When Jennifer met Brandon, a 32-year-old business owner, at a tucked-away wine bar, she instantly knew he was The One. The bride, also 32 and a publicist, called her sister the second she got in a cab on her way home: "Finally, I met him!" she exclaimed. Brandon felt the same way, and called her the next morning during her daily Starbucks run to set up another date.
Six years later, they made it official, in a lavish black-tie wedding in their home city of Chicago. They chose the glamorous Peninsula Hotel downtown because it felt as intimate as it did grand. "I knew the first time we visited that it was perfect," Jennifer says. "It had an intimate feeling about it, and I loved the beautiful terrace overlooking Michigan Avenue."
The grand, formal hotel proved the perfect backdrop for Jennifer and Brandon's fairy-tale wedding. True to her childhood dream of a Cinderella-worthy bash, the couple added a healthy dose of glam, with touches like a chandelier hanging from their chuppah, a crystal-adorned bridal gown and heels, and masses of ivory roses.
For months, Brandon had been planning an ultra-extravagant proposal on a couple's trip to Florida. But on a pre-vaca shopping trip at Bloomingdales, Jennifer tripped on her heels and sprained her ankle. Two ER visits later, they were forced to postpone their getaway. But Brandon refused to move to plan B: a month later, they made the trip after all (with Jennifer back up on her heels), and he pulled it off beautifully, booking a romantic four-course dinner in their presidential suite. The only downside? Jennifer was so excited, she screamed "Yes!" before Brandon even got to break out the ring!
Jennifer knew from the beginning she wanted to wear Monique Lhuillier on her wedding day. "I love fashion, and have always loved Monique's attention to detail and exquisite beading," she says. After three trips to her boutique in NYC, Jennifer chose an intricately embellished gown. She paired it with crystal Christian Louboutin slingbacks. "I call them my 'glass slippers'", she says. "It was a fairy tale come true!"
Jennifer and Brandon's ceremony was black-tie and glamorous (think towering arrangements of ivory roses, a Swarovski-encrusted bridal bouquet, and gilded, candle-laden tables lining the aisle), but self-written vows made it feel intimate and personal. "Thank you for coming into my life and making my fairy tale come true," Jennifer said to her groom.
For their 160-person reception at the ballroom in the Peninsula Hotel, Jennifer and Brandon wanted to make the space feel like Cinderella's ball—if it were held in downtown Chicago in 2013, that is. The look was all white, ivory, and gold, with mirrored tables, antique touches, candles galore, and more ivory roses than we've ever seen.
After a three-course seated dinner, Jennifer and Brandon cut the multi-tier cake, decorated with swirling ivory roses. "I literally designed the cake—drew it out and gave it to chefs at The Peninsula to create."
Jennifer and Brandon's first dance was to a shared favorite, The Goo Goo Doll's "Iris". One of the most special aspects of the night, Jennifer says, was bringing her entire family—young and old—together. "Both of our grandmas were able to make it. My grandmother, who's 94, made a wonderful speech and partied past midnight!"
Ceremony Venue: Peninsula Hotel, Chicago || Reception Venue: Peninsula Hotel, Chicago || Wedding Planner: Reva Nathan and Associates || Bride's Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier || Hair: Erin Ahern withSalon Buzz || Makeup: Stella Mikhael || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier || Groom's Attire: Giorgio Armani || Florist: Richard Remiard || Music: Ken Arlen Orchestra || Catering and Cake: Peninsula Hotel Chicago || Photography: Robyn Rachel Photography