When Rachel's boss promised to introduce her to Charles, a transfer from London four years her senior, she didn't think anything of it — until she laid eyes on him. "He was very handsome," the 25-year-old executive assistant says. "A few months later we started dating, and the rest was history."
The only snag? Charles is English and Rachel is American. After their engagement in January 2013, Rachel started making arrangements to move to the UK with Charles (they live together in London now!). But before she crossed the pond, they threw one last American party: a gorgeous, ultra-elegant fall wedding at Chicago's Racquet Club.
Take a look at Kina Wick's gorgeous photos of their traditional evening affair.
Charles proposed on a frigid January night in New York. At first, Rachel was sure he was going to cut their evening short, since he hardly touched his dinner, and Charles never missed a good meal unless he was seriously sick. But it turns out, he was just nervous! After dinner, he dropped to one knee on a quiet street near Central Park and reduced Rachel to tears. And when they walked into a bar downtown to celebrate with champagne later, Rachel's mom, dad and sister were waiting to toast the couple!
Rachel wore a traditional lace gown by La Sposa. "I didn't have too many prerequisites before trying on dresses," she says. "I thought the lace was beautiful, and I loved that the gown had straps that fell just off my shoulders." She paired it with a pair of sparkly Jimmy Choo heels and a fingertip veil. Florist Natalie Walsh of Hello Darling created a gorgeous bouquet of roses.
Rachel had two bridesmaids, her sister and her best friend. She let them choose a bridesmaid dress they both love, and they landed on an easy slate grey gown from Dessy Collection. Charles's groomsmen eschewed matching tuxes in favor of their own morning suits and waistcoats.
Rachel and Charles lucked out big-time for their traditional Catholic ceremony — almost every church in Chicago was booked for their wedding date, but they were able to snag a spot at the city's grand Holy Family Church, a soaring cathedral. To make their vows even more awe-inspiring, an opera singer friend lent one-of-a-kind vocals to their favorite hymns.
Most of Rachel's and Charles's family members had never met before the wedding. "We knew instantly when we walked into the CRC that it was the perfect place for Charles and me," Rachel says. "It had such an intimate feel and because we had lots of guests meeting for the first time, it seemed like an ideal place."
Magnificent Milestones created an invitation suite and escort cards that perfectly matched the wedding's formal, elegant vibe.
Rachel and Charles would have been totally lost without genius planner Anne Book, Rachel says. With only eight months to plan, Rachel knew she'd need help to pull off a large, formal wedding that married both English and American traditions. The result? Stunning fall flowers, long tables laden with candles, and soft, golden light.
With the help of the Chicago Racquet Club's catering team, Rachel and Charles planned a delicious menu worthy of the foodie couple: first, an amuse bouche of lobster bisque, then an heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad, followed by beef tenderloin and wild mushroom ravioli.
Since they got married in late October, the couple went for a fall-appropriate cake: autumn spice with a caramel buttercream sauce. Guests also munched on cheeses, chocolates and port after dinner.
After a two-week honeymoon in South Africa, Rachel and Charles are finally settled in London. But they still haven't shipped their wedding gifts from the U.S.—when they do, they say, it will feel like Christmas all over again!
Ceremony Site: Holy Family Church Chicago || Reception Site: Racquet Club of Chicago || Wedding Planner: Anne Book of Anne Book Signature Style || Wedding Gown: La Sposa || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Veil: Pronovias || Bridesmaid's Dresses: Dessy Couture || Invitations and Paper Goods: Magnificent Milestones || Flowers, lighting and decor: Natalie Walsh of Hello Darling || Music: Fig Media || Photographer: Kina Wicks Photography