High school BFFs are the OG wing-women. Back in 2006, in the days of crushes and prom dates, a friend told Ilana Brooks that Grant Heitkamp thought she was cute. “We would walk by one of his classrooms and make noises outside of the door so Grant would look up and I could catch his eye,” Ilana remembers. The persistent flirting paid off when Grant invited Ilana to a party…and the rest is history!
After almost a decade together, Ilana came home to the couple’s Chicago apartment to find flowers and a note at the front door telling her to head up to the roof. “Grant knows how directionally challenged I am, so he included directions for how to get there from our apartment,” the bride says, laughing. Once on the rooftop, Ilana found Grant and their puppy waiting for her—with a ring.
The couple grew up going to Bay Harbor, Michigan, and chose that special spot as the perfect place for their outdoor wedding on the water. “We wanted the weekend to be a fun and informal getaway for our 200 guests, with neutral colors and a beach-like boho vibe,” Ilana says. Planners Alison & Bryan Events brought the beach to the shore of Lake Michigan for the pair’s September 3, 2016 wedding, and photographer Curtis Wiklund captured the relaxed, refined celebration. Take a look at all the pretty details, below!
The simple silhouette and layered textures of Ilana’s Oscar de la Renta gown were a beautiful mix of couture design and boho styling, with stripes of corded macramé and band lace. The bride wore a matching veil, and paired her dahlia, garden rose, and lisianthus bouquet with a coordinating flower crown.
The bridesmaids wore maxi gowns from Show Me Your Mumu. “Instead of bouquets, I had them each carry a single oversized dahlia,” says Ilana. “It gave the ceremony a touch of whimsy that I really loved!”
To fit the waterfront setting, Grant skipped a tux in favor of a navy blue suit by Theory. “Grant wore my grandfather’s watch, and we exchanged my grandparents’ wedding rings during the ceremony to represent their beautiful marriage,” Ilana says.
Rows of potted blooms led to a birch chuppah in the sand, where garden roses were tucked between branches of olive and eucalyptus. “We really wanted the beauty of nature to do the talking,” says the bride.
“We had a few meetings with our rabbi before the wedding, and shared some thoughts with him via email so he could incorporate our story into the ceremony,” the bride describes.
In keeping with the beachy theme, guests found their table assignments handwritten on pieces of sea glass.
Beneath the sailcloth tent, tables were topped with dotted white linens and decorated with pastel-hued dahlias, ranunculus, and garden roses. “We wanted to highlight the incredible local food, so our menu included fresh whitefish, Michigan cherries, and lots of local cheeses,” says Ilana. Guests toasted with "Coop's Cucumber Cooler" (named for the pair’s dog) and white sangria.
For dessert, the couple served a semi-naked vanilla cake, filled with chocolate ganache and topped with fresh dahlias.
“We had DJ Allison Kinney fly in from New York,” says Ilana. “She was amazing, and played the perfect mix of throwbacks and current hits. We got so many compliments on the music!”
After a wedding full of beach-inspired details, the couple sought even more sun and sand for their honeymoon, heading to Thailand and Bali. But the bride has this advice first: “Remember that the wedding is about the two of you,” she says. “Make sure the decisions are something you’ll both be happy with, and try to block out all of the other opinions. You want the end result to feel like the two of you!”
Venue & Accommodations: Bay Harbor || Planning & Design: Alison & Bryan Events || Weekend Coordination: Sarah Rhodes-Boyce of Sincerely Ginger || Officiant: Rabbi Harold Loss || Bride's Dress: Oscar de la Renta || Bride's Veil: Ultimate Bride || Bride's Jewelry: Ehrlooms || Bride's Shoes: Aquazzura || Hair: Jennifer Abro of Salon Skye || Makeup: Nancy Paterra of Todd’s Room || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Show Me Your Mumu || Groom's Attire: Theory || Floral Design: Katie Wachowiak || Wedding Bands: Ehrlooms || Invitations & Paper Products: Rock Paper Scissors || Music: Gael, DJ Allison Kinney || Catering: Vernales || Cake: Simply Sweet by Jessica || Rentals: Taylor Rental || Transportation: Celtic Transportation || Photography: Curtis Wiklund Photography || Videography: Epic Motion