Archive of ‘Weddings’ 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

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.

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. 

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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

Destination Weddings: Tips for creating the perfect event

The Greatest Expectations team loves destination weddings. Destination wedding planning is completely different from local wedding planning and as such, provides completely different challenges to the couple, their guests and the vendors involved. It is a challenge we are always up for.

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It is such a pleasure to partner with Linda Mitchell from Luxury Destination Travel to bring you an entire series on the importance of travel during your wedding planning. She will address all different aspects of travel and how it relates to wedding planning. In this post she dives into destination weddings. In future posts she will talk about travel needs for all of your guests and honeymoon planning. Linda is a wealth of knowledge and such a bright and joyful person. Be sure to follow her entire travel series right here on the Greatest Expectations blog.


Destination weddings – the trend grows and so does the importance of your planning team!

Why choose a destination wedding? Traveling to a dreamy location and spending fun filled days and exciting evenings is an incredibly memorable experience. One in every four weddings are now destination weddings! A growing trend has emerged, embracing the elements that surround your special celebration. Weddings are fun, travel is fun, being with loving family and friends is fun…. it is a very exciting way to celebrate your special day!

As you begin to think of the logistics, you may feel overwhelmed – so let’s chat!

Choosing your destination can be like picking your wedding attire with so many amazing choices. When you find the perfect outfit, however, you just “know” it is the one! Choose a destination that fits with you and your fiancé/e’s travel interests and it will be memorable place for you for years to come. Be sure to visit the destination before you make a decision. This is a wise idea even if you have been there before. Looking at it through the destination wedding lens gives way to new perspective.

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Work with a wedding planner. Wedding planners, specializing in destination weddings, have expertise in which destinations and venues are the best to work with, providing you with the best experiences/value. Working with a wedding planner that you choose means that everything is being done strictly with you in mind! Don’t let the venue convince you that their on-site planner will meet all of your needs. They are awesome, but their main focus is the venue and catering. They are not there to meet all of your wedding planning needs.

Work with a planner you trust and follow their expertise!

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Work with a destination wedding travel planner/agent. Someone who specializes in destination wedding travel knows the destinations, what the hotels will offer, negotiates the best rates and amenities, and can manage flights and activities for you and your guests. Be sure to inquire on the travel agent/planner’s experience. Not all travel agents have a specific niche in planning travel for destination weddings. Work with a destination wedding travel planner and let your guest’s travel be coordinated with perfect precision!

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When you consider what works for your budget and who to include in your wedding planning team, consider how relaxed and stress-free the experience will be when you build your team with a planner! It may seem like an expenditure that you can cut when you look at cost, but fast forward to the weekend of your wedding. That amazing planning team will be worth their weight in gold. You won’t have one element to think about except having an amazing time with your loved ones and marrying the love of your life.

Greatest Expectations offers a package that include both the destination wedding planning and travel planning. This package is offered by partnering with experts like Linda to bring clients the best possible team and planning experience. The results are priceless.

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Know the climate in the destination. Check the future weather/climate charts to ensure that your destination has weather that you enjoy and would be perfect for you. Sunset times are also a key factor to consider when planning the timing elements. This is particularly important if you are going to have your events outside. Comfort is an important element to consider!

Consider the venue. Do you want something small and intimate or large and all encompassing? There is a “right fit” venue for every couple. Work with your planning and travel experts to find the perfect one for you.

Savor the expertise that will create your dream wedding in ways you may only imagine!

Be swooned by creativity. As your creative team organized by your talented wedding planner works their magic, they creatively capture a vision designed exclusively for you!

Indulge in the services! Put your planning team at the top of your budget list. Not only will they work out everything on your behalf, they will alleviate stress and also negotiate the best values for you across the board.

Enjoy the relationships that your wedding planning team brings to you!

Visualize your destination wedding in a dreamy location, be it a tropical beach, on top of a mountain, or wherever your imagination takes you. We wish you an amazing, fun and magical experience that will have you swimming in the memories for the rest of your lives.

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Luxury Destination TravelWith 24+ years in the travel industry, Linda Mitchell is the owner and travel professional of Luxury Destination Travel. A niche boutique travel service specializing in destination wedding travel, romance trips, specialty vacations, groups and family reunions created for clients all over the word traveling anywhere in the world.

Linda combines an exemplary level of service with her expertise and experience to make each traveler’s journey a memorable and special one!
Photo of Linda by: Rebecca Davidson photography

Photos by Julia Franzosa Photography.  To see more images of this stunning wedding, visit Julia’s blog post here.

This wedding was planned with Beth from SQN Events (Beth and Greatest Expectations owner, Heather, have a destination wedding planning partnership).

Venue, Pueblo Bonito Pacifica .

 

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.

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?

Amy-where-will-they-stay-Greatest-Expectations

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!

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.

Lesbian engagement photo's Chicago

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.

 

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.

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