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Archive for September, 2011

Pearl Education For Your Wedding

On Thursday, October 20, 2011, from 6 to 8 p.m., Chicago jeweler Sherri Bourdage of Bourdage Pearls, located at 3530 North Southport in Chicago is hosting “Pearl Education 101” to celebrate the history of the pearl, which she refers to as Mother Nature’s own “eco-chic” gem. Bourdage Pearls is bringing in local pearl expert, Edward Huang, from Huang’s Trading Co., in Skokie, IL, as a guest speaker for this free, educational seminar. Huang specializes in quality freshwater, Tahitian, Akoya and South Sea pearls and will offer insights on the “eco-chic” gems, alongside Bourdage Pearls owner Sherri Bourdage.

The pearl has been a symbol of unblemished perfection since ancient times. Considered the oldest known gem, the pearl is the only jewel made by an animal. Middle Eastern and Asian societies have been harvesting and wearing the precious gem since as early as 3500 B.C. In many countries, pearls were worn as a declaration of wealth and power, and were also used as a talisman to bring good fortune, to ward off evil spirits and to cure illnesses.

“Pearl Education 101” will educate attendees on what makes pearls unique, methods for selecting good quality pearls, the differences between saltwater and freshwater pearls and why purchasing pearls can be great for the environment. In addition to the educational aspect of the evening, Bourdage Pearls will also be offering beautiful heirloom and investment pieces of jewelry, available for sale this night only!

Sherri Bourdage gives a sneak preview of topics to be discussed in “Pearl Education 101”:

“A pearl is born when an irritant enters the mollusk and, over time, creates something beautiful,” says Bourdage. “This is the only precious gem made by a living organism. There is real nurturing that takes place, and the process by which the pearl protects itself is truly beautiful,” she adds.

Bridal Wear

Pearls have long been considered ideal bridal wear as they symbolize purity and innocence. Bourdage Pearls regularly sells pearl necklaces and earrings to brides, as they compliment a woman’s wedding attire with grace and class. Men are also purchasing pearl engagement rings, as opposed to the more common diamond ring. “Many of my bridal customers come in and purchase their first set of pearls at the boutique. They are surprised to learn that they are not as expensive as once perceived,” Bourdage explains. “For instance, freshwater pearls are significantly less expensive than saltwater [such as Tahitian] pearls. The price range of pearls found at Bourdage ranges from $15 to $1,200, depending on size, luster, collectability, age, etc.”

Pearls As Heirlooms

Pearls also give today’s generation of women the opportunity to start a new family tradition with an “eco-chic” heirloom that comes from nature. Oftentimes customers bring in their own heirloom pearls, asking if Bourdage might incorporate them into a new strand or jewelry creation. “The world’s changing ecology and other factors make pearls older than 20 years very valuable, and we advise people to keep them rather than exchange them for newer pearls,” she says. “But we also tell them that pearls need to be worn on a regular basis, not stuck in the back of a drawer. They like the body’s natural oils.”

Just as there are recommendations for purchasing diamonds, Bourdage recommends the five key qualities to consider when adding pearls to a woman’s jewelry box – color, luster, shape, size, and surface quality. “The natural pearl colors are white, pink, and peach,” she explains. “Saltwater pearls also come in blue, black, gold, and yellow. Some people like the deeper shades of pearl, but it really depends on what looks good against the skin. The better the reflection, the better the pearl.”

To RSVP for an upcoming Pearl History Seminar at Bourdage Pearls, , located at 3530 North Southport in Chicago, please call 773-244-1126.

Wedding Accessories: Fun hair pieces!

I love the continued Royal Wedding inspiration for bridal head pieces and birdcages – especially BIG headband or clip in flowers. Check out these accessories from Nordstrom’s. If you live in the city, stop by Nordstrom’s on Michigan Avenue and try them on! If you do decide on a wedding hair piece, make sure to bring it with to your hair trial.


Cara Accessories - Nordstrom


Tasha Accessories - Nordstrom


Cara Accessories - Nordstrom

Love the idea of wearing something big and fun in your hair but it just doesn’t fit into your wedding look? Wear it for your rehearsal!

Wedding Colors: Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2012

Pantone Fashion Color Report for Spring 2012 from www.pantone.com

The color geniuses at Pantone have once again released their seasonal color report based on the amazing pieces debuted at New York Fashion week. I am absolutely smitten with the palatte for spring 2012. To see the colors up close and personal, click on the above image to see it at full size. Such fun choices, and I just love the names they come up with!

