This Couple Applied Their Original Vision of a Modern Yet Timeless Celebration to Their Micro Wedding in Illinois
Although they had just moved 600 miles away to Washington, D.C., Annie and Brennan initially chose to marry in New Buffalo, Michigan, on September 19, 2020—almost seven years to the date of their first encounter. "We rented a beautiful private residence with the goal of hosting our 60 guests on the property for a wedding weekend," shares Annie. "Additionally, to incorporate religion and spirituality into our marriage, we planned to have a small, family-only church ceremony at the Church of St. Mary—where Brennan's aunt and uncle were married—in Lake Forest, Illinois, the Tuesday prior." However, as they witnessed the pandemic progress, it became clear that their initial vision was no longer a safe reality. Given that they still wanted to tie the knot in 2020, the pair opted to turn their small, family-only church nuptials into their primary celebration; a large, one-year anniversary party is planned for 2021.
Working with their event planner and designer, Krissy Campbell, the pair preserved elements of their original vision to create a modern, yet timeless celebration that prioritized the guest experience. The initial color palette, for example, was an easy transfer. "The deeper tones of mauve and dusty rose were added in the florals, while the neutrals were brought into the clean and timeless spaces," says Annie. They stuck to their plan to write a personal letter to each and every attendee, something that became more manageable with the condensed guest list.
Selecting venues was fairly effortless, too. "We had always planned to have our church wedding at St. Mary's," explains Annie. "Not only did we appreciate the beauty of the church and the historical significance it had in our family, but it was located adjacent to the Deer Path Inn, a historic hotel where we both had spent time with our families while growing up." The inn was earmarked to house the couple and their loved ones, while a local restaurant was selected for the post-ceremony dinner. When the eatery fell through two weeks before the big day, the couple rallied and booked Market House on the Square, a restaurant that offered a private space large enough for dinner and dancing. "We were so grateful to Tina and the team at Market House for accommodating our plans and offering us more than we could have imagined for our celebration," says Annie.
A highlight of the night was a surprise Annie and her father planned for her new husband. "My paternal great-grandfather and grandfather were both incredible musicians and my father inherited their talents," she says. "In honor of this, my dad (a pianist) and I prepared a song for the cocktail hour—I sang Adele's "Make You Feel My Love" while my dad accompanied me on piano." The couple's advice to other brides and grooms pursuing the route of an intimate celebration is to embrace it. "For us, we always envisioned our wedding being about connecting with the most important people in our lives," says Annie. "In the end, having a small guest list really helped us to achieve that vision and we are so happy that we decided to move forward with getting married in 2020."
The couple's invitations featured beautiful hand calligraphy by Siwo Studio on rich, neutral-toned, handmade paper. "The subtle cool tones and clean, timeless style were definitely a nod to the aesthetic we were hoping for," says Annie.
Annie had decided to rent a wedding dress for her original nuptials and didn't pass up the chance to wear the look she had selected for her smaller nuptials. "I was introduced to Janet Mandell, a designer clothing-rental boutique in Chicago, and made an appointment to try on white gowns that could also be used as wedding dresses," she says. She quickly fell in love with an ivory Oscar de la Renta evening gown with long sleeves; it boasted a ruffle accent and elegant train. "I feel very grateful that I had my best friend Mary at that appointment, since she couldn't be there on our wedding day (due to the restricted guest list)," Annie adds. "The moments we shared were so special."
Composed mainly of soft dahlias and tied with cascading silk ribbon, Annie's bouquet included late-summer shades of champagne, ivory, mauve, and taupe. Garden roses, cosmos, and delphinium, organically arranged amid stems of mixed greenery, completed the clutch.
The bride invested in white Gucci sandals for the big day.
Brennan donned a deep-blue tuxedo for the occasion; a vintage Rolex, a gift from his father, was the ultimate accent.
Organic boutonnières for the groom and the couple's fathers were comprised of small blooms, berries, and textural fillers that reflected the bride's bouquet.
At First Glance
Annie and Brennan shared a first look in Forest Park, overlooking Lake Michigan. "We decided to spend the night before our wedding apart, so having the opportunity to do a first look before getting married in the church was very important to us," says Annie. The bride was surprisingly nervous, "but those nerves dissipated as soon as I saw Brennan," she says. "This was definitely one of our favorite moments."
Steeped in Tradition
After the service, the couple walked back up the aisle with joy. "Fr. Matt Foley, who performed our ceremony, is a very good friend of Brennan's family," says Annie. "He had previously performed other weddings and baptism ceremonies for family members and it was so perfect and special that he was the one who married us."
Although their nuptial mass was traditional, Annie and Brennan wrote their own vows, something they knew they wanted to do from the start. "We both coincidentally concluded with a silly quote we have said to each other since the beginning of our relationship: 'I love you a lottle. It's like a little, but a lot.'"
An Intimate Dinner
The pair took their 12 guests to Market House on the Square for a post-ceremony meal, held in a private dining space. Between the windowed dinner room indoor-meets-outdoor mingling space, the celebration had a treehouse vibe, says Annie. The couple personally curated their pre-fixe dinner and hand-selected beer and wine from the eatery's distributor to add to the selection they already provided.
Two banquet-style reception tables were set in a clean, neutral style; they featured white linens, black napkins, and traditional place settings with personalized name cards calligraphed in a soft blue-gray ink. "The tables had floral centerpieces and candlelight to add to the natural and intimate ambience," says Annie.
Dahlia-centric centerpieces reflected the florals in the bride's delicate bouquet, creating a cohesive look.
Another Sweet Surprise
Annie's father, a pianist, surprised the pair with his rendition of "Wedding Song" by Paul Stookey for their first dance. "It was so beautifully special," says the bride. "It is a memory I will never let go of."
Photography, Clary Pfeiffer
Ceremony Venue, Church of St. Mary
Dinner Venue, Market House on the Square
Wedding planning and Event Design, Krissy Campbell
Videography, Shutter and Sound
Flowers, Kelly Lenard
Invitations, Stationery, and Calligraphy, Siwo Studio
Officiant, Fr. Matt Foley
Bride's Gown, Oscar de la Renta
Rental Boutique, Janet Mandell
Engagement Ring and Wedding Bands, Antonio Rodriguez Jewelers
Clutch, The Clutch Company
Hair and Makeup, Lia for Nika Vaughan Bridal Artists
Groom's Attire, Bonobos
Groom's Shoes, Allen Edmonds
Cake, Milk Bar
Transportation, O'Hare-Midway Limousine Service
Accommodations, Deer Path Inn