Monday, August 18, 2014

Planning 101

One of the best decisions I made in the planning process was to hire a wedding planner. I had no clue where to begin planning a wedding in Los Angeles, so I started searching for the best ones in LA. While scouring the interwebs, I saw that Geller Events was voted number one on City Search and chose them because one of their reviews stood out to me: "They are super nice, but bulldogs when they need to be." Sounded like my kind of women. Kyle was sold because he got to play with their dogs and eat chips and salsa at all the meetings. Doesn't take much to win a man over.

Now I may fall into that creepy category, because I still do monthly dinners with our wedding planner Paige Blatt. Did I really hire a wedding planner or am I simply paying for friends? I should probably ponder that question...

But here are some things you should consider before hiring a planner of your own:



Regardless of what you decide to do, also think about the idea of a Day-Of Coordinator. Those can range from 500-2k and may be easier on the wallet. It's always nice to have someone on hand that you aren't related to (so yelling at them isn't as easy) that can deal with setup, take down, or emergency situations (like if the shuttles never show or grandma goes missing, trust me I've seen it happen...)

Wedding planners certainly aren't a necessity but are definitely nice to have. Only you can be the one to make the decision if one is right for you!







Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hometown Represent

My mother's parents hail from San Marino, Italy, but every time I ask my dad what his ancestry is, his answer is always the same -- hillbilly. Case in point above.

Maybe that explains my undying love for both Olive Garden and Professional Wrestling.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Katie & Scott : Keith Lee Studios

Meet Katie & Scott. By the looks of their beautiful, rustic St. Louis winter wedding, you would have thought the planning process would have been just like the pictures--perfection. Little did you know Katie's week before the wedding was full of sleepless nights, tears, and breakdowns but the tears have since turned to laughter. A missing priest tops the list of one of the many I Guess I Do moments at this St. Louis affair! Enjoy Katie's story in her own words below...
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It feels quite timely writing this blog and reflecting on our wedding over the 4th of July. When Scott and I knew we were dating seriously, I began daydreaming about our wedding far off in the future one day. We liked the idea of having it over the 4th of July weekend. When Scott proposed on Christmas Eve in 2012 (at the restaurant where we had our first date), we started thinking about dates, venues, colors, themes, and the million other choices in between. Instead of a brightly colored summery wedding, we realized that we wanted something a little different...a rustic, winter wedding in December. 

Let me back up a few steps…Scott and I first met at a toga party in St. Louis, MO. A grand, romantic story we can share with our children someday, right? I was having drinks with my friend Joanna (matchmaker credit) when she invited me to her boyfriend’s friend’s party. A party hosted by the rowdiest of crowds: law students. Sounds like a blast! Why not? Not knowing this was a theme party, I showed up at the party sans toga. Within the first 30 minutes, the party host (and my future husband) came up to tease me about not adhering to the dress code…. in quite a cute, flirty way. Before leaving the party, Scott made sure to ask for my number. Apparently, I left at the exact right time. He will neither confirm nor deny having lost his toga shortly thereafter. Rumor has it 4Loko was involved. 

We went on our first date about a week later...and although I played hard to get...the rest was history. We dated for a summer in St. Louis, then did the long distance game for 1.5 years when Scott moved to Chicago to start his job. I eventually joined Scott in Chicago where we currently live. 

After a lovely Christmas Eve engagement, we started to think about the big decisions. Chicago or St. Louis? What time of year? Full Catholic mass? Who will be the bridesmaids and groomsmen? How many people? Within a month we resolved these items and got to work on the little fun details that turn a wedding into one of life’s greatest parties. 

Through the process, Scott made only 3 requests: 1) bowties instead of ties (every man should get to be James Bond for at least one day), 2) a DJ instead of a band, and 3) that we have a proper first dance (aka take dance lessons). Other than that, he was a happy camper with everything else. 

I was a little more...particular…with just about everything. For the venue, I knew I wanted a rustic, hard wood floor, exposed brick location. I did some research online and found the perfect place. The Moulin. The food is catered by the restaurant above, Vin de Set. After getting a tour, we wasted no time booking it. There was a little mix up with a holiday party, but after a minor heart attack, the Moulin was ours for 12/14/13. Their staff is amazing. They walked us through every step of the planning process and on the day of, made sure Scott and I always had a beverage in hand. 


We aren’t cake people, but we LOVE cupcakes. Selecting The Cup was a no brainer. They taste amazing and we have some great date memories there. Bloomin’ Buckets was a joy to work with. Barb brings her own special blend of class and creativity to the flower arrangements. 

As the big day approached, the reality that I was getting married struck me like a sledge hammer. Poised. Relaxed. Glowing. Calm and Collected. These are the words I would use to describe the flawless brides in magazines and on the perfect pinterest boards. On the week leading up to the wedding, I was not one of those brides. Even after being in several weddings, nothing could prepare me for the reality of a million little details coming together for one day. I am not a natural delegator, so I definitely took on too much. For all of the soon-to-be-brides out there, I would 100% recommend relying on your bridesmaids as much as possible…for the sake of your own sanity. 

