Sometimes, no matter how hard you're looking, the thing you're missing is right under your nose. That's what happened to Erika Nuber and Tony Williams when they connected in August 2012. "Tony and I met on OKCupid, but it turned out we lived four blocks apart on the same street in Philadelphia," Erika says. Thank goodness for the Internet, because a year and a half later, in February 2014, Tony surprised Erika with a trip to Puerto Rico, where he proposed as the sun set over the citadel in the heart of Old San Juan.
For their May 28, 2016, wedding, the couple wanted to show off Erika's hometown of Chicago to their 200 guests. "I had always thought the Fourth Presbyterian Church, right on Michigan Avenue, would be a gorgeous place to get married," says the bride. "And what could be better than having our reception at Café Brauer, in the middle of Lincoln Park?" With a beautiful, natural setting (plus the Chicago skyline in the background!), the couple kept their vision natural to match with a green, white, and gray color scheme. "We wanted a classic urban wedding that wasn't too stuffy," she says. During their engagement, Tony lived in New Jersey, while Erika lived in Washington, D.C., so hiring a planner was a must. Claire Weller of Big City Brides in Chicago took on the task. "I don't know what I would have done without her," says the bride. Add photographer Jenelle Kappe to the mix and you've got a Chicago wedding dream team. Keep scrolling to see how they created a classically elegant wedding in the heart of a bustling city. You won't want to miss this one!
Tony and Erika's invitation suite was totally timeless, with an elegant border around traditional calligraphy. While Tony did don a classic tuxedo, he paired it with a little bit of fun: bulldog cuff links in honor of Erika's pup, Tilly!
Erika is statuesque (and stunning!) at six foot two, so she sought a gown with long, sleek lines. Her Douglas Hannant number (in satin crepe) was soft and flowing and featured the most elegant train. "I'd found the gown early on in our planning, but when I went back to purchase it, the designer was no longer making the style," she reveals. "Thankfully, the store owner owned the dress pattern and constructed the dress just for me!"
The satin lapels on Tony's tux coordinated with Erika's gown perfectly. He wore a white tie and an orchid boutonniere, which matched the bride's all-white bouquet of bridal veil spirea, eucalyptus, majolica spray roses, freesia, nigella, phalaenopsis orchids, and clematis.
Erika's bridesmaids wore gray chiffon gowns by Monique Lhuillier, choosing either a pleated V-neck or a lace one-shouldered design. Tony's groomsmen matched the groom in tuxedos.
Tony's twin nieces served as flower girls, wearing white lace dresses with pink bows. "They called them their 'marriage dresses,'" says Erika. "They loved them so much, they brought them on a beach vacation a few months later so they could wear them again!"
Erika's father escorted her down the aisle of the stunning church.
The couple exchanged traditional vows in the centuries-old church, where the vaulted ceilings and beautiful woodwork didn't need much decoration.
With exposed brick walls and lots of windows, Café Brauer is gorgeous on its own. Tables were draped in soft gray linens, then topped with topiaries, rosemary plants, and white roses.
Low centerpieces of roses and wax flowers were placed alongside potted topiaries, with votives and pillar candles scattered throughout. Each place setting was finished with a printed menu and a sprig of fresh rosemary, adding a delicious fragrance to the space. The dinner menu included a spring salad with strawberries and blue cheese, filet of beef with parsnip puree, and roasted sea bass with toasted farro.
On the venue's patio, the pillars were wrapped in twinkle lights and lanterns were tucked into the corners. Guests gathered on modern lounge furniture, topped with light-gray pillows.
Instead of a signature cocktail, Tony and Erika offered a whiskey and scotch bar, plus a few of their favorite snacks: chocolate-covered bacon, Garrett popcorn, and Chicago-style hot dogs!
The couple's wedding cake was a classic, with layers of vanilla cake topped with vanilla buttercream and fresh white flowers.
"Our band was amazing and kept us dancing all night long," says Erika. "At the end of the night, everyone was reluctant to leave the dance floor because the music was so good!" She reminds brides not to sweat the small stuff. "Think about what really matters to you, and focus there. It will be an amazing day, no matter what!"
Ceremony Venue: Fourth Presbyterian Church
Reception Venue: Café Brauer
Wedding Planner: Claire Weller
Bride's Wedding Dress: Douglas Hannant
Veil: Kleinfeld Bridal
Hair: Nicci Loiacono
Makeup: Juli Valdez
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Monique Lhuillier
Mother-of-the-Bride Dress: Avenue Fashions
Groom's Attire: Alton Lane
Groomsmen's Attire: Alton Lane
Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Quest Fine Jewelers
Flowers: Simply Flowers Design by Toni Lenzi
Invitations: Bella Figura
Guestbook: Poster of Chicago by Alexander and Company
Music: The Chicago Players
Catering: Limelight Catering
Cake: Limelight Catering
Favors: Garret Popcorn
Transportation: Signature Shuttles
Accommodations: The Thompson Hotel Chicago
Photographer: Jenelle Kappe