Vendor Spotlight: Virginia Kinnard Lionberger of VKL Consulting Group

Name: Virginia Kinnard Lionberger

Title/Position: Principal/Lead Event Consultant of VKL Consulting Group, LLC

Specialty: We specialize in the art and the science of event creation and management (Weddings, Corporate and Not-for-Profit) and we practice our craft with integrity and genuine care for our clients, their guests and their events.

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
V.K.L.: 17+ years

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
V.K.L.: Building on years of event expertise, artistry and sophistication, we custom design extraordinarily creative events, that exceed our clients’ expectations, delight their guests and generate years of lovely memories.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
V.K.L.: It’s got to be the collective experience and reputation we’ve built over the years, in creating and managing events. From weddings to corporate events to non-profit fundraising galas, we have designed and delivered some of the most memorable and sophisticated events in town. We know what works, what wows guests, and what red flags to anticipate to ensure that your event is the best it can be. In addition to our in-depth event consulting capabilities our group consists of the best practitioners for every component of your event to create the perfect team. Our extensive experience, creativity and relationships provide our clients the highest quality and effortlessly sophisticated events.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
V.K.L.: For me, as a professionally trained artist, the most memorable moment is always the same – when my clients come into their venue for the “reveal” before the guests arrive. All of the prep work is done and I can experience the fruition of the thought, effort and process that we experienced together pre-event. When they see and feel the actual masterpiece we created it is completely exhilarating and humbling simultaneously! It’s quite a rush for me. When my clients exclaim, “This would never have happened without you!” I am deeply gratified.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
V.K.L.: Quite honestly, I don’t follow wedding trends religiously. I would rather we consult together and let my clients pick the trends they like and that’s what we follow. But I do like that engaged couples are less encumbered by wedding tradition and protocol, which sets VKL’s creative juices flowing to perfectly individualize their big day.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
V.K.L.: We had an amazing couple several years ago that had a doozy of a request! The bride grew up in an agrarian Midwestern state and her family has a long-standing wedding tradition that she wanted to follow. Their tradition is that the oldest unmarried child in the extended family has to dance in a pig trough until it is destroyed. It was her day and her wish so we found a venue in downtown Chicago that allowed us to honor the family tradition.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
V.K.L.: There is no “typical” Corporate or Not-for-Profit event. However, for a wedding, our day goes more or less as follows: We’ll visit the Bride as she’s getting ready to make sure the photographer and videographer are on site. We double check to see if there’s anything the Bride and her Maids need. There’s always something, which is why we never fail to bring an emergency kit. Then, we visit the Groom and his Men where we practically always need to sew on a button or a repair a tie. We’ll leave an associate with the wedding party to make sure they board their ground transportation in a timely fashion.

We arrive at the ceremony site at least an hour before to double-check on the florals, the personals, the music, the programs, etc. Once the wedding party arrives, we distribute the bouquets to the ladies and pin the boutonnières on the men. We get them organized for the processional and send them down the aisle after which we depart for the reception venue. At the reception venue, we double-check the florals, the seating chart, the escort cards, the place settings per table, etc. During the entire event we work closely with the emcee, photographer and videographer (as well as the venue representative and/or caterer). We want to make sure we’re all on the same page time wise, especially for unexpected items that pop up that weren’t included on the detailed time line we had previously distributed.

After cocktails, we gather the wedding party and families for introductions then manage the remaining moving parts: the dances, the cake cutting, toasts, bouquet toss, etc. We ensure that the gifts and cards go to a safe place, distribute tips to the various vendors, and handle any issues that may arise. When I get home in the wee hours I pour myself 2 fingers of brown liquor and reminisce about another fabulous event/wedding that created fabulous memories for our clients.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
V.K.L.: 1. My family and friends 2. My four legged furry children 3. Events to create.

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you.
V.K.L.: 1. I can yodel and speak fluent Italian 2. I love to swim and cross country ski 3. I was a YMCA Camp Director in my very early 20’s and it was a pivotal opportunity replete with lessons and skills that have positively affected my entire life.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
V.K.L.: 1. If it’s a wedding, hire a professional planner (not a friend or family member) for either Full Wedding Consultation or, at the very least, “Day of” Management. Your wedding event will be one of the biggest dollar items in which you’ll ever invest and having a professional planner is the cheapest and best insurance you’ll ever buy to ensure a special day. 2. Make sure you and your professional planner are a good “fit”, that you actually “like” them and most importantly that they can translate your dreams into reality. It is not unusual to be working together for 18+ months and, with the right planner, it will be a joyful, fun experience and one to remember.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
V.K.L.: What’s not to love about Chez!!! It is the most exquisite “blank canvas” in which to create any look your clients want in the Chicago area. I love the architectural proportions, the luminous windows and the light they transmit, the floating glass staircase, the glitter, the history, the location, and the “monochromaticness” of the space. Best yet, the staff is FIRST CLASS!!! They care as much about delivering a memorable event for our clients as we do. Chez has it all and I’m so grateful for their offer to spotlight VKL Consulting Group as a Chez Vendor.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Virginia. We’re looking forward to working with you and the team VKL Consulting team very soon.

