Vendor Spotlight: Susan Cordogan of Big City Bride

susan cordogan big city bride tablescapeName: Susan Cordogan

Title/Position: Owner, Principal Big City Bride

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
S.C.: I’ve been in event industry for 18 years working double time….so doesn’t that count for 36 industry years?? LOL!

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
S.C.: We work with our clients to make event magic and provide experiential celebrations that are simply awesome.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
S.C.: Big City Bride is full of wonderful, experienced planners with broad shoulders and bright smiles. We are full-time event experts who work daily from our cozy Lincoln Park office. Our clients benefit from the experience, knowledge, resources and creativity of our entire team but enjoy the intimacy of working closely with their personal Big City Bride wedding planner or “wedding warrior”as some have called us.

CHEZ: Reason for Starting Big City Bride?
S.C.: I started Big City Bride because I felt there was a need in Chicago for a wedding firm that had a strong, professional, office environment. This environment allows for a team of professionals to individually cater to clients with the support of shared experience and knowledge to better our events.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
S.C.: We had the extreme joy of hiring Lionel Richie and his band for a surprise concert to kick off a wedding reception. That man knows how to bring the party! It was an unforgettable event.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
S.C.: With a background in TV production, I love surprise elements; champagne parades, event lighting, sparkler exits and confetti drops!

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
S.C.: We had a bride who wanted to close Michigan Avenue and hold her wedding ceremony & reception smack-dab in the middle of the Magnificent Mile. We (of course!) loved the idea, but the City of Chicago didn’t. So we found her an iconic location with all the views and wonder of the Mag Mile.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
S.C.: Sixteen plus hours of go, go, go. On event days, we offer clients our unlimited time to be available to manage everything from start to finish and be available to handle anything they want or need.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
S.C.: 1. Google 2. My favorite weather app – for those wonderful outdoor weddings! 3. My iPhone camera – I love to capture and share those magic moments on the wedding day when no one else is around.

CHEZ: Name something people probably don’t know about you.
S.C.: I ALWAYS have a pen in my hair…ready to take down a note at any time!

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
S.C.: Of course, my most passionate advice is to invest in a professional planner. You don’t know what you don’t know….and a planner is here to guide you through the process and make sure every decision you make it the right one for you. By no means are you surrendering the fun part of planning…a planner should allow you to focus on your top priorities and enjoy not only the wedding, but the planning as well.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
S.C.: I love that Chez is a blank canvas. A venue that has the possibility to be transformed allows you to let you imagination run wild! At the same time, it’s a beautiful clean slate that can be highlighted with minimal décor and subtle touches. So, whether you want a simple elegant affair or an incredible transformation, everything is possible at Chez!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Susan. We’re looking forward to working with you and the team at Big City Bride again very soon.

Photography by: (l) Genevieve Lauren Photography, (r) Robin Sloan of Riverbend Studio

Marian & Kiari’s Modernistic Wedding

Marian and Kiari collaborated with Kesh Events and Art of Imagination to create a modernistic design for their wedding at Chez. The couple stunned their guests with an all white ceremony and then transformed the space into a vibrant and lively reception. After a beautiful ceremony, the bride changed into her second dress of the evening and D’Absolute Events & Catering served a delicious meal before the guests took to the dance floor. Elite Visions Photography was there to capture every meaningful moment. Congratulations Marian and Kiari!

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Photography: Elite Visions Photography | Floral: Kesh Events | Design: Art of Imagination |Caterer: D’Absolute Events & Catering

Chez Vendor Spotlight: Kate Johnson of Kate Johnson Artistry

collection of makeupName: Kate Johnson

Title/Position: Owner, Kate Johnson Artistry

Specialty: Makeup and Hair for weddings, engagements, television and celebrity clientele.

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
K.J.: Full time for 6 years.

