Archives for January 2010

Venue Spotlight: The Elysian

The other day, I visited Chicago’s newest luxury hotel: The Elysian. This amazing property is probably one of the most elegant and sophisticated hotels I have seen to date. Not flashy or trendy… simply understated elegance.

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During my tour, I was told about the many fashion influences that are subtly incorporated into the design and decor; for example, the enormous, sparkly chandelier that greets you as you enter the front door (see below) is inspired by a Chanel brooch.

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The Elysian boasts two restaurants, Balsan, for more casual dining:

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and Ria, the fine dining establishment:

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Oh, and we can’t forget to Spaaaaa:

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What I especially love about their event space is that they only host one event per night, so you have the entire fifth floor at your disposal.

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The Hemmingway room can be used for cocktails (and is also perfect for smaller weddings or rehearsal dinners)

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The Sinclair Ballroom: I adore the gorgeous dove gray walls and white trim, natural light and unique crystal chandeliers! And yes, the chiavari chairs are included, along with the beautiful place settings you see below, which are their “standard”.  Not so standard if you ask me!

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The room all dressed up. The room is already so elegant that it hardly needs any help!

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Nearly all of their guestrooms are suites, and they are stunning!

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{Most images via the Elysian Gallery, others are taken by my camera, as marked}

Capacity for seated dinner: Ideally 100 – 130 (although up to 180 if dancing is moved to the Hemmingway room)
Ceremony space: Yes
Package starting price: $205 (pre-tax & gratuity)
Food & Beverage minimum: $20,000

The Elysian
11 E. Walton St.
Chicago, IL 60611
312-880-4400

The Importance of Determining Your Wedding Priorities

Yesterday I came across this post by OneWed with their Question of the Week: “What are your wedding priorities?”

This is a something I ask every single potential client at our first meeting, coupled with the additional question, “What are the things that you just have to have?” And it’s surprising how often they are stumped by this, and so it gets their wheels turning. This is important because I think every couple should really figure out their wedding priorities in order to effectively plan a wedding that truly reflects them, and not just resemble what a “traditional wedding” should look and feel like (and cost). After some more reflection and discussion between the couple, here are some of the responses that I have heard:

– The best photographer we can afford
– Great food, we are foodies
– Top shelf liquor flowing all night long
– A view of the city (Chicago’s skyline is famous afterall)
– Music that will keep the guests on the dance floor
– My dress, I’ve always dreamed of a Vera Wang
– That “WOW” factor when guests walk into the reception room
– Flowers, lots and lots of flowers
– Amazing honeymoon

Why is this question so important? Because it helps you determine where and how to allocate the bulk of your budget, instead of simply following the basic wedding budget calculators that you find everywhere. The thing is, this is also a highly personal question that no one else can answer for you. Of course it would be ideal to be able to have ALL of the above, but these days, rare is the couple with the unlimited budget (golly, wouldn’t that be FAB!) So instead of trying to fairly allocate your budget in the typical manner, put your money where it matters the most… TO YOU!

For my own wedding back in 2007, they were:

1. Best photographer in our budget
2. Venue that could accommodate ceremony AND reception, plus an outdoor ceremony space
3. Floral and Details, details, details (the invitations, ceremony programs, guestbook table, escort cards, menus, drink menus, flip flop basket… you get the idea!)
4. Draping the one unattractive wall in the reception room with fabric (the rest of the room had floor-to-ceiling windows)

What are/were your wedding priorities?

Beautiful Bridesmaids Dresses a la Vera Wang

To be honest, I don’t often have the occasion to look into bridesmaids dresses. This is one of the areas that my clients typically handle with the help of their maids. But recently, my attention was directed towards Vera Wang bridesmaids dresses, and much to my surprise (shock is more like it), they are not as expensive as I always imagined they were!  I always thought they were $300+, so I was pleasantly surprised at some of the price tags in the $200 range (now don’t get me wrong, this is still A LOT for a bridesmaids dress, I’m just saying that my previous impression was that they were considerably higher)

And what I love about their site is that they actually state the price and you can order directly from the website. Easy peasy! It can be so annoying how the majority of bridesmaids manufacturer sites don’t tell you the pricing and you have to visit the nearest retailer, which is not always so “near”. Check out some of these beauties (listed by price, low to high)

Megan, $180 (!!!)
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Jamie
, $210
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Tina, $220
(hello sexy cocktail dress!)
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Dee, $230
(I think I’m in love with this one!)
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Ashley, $230
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Julia, $240 (a dress with pockets always gets my vote!)
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Claire, $260 (love the flower detail at the waist!)
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What are your favorite bridesmaids lines? I also of course love JCrew (who doesn’t, right?), Ann Taylor, Lela Rose, Watters and W2, Barijay, and Jim Hjelm Occasions… just to name a few!