Photography by: (L) Andre LaCour Photography, (R) Rick Aguilar Studios

Vanessa & Hayden’s Intimate Wedding

On September 24th, 2016 Vanessa and Hayden were joined by friends and family for an intimate wedding ceremony at First United Methodist Church in Evanston. After the ceremony, with the help of Amanda Megan Miller Photography, they captured photos along the lakefront and at several popular locations throughout Chicago.  While the wedding party was taking photos, Christine Janda Design & Events was working hard at Chez to set the tone for the reception. Soft and delicate floral arrangements were combined with cool metallics to create a classic and elegant atmosphere. Vanessa and Hayden made their grand entrance down the glass staircase, and enjoyed their first dance together as a married couple. After enjoying dinner from Food for Thought, guests took to the dance floor to celebrate. Congratulations Vanessa and Hayden!

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Photography: Amanda Megan Miller | Wedding Planner & Designer: Christine Janda Design & Events | Catering: Food for Thought | Ceremony Location: First United Methodist Church, Evanston | DJ: Vow Media

 

5 Classic Escort Card Displays

While we see all varieties of customized escort boards and seating charts at Chez weddings, we’ve noticed many couples move in the direction of a more subtle escort card table. In this scenario, the design of the escort table is still fitting with of the overall style of the wedding, but does not steal the show. Check out these elegant options from recent Chez weddings. Note that each incorporates classic tent cards with unique floral arrangements. The all-white brick and sheer drapery at Chez provide the perfect back drop. Simple, elegant, sophisticated.

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Photography: 1: Caili Helsper Photography, 2. Colin Lyons Photography, 3. Chez, 4. G Reyes Photography, 5. Esenam Photography

10 Unique Wedding Table Numbers From Real Chez Weddings

1: Hand-painted Watercolor Table Numbers
For the creative, artistic wedding. A hand-painted table number is a great way to add color and personality to your wedding decor.05801-amy-colin-4nights-blog2. Stainless Steel Table Numbers
For the contemporary wedding. These table numbers are like stainless steel sculptures.
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3. Printable Table Numbers in Vintage Mirrored Frames
For the opulent wedding. Vintage mirrored frames elevate the classic, printed table number. jlpa106914-710x4734. Barely-There Table Numbers
For the oh-so chic wedding. These white-on-white table numbers disappear into the decor.

View More: http://christytylerphotography.pass.us/kelly-dave

5. Log Slice Table Number
For the woodland-inspired wedding. These table numbers add a touch of whimsy while bringing the outdoors in.

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6. Colorful Printed Table Numbers in Acrylic Block Frames
For the non-traditional wedding. Use these acrylic block frames to display custom printed table numbers that match your decor or wedding stationary.
inez-saunders-blog-size7. Etched Acrylic Table Numbers
For the glamorous, modern wedding. These acrylic blocks blend beautifully with other decor details.
larson-0879-blog8. Rustic Wood & Metal Table Numbers
For the rustic-chic wedding. These table numbers pair beautifully with farmhouse tables.

caili-helsper-photo-13blog29. Scalloped Edge Table Number
For the classic wedding. Use card holders to place these elegant table numbers alongside centerpieces. ryan-moore-photo-3410. Cities We’ve Visited
For the couple that loves to travel. A truly personal “table number” idea to that can be a conversation starter at the singles table.
Grey and pink wedding decor

Photography credit: 1. Colin Lyons Photography, 2. Allison Williams Photography, 3. Jeremy Lawson Photography, 4. Christy Tyler Photography, 5. G Reyes Photography, 6. Chez, 7. Tim Tab Studios, 8. Caili Helsper Photography, 9. Ryan Moore Photography, 10. David Turner Photo.

