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

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!

San Diego Elopement

Living in the midwest, it is not everyday where I can go to a beach and create a luxury experience for two people in love. This past February, a luxury beach elopement is just what I was able to do! Joy Bijedic, Being Joy Photography, and I styled and planned this luxury elopement experience for Malwina and Shane. This happy couple was originally from the midwest and both relocated out to San Diego due to their jobs. Everything turned out beautifully and Joy and I could not be more proud of this experience. We had a rock star team of vendors that was able to come together and pull off a romantic dinner on the La Jolla Cove beach. 


Vendor Love
Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Photography: Being Joy Photography
Bridal Gown: Alyssa Kristin
Floral: Wyld Blooms
Edible Place Cards: Nat Sweets
Stationary: Studio M Creations
Hair & Makeup: Flora Makeup & Hair
Rentals: Classic Party Rentals
Linen: BBJ Linen
Venue: La Jolla Cove
Bride: Malwina
Groom: Shane

My Ultimate Guilty Pleasure: Bagel Bites

If you have learned anything about me, from following along in my social media accounts, is that I am absolutely OBSESSED with the classic childhood favorite: Bagel Bites! I have no idea why I love them so much, but I think they are a great quick snack, tasty dinner option or even in a pinch, really good for breakfast. Really, in my mind, there is no wrong time to eat a bagel bite. I could even conceive of hosting a dinner party strictly on Bagel Bites alone. 

I recently had my good friend, Joy, from Being Joy Photography come over to my house to photograph the proper techniques to prepare this tasty treat. Follow along as I share with you my undeniable guilty pleasure! 

So, nothing crazy to see here! Just a girl who loves her bagel bites and can not wait for them to come out of the oven! I am pretty basic, and like the plain cheese the best. I think the sausage and pepperoni simply do not do bagel bites any justice. 

Here is how to make them extra amazing: 1. Cook in the oven at 425 degrees for about 13-15 minutes 2. Place them on parchment paper so the cheese can get crispy and easily peel off (also makes clean up a breeze! 3. Add extra cheese, like good gourmet cheddar, the more the better 4. Cook until nice and bubbly golden brown 5. Remove from oven 6. Let cool, (learned the hard way more often than not!) 7. Eat and enjoy 8. Repeat as often as necessary! 

Vendor Spotlight:

Location: Private Residence
Photography: Being Joy Photography
Hair and Makeup: Glamtique Blow Dry Bar
Food: Ore Ida Bagel Bites

Supporting Your Spouse

This past week, Adrian and I celebrated our 4th Wedding Anniversary! I can not believe how fast time flies! The thing with getting married, is life keeps moving after the wedding day. A marriage is simply not one day, it is a lifetime of constantly choosing that person. Every day, we choose to make it work and we choose to laugh. We also choose to cry and support each other when times are not easy. Choice, that is the thing that makes it all work. 

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

Today, in this next phase of life, I am choosing to celebrate with Adrian while he is in Dallas getting a promotion for work! He has worked many long years in aviation and he is finally getting a well deserved transfer to international flying at American Airlines! We have been very lucky and blessed in our lives. It is important to realize the good things that happen in life and being able to work through the tough parts. 

Supporting your spouse does not mean that you obsess over every move they make, every meal they eat and how much sleep they get. Sometimes supporting your spouse means trying not to smother them in their sleep when they are snoring loud enough to wake the dead (not that I have ever contemplated this)! Supporting, means allowing them to be their own person while working together on shared goals and passions. When two become one, you do not stop living your individual life. You now simply have a 24/7 cheerleader and support system. You do not have to face the world alone.  

 Seriously, I have to deal with this on a daily basis! Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography
Seriously, I have to deal with this on a daily basis! Photo Credit: Being Joy Photography
 Finally, a semi-decent photo of us! LOL Thanks @Beingjoyphotography!
Finally, a semi-decent photo of us! LOL Thanks @Beingjoyphotography!

Everyday, we try and be a better version of who we were yesterday. Some days we fall short and other days we thrive. Having the desire to make it work and stick it through NO MATTER WHAT has served us well these past 4 years. I can not wait to see what the next 70 years has in store. 

In what ways do you support your spouse? I would love to hear in the comments below! 


Vendor Spotlight in the Images Above:
Planning: Ashley Nicole Events Inc
Videography: NightOwls Media
Photography: Authentic Adventure Co
Hair & Makeup: Tamara Hair and Makeup Artistry


For the full feature of a Wedding Planner’s wedding, click HERE!

