Happy 2011! It feels great to be back to blogging weddings after several weeks off for holiday fun. Don’t get me wrong–I loved spending time with friends and family, sleeping in, and eating myself silly; but there’s something so refreshing about getting refocused and re-energized at the start of a new year.
I was introduced to Stacey and her mom, Linda, just a few months prior to their late-October wedding by Kelly Marie Uss of Fleur. Stacey and her (now) husband Dave met many years ago as campers at a summer camp, but their love blossomed when they returned later in life as counselors. Anyone who has attended camp knows that by the end of the summer everyone feels like family! Stacey and Dave wanted to mimic that feeling on their wedding day and so chose to have both their ceremony and reception at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont where their guests could all stay and be together for the whole weekend.
The day began with the ladies getting their hair and makeup done in a big suite at the Westin. They had plenty of food, good music, mimosas, and lots of memories to share. The stylists from The Best and Teddie Kossof were already hard at work by the time I arrived. Mike and Salvador from Timothy Whaley & Associates did a great job capturing all the events of the day.
In the meantime, Dave and his groomsmen were in a separate room, doing the usual guy things…I believe poker, football, and beer were involved (in no particular order).
Since they were having an evening wedding, the morning preparations were relatively relaxed. Once “go time” hit, though we all bustled about to get ready for Stacey and Dave’s first look. The guys’ and girls’ rooms were several floors apart so I spent a lot of time riding the elevators upstairs and downstairs delivering messages, pinning boutonnieres, and tightening corsets.
Dave wanted to make sure their first meeting was completely private, so Stacey and Dave saw each other for the first time alongside of the hotel where none of their arriving family would be able to sneak a peek.
After the soon-to-be married couple shared their private moment, they joined the rest of their bridal party out in front of the hotel for portraits and some family pictures indoors. (Don’t let the gorgeous light fool you–it was quite chilly and windy outside! Not for the faint of heart.).
Stacey and Dave invited their immediate families to join them as they signed their ketubah prior to the wedding ceremony. As a nod to the place they met and later fell in love, they asked their camp director and his wife to sign the ketubah as witnesses and their children were the flower girl and ring bearer. The group sang and said prayers over the couple wishing them a lifetime of love and happiness.
Meanwhile, guests had begun to arrive. The guest book featured engagement photos of Stacey and Dave. Surrounding the book we set up portraits of their parents and grandparents on their wedding days. Inside the ballroom the ceremony was lit with candles. Floral pieces (created by the ever-wonderful Fleur) that would later be re-purposed as table centerpieces lined the aisle. Stacey asked that the room be set up with more chairs per row than usual so that it was wider than it was long. The resulting atmosphere was more intimate than grand.
The ceremony was brief yet meaningful. Rather than performing the traditional version of the Jewish custom of circling, Stacey circled Dave 3 times, Dave circled Stacey 3 times, and then the couple circled one another. They also shared the cup of wine with their whole family rather than only between the two of them. I love seeing the way couples choose to personalize their ceremonies!
After the ceremony, everyone was ready to party! The newly married couple slipped away for a few minutes alone while the rest of the guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers just outside the ballroom. Inside the room was being changed over from ceremony to reception. Once it was ready everyone headed back inside for cake cutting and the first dance. The dance floor was alive from before the first course was even served thanks to their fabulous band, Great Life Music.
The grandfathers of the Bride and Groom gave blessings before dinner was served. Dave’s grandfather is deaf so he signed the Hamotzi and Kiddush while Stacey’s grandfather spoke them. Stacey’s dad and sister and Dave’s brother all gave heartfelt and well-spoken toasts.
One of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen at a wedding was Stacey and her dad’s father-daughter dance. Dave played guitar and sang while the band backed him up on “You Look Wonderful Tonight”. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house!
Stacey and Dave were among the first of their friends to be married, and it was clear that all of their guests were incredibly excited for this event! I don’t think I saw an empty dance floor until midnight.
If you are debating whether or not to do a bouquet toss at your wedding, my advice would be to ask yourself this question: will there be a battle for the bouquet? If the answer is yes then it is clear that you should, indeed, do the toss! Luckily, that turned out to be the case here.
Stacey and Dave, you were both a joy to work with. It always makes me feel like I did my job when the bride and groom (and their parents!) can just let loose and have a great time–and you all definitely did. Mazel Tov–I wish you all the joy you shared on your wedding day and a thousand times more in your lifetime together.