Annie + Matt’s wedding was a two-day affair. They were married on a Friday in an intimate church ceremony with close family. The next day, they had a huge party to celebrate with all their family and friends. Saturday started at Ambassador Hotel Chicago with a perfect first look overlooking the city. We stopped at Olive Park for more gorgeous city skyline views with the bridal party. Their ceremony and reception were held at Zia’s Lago Vista in Lakeview with natural and modern decor, delicious Italian food, and a dance party.
How long have you been together?
Matt and Annie met in the Fall of 2011 as neighbors in the apartment complex at 1006 S. Third St, more lovingly known as “Longbalcs”. After attending Delt barn dance together (the super romantic site of their first kiss), the two quickly became good friends. Their friendship continued after college and into city life – hanging out at apartment parties, bars, and brunch. One night out in early 2016, while Matt and Annie were deep in conversation at the bar, Annie realized that her favorite thing to do while out with Matt was talking to him for hours. She knew then that there was something more to their friendship and had to see where it might go. During their years of friendship, Matt always knew he and Annie were a great fit together. “What’s not to like?” Matt thought to himself. As they became closer in 2016, he realized why he had always been attracted to her in the first place. Annie is the most selfless and kind person he has ever known. He knew an opportunity to date someone as loving as Annie would not come around again.
How did Matt propose? Tell me your engagement story!
Matt had his sister text a fake brunch invite to a bunch of friends, including Annie. On the day of, Matt said they were going to meet up with his sister on Michigan Avenue to head to brunch together because she was coming from a friend’s apartment. While “waiting” for his sister, Matt and Annie strolled over to the fountains in south Grant Park. The couple’s best friends (Annie’s MOH Rachel and her bf, Chip, also a groomsman) were hiding taking pictures and videos when Matt got down on one knee. We all had champagne by the fountain (sorry CPD!) then headed to the J Parker where more friends and family were waiting to celebrate.
What drew you to the venues you chose?
We loved Zia’s because of its warm inviting feel – it reminded us of a combination of Italy and Napa. The dining felt like one giant family dinner, while dancing in the bar just felt like one big bar party where everyone could be involved, whether you were dancing or having a drink and catching up with family and friends. We also really wanted to do a restaurant and Zia’s food is AMAZING.
What inspired your wedding decor? Did you have a theme in mind?
Because Zia’s is already so well-decorated and filled with warm, earthy colors, I wanted to keep the decor simple with greens and white flowers to enhance, but not compete with, the existing vibe.
Which part of your wedding did you want to WOW your guests?
We really wanted to wow them with the service (champagne when you walk in, super attentive staff), the food, the overall space. And of course our vows! I also hoped to wow the crowd with the beaded topper that my mom picked out that I wore for the ceremony.
What was your absolute favorite part of the day? Does your spouse have a different favorite?
Hard to pick just one! I think my absolute favorite part was the last song of the night (We Found Love by Rihanna) just jumping up and down, dancing, belting the lyrics with Matt and all of our best friends – and looking around thinking about how it all came together more perfectly than I could ever have hoped. Matt says “hearing Annie’s vows – they were so good” (thanks, Matt!)
What was the biggest challenge you faced in planning your wedding?
The biggest challenge was probably not hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator. It required a LOT of extra researching and extremely detailed planning on my part. In the end, it all worked out (helped doing it at a restaurant!) and now I get to say I did it all myself (with help from family and bridal party of course!)
If you could go back and do anything differently, what would it be and why?
We had gone back and forth if we were happy with doing our private church ceremony the day before, or if we regretted not doing it the same day as our reception. I struggled with “going against the norm” and doing something “different” or “confusing”. Ultimately, I’m glad we split them – it gave us a chance to keep tradition, while also getting to do a ceremony with our own personality.
Any advice for couples about to get married?
Be super organized! I did everything with Google Sheets and Google Docs so I could work on wedding details from anywhere. I also think you should definitely do what you want to do, even if it’s a bit different or people question it. I would also say focus (time, money, resources) on the major things that matter to you about your day – for us, that was photos (obviously!), music, and food/drinks.
Anything else about your day that you’d like to share?
We had so many details that our parents helped with, which was awesome. My dad handmade our ceremony “arch”, the welcome sign, the escort cardboard, all the table signs and table numbers, the card box. Matt’s mom made the bathroom baskets, the flip flops, welcome bags for the out of town guests.
Venues: Ambassador Hotel Chicago, Zia’s Lago Vista
Bridal gown: Louvienne “Colette” Gown, Topper from Ivy & Aster from Lovely Bride Chicago (ivyandaster.com; lovelybride.com)
Rings: Brilliant Earth + Consider the Wldflwrs
Bridal shoes: Tony Bianco Carey Heel in White
Bridal hair + makeup: Diem Angie
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Katie May (styles Liu and Westward via Bella Bridesmaids – bellabridesmaids.com; style Madison via BHLDN – bhldn.com)
Tuxedos/Suits: Groom, groomsmen, and officiant suits, shirts, shoes – Black Tux and Ties & Clips – The Tie Bar
Florist: Flowers For Dreams
Ceremony + Reception décor: Arch, welcome sign, place card chart, table numbers, gift box, dessert table sign – handmade by bride’s father; existing decor and tea lights provided by venue
Caterer: Zia’s Lago Vista
Bakery: Sugar Fixe
Band/DJ: Cage + Aquarium
Transportation Company: Premier Trolley and Limo