Kaci & Eric's wedding is truly one for the books! From the surprise engagement, to the evening of dancing with friends, this wedding was a true fairy-tale! The guests are most likely still chatting about this amazing affair!
How did we meet?
My fiancé Eric and I met at work (CareerBuilder.com) almost 4 years exactly prior to the day of our wedding. Both originally from Iowa, and even having attended the same college at the same time with several mutual friends, we never met until we lived in Chicago. He walked into the orientation room, sat across from me and introduced himself as “Eric from Iowa”. I was hooked! After that we became very close friends, attended many work outings and happy hours, and eventually started dating. I knew very early on that he was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. After my first day of work, I went home and jokingly told my roommate I had met my future husband. That actually turned out to be true.
It was a Thursday night – a work night – so there was not even a vague thought that this would be the night we’d get engaged. One of my very best friends had asked us to go to dinner for her fiancé’s birthday at Carmines, so I was getting ready to go out for the evening. Little did I know, that was just a ruse. Eric was out on our balcony pacing back and forth, calling his sister to ask which knee he should get down on, should he say my first name or my full name, and all the other things that ran rampant through his mind moments before he was to ask for my hand in marriage. Our dog, Lucy, kept howling – probably because she sensed Eric’s nerves, and it all seemed a little chaotic but nothing too out of the ordinary for our household. When I had finished getting ready, a knock came to the door, and since Eric was outside on the balcony, I ran to answer it as I was throwing together my purse and zipping up my heels. Our door woman was standing there with a bouquet of red roses, and I thought to myself “she must have the wrong apartment!” Without a word, she handed me the bouquet and walked away. I turned around, and there stood Eric, who took the flowers and set them on the table, and then grabbed my hands and started his well thought out speech. Then, he got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. After I quickly replied “Yes!” and the initial shock wore off, he told me that we were in fact still going to dinner, but not with our friends like I originally thought, so we should head downstairs to get a cab.
When we got outside, there was a huge limousine waiting for us – another surprise! The doors open and out pop both of our immediate families (most of whom live several hours away). We drove around the city, drank champagne, and then pulled up to Quartino’s (my favorite restaurant). He had reserved a private room for just our families in the back, and he had a special menu printed with our names on it. There were lots of toasts, wine, pasta, and it was absolutely perfect. Then he told me that he had spoken with my boss, and that I did not have to go into work the next day because he had scheduled lunch and nail appointments for my mother, my two best friends, and my new sister and mother in law, and myself so that we could really enjoy the day. He then further explained that Friday night all of our closest friends and family were throwing an engagement party for us, and we were celebrating all weekend! It was truly so well thought out, so well-coordinated, and everything I could’ve hoped for. The actual engagement was private, but we were able to celebrate immediately with our families and then the next day with our best friends. It was perfect!
How did you choose the location for your wedding? What type of venue were you looking for?
Eric and I were married in a Catholic Church in a small town right outside of Iowa City, and our reception was held at the Coralville Marriott which is about 10 minutes away from our home. When we got engaged, we were still living in Chicago, and so we debated whether or not we wanted to get married in the city, or closer to where we both grew up. We decided on Iowa City, because it’s right in the middle between my hometown in Iowa and Chicago. We also knew that our friends would enjoy traveling to Iowa City, because it’s the town in which most of them went to college. With it being 4th of July weekend, we also wanted easy access to a lake so that the next day we could enjoy the holiday and keep the party going!
Originally, we were looking for a less traditional venue – something different, something that didn’t feel so “cliché”. I was very hesitant about booking a ballroom, but ultimately it was the best decision. We didn’t want to have to worry or stress about bringing in food, alcohol, tables, chairs, etc. The Coralville Marriott also has a beautiful terrace overlooking a pond and wildlife preserve that we were able to fully utilize in addition to the ballroom – which was great because then we could enjoy an indoor/outdoor venue without worrying about the weather.
The hotel was also extremely easy to work with and overly accommodating. Guests enjoyed being able to party at the reception, and then head up to their hotel rooms when they were ready to call it a night. We wanted to keep things easy for ourselves and for our guests, and it was.
How did you decide on your bridesmaids dresses? Tell us about your experience at Bella!
The things most important to me in finding bridesmaid dresses were that I didn’t ask my bridesmaids to spend an arm and a leg on their dress, and that they felt comfortable and beautiful in whatever they were going to wear. I wanted each of them to feel like themselves, and with a bridal party of ten it was very difficult to map that out. I would’ve loved to have all of my bridesmaids there with me to shop, but several of the girls lived out of town and I also knew that I didn’t want too many cooks in the kitchen!
My maid of honor set an appointment for me at Bella Bridesmaids and off the two of us went. It was honestly one of the best and most fun experiences of my entire engagement! Just walking into the store, you feel energy and excitement. It’s bright, hip, and fun in Bella Bridesmaids Chicago. Eileen listened to what we were thinking (we were all over the map) and started pulling dresses that were exactly what I wanted. She also helped me to identify which dresses I wanted in which colors (as I was doing mix and match dresses and mix and match colors) – which made things super easy. All the women at Bella have great taste, so I trusted the styles that were recommended and how to coordinate different dresses together!
I didn’t need to shop anywhere else, because Bella had everything I would’ve wanted to see at any other store. Everything was also reasonably priced, and I was able to find dresses that I didn’t feel bad asking my girls to purchase. We were able to select 4-5 dresses we liked, and then from there I decided which girls I wanted in which dresses based on their personality and style. Then I asked a few of the bridesmaids to go back to Bella at their convenience, try them on, and make sure they liked them/see if there were any issues with what I’d picked out. The ordering process was easy too, because I had bridesmaids in Chicago, San Francisco, Milwaukee, and a few in Iowa. The Chicago, San Francisco, and Milwaukee girls were able to go into Bella shops there to get measured and try on, and then the rest of the girls that didn’t have local Bella shops were able to call or email their measurements in. Super fun and super easy for everyone.
Who designed your bridal gown? Where did you get it?
My gown is the “Diana” gown and I purchased it at Vera Wang in Chicago.
What was your favorite part of the day?
The whole day was great, but my favorite part was near the end of the evening. Our band, Entourage (out of Chicago) invited my groom and I up onto the stage for the final three songs of the night. We sang and danced with them and were able to see all of our guests on the dance floor having fun and singing/dancing along with us. It is a memory I will never forget.
What inspired you when you were planning your big day?
Before we started planning the wedding, we came up with 3 words/adjectives that we wanted our day to be -Fun, Classic, and “Summery”. (I know summer isn’t an adjective but it worked in this scenarioJ) We then pulled inspiration from the blogs and Pinterest centered on those words and made sure everything we selected tied into that. It sounds lame, but it worked well and kept things cohesive!
What advice do you have for other brides?
Decide early on what you and your groom care most about and plan from there. Don’t get wrapped up in little things that aren’t important and that aren’t on your priority list. Also, try to have everything done a day or two before the wedding, and after that deadline, leave it up to the universe. Lastly, hire a Wedding Coordinator. Having the day run smoothly, on time, and stress free is more than worth it.
To view MORE photos from this spectacular wedding, visit Photographer Amanda Basteen's website!!