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
K.J.: Creating beautiful and unique looks based on the individual style of each bride, using only the best professional products on the market.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
K.J.: Almost all of our artists have a background in television and celebrity work so we understand that this is not about what our “style” is, but is about collaborating with our clients to bring out the most beautiful vision they have for themselves.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?         
K.J.: I was introduced to a couple getting married that loves Burning Man and all things creative/ music etc. I knew the wedding was going to be unique but I wasn’t expecting acrobatics from the ceiling and “flower girls” whose outfits lit up.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?      
K.J.: I’m loving the veils that go under the hair and showcase the beautiful styles the bride has chosen as well as a bold lip that people are picking up.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?        
K.J.: To take hair extensions and create a huge rose that would be placed on her head as her hair style.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
K.J.: Well if it’s a wedding we are the first to arrive so that means as a team we are up early, coffee drank and headed to the ready location first thing in the morning. We get to greet the beautiful bride and her entourage while they are fresh faced and wake them up with beautiful styling. My favorite part is that we get to see everyone so relaxed in the pajamas just as a group of ladies having fun before everyone else enters the scene. Its like a big pajama party.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!) 
K.J.: Red Wine, My dog Honey and One Drop Wonder face oil… its amazing.

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you.
K.J.: I moved to Chicago from So Cal to sing Jazz. I have a refurbished 1965 Mustang Convertible waiting for me in California to have a nice garage here.  I’m a brand ambassador to a professional cosmetics company so I get to teach people all over the country how to feel their best.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event? 
K.J.: Plan early, communicate openly with/and also trust your vendors experience so it’s a true collaboration to bring your vision to reality.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
K.J.: I love that it’s a blank space you can truly create your own vision in. And I absolutely love the natural light that pours in through the big windows.

Thanks Kate! You truly know how to make a bride look and feel her best.

Photography by Kate Johnston (L), Emma Meyer (R)

Chez Vendor Spotlight: Alexandra Jusino of Exquisite Designs

blog-ready-alexandra-jusinoName: Alexandra Jusino

Title/Position: Boss Lady at Exq Designs

Specialty: We specialize in floral and decor for social and corporate events.

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
A.J.: I haven’t thought about this for a while but I left my previous job in November of 2004 to start working in the events industry.

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
A.J.: Our company provides flowers, props, rentals and design services for both corporate and social events in Chicago.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
A.J.: We don’t like to do the same thing all the time. Some floral designers specialize in one style…. we like to do it all and are not afraid to do something completely different. We also custom build, so dream it and we will build it. You want to have a free standing champagne flutes escort card wall greeting your guests as they walk into cocktails… no problem!

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
A.J.: We loved working for Create and Cultivate last August. We created a ombre wall of cacti that went 30’ up…. we even had to use a lift to get the cacti all the way up. We also got to work with Lush Cosmetics this summer building a living green wall on their pop up shop in Millennium Park.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
A.J.: Loving an all green event, using tropicals, bright colors, textures and hexagonal shapes. After a few years of white, and all blush events I speak for many designers we are craving color.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
A.J.: Less than a month ago we had a client ask us for a white balloon backdrop for their ceremony. It was a tad tricky to keep adding balloons without popping the ones that were already set but we got it done and the client was ecstatic.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
A.J.: We usually start at 9AM (some times earlier!) checking lists, packing items, double checking to make sure that we have everything we need before we head out the door or in case of wedding days to deliver bouquets. We arrive on site and begin setup, wait until the client comes in and we can leave or wait until the ceremony takes place so we can turnover the room. Some setups take longer than others, load ins are not as easy as they sound, but it always gets done and the best feeling is to see your client’s reaction once they arrive to the event. Oh and at 12AM or 1AM we get to go back and clean it all up, load out and back to the studio it all goes. It makes up for a very long day. There is such a thing as an event hangover.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
A.J.: Besides my wonderful family I’m going to say coffee, concealer and my Converse. In that order!

CHEZ: Tell us something people probably don’t know about you.
A.J.: I used to be a construction engineer in my previous life. My last building that I worked on is 520 North Michigan I can tell you stories about that building.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
A.J.: If this person is in the event field my advice is It’s not about you, it’s about your client….. and remember that you are in the business of service. If you are planning an event, hire professionals and let them guide you.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
A.J.: Besides the gorgeous pilkington stairs (that engineer background coming back!) and it’s great location…. Chez is a white canvas, don’t be afraid to go bold with your event colors. The space can take on colors beautifully.

Thanks Alexandra! We can’t wait to see what designs you bring to your next event at Chez.

