Amanda & Patrick’s Romantic Fall Wedding

Late last fall, just days after Thanksgiving, Amanda and Patrick were joined by family and friends as they said their vows at  St. Joseph Church. While the wedding party made some stops around town with photographer Kent Drake, the team from Revel Decor was busy putting the finishing touches on wedding reception decor details at Chez. Lux table linens, burgundy napkins, and dozens of candles decorated each table. After making their grand entrance on the glass staircase, Amanda and Patrick joined their guests for dinner, served by Blue Plate Catering, and afterwards danced to music by  The Connexion Band. Congratulations Amanda and Patrick.  fall wedding fall wedding fall wedding fall wedding fall wedding fall wedding fall wedding fall weddingfloral arrangement fall weddingtablescape fall wedding fall wedding fall wedding fall wedding fall wedding

Photography: Kent Drake Photography | Ceremony Location: St. Joseph Parish | Floral & Decor: Revel Decor | Catering: Blue Plate Catering | Bride’s Gown: Flora | Grooms Suit: Vera Wang | Cake: Bon Bon Bakery | Bridesmaid’s dresses: twobirds Bridesmaid | Music: Connexion Band

Vendor Spotlight: Lori Stephenson of LOLA Event Productions

wedding planner

Name: Lori Stephenson

Title/Position: Owner and Principal – LOLA Event Productions

Specialty: Wedding and Event Planning and Design

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
L.S.: I’ve been in the wedding business in some way, shape or form since before I graduated from college where I attained my degree in fashion design and business and paid my way through school in part by making wedding gowns and accessories.  I guess wedding planning is just pumping through my blood at this point!  I started LOLA in 2006 – we are celebrating our 11th anniversary this year and have sent over 500 brides and grooms down the aisle!

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
L.S.: We take our clients ideas, vision, challenges, and unique perspectives and create the wedding or event that is perfect for them – all while keeping them happy and relaxed throughout the process.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
L.S.: In looking at our portfolio, it is obvious that the scope of our work is as broad as the personalities and needs of our clients.  We really LISTEN to our clients and try and deliver on their unique vision AND THEN SOME with that special LOLA touch of creativity and innovation.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
L.S.: I love the moment when a client walks into the room and sees their vision turned into a reality for the very first time.  That moment at the completion of a set up is like a calming breath of air right before the guests enter the room and fill it with enthusiasm and energy.  The immense satisfaction of taking an idea from notes on paper to a room filled with beauty, love and energy is really incredible.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
L.S.: I love that event design has become about so much more than a color scheme or what décor you are placing into a space.  Innovation comes in creative menus and entertainment and experiences within that gorgeous space.  Today’s events are a feast of all the senses rather than just something visual.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
L.S.: Well, funny you should ask!  I have a groom that wants to ride a live grizzly bear down the aisle next summer at his wedding.  I had to put the breaks on that one for sure!  Although I did tell him that I would rent a bear suit and let him ride piggy-back down the aisle on my back if it would make him happy!

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
L.S.: An event day is kind of like a marathon.  Carbo load the night before with a giant bowl of pasta, review your notes, get a good night sleep, put on your most comfortable shoes, and have confidence in all the incredibly detailed preparation you have been laying down for weeks, months and even years leading up to the big day… and or course, be ready for the unexpected!

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
L.S.: Professionally: My incredible team of loyal colleagues and professional partners that make me look good, my event emergency kit which contains everything but the kitchen sink, and my husband who has never stopped supporting me by doing everything from lifting me up when I am having a challenging day to loading up my car for an event and tying bows on programs late into the night when the client ran out of time to do it themselves.

Personally: My husband for his undying support – because being married to a wedding planner who is gone most evenings and weekends can be a real drag, my menagerie of rescue dogs and cats that keep my blood pressure down with their unconditional love, and really good concealer for the black circles under my eyes!

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you
L.S.: I was a state champion and national championship level cheerleader in high school, I am a complete germ-a-phobe and walk through life with a lot of Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer, and before I decided to go to college for fashion design, I wanted to go to school for environmental law.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
L.S.: Hire great people that you can trust and then LET THEM DO THEIR JOBS.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
L.S.: Chez is the ultimate blank canvas for design.  You can create something pristine and monochromatic and timeless or go crazy with the color, texture and whimsy of what’s current at the moment.  The location is insanely convenient for guests (they can stagger back to their hotel rooms just steps away), and all the perks that come included like their stylish ghost chairs make it an incredible value!

