Monday, June 28, 2010

A Wedding Profile: Jenny and Evan's Birds & Branches Barn Wedding

Jenny and Evan were married at the wonderful Byron Colby Barn at Prairie Crossing in Grayslake. The barn was built in 1886 and served a dairy barn. It was restored in 1996 to be a social center for the Prairie Crossing Community, as well as a venue for outside events. As I learned this weekend, it's a fantastic venue for a wedding!

After weeks of horrible weather, and a prediction of a day filled with thunderstorms, we did our rehearsal inside the barn. Happily, the storms came during the night and Jenny and Evan's wedding day wound up being sunny and beautiful. We were able to have the ceremony outside
the barn in the square. It was a bit hot, but the breeze made it lovely.

The ceremo
ny began with Jenny's stepfather singing "Here, There, and Everywhere" by the Beatles. It was incredible! Not only was it lovely that he sang for the wedding, his version was breath-taking!

Another lovely element was tha
t Jenny was escorted in by someone very special - her son. It was really sweet.

Jenny and Evan decided on a sand ceremony as a
family unity ritual. The couple, along with Jenny's son, poured sand into was a slender bottle with a lovely ceramic bird stopper - a gift from Jenny's mom. It tied in perfectly to the theme of the wedding, which was birds and branches.

Which brings me to the wedding decor......

I have to s
ay, I was taken aback when I walked into the barn just before the ceremony. It was completely transformed from the day before! The bright shades of light blue and green, paired with the branches and bird decorations, made it magical! It was way prettier than the weddings you see in bridal magazines.

All the details were just perfect.

The cake was decorated with branches bearing tiny green blossoms, and a darling little bird cake topper.

The tables were decked out with light blue linens and light green table runners. Each table featured a striking centerpiece with a tall vase containing an arrangement of branched with tealights little birds throughout.

One of my
favorite touches was the sweet little birds nest place card holders - with little candy "eggs" in the nests!

I am still in awe!

It was a beautiful wedding - for a really sweet couple. It was such a joy to be a part of their wonderful day!

ions, Evan and Jenny!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Crafty Ideas for Crafty Couples!

When I go to my local library, I like to check out the latest releases in the non-fiction section. I head right to the cookbooks and craft books. I was pretty excited when I found Crafty Ideas for the Bride on a Budget by Linda Knopp. Yes, I'm a craft nerd. And I'm not ashamed.

I've found that wedding craft books tend to have a mixture of lovely crafts, sprinkled with projects that you wouldn't do even if your life depended on it. Let's face it - some of them are really dorky. And, dare I say it, kinda ugly. And then, on the other end of the spectrum, are the books with projects so complicated that even Marta Stewart's staff of crafty elves would flinch.

Well, not so with this book. The projects are attractive and (yay!) pretty easy to do - with very clear instructions.
My favorites are the Bright Bride's Bouquet, the Well Wishes Bell and the Unity Candle Set.

I recommend checking out this book for some great ideas for your crafty wedding.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lauren & Randy's Lake Michigan Wedding

I recently had the honor of officiating Lauren & Randy's wedding at Navy Pier. More specifically, it was on Mystic Blue, one of the beautiful yachts at Navy Pier.

I have to confess that I was really nervous about this ceremony. I was already starting to worry about it a few months ago.

The reason is that, about a year ago, I learned that I am not a boat-lover.

It happened when I was with my son and his friends on an educational "cruise" on a big sailboat at Milwaukee's Discovery World. They kids
collected water samples, checked out the samples under microscopes and did lots of other cool stuff. The problem was, I started getting really queasy. I went below deck, thinking it would help. Wrong! that made it worse. Thank goodness one of the other parents noticed my misery and offered me a Dramamine. Yay for prepared moms!

My only other boat experience was on a b
oat outing with my husband's office on the day of the Air and Water Show. Pretty much every one was miserable, with several people hanging their heads over the sides. But, the owner of the company refused to dock early, because he fully intended on getting his money's worth.

Hence, my ne
rvousness about the Navy Pier wedding. I probably checked with the Lauren about a hundred times, making sure I would be able to get off the boat before it sailed.

Well, it was all needless worry, because I stepped aboard and didn't feel a thing. Yay!

It was so beautiful, as you can tell from the top photo, taken before the guests arrived.

It had been raining while I was driving towards downtown and it was pretty dreary as we waited for the
boat. But, as we waited, the sun began to peek out. By the time we began, it had turned into a gorgeous evening. The view was spectacular!