5 days before the wedding, I descended into slight hysterics. Scott had a job interview and couldn’t make it to STL until the Wednesday beforehand. I couldn’t sleep from all the stress. I called Scott every few hours crying…usually without an actual reason. He would manage to calm me down, but it was getting dicier by the day.

3 days before the wedding, Scott finally arrived in STL. We went out to dinner, drank a glass of wine, and he convinced me that everything would feel better after a good night’s sleep. Before I fell asleep that night, I told Scott I was sorry for being a crazy person lately and asked him if he still wanted to marry me. I’ll never forget what he said, “Of course I want to marry you, but I never want to plan a wedding with you ever again.” I could not have agreed more =) 


The day of our rehearsal was a little rough. Our priest, the man who married my own parents 34 years earlier, was scheduled to arrive in town on the Amtrak from Springfield, IL. My mom and I waited eagerly at the station for him. His train arrived as scheduled and we watched from the parking lot. We watched and waited...and waited...and watched the entire train’s contents get their cabs or their rides home. And there was no priest to be found. We tried calling his office, where they confirmed that he got on the train as scheduled. Of course he was not answering his cell phone. I had visions of him asleep on the train continuing on to Kansas City.

As I began to hyperventilate, my family and friends convinced me to get ready for the rehearsal as planned. Meanwhile, one of the groomsmen was googling how to get ordained as a minister. About 30 minutes before the rehearsal, I got a call from a friend saying they arrived to the church early and wanted to warn me the steps were icy. I shouted “IS THERE A PRIEST AT THE CHURCH?” Somehow he had gotten himself to the church. It was a Christmas miracle, literally! 


The day of the wedding, my vision came to life. Our colors were gray, silver ivory and pops of rustic greenery. Everyone and everything looked perfect! It was a major success that we managed to get hair and make up done for 13 women on time for an 11am wedding. My sister/maid of honor’s speech was fantastic! We nailed our first dance to Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are The Best Thing”. The reception food was delicious! 

However, we also had our fair share of I Guess I Do moments:

- It snowed 3 inches the morning of the wedding. Great for pictures, not so great for transportation. Thankfully we planned for this and the wedding party and guests were staying at a hotel just 2 miles from the church.

- Due to the weather, one of the groomsmen’s flights was delayed. He was able to hop on an early morning flight and arrived in town about 1 hour before the wedding. In about 5 minutes flat, he walked into the hotel, changed into a full tux, jumped on the shuttle and arrived at the church like a champ.

- The shuttle to/from the hotel was taking inefficient routes in the snow, so guests weren’t arriving as effortlessly as I had hoped. As a result, the wedding ceremony started 30 minutes late. I am always tardy, so truly I could not care less about this. I was determined not to walk down the aisle until our family arrived.

- Our ceremony was designed to blend a few Jewish traditions (Scott’s religion) into the Catholic mass. This would have gone smoother if Scott had been able to successfully stomp on the glass on the first try. Or the second. Thankfully, the third time was the charm!

- Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures at the church with my favorite aunt. Luckily, the videographer was able to capture some great moments.

- Our planned receiving line at the reception never quite got into formation. We were distracted by the crab cakes and champagne...

- Scott’s brother, the best man, slipped into a British accent during his speech. This started a rumor that he studied abroad in the UK and the accent stuck.

- My newly minted husband spilled red wine down my dress. Against all odds, I managed not to kill him on the spot. Luckily, our wedding assistant had some kind of spray that gets out red wine stains.

- In another Jewish party-foul, when we went up into the chairs for the Hava Nagila, Scott got thrown out of the chair. If you ask him about it, he will proudly inform you that he stuck the landing.

- Our DJ played the wrong Rihanna song…but the world kept spinning. 



Honestly, I had forgotten about these I Guess I Do moments until writing this (well, except for the MIA priest, but I can actually laugh about it now). To us, our wedding day was the best day of our lives. At the reception, we took a few moments to ourselves to take in our surroundings. This was the physical embodiment of our new lives together - our friends and family buzzing around, dancing, laughing, and sharing in our special day. On December 14, 2013 I was lucky enough to marry the one person that I want to spend every minute of every day with for the rest of our lives. What could be more perfect than that? 

 Photograher: Keith Lee Studios  Videographer: Tower Studios  DJ and Photobooth: Complete Music  Cupcakes: The Cup  Make Up: Ali Lee  Hair: Aveda Salon @ the Chase Park Plaza Hotel Florist: Bloomin’ Buckets Dance Lessons: Dani @ Arthur Murray Chicago Ceremony Venue: St. Francis Xavier College Church @Saint Louis Univeristy  Reception Venue: The Moulin  Transportation: The MAC Shuttle, St. Louis Transportation
Wedding Dress: Dimitra’s Bridal Chicago - Designer: Alvina Valenta  Bridesmaids Dresses: Bella Bridesmaid - Designer: Monique L’Huillier  Tuxedos - Designer: Vera Wang Invitations, Save-the-Dates and place cards: Courtney Callahan Paper Rehearsal Dinner: Charlie’s Gitto’s On the Hill