Imagine my relief when I saw that the forecast includes (something very close to) the two hues we’ll be showcasing at our reception! Solar Power and Driftwood will be the shining stars of my March 2012 celebration, but  think how gorgeous your tables would be with Tangerine Tango and Bellflower in the background of your white-rimmed china. Maybe a kiss of Cockatoo as the ribbon on the handle of a bouquet against a Margarita toned bridesmaid dress.

As you’re thinking about your colors, make a stop on Pantone’s website to see all of the amazing possibilities!  Don’t forget while you’re there to check out the official “color of the year” for 2011 –  Pantone number 18-2120: Honeysuckle. 

Image and information courtesy of Pantone.com

Cocktail Hour Idea: Personalized Coasters

Rainy Monday morning in Chicago…great time to daydream about fun wedding cocktail hours.  We can discuss drink recipes later, but first let’s take a look at some cute monogrammed coasters.

These options from Bella Figura caught my eye…

Including the recipe for the signature cocktail so guests can make them again at home and toast the newlyweds…great idea!

Some fun options from Crane & Co. as well…

Pass along your thoughts on recipes and we’ll get them posted.

Cheers to Monday!


Photography by: Bella Figura and Crane&Co

Wedding Stationery: Saving the Date

As I beamingly shared with you last week, I’m playing double duty these days as wedding coordinator and – gasp!bride. As of this upcoming Saturday, we’ll be 6 months away from the big day. So far, we have a date, March 24, 2012, and have settled on Café Brauer for our ceremony and Gallery 1028 for our reception. It was time to break the big news to our family and friends and ask them to save-the-date to celebrate with us.

Save-the-date designed by Jenna Plonka of Clementine Ink and Paper

Save-the-date designed by Jenna Plonka of Clementine Ink and Paper

Save-the-dates are a relatively new component to a wedding celebration, and can be as serious or as fun as you would like them to be. I love little nods to a couple’s personalities that set the tone for the event, or perhaps include a fun photo of their dog in a save the date.  To me, the save-the-date is the first glimpse to the big event, which was why I wanted my save the date to be a sneak peak of what to expect at the wedding.

Enter Jenna Plonka of Clementine Ink and Paper, whose creativity, patience and professionalism makes her one of the most talented graphic designers I’ve had the pleasure of working with.  Jenna and I had the fun opportunity to sit across from each other at a holiday party a few years ago, and not only did we become fast friends, but I knew she was the only person who could interpret the vision I had for my wedding stationery.

From save-the-date cards to event programs, Clementine Ink and Paper can manage every paper need

Save-the-date designed by Jenna Plonka of Clementine Ink and Paper

your event will require, incorporating your unique design throughout your day. Jenna has a truly spectacular portfolio of original creations she’s accumulated since she launched her business in 2004, which makes her website fun to browse and her sample books even more exciting to flip through. If an original design isn’t in the cards for your budget, have no fear.  The Studio Collection offers numerous ready-to-order options just waiting for your personal touch.

After tossing around a few creative ideas, Jenna came up with the most wonderful concept that highlighted the city’s skyline, my love for lower-case lettering and showed off our color palate beautifully.  An unbelievable pattern on the back of the card has already found its way into the design concept for the event itself (which we’ll talk about later, of course!)

The best part, though, is the amazing response our cards have gotten. Guests are thrilled and excited by this little sneak peek and have found the wedding website we set-up in advance and highlighted on our cards to be tremendously helpful as they save-the-date for special day.

Thanks to Jenna, our wedding is really starting to come to life.  I can hardly wait to start working on the invitations!

Images courtesy of www.clementineink.com

Wedding Transportation: Vintage Cars

Okay, confession time…

I’ve known this for awhile – but have just recently begun to say it outloud.  Here goes, “I am a Gearhead”.  I should have realized when I was the only one in my group of friends asking for a subscription to Car & Driver magazine for my 16 year old birthday – but apparently I’m a little slow on the uptake.

Regardless, it now makes sense why pictures like the below literally jump off the page to me.

Weddings AND cars?! What could be better?

And when used as a getaway car….be still my heart.

Even Will and Kate couldn’t resist the added drama and excitement!

Get married, get a vintage car.  It’s simple.

Chicago Brides looking for some vintage car fun should contact Classic Chassis – they come HIGHLY recommended by the Elevage Events team.  Enjoy!

