A Classic Black-Tie Wedding in Chicago
Aiasha and Charles
In the fall of 2007, at the London School of Economics, two freshmen moved into the same dormitory and crossed paths at several social gatherings. Six years later, the two students had graduated and fallen in love. Though Charles Hodgson had moved to Chicago for a job, and Aiasha Khalid was still in London working, the engaged couple planned their September 21, 2013, wedding over Skype and email. The classic-meets-contemporary Chicago day brought the couple together not only on the same continent and as husband and wife, but also in front of their nearest and dearest from all over the world.
Invitations by Alexa Pulitzer were engraved in gold and charcoal gray on ecru paper. It was topped with a monogram joining the couple's first initials.
The couple chose the Bond Chapel at the University of Chicago for their ceremony. The venue not only provided an intimate atmosphere for the 55 guests, but also reminded Aiasha of churches back home in England with its Gothic Revival architecture and ivy-covered facade.
The Ceremony Programs
Magnificent Milestones, a Chicago-based stationer, commissioned local artist Michael Siwinski to paint the church in which Aiasha and Charles would tie the knot. The artwork was printed on the front of the programs handed out at the service.
The service followed the traditional Episcopal program, with music played by the chapel's organist, a reading from Corinthians by the bride's friend, and Jane Hirschfield's "A Blessing for Wedding" recited by the groom's mother. The bridesmaids entered to Jeremiah Clarke's "The Prince of Denmark's March" and Aiasha followed to "Ode to Joy" by Ludwig van Beethoven.
After being declared husband and wife, the couple recessed to Johann Sebastian Bach's "Now We Thank All Our God."
A few days before the wedding, Aiasha held a henna party for her bridesmaids and a few close friends. Chicago henna artist Unnati Shah applied the medium to her palms and legs and to the palms of the bridesmaids. As per tradition, the groom's initials were hidden in the designs. Tradition has it that if a groom can find them he wins a prize. Though Charles did not find them successfully, he still won over his bride.
An All-White Bouquet
Aiasha carried a trailing bouquet of garden roses, gardenias, clematis, olive branches, lily of the valley, seeded eucalyptus, and jasmine vines.
The Bridal Party
The three bridesmaids (there was no maid of honor, instead the girls shared the responsibilities in helping on the big day) wore long silk chiffon J.Crew dresses. Charles's brother wore a tuxedo, and his close friend wore his family kilt as per Scottish tradition at black-tie weddings.
Each bridesmaid carried a small clutch of gardenias, freesia, olive branches, and jasmine vine.
A Work of Art
The same painted artwork of the church that first appeared on the programs was framed and matted and displayed at the reception. Guests signed the mat surrounding the piece, which now hangs in the couple's home.
The Cocktail Hour
The Fun Fare
Two "picnic plates" were passed during cocktail hour. Foil-stamped cocktail napkins outlined the offerings: a roast beef slider, potato "crisps," and a shot of pale ale (a nod to the British food the couple loves) and grilled hallomi, hummus, and vine leaf (a Middle Eastern favorite of the bride's).
Signature drinks also circulated among the crowd -- a "Champagne Charlie" of bubbly and apricot brandy, and a cocktail of sloe gin, apricot brandy, and a splash of fresh lime juice.
The Escort Cards
Four dramatic long tables filled the atrium of the museum. Lights strung overhead added a warm glow to the space.
The Place Settings
Each seat was set with a mother-of-pearl charger, topped with a soft-white napkin with an embossed menu tucked inside. Place cards calligraphed by Stacey Shapiro were tied to sprigs of rosemary.
Footed glass vessels held arrangements of hydrangea, roses, freesia, olive branches, and ranunculus.
Seating for Two
The newlyweds sat in chairs decorated with boughs of olive branches, gilded seeded eucalyptus, Sahara roses, and ribbons.
Tables were festooned with white runners printed with the table numbers in a soft gray.
In addition to taking their first-look photos at a hotel and portraits outside of the chapel, the couple got a few more modern snapshots taken in the stairwell of the museum.
The Wedding Cake
A two-tier confection covered in buttercream icing from Tipsy Cake was adorned with floral appliques modeled after Aiasha's gown. Inside, the bottom tier was lemon cake with lemon curd filling, and a layer of devil's food cake with raspberry preserves topped it.
The First Dance
"Tonight I'll Be Staying Here with You" by Bob Dylan played as the couple took to the dance floor. They chose the song by the groom's favorite musician because it described how they were coming back together after two years of a long-distance relationship.
Photography: Olivia Leigh Photographie
Locations: Bond Chapel; Museum of Contemporary Art
Event Planning: Anne Book
Catering: Wolfgang Puck
Flowers: Hello Darling
Stationery: Alexa Pulitzer; Magnificent Milestones
Calligraphy: Stacey Shapiro
Cake: Tipsy Cakes
Music: Toast and Jam DJs
Rentals: Tablescapes Event Rentals
Hair: Sonia Roselli
Makeup: Juli Valdez
Transportation: O'Hare-Midway Limousine Service