Clark Park WMS Boathouse Wedding

Clark Park Boathouse Wyn Wiley

When searching for a wedding venue, it is important to find one that is authentic to you and your fiancé. Wesley and August did just that, when they wed last fall at the WMS Boathouse at Clark Park. Wes and Gus swam together at Eastern Michigan University and instantly hit it off. They have been together ever since. Having a shared mutual love of water, their wedding venue had to be heavily focused on aquatics, sports and the outdoors. Enter WMS Boathouse. This hidden gem is actually a Chicago Park District rowing facility! Recently, CPD began hosting weddings and corporate events at their boathouse. Honestly, Wes and Gus could not have found a more perfect venue.

Clark Park Boathouse Wyn WileyChicago Park District Wedding Ashley Nicole Events Chicago wedding photography clark park

When I asked them what their priorities were, they said “each other!” They wanted to be fully present to and for each other. While they wanted their friends and family to have an awesome time, they were not super concerned with any “formalities” they just wanted “to be”. I told them over and over that they truly had it figured out. It is not about the “stuff” (the napkins or the color of the chairs, etc.) it is about making sure their marriage was strong. Weddings can be fun, but marriage takes work. Wes wanted to have several periods of time carved into the day where she and Gus could spend together. Not having to smile for photos or mingle with guests. Just be.  As a matter of fact, Wes and Gus focused so much on togetherness, they skipped the wedding cake entirely! It just wasn’t important to them.

Clark Park Boathouse Wedding Chicago Fall

Clark Park WMS Boathouse is home to the Chicago Rowing Foundation. This was the perfect wedding venue for Wes & Gus who have a love of water. If you are looking for a venue that has scenic views and can be both indoor and outdoor, check out Clark Park. Clark Park Boathouse Wedding Fall ChicagoChicago wedding Clark Park Fall Wedding

However, they did not miss a beat when it came to their all star vendor team! These A List vendors made sure that everyone ate, drank and danced the night away.

Vendor Love:

Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Venue: WMS Boathouse at Clark Park
Photography: Wyn Wiley
DJ: Backthird Entertainment
Catering: Food For Thought
Florist: Steve’s Flower Market
Transportation: Elite Chicago Limo
Invitations & Day of Printing: Bride

Michele & Nick: Romanian Orthodox Wedding – Glenview Illinois

Glenview Wedding Photography Valley Lo Club Ariel Chapman

“In a sea of people, my eyes will always search for you” – unknown

Michele and Nick got married on August 18, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois in a traditional Romanian Orthodox ceremony. I had the distinct pleasure to be, not only a guest at their beautiful wedding, but also their planner. Blush, Burgundy and dusty rose set the color pallet for their late summer wedding. Out of all aspects of the wedding, family was by far the most important and their wedding day was no exception. For that reason, the morning began with Michele getting ready in her parent’s home surrounded by her Grandmother, Mom, sisters and bridesmaids. Their family dog was also a huge part of their wedding celebrations. Sadly, Michele’s dog passed away two weeks after her wedding. Therefore, these images serve as a very emotional reminder of the love between an owner and fur baby.

Glenview Wedding Dog Bride Illinois
Glenview Illinois Wedding Valley Lo Club

Similarly, Nick was able to spend the morning hanging out with the groomsmen and his family. I always feel that the groom gets left out of so much preparation, but Michele made sure Nick was close by and his out-of-state family was welcomed at her home to kick off the day.
Chicago Suburb Wedding Glenview Illinois

Ceremony

Michele comes from a large Romanian Orthodox family. As a result, there is a lot of tradition and culture interwoven throughout their day. Special dances, songs, ceremonies and foods are apart of every Romanian celebration. If you have ever seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” that is a pretty accurate interpretation of an Orthodox ceremony. In an Orthodox ceremony, the bride and groom wear crowns symbolizing that they are the King and Queen of their household. I wish everyone got to wear a crown for a day! Their ceremony was beautiful and full of rich history and tradition.
Orthodox Ceremony Chicago Romanian Wedding
Outdoor Wedding Photos Chicago Glenview Illinois

Reception

Michele and Nick chose to have their intimate reception (of 200) at the Valley Lo Club in Glenview, IL. Valley Lo, is a wedding venue tucked inside a private residential golf and swimming community. Michele’s aunt owns Truffles Cake & Pastry Shoppe, a bakery located in Michigan City, Indiana. Because of this, she wanted to use her special talents and gift them a stunning desert display. She painstakingly made each and every dessert and drove them to the reception. It took her several hours to build the stunning dessert display. Most importantly, they tasted better than the looked; and they looked amazing.
Reception Valley Lo Club Glenview Illinois
Daddy Daughter Mother Son Dance First Dance Glenview Illinois