Photography by: (L) Studio Starling  , (R) Genevieve Lauren Photography


Arabian Nights Cocktail Party

On hearing Neeti describe her vision for an Arabian nights themed Sangeet at Chez we were excited to imagine the design possibilities. We were even more excited to hear that Neeti was working with Phil Cooper at Kehoe Designs! Phil and the Kehoe team did not disappoint, styling fuchsia and orange draping to create a colorful canopy over a vibrant pink dance floor. The theme was carried throughout the space with colored lighting, patterned linens, colorful ottomans, and gold accents.  A lounge grouping on the mezzanine level was ideal for mehndi. Guests enjoyed Indian cuisine by Indian Garden. sangeetsangeet3sangeet pink orange sangeetsangeetsangeetEvent Design: Kehoe Designs | Lighting: Frost | Catering: Indian Garden | Event Planner : Events by Nisar | Photography: Randalls Photography

Chicago’s Top 7 Wedding Photo Locations

1: Industrial Chicago
The striking contrast of a perfectly styled couple against the grittiness of the city is a popular look for wedding day photography. Whether you pose in front of an abandoned warehouse or beneath the “L” tracks, these backdrops offer the opportunity for more editorial styled shots.Chicago, wedding photos, locationChicago, wedding photos, locationChicago, wedding photos, location

2: Chicago’s Murals
Add some color and texture to your wedding album by posing in front of one of the many murals that appear throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods. One such mural is located just outside Chez. The mural featuring Jimmy Durante and the Chez Paree ‘Adorables’ calls out the incredible history of Chez and The Chez Paree supper club.

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3: The Lakefront
It might seem like an obvious one, but if you’re getting married in Chicago you can’t miss the opportunity for wedding day photo on the lakefront. There are numerous places along the Lake Michigan shore that are ideal for capturing your wedding day with the beauty of nature and the Chicago skyline as your backdrop. North Avenue Beach, Olive Park, The Adler Planetarium, and Promontory Point are some of the favorites of Chez couples and their photographers.

ic_gal0375-blogmegan-saul-710x474larson-0338-blog 4: Michigan Avenue
The Mag Mile sits just two blocks west of Chez so many of our brides and grooms make it their last stop on the way to Chez for their wedding ceremony. The Wrigley Building and the Michigan Avenue median are ideal if you’re looking to feature Chicago architecture in your wedding day photos.
chicago, wedding photos, locationesenam-photography-chez-wedding-37blog jlpc107853-710x4735: La Salle Street & The Board of Trade
The iconic Board of Trade building offers a breathtaking backdrop for urban wedding photos. Just watch out for traffic whizzing by.

Chicago, wedding photos, locationlarson-0206blogsweeney-491-of-828-710x4316: Chicago’s Bridges
With dozens of bridges traversing the Chicago river it’s easy to add this shot to your wedding day photography schedule. La Salle St. bridge, Kinzie St. bridge, and State St. bridge are the most popular.

larson-0505bloglarson-0471blog7: Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is the ideal spot for wedding couples looking for a more natural backdrop for their wedding photos.
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Photography: 1. Industrial Chicago: Amanda Megan Miller PhotographyAmanda Megan Miller PhotographyElite Visions Photography, 2. Chicago Murals: Colin Lyons PhotographyChristy Tyler Photography, Allison Williams Photography, 3. The Lakefront: G Reyes Photography, Megan Saul, Tim Tab Studios, 4. Michigan Avenue: Ed & Aileen Photography, Esenam Photography, Jeremy Lawson Photography, 5. La Salle Street + The Board of Trade: Jeremy Lawson PhotographyTim Tab Studios, Michelle Lytle Photography, 6. Chicago’s Bridges: Tim Tab StudiosAmanda Megan Miller PhotographyTim Tab Studios, 7. Lincoln Park: Michelle Lytle Photography.

Vendor Spotlight: Rebecca Ickes of Rebecca Marie Photography

wedding photographer

Name: Rebecca Ickes

Title/Position: Owner, Rebecca Marie Photography

Specialty: People. By way of a camera.

