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

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

Vendor Spotlight: Gabriel Garavaglia of RED Weddings

Gabriel Garavaglia

Name: Gabriel Garavaglia

Title/Position: Director of Wedding Services at RED Weddings

Specialty: Production Manager & Lead Cinematographer

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?  
G.G.: 7 years

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
G.G.: RED Weddings is a premium wedding cinematography, photography, music and entertainment service firm for today’s most discerning brides and grooms.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?  
G.G.: We create and capture the magic of our clients celebrations with the same artistic and technical standards once associated only with Oscar-winning films.  We were the first in the world to bring actual Motion Picture cameras (the same cameras used on films like The Hobbit, Spiderman, Gone Girl etc.) to capture weddings!

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?  
G.G.: We’ve shared so many tender private moments with our clients over the years, but capturing a grooms little girl crying tears of joy at having a new mommy during their first dance certainly tops our list!

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?  
G.G.: We’re incredibly gratified to see Wedding Cinema becoming as, if not more important than photography to our couples, and feel we’ve helped establish new (high) standards in what can be expected from “wedding videography” – both for our clients, and their children children!  Our FAA approved drone cinematography and hilarious Slow-Motion Video Booth have been wildly popular this year as well.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?  
G.G.: Last year we had a bride book a private midnight helicopter tour over the Loop following their reception.  Fortunately, our founder is a Union Director of Photography and we’re partners with Flight AV, a motion picture / TV production company so it was easy and affordable for them.  Little did we know, the groom was a little afraid of heights, but a great time was had by all!

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?  
G.G.: Since we prepare thoroughly in the months and weeks prior to our clients big day, including loading our transport vehicles with equipment (and backup equipment), triple checked and staged to be quickly accessible for each part of the day, we arrive ready to shoot the moment we step out of our vehicles!  Of course we’ve visited each location prior to the date and so have our “money shots” and camera angles already figured out, and go to great lengths to find shots that are 100% unique to our clients personalities and locations to ensure their photography and cinematography is unique and especially meaningful to them.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
G.G.: #1 A cooler with water and snacks, as some of our wedding days literally go from 4am until 4am and there’s rarely a minute to spare!
#2 We love our RED Cinema 6K-8K ultra high definition cameras and have found the image quality, slow motion, and ability to extract still photos of any frame we’ve shot as a printable photograph to be invaluable and help us capture moments that would otherwise be lost forever.
#3 Lastly, we absolutely couldn’t live without our in house team.  Having a dedicated audio engineer, director of business affairs, and of course our creative director and founder allows each of us to focus 100% on doing the best work possible as a single operator / entrepreneur will always have a hard time keeping up with every facet of the business simultaneously.

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you:
G.G.: #1 Despite the quality of our work, we’re actually very affordable and have full featured all day packages for much less than one might think.
#2 We are one of very few “triple threat” wedding service providers that offer bespoke quality photography, cinematography, entertainment, photo booth and drone services in time and cost saving bundles.
#3 Very few people know that our company is made up of film / TV, music business and advertising agency professionals, so no request is impossible, and is why our work is consistent with their favorite movies and TV shows.  And no, we are not named after the books or TV show by George R. R. Martin!

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?  
G.G.: Create a spreadsheet to document your options, meet with the actual people you will spend your most important day with, take your time and figure out your entire game plan before signing any contracts, and get specific details about each offer you are comparing and considering.  Weddings are a significant milestone, and couples have a unique opportunity to leverage their buying power to save time and money – as well, ensure their wedding day production team is perfectly in sync throughout their wedding day by bundling multiple services with a single vendor.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?  
G.G.: Of course we simply adore Chez’s incredible modern design and gorgeous natural light (so important for photography and videography!) not to mention their central location to endless beautiful photo / video locations.  That said, it’s their professionalism, warm, personal attention to every little detail and sincere concern for their clients success and happiness that makes Chez our very favorite loft venue!

 

Photography by Paul Christopher Greene

Vendor Spotlight: Erin McDonald of Erin McDonald Co

event design

 

Name:  Erin McDonald Co

Title/Position: Creative Director

Specialty:  Design and décor

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry? 
E.M.: More than 25 years.

