Archive of ‘Random Treats’ 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.

The Groom’s New Clothes: Custom suits

We are very excited to bring you a series of posts on custom from Alexandra Cross at  Enzo Custom ClothiersEnzo does completely “custom” garments. Technically, there are four categories for suits: off-the-rack, made-to-measure, custom, and bespoke. Recently, the terms have become confused and interchangeable. But, as purists, Enzo has worked in the suiting business for a long time and want to properly educate people on the right term for each product. Made-to-measure garments work with an existing pattern, sometimes a very strict one, and make very limited adjustments to it. The difference with custom is that we actually build the garment, piece-by-piece, allowing for so many more changes both fit- and style-wise. What’s really remarkable about Enzo is that they are offering custom clothing at an incredible value for the detail that goes into it.

Alexandra will discuss women’s suits. We hope you will stay tuned!


The Grooms New Clothes

Deciding on the look for a groom and his wo/men for the big day can be a daunting task. Not only do you need to consider what the groom will be happy and most comfortable in, but you also have to account for the attendants’ individual tastes. The need to please everyone can sometimes overwhelm and confuse the issue. Before anything else, even before considering any of the following advice, remember to be true to your own image of the day. What you want sometimes means bending, or all-out breaking, the classic rules (and remember that Heather says there are no more rules!)  Regardless, here are some guidelines to help you navigate the process.

To begin, let’s think about style. Any suit or tuxedo should be reflective of the wearer’s personality, but also coordinate with the intended’s outfit, the rest of the party, and the overall tone of the wedding and formality of the venue. Remember, the wedding couple should be the best dressed in the room – it’s their special day! If the wedding is black-tie optional, I strongly suggest nothing less than a formal tuxedo. Then, in order from formal to casual, consider: a formal black suit, charcoal or navy solid suit, then patterned suits, tie/vest/pant no jacket, tie/shirt/pant no jacket, and finally shirt/pant. A vest always adds a punch of formality.

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Then it’s the time to consider the rest of the party. You want everybody to coordinate, look good, and also be comfortable. It can be really difficult to decide what to ask your party to pay for and how much you’re willing to compromise to save money and headaches. Consider each person individually and how you can make sure everyone is happy and comfortable with the chosen clothing.

Every member of the wedding party need not wear the exact same thing. As long as everyone coordinates, you could do a combination of tuxedos and suits, vary the color palette, add a vest, or just switch up the ties, pocket squares, or boutonnieres. Look to your planner, stylist, or dressmaker for suggestions and ideas. This is where custom suits can really be a perfect fit.

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Now is the time to think about the groom’s shape and preferred fit. This will give you an idea of how much time you’ll need to find the right suit. Go to a few places, set some appointments, just to consider fit. If you’ve gone shopping for suiting before, you might already have a good idea of how easy or difficult the body is to fit. This initial search can uncover unique attributes which could make a difference in the direction you take. Most people do not fit perfectly in a garment off the rack, so you can decide whether to rent a tuxedo or purchase off-the-rack and have the garment tailored as closely as possible, or whether to have the suit or tuxedo made through a custom program.

If you decide to rent or purchase off-the-rack, you should plan on a 4-6 week process at most based on the retailer and tailor. Add additional time to coordinate other members of the wedding party, and take anyone traveling into consideration. If you decide on a custom program, try to give yourself at least 6 weeks, with some programs at 10 weeks or more. Some companies do offer rushes. There are many different types of programs available, so make sure that the company you work with has the capability to fit your particular posture and style choices. Going custom is the best way to ensure you get the exact color, style, and fit that you want for the big day.

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Enzo-Custom-Clothiers-Greatest-ExpectationsAlexandra Cross is the Executive Clothier and Showroom Manager at Enzo Custom Clothiers in Chicago, designing completely custom suits, shirts and topcoats for each client based on their unique set of measurements and style choices. Enzo prides itself on offering an unbeatable selection of fabrics and available style choices at an unparalleled value. Alexandra has worked alongside pattern makers, in-house tailors and seamstresses, fabric distributors and buyers, in both off-the-rack and custom clothing for over seven years, designing custom garments for over sixteen different programs, large and small. She is a native to Chicago, a Dearborn Park kid, and an unapologetic townie, immersing herself in all the sights and sounds the city has to offer.

Wedding cake: Things to consider when booking

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Photo by: averyhouse

One of the most exciting parts of wedding planning is selecting your wedding cake! However, just like every other aspect of wedding planning, if you are not prepared for the tasting, things can get overwhelming quickly.  

Many thanks to this weeks blog guest, Elysia Root. If you want super delicious cake in Chicago, Elysia is always a great bet!


Unless you’re a wedding planner, you probably don’t really know what to expect in terms of finding and booking your perfect wedding cake. It’s a fun process and can be very straightforward as long as you’ve been given a little introduction beforehand. We’ve put together some tips and general information that could be very helpful to know prior to diving into your wedding cake search.

Schedule your cake tasting at least 3 to 6 months in advance of your wedding date. Most custom cake studios have limited staff and dates do fill up (especially during popular wedding months and dates). Check the cake studio’s availability before making an appointment to avoid disappointment.