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
R.I.: The first wedding I photographed was 11+ years ago and I have owned my studio for 6 years.

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
R.I.: I document legacies so that future generations can have an insight into not only what your wedding day looked like but who you were and what it was like to spend time with you.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
R.I.: I consider my approach to photography a study of people more than a study of light as the traditional definition would state. It is my firm belief that photography is only successful if the people who were a part of the photos feel something when they see them. We can create the most unique image possible – we can win all sorts of rewards from professional organizations and national committees – but none of that means anything if you don’t look at your photos and feel something.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
R.I.: There is no way I can pick just one! Throughout every event there is always one thing that jumps out at you and surprises you with how perfect it is, most likely resulting in water filled eyes on my side of the camera. What’s amazing is that moment happens at a different time for each event. Sometimes it’s the walk down the aisle to beautiful harp music which also happens to be theme from a Princess Bride. Sometimes it’s being pronounced “Husband & Husband” or a lifelong friend’s heartfelt toast. And sometimes it’s a couple belting out Living On a Prayer with their band, only to then crowd surf with their friends & family literally supporting them. The one consistent thing is that it’s always something unique to the relationships of the day that make the moment so memorable.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
R.I.: Neutrals! Particularly neutral wedding party outfits. I recently photographed a wedding where the bride chose all long white bridesmaids dresses! Of course she still stood out from her ladies with her detailed gown, but it was so sleek and the simplicity allowed for their expressions & excitement to really stand out in the photos. Choosing a simplified palette, while currently popular, I believe will also stand the test of time and look just as classic in 50 years as it looks trendy today.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
R.I.: I once had a groom who was a pilot and wanted to fly to their reception venue as their grand entrance! Because their venue was in a rural area, we were able to make it work by using an adjoining field as a landing strip. The excitement on their families’ faces was priceless.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
R.I.: It always starts with a big breakfast! 😉 We often are so busy throughout the day that lunch isn’t possible.

But to be serious: Whether it be a corporate holiday party or a wedding day, we are usually present for the majority of the day. We want to be sure to document not only the event itself, but also the preparation ahead of time, the look of a room before guests arrive and move things around, and the celebration into the night. For a corporate event, that often means arriving an hour before the event begins. For a wedding, that means joining the couple while they get ready in the morning (usually about an hour before getting dressed for ladies as that’s when hair & makeup are finishing up) and about an hour after open dancing begins. This timing tells the full story of the day without overdoing it.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!):
R.I.: My calendar/organizer, my passport, and my beloved inner circle of family & friends (not in that order!)

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you:
R.I.: I used to be a professional oboist. I lived in England for a year working with at-risk 8-12 year olds in an after school art center (I ran the ceramics room). The day after a wedding, I rarely make it out of my pajamas!

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
R.I.: Trust your instincts and hire professionals you trust. If you have a team of people who you believe in and you know understand you and your vision any reason for stress is exponentially diminished. Just like the magic of knowing you found The One to marry, when you feel comfortable and confident in the vendor you are meeting with, then you’ve found “the one” there too!

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
R.I.: I love that you can make Chez into anything you want. It truly is a blank canvas. Photographically, I love that there is a 2nd floor to be able to document an event from. Having this type of vantage point isn’t often found and always provides unique opportunities.

Photography by: (L) Carla Ten Eyck, (R) Rebecca Marie Photography

Emma & Tunji’s Wedding

After their first-look on the rooftop of the Ivy Boutique Hotel, Emma and Tunji strolled east along Ontario St to Chez where they said their vows in front of family and friends. Dozens of white calla lillies and candles set the tone for the elegant event. A menu influenced by traditional Nigerian dishes was served by Food For Thought. After dinner, the newlyweds changed into Nigerian dress and danced the traditional money dance. Congratulations Emma and Tunji.bridal style bride getting ready first look chicago wedding chicago wedding Chicago wedding newlyweds candles chez event space calla lilies

Photography: Bob Leavitt, Believe It! |  Catering: Food For Thought | Floral: Amelia Cole Events | Event Design: A Posh Production | Cake: Urban Icing | Music: Oluleke Owojori

Vendor Spotlight: Jeff Durocher of US Poker Casino Parties

poker rentals

Name:  Jeff Durocher

Title/Position:  President/Owner of US Poker & Casino Parties

Specialty: Casino Games

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry? 
J.D.: In some ways, I was born into the industry.  My parents came out of the carnival business and were owners of food service companies.  I have owned US Poker & Casino Parties for 6 years.