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence? 
E.M.: EMC designs unique spaces that are influenced by the clients’ desires and direction but finessed by our knowledge and taste.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
E.M.: EMC is a unique company that acts as a creative director with the ability to work with other design houses to team together to make each client experience uniquely theirs.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?   
E.M.: EMC always finds a special moment when handing off the clients bouquet to them for the first time.  Their reaction is everything.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now? 
E.M.: We are always drawn to classic, whether contemporary or traditional. Classic is always the best.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had? 
E.M.: Living in Chicago, one of the most “unique” requests is when a client, who is doing and outdoor wedding or event, wants to hold off on the tent…till the day before.  Or even more brilliant…to take it down the day of.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?   
E.M.: Up at 4:30, get to the office by 7, pack the trucks, load into venue by 9am, meet with client for some face time, and then all hell breaks loose.  No kidding, we like to be ahead of schedule most days, as we like to have a cushion for any issues that might occur.  Better safe than sorry.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!): 
E.M.: My dog, my family, and my mind.

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you: 
E.M.: I was a professional dancer for many years.  I am more of an introvert than most people would think.  I can drive a semi truck.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event? 
E.M.: Choose personality first.  Like your vendors and choose them wisely.  Allow your creative partners to do what they are experts at…and RELAX!

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez? 
E.M.: The ability to have a slate that is clean and fresh and a staff that is wiling to allow you to showcase your talents.

Thank you Erin! We can’t see what creativity you bring to Chez in 2017.

Photography by: (L) Avery House, (R) Eric Floberg

Vendor Spotlight: Lindsay Gaeta of Storybook Weddings and Events

Storybook weddings and events

Name: Lindsay Gaeta

Title: Senior Planner and Designer with Storybook Weddings and Events

Specialty: Weddings, Corporate Events, Parties

CHEZ:  How long have you been in the events industry?
L.G.:  Since 2009

CHEZ:  Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
L.G.:  We create wonderful memories by planning and coordinating weddings and celebrations, so you and your loved ones can enjoy your special time together without any stress.

CHEZ:  What sets you/your company apart from others?
L.G.:  We are very attentive to detail and place high importance on listening to what is a priority to each client.  We also recognize that having patience is pertinent when working in this industry, because with weddings specifically, emotions can be high.

With our wedding couples, we prioritize the engagement period rather than focus on the wedding day alone because we believe that during the couple’s engagement, they begin writing the story that leads up to the beautiful new beginning of their life together.

CHEZ:  What does your typical event day look like?
L.G.:  I typically plan for a 12- hour day, depending on the load-in times for vendors, as well as when the event ends, of course.  Most of our wedding clients decide to book one of our Bridal Attendants to arrive early in the morning, which allows me to be at the venue when vendors arrive to begin setup.  We stay until the event is over, to ensure that everything runs smoothly and to see firsthand that the couple/client is happy.

CHEZ:  What is your most memorable moment from past events?
L.G.:  One of our recent weddings was for a Korean couple, and we had the pleasure of witnessing a traditional Korean Paebek wedding ceremony for the first time.  The couple changed out of their traditional American wedding attire (tux and white wedding dress) and into intricate colorful outfits.  A Master of Ceremonies explained to the audience in both English and Korean the meaning of each component of the ceremony. It was beautiful!

CHEZ:  What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
L.G.: We had a couple fly in their favorite singer all the way from Iceland!  We have live musicians perform all of the time at our events, but that was the furthest that a vendor has traveled for a client!  It was a very special added touch and I’m very thankful that the singer was able to be a part of the couple’s big day.

CHEZ:  What event trends do you love right now?
L.G.: I love the trend of food trucks and late night snacks.  I’m an eater, a stereotypical Italian girl.  Also, after working in Hospitality for over 15 years, I see the tremendous importance of offering food to guests after they have been drinking alcohol.

CHEZ:  Name three things you couldn’t live without.
L.G.: Okay, I am going to go non-sensible here, and not necessarily in this order:  1. All of the Real Housewives TV show series  2. A nice full-bodied Cabernet 2. SNL.