 

 

 

 

5 Dessert Trends from Real Chez Weddings

1: Suspended Selection of Petit Fours
A unique way to impress guests. The team from Platinum Events suspended trays of sweet treats from Jordan’s Food of Distinction under the Chez glass staircase.

dessert trends, glass staircase

2. Buffet of Small Bites
The organic floral arrangement surrounded by wooden wine boxes and a traditional cake stand made for an elegant, rustic-chic dessert display for this wedding catered by Calihan Catering. The white-painted brick and sheer drapes at Chez offered the perfect backdrop.
dessert trends, rustic3. Creative Cake Table
The creative team at Bittersweet Pastry Shop created not one, but five wedding cakes for this glamorous Chez wedding. Acrylic block frames listed cake flavors. The illuminated glass staircase at Chez provided a wonderful contrast against the custom linen and textured frosting finishes. dessert trends, glass staircase4. Classic Cheese Bar
A classic touch for those who don’t have a sweet tooth. The catering team from Limelight Catering assembled cheeses, breads, and fruit for guests to enjoy at this summer wedding. Cheeses were identified using mini chalk-board signs.

dessert trends, cheese bar

5. Ombre Cakes & Macarons
A delicate collection of cakes and macarons by Elysia Root Cakes are displayed in unique way. The vintage dresser, stack of designer books, and variety of cake stands brings a personal, residential touch to this statement dessert table.
dessert trends, vintage dresser

 

Photo credit: 1: Kent Drake Photography, 2: Caili Helsper Photography, 3: Tim Tab Studios, 4: Megan Saul Photography, 5: Tuan B
Dessert credit: 1: Jordan’s Food of Distinction, 2: Calihan Catering, 3: Bittersweet Pastry Shop, 4: Limelight Catering, 5: Elysia Root Cakes

Vendor Spotlight: Sharokina Pazand of Citygirl Events

City Girl Events, chicago wedding planner

Name: Sharokina Pazand

Title/Position: Founder & Event Director at Citygirl Weddings & Events

Specialty: Weddings, Corporate, Social, Non-Profit Events, and Marriage Proposals

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
S.P.: I established the company in 2009.

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
S.P.: We are passionate about creating events that encompass the five senses.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
S.P.: We believe that planning and design go hand-in-hand. A well-coordinated event is only amazing if the design – the true feeling of an event – can match in excellence.  We create a complete event environment by using intuitive design to create from within – making each and every event truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events? 
S.P.: It unexpectedly began to rain about 10 minutes before an outdoor ceremony. This was a beautiful wedding and all of the paper goods and furniture were set outdoors. Our team worked diligently to route the guests early to their cocktail hour while we waited for the rain to settle. We made sure the bride and groom had drinks and food  and the music was playing. We then made sure to reset the outside ceremony and had the bride and groom blissfully on their way to “I Do” in no time!

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
S.P.: Dessert stations instead of traditional wedding cake. Late night bites. Entertainment during dinner. Unique wedding invitations with fun fonts and hand drawn illustrations.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
S.P.: We had a client that wanted to hire a helicopter and photographer to capture their wedding ceremony that was taking place at the Willis Tower. We coordinated with the helicopter team to ensure we were able to coordinate the start time of the ceremony with the time the helicopter would hover near the window to get the perfect coverage!  We had to make sure to work with the Willis Tower events team to get security clearance. It was pretty cool and the guests were surprised. It was absolutely a memorable wedding!

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
S.P.: I start with walking in with my coffee, wedding padfolio, game plan, and my radio and headset and I’m ready for the day! I field up to 10 questions at any given time. I make sure I’m thinking 3-5 steps ahead of everything to make sure my next move is as intentional as possible. Consultant, therapist, cheerleader, life coach, friend, and safety pin guru are just a few of my job titles that day. Making sure everyone is where they need to be ahead of time, have what they need, following/adjusting the timeline and making sure all of the beautiful design is in place are my ultimate goals. From making sure hair and makeup runs on time, transportation arrives, any pivotal moments coordinated, music is playing, cocktails are flowing, and the timeline is being followed – well, it’s just a basic overview of what I do on any given event day.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
S.P.: Coffee. Netflix. Hot Cheetos.

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you.
S.P.: I had my first small business for a short time in grammar school where I’d buy warheads and sell them in the lunchroom. I sang in the choir in high school and college as an alto. English is the third language I learned.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
S.P.: Let the professionals know what you love and want to see and leave the rest to them.  You’ve hired the best – now let them show you the possibilities!

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
S.P.: I love that it is a clean canvas. Each event there looks completely different – making the event completely customizable.

Thank you Sharokina! We look forward to many successful events together in 2017.

Photography by Jennifer Kathryn Photography