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence? 
J.D.: We provide premier casino night entertainment to companies and individuals at great venues all over the United States.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?   
J.D.: Our customer service, quality equipment and helpful dealers.  Many times we end up taking the Event Planning portion of the event off the clients hands which makes it much easier for them.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?   
J.D.: It is always great to see a group of corporate clients high five-ing, yelling and hugging at the craps table.  I LOVE those moments!

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now? 
J.D.: Entertainment budgets are back and early bookings seem to be making a come back.  Both great trends for us.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
J.D.: Two things come to mind:  1. We had a client from Ohio, fly 150 employees to Las Vegas for a conference and they wanted us to provide ‘fake’ gaming for them at the Bellagio hotel which, of course, has the live gaming one floor below. 2. The other one was providing our equipment and dealers for a TV shoot.  That was pretty cool.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?  
J.D.: We meet at the warehouse around 11am or noon to load the truck.  We get to the facility a few hours before the event to set up.  We like to be set one hour before the guests arrive.  Our dealers show up 30 mins before the guests for a “Dealer Briefing”.  We make sure everyone has a great time at the Blackjack, Roulette, Craps or Poker tables.  We often run the raffle for the client prizes.  Then we tear down immediately after the event.  Head back to the warehouse and unload the truck.  This often takes place after midnight, making for a long day.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!):
J.D.: Computer/internet, quality people that we can trust, and repeat clients.

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you: 
J.D.: I played Division 1 football, I have 5 children and work is my hobby.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
J.D.: Plan everything to be done EARLY.  Never let the ‘go time’ get there before the set up is done.  It puts too much stress on everyone!

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez? 
J.D.: The space is so beautiful and super flexible.  One night could be an amazing wedding and the next a corporate party for 100.  Love. Love. Love the place.

Photography by: (L) Sum Lau, (R) Charlie Simokaitis

Empire Fashion House Scenes

When the production team from Fox’s tv hit show, Empire, visited Chez we were excited to imagine how the space would be transformed by their set design team. Fast forward a few weeks and Chez became the home of fashion label ‘Antony & Cleopatra’ for Empire scenes featuring Taraji P. Henson, Naomi Campbell and other cast members. The all-white space, 17′ tall ceilings, abundant natural light and contemporary glass staircase served as the perfect back drop for their stylish fashion house design. The scenes filmed at Chez were aired on Fox in early 2016.

Naomi Campbell on phone Empire SceneScene from Empire Taraji P Hensonpeople talking scene from EmpireEmpire fashion house in white loftTaraji P Henson Empire sceneperformance Empire scenecrowd gathered for cocktail reception Empire

Image 1 – 2, 5 – 6 courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox. Images 3- 4 and 6 approved by Twentieth Century Fox.

Top 10 Chicago Event Planners To Follow On Instagram

A curated list of Chicago event planners with the most inspiring Instagram accounts. From photos of extravagant events to behind-the-scenes details of event planning action, this group of planners covers it all. Follow this list for the best quality wedding and event inspiration.

place setting gold pineapples flamingoDEBI LILLY
@debililly | 10.5K Followers
A daily dose of the most incredible inspiration from celebrity party planner and author Debi Lilly, this Instagram feed seamlessly places images of floral details and party festivities alongside shots of travel and time with family.

Photography: @debililly


dining table pink floral centerpiecesLK EVENTS
@lkeventschicago | 5.5K Followers
Highlighting the talents of the LK Events team and the fantastic network of vendors they work with, this feed features images of beautiful weddings and events, exquisite florals and smiling newlyweds.

Photography: (l) @lkevents, (r) @gerberandscarpelliweddings via @lkevents


floral chuppah galaPAULETTE WOLF EVENTS
@paulettewolfevents  |  1.4K Followers
Images of large scale events, live performances, and tips on event planning fill the Instagram feed of this national event management and event planning company.