Above all, as Michele and Nick settle into married life, I wanted to thank them for allowing me to be apart of their special day. It is a unique position to be in, both the planner and a guest. Ashley Nicole Events had a great team in place where I could actually step back and enjoy the wedding as a guest. I even got to have a cocktail – or two! Congratulations on your marriage and I wish you nothing but a lifetime of love and happiness!
Lakefront Wedding Glenview Illinois Valley Lo Club Dark Moody Photography Vendor Love:

Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Photography: Ariel Chapman Photography
Videography: Juan Alvarado Photography
Ceremony Venue: Holy Nativity Romanian Orthodox Church – Chicago, IL
Reception Venue: Valley Lo Club – Glenview, IL
DJ: Fig Media
Floral: SaniMar Decor Studio
Cake & Sweets: Truffles Cake & Pastry Shoppe
Transportation: VIP Express Limousine Inc.
Lodging: Sheraton Northbrook
Invitations: Paula Kolar
Hair: Hair By Julia
Makeup: Makeup By Sarah B

ANE Real Wedding: Kylie & Brian at The Haight, Elgin Illinois

Ashley Nicole Events The Haight Elgin Illinois

“Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it” – Nicholas Sparks

 

Oh my goodness! It’s been 1 year since Kylie and Brian said I do at the beautiful Haight in Elgin, Illinois. Pam, Kylie’s mom, hired me to turn her only daughter’s dream wedding into a reality. I think we managed to do just that. Every detail was meticulously thought about and planned. There were even back up plans just in case. Most importantly, Kylie and Brian wanted to celebrate the strong Irish heritage surrounded by friends and family and really good beer.

Town and Country Gardens utilized copper as the main color and softened the space with lush greenery. Mary Rose Photography beautifully captured their special day incorporating private moments for the couple to enjoy.  Finally, the wedding party danced the night away with the spinning capabilities of Sounds Abound. The Haight never fails to host an incredible wedding and all of the guests left gushing about what a fun wedding Kylie and Brian threw. Kylie’s dad even had a special surprise for the newlyweds as he serenaded his little girl and left everyone in tears.

It was such a special night and I am so lucky, proud and pleased that Pam and Kylie trusted me to help them plan the wedding of their dreams. Congratulations Kylie and Brian! One year down, a lifetime to go.

Much love,

Ashley

getting ready Ashley Nicole events haight wedding

Ashley Nicole Events Elgin Haight Wedding

The Haight Ashley Nicole Events Elgin IllinoisAshley Nicole events haight wedding

Top 4 Tips When Selecting Your Wedding DJ or Band

When planning your wedding, a large portion of the budget goes to the reception. Every vendor will tell you that their specific service will “make or break” the wedding. Do NOT get me wrong, EVERY aspect of the wedding is important! Food, flowers, decor, photography, etc all have their place. Music, however can truly make or break the party vibe during your reception.

Having a professional DJ or Band is one way to amp up the party and ensure your guests are satisfied on the dance floor all night long! There are some pros and cons of both types of music and it really depends on what your budget will allow. Here are some things to think about when considering a band or a dj.

  1. Can the band play a wide variety of music? Is this a “wedding band” or strictly a bar band? Wedding bands know all of the tried and true classics, know how to keep the party going and will *usually* know how to professionally MC the event as well…think Wedding Introductions, Dinner Service, Father/Daughter dance, Cake Cutting etc. A bar band that you and your fiance love to listen to on a Friday night might not have the working knowledge of weddings or the elements that go into creating a seamless event. Bar bands also *may* be limited on their range of music and will not take requests. If the band can not play Sweet Caroline at the drop of a hat, you might have some unhappy guests. This is NOT a deal breaker, just something to consider and questions to ask.

  2. Will the DJ be the same person MCing the event? There is a huge difference between knowing how to read a crowd, play music and mix beets and actually interacting with the guests. A DJ who also MC’s the event has to ham it up from time to time and get the wedding guests on their feet. You can not have a dud on the mic…it makes for some awkward transitions.

  3. Will your DJ or band perform during the ceremony? Is there an extra charge for this service? How many breaks does the band require? How long are their sets? DJs usually only require a meal break and then play for the rest of the night. If you have a band, do they play all night or do they have scheduled 10/20/30 minute breaks? What music will be played during their set breaks?

  4. What does your budget allow? Bands can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Totally depends on who you hire, how many pieces are in the band and how long you need them to play. DJs will *usually* be the more cost effective option, but do not cheap out. remember, you get what you pay for.

