Chicago has a rich multicultural melting pot, and one great culture to find wonderful wedding inspiration is from the Polish. If you are Polish, or if you've ever been to a Polish wedding, probably one of the big things you remember (or look forward to) is the very looooong table of decadent desserts at the reception. You don't have to be Polish to appreciate the abundant sweet table, which typically is a very important part of Polish wedding receptions. Some favorite traditional Polish desserts include:
-- pączki, which are kind of like doughnuts (but better! ... in fact, if you can't get your hands on the latest craze ... "cronuts" .... these old-school Polish pastries are pretty darn close in taste and texture)
-- fruit gelatin covered sernik (Polish for cheesecake)
-- delightful fruit jelly filled kolaczki cookies
With such a large Polish population, Chicago is fortunate to have dozens of wonderful Polish bakeries throughout the city and suburbs, so it is not hard at all to include these popular traditional treats at your wedding. These delicious sweets pictured below were made by Central Continental Bakery in Mt. Prospect, IL.
Photos: Wedding Creativo Photography
We had a wonderful time at Indie Wed on Saturday, and were inspired hearing all of the creative plans couples are making for their 2013 and 2014 weddings. Indie Wed is THE event for couples looking for unique wedding ideas and professionals, and we were honored to participate. Thanks to everyone who came by our booth to say hello, and also a big thanks to our associates Amanda and Kevin for doing such a wonderful job. We are so fortunate to have such wonderful people, couples and professionals, to make our world go round.
Here are some of our favorite highlights from Indie Wed. There are also lots more pictures on our facebook page.
For the recently engaged, or if you know someone who is planning a wedding in Chicago, we recommend picking up a copy of Chicago Style Weddings magazine. The magazine is desinged to follow a typical flow for wedding planning, and especially helpful is the month-by-month chart to keep on track with planning tasks. Wedding Creativo is also honored to be featured in a couple of articles about photography trends and tips. January/February 2013 issue is hot off the presses, so check a magazine rack at a store near you to pick up a copy. Happy planning!
With thousands of wedding blogs around the world there is literally limitless inspiration and information for wedding planning. For the Chicago area, we are fortunate to have so many creative and knowledgeable wedding professionals who also have fantastic blogs. We find the advice and tips found on event professionals blogs to be more realistic, filled with a lot more original ideas, and frankly, far more diverse than what we see on the nationally-known wedding blogs.
10 of our favorite Chicago wedding blogs and posts in 2012 (listed randomly)
1. Wedding Creativo Blog (okay yes, we are biased, ha ha) - of course as photographers, we feature lots of pretty pictures, but also practical tips and insights based on our real weddings from two decades of experience. One of our most popular posts: Make Your Own New Wedding Traditions
2. Entertaining Company Blog - this is a great catering and event design company, and owner Wendy Pashman is an amazing writer to boot. This blog shares a wide variety of ideas and inspiration for weddings and parties of all sorts. Recommended reading: How to Cocktail Like a Marchesa
3. Alice Padrul Journal - Couture wedding dress designer Alice Padrul shows her stunningly beautiful gowns in action featuring videos and photos of real brides on their wedding day, and occasionally she gives us a peek behind the curtain into her dress making workshop in Chicago. Recommended reading: The Making of a Gown
4. Sarah Drake Design Blog - Sarah Drake is a professional creative designer on several fronts, and has expanded her creative work beyond weddings and paperies, but she is a greatly admired wedding invitation designer in Chicago. We enjoy reading about what inspires her work, and also regular features of her behind the scenes working on the delicate details of her designs. Recommended reading: September = Wedding Production
5. Fleur Chicago Blog - Kellie Marie, owner of Fleur, is hands down one of the most talented florists in Chicago, and her blog regularly inspires with photos of her beautiful work, boutique floral shop, and her personal notes and insights. Recommended reading: Don't Sweat It
6. Sine Qua Non Special Events Blog - event planner Beth Bernstein leads the team at SQN with lots of practical planning advice, and her blog also shows her talents as a taste maker with posts that are always on top of the latest trends. Recommended reading: Beauty and the Brooch (Bouquet)
7. Stitely Entertainment Blog - Jeff Stitely and crew are tops among wedding musicians in Chicago, and their blog often has some surprising and clever sources of inspiration for wedding music. Recommended reading: Perpetuum Mobile - Music Inspired by Food Poisoning
8. Anita Weds Blog - Anita Vaughan is a kind and thoughtful person, which is why she is a much loved wedding officiant in Chicago. As a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant she shares a lot of diverse weddings on her blog, and we always enjoy reading how she works with couples to help them add personal touches and special meaning into their ceremonies. Recommended reading: Adding a Little Spice to a Ceremony
9. Everything But The Dress - This blog belongs to the ladies of The Left Bank, where brides find dazzling wedding jewelry in Chicago. It is always fun to see their latest arrivals and trunk shows, and we also enjoy seeing their real brides' bling, as well general wedding style tips and trends. Recommended reading: Magnificent Cuffs Inspired by the 2012 Oscar Awards
10. The Haberdash Blog - For fashion and lifestyle tips for the guys, this blog by the Chicago men's clothing boutique Haberdash is an excellent resource. This is not specifically for grooms, but these curators of fashion for well-dressed men can also inspire great ideas for grooms looking to express their own style beyond the standard black tux. Recommended reading: Classic Essentials The Overcoat
Tony Mantuano is an internationally acclaimed executive chef/partner of several restaurants, including Terzo Piano at The Modern Wing of the Art Institute, and Spiaggia, which has the distinction of being Chicago's only four-star Italian restaurant.