Photography by Carasco (L), and Christy Tyler Photography (R)

Steve & Cory’s Sophisticated Wedding Celebration

Steve and Cory teamed up with the talented Joshua Jones of Kehoe Designs to bring their unique wedding concept to life at Chez. The grooms wanted to create a fun, non-traditional wedding celebration and Joshua’s design did not disappoint. Sleek, all-white, lounge groupings, illuminated cocktail tables, and an over-sized feasting table created a relaxed layout that allowed guests to mix and mingle throughout the space at ease. Towering étagères decorated with dozens of candles, elaborate floral, and unique decorative elements added a touch of drama to the design. The white brick walls were washed with color, offering the perfect backdrop for the band stage at the south end of the space. Performers from The Party Faithful entertained the crowd all evening long and guests danced on illuminated dance boxes beneath low-hanging chandeliers. Now that does sound like a fun time! Guests were treated to the culinary delights and cocktail-making expertise of the team from Limelight Catering. Congratulations Steve and Cory!

Chez muralmodern lounge groupings with purple uplightsModern decor in all white spaceCandle lined all white tablesAll white luxury lounge groupingAll white decorChez glass staircaseAll white floral and decorModern classic decor with chandeliersModern all white decorWhite lacquer tableLimelight catering small bitesDouble barHappy couple under Chez chandelier

Photography: Genevieve Lauren Photography | Catering: Limelight Catering | Live Music: The Party Faithful | Event Design & Floral: Kehoe Designs

Winter Wonderland Holiday Event

The team from Kehoe Designs transformed Chez into a sophisticated Winter Wonderland for a luxury holiday event last December.  The all-white lounge area was the focal point of the design. Over-sized foliage towered above the lounge, while dozens of sparkling light fixtures were suspended from the ceiling above. A collection of clear lucite, mirrored, and frosted glass tables fit the frosty, winter wonderland theme so well while pairing perfectly with our lucite ghost chairs.  Kehoe’s floral design placed delicate white orchids alongside an appropriately wintery mix of evergreen and blue thistle.

white lounge purple light winter wonderland eventtable lined with round gift boxeschandelier beneath clear lucite tablewinter wonderland themed event decor round gift boxes with red ribbonwhite orchids in silver vase

Chez Vendor Spotlight: Brent Rolland of Fig Media + Fig Weddings

black and white image of brent rolland dj and drummer fig mediaName: Brent Rolland

Title/Position: Event Producer, DJ Manager, and DJ with Fig Media + figweddings.

Specialty: Fig – DJ, film-making, and photography for weddings, special events. Brent Rolland – Excellent service, crisp audio, super-fun parties, drumming with my DJs, and the best hugs in the industry.

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
B.R.: I have been in the events industry for eleven years. I didn’t know I could count that high!

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
B.R.: Fig Media and figweddings deliver truth, beauty and service beyond expectation with our creative, personable and personalized approach to DJ, film-making and photography.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
B.R.: Fig is a mainstay in the events industry since 1993. We see ourselves as not only a creative event firm, but also as a great “playground” for artists to develop their craft and be successful in the world, which is the vision of our owners, James and Michele Gustin. Additionally, we have a great internship program that trains people to be ready for events in any medium of their choice. We love development, training, changing and updating our systems, and being better than yesterday—all in the name of love and a better experience for our current and future clients.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
B.R.: One word: Rain. Mother Nature’s watery gift to the world has been involved in a few of my events! This month, I was the DJ for a huge outdoor white party in mid-August near Buckingham Fountain. The weather was clear and cool for the whole evening and the chance for rain was 5-10%; twenty minutes before the end of the event, it began to rain. Totally unexpected! I looked a bit ridiculous performing under a wet linen, but I was able to get five more minutes in before we called it a night (and a super-fun night it was!). Another rain story: I did the music/audio for a beautiful wedding on The Crown of the Tribune Tower. Again, the weather was perfect, up until I heard Rev. Tom Perrucci say over the speaker system, “Did you just feel a raindrop?” Ten seconds later, it POURED. Everyone came inside and the ceremony continued smoothly and beautifully. The smiles on the faces of my couple remained throughout. It’s a blessing and a lesson to be in good faith and make things as awesome as possible in the midst of things outside of human control.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
B.R.: I love our DJ/drummer combination—the synergy of live music and recorded music is a beautiful thing. I’m a self-taught drummer and enjoy the opportunity to bring a “best of both worlds approach” to event entertainment.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
B.R.: Lauren remembers this one—I was asked to cosplay (short for “costume play,” or dressing up as a character or figure in pop culture) for a nerd-themed wedding at Cataylst Ranch. I cosplayed Aang from Nickelodeon’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” I couldn’t be happier to get out of a suit for one night and take part in my client’s vision, as well as do something I enjoy!