  5. Most importantly, find someone who you and your fiance connect with, who will be able to read your crowd and truly speak to your guests in a way that will keep the party going into the wee hours of the morning.

 Photo Credit: Mayden Photography
Photo Credit: Mayden Photography

Both bands and DJs can create a successful wedding or event. One is not better than the other, they just offer a different vibe to the evening. The most important thing is finding someone who you and your fiance connect with. Make sure this group or person will be able to read your crowd and keep the party going into the wee hours of the morning. Nothing ruins a reception quicker than a dud on the microphone. Find that person with the energy you require and no matter who you choose, you will be happier you chose a professional.


Top Photo Credit: Ann & Kam Photo 

Escort Cards vs Place Cards vs Seating Charts: Ways to Get Creative & Is There A Difference?

Did you know there is a difference between an escort card, a place card and a seating chart? No?!? Well, let me explain!

 Escort Card - Photo Credit: Mayden Photography
Escort Card – Photo Credit: Mayden Photography

An escort card is a small piece of paper (usually) that is in the lobby or entrance of the reception venue that tells your guests what TABLE they are sitting at (escorting them to their table…get it?). This card could be Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or could be individual, Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Evelyn Smith.

 Place Card -  Photo Credit: Ivory House Creative  - Shop the link!
Place Card – Photo Credit: Ivory House Creative  – Shop the link!

A place card is already at the table and tells Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Evelyn Smith which SEAT they are supposed to sit at as well as their pre-selected meals…notice the chicken in the place card.  (placing them in a seat…get it?)

 Seating Chart - Photo Credit:   Ivory House Creative  - Shop the link!
Seating Chart – Photo Credit:   Ivory House Creative  – Shop the link!

Finally, there are seating charts. These are super cute and trending right now. For the love of God, please alphabetize these charts. No one knows what table they are sitting at, but they know where their name falls in the alphabet. This also goes for escort cards. Alphabetize by last name!

Because this is one of the final visual aspects of the wedding, getting creative pulls all of the other visual aspect together. The devil really is in the details! 

Weddings can have either “themes” or “color pallet” help guide your visual elements. Making your escort cards representative of you and your partner will make a cohesive feeling on your big day.If the two of you are into traveling, find nicely folded paper airplanes and have your guests names and table number written on the wings. You could also do the traditional folded escort card but add a twist, like having them standing up in notches of a wooden log. A lot of these creative ideas can be a fun DIY for you and your bridesmaids.

 Photo Credit: Studio 3 Productions
Photo Credit: Studio 3 Productions

If you do not want to get too “theme-y” then sticking to a color pallet is an excellent way to finalize the wedding “day of stationary” into a cohesive wedding collection. For example: Your wedding colors are Navy and Gold. Your Escort Card could be on navy paper and the guest names could be in Gold foil.
 

 Photo Credit: Mary Rose Photography
Photo Credit: Mary Rose Photography
 Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co
Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co
 Shop the link!  Click Here
Shop the link! Click Here

Okay, Ashley! I get the difference. But do I need all of these things? This is where it gets a little tricky…technically no, but sometimes yes!

Ask yourself these simple questions to help:

Q 1.  My guests have pre selected their meals (chicken, steak, vegetarian).
A. Make an ESCORT CARD with an indication of what table number and meal choice. Couples should get their own card. Mr. John Smith (steak) and Mrs. Evelyn Smith (vegetarian).

Q 2. My guests will all eat the same thing (or it’s a buffet/stations).
A. Make an ESCORT CARD with an indication of what table number they guest is sitting at. Couples can be on the same card. 

Q 3. I really really really want to have one of those nifty little seating charts that are really trending. But my guests have also chosen their meals.
A. You now need to make the SEATING CHART and PLACE CARDS. You need to put a name to each seat on the floor plan and tell people where they are sitting. In reality, they will sit next to who they want, but you still need to let the staff know who chose what meal. Catering does not know that Great Aunt Sally ordered a steak, or where she is sitting. You need to tell Sally where to sit and that she ordered the steak.

Q 4. I really really really want to have one of those nifty little seating charts that are really trending and my guests are all eating the same thing (or it’s a buffet/stations).
A. Make that super cute seating chart and rock that look! You do NOT need to make any additional directions regarding meal choices for the catering staff or guests. The chart will work just fine!

*Please note, if you have kid’s meals, kosher, gluten free or any other dietary restrictions, you will want to give more specific directions to the catering staff to help serve these guests in a timely manner. 

I hope this helped explain the difference between SEATING CHARTS, PLACE CARDS and ESCORT CARDS and when/why you need to use them. If you have any other questions, please feel free to email me and I will explain away!

 Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography
Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

Cocktail Hour: Miniature Versions of Your Favorite Foods

When it comes to cocktail hour, some couples want to serve what they’ve seen at other weddings. Whether it be bruschetta, meatballs, a cheese and cracker station, etc… However, there are couples who are on the edgier side of things when they choose cocktail hour food. These couples don’t serve the standard, they serve unexpected appetizers that the guests will be thrilled with.

 Photo Credit: Deer Petal Flowers
Photo Credit: Deer Petal Flowers

Maybe it’s just me, but miniature versions of things are just so darn cute! I mean come on, who doesn’t love puppies? They are just so much cuter when they are little! The same goes for appetizers. By doing smaller versions of classic foods, you are giving your guests a small taste of something scrumptious.

 Photo Credit: Happy Wedd
Photo Credit: Happy Wedd

Being a Pinterest fiend, I’ve seen some pretty creative hor d’oeuvres that can be served at almost any party, let alone a cocktail hour. The options are almost endless, just pick some regular sized food that you and your fiance enjoy and ask the catering company if they can make it into a miniature version. It may help to go on Pinterest to see what you like first, and then have a frame of reference for your caterer when they ask about appetizers.

 Photo: Wedding Party by Wedding Pics
Photo: Wedding Party by Wedding Pics

Some minis I’ve stumbled upon are miniature grilled cheese with a shot of tomato soup, a fork with nicely twirled spaghetti, sliders, mini caesar salads. I could go on and on, but you’d be here for hours!

 Photo Credit: You and Your Wedding
Photo Credit: You and Your Wedding

No matter what you and your partner decide to serve, try to keep it unique to the two of you. Remember that there’s no other couple in the world like you, so why not make your special day even more unique? A selection of miniature appetizers will keep people talking about your wedding for months, maybe even years. They will be so blown away by this trend that they will keep telling friends about it. And who knows, you could be a trendsetter for your group of friends who have not yet tied the knot!

Too Delicious to Choose: Cupcakes or Cake

Sometimes, weddings can have a certain element of pressure. Kind of like peer-pressure. Everyone you know has a wedding cake and does the “typical cake cutting” cheesy photo op. What if you and your partner aren’t the biggest fans of cake? What do you do then? Do you suck it up and have a cake because everyone else did, OR do you do something different that really speaks to you and your fiancé? 
Cakes come in all shapes and sizes. There are two types of “average wedding cakes” these days. The first is the typical 3 tier vanilla frosting with some type of butter cream filling. The second is a single tier, much smaller cake simply used for the ceremonial cake cutting. Deciding on the decorations of the cake can become a sugary nightmare! Maybe you don’t like frosting and want to mix things up a bit. Be true to yourself and the rest will follow. 

 Photo By: Crane's Photography
Photo By: Crane’s Photography

We all know that cake is good, but there’s sometimes a stereotype of wedding cake being dry and covered in too much frosting or fondant. Instead of serving pieces of cake to your guests, let them serve themselves! Give them a variety of cupcakes that were picked out by you and your partner! This way your guests can have options.

 Photo Credit:  Cupcakes 101
Photo Credit: Cupcakes 101

When it comes to cupcakes the sky is the limit! You can mix and match flavors, get creative with the cupcake liners, and even choose a simple design for the top! Just like having signature drinks you could have signature cupcakes for your guests. Your partner may like red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting while you like chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting.

 Photo Credit: Crane's Photography
Photo Credit: Crane’s Photography

Having a simple cake as well as cupcakes keeps the tradition of cutting the cake a part of the reception. This way you are allowing yourself and your partner the joy of still getting to cut the cake together. Always keep in mind, however, that cupcakes can be smashed in your face just like a piece of cake can!

 Venue: The Haight
Venue: The Haight

Choosing the Length of Your Wedding Day

Many wedding receptions last the entire night. Younger guests and friends of the bride and groom love dancing right to the end. The slightly older guests won’t typically stay the entire time. On the flip side, you and your partner may not be night people. You don’t enjoy staying up super late and then having to change out of your gown, scrub layers of makeup off and take 1,000 bobby pins out of your hair. Trust me, it’s a process!

 Photo By: Mayden Photography
Photo By: Mayden Photography

If you guys are a couple who loves to have a good time, the reception ending at midnight is nothing out of the ordinary. All you want to do is have fun, and you deserve that. After all, it’s your wedding day! You want all the time you can get to mingle with family and friends. Having a late ending reception also allows for more time between important events on the schedule.

