Sometimes when I imagine my wedding, I picture my mom at the altar instead of my bride, and things get weird. But then I think about how much I love my mom. It wouldn’t be so bad.
Baker Celeste Dolan of Celestial Kitchens gives couples a top-thirteen list of her favorite cakes, covering flavors inventive (banana cake with crème brulee filling, chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse and Rice Krispies) to simple (yellow cake, vanilla buttercream, homemade preserves). Give guests a variety with a sweets table filled with Dolan’s miniature specialties (brownie bites, whoopie pies, cheesecake-stuffed strawberries).
Send spunky, stylized invites with help from Courtney Callahan. She likes meeting face to face with couples to unearth special details — personal but not obvious — to include in her design. Everything is custom (flat, letterpressed, or raised), and she works with all price points. Regardless of what you pay, it’ll look like a million bucks.
Face it: You probably won’t eat at your wedding. But you can watch your guests munch like royalty, care of Finesse Cuisine. Chef Tom Kern did stints at numerous five-star resorts before hopping on board to cater seasonal, farm-fresh fare. Custom menus include standouts like green papaya soba noodles with ginger-mint dressing, Maker’s Mark-glazed chicken, and butter brickle ice cream sandwiches.
Don’t be fooled: Newbie wedding planners Five Grain Events brings its A game. Probably because founder Joan Cinquegrani is a type A organizational guru with a calm aura that’ll keep you afloat through the madness. She’ll work with any budget and make it worth your while. Packages include day-of coordination (she’ll stay all night), partial plan (from customizing a budget to stuffing envelopes), and full (in her words, “from soup to nuts”).
For documentary-style pictures that capture you in the moment, look no further than Jennifer Jackson of Jennography. The uber-friendly high school teacher by day prefers natural light, shoots raw, and loves black-and-white photos. The best compliment she’s ever gotten is when a bride told her, “We forgot you were there.”
Identical twins Jillian and Jan Yuhas have been flower fanatics since they were young. Today their company, Natural Beauties Floral, provides elegant blooms (purple anemone, phalaenopsis orchids, orange mokaras) and artistic displays (asymmetrical layouts, submerged flowers) for budgets big and small. They’re best buds in every sense of the word.
Gluten free doesn’t mean cake free: Le Cordon Bleu grad Penny Shack of Penny’s Pastries bakes alternative desserts, including Snickers cupcakes, pistachio macarons, Mexican-spiced truffles, and more.
You’ve always had lofty wedding aspirations. Fulfill them at Room 1520, a spectacular new West Loop space. Owned by celebrated food photographer Stephen Hamilton and his wife Leah, the place oozes smart design: The Aérée Loft is (you guessed it) airy, modern, and clean; upstairs, warmer-toned Sky Loft has a fireplace and views of downtown. Say “I do” to rooftop photo ops and a full bridal suite with a private bathroom and minibar.