It was 1 a.m. on a warm July evening in 2013 when John Tiedmann Jr. and Richelle McCoy locked eyes at a bar in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood. “It may not be the classiest place to meet someone, but he captured my heart and I know we were brought together that night for a reason,” Richelle admits. Four years later, John got down on one knee in the kitchen of the couple’s home while they were preparing to host a Thanksgiving dinner for Richelle’s Canadian relatives. “He caught me completely off guard—it was perfect!” recalls Richelle of the proposal.
While planning their wedding, Richelle and John (who describe themselves as "anything but conventional") decided to catch their guests off guard when it came time to choose a wedding venue. Richelle knew she didn’t want the traditional ballroom or country club, so they instead booked Revel Motor Row, a restored Spanish revival event space that’s rich with the city's history. And on October 8, 2018, the historic Chicago building served as the perfect backdrop for a wedding that was equal parts modern (thanks to the industrial city venue and the bride's sleek dress) and rustic (think Tuscan accents and a flavorful menu designed by the bride, who is a chef by trade).
Keep reading to see Richelle and John's rustic-meets-modern wedding come to life in Chicago, as captured by Kent Drake Photography.
“It was the very first wedding dress I tried on and I was sold!” says Richelle of her satin Ines di Santo trumpet gown. “I’d never planned to wear blush but I fell hard," she says. "The asymmetrical bow still makes my heart skip a beat!" To complete her look, the bride borrowed the veil her sister wore at her own wedding a year prior.
“Since I chose a blush wedding gown, I knew I wanted my bridesmaids to wear white as a fun flip-flop of tradition,” says Richelle of her squad's Katie May dresses. “My sister wore a sparkly belt to differentiate her as the Matron of Honor and my ‘bridesman’ wore a white dinner jacket to set him apart from the groomsmen.” The groomsmen donned classic tuxedos with boutonnieres of olive branches and rosemary.
Richelle carried a bouquet of white astilbe adorned with another family heirloom: her great grandfather’s pin! (Making it even more significant, her mother and sister had carried the pin with them on their wedding days, too.) “My sweet bridesmaid also surprised me with a tiny locket with a picture of my late grandmother inside,” says the bride. "We sewed it onto my bouquet so she could be with me during the ceremony."
Bridesmaids carried arrangements of dinner plate dahlias, blush spray roses, and olive and plum foliage.
Richelle’s advice to engaged couples? “Do a first look! I’m so happy our first time seeing each other on our wedding day was a moment between just the two of us," she says. "It put us into the most peaceful mindset, meant that we had more time to take photos and didn’t feel rushed, and we were also able to enjoy more time at the cocktail hour mingling with our guests.”
“Tuscany is our happy place. We even thought about having a destination wedding in Italy,” Richelle admits. “We decided against it because we wanted to make sure all our loved ones could be present, so instead we brought the Italian countryside to Chicago.” They began with the blank canvas of Revel Motor Row, an event space rich with history. “The first time I stepped onto the outdoor courtyard, I fell in love," says the bride. "The architecture made it feel as if we were standing in the middle of the Piazza Grande in Montepulciano rather than in the middle of downtown Chicago.”
The ceremony took place on an elevated stage where two oversized urns burst with olive branches and greenery. “Rafters were wrapped with fresh smilax vines, and the evening light pouring in through the skylights gave the room and warm, ethereal glow,” describes the bride.
“It was so personal and I loved every minute of it,” says the bride of the ceremony. In planning the ceremony, their minister asked both John and Richelle to answer a few questions, including when each of them had first known they wanted to marry the other. “I said it was on our first date after dinner," Richelle admits. "John walked me to my car in the rain and squeezed my hand twice, which is something my dad has done since I was a little girl to say, ‘I love you.’ During the ceremony, I immediately looked over my shoulder at my dad, who was crying. It was a raw, sweet moment.”
The couple included both scripture readings and a quote from Bob Marley in their program, as well as instrumental versions of contemporary songs like AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” for the recessional. “It was the last song I danced with my Nannerz (grandmother) at my sister’s wedding the year before, so it was a little tribute to her and it made for an uplifting, celebratory exit," adds the bride.
Because Chicago weather can be unpredictable, the couple opted to cover the courtyard with a clear tent. "When I saw our dinner tent the night of our wedding, I screamed with joy,” Richelle says. “The city lights and stars twinkled above us giving the feeling of being outdoors—without our guests freezing!"
Inside the tent, floating candles hung from an olive branch-decked pergola to create a focal point over the head table. Below, a cascading runner of greenery, sage-hued candles, and brushed gold and crystal cut votives combined for romantic fall look. “My mom and I both love designing tablescapes, so we had a field day playing around with all the different options,” admits the bride.
Guest sat down to dine on beef tenderloin Provençal, pan-seared chicken, and wild mushroom wellington. “Food is my life so our menu was one of the most important parts of the wedding planning,” says Richelle, who is a professional chef. Mini Chicago beef sandwiches, Chicago-style hot dogs, and sriracha fried chicken sandwiches were also served as late-night snacks.
“In the spirit of our Italian inspiration, our signature cocktail was an Aperol spritz but we renamed it ‘The Tommy’ after our golden retriever puppy,” says Richelle. Tommy also made an appearance on top of the couple's wedding cake, which was filled with fresh strawberries and decorated with more olive branches.
Dinner and dancing took place in two different spaces, so the couple (with the help of their bandleader!) created a fun transition to lure people into the next room after the meal. "Our bandleader is from New Orleans, and he came up with the idea to do a second line," Richelle says. "As soon as John finished his speech, the brass section of the band came busting into the tent and paraded through the space. My mom suggested they play the theme from ‘Hockey Night in Canada,’ a surprise for my hockey-loving, Canadian dad.” After, the newlyweds performed their first dance to Youth Group’s “Forever Young.”
“While everyone was partying and dancing up a storm, John and I ducked out quickly and took a few quick photos in the tent,” says Richelle. “They are some of my favorite shots of the night. He lifted me up and we kissed with our gorgeous head table as the background. They were silly and unscripted, and I loved that moment. Pure happiness!”
Wedding Venue: Revel Motor Row || Day-of Coordinator: Clementine Custom Events || Officiant: Dr. Chip Hardwick || Bride's Dress: Ines di Santo, purchased at Ultimate Bride || Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair & Makeup: Tamara Makeup + Hair Artistry || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Katie May, purchased from Bella Bridesmaids || Groom’s Tuxedo: Knot Standard || Groomsmen Attire: The Black Tux || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Lester Lampert || Floral Design: Revel Décor || Invitations & Paper Goods: Magnificent Milestones || Entertainment: Sway || Catering: Limelight || Cake: Bent Fork Bakery || Transportation: Windy City Limos || Accommodations: The Langham || Videography: Mirar Media || Photography: Kent Drake Photography