The Kenosha, Wisconsin native was awarded the 2005 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef Midwest, and was one of the champions on the Bravo television series, "Top Chef Masters." Mantuano specializes in Italian cuisine, and was even presented with the keys to the city of San Martino, Italy in recognition for serving authentic Italian cuisine in America. Spiaggia is also a favorite restaurant of President Barak Obama, who celebrated his election win there in 2008.
Spiaggia also has private events, and one of our recent newlyweds Rebecca and Christopher celebrated their wedding reception with a wonderful dinner by Chef Mantuano and Spaggia's impeccable staff.
When it comes to envisioning the wedding morning, and all of the elaborate preparations that will go on, we imagine most brides would like their special day to start in a beautiful and relaxing environment. For many that may be their own home, but for others there may be a search involved when it comes to finding the optimal location to get ready.
From a photography perspective, we're experts on what makes locations more appealing than others, and we think the best hotel rooms have all or most of the following features:
1. BIG windows. Rooms with grand floor to ceiling windows are optimal, but rooms with many big windows are good too.
2. Good natural light. This inherently comes with big window room, but a room with any windows is better than no windows. Natural light is best for checking your makeup for color and tone accuracy, and most desirable for those fresh face close-up portraits. For the best natural light request a room with north or south facing windows, or optimally a corner suite with windows along two walls.
3. White, cream or very lightly warm colored walls. In general light or pastel tones of beige and ambers are best for skin tones. Dark walls in brown, blue or purple are okay, but make rooms very dark. Above all, avoid green painted walls. We love the color light green as much as the next person, especially for wedding colors. However, green walls, especially darker hues, make everyone look sick.
4. Suites or a larger room. If you can swing it, or can get a great deal, try to get the largest room or suite you can afford, especially if you plan on having your bridal party get ready in the same room. No one enjoys getting ready in cramped quarters. Having a comfortable space definitely helps reduce stress.
5. Creature comforts. Often hotels are very good at making brides feel like queens for a day by including pampering perks. But even if they do, it is a good idea to bring extra treats if you are planning to have a roomful of ladies getting ready. Champaign, white grape juice, water, fruit, as well as some sweet and salty snacks, or whatever you fancy, is good to have around in order to keep your blood sugar stable and stress levels down.
With these criteria in mind, here are some hotels in or near downtown Chicago that offer brides and grooms ultimate spaces for getting ready, and of course also for your wedding night stay. They all have rooms that meet our optimal conditions for lighting and decor for great "getting ready" spaces, and are listed in random order:
We have long admired the wedding dresses of Alice Padrul Bridal Couture. Alice has been designing high fashion for decades, and exclusively creating couture wedding gowns since 2004. Giorgio and I started to see her beautiful gowns in wedding magazines several years ago, and were excited to find out that Alice's boutique studio is located nearby us in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. One of our brides recently wore a beautiful gown designed by Alice, and then we had the fortunate opportunity to visit Alice and her husband Gene at their boutique studio. We loved seeing all of her fabulous dresses and accessories, which are all made at her studio with Alice overseeing every last detail. We were also thrilled to learn that Alice imports her organza silk from Italy, and that she loves Giorgio's native country just as much as we do.