A Groom’s Perspective: Planning Your Wedding

 Photo: Being Joy Photography
Photo: Being Joy Photography

Often, the bride is the focus of the wedding. Wether it is the planning or the wedding day, all of the questions seem to go to the bride. What is the date? What are the colors? How many guests? Where is the venue? How did he propose? The list goes on and on. For the groom, he often gets overlooked and told to “just show up.” What terrible advice is that?!? “Just show up” tells him that his opinions and thoughts don’t really matter. “Just show up” says that he has no say in his most special day. In my mind, this is a terrible miscarriage of justice. The groom in my world is just as important if not more important in some cases. Without him asking a very important question, the bride might not betting married. 

 Photo: Being Joy Photography Hair: Flora Hair and Makeup Team Flowers: Wyld Blooms
Photo: Being Joy Photography Hair: Flora Hair and Makeup Team Flowers: Wyld Blooms

Perhaps the most important Groom I have ever had to deal with was my groom, Adrian! Being married to a wedding planner is not always easy. I work most weekends and evenings are spent meeting with clients. Having listened to me for years, Adrian has learned that floorpans can make or break a wedding and can accurately describe the difference between poly and lamour linens. He never ceases to amaze me! He even offers to help write blog posts! I certainly got very lucky! Adrian has agreed to give his perspective on the wedding planning process. Below are his responses. 

 This is Adrian. He is pretty great. 
This is Adrian. He is pretty great. 

What is it like being a groom trying to plan a wedding and what advice would you give to other grooms?

Lucky for me, I married a wedding planner, but I was her own worst nightmare! I was a groom Zila, OK maybe not a total Groom Zila But a very picky Groom.  We had 12 months to get everything set and planned for the killer bash that we had wanted in our heads. Like I said, I married a wedding planner so the timeline of events and the coordination of people and companies came quite easy for us.  We both wanted something spectacular. Our wedding was a blank slate and we had to start to create our vision. 

I didn’t even know weddings had themes.  We both agreed on the same colors right away which was good! Boom done! From there we had the food that had to be decided on and I know for the brides that this is important, but this is just as important for the guys. Food is very important for guys so don’t blow it off, go do the food tasting! Also, if you are at all like me you’ll want a late night snack. Just an idea but we did a bacon bar and fresh donuts made on site. They were a huge hit. 

The bar was another important factor for our wedding. You have to make a statement and make your guests feel comfortable. We had a giant ice sculpture alcohol fountain, i’m guessing this was the statement piece. I was also very specific in not having beer bottles given to people but wanted the beer to be poured into glasses. It was about the look and the experience. 

My suggestion get involved, this is your wedding too. One of the biggest time sucks and most difficult parts were the invitations and day of printing. It took us an entire weekend to get all of the invitations stuffed in the envelopes and mailed out.  Don’t think this is a quick process, as this was probably the hardest thing about the whole wedding.

I was given one task to handle on my own. I was in charge of the transportation. Ashley did not care or want to be involved in that process, so she let me handle the entire thing. I had to organize the transportation for the entire wedding party from the hotel to the church and then on to the venue. It’s not as simple as just renting a bus, you have to plan that timeline pretty much to the minute because everything relies on this bus and getting you to the church and to the venue at specific times. We also stopped at a few locations for photos in between. It is quite the logistical chess match. On the topic of transportation, food deliveries is just as important. You are going to be busy all day so you’ll want to get some sort of food delivered to the bus. Depending on your timeline, stopping for lunch might not be an option, so you can plan on having sandwiches for the bus because you and your bridal party will be starving. 

Here is my advice for the actual wedding day: While on the topic of food, consider having some bagels with juice and coffee delivered in the morning while you are getting ready. This is a very long day and you will not have time to stop anywhere. Having things come to you is always a better idea. It makes the day go much smoother. 

Best piece of advice that I can give you is while your guests are eating their salad you and your bride eat the main course. That way when everybody is eating you can go table to table and say hi and thank them for coming. It is very important to not skip a meal on the wedding day. Before I got married, people would say you won’t remember much about the day. I did not think this was possible. It is the best day of your life. How can you not remember it? I thought they were lying, but no, it is so true! The day passes by in a flash and this is why a really good photographer and videographer are such an important investment. You will be shocked at how much you forget. You begin to slowly piece the day back together when your photos and video come back. Getting your footage can take a few months! Time seems to erase memories sooner than you think. I cannot harp enough and how important both of those things are.


Adrian will be making other guest blog posts in the months to come. He has more experience than most guys in the wedding planning world, mainly because he has to listen to me talk about weddings all.day.long! I want to make sure that guys know that they are not alone and that their opinions matter too! So often, I see them get pushed to the back and told to smile and make sure they show up on time. The guy is just as important as the girl. I want to make sure their voice and opinion (as crazy as it might be) gets heard. 