Do YOUR homework before meeting with a cake vendor. For example, find out if a wedding cake is included as part of your venue package. If it isn’t, see if there is a preferred vendor list. Are there extra charges for bringing in an outside vendor?

Bring as much information as possible for design inspiration (invitation, color swatches, photos of the attire, flowers, Pinterest boards). Be prepared to explain why you like certain elements. Talk to your partner prior to the consultation about what he/she wants as far as cake design.

Know how you’d like the cake to be distributed at your reception: plated or at a dessert station. If you would like the cake to be plated, then you must account for every single guest in your serving size. If you plan to have a dessert station, you can usually serve less cake (we suggest 20-25% less cake, and serve other desserts to make up the difference).

Know cake terms – tiers versus layers. Standard wedding cake slices are 1 inch deep, 2 inches wide and 4 inches tall.

Know how cake pricing typically works. Most wedding and custom cakes are priced by the slice. Each cake vendor will price differently based on skill, experience, location, ingredients, and other factors. Other aspects such as premium ingredients, sugar floral work, or complexity of design will most likely add to the cost of the cake. Keep in mind you are serving your wedding guests a meal equivalent to a fine restaurant experience at your wedding; a wedding cake slice should be thought of as equivalent to a dessert served at a restaurant.

Figure out the delivery. Who will be doing the delivery? Does your cake vendor provide rentals for the display of the cake, or do they have suggestions for rentals? Is your cake vendor properly licensed and insured?

Send all requested information prior to your cake tasting. If you were asked to make any selections such as choosing cake or filling flavors you’d like to try, send that promptly ahead of time. Some vendors do the tasting deconstructed (cake and fillings served to you separately) as opposed to constructed cake.

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Photo by: Husar Photography

Know the difference between buttercream and fondant. There are many different kinds of buttercream such as American, Italian, and Swiss buttercream. Fondant is edible sugar paste made from powdered sugar, gelatin, glucose, glycerin and water, and it is only used as an icing (not a filling). In some cases, we recommend that you choose fondant. Why? Because sometimes only fondant can create the design that you’re looking for; it keeps the cake fresher, it makes it easier to handle (transport, slice, and most importantly, decorate), and it is heat-stable for warmer weather.

Tips on Choosing Your Cake Flavors

When discussing your wedding cake, we always recommend choosing flavors you personally love. We think that every detail of your reception should be a reflection of who you are as a couple. A wedding is more memorable when every details is a “favorite” of the couple and that absolutely applies to the flavor of your cake! Like the outside of the cake, the inside can be just as customized and we love working with our clients to create a scrumptious cake that tastes as good as it looks.

Analyze your palate – Do you enjoy fruity confections – or do you prefer something more nutty? How about dark, rich flavors such as a dark chocolate ganache? Or perhaps you enjoy sweet and salty combinations, such as a delicious salted caramel.

Seasonality – Think about what ingredients are available during the seasons: strawberries and raspberries in the summer, warm spice and pumpkin in the fall. Chocolate is available all year round (thank goodness!).

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Photo by: Z+V Photography

Recreate your favorite dessert – some of our clients come in with a favorite dessert in mind – we deconstruct the dessert and build the flavors up as a cake. Some of the fun flavors we have created for clients are as follows: “Almond Joy Cake” –  Almond Cake, alternating layers of Dark Chocolate Ganache and Coconut Buttercream. “Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake” – Vanilla Cake, Peanut Butter Buttercream with Raspberry Preserves.

Don’t be afraid to go outside the box and treat the cake like a “composed” dessert. Mix up the four layers of cake and three layers of buttercream flavors to give your guests an unexpected surprise. Desserts are most memorable when they are unique and delicious. We let you choose three flavors of cake and five flavors of filling from our menu for your cake tasting so you can mix and match and come up with something that reflects your tastes to share with your guests.

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Photo by: Geneoh Photography


wedding-cake-greatest-expectationsBefore launching Elysia Root Cakes, Elysia who has her B.S. in Business from the University of Illinois and a M.B.A. in Strategic Management and Marketing Management from the University of Chicago, worked in the insurance industry for 10 years. Cake decorating began as a fun hobby for Elysia in 2010 and she enjoyed making cake creations for her family, friends, and colleagues.

Elysia received her formal training in the pastry arts at The French Pastry School in Chicago where she attended L’art du Gâteau and studied with Chefs and Master Cake Artists Nicholas Lodge, Mark Seaman, and Kristin Ryan, as well as Chefs and World Pastry Champions Scott Green and Joshua Jackson. Elysia has continued to refine her skills by taking additional classes from some of the world’s best sugar and cake artists including Nicholas Lodge, Ron Ben-Israel, Mark Seaman, Susan Carberry, Lauren Kitchens, Mike McCarey, Courtney Clark, Debbie Brown, Marina Sousa, Rick Reichart, Jacqueline Butler, Kaysie Lackey, and Alexandria Pellegrino.

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.

Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations Destination Wedding Greatest Expectations

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.

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!

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.

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

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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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