The ceremony included a handfasting ritual, in which Randy's mom and step-mom participated by wrapping and unwrapping the cord. The handfasting cord was truly the most beautiful one
I have ever seen. Lauren, an art teacher and very gifted artist, made the cord by hand, incorporating colors meaningful to her and Randy. She also put a loop on one end, so it can by hung up in their home as a keepsake.

Great idea for all you
crafty couples!

It was so wonderful to be a part of this lovely wedding.

Congratulations Lauren & Randy! I wish you a lifetime of love and joy!

P.S. You will be relieved to know that Lauren did not actually push Randy off the boat (bottom photo). Well, at least not while I was there to witness it!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's the Point?

The Point, also known as Promontory Point, is a peninsula created in the 1930's on Lake Michi
gan. The field house, with its wall of windows, features a gorgeous view of Chicago's lakefront.

The interior, in addition to offering a great view, provides a lovely, open space for a ceremony and/or rec
eption. There is also a patio on the northern side of the building which is a perfect spot for a ceremony if the weather permits.

I had the pleasure of officiating a wedding at Promontory Point (for a very sweet & lovely couple!) during the first weekend of June. The weather was
pretty gray and the threat of rain loomed over us. I have to admit that, while I was grateful for the breeze, I was also a little nervous about those dark clouds that were gathering.

However, the outdoor ceremony was spared the rain. In fact, at the exact moment that the couple exchanged their "I do," the sun broke through the clouds. I wish I could have planned it that way!

It wa
s too perfect!

So, if you're looking for a venue that offers a beautiful view, and brings you a little closer to Mother Nature, this may be your spot!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wedding Rituals: The Movie

This past Sunday, I met with my lovely colleague, Lamira Martin, to film wedding rituals in downtown Chicago. Lamira is an instructor at the Celebrant Foundation and Institute, where we both received our certification. She is putting together a film of rituals for the class she teaches to future Celebrants.

We had some difficulty recruiting participants, so I rounded up my family to play as many parts as possible. Lamira's son was kind enough to do the filming and he even provided his two actor friends to participate.

We set up our props inside the Cultural Center, in the gorgeous Tiffany-domed room, Preston Bradley Hall. It's such a stunning place - definitely an incredible venue for a wedding!

It was especially fun telling my kids about the old days, when this building was the main Chicago public library. About 30 years ago, I even used to volunteer here as a book shelver! I can remember many days of being shushed by the librarians here. Good times. But I digress.

So, as we were setting up, I had the idea that maybe we could convince a few passersby to participate in the filming. We had enough grooms in our group, but no brides. So, why not?

My husband took charge and went outside to see if he could find someone to help. To my shock, he came back with a lovely (and patient!) woman named Jenny. She was so gracious and offered to help us, while her husband and their relatives continued walking around. She was such a good sport!

After accosting several other people, including a group of Austrian tourists (I thought I had them when I explained in German what we were
doing- but no luck), a nice man named Thomas was willing to help. He was also very patient and willing to do as much as we needed. He was great!

Jenny and Thomas went through several rituals for us, portraying the bride and groom. They were fantastic! In the top photo, they are in character (with me), waiting for their children (mine,
actually) to present them with flowers.

Later, we even got Jenny's husband, Tovi, to join in. Here he is (middle photo) with Jenny, participating in the Bell of Truce ritual with Lamira. After this, they stayed for a remembrance ritual. It was very sad. I had to tell him that his character had a lovely aunt and grandmother. And then I broke it to him that they were both deceased. He handled the news very well. In fact, during the remembrance, he bowed his head and was quite somber looking. I was so impressed - until he later told me it was to keep from laughing. That cracked me up!

After our first wonderful volunteers had to move on, we then convinced another woman to participat
e in filming a handfasting ritual. Jennifer, who was at the Cultural Center with her husband and cousin, roped in her unsuspecting husband, Bruce, to join the fun. We even got them to stay for another ritual, the Earth Blessings which included a Hindu water pouring ritual. Her cousin Tom, visiting from DC, was dragged into the fray, to act as the groom's father. These poor people had no idea what they were in for when they walked into that building!

In the end, we filmed over fifteen different rituals. It was great! The kids were a little tired by the end (bottom photo) but they were troopers. Everyone was wonderful.

We're especially grateful to our gracious volunteers, who were willing to be adventurous and help us out: Thomas, Jenny & Tovi, Jennifer & Bruce, and their friend whose name I neglected to get (sorry).

