Go Inside This Chicago Speakeasy Wedding

Photo: Emilia Jane Photography

A wedding-planner-turned-bride finds a retro venue to wed her beau.

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Bianca and Bryen

Emilia Jane Photography

After meeting in high school and spending nine years together, Bianca and Bryen were ready to throw a Gatsby-esque party that was less about celebrating their marriage and more about commemorating all the people who have supported them along the way.

The wedding planner and social studies teacher opted for a super trendy champagne bar hop through their hometown of Chicago with 150 of their closest friends and relatives. They were married on July 18, 2015, at the RM Champagne Salon—a venue that was unique to the couple, and that Bianca had never worked for one of her clients, and later moved to The Violet Hour to continue the celebration. As the first people in their families to do a non-traditional wedding, they wanted guests to be a little curious coming in, but happily surprised by the dancing and festivities.

According to Bianca, her grandfather summed up the evening perfectly—"It was different than what I've seen before, but the tacos were good and as long as you live a happy life together, that's what matters," he says.

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The Invitations

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With the help of Sarah Drake Design, the couple designed a dark, romantic stationery suite complete with a velvet envelope liner, gold wax seal, and burgundy velvet ribbon. A portrait done by The Regal Beagle of their dog, Benny, on the Duke of Wellington's body served as the RSVP postcard.

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The Style

Emilia Jane Photography

Bianca took the Tadashi Shoji lace dress she fell in love with and altered it by opening the back and adding a Theia Couture tulle skirt, which she later removed once dancing got underway. Bryen chose an unconventional wine-colored Topman suit jacket.

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The Shoes

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These champagne-colored Nina heels brought Bianca on her journey from one trendy bar to the other.

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First Look

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"My initial reaction was simply, 'This is the most beautiful woman I've ever seen,'" says Bryen of the couple's first look. "And then I realized this was the woman I was going to marry in a matter of hours. We were finally getting married, and in that moment I was more sure than ever about my choice."

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Bridal Party

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Bianca and Bryen chose to have all their siblings as their bridal party since they've been a constant throughout the couple's relationship. The crew included Bianca's sister Arianna as the maid of honor, Bryen's sister Allison as a bridesmaid, Bryen's brother Stephen as his best man, and Bianca's two brothers Mike and Mark as groomsmen.

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Extended Family

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Bianca's second cousin Maria served as the flower girl, and wore an Etsy tulle skirt and a halo of rosemary and silver dollar eucalyptus while Dominic and Vincenzo—the ring bearers and also Bianca's second cousins—dressed up with suspenders and navy bow ties.

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Bridal Bouquet

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The overgrown, cascading bouquet that Fleur Inc. created for Bianca was one of her favorite details of the day. "Sitting down and meeting with Fleur's Kelly Marie for my own wedding is something I've been dying to do since we first started working together years ago," Bianca explains. The bouquet featured cream O'hara garden roses, quicksand roses, sahara spray roses, bay leave foliage, clematis, olive foliage, dusty miller, trailing jasmine, cream ranunculus, cream peonies, and polo garden roses—all bound with dusty gray, champagne, and ivory ribbons.

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The Location

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When a thunderstorm threatened to ruin Bianca and Bryen's wedding 20 minutes before their ceremony, the couple and their guests simply migrated from the RM Champagne Salon's outdoor patio to the backup option—the champagne lounge inside. From that moment on, the day continued without a hitch.

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The Program

Emilia Jane Photography

After a long search for the perfect floral laurel, Bianca created her programs using an illustration by French artist Aline Caron.

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The Vows

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"It was a bit tear-jerking to be reading our vows, reminiscing on all the memories we had created, and recalling all the promises we made to each other that were now coming to fruition," explains Bryen of the couple's emotional vows.

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Cocktail Hour

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After the ceremony, guests headed to The Violet Hour—a trendy bar and another favorite spot of the couple's. Here they enjoyed passed hors d'oeuvres served on vintage Florentine trays, including smoked shrimp tea sandwiches from The Violet Hour, gyros from Publican Quality Meats, and tacos from Big Star Chicago. All the while pianist Jaclyn Rada played from a song list of 80s music that Bryen had assembled.

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Emilia Jane Photography

Re:find Joy created the lettering for the gold South Loop Loft mirror that welcomed guests to the wedding.

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Signature Drinks

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Because they wanted to honor The Violet Hour's award-winning drink menu, the couple chose two of the bar's drinks to serve as their signature cocktails—the Peacemonger and Pimms Cup. Drinks were served with stirrers and cocktail napkins gold foiled with the letter H and a laurel wreath.

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The First Dance

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In honor of Bryen's favorite movie, "The Sandlot," the couple played "This Magic Moment" by The Drifters for their first dance.

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More Dancing

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As a wedding planner, Bianca took the reigns on all planning aspects—except for one. "The one thing I wanted a major say in was the music," says Bryen. "I wanted the type of playlist where every song would make people say, 'This is my song!'" The groom created a long "must play" list full of eclectic 80s, 90s, and current hits that made the night even more memorable.

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The Cake

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The couple cut into a simple vanilla cake with chocolate chip cannoli filling for their cocktail-style reception, which they later had delivered to their hotel room and enjoyed as a midnight snack.

For guests, an assortment of cupcakes from Goddess & Grocer were served, including marble cake with buttercream frosting and red velvet with cream cheese icing.

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The Desserts

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In Bianca's Italian family, it's tradition for her Nana Gina to make desserts for special occasions. "Nana is an absolute angel and puts so much time and love into everything she bakes. To have her make desserts for our wedding was so special to us," says Bianca. Some of Nana Gina's desserts included seven layer cookies, toffee bars, and cannoli's—a favorite of the groom's. Although Nana did most of the work, the beautiful menu cards were designed and created by the bride herself.

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Emilia Jane Photography

The couple used the same Benny portrait from their RSVP postcards on their matchbook favors. "Everybody who knows us knows how important Benny is to us, so it only seemed fitting to work him into the wedding," says Bianca.

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Emilia Jane Photography

Photography, Emilia Jane Photography
Location, RM Champagne Salon (ceremony); The Violet Hour (reception)
Event planning, Estera Events
Catering, The Violet Hour; Big Star Chicago; Publican Quality Meats
Flowers, Fleur Inc.
Invitations, Sarah Drake Design
Portrait of dog, The Regal Beagle
Cake and cupcakes, Goddess & Grocer
Music, Jaclyn Rada (pianist); DJ Andrew Pascale of Style Matters (DJ)
Rentals, Nimble Well (trays, vintage rentals); BBJ Linen (linens)
Bride's gown, Tadashi Shoji
Bride's accessories, BHLDN veil; Kate Spade earrings; Theia Couture tulle skirt; Nina shoes
Hair, Gina Camarata of Glam Chicago, 630-936-0050
Bridesmaids and mothers' hair, Catherine Tsakalis of Boutique Salon & Spa
Makeup, Andie Cumber
Bridesmaids' dresses, The Dessy Group
Flower girl skirt, Etsy
Groom's suit and accessories, Topman
Menswear, H&M
Mirror, South Loop Loft
Lettering on mirror, re:find Joy

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