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Archive for December, 2014

Holiday Happiness: The BEST Hot Chocolate Recipe

Hot Chocolate


We are taking a little break from wedding planning in Chicago this week to enjoy time with our family. We hope that you have a safe and lovely holiday with your family. We can’t wait for our Chicago weddings in 2015!

The holidays are all about sweets, and the most essential ingredient? Chocolate. I am a chocoholic. I love chocolate in each and every one of its forms: candies, truffles, brownies, cookies, pies, hot fudge, even syrup.  But nothing is as enjoyable during the holiday season as a delicious cup of hot chocolate. I have searched the globe high and low for the best hot chocolate recipe, and this one has Swiss Miss beat, hands down. Your guests are guaranteed to leave your holiday party raving about your insane cooking skills and begging you for this recipe.

Hot Chocolate Crave

1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
6 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla

In a large, heavy bottom sauce pan combine sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips over medium heat. Stir constantly until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Add whipping cream, milk, and vanilla, whisking everything together until smooth and completely combined.  Serve warm. Enjoy!

Party Tip: If you are making this for a get-together, keep the mixture in a large crockpot 3-4 hours before serving time, stirring hourly. Include whipped cream, marshmallows, Bailey’s Irish Cream, and other fun toppings for a cute hot chocolate bar!

Magnolias For Your Wedding Flowers


 Sticking with a classic white color palette but want to utilize flowers that are a little more unique and striking? Then the Magnolia may be for you! Traditionally used in Southern weddings since Magnolia trees are most commonly found in the south, Magnolias generally represent “love of nature”, but each of the 80 varieties holds a different meaning. Available in many shades including white, red, yellow, pink, and purple, white Magnolias symbolize purity, while pink Magnolias represent innocence, purple represents health and green represents good fortune and happiness.  Magnolias bloom in the spring and summer, and although they are unquestionably beautiful, they are quite expensive. Sweetly fragrant and exuding elegance and femininity, these large blooms are notoriously fragile, so in addition to their high cost your arrangements will wilt rather quickly post-wedding. Too costly for your floral budget? Consider adding sugar Magnolias to your cake, utilizing their shape in your wedding invitations or simply wearing a single Magnolia bloom in your hair for your big day!


For more fun and fabulous floral ideas, visit our Pinterest board, Beautiful Bouquets.


Real Weddings: Alisa & Josh

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 On Sunday, August 17th, Alisa Levine and Josh Barbash tied the knot at the beautiful Galleria Marchetti in the River West area of Chicago. After getting ready at the Marriott Courtyard Chicago with her family, Alisa and Josh shot their First Look outside the Trump International Hotel with Shelley Anderson from Cage + Aquarium. After taking photos around downtown Chicago on a limo bus from Windy City Limousine, Alisa, Josh, and their families arrived at Galleria Marchetti for a few photos against the beautiful ivy wall in the East Courtyard where their ceremony would take place before heading inside for a private Ketubah signing. Arriving guests were greeted with a glass of lemonade and beautiful cello music from Stitely Entertainment. Once guests were seated with fans printed with the ceremony program, Rabbi Jason Levine (the bride’s brother) officiated the Jewish ceremony under a beautiful Chuppah constructed by Nadine Horwitz of Fragrant Design. Once the ceremony ended, cocktail hour began on the Courtyard Patio while the newlyweds enjoyed some private time. Guests were then invited into the gorgeous tented Pavilion, decorated with pink and red florals. After being introduced as “Mr. and Mrs. Josh and Alisa Barbash”, the couple shared their First Dance to The Pretenders’ “I’ll Stand By You”. While dining on delicious medallions of beef, arctic char, and eggplant parmesan, the newlyweds listened to their families as they shared well wishes and advice for their marriage. After a spirited Horah, Alisa and Josh cut their amazing square cake from Amy Beck Cake Design, with adorable red and pink flowers cascading down the side. For favors, the couple treated guests with takeout cartons for their candy bar, complete with an amazing array of sweets from M&Ms to rock candy to Twizzlers and Jordan Almonds! While Chicago 312 kept the party going with classic dance songs, Alisa surprised Josh with his favorite treat- a pie bar complete with cherry, apple, and blueberry pies from Alliance Bakery! As the reception drew to a close, Alisa’s mom also surprised the newlyweds with flower leis to celebrate their upcoming Hawaiian honeymoon! Congratulations again, Alisa and Josh! We were so honored to be a part of your special day!

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Real Weddings: Dana & Nathan

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Scattered showers couldn’t keep Dana Kurek and Nathan Lopp down on their wedding day June 28th! Dana and her bridemaids had an early morning start to the day, with their hair and makeup done by Louis Anthony. Once the gorgeous purple bouquets were delivered to the bride and groom’s house by florist Joyce Grattoni, the ladies boarded a 20 passenger party bus from Limotainment and made their way to Saint Hyacinth Basilica. Then, surrounded by 230 family and friends, Dana and Nathan became “Mr. and Mrs. Lopp” during their beautiful ceremony and then headed to Olive Park, Michigan Avenue, the Tribune Building and the LaSalle Street Bridge for pictures with photographers Tim and Frank from Gerber + Scarpelli, their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Guests then headed to Eaglewood Resort and Spa in Itasca for a travel-themed bash (both bride and groom worked for United at the time), where guests’ escort cards were darling luggage tags and tables were named after destinations Dana and Nathan had each travelled to. As guests enjoyed cocktail hour on the Red Oak Patio, MDM Entertainment transformed the Red Oak Ballroom with stunning purple uplighting. After a delicious dinner of petite filet and grilled chicken, in lieu of a traditional wedding cake, the couple presented guests with delicious treats such as cupcakes, cake pops, and mini kolachki, mousses, cannolis and tiramisus from Oak Mill Bakery, as well as a gelato cart from Caffe Gelato. Dana and Nathan danced the night away with their family and friends, rocking out to classic songs performed by the Connexion Band of Orland Park. The party didn’t stop once the reception ended; while some guests opted to go to their rooms, the majority of guests headed downstairs to the bar and outdoor patio, celebrating until 2:30 am! Congratulations again, Dana and Nathan! We loved being a part of your special day!

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