If you are sitting in the freezing cold weather, dreaming of when summer will be here again, this real wedding might help you out a bit ... a brightly colored, summertime wedding photographed by the talented Jake of Two Birds Photography. I love the flowers, the fact that this couple had 16 wedding cakes(!!!), and the bride's red stilettos. Enjoy!
Jeff and I have been together for quite a while and the majority of our relationship has been long distance. Although we’re from the same hometown, we were at different colleges when we first started going out and then different states when we both got jobs. It wasn't until a couple years ago when we lived in the same state that we got to see each other on a regular basis! Because we've been together so long (we considered ourselves pretty much married already!), we knew we wanted to make this very personal and more like a party instead of a wedding.
My Chinese culture is very important to me and we both wanted to incorporate some traditions throughout our wedding. Red, which symbolizes good luck, was prominent in our color scheme. Not only was it present in our flowers, décor, and attire, but guests signed a red cloth (the Chinese version of a guest book), elder and honored guests wore red carnations, and I changed into a red cheongsam (a traditional Chinese wedding dress) at the reception.
Photography was an important priority for us and we spent a crazy amount of time scouring the Internet for a photographer until we found Jake, of Two Birds Photography. Once we met with him, we knew our search was over. He and his wife Jennifer are exceptional at their profession and their photographs are so natural, artistic, and evoke so much emotion. We knew we were in good hands! On our wedding day, Jake’s unassuming and easygoing demeanor helped us relax. He worked hard in terrible July heat and was able to capture so many meaningful shots throughout the day without either of us knowing; some friends even started calling him “the photo ninja”! When we received our pictures in the mail just a few weeks later, we were ecstatic. We’re so happy with how they turned out and we continue to get compliments on them from friends and family. Two Birds was definitely one of our favorite companies to work with!
Jeff’s mom loves to garden and consequently, his parents have a stunning backyard. They have always offered to host weddings for their family and we were searching for a unique and meaningful place to get married. It was the perfect place to have our ceremony.
We wanted to give people a chance to cool off for the rest of the wedding, so we opted to have our reception at the Danada House in Wheaton, just down the road. The estate (previously belonging to commodity traders Dan and Ada Rice) is now part of the DuPage County Forest Preserve and Danada Equestrian Center. There’s a beautiful windowed atrium attached to the house and a deck that allowed guests to hang out, be away from the loud music, and play the Giant Jenga a friend made for our wedding! Jill, the Danada House director, was so kind throughout the planning process, allowing us to walk through the site multiple times and answering all our questions.
Sadie, owner of The English Garden Flower Shop in Clarendon Hills, was absolutely phenomenal. Truthfully, during the wedding planning I wasn't much help in this area. I could only describe the types of flowers I wanted as “bright, fun, Summery, colorful!”. Using our color scheme and those few words, she was able to create stunning bouquets and flower arrangements for the ceremony and reception. She also personally delivered the bouquets, created a lovely moss decoration to help identify our reception site, and even stayed to help pin corsages on honored guests!
I’m a huge fan of anything sweet and love to bake so the cake was pretty important to me. Instead of a big traditional wedding cake, we had smaller cakes (16 total!) for each table so guests could share, trade, and eat multiple slices if they wanted. They were all different flavors and all slightly decorated differently. Since we also wanted something to cut, we had a smaller, 2 tiered wedding cake for us. This was a tall order. Jenny, owner of Jennycakes in Clarendon Hills, not only took on this challenge, but completely knocked it out of the park. Not only were the cakes delicious (I probably sampled nearly every one), but they were skillfully decorated. As a nod to my Chinese heritage, it was her idea to make the symbol for Double Happiness on top of our wedding cake!
Samantha: Our first dance. Jeff said that he not only wanted to do a full choreographed number, but also make it fun and add in a little hip hop. I was surprised since he’s normally pretty reserved around groups and not one to showcase his dance moves, but was totally on board. We didn't have time to take any classes but with the help of YouTube, the movie Hitch, and some of my own dated dance moves, we put together a pretty solid routine. Our dance was one of the few moments we had when we could really concentrate on each other. During it, I remember hearing clapping and shouting in the background, but all I could do was watch Jeff as he put himself out there and completely owned it. Everyone got to see the side of him I always see.
Jeff: My best moment was when we performed our unity chemical reaction during the ceremony. This was an idea that we had planned since we first got engaged. It took a while to figure out how to pull it off, and at times we weren't sure if it would work. On the day of the wedding the chemical was reacting from the exposure to the sun before we poured the two liquids together. We wound up having to have a friend sneak the chemical in to the background during the ceremony so that it was out of the sun for as long as possible. It turned out to be a great success, and really made the ceremony unique to us. It was also a big hit with all of our friends that had a science background as everyone was guessing what we used to pull this off.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. We had to plan our wedding from a distance which proved to be much more difficult than we initially thought. We made as many trips back as we could, but really had to rely on our parents and family to do some of the legwork and take care of some of the details. We were a little worried they would be overly enthusiastic and make it more their wedding than ours, but they were wonderful, completely willing to help out however they could, and our wedding was still “us”. We couldn't have done it without them!
We briefly contemplated hiring a band, but ultimately decided that a DJ was the way to go due to space and budget limitations. Toast and Jam DJs is a wonderful company who got everyone on the dance floor. A huge surprise to us was the lion dances from Chinatown! My family had secretly arranged for them to perform at our reception. What’s even better is that when they first came in, they let my dad be the head of one of the lions!
Photographer: Two Birds Photography
Venue: The Danada House
Wedding Cake and Desserts: Jennycakes
Flowers: The English Garden Flower Shop
Wedding Film: Wedit
Catering: My Chef Catering
Bride's Dress: Posh Bridal Couture
Wedding DJ: Toast and Jam DJs
Ceremony Music: Dolce Strings