Thanks for starring in our movie!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Creative Chicago Weddings Contest!

I have some exciting news to share!

Wedding Creativo photography is sponsoring a Creative Chicago Weddings contest for couples who are getting married in the Chicago area in 2011.

The submission that is deemed the most creative wedding will be awarded a FREE complete wedding package!

I had the experience of officiating a wedding that was photographed by Wedding Creativo. Not only were Sarah and Giorgio lovely to work with, the photos I saw of the "Sneak peak" are fabulous! Check out their blog to see what I mean. The winner of this contest will certainly be getting a fabulous prize!

So, if you are a creative type who is planning a creative wedding, be sure to enter this contest. This means YOU!

Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Celebrations

Before I go any further, let me say that, yes, I am well aware of the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup.

But.... a little closer to my heart is the fact that the World Cup has just begun. I'll admit that I am by no means a sports fan, but having been practically raised on a soccer field, the sport is inescapable in my family.

I love it for the fact that it is truly the sport of the entire world. Having worked with refugees over the years, I know that soccer is often an escape from the harsh realities of life for many people, especially children. I can clearly recall a time several years ago, when I brought a donated soccer ball to a Somali family with three sons. The look of joy on their faces was the best thank you I could ever get. It still makes me smile.

So, I am compelled to share the news that there was a another sports celebration happening today. It was the opening game of the World Cup in South Africa.
The South African consulate is hosting Celebrate Africa right here in Chicago, which will include public viewing parties and soccer tournaments.

This morning, Daley Plaza played host to the viewing of the Mexico - South Africa game (which ended in a 1-1 tie). In addition to the game, there was plenty of entertainment, including musical performances by a South African drumming group and a Mexican Mariachi ensemble. I heard a re-cap of the event on Worldview on WBEZ and it sounded amazing. One of the highlights was when the African drummers joined the mariachis and had a spontaneous jam. Could this happen any place else??

Just to get you in the spirit of this incredible world-wide party, here's the official World Cup song (in Spanish & English).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Is This a Great Party, or What??

This evening I met with a very cool couple, and I'm so excited that I'll be officiating their wedding at Brookfield Zoo this fall. Not only have I been dying to do a wedding at the zoo, I can tell I'm going to have a ball working with this couple. Yay! It's going to be so much fun!

This got me to thinking about an article I saw a few months ago, which was all about having a fun wedding. The article,cleverly titled
Ideas for Having a Fun Wedding (found at 2000 Dollar Wedding, one of my favorite wedding blogs) had some great tips.

My favor
ites include:

Having a hula-hoop contest
Hosting a scavenger hunt
Renting a juke box
(as you may know from past posts, one of my favorite ideas!)

Plus, readers posted some of their own favorite fun ideas, including foam swords for the gro
omsmen and kite-flying for the guests.

Gotta love it!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Attention Crafty Brides: Make Your Own Bouquet!

Let me tell you a tale of woe. It's the sad saga of my wedding bouquet. sister said she knew someone who could preserve the flowers from my bouquet. I handed over the flowers after the wedding, so they could do their magic.

A few weeks later, my sister presented me with a beautiful wreath, created with the flowers, which had been dried. It was so pretty. I was thrilled! I hung it on my wall and thanked my lucky stars for granting me a thoughtful sister.

Now the sad part. The person who "preserved" the flowers actually didn't. I'm guessi
ng now that the flowers were just put somewhere to dry. A car trunk maybe? Okay, I know that's a little snotty, but as they hung on my wall, they began to disintegrate. There was always a little pile of dust on the floor every few days and I realized that the flowers were falling apart. Grrr.....

So, with that sad story in mind, I got all excited when I saw this fabulous project at one of my favorite
wedding blogs, Offbeat Bride.

Then I realized, "Oh wait a minute. I'm already married." Darn. Not that I don't love my dear hubby, but man, this is one cool DIY bouquet! So check out the article How to DIY Your Own Button and Bead Bouquet. Although it may take some time, it's not difficult. Even I could do it! (And I just may......)

Plus, you can have this bouquet as a keepsake..... forever!

By the way, my sad bouquet story does have a happy ending. My husband took a photo from our wedding to a floral shop and had them make a wreath with the same flowers that were in my bouquet- this time with silk flowers. He gave it to me for our first anniversary. Yup, he's a keeper. I'm gonna go give him a big smooch right now.