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
B.R.: Since we do events throughout the week, every day is different! In addition to being an artist, I produce events (i.e. sell!), handle the contracts, our calendar, our DJ equipment, and management of the DJ team. I have mandatory sales/team training meetings on Mondays and Wednesdays, and I meet with my DJ team every two weeks. On event days, I prepare my gear/music/notes early, arrive at the venue at least two hours in advance for setup and sound check, and throw the best event I can throw.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
B.R.: God, music, and family.

CHEZ: List three things people probably don’t know about you. 
B.R.: 1. I’m a Weight Watchers alumni! I was with the program for about three years and lost sixty—yes, sixty—pounds. I’m maintaining keeping off the poundage, which is extremely difficult in the indulgent lifestyle that is the event industry, haha. 2. I’m a huge game show fan and I develop, host and produce shows for anime/comic conventions. 3. I’ve never traveled outside of the United States…yet!

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
B.R.: I love this question! First and foremost, BE YOURSELF! Personalize your event that breathes who you are, what you love, and what you stand for. Secondly, hire vendors that “get” you and that you feel comfortable with. You’ll have much more trust and less stress on the day of, and the relationship will be more of a friendship than a labeled “client and vendor” relationship. Thirdly, and I agree with my friend Elizabeth Nord (hi!) on this—definitely consider hiring a great planner for your event—facilitation is an art in itself, and it is crucial to have someone overseeing the vision and team. Finally, be sure to work in a “thank you” into your event that honors your guests and all those who made your event happen—including your event team. We selflessly give our time, resources, energy, and weekends to make visions happen, our clients thrilled, and events amazing. Receiving the love back is the least we could ask for, and it’s what I yearn for as a performer and human being.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
B.R.: Lauren, Louise and Kristie! Seriously, it’s the people that make any environment, and this talented trio is amazing at what they do and create a warm, wonderful space with their presence and hospitality. I also love how much history Chez carries within its stunning white walls, from its roots as a bakery-slash-speakeasy-slash-nightclub to its connections with Sinatra and Bauhaus. It is always a pleasure.

Thanks Brent! We look forward to having your enthusiasm and energetic beats at Chez again very soon.

Photography by James Gustin of figmediainc

Kelly & Dave’s Modern Monochromatic Wedding

With the guiding hand of Jaci Weber of Clementine Custom Events, Kelly and Dave dreamed up an elegant monochromatic design for their May wedding at Chez. The all-white interior of Chez was the perfect canvas for their vision. Crisp white linens and Chez’s lucite ghost chairs provided a neutral foundation for the monochromatic design. Arrangements of white hydrangeas, orchids, and roses lined the rectangular dining tables, while round tables received towering stems of perfect white orchids. The bride’s sculptured, J Mendel gown was the perfect complement for the wedding design.

After the marriage ceremony, guests enjoyed pink champagne while the Stitely orchestra played on the mezzanine level. Kelly and Dave made their grand entrance on the glass staircase before their first dance and cake cutting. The elegant, four-tiered wedding cake was created by Amy Beck Cake Designs. After speeches and dinner by Limelight Catering, Kelly and Dave danced the night away with guests. Music was provided by DJ Chicago. Congratulations Kelly and Dave!

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Photographer: Christy Tyler Photography | Wedding Planner: Jaci Webber, Clementine Custom Events | Catering: Limelight Catering | Floral: Exquisite Designs | Cake: Amy Beck Cake Design | Live Music: Stitely | DJ: DJ Chicago | Lighting: MDM| Calligraphy: Leah Moss Calligraphy | Bride’s Dress: J Mendel | Groom’s Suit: Hugo Boss | Hair & Make-up: Sonia Roselli 

Chez Vendor Spotlight: Elizabeth Nord Photography

Elizabeth Nord, photographer and owner of Elizabeth Nord Photography, recently hosted a wonderful, one-day photography workshop at Chez. The photos from the Love In The City Workshop captured wedding moments and decor details beautifully while also highlighting the elegant architectural details and natural light at Chez. We were so impressed with Elizabeth’s work that we selected the staircase shot below for our print advertising campaign! We are pleased to highlight Elizabeth and her work in the Chez Vendor Spotlight series. Check out our interview below. elizabeth-nord-photo-collage

Name: Elizabeth Nord

Title: Owner/Photographer at Elizabeth Nord Photography

Specialty: Weddings, proposals, engagements, and anniversary photography sessions

CHEZ:  How long have you been in the events industry?
E.N.:  Since 2011

CHEZ:  Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
E.N.:  I capture the most precious memories and emotions, so that you and future generations can relive those moments forever.

