Gina Montaleone, 27, and Timothy George, 30, met, fell in love, and are planting their roots in Chicago, so choosing to marry in the Windy City on September 20, 2013, was a no brainer. "We had 165 guests coming in for the wedding," says Gina, "So, it was the right choice logistically. And we got to give our family and friends a classic taste of the city we love!"
The couple met at the office, when Gina spotted Tim on one of her first days at work. "I remember calling a girlfriend and telling her about this cute guy who worked with me," Gina remembers. Casual conversations at team happy hours and morning coffee runs led to Tim asking Gina out on a date. "We don't work in the same department anymore, but we're both at the same company. We still keep our morning coffee dates!" says the bride.
In May of 2012, during a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Tim got down on one knee during a sunset walk on the beach. "People at the restaurant started applauding, and a waiter brought us champagne," Gina remembers. "The best part was that, after we told our family and friends the good news, we still had a week of vacation to unplug and celebrate together!"
Below, see how this Chi-Town couple brough their dream of an outdoor wedding to life in the Renaissance Blackstone's gorgeous formal ballroom.
"I've been in love with the custom crests from Happy Menocal since before Tim and I were engaged," says Gina. "They're both elegant and playful, which is exactly the tone we wanted for our wedding." The couple spent some time chatting with Happy so she could get to know them, then created a crest for them to use throughout the wedding. "It signifies our new family and all the traditions we will create together."
The venue, Chicago's Blackstone Hotel, "felt like the center of all Chicago has to offer," says Gina. "It's classic and beautiful, and was the perfect blank slate for our décor."
Gina gifted her bridesmaids with coral-hued floral robes to wear while they got ready. She donned a white lace version as she prepared for her big day.
The arrow pin on Gina's bouquet, tied with a white lace ribbon, matched the detail on the couple's crest.
Gina paired her gown with gold python sandals from Burberry. "I loved that they brought an element of fun and playfulness to my classic dress," she says.
Gina's gown was a gorgeous modified mermaid gown by Vera Wang. The laser-cut floral organza was overlaid with French tulle for a touch of softness. "I tried on over 75 dresses," says Gina, "But none compared to this one!" She borrowed diamond bracelets from her mother and grandmother, donned her stepmother's diamond studs, and added a special final detail the morning of the wedding: A Cartier Love bracelet that Tim gave her as a wedding present. Tim's Paul Stuart tuxedo was inspired by the one that Justin Timberlake wore to his wedding to Jessica Biel. He borrowed his cousin's shirt studs and cufflinks, and finished his look off with the watch Gina bought him as a wedding gift.
Loose flowers softened up the couple's formal look. Gina carried a bouquet of dahlias, garden roses, hydrangeas, and astilbe in soft pink and cream. Her bridesmaids carried smaller versions of the bride's bouquet, tied with blush-and-lace ribbons.
The bridesmaids wore blush chiffon gowns by Amsale, each with a different neckline. "It was a cohesive look, but they were able to pick their own styles," says Gina. The groomsmen rented Black by Vera Wang tuxedos to match Tim's classic style.
The elegant décor of the Blackstone Hotel was the perfect backdrop for Tim and Gina's formal celebration.
The couple was married in the hotel's ballroom. "We opened the windows to let in natural light and provide a view of the garden across the street," says Gina. "It was beautiful!" The ballroom's neutral color palette, intricate molding, and crystal chandeliers let the ceremony details shine.
The aisle was edged with rose petals, votives, and candles in hurricane vases. The altar was hung with a garland of leaves, some of which had been painted gold. Gina's grandmother's bible and the couple's unity candle were on a nearby table.
The ring bearers carried flags as they made their way down the aisle, announcing the bride's arrival. Tim and Gina exchanged traditional vows, and the bride's godmother read an excerpt from Sandol Stoddard Warburg's "I Like You."
As guests arrived at cocktail hour, they were greeted with the couple's signature drink, "The George's Grapefruit Gimlet," which featured tequila, grapefruit juice, soda water, and fresh thyme.
Place cards, embellished with details from Gina and Tim's crest, were displayed on crystal cake plates surrounded by fresh flowers and gilded fruit.
The white and gold of the Blackstone's ballroom blended seamlessly into the couple's décor. A combination of round and long tables, topped with "tons of candles," filled the space.
Pink napkins matched the pink-and-peach flowers in the low centerpieces. Tall candelabras gave even more height to the space, and allowed guests to see one another across the tables.
The garland from the altar was draped down the center of the head table, creating a lush garden feel. The garland that the flower girls had carried down the aisle was cut in half, and used to decorate Tim and Gina's chairs.
The couple's wedding cake, iced in white buttercream frosting, featured alternating layers of almond and vanilla butter cake with cinnamon mascarpone and crème brûlée filling. Gold fondant flowers ringed two tiers, and fresh pink-and-white garden roses cascaded won the side. A beaded tiara, which Gina's grandmother wore on her wedding day, served as the cake topper.
Gina and Tim's first dance was to Ellie Goulding's cover of "Your Song" by Elton John. As the dancing got underway, they passed one of Tim's favorite treats around the floor: Oreo cookies and milk. "His grandmother was so important to him, and one of his favorite memories with her is eating Oreos," says Gina.
After a honeymoon to St. Lucia, Tim and Gina are enjoying settling in to married life. "We're searching for a home," says Gina. "It makes wedding planning seem easy!"
Some of Gina's favorite memories of the day are the moments she and Tim were able to take alone. "I really recommend scheduling some time, whether it's during the first look or right after the ceremony, to talk, take it all in, and say 'Can you believe it? We're married!'"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Renaissance Blackstone Hotel
Wedding Planner: Anne Book
Bride's Wedding Dress: Vera Wang
Hair: AJ Schulz
Makeup: Shannon O'Brien
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Amsale
Mother of the Bride's Dress: Talbot Runhof
Groom's Tuxedo: Paul Stuart
Groomsmen's Tuxedos: Men's Wearhouse
Wedding Bands: Dimend Scaasi
Florist: Pistil & Vine
Crest: Happy Menocal
Invitations & Paper Goods: Magnificent Milestones
Catering: Renaissance Blackstone Hotel
Photography: Kina Wicks