 Photo By: Mayden Photography
Photo By: Mayden Photography

If you are not a night owl, you might want to start your wedding day earlier because you want your reception to be done at a time you’re comfortable with. You still end up hitting all of the key elements to a wedding. The ceremony would be set at a time that would still allow for a ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner/lunch, and dancing. And the best part is your day wouldn’t be rushed and you can go at a pace you feel comfortable with.

 Photo By: Crane's Photography
Photo By: Crane’s Photography

Recently an intern joined my team and told me all about her future wedding. Neither her nor her boyfriend are night people. They don’t enjoy staying up late, they know that they will get grumpy and become bad hosts. By starting earlier in the day, they would have the chance to do everything that they want for their big day while still respecting their own wishes.

 Photo By: Aysha Nicole Photo
Photo By: Aysha Nicole Photo

Not all couples want the same thing. Each wedding reception is just as unique as the couple planning it. Making your wedding unique is key. Just because your friend ended at midnight does not mean you need to do the same. Make sure to keep this in mind when planning your own wedding!

Friends are God’s Apology for Family

This is quite possibly the best quote when it comes to dealing with family drama at a wedding. Our friends are chosen, we have the ability to find people who are compatible with our personalities. This isn’t always the case with families, seeing as there are all types of personalities among family. We rely on our friends for a lot, something we can’t always do with our family members.

 Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co
Photo Credit: Authentic Adventure Co

While we love our family, everyone can admit that they drive us crazy at times. There’s not a single family that doesn’t have drama, but there are ways to keep that drama away from your wedding day. Following these tips will increase your odds of a family drama-free wedding.

  1. Keep yourself with immediate family and the bridal party prior to the ceremony. This will allow you to dodge any unnecessary family drama. During the reception, there are so many people to mingle with that there won’t be very much time to worry about the family that tends to cause issues.

  2. If you know that certain family members don’t get along, whether it be the bride’s family or the groom’s family, try to keep them at different ends of the room when arranging a seating chart. Although they may encounter each other on the dance floor, the music, dancing and other guests will be such a distraction that they won’t have an opportunity to make it all about them and their drama.

  3. Acknowledge that family isn’t perfect. If the drama is too much, simply don’t invite these people. If they have to be invited, prepare for the unexpected, but don’t dwell on it. You have friends and family who love you and will always have your back – no matter what. In the end, you are marrying your best friend, that’s all that matters. Thanksgiving dinner is another story!

6 Tasty Signature Cocktails For Your Summer Wedding

Ashley Nicole Events Signature Drink Wedding

There’s nothing better than a summer wedding, but boy it can get hot! Make sure your guests stay nice and refreshed by offering a signature drink to keep them cool. Read on for 6 different options to include on your special day!

 Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography

1. Rum Orange Sizzle: With the sweet taste of orange juice and rum, a summer favorite, your guests will have a sweet drink to sip down.

 Complete Recipe found HERE

Complete Recipe found HERE

Are some of your guests under 21? Forget about the liquor, your underage guests will feel just as ‘cool’ by keeping these ingredients on hand: Sugar cube, Maraschino cherry and ice.

2. Blueberry Ginger Mule: Putting a creative twist on a Moscow Mule, blueberries can be added for both flavor and a touch of color. Try putting the drink in a frosted glass to keep it cooler longer!

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Are some of your guests under 21? Forget about the liquor, and add lemonade, frozen blueberries, zest and juice of orange and lemon, sugar, white vinegar and vanilla flavoring.

3. Flor de Cana Pina Colada: A typical summer drink, your guests will have this cocktail and feel like they are on a tropical vacation. Don’t forget a pineapple wedge on the rim of the glass for a nice, simple garnish!

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Simply take out the liquor, allowing your underage guests to enjoy a nice, refreshing coconut delight.

4. Tropical Negroni: A classic drink but with a twist. To incorporate even more of the tropical feel, serve the drink inside a pineapple!

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while still keeping these simple ingredients: crushed ice, strawberry simple syrup and pineapple juice

5. Dragon Bramble: A unique cocktail will keep your guests on their toes, while also incorporating you and your significant others unique relationship! With a nice pop of color, this drink would be perfect with anything millennial pink.

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while still keeping these simple ingredients: dragon fruit puree, blackberry simple syrup, lemon juice and ice.

6. Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade: With a twist added to regular lemonade, there will be an sweeter punch when mixed with lemon and sugar.

 Complete Recipe found HERE Complete Recipe found HERE

Under 21? Forget about the liquor while keeping these simple ingredients: lemonade, sugar, lemon sugar, grated lemon rind, muddled raspberries and ice.

What is your favorite signature cocktail? My favorite is an oldie but a goodie…vodka tonic. 😉