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This wedding season has been awesome and THIS wedding made it even BETTER! Seriously, there are oodles of inspiration in this non-traditional/traditional wedding!! You read that right–it’s the only way I can describe this wedding to you! Keep reading and you’ll see why. Holly and Ross wanted a traditional wedding without being traditional…yes I said it again…they also wanted to incorporate Holly’s Chinese heritage into the celebration.
The couple’s engagement dinner invitations were hand-delivered to the bridal party, enclosed within a giant, chocolate-frosted fortune cookie, packaged in a white take-out box. The invitation instructed the guests to board a party bus without knowing where they were going, while Ross, Holly, and their families traveled on a separate bus.
The engagement dinner was at MingHin Cuisine in Chinatown, Chicago for a traditional Chinese celebration banquet with 13, YES THIRTEEN, courses. Holly and Ross asked the bridal party to be a part of their special day by giving the groomsmen boxer briefs that read: “Groomsmen”, “Best Man” and “Usher”, while the bridesmaids received “Hanky Panky” thongs that read: “Bridesmaid” and “Maid of Honor”. Asking the bridal party to be in the wedding…traditional. Asking the bridal party to be in the wedding on underwear…non-traditional. See what I mean? WAIT, there’s more!
The wedding invitations, by Paperwhites, incorporated the double-happiness symbol and Asian-inspired patterned paper and colors. This wedding style definitely reflected the bride and groom’s personality which is energetic, fun, and awesome! The wedding colors were simply amazing! They were primarily chocolate and vibrant purple (to match the vanda orchids), with palettes found in a warm fall sunset. The dinner rehearsal was held at the elegant, romantic Bacchus.
The ceremony was a traditional Catholic mass at The Basilica of St. Josaphat. The ceremony musicians were Christopher Berry, Choir Director/Organist; The Basilica Choir and Gabriel’s Horns string quartet and trumpet. Holly wore an Essence of Australia dress with a 15 foot veil and her something blue? What else? Manolo Blahnik’s pumps. The rest of the bridal party wore rich chocolates. Following mass, they released doves on the stairs of the Basilica, crossing their fingers that they wouldn’t poop on them. Is that traditional or non-traditional? I’m not sure, but it’s a whole lot of fun and can be very emotional at the same time. Then the bridal party got transported in style by Churchill Limousine Service to 1451 Renaissance Place for the amazing reception! Scott and Mike at 1451 Renaissance Place were instrumental in transforming the venue into a magical space just the way Holly and Ross wanted it. From the red lanterns that hung outside the venue, to the elegant cocktail hour, to the grand reception, the smallest of details were kept in mind. Scott made sure all of the evening’s events ran smoothly and on schedule. This was especially important for the dress changes! Yes, I said changes! Smiling.
During the cocktail hour, guests were greeted by The Emperor of China’s (Holly’s parents’ restaurant) famous Mai Tai’s (instead of champagne, see the whole traditional vs. non-traditional thing again) as well as traditional passed appetizers like mini grilled cheese with tomato soup, mini reubens and bruschetta. A string quartet played in the background as guests dropped off cards inside Holly’s childhood doll house her grandpa built for her. Place cards were displayed on a round table in gold Buddha card holders which symbolize happiness, prosperity and contentment.
Instead of a traditional wedding cake, they had a vibrant-colored pagoda cake (layers of lavender with lemon and red velvet) and a Fighting Irish groom’s cake (mint chocolate). Ross is a huge fan of Notre Dame football (no comments cheeseheads) and mint chocolate, so it was only right to have this made for him! I think giving the groom his own special cake is a great idea–it makes the groom feel more like it’s HIS wedding too (and not just the bride’s).
The string quartet, ACA Music, headed upstairs and lured guests to the dining room. Partygoers were met with flickering candles and tall golden urn centerpieces standing on each table. Behind the head table, a double-happiness ice sculpture created by Chef Jack was on display with beautiful up lighting.
After the traditional dinner, speeches, first dances, etc., it was time to START THE PARTY!! To kick it off, Holly changed into a modern take of a traditional red Chinese chipao (symbolizing luck), adding a traditional Chinese headdress and gold jewelry. Ross and Holly’s dad changed into traditional Chinese dress. What a fun time! Holly and Ross re-entered the dining room from the first floor, followed by the banging of Chinese drums and dragon dancers! A site to see, that is FOR SURE!
After a little bit of dancing, Holly changed into her final dress of the evening (YES, that’s THREE wardrobe changes!) – an embellished ostrich feather, backless Lela Rose dress, topped off with glittery Christian Louboutin platform peep toes. She looked so comfortable in this dress and it just seemed to fit her fun personality. Around 10:00pm, more food was brought out. They had fan favorites from The Emperor of China such as crab rangoons and egg rolls!
Did I mention the flowers? Oh em gee. Holly and Ross requested that NO roses be included to avoid the typical wedding flowers. Because let’s admit it, roses ARE typical wedding flowers. Ok, are you ready for this?? No, REALLY? Are you ready?? Holly’s bouquet weighed about 15 POUNDS and consisted of pin cushion protea, dahlia, lotus pods, cymbidium and vanda orchids, gloriosa lilies, hyperciem berries, dusty miller in shades of green, purple, red, orange and yellow!! Table arrangements had Asian touches with bamboo, lotus pods, pin cushion protea, Chinese lanterns, berries, oncidium, and dendrobium orchids. Dale from Dahlia Blooms is truly an artist and made the couple’s wildest flower fantasies a reality!! He is a floral genius!!
I always say ‘make your wedding your own’ and this couple did just that. Do what’s important to the two of you on your wedding day!!
Bride’s Ring~Ross custom made with the help of Atrio
Cake/Groom’s Cake~Eat Cake
Caterer/Ice Sculpture~Chef Jack’s
Celebrant~Very Rev. Michael J. Glastetter, OFM Conv.
Ceremony Musicians~Christopher Berry, Choir Director/Organist; The Basilica Choir; Gabriel’s Horns, string quartet and trumpet
Ceremony Venue~The Basilica of St. Josaphat
Doves~A Dove Release
Dresses~Essence of Australia, Stone Manor (ceremony); Custom Chinese dress, Shanghai; Lela Rose, Neiman Marcus (party)
Invitations/Order of Service/Place Cards/Menus Design and Printing~Paperwhites
Late Night Snack~Emperor of China, bride’s parents’ restaurant
Lion Dancers~Chinese Cultural Center, Chicago
Photographer and Videographer~The Artist Group
Reception Venue~1451 Renaissance Place
Shoes~Manolo Blahnik, Kate Spade, Christian Louboutin
String Quartet~ACA Music