So, I don't play favorites ... really, I don't. But, I have to say that this is my favorite, by far, interview I have ever received from a bride and groom. Their answers .. I don't even know ... are so amazing to read! If you are planning your wedding, read this. Period. Just read it. And also, it goes along with some incredible eye-candy by Two Birds Photography ... a photography company I hope I am lucky enough to one day meet and photograph my own loved ones: my family.
While typically I do admit I am a 'detail image' junkie, designing this real wedding feature reminded me of how much a respect and adore a true wedding portrait. An image of a couple, a bride, or a groom that gives me chills. This wedding is full of those and it made me think back to my own wedding day and the excitement, nervousness, giddiness I felt that day. That's what a great photo will do to you. And these photos are truly great. Chicago brides, or anyone for that matter (Two Birds Photography will travel!!) get ready to drool puddles.
Choosing the perfect photographer was a priority for Nick and I from the start. We had a particular style in mind and knew that our photos would be the best place to invest the bulk of our budget. After all, it’s the only wedding detail we can take with us long after the day is over.
As fate would have it, I saw photos of a friend's wedding purely by chance and immediately fell in love with Two Birds Photography. I wanted a very editorial style, devoid of posed, static shots, that would bring our unique venue space to life and that’s exactly what Jake had to offer.
We set up a meeting knowing that we already loved Jake’s style, and simply needed to ensure that we would love Jake, too! Knowing that the photographer would be at our sides for 8 hours, we figured it was just as important to like the person as much as we liked their work. Luckily, Jake didn’t disappoint.
He was great to work with, but also delivered on the unique style that had originally drawn us to his portfolio. He made us and our guests feel very comfortable, and captured the essence of our day better than we could have imagined. Jake’s eye is incomparable and his innovation was refreshing. I knew we made the right decision when he greeted me with a big smile on my wedding day boasting the new “toy” he couldn’t wait to try out on us — a vintage lens that complemented our vintage setting.
The compliments we’ve received on our photos have been endless and we constantly hear how unique they are. We knew we wanted our photographer to go above and beyond traditional wedding expectations to truly capture the space, the day and our vision. Finding Two Birds Photography was second only to finding my soul mate.
Before Nick and I were even engaged, a friend of mine called me after attending a wedding at Salvage One to tell me that she had just attended a venue that reminded her of me. By the time we were engaged and started our search for the perfect venue, we knew Salvage One was a serious contender before ever stepping foot inside.
Once we did, we knew immediately that this was the place we wanted to celebrate our marriage. It was unlike any thing we had ever seen from a wedding venue and offered the very definition of urban uniqueness we were hoping to find. Offering a ceremony, reception and preparation space that truly took our breath away, Salvage One was the first and only venue we visited.
With its vintage, yet whimsical vibe, we knew it would serve as the perfect contrast to our classic vision. It felt like home to us: the perfect mix of fun yet serious, urban yet cozy, Salvage One just begged to be the backdrop for our vision to come to life.
The ceremony was easily the most significant piece of our wedding planning, and the detail that we wanted to perfect more than any other. With help from our officiant Marian Hale, DJ, photographer and wedding coordinator, we created a custom, unique ceremony that meant more to us than any traditional ceremony could have.
Starting with the script, we wove together both traditional and contemporary words for a message that was purely about love, commitment and spirituality. There was something sacred about repeating vows that so many couples have before us, but we also wanted to share the words from some of our favorite authors who had spoken so eloquently about love. We worked with our officiant, Rev. Marian Hale, to incorporate all of this and even include a handfasting ceremony that allowed our parents to bless our vows; a moment that was brief, but very memorable for Nick and I.
Easily the most unique facet of our ceremony came in the way of our bridesmaid and groomsmen "sides". Instead of keeping the men and women divided and standing behind Nick and I, we flipped the placement of our parties to allow our individual support systems to see our faces as we exchanged vows, instead of our backs.
We also broke the traditional bridal party rules by having our siblings on our "sides" regardless of gender. My brother was my Man of Honor, while Nick had his two sisters stand up with his groomsmen. This arrangement alone was quite possibly the most unique aspect of our ceremony, but certainly the most meaningful for us.
Lending the final touch to our custom ceremony was our music selections. Setting the celebratory scene and tapping into my favorite childhood movie, our bridal party ascended down the aisle to the Hawaiian version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
The upbeat, yet serene melody set the stage for my father and I to start our walk down the aisle. Ever since I was a little girl, I envisioned that moment with my father and whenever I did, there was just one song that I'd hear playing in my head: "Over the Hills and Far Away" by Led Zeppelin. It is the single most significant song shared between he and I, and I left it as my surprise to him on the wedding day. Needless to say, the tears were uncontrollable.
Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah" played midway through the ceremony as we said our vows and we descended the aisle as husband and wife to Moby's "In My Heart", a celebratory beat with meaningful lyrics that matched the emotion of our day.
Kendahl: Without a doubt, my best wedding day moment was our "first look." Since we opted to do the majority of our photos prior to the ceremony, Nick and I knew we would have to see each other before my father walked me down the aisle for the actual ceremony. So, we asked our bridal party to stand in two lines across from one another to create a makeshift aisle that would lead me to him.
Filled with excitement as I came around the corner, I'll never forget seeing Nick's face for the first time. The way he looked at me was like nothing I had experienced before: honest, authentic love that showed exactly how he felt for me and the commitment we were about to make to one another.
He let out a audible gasp, put his hand over his mouth and immediately began to tear up. Walking down my own little aisle, time truly seemed to stop as if to let us make the most of this fleeting moment.
Nick: My best moment would have to be the first time I saw Kendahl during our "first look" before the ceremony started. I have never seen someone look more beautiful and poised; I was in complete awe as tears began fall. As I watched her walk towards me all I could think is "how did I get so lucky to become her husband?" What made the moment even more amazing was having our closest friends there to witness and share in the moment. It is something I will never forget and won't tire of telling to anyone who will listen.
It's simple: make sure you are both on the same team throughout the entire process. No matter how well intentioned, friends and family will undoubtedly lend advice, opinions, even objections to your decisions and it's easy for you two to become divided. But in the end, this is a celebration of your love and future together, and so every choice should be yours alone. Keep your focus on what matters most, forget what you think you should or shouldn't do, and go with your heart. If you keep you two at the center of every decision, it will be the most memorable day of your life.
Italian Court Flowers handled our floral arrangements and created the perfect accent to our classic concept. Using only deep red and burgundy hues, I wanted the flowers to do little more than accent our otherwise black and white palette. The staff completely embraced my vision and their familiarity with Salvage One went a long way in understanding how understated I wanted the flowers to be; with such a busy, whimsical venue, it was important to me that the flowers didn't overpower the space.
Kissing the space with rich reds, the centerpieces, bouquets and boutonnieres (sans Nick's white cala lily) came out better than I could have imagined and managed to give the venue and bridal party the perfect pop of color we were aiming for.
Classic. Sophisticated. Timeless. That was the idea behind every choice we made for our wedding. From the venue to the flowers, we made sure that every detail not only reflected us as a couple, but could also feel just as relevant 50 years from now as it did that day. We wanted to look back on our photos and know that we wouldn't have changed a thing.
And so, we kept things simple, but sincere. We weren't interested in planning a traditional wedding that checked all the traditional boxes. If something didn't come naturally to us, we nixed it. And if we wanted to do something that had never been done before, we did it anyway. For us, it was all about staying true to who we are as a couple and inviting our guests to share that with us for one, special day.
Danielle Wheeler from Maison Cuisine handled our catering and couldn't have been better! She understood our vision from the start and made sure that everything from the linens to the condiments delivered on it.
Part of that vision was doing away with the traditional "chicken or beef" menu and instead, building various food stations that highlighted different cuisine (American, Italian & Asian). It was a great way to ensure we had something for everyone.
We also wanted to use my family's organic product market in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood to ensure that we only offered natural, organic ingredients to our guests. Danielle accommodated this without hesitation and it allowed us to put another personal touch on our day.
With their gracious, accommodating staff, gorgeous table dressing and flawless menu, we are still getting compliments from our guests on the food!
John Willis from Quickstart Productions was our DJ for the ceremony and the reception and he was yet another one-and-done pick for us. We met John through another friend’s wedding where we were able to hear his style first-hand. He not only stuck to the playlist we provided (which was important to us), but he was very gracious throughout the day consistently asking us if everything was going as expected, if he could do anything to make things better, and even checking in with us when a guest requested a song before he played it. He was very affordable and very friendly.
Photographer: Two Birds Photography
Venue: Salvage One Chicago
Floral Design: Italian Court Flowers
Wedding Cake: Whole Foods
Catering: Maison Cuisine
Bride's Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Bridesmaid Dresses: Weddington Way
Wedding DJ: Quick Start Productions
Officiant: Marian Hale
Transportation: Windy City Limo