CHEZ:  What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
L.G.:  I end up telling every bride and groom at some point in the planning process this: in regards to whoever it is that is stressing you out with their concerns, please keep in mind that they are concerned and stressing usually because they care and want the event to go off without a hitch.  Most commonly it is the couple’s parents, and mainly Mothers (sorry but it is true!), that are a bundle of nerves compared to the couple who is actually getting married.  They truly have good intentions and don’t mean any harm, despite the fact that they can drive you crazy at times.

CHEZ:  Name three things people probably don’t know about you.
L.G.: 1. I studied Comedic Improv at The Upright Citizens Brigade school for 4 years in NYC; studying and practicing improv is so fun and liberating, I highly recommend it to everyone!  2. I like to oil paint.  3. I was in a Gospel choir in college at Miami University of Ohio, Sister Act-style.

CHEZ:  What do you love most about Chez?
L.G.:  I love fact that you can make your wildest dreams come true at Chez.  And if you prefer things to be simple, that can easily and tastefully done, as well.  Chez is a beautiful blank canvas that you can make your own.  Every now and then it is difficult for some clients to envision things in an empty room right away, but as a planner and designer I see and know that there is a world of endless possibilities at Chez!!

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

Photography: (L) Louie A. Weddings, (R) Elizabeth Nord Photography

Vendor Spotlight: Shelley Anderson and Tyler Huffman of Cage + Aquarium

Cage & Aquarium

Name: Shelley Anderson and Tyler Huffman of Cage + Aquarium

Title/Position:
Shelley: Head Photographer and General Manager
Tyler: Head DJ and General Manager

Specialty: Providing turntable style DJs and unique, photo-journalistic style photographers for weddings and events.

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
S.A. & T.H.: Since 2007

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
S.A. & T.H.: We provide a complete experience that captures emotions throughout the wedding day and sets each day to the perfect soundtrack.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
T.H.: Our team includes real DJs with hundreds of hours of training on turntables. Our style of DJing allows us to engage the crowd with old-school style of DJing and make great mixes and seamless transitions between songs. Our clients book either an all digital music service, or they have the option to add in a “wax” element where we bring crates of records and play vinyl throughout the evening.

S.A.: Our photographers capture the whole day from start to finish, so it is a very photo-journalistic style mixed with classic wedding portraits to create a well-rounded gallery for each couple we work with. We have a true passion for covering weddings and I think it shows in our final product.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
S.A. A recent memory came from a wedding that I shot where Tyler DJed. His mixer glitched for just a second and the sound went out…during the dance floor. It was a few moments of silence while Tyler worked to fix the situation. In the meantime the crowd started singing a song that Tyler hadn’t been playing when the sound when out. It was “Party Up (Up in Here).” Tyler got his system up and running and took a few seconds to find “Party Up.” When he dropped that track to bring the music back on the crowd absolutely lost it and started dancing like crazy, break dancing, etc. When you work weddings there is always the stress that something could go wrong, we wedding professionals are only human. Even with years of experience, things happen from time to time. I loved Tyler’s ability to take that moment and use it to pivot the mood in the room to escalate it to the best party those guests had ever been to.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
S.A. & T.H.: Marriage Equality! Since same sex weddings were made legal we’ve had the opportunity to work with so many more amazing couples, and it makes us happy!

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
S.A. & T.H.: One time we had a groom obsessed with Chicago radio jingles, like the Luna and Empire carpet commercials. He wanted them played at his wedding, so we sprinkled them into the dinner music.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
S.A. & T.H.: We are fully focused on our events and weddings for the day! Our photographers typically start with getting ready photos and cover through dancing at the reception, very often 8-10 hours of shooting. Our DJs meet at the studio to gather their gear and wedding notes before heading to the venue. Between loading gear and event performance time, our DJs consistently put in 12 hour days for a wedding.

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
S.A. & T.H.: Our daughter, Eleanor! S.A.: a camera, T.H.: turntables

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you.
S.A. & T.H.: When people find out we are married, they always ask if we met at a wedding, but we actually met many years earlier in college. Tyler was the lead singer of an 80s cover band, and Shelley stopped in to Harpo’s (Columbia, MO) to see the band with her roommate. It was love at first sight and we’ve been together ever since!

