This Couple's Chicago Micro Wedding Took Place on the Grounds of a Gorgeous Historic Mansion
Alex and Laura first met in 2015, when he was starting his career as a high school special-education teacher, and she was working for a social services agency in Chicago. After a series of dates that took them to some of the most popular locales around the city, they became an official couple on August 21—which would become their wedding date five years later.
"We were supposed to get married on May 23, 2020, in Quincy, Illinois, which is my hometown," explains Laura. "Our plan was a backyard ceremony at my parents' home and a reception at the country club where my grandparents and many family members have been married." As it became apparent that their May nuptials in front of 200 loved ones would have to be postponed indefinitely, the pair wasn't sure about the best way to move forward. "In such uncertain times, we realized that we wanted to get married soon, but we also wanted to be COVID cautious and reduce risk as much as possible," shares Laura. Then their wedding planner and designer, Sara Reddick of Sara Elizabeth Weddings, stepped in, and recommended a micro wedding later in the summer at a venue close to their Chicago home.
With safety protocols in mind, Laura and Alex decided to limit the event to just their immediate families plus the bride's paternal grandmother—and then, one of the dates that worked with their schedules happened to fall on the pair's five-year anniversary. A beautiful venue just north of the city was available on the same day, as well. "We got married at The Armour House at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois," shares Laura. "Sara knew my love for architecture and old buildings and found this location for us. As it turns out, my grandfather attended Lake Forest Academy for a time in high school, which I thought was a fun family connection. We were just thrilled with it."
Next, Sara pulled together a palette of cream, lemon, lilac, peach, apricot, and ruby, a color scheme that tied into the couple's original spring wedding design. Once those details were approved, the pair gave Sara free rein on designing their celebration over the next two months. "Laura and Alex were surprised with almost every element on the day of the wedding!" says Sara. "I kept Laura's style in mind throughout every detail and created a look that represented this chapter in their lives. We worked with amazing vendors who went above and beyond to pull together the design beautifully."
One area over which Laura took complete control was her look, which included accessories that were either antiques or held special meaning to her. "Not only do I love vintage for the history and style, but I think it is a great way to be environmentally conscious," she shares. "My engagement ring is a 1920s opal-and-diamond ring that Alex got from Brilliant Earth, and I got my retro wedding band from Filigree Jewelers in Minneapolis." Also acquired from Filigree Jewelers were the bride's coral-and-diamond earrings. "In a sense, the earrings were a gift from my late brother David as they were purchased with funds from his estate," Laura shares. "I will wear them and cherish them for the rest of my life." The bride's paternal grandmother gifted her the pearl she wore on her necklace; her handkerchief belonged to her late maternal grandmother.
Ultimately, hosting an intimate wedding enabled the couple to focus on their love and family, while being conscientious of their community's health. Their hope is to have a big party in Quincy over Memorial Day weekend next year—but they know they'll have to play it by ear. "We want to be able to confidently come together for proper festivities (with hugs and dancing), but first and foremost we want to keep our loved ones and our community safe," says the bride.
A Custom Touch
The couple's timeless stationery suite was designed by LOinLONDON, who created a custom crest in a shade of green inspired by the pattern in the pair's reception table settings.
Laura initially tried on wedding dresses at a local BHLDN, but decided to order a custom creation from an online purveyor, instead. "The company makes gorgeous gowns and has a good reputation, but ultimately the dress they made for me ended up not working out at all," she says. "Feeling a little bit in a pinch, I looked back at the dresses from BHLDN and had a new appreciation for a gown I had tried on. I loved the Swiss-dots, the sleeves, and the silhouette."
Alex's sharp navy suit was accented with an olive green tie.
Lovely and Lush
Laura's garden-inspired bouquet was filled with ranunculus blossoms, dahlias, garden roses, and pieris; all blooms were tied together with a hand-dyed silk ribbon.
Laura and Alex truly appreciated the moments they shared alone during their first look. "It was nice to spend some time outside in the beautiful gardens at The Armour House before the wedding," says the bride. "It also allowed us to be present and really kick back with our family at the cocktail hour."
Laura's niece, who served as the couple's flower girl in a sweet white dress and bejeweled headband, held an abundant bouquet of her own.
The bride was accompanied down the landscaped aisle by both her father and mother, while loved ones watched from the socially-distanced sidelines.
Tradition with a Twist
Their traditional vow exchange and reading from the Bible were augmented by a Quaker poem, an Irish blessing, and a song from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood.
Right This Way
A string duet played "This Must Be the Place" by the Talking Heads as the couple lead their families from the ceremony site to the venue's pagoda. "It was a memory I will never forget," says the bride.
Song and Dance
Loved ones encircled the couple as they danced to "I Must Be in a Good Place Now" by Bobby Charles. "The song is just beautiful and heartwarming," says Laura. "It's a longer song and instead of cutting it short, we decided to let it play while I danced with my dad and Alex danced with his mom, before Alex and I finished the song dancing alongside our parents."
Citrus cocktails in a beautiful shade of apricot offered a refreshing spin on the traditional Champagne toast. Sprigs of rosemary added an extra touch of brightness.
The couple incorporated yard games—a favorite family pastime—into their cocktail hour.
Planner and event designer Sara Reddick of Sara Elizabeth Weddings wanted the two families to feel like one, so she designed the reception around one long tablescape. "LaTavola's 'Luisa' linen in vanilla offered the perfect starting point to the design with its feminine detail and creamy hues," she says. Wooden chairs contrasted nicely with the luxe table covering, while the vastness of the room gave the small number of furnishings an opulent feel.
Pretty and Personalized
Each layered place setting featured an elegant gold-trimmed charger, a classic white dinner plate, and a bread plate with delicate green detailing. A personal thank-you note written by Laura and Alex was placed on every setting; it was embellished with the couple's custom crest and tied with a lilac ribbon.
Supper for Seventeen
The soft glow of candlelight leant a romantic vibe to a dinner of heirloom tomato salad with burrata, filet of beef with chimichurri, garlic mashed potatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts.
Two tiers of vanilla cake filled with lemon mousse and raspberry preserves were iced in white, wrapped in faux vines, and finished with handcrafted sugar flowers.
Photography, Lindsey Taylor Photography
Venue, The Armour House
Event Planning and Event Design, Sara Reddick for Sara Elizabeth Weddings
Flowers, Willrett Flower Co.
Ribbon, Tono and Co.
Calligraphy, Jessica Draper Calligraphy
Bride's Gown, BHLDN
Alterations, Nadia Wieczorek for Fit N' Stitches
Jewelry, Filigree Jewelers; Kinn Studio
Clutch, Lincoln Antique Mall
Hair and Makeup, Rare Bird Beauties
Engagement Ring, Brilliant Earth
Wedding Bands, Filigree Jewelers
Music, Everardo Sanchez; Alexandra Switala
Catering, The Armour House
Rentals, BBJ Linens; Elements Preserved; Halls Rentals; LaTavola Linens
Cake, Toni Patisserie & Cafe