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Wedding Check-In

I did an Insta-poll last week to see who was interested in hearing about our wedding planning thus far, and I am so excited to finally be sharing! I wanted to write this post almost as a “diary entry”, since I know these days are going to fly by and sentimental me is going to want to remember all these exciting details!

I’m going to start by sharing some of the vendors we have selected/used so far and our thoughts as we were selecting them.

Photography: Ben Ramos Photography

Confession: I reached out to Ben BEFORE we even announced our engagement on Facebook or to a majority of our family LOL. If that doesn’t tell you how good he is, nothing will. Ben is a true professional, but also such a hype-man! I don’t know about you, but I want that kind of vibe surrounding me on my wedding day!

We have already done our engagment shoot with him (featured photo), and we cannot wait to see all our photos! The shoot was so fun- even Justin said it was a blast and the 1.5 hours flew by. It helps that I know Ben from high school, but honestly even if he was a stranger- it would have been the same amazing experience!

This was one area we KNEW we were going to splurge in- I have heard horror stories about wedding photographers and knew I didn’t want to skimp here. To each their own of course, but I am already so confident with our decision to invest in Ben!

Reception Venue: Hotel Arista, Naperville IL

With so much event experience under my belt from my career, I thought this step would be easy. Spoiler Alert: it. was. not.

I thought I was sold on Elements at Water Street, before even seeing it in person. I had always dreamed of having my wedding there! So, when we toured and it didn’t live up to our expectations, I was crushed (there may have been actual tears… #NotACrazyBride).

We continued on our venue search, and eventually came to find Hotel Arista. Hotel Arista and Katie, their wedding coordinator, had amazing reviews! We made an appointment, and from the first step in, everything was perfect.

Hotel Arista is a boutique hotel, so it is decorated very unique! Think white marble, gold fixtures, leather couches, navy velvet curtains… totally our vibe! When we stepped in, we were greeted with the most friendly faces and given a very through tour of the actual hotel and their amenities before even seeing the event space, which was a great touch!

Katie totally understood my vision, and was so great to talk with from the very first moment. That was the kind of vibe I was looking for. At this point, it was a no-brainer that Hotel Arista was where we wanted to be!

Ceremony Venue: Our Lady of Mercy Church

DJ/Photobooth: DJ D.JONES // Spark Entertainment Group

I found DJ D.Jones via The Knot- and I am so glad I did! Durrel is so professional, but also so friendly and outgoing. From the first conversation, he gave so much amazing advice and insight into our day as a whole that I was 100% sold on him.

He will be sure to keep our wedding feeling more like a party- which is exactly what we wanted!

Durrel and his company also have Photobooths for rental. What we loved about his photobooth was that they will set up hours beforehand, even if the photobooth will only be open for a part of our reception. We deff did not want workers setting up our photobooth as our guests tried to eat dinner.

The final selling point on DJ D.Jones was his website! All his couples get access into a custom portal where we can give song suggestions, make a do not play and must play list, and enter in our run of show. If you know organized me- you know that is amazing!

Suggestions from Others:

A couple of weeks ago I asked my insta-friends to share their biggest regrets/suggestions from their wedding days, here are some of my favorites:

Get a videographer

Don’t party the night away at your rehearsal dinner

Have a well seasoned photographer to keep you on track

Don’t leave for your honeymoon the next morning

Eat a good meal before- you won’t eat a bite during your reception

Signage asking guests to not take cell phone pics during your ceremony


Planning Thoughts:

So far, the easiest parts of planning have been choosing decor and colors (not sharing this til the day of!), and everything with our bridal party (they are all seriously the best!)

Hardest parts so far have been deciding how much we want to invest in flowers (not a big flower person), finding a videographer (send your recommendations my way!) and WEDDING DRESS shopping.

As I am sure you all know, we went to Klienfeld’s in NYC to dress shop! Although I didn’t ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ there, it was such an amazing experience that I wouldn’t change a thing about! It gave me a better idea of exactly what I was looking for… fingers crossed that clarity is given at the next appointment we have back home in Naperville later on this month!

I am honestly loving every second of this planning so far, and am already wondering what I am going to do when it’s all done! Good thing we have until October 3rd, 2020…or 473 days… but who’s counting?! 😉

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Kleinfeld, NYC

So, seeing as this was probably the best day of my life, and I am getting so many questions about it, I figured I would share all about my Kelinfeld Bridal experience via blog post!

I have been watching ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ with my mom for years, so when I got engaged she knew this is where we had to go for the dress. She surprised me around by birthday with this trip- and I was so so excited!

After we booked the trip, we found out Hayley Paige would be at the store that day launching her Fall 2019 collection. Seeing as Hayley Paige is one of my favorite bridal designers, I was so excited she would be there!! (Not to mention, she responded to my message on Instagram and chatted with me about when we would be there!)

We flew into NYC, saw some sights, and the next day it was the day! Arriving at Kleinfeld’s literally felt like I was watching myself in the show. Every first impression from walking through those doors, to checking in, to waiting in the waiting area was surreal! As we waited, we saw so many familiar faces walking by us (Shay, Randy’s mom, Diane, Ally, Lisa!!!)

As it came time for the next round of brides to head into the salon, consultants started to come out and call our names one by one. I didn’t recognize any of the consultants coming out to get their brides- but eventually I was the only one left! Cue *last kid to get picked for kickball at recess feeling* lol! I was kind of like “what the heck where is MY consultant?!” for a moment. Then, Diane came out. I(f you don’t watch the show- Diane is the God of Kleinfeld.) My mom looked at me and jokingly said “what if Diane is your consultant?!”

Next thing I know, Diane was coming towards me saying “Jennifer? I will be your consultant today!”

I. Literally. Died.

I was worried my experience at Kleinfeld would almost feel like a “watered down” version of the show. Not true. My mom was sat on the blue velvet couches in the center of the salon, with our own area for me to come out to the mirror at… just like on the show!

Next, Diane walked me around the salon and we looked at dresses, pointing out what I liked and didn’t like. I mentioned to her I was very interested in Hayley Paige dresses, so we started there!

When I came out in the first dress, a Hayley Paige that had just been released that day, it felt so surreal to be standing on the step in the middle of Kleinfeld’s in a wedding dress! But- things got better.

Next thing I know, Hayley Paige was running up to me saying “my dress! my dress!” She hugged me right away, and was complementing the style… she was legit so nice! She asked me all kinds of questions about my style, and even gushed over my engagement ring (100 points to Justin). CRAZIER: as I told her about what I liked in dresses, she grabbed her iPhone and started flipping through her camera roll showing me some of her new designs that haven’t even been created yet!

So, we went on trying on some dresses, all of which were amazing of course! I won’t share if I “Said Yes to the Dress”… but I will tell you there were lots of tears either way!

It was crazy seeing myself in a gown… and even crazier when Diane insisted we try on a veil as well. Its so cliche… but I swear the second she set that cathedral length veil on my head I lost it! I was just staring at myself thinking “Wow. I am MARRYING my best friend, the most amazing guy I know…” it was honestly such an emotional moment. Even other people around us started crying seeing how worked up I was lol!

Overall, Kleinfled’s truly treats each and every women that steps into that salon like a princess. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, or consultant (I mean… DIANE! It still doesn’t feel real that I spent 2 hours with a Kleinfeld legend). Meeting Hayley Paige and chatting with her was probably the highlight of my 25 years of life.

So, if you are engaged I highly recommend making a girls weekend out of it, and heading to NYC to the most well known bridal salon in the world! It was truly 2 hours of my life I will never, ever forget and am so thankful for.

Now if you need me, I’ll be watching STYTD re-runs for the rest of time.