S.A.: I have an identical twin sister. She lives in Ft. Collins, CO so people don’t often see her around Chicago.

T.H.: Before I became a DJ I was in live music for most of my life. One of the first bands I was in was a ska band and I still love that music.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
S.A. & T.H.: Do your research, but don’t overthink it. If you find a vendor you love and want to work with, go with it and book them! Too many meetings can make the planning process overwhelming and tedious.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
S.A. & T.H.: 
It has a unique, modern and fresh style that you can do almost anything with. It’s the perfect canvas to paint your unique day!

Thank you Shelly and Tyler! We look forward to working with you in 2017.

Photography by: Cage + Aquarium

Vendor Spotlight: Ryan Turner of StemLine Creative

Stemline Creative

Name: Ryan Turner/StemLine Creative

Title/Position: Owner/Creative Director

Specialty: Upscale Floral and Event Design company

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
R.T.: 11 years

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
R.T.: StemLine Creative offers modern and classic styles through flowers, in addition to a vast selection of creative and innovative props perfect for various styles of events and weddings.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
R.T.: Personal vibe for each and every one of our clients, and of course attention to even the smallest details.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
R.T.: Creating an event/wedding from start, to finish. Executing each detail to produce a beautiful, finished product, which results in having very happy clients.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
R.T.: Bold and vibrant color palates through flowers, designed in a mixed assortment of metallic(gold, copper, silver mercury glass, rose gold) vessels.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
R.T.: Suspension of a round chuppah from a 30ft high ceiling. We, of course made it happen and it was another example of beautifully executed wedding.

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
R.T.:12-14 hours of splendid chaos :)

CHEZ: Name a few things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
R.T.: My dog, Allegra, husband Dan, and my sunglasses.

CHEZ: What is something people probably don’t know about you?
R.T.: I’m one of the most open people anyone would ever meet, therefore most all people who know me, knows everything about me.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
R.T.: If planning an event with another person (i.e., fiancé, co-worker, colleague, etc.), it very important to hear all opinions and not to take any criticism to heart. And I also always suggest in hiring an event planner/coordinator.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
R.T.: It’s versatility and modern style that can accommodate to ANY event and/or wedding. There are several “loft-type” venues in Chicago, however The Chez is the ONLY venue that offers a pure modern “white/neutral”. And of course the staff is one of the friendliest and most accommodating. We love working here!

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Ryan. We look forward to working with you and the StemLine Creative team in 2017.

Photography by : Cristina G. Photography

 

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

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

Vendor Spotlight: Joshua Jones of Kehoe Designs

Joshua Jones, Kehoe Designs, event design, vendor spotlight

Name: Joshua Jones

Title/Position: Event Producer at Kehoe Designs

Specialty: As a company, we have a diverse team of designers, technicians, and artisans that have allowed us to specialize in many different arenas. Personally, my passion lies in creative conceptualization and building relationships with my clients – helping them curate a striking event concept that represents who they are. Whether it’s a beautiful wedding, a high-concept social event, or a branded corporate environment, I have a passion for telling the client’s story through the makings of a living, breathing event.

CHEZ: How long have you been in the events industry?
J.J.: I have always been fascinated with design and transforming spaces. As a kid, I was obsessed with rearranging vignettes in my grandparent’s furniture store and getting so excited about lighting the taper candles during family dinners (I was an odd kid! Haha). As a teenager, I set up events in the hospitality industry and organically got my foot in the design door through the catering side where I realized how much I loved working with clients, while also understanding flow and process. Transforming spaces became my passion, and my education and experience in interiors was where I learned the art of environmental storytelling. Of course, event design was a natural progression from the interior design world as I am always fascinated with the next big creative challenge and the immense conceptualization that brings an event to life. Today, I am blessed to be a part of a team that creates such incredible set designs for our clients.

CHEZ: Describe what you/your company does in one sentence?
J.J.: Kehoe Designs is an innovative, full-service event décor and design company specializing in luxury weddings, corporate, experiential and social events.

CHEZ: What sets you/your company apart from others?
J.J.: Kehoe Designs at its core is about loyalty and trust. We have high standard of character and it shows in our talented team and in our work. Our strong culture allows us to design with courage, and by that, I mean we take our creative challenges very seriously; we believe original design is the solution our clients are always looking for.

