Monday, August 29, 2011

Where the party at?

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This is where the party's at! (And possibly some Bacardi, too.)

The Murphy Auditorium is a gorgeous French Renaissance-style building that was built in the 1920s. It's located in the heart of the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago, a mere 4 blocks from the chapel. What we really loved about the space was that it has plenty of space for all of our guests while still feeling intimate. Plus, it has theatre seats in the balcony, which is a cute nod to how Adam and I met. It checked every box on our list, and even has the unexpected bonus of outdoor space (weather permitting) for the cocktail hour! Even though it was the first venue Adam and I saw in person, we fell in love and decided that The Murphy Auditorium was the perfect place for our wedding reception. We signed the contract and put down our deposit today, exactly 13 months before our wedding!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Great Venue Search - Part 2

The Rookery
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I've loved The Rookery for years. Even before we were engaged, I dreamed about having my wedding reception here. The building was designed by Daniel Burnham, an incredibly important Chicago architect. The light court (where the reception would be held) was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and definitely satisfies #5 on the list. It satisfies #1-3, but is about 2 miles away from the chapel. As much as I loved The Rookery pre-engagement, when we walked through the space, we didn't feel it was the most conducive space to the type of reception we wanted to have

The Drake Hotel
OK, we never seriously considered The Drake, but if money were no object, this is where I would have my wedding. The Drake Hotel is a Chicago institution and is beyond elegant. It ticks every box on my list and then some. I knew it would probably cost a small fortune, but I couldn't help myself and I called anyway. Sadly, the Gold Coast Room (pictured above) was already booked for our date. They had another ballroom available, but if I couldn't have the Gold Coast Room, I knew it wasn't meant to be.

Fortunately, I wasn't too heartbroken because I'd already fallen in love with another venue. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Great Venue Search - Part 1

It seems a little bit unfair that the first decision you have to make in the wedding planning process is one of the most stressful. You can't have a wedding if you don't have a place to host the wedding, so after about 2 days of engagement bliss, it was time to get down to business and find somewhere to get this thing done.

There are a lot of beautiful places in Chicago, but as already mentioned, there are also a lot of couples who want to get married and have their receptions on those beautiful places. To narrow down our choices, I made a mental list of things we HAD TO HAVE in a venue.

1. Downtown Chicago (no suburbs)
2. Capacity for 150 guests and a sizable dance floor
3. Within close proximity to hotels
4. Within close proximity to Quigley Prep
5. Unique-feeling space (no generic banquet halls/hotel ballrooms)

A few early contenders:
Cafe Brauer
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I live about 2 blocks away from Cafe Brauer. I love my neighborhood and the park it's named after, and I would LOVE all our guests to spend some time in LP. It is a beautiful, Prairie-style building that overlooks South Pond in Lincoln Park. It definitely satisfies #1, 2 and 5, but not #3 or 4. It's also a bit over-budget for a Saturday night reception. Bummer.

Art Institute Stock Exchange Room
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 The original Chicago Stock Exchange was completed in 1894. The building was designed by Sullivan and Adler, a prominent Chicago architecture firm. The original building was torn down, but before it was demolished, sections of the Trading Room were preserved. The Trading Room was reconstructed in the 1970s at the Art Institute. This space is gorgeous, historical, very Chicago, and perfect for us because Adam works in finance. It satisfied #1-3 and definitely #5, but was a bit far from the church. It also would've been at the tippy-top of our budget. Adam was really bummed when we had to eliminate this one.

Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel
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A gorgeous hotel built in the 1920s, the Millennium Knickerbocker is a stunning venue located on the Magnificent Mile. Although Adam and I didn't really want a hotel ballroom wedding, we made an exception for this incredible space. Yes, that is a light-up dance floor. I obviously need it in my life. Making it even more special is the fact that the window from the hotel room Adam proposed in looked across an air shaft (so romantic) to the back side of the Knickerbocker. It satisfied every requirement on my mental checklist. We emailed them and found out it was in our price range. Hooray! But then they told us our date wasn't available. We weren't flexible at all with our date (more on that later), so it was a huge disappointment that we had to cross this off the list.

The search rolls on!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Goin' to the chapel

Neither Adam's nor my family is from Chicago, so we won't be getting married at our family church.

Except we kind of will be.

You see, my grandfather grew up on the south side of Chicago. He attended high school at Quigley Preparatory Seminary in the 1940s.

While Quigley Prep closed its doors to students in 2005, the Archdiocese of Chicago now uses the building to house its offices. Inside the gorgeous building is the even more gorgeous Saint James Chapel.

My school hosts Mass in this chapel for students every Sunday night. I have attended that Mass a few times, and every time I am struck by how beautiful the chapel is.

Images of chapel via
The design of the chapel is based on Sainte-Chappelle in Paris. All of the stunning stained glass windows were recently restored.

Because it's not a parish, most people have never heard of this chapel. Quigley Prep is tucked away on a side street in the Gold Coast and this chapel is on the second floor. It is open to the public for tours on Saturday mornings. I love the architecture and the family connection of the chapel (Did I mention both of our dads are named James?), and as soon as I found out it's available for weddings, I knew that was where I wanted to get married.

2 days after we got engaged, I called to reserve our date. Fortunately, they had availability, so Adam and I will be getting married at the Saint James Chapel on:
September 29, 2012 at 1pm!

To make the ceremony even more special, my uncle will preside over the Mass and my dear friend from college will be our music director/pianist/organist. I can't wait!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Let the games begin

Adam has lived in Chicago for a little over 5 years now, and I have been here for a little over one year. Chicago is a big part of who we are as a couple, so it is important to us to have our wedding here. Because we knew we'd be competing against thousands of other couples for venues and vendors, we started planning right away, figuring we'd be the first ant to the picnic.

How wrong we were.

I never could have anticipated the number of emails I would get 14 months before our date saying, "Thank you for your interest, but we're already booked on that date." With all the decisions we have to make while wedding planning, I guess it's a good thing that our venue list was narrowed down a bit for us. Now we just have to sift through all of them to find the perfect one for us! No pressure.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


We were celebrating our 4-year dating anniversary with a downtown mini-staycation. After a delicious dinner at NoMI, we returned to our hotel room at the Westin. I gave him my gift (fancy brunch for the next morning at Balsan), and he gave me mine. An iPad. WHAT?!? I opened the iPad and turned it on. A picture popped up of a beautiful diamond ring.
Adam was kneeling next to me with the same beautiful diamond ring. I cried. We popped a bottle of champagne and drank it in bed while we called our parents and contemplated the amazing future ahead of us. I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

All photos personal