CHEZ:  What sets you/your company apart from others?
E.N.:  I am an energetic, dedicated, and creative photographer that looks at every detail to make sure my couples look their absolute best. I do everything in my power to keep them stress-free and having fun throughout the wedding day. Often times, brides are really stressed on the morning of the wedding day, but time and time again they tell me “Oh good, Liz is here. I can breathe now.” They trust me and I love that my presence calms them.

CHEZ:  What does your typical event day look like?
E.N.:  I am typically at a wedding day between 8-10 hours, sometimes more depending on my clients’ needs. I start about an hour before she is to start putting on her dress, which is typically when hair & makeup is being finished. I usually end after about an hour after open dancing has begun. A typical wedding day with me includes lots of fun, laughs, and dancing.

CHEZ:  What is your most memorable moment from past events?
E.N.:  I typically cry during either the first dance, a first look with the bride’s father, or one of the speeches. Those get me EVERY. TIME. The moment that has stuck with me the most was when the groom danced with his aunt in lieu of his mother who had recently passed away from cancer. It was a touching moment that had the whole room in tears.

CHEZ:  What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
E.N.:  The most unique request I’ve ever received was when my couple had to put down their dog the day before their wedding day. We had talked about having a photo of them with their two dogs, so it was a surprise when they told me on the wedding day that there would only be one dog joining them. It was incredibly sad and the groom was really upset about it. Later that evening, he asked if I could Photoshop his dog into one of the portraits that they took that day. It turned out to be a beautiful photo that he was grateful to have, and being a dog lover myself, it was my honor to create it for him.

CHEZ:  What event trends do you love right now?
E.N.:  I love the trend of mini dessert options like small lemon meringue pies or banana foster “shots”. I also love the trend of a donut wall. I’m obsessed.

CHEZ:  Name three things you couldn’t live without.
E.N.:  1. My husband 2. Dogs 3. My friends

CHEZ:  What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
E.N.:  Delegate! For the little things that you may not care as much about, delegate a friend or family member to care of it for you. Often times, they are more than willing to help. You just have to tell them what you need help with. Delegation will help you SO much with stress throughout the wedding day planning as well as on the actual wedding day. Take the time to enjoy your wedding day instead of worrying about the little things that aren’t going as planned. This is also where an amazing wedding planner comes into play! You will not regret hiring one!

CHEZ:  Name three things people probably don’t know about you.
E.N.:  1. In the 9th grade, I sang at Carnegie Hall in New York in a women’s choir 2. I was married at the age of 20 and have been with my husband since I was 16. 3. I am from Tennessee and lived on a farm there, surrounded by 30 acres of land, 28 dogs at one point, and multiple other animals. Although I was born in the country, I love city life!

CHEZ:  What do you love most about Chez?
E.N.:  I love Chez’s ultra modern style. I especially love the glass staircase and it’s gorgeous floor to ceiling windows. And above all, I love the people that work at Chez. I’ve never met a nicer group of people at a venue!

Thanks Elizabeth! We look forward to working with you again very soon.

Be Inspired: Luxury Chez Holiday Party

Though it’s 80 degrees and sunny outside, at Chez we have Holiday Season on our minds. With December 2016 and January 2017 Holiday Event dates filling up quickly with we thought it time to start a series of holiday-inspired posts. Here’s a look at a creative holiday party design from January of this year. Jennifer Anderson of Jennifer Anderson Events teamed up with event design experts Kehoe Designs to produce a truly unique experience for her client and their guests. Amber lighting, rustic farmhouse tables, and high-back lounge furniture created a warm and cozy atmosphere that welcomed guests on the cold January night. The team from Kehoe suspended dozens of orange tulips from the ceiling to fashion dramatic floral chandeliers over the dining area.  Congratulations to all involved in creating this incredible event.

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Event Planner: Jennifer Anderson Events | Event Design & Floral: Kehoe Designs | Catering: J&L Catering | Photography: Team Chez