Tyler Murphy and James "Warren" Reed knew they wanted their Chicago wedding to be different. After meeting at a friend's holiday party in December of 2014 and getting engaged in Costa Rica on New Year's Day in 2017, they wanted a wedding that felt equally celebratory. "We wanted something dramatic and formal, but in a venue where people don't usually have weddings," explains the bride. So, when she and Warren walked into the Lyric Opera and saw the high ceilings, gold accents, and rich red carpeting, they immediately knew they had found their place.
The couple was drawn to a neutral palette, perfect for the already-ornate setting. "We kept all of the decor white, instead adding texture with a variety of flowers," the bride describes. Chrissy Magliano of Big City Bride helped the couple work through all of the details, creating a dramatic black tie wedding that was a perfect for the formal setting.
Keep reading to see how Tyler and Warren hosted an "unexpected" Chicago wedding complete with a black tie dress code, an elegant color palette, and textured, gorgeous details. Robyn Rachel Photography was on hand to capture it all, below!
Tyler fell hard for her strapless Carolina Herrera ballgown, which featured a cathedral-length train and buttons running down the back. "I thought I'd want a really elaborate gown, but the more I tried on the more simple, I went with the direction," she says. She paired the gown with Jimmy Choo sandals and a diamond tennis bracelet (a day-of wedding gift from Warren).
To contrast with her white dress, Tyler asked her bridesmaids to choose their own floor-length black dresses. Each attendant carried a bouquet of white roses and peonies—a timeless choice that popped against the dark gowns.
Warren wore a custom peak lapel tuxedo from Ermenegildo Zegna, while his groomsmen wore notch lapel tuxedos for a slight variation.
Soft gold draping and oversized arrangements of white orchids, hydrangeas, and roses flanked the ceremony space. The bride walked down an aisle that was decorated with dappled lighting and flanked by rows of elegant Chiavari chairs.
Tyler's 18-month-old cousin had just learned to walk, making his trip down the aisle as ring bearer extra adorable.
The bride's father escorted her down the aisle to the altar. "My pediatrician, who is still practicing medicine, is also a bishop," says Tyler. "It was so special to have him serve as our officiant."
To match the grandeur of the setting, guests were seated at long tables topped with white linens and white floral runners. "When we walked into the reception, we headed straight to the dance floor for our first dance," says Tyler. "Warren and I danced to a medley of 'Ain't Nobody' by Chaka Khan and 'All of Me' by John Legend."
After a vegetarian-friendly dinner (the cauliflower steak was a huge hit!), Warren and Tyler cut into a ruffled all-white wedding cake that featured layers of chocolate, vanilla, and passion fruit. Everyone hit the dance floor as a DJ spun a mix that ranged from The Four Tops to Kanye West.
Looking back on their big day, the bride had this advice to share: "Hiring a wedding planner was so worth it!" she says. "The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is producing the event while you're trying to enjoy it."
Wedding Planner: Big City Bride || Venue: Lyric Opera || Officiant: Bishop Horace E. Smith, M.D. || Bride's Dress: Carolina Herrera || Bride's Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Makeup: Fashion Fair Cosmetics || Groom's Attire: Ermenegildo Zegna || Groomsmen's Attire: The Black Tux || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Ring Concierge || Floral Design: Platinum Events || Paper Products: Bella Figura || Catering: Limelight Catering || Cake: Amy Beck Cake Design || Music: The DJ Firm || Rentals: BBJ Linen, Hall's Rentals, Northern Décor Event Design || Lighting: Frost Lighting || Videography: Something New || Photo Booth: Smilebooth || Photography: Robyn Rachel Photography