A Playful, Modern Wedding at the Chicago History Museum

Real Weddings
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Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

When they were freshmen at the University of Illinois, hanging around the dorm with some other students, Jon, now 31 and an IT consultant, told a joke about sausages in a frying pan. Most of his friends dismissed it immediately as another one of his silly wisecracks—to this day, no one can remember exactly how it went—but one person laughed. Jamie, a 31-year-old communications consultant, remembers finding her future husband instantly entertaining—and, luckily, she still does.

When planning their April 2013 nuptials, Jamie and Jon knew they wanted to honor both their shared love of their home city, Chicago, and their wacky sense of humor. They chose the Chicago History Museum for their modern, sophisticated reception because it perfectly represented their city life together: the couple said "I do" surrounded by artifacts and memorabilia from their hometown, and just steps away from the path where they coach a team of runners each weekend.

By adding personal touches like custom notes, a quirky, self-written ceremony, and a visit from their favorite hot-dog truck, Jamie and Jon crafted a party that went way beyond any affair we've ever seen and became a day so completely their own, they'll never forget a second.

Jaime_Jon_2_proposal.jpg Engagement Ring on Modern Stripe Background

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

"Jon believes that the perfect proposal contains three elements," Jamie says. "It should be a complete surprise until the moment it happens, it should be at a location I can go to when I'm having a sad day, and it should include an experience I've never had before." Ever the consultant, he put together a spreadsheet weighing every possible proposal scenario. The winner? A jaw-dropping underwater "will you marry me?" in the whale tank at Shedd Aquarium (he signed them up for a whale-training session), complete with bubble-wrapped ring box. Yes, it really does get that romantic.

Jaime_Jon_4_attire.jpg Wedding Portrait Chicago History Museum Monique Lhuillier Manolo Blahnik Blue Jeweled Pumps Wedding

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

Jamie wore a trumpet-style Monique Lhuillier gown with a Chantilly lace and French tulle overlay, three-quarter sleeves and a train. Paired with a cathedral-length veil embellished with Swarovski crystals, the gown was equal parts sophisticated and modern. Her blue Manolo Blahnik pumps coordinated with Jon's orange socks as a nod to their shared alma mater, the University of Illinois.

Jaime_Jon_7_bouquet.jpg Groom Boutonniere White Ranunculus

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

Jamie carried a pale bouquet of French tulips, white peonies and roses tied with an ivory silk ribbon. The groom wore a boutonniere of white ranunculus.

Bride Ceremony Chicago History Museum Monique Lhuillier Ceremony Program Custom Monogram Chicago History Museum Wedding Ceremony Chicago History Museum Topiary Modern Wedding Ceremony

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

In fitting with the French-garden feel of their wedding, Jamie and Jon lined the aisle with boxwood topiaries for their informal, self-written ceremony, which was officiated by a close friend. Jamie walked down the aisle to "Henry the Eighth" by Herman's Hermits, her late father's favorite song. The two vowed to "eat all the chocolate chip cookies you want to bake for me," and "always run at your pace."

Chicago History Museum French Tulips Chandelier Chicago History Museum Main Room Wedding Escort Cards Chicago History Museum Wedding

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

In the museum's quirky main room, surrounded by reminders of the industrial history of Chicago, Jamie and Jon created a modern organic paradise, lighting the room in soft green tones. As guests walked into the reception, they found their seat assignments under a giant arrangement of French tulips under a crystal chandelier—talk about a grand entrance!

Guestbook Tree Idea Jaime_Jon_16_guestbook2.jpg

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

"In lieu of a guest book we had a "Wishing Tree" where guests wrote their wishes, wisdom and wit for us and placed them on the tree. Our families read their wishes as part of the ceremony," Jamie says.

Green Centerpiece Chicago History Museum Wedding Long Table Grey Tablecloth Chicago History Museum Wedding Candle Centerpiece Chicago History Museum Wedding Jeweled Initials Bride Groom Chairs Topiary Centerpiece Wedding Reception

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

The couple swapped out round dinner tables for long ones and covered them with grey silk tablecloths, white linen napkins, white china, and green and black glassware. Boxwood-wrapped planters of white tulips, roses and ranunculus served as centerpieces, and freestanding topiaries around the room added to the mod-garden vibe.

Personalized Monogrammed Family Style Wedding Menu Square Tiered Wedding Cheesecake Dessert Lounge Wedding Chicago History Museum

Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio

Jon, the foodie half of the newlywed couple, took care of the menu. He included a note on each guest's custom-monogrammed card explaining his selections, and letting everyone know that he made a donation to the Kidney Cancer Association in their honor. The spread was way beyond your standard filet mignon and seasonal vegetables. Each dish was Italian-inspired, family style, and absolutely mouthwatering: think individual cheese plates for each guest, rustic artisan pizzas, and baskets of warm garlic bread. "We loved to hear that guests felt pampered when they sat down to our tables," Jamie says.

The biggest surprise of the evening? Everyone got to munch on hot dogs straight from the Chubby Weiner truck, a Chicago institution, during the reception.

As for dessert, Jamie and Jon ordered their three-tier cheesecake from a local, family-run vendor to show support to their city. And that's not all: After getting down on the dance floor in flip-flops the couple provided, guests were treated to a sweet session in Jamie and Jon's dessert lounge, complete with Lucite chairs, embroidered pillows and tables with warm chocolate chip cookies, whipped chocolate souffle, and s'mores supplies.



Bride Groom Chicago History Museum Wedding


Photo: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studio


What everyone loved most about the wedding, Jamie says, is the wit they took care to weave throughout the fun-filled evening. Jon and Jamie's shared sense of humor was everywhere: in their vows, in little notes they left guests everywhere, in their whimsical song choices, and in their quirky, playful venue. They met because Jon made Jamie laugh, and—she says—years later, they're still laughing together.

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Chicago History Museum || Wedding Planner: Frank Event Design || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Veil: Nancy Shefts || Shoes: Manolo Blahnik || Jewelry & Wedding Rings: Family heirlooms || Hair: Roger Gumm of Colette Salon and Spa || Makeup: Nicole Jacob || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Of their own choosing || Groom's Tuxedo: Nicholas Joseph || Florist: Beth Tarrant of Anna Held Floral Design Studio || Catering: Jewel Events Catering| |Invitations: Pioneer Announcements || Music: Amaryllis Strings, Michael Walters Orchestra || Cake: Swedish Bakery || Favors: Donations to The Kidney Cancer Association || Photography: Robin Sloan, River Bend Photo Studios

—Amanda First

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