Photography: (l) by @kingensmith via @paulettewolfevents (r) @paulettewolfevents


white chuppa contemporary wedding cakeSQN EVENTS
@sqnevents | 7.6K Followers
Impeccable wedding details, happy newlywed clients, and a few personal posts fill the Instagram feed of SQN owner and event director, Beth Bernstein.

Photography: (l) @maypolestudios via @sqnevents, (r) @erickelley via @sqnevents


floral wall floral decor

@keshevents  |  19.7K Followers
President of Kesh Luxury Group and author of “The Art of Floral and Event Design”, Akeshi Akinseye, fills this Instagram feed with images of opulent florals, destination weddings, and peeks behind-the-scenes at Kesh Luxury Group.

Photography: (l) @carascophoto via @keshevents (r) @folalawal via @keshevents


5 tier wedding cakeLIVEN IT UP EVENTS 
@livenitup  |  4.1K Followers
Towering wedding cakes, rustic and romantic weddings and shots of creative cuisine fill the Instagram feed of Liven It Up Events, offering a look at the incredible work of their talented team of event planners.

Photography: @livenitup


sweeping drapery floral decor

@lolaeventpros  |  3.9K Followers
Wedding inspiration galore! The Instagram feed of LOLA Event Productions inspires with details of glamorous weddings, designer dresses and special wedding day moments.

Photography: (l) @lolaeventpros (r) @genevievelaurenphoto via @loleventpros


suspended floral chair chandeliers black ghost chairsJENNIFER ANDERSON EVENTS
@jaevents  |  3.5K Followers
Offering inspiration for everything from wedding dresses to honeymoon locations, event design and florals, this Instagram feed has a wonderfully curated selection of posts.

Photography: (l) @kingensmith via @jaevents (r) @jaevents


wedding cake with floral decor place seetting

@clementinechicago  |  5.5K followers
Behind-the-scenes shots and details of custom weddings planned by the Clementine Custom Events team make this Instagram feed fun, fresh and filled with inspiration.

Photography: (l) @christytylerphotography via @clementinechicago, (r) @emiliajane_ via @clementinechicago


floral invitation blue pink event decorBLISS WEDDINGS & EVENTS 
@blisschicago  |  6.9K followers
Filled with details of real weddings and colorful florals, the BLISS Weddings & Events Instagram feed demonstrates the team’s talent at creating events that are sophisticated, playful, inspired and cohesive.

Photography: (l) @chrispluslynn via @blisschicago, (r) @lizbanfield via @blisschicago

Sarah & Christian’s Romantic October Wedding

On October 15th, 2016 Sarah and Christian were joined by their loved ones for their ceremony and reception at Chez. Their day began at the W Hotel Lakeshore for their first look, and then headed to Lake Michigan with their wedding party and photographer, Louie A Weddings.

Every detail of the day was planned by Linsday Gaeta of Storybook Weddings. While the wedding party took photos, Phil Cooper and the team of Kehoe Designs were putting the final touches on floral arrangements and each romantic detail for the ceremony. The mood for the ceremony was set by Bill Pollack String Quartet. After the ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres by Jewell Events Catering.

Once the ceremony space was flipped for the reception, guests were invited back in to take their seats. Tables were covered with sequined linen and lined with Chez’s mirage ghost chairs creating a charming atmosphere. Kehoe Designs made sure every table was impeccable with elegant floral arrangements set in various gold and glass vessels. The tables were completed with custom escort cards by Minted.

After cutting the cake, the couple and their guests danced and enjoyed music from Style Matters. Congratulations Sarah & Christian!


getting readychicago wedding wedding accessorieschicago wedding first look wedding photos wedding photos wedding photos wedding photos escort cards wedding ceremony romantic wedding ceremony romantic cocktail hour romantic wedding reception wedding reception cutting the cake

Photography: Louie A Weddings | Bride’s Dress: Sarah Seven | Maids’ dresses: J. Crew | Groom’s Suit: Mens Warehouse | Groomsmens’ Suits: Mens Warehouse | Planning: Lindsay Gaeta of Storybook Weddings & Events | Floral & Design: Phil Cooper of Kehoe Designs | Caterer & Cake: Jewell Events Catering | Ceremony Music: Bill Pollack String Quartet | Reception Music: Style Matters | Menu & Program: AJ Powills | Escort Cards: Minted