plunge this season with necklines! This trend was represented in both ball gown and fitted silhouettes.

Romona Keveza Spring 2017

Romona Keveza Spring 2017

Romantic Appliqués: As a beautiful and feminine alternative to lace, designers were showing gowns with appliqués and jacquards. 

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Hayley Paige Spring17

Marchesa Bridal Spring 2017

Marchesa Bridal Spring 2017

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Angel Sanchez Spring 2017

Long Sleeves: Sleeves are in! Long sleeves graced virtually every runway. They were often shown with an extreme neckline line – either a high or plunging.  

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Naeem Kahn Spring 2017

Marchesa Bridal Spring 2017

Marchesa Bridal Spring 2017

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Romona Keveza Spring 2017

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Hayley Paige Spring 2017

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Anne Barge Spring 2017

High Low HemsFor spring there was a variation in hem length with the introduction of the high low hem. I love this silhouette for either an informal wedding or as a reception look. 

Monique Lhuillier Bridal Spring 2017

Monique Lhuillier Bridal Spring 2017

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Anne Barge Bridal Spring 2017

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Romona Keveza Spring 2017

Pants: Pants were shown by several designers. I think this is such a modern and sophisticated look perfect for a contemporary bride! (this is a personal favorite of the Greatest Expectations staffers as it offers options for so many brides!)

Monique Lhuillier Bridal Spring 2017

Monique Lhuillier Bridal Spring 2017

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Lela Rose Spring 2017

Carolina Herrera Bridal Spring 2017

Carolina Herrera Bridal Spring 2017

Beth Chapman is a stylist, author and owner of The White Dress by the shore, a quaint boutique in Connecticut that offers chic couture of brides, mothers and maids.  Beth’s styling work can be found on her website

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.

Personalizing your wedding ceremony

It is such a delight to welcome Anita Vaughan from AnitaWeds as our guest blogger this week. I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Anita for five years. We first met when she was producing Under a New Moon, where we celebrated the first legal day of civil unions in the state of Illinois. At midnight on June 1, 2011, we united the first six, same-sex couples, in the state. It was a tremendous occasion and one that I was honored to have been part of. Anita has such an easy way with couples and really makes every ceremony extra special. She helps people celebrate every other aspect of life, not just weddings and even performed the blessing ceremony for my youngest daughter. 

This post is full of useful information and is a must read for everyone planning a wedding ceremony. Anita is an expert on personalizing life’s special ceremonies. 

greatest-expectations-Under-a-New-Moon-AnitaWeds-Same-sex-wedding

Photo by JLP and Associates


The Perfect “I Do” for You- How to Personalize Your Wedding Ceremony

You’ve picked the flavors for your cake and the colors for the flowers. Your favorite foods will be served and the band leader has a list of your favorite songs. The reception has you written all over it.

But what about your ceremony? Shouldn’t that be a reflection of the two of you? Of course!

As a professional Life-Cycle Celebrant, my goal is to make my clients’ wedding ceremonies completely personalized. But, no matter who officiates your ceremony, there are many ways to add your personal touch to your wedding ceremony.

MUSIC Let’s start with the music. Who says you can’t walk down the aisle to Led Zepplin? Having officiated over 200 weddings, I’ve heard just about every type of processional and recessional song. Of course, many couples love the traditional “Wedding March.” But I’ve also heard some really unique choices, ranging from Kanye to Guns N Roses to the Beatles. And, yes, one of my brides walked in to an instrumental version of “Stairway to Heaven.”

Whether your music is being provided by a DJ, a string trio, or your Uncle Bob will be hitting “play” on your iPhone, look for music that suits your style. And the good news is that, if you’re worried about keeping Grandma happy, you’ll be able to find instrumental versions of many of your favorite tunes. She won’t even notice that you’re playing the Imperial March from Star Wars.

TIP: Be sure to visit Vitamin String Quartet’s website for tons of instrumental options.

Another way to personalize your ceremony and make it memorable is to include your friends and family. You invited your loved ones because they’re important to you, so let them be more than just witnesses – get them involved.

SAY THANKS Have your officiant thank your guests. This can be a very simple “thanks for being here,” or you can choose to mention special people by name. A shout-out to the friend who introduced the two of you would be a great way to open the ceremony. Acknowledging people who’ve traveled from out of town for your big day would make them feel pretty special. And a few words of gratitude for parents, grandparents, or other important people in your life would add a warm, heartfelt touch to the ceremony.

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Photo by Chad Husar

INVOLVE YOUR GUESTS There are also great ways to include the whole crowd, such as asking the guests to bless your marriage with a community vow of support. Another idea is to include a ring blessing. Before you exchange your wedding rings, they are passed among the guests (either in a box or a pouch) so each person has a chance to hold them while making a wish or saying a prayer. Typically, two people are designated as being in charge of passing the rings, which gives you the opportunity to give two more people a role in your ceremony!

UNIQUE RITUALS Another way to personalize your ceremony is to think about the activities you and your future spouse enjoy doing together. Do you share an interest in history and ancient traditions? Try a handfasting ritual. Are you into gardening? Consider a planting ritual. Do you enjoy brewing your own beer? Then a beer tasting ritual might be perfect for you. Do the two of you cook dinner together? A food sharing could be a nice element for you. Love making things with building blocks? You can have a unity ritual with Legos!

TIP: Have fun! One of my couples got engaged at the Shedd Aquarium. In honor of that surprise proposal, the ring bearer (as carefully orchestrated by the groom) had a surprise delivery of the rings – they were presented by a helium shark! I’ve also had clients that met in a bar, create a custom cocktail during their ceremony and then have their attendants pass it out to all of the guests.

READINGS One more way to get creative and show your personal style is with your choice of readings.  There are countless sources for great wedding readings, including children’s books, song lyrics, and classic literature.

Are you a dog lover? Look up a poem called, “How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog” by Taylor Mali. Math nerd? I would suggest you find a poem called “The Square Root of 3” by Dave Feinberg. Music fan? Look into a letter written by Johnny Cash to his wife, June Carter Cash – it is truly lovely.

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Photo by Chad Husar

As you can see, there are many ways to personalize your wedding ceremony. So, don’t be afraid to get creative. And, most importantly, make it true to YOU.


anita-vaughn-angel-eyes-photographyAnita Vaughan is a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant and owner of AnitaWeds. In addition to creating wedding ceremonies, Anita also works with clients to celebrate other life events, such as baby welcoming ceremonies. She works closely with other Celebrants as the Facilitator for the Illinois Celebrant Association and serves as faculty for the Celebrant Foundation & Institute. When she’s not officiating a ceremony or teaching future Celebrants, she enjoys baking cupcakes, reading graphic novels, and listening to 80’s music. Anita can also be found rescuing animals with her children and being obsessed with octopuses. Photo by Angel Eyes 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!

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.

 

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!

 

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