CHEZ: What is your most memorable moment from past events?
J.J.: Emotional reactions tend to stick with me; my heart melted recently when our bride cried tears of joy when she walked into our design/floral mockup (and that was just the mockup!). I find the most satisfaction in bringing an abstract concept into vivid reality and blowing past our client’s wildest expectations.

CHEZ: What event trends do you love right now?
J.J.: Metallics! Warm mixed metals, whether vintage brass, champagne, coppery warmth or soft rose golds, are all the rage right now and have inspired entire tabletop collections, light fixtures, and furniture. Furniture! Event design is beginning to meld the worlds of the temporary space with the customization and thoughtfulness found in high-end interior design. We love introducing beautiful dining tables (wooden, mirrored, or even acrylic) that act as jewel-pieces that stand apart from the standard table and linen. Personalization! Our clients aren’t afraid to step outside the box (or at least don’t mind us helping them) from standard traditions. Whether unique textural floral, cocktail bars with personalized backdrops, or customized furniture to fit the mood of the event, I enjoy seeing our clients inject their personal brand into the creation of their one-of-a-kind events.

CHEZ: What is the most unique request a client has ever had?
J.J.: One of our corporate clients throws a huge Halloween party each year, this past year, I was asked to create a boxwood maze representative of scenes from the movie, The Shining. We get many unique requests every day, and that’s what I love about our team of in-house crafters, builders, and artisans…we can create anything and every day is a brand new adventure!

CHEZ: What does a typical event day look like for you?
J.J.: The months and weeks leading up to a big event are full of checklists and major preparation, the day of the event is where it all comes together. Once our trucks are loaded up in the early morning and hit the road for the venue, the real fun begins. On a typical day on an event setup, our talented team hits the ground running with the styling of gorgeous floral creations, implementation of beautiful textiles and furnishings, and overall space planning. You’ll see us hanging intricate ceiling treatments, constructing art installations, and rigging staging and custom dance floor designs. As a final layer, we weave in ambient and functional lighting designs to bring the spaces to life through color and texture. After we light hundreds of twinkling candles as a small finishing touch, we patiently await our client’s arrival and watch their eyes light up with excitement as they walk into the room!

CHEZ: Name three things you couldn’t live without (besides the obvious!)
J.J.: Besides my family and friends who give my life meaning, three playful things that bring a smile to my face are: 1. A pair of antique brass cobra candlesticks that I purchased online. 2. My Kevin Murphy paste to keep my coif in check!  3. A fragrant bundle of Hermione peonies freshly arranged on my coffee table.

CHEZ: Name three things people probably don’t know about you:
J.J.: 1. I’m a native southerner from Northwest Arkansas where I learned the true meaning of graciousness and southern hospitality, however, I’ve always loved the energy of a big city (I guess I’m a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll). 2. My partner and I met at the ripe old age of 20 years old, and we’ll have been on our shared adventure for 13+ years in April of 2017. 3. I’m the proud father of a needy and loveable multi-toed Hemingway cat who, in her spare time, enjoys a relaxing hand (mitten) massage.

CHEZ: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone planning an event?
J.J.: Hire a well-respected design professional that can take the load of event creation off of your hands. You’ll be happy you delegated the task to capable hands that will allow you to enjoy your event (not work it), your pocketbook will be thrilled that you invested wisely, and your guests will be excited to experience an event that was put together with a creative team of talented artists who elevated your personal brand and overall experience.

CHEZ: What do you love about Chez?
J.J.: Chez is one of my absolute favorite venues. Not only do I adore the lovely team who really care about their clients and community, but from a historical viewpoint, the space has a sparkling past that vibrates through the walls. The physical space is the perfect white palette for layering décor elements…an event designer’s dream. The exposed painted brick, modern light fixtures, and gorgeous glass staircase intermix the perfect blend of vintage nostalgia with contemporary sophistication.

Thank you Joshua! We can’t wait to see what beautiful designs you create for your next event at Chez.

Photography by Averyhouse (L), and Kehoe Designs (R)