How did you meet your Fiancé?
Michael and I met our first week of our freshman year at Washington University in St. Louis. We became friends pretty quickly, and a small group of us stuck together throughout all 4 years of college. We both moved to Chicago after graduation in 2007, and it wasn't until summer of 2011 that we realized we had been ignoring our love for each other over the previous 8 years. We always said we were "just good friends," but looking back on it, it was obvious that was never the case!
Tell us about the proposal!
Because we had 8 years of friendship behind us, Michael had an arsenal of movies, pictures, and memories at his disposal. I was living with him in Durham, North Carolina while he finished business school in 2013, so I was used to his very hectic schedule. Before spring break, his schedule seemed to be on overload. Late night meetings, early morning meetings, middle of the day meetings - it was brutal. As president of a film club on campus, Michael was actually spending all of his time putting together a movie about our 8 years together.
On March 30, 2013 we were going to get up early to head to Michael's parents' house for Passover, but I awoke instead to Michael handing me a sunflower and a card telling me to get up, get dressed, and head to the living room and "I'll know what to do." I instantly knew what was happening, and while I was getting dressed, Michael stepped out to go "take care of some things." I followed the trail of cards and sunflowers to the couch where the final note said to push play and, in my excitement, failed to realize that Michael had completely vanished from the apartment.
The movie lasted around 20 minutes, and was filled with memories of past adventures (both while dating and just "friends"), and culminated with video of all of our family members wishing us the best of luck. At one point, the screen said "Michael can take it from here" and he walked in from the back porch, got down on his knee, and proposed. Although I have no memory of this due to my rushing adrenaline, Michael had been filming me the entire time so the next day I got to watch myself cry for 20 minutes in my pajamas!
We headed to Michael's parents' house after that, and the 5 hour drive seemed like it took 25 minutes.
How did you choose the location for your wedding? What type of venue were you looking for?
My grandfather was an executive at Tribune Company and the Chicago Tribune during the 1980s and 1990s, so my childhood memories were filled with trips to Chicago and to Papa's office on Michigan Avenue. My grandfather was instrumental in convincing me to apply to Washington University in St. Louis, and I always felt that without him I wouldn't have been anywhere close to where I am today. My grandfather's health has declined and I knew he would be unable to travel to attend the wedding. Howell's and Hood restaurant opened a few weeks before we got engaged, and I knew that having a wedding in Tribune Tower would be a way of both honoring my grandfather, and celebrating the beautiful city in which Michael and I fell in love. Our ceremony was outside in the crown of the Tribune, one floor above my grandfather's old office.
How did you decide on your bridesmaids dresses? Tell us about your experience at Bella!
The theme throughout our year of wedding planning was "one and done." We had one idea for a venue and booked it. I had one idea of a dress and I bought it. You get the idea! Almost everything fell into place, and I felt insanely lucky. I was nervous about picking bridesmaid dresses for a few reasons: 1) I had a mixed bridal party, meaning I needed 3 dresses and 3 suits. I don't know if I was more fearful of overly matching my bridesmaids and bridesguys, or of making them look like 2 separate bridal parties. 2) I have literally never in my entire life, seen a bridesmaid dress that I loved / would wear myself. (Sorry guys!) I think I saw the Lela Rose dress on the Dessy Group website and said "one and done!" I made an appointment at Bella Bridesmaids Chicago and it was awesome! Everyone was so incredibly nice and I instantly felt much more comfortable.
I had one of my bridesmaids with me and she tried on a few other dresses to humor me, but we knew which one we were going for. I ended up getting 3 of the same dress in varying colors, and it was one of the easiest parts of wedding planning! Thanks guys :)
Who designed your bridal gown? Where did you get it?
Oh gosh my wedding dress! My pride and joy! I have spent countless years looking at wedding dresses online "just in case" I ever get married. While I've found some that I liked, I could never actually picture myself in them. I am not an easy person to please, and have always turned up my nose at traditional style. Everything seemed too "wedding dress-y" and bridal. While that might seem like a weird thing not to enjoy when looking for a wedding dress, I couldn't shake the feeling that there HAD to be one out there for me.
Praise be to Pinterest! I had seen hundreds of gowns on Pinterest, but one afternoon I saw a picture of "THE ONE." I had never seen a dress so beautifully "Allie" and I had to have it. I saw that the designer was Dennis Basso, and that it was from his spring line, not his bridal line - perfect! I emailed the Dennis Basso store in NYC and asked for more information and held my breath for the day I waited for a response. The good news: Dennis basso only has a few stores in the United States, including one in Aspen, Colorado where I was headed in a few months for a wedding. The bad news: there was only one left in circulation, and if it didn't fit I was going to have to have one made for me.
I dreaded that meeting for months. My mom met me in Aspen that weekend so she could be there while I tried it on. My fiancé went next door to get a drink, and before he could take his first sip I had already tried it on, cried, and texted him, "ONE. AND. DONE." It fit like a glove, and it was mine.
What was your favorite part of the day?
Is "all of it" an acceptable answer??? The day of our wedding was a day I will never forget for as long as I live. Every sense was heightened to levels I didn't know existed, and I felt like the Grinch (in a good way) every time my heart pounded and it felt like it was growing out of my chest. My fiancé and I planned a first look/reveal that afternoon so we could avoid the anxiety that comes with seeing each other for the first time in front of hundreds of people. (And also because we wanted to spend all day together drinking champagne with our best friends before the chaos began).
The real best moment might have been that instant where I heard him walk into the hotel suite and I walked down the stairs to greet him. I had felt pretty calm the entire morning, but seeing his face made me realize how unsteady I had actually been. He calmed me down from a place I didn't even know I was, and I felt like at that moment, the day could finally begin.
What inspired you when you were planning your big day?
Aesthetically, The Chicago Tribune building was a huge inspiration…the muted tones of the building, the sunlight hitting the gothic spires on top, all of it. The building is so classically elegant, yet wildly unique, and that was the look we were going for. The old printing plates for the paper are made of copper, so copper adorns the walls and tables of the venue. When we were planning the wedding, we made sure to have pops of metallics and coppers to highlight the importance of the venue.
What advise do you have for other brides?
The one thing I took away from the wedding process is to trust yourself. Everyone you know has an opinion and a suggestion, and if you listen to them too intently or watch too many wedding shows you'll begin to doubt yourself. The moment you let that doubt settle in, you're already losing the ability to represent yourself at your wedding. There were times when I feared I was doubting myself, and I had to put the planning down and walk away for the day. "One and done" might not work for everyone, but my one piece of advice is that you shouldn't double guess yourself if you fall in love with the first venue/gown/flowers/etc you find - instinct is a powerful tool that shouldn't be ignored! My other piece of advice is pretty simple - ignore the stereotype that weddings are for women and the planning should reflect that. Without the help of my fiancé, I would have drowned in anxiety. You want the day to reflect your relationship, so work together and you won't regret it.
Photo credit: Chip Litherland with Eleven Weddings Photography