Photography by Kristin Byrum Photography, Clayton AustinFeatherlove Photography, Our Labor of Love Photography and Abc News.com

Wedding Guest Book Idea

Looking for a unique idea for a guest book? Try Polaroid pictures! It’s a great alternative to renting a photo booth. Before this weekend, the last time I saw a Polaroid camera was years ago.  To my surprise I was introduced to them once again at a friend’s wedding.  Guests were encouraged to take pictures of each other and then add it to a scrap book.  The result was an instant personalized guest book that the bride and groom could look at right away.   Sure the quality is not as good as a digital or 35mm print but it is the perfect way to capture the wedding through the guests’ eyes!

You can use a blank book from a store such as Paper Source for the pictures to go in and give guests pens and markers and double sided tape to place in the book and voila! Instant and fun guest book for your wedding.

Photo By: Stephanie Klein-Davis, Roanoke, VA

Wedding Flowers: Fall Calla Lilies

I love all fall flowers but I especially adore fall color calla lilies!  Check out the below for some fall inspiration


Black Calla Lily Bouquet



Black Magic Roses and Red Calla Lilies Photo By: Kevin Weinstein Photography, Chicago

Dark Red Roses and Black Calla Lilies Photo By: Janae Shields, San Francisco, CA


Orange and Black Calla Lily Bouquets Photo by Becky Hill Photography



Photos by (in order)

Just By Flowers.Com 


The Knot.Com by Kevin Weinstein Photography 


The Knot.Com by Janae Shields Photography 

Becky Hill Photography 








Chicago Wedding Venue: Cafe Brauer

On April 21, 2011, as we were coming home from a night out, my boyfriend of 3 years pulled a ring out of his jeans pocket and asked me to marry him in the backyard of my parent’s house in Michigan. For any girl, this is the moment of a lifetime. For a girl who plans weddings for a living, this was the moment the starting gun went off! It was finally MY turn!

Happy couple exiting Cafe Brauer. Photo by David Wittig

Over the course of my next couple of blogs, I’m going to give you the inside scoop on how my wedding is coming together. Not because I love to talk about my wedding (which – let’s be honest – I will talk about my wedding to anyone who will listen), but because I think a lot of couples have that “oh crap” moment of where on earth do I even begin.  Don’t be frightened. This process should be FUN, so try to enjoy every minute of it.

My first step was choosing my venue. I really wanted to do something that showcased our personalities while being fun and different for our guests. I’ve worked at Lincoln Park Zoo for the past 5 years, so we toyed with the idea of doing something right on Zoo Grounds but in the end, you simply can’t beat Café Brauer.

Interior of Cafe Brauer, provided by TheKnot.com

Café Brauer, heralded as one of the most popular wedding locations in Chicago, was built as a restaurant in 1908 by the Brauer family in collaboration with designer Dwight H. Perkins. The Cafe enjoyed extreme popularity in the early 20th century, but closed in the 1940’s only to become a storage space for the Chicago Park District. In 1987, Lincoln Park Zoo assumed the management of the space, embarking on a $4.2 million project to restore the Café to its original beauty. Now a major fixture in Lincoln Park, Café Brauer is officially a Chicago Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and one of the most in-demand venues in the city.

Simply, for me, Café Brauer is home. Every time I walk in the Great Hall, I get goose bumps of anticipation knowing that this space will forever be a chapter in our life together.  We decided that the Great Hall was the best location for our ceremony, but we wanted to do something a little more urban for our reception and settled on Gallery 1028 for the party, which you can read about here from one of my earlier blog posts.

When you find your venue you’ll know the same way I did -your gut will tell you. Take your time and find a place that speaks to you. Stand in the space, close your eyes and visualize the day, and when you get the same goose bumps I got, you’ve found your venue.

Historical information on Cafe Brauer from Wikipedia.com

Wedding Day Fragrance

Scents almost always trigger memories. For this reason, it’s a great idea to choose a new scent for your wedding day. To decide which fragrance is “the one”, consider some factors. What time of year are you getting married? What are your flowers? Where is the wedding taking place? If you are getting married in the Fall, maybe go with a spicy or woody scent. If you are having an outdoor wedding, light floral and green scents may be best. Whatever the scent may be, make it yours! I am a huge fan of the Jo Malone line of colognes. Every scent has it’s own story. What I love most is you can mix different colognes and make it a unique scent that is you. Every time you wear it, it will remind you and your husband of what should have been one of the best days of your life.


Pictures from Jomalone.com