 Photo: Mary Rose Photography Venue: The Haight
Photo: Mary Rose Photography Venue: The Haight

Top 5 Wedding Speech Mistakes

We have all been to a wedding where the best man had one to many cocktails prior to giving his speech. While it is really awkward for the guests, it is even more uncomfortable for the bride and groom. Relinquishing the mic at a wedding is a big deal! You have no control over what anyone will say, do or even…sing when they have a mic in their hand. Having helped over 250 brides and grooms, I have witnessed just about every kind of speech imaginable.  Here are my top 5 things to NEVER do while giving a toast.

1. Don’t start with “For those of you who don’t know me, my name is…” No, there is a good chance that half of the room has no idea who you are, but by announcing that, it just makes an awkward and very overused opening line. Instead, simply begin by saying, “Good evening, my name is (Insert Name Here) and I am so happy to have been given the honor of saying a few words”. Then, say a few words. Keep it short!

2. Don’t tell inside jokes that only you and the Bride or Groom will find funny. These inside jokes are completely lost on all of the guests and looking back at it, it probably wasn’t even that funny of a joke. No one really cares about that one time you and the bride did something in your dorm room. Save those memories and stories for girls night. Instead, mention how incredibly brave or sweet the bride was during (insert situation) and how you know that she will treat her partner the same way in life.

3. Don’t talk about past relationships or lovers. It is really awkward and why would we talk about bad things at a happy event. The only reason I could POSSIBLE see to EVER mention an ex would be if the new bride or groom saved the life of the other party when they were still with the other person and that is how they met and fell in love. Even then,  it would still probably not be a good thing to mention. Don’t mention their name, simply express how happy you are the the happy couple found each other.

4. Don’t talk about how many people the bride or groom has slept with. No. Just no. I once had a mother of the bride get up and say how she is sure glad her daughter was hooking up with the groom instead of all of the other boys she hooked up with.

5. Don’t immediately start talking about wanting or making babies. We get it. Babies come from two people who engage in certain activities. We do not need graphic encouragement nor is it appropriate to discuss in front of a hundred people.

What can you talk about?

  1. How long you have known the bride or groom. How you are associated with them.

  2. Share a sweet story of the bride or groom as a child or of them as an adult.

  3. Wish the happy couple a lifetime of love and happiness, then pass the mic on to someone else!

5 To-Dos For Your Summer Wedding

 Photo Credit: K+B Photo
Photo Credit: K+B Photo

If you are getting married between June-August, here are 5 things you should have completed or are at least thinking about in the next few weeks at the time of publication, (this is the end of March) Some are obvious, some, maybe not so much.

  1. Wedding Venue – believe it or not, I have heard around town that some couples are still looking for wedding venues…and their wedding is just a few months away. Absolutely everything is dependant on the venue. How many guests are you able to hold? What is the style or feel for the venue (barn, industrial, banquet hall, backyard). The list goes on and on. For the love of Pete…find a venue. The rest gets easier after that. 

  2. Invitations – At this point, if you are getting married in the next 2-4 months, you should be either finalizing or sending out your invitations in the next little bit. In my experience, and I am not sure why, invitations seem to be the most time consuming and stressful part of the planning process. I can’t put my finger on why! Perhaps, because it sets the tone for the entire event. Or perhaps, you now have a very opinionated fiancee, who didn’t care about the invitations until you were knee deep in paper selection. Whatever the reason, make the decision and get them sent out!

  3. Schedule Hair and Makeup Trials – TRY your exact wedding hair and makeup PRIOR to the big day. Take some selfies. Remember, you will be standing with your right side facing your guests. Make sure you love your hair from the right side. Do you normally wear little to no makeup? Seeing yourself with a bright bold lip might catch you by surprise and you do not want ANY surprises on the wedding day. All professional hair and makeup artists will suggest a trial, take them up on it. Some HMUA might charge extra for this, others it is built into the overall package. Ask questions and make sure you feel comfortable.

  4. Solidify Rehearsal Dinner plans – Who is hosting the dinner? Will it be a formal sit down dinner? Something more relaxed at a pizza parlor? Top Golf? Traditionally, the Groom’s family foots the bill, but with tradition out the window, anything and everything is possible. Make it something fun for your nearest and dearest to kick back and relax before all of the real formalities take place the following day. Do yourself a favor, don’t over indulge in food or beverage. No one likes the hungover look.

  5. Order imprinted items (anything personalized) – With just a few months left before the wedding, you want to make sure that anything that is getting personalized gets ordered. Mistakes happen. Remember this post about getting a wrong personalized bridesmaid robe? If things do come back a little wonky, you will have enough time to contact the vendors and get the situation fixed. It would be terrible to place an order and get a wrong name or wedding date printed on 2,000 beverage napkins.

If you want to find out the rest of the to-dos with a wedding fast approaching, shoot me an email and I can send you a complete list! 

 Hi! if you have any other questions on the world of event planning, drop me a line and we can chat! 
Hi! if you have any other questions on the world of event planning, drop me a line and we can chat!