© Giorgio Ventola / Wedding Creativo
So, what exactly makes a great bridesmaid?
We take a fun look at typical bridesmaids duties in the form of a hypothetical job listing. Brides can be equal-opportunity "employers," so we just want to point out that both men and women can qualify for this position these days.
JOB TITLE: Bridal Attendant
COMPANY: Bride & Groom Inc.
REPORTS TO: Bride-to-Be
POSITIONS: Up to 10 openings available
JOB DESCRIPTION: Assist the bride on the wedding day with any specific assigned tasks, along with practical and emotional support. Attend and possibly help organize wedding day and ancillary wedding events and details.
IDEAL CANDIDATES: Positive, cheerful and supportive attitude, problem solver, detail oriented, organized and works well with a diverse group. Does not complain, even during formal wedding portraits in hot or cold weather. ;-)
ESSENTIAL QUALIFICATIONS, SKILLS AND JOB FUNCTIONS:
1. Able to handle heavy lifting (emotional or otherwise).
2. Comes to work prepared and organized with "wedding day survival" bag. Bonus points if bag matches shoes or other accessories.
3. Gets along well with others and is a team player.
4. Has strong command of tools used for wedding preparations and general problem solving.
5. Maintains a tidy workspace free of dust and lint.
6. Good with fastening microscopic jewelry clasps.
7. Has nimble fingers.
8. Helps bride get into dress without getting stuck, falling, or messing up hair and makeup.
9. Knows what "bustle" means, and can figure out how those gosh darn thingies work.
10. Experience in shoe retail is a plus.
11. Assist fellow team members as needed.
12. Set a good example for junior team members and trainees.
13. Excellent conflict resolution skills are a major plus. Confrontations should be avoided on the wedding day, especially with any company board members, such as the mother of the bride. If any conflicts arise they should be handled calmly and discretely, and preferably addressed at another time either prior to or after the wedding date.
14. Having a keen eye for details is essential.
15. Ability to break out into spontaneous comedy or stress relief exercises will be required of all successful candidates for this position.
16. The candidate with the best dress "floofing" skills will quickly be promoted to Head Floofer. This person is responsible for maintaining high quality "floofiness" of the wedding dress throughout the day, especially during the wedding ceremony.
17. Candidates with M.D. degrees, "Masters of Doting," are highly desired.
18. Those who are interested in being considered for the Maid of Honor position must be willing to take on a central role as a team leader, and should also have the ability to give a reception toast that evokes reactions of both laughter and tears, no more than 30 second apart, or optimally, at the same time.
19. Past experience as a cheerleader is helpful, but having great enthusiasm and a supportive attitude is really what matters most.
20. Finally, having specialized party and entertainment skills is not required, but they can certainly be a big advantage.
We dedicate this humorous post in honor of Lucille Ball's 100th Birthday today...and salute all women with a funny bone who help keep us all in good spirits. For more serious tips on how to choose your bridesmaids, and a guide for how to include them in your plans once you have them selected, check out this helpful article on The Dessy Group website.
Finding unique and creative perspectives is what Wedding Creativo Photography is all about. Moments like this aren't going to be on any "shot list" that magazines suggest brides send to their photographers.
The thing about "shot lists" is that they originated during a time when digital photography didn't exist. Back in the day, when photographers only shot with traditional film, there was a very limited number of exposures available to cover the entire day. Generally about 250-350 pictures used to be the norm. Shot lists were requested by the photographer so s/he would know the couple's preferences and priorities, but not because photographers didn't know the specific moments to anticipate throughout the wedding day.
Today some wedding magazines and blogs still have articles that seem to imply that if brides don't provide photographers with a shot list that they will be clueless and miss all of your important moments. Thinking this through, especially when couples hire more experienced photographers, it seems a bit silly. We don't go to the dentist with a list of which teeth we would like to have routine cleaning, and for the most part, the shot lists that the magazines and blogs write about are usually the most routine parts of a wedding day that any photographer, with even a few years of experience, will have captured dozens or even hundreds of times.
What is helpful is to just communicate with your photographer about general and specific ideas and preferences that you have. While the logistics of most wedding days are pretty similar from one to the next, what is different is how each couple prefers to have the day covered. You might not even know yet if you want a more stylized approach or less-intrusive approach, how much time to dedicate to portraits, or when and where you would like to have them take place. In one way, couples may find it helpful to review a traditional shot list while planning to have a better idea of what photographrers generally look for thorouhout the day, but experienced photographers will also help guide couples along the way with any specifics.
Each photographer has their own way to work with couples. Here at Wedding Creativo, we even have a special detailed questionnaire that we use to help with the communication process. But even just discussing creative ideas and preferences during the planning phase will be a lot more beneficial to do with your photographer rather than giving him/her a check list of typical wedding day moments like "the kiss" or "the cake cutting." For the more creative moments, you can rely on the skills and creative talents of your photographer, who is ideally someone you should feel comfortable exchanging ideas with. Overall, as with all aspects of wedding planning, communication is key.
We're seeing a lot of chevron patterns lately. This design pattern could make for a bold looking wedding theme.
We made these chevron graphic patterns inspired by spring and summer colors.
This cute chevron invitation was made by Wiley Valentine
Today we are highlighting a detail from Chris and Kelly's wedding who were married one year ago this weekend. We were inspired by their vibrant yellow, violet and lime colors and liked how they incorporated one of our favorite ideas at wedding receptions - - alternating height centerpieces. Not only do they make a stunning statement, but when done well, will not obstruct your guests vision across the table or across the room. The creative folks at Flora Chicago did a fantastic job alternating placement of the centerpieces throughout the dining hall.
Belted wedding dresses are always wonderful, but today we would like to highlight the stunning black-belt look.
When dress designer Vera Wang's Fall 2010 line came out last year and featured many dresses with a black sash, we knew it would not be long before we started seeing brides sporting black belt dresses down the aisle.
Last November our bride Kallie actually had two belts, one for daytime and one for evening to go with her lovely Sassi Holford "Chloe" dress:
We love the black belt look and hope we see more of this trend this year.
Black belts and sashes for brides:
Bridesmaids dresses with sash belts:
The bridal portrait by the window will forever be a classic. Right when you finish getting ready is the optimal time since your makeup and hair are fresh and looking perfect, and the natural daylight spilling in from the window is likely the nicest it will be all day. Sometimes there is actually something going on outside of the window to make the bride laugh or smile, and it can just be fun to spy on your guests as they arrive to the ceremony. If there is a window to look out where guests will not really see you, it can be a fun moment for some brides. For our featured photo this week, our bride Melissa has a laugh while watching her grandmother fix her grandfather's jacket and tie in the parking lot.
As a commercial airline pilot, groom Nick is quite accustomed to spending time up in the clouds. The couple make California their home, but the bride's roots are in Chicago, specifically, the Little Italy neighborhood. They found the perfect spot to combine the bride's Italian heritage and Nick's affinity for breathtaking heights by having a rooftop wedding at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame on Taylor Street. The groom's English family wedding traditions were also present, including the lucky horseshoe. Congratulations to Catherine and Nick, and of course we wish them buona fortuna!
© Wedding Creativo Photography / Giorgio Ventola Inc.
We were saddened to hear about the fire that destroyed Chicago's Cakegirls bakery. While they are working on rebuilding their business, supporters can purchase t-shirts to help Cakegirls employees. We wish them a speedy and successful recovery.
Wedding cakes are indeed works of art. From elaborate to understated, they are not only lovely centerpieces for the reception, but they also represent the style and personalities of each couple. Giorgio is always teasing me that I take 5000 pictures of the cakes at weddings, but I can't help it. I'm always in awe of the beauty and craftsmanship that goes into these sweet wonders. In honor of all cake makers, here are highlights from some of our recent weddings. The first picture is an amazing golf bag cake made by Cakegirls for a couple of avid golfers who had an elegant golf-themed reception. Feast your eyes!
© Giorgio Ventola Inc. / Wedding Creativo
We had lots of fun meeting attendees and other industry professionals at the Metropolitan Club's 'Love at Breathtaking Heights' event. We were pretty busy at our own table, but managed to collect a little video, and talked with Amanda from Spilled Ink Press. She told us about her approach to making wedding invitations and some color trends that she has been seeing lately (and I agree with what she says). An independent Chicago-based company, Spilled Ink Press recently won an International Greeting Card "LOUIE" Award.
© Giorgio Ventola / Wedding Creativo Photography
Thanks to all of our couples for a wonderful 2009 that was filled with magic moments.
All images @ Giorgio Ventola Inc. / Wedding Creativo