“In the Fall 2010, Christopher and I met at the Lincoln Park south fields, playing recreational flag football. Christopher walked me home from the games every week – we talked, we laughed. Then, after I finally clarified that the man who accompanied me to the first football game was my dad visiting for the week – and not my boyfriend (a typical Gold Coast mix-up) – Christopher took me on our first date. On the date, we both ordered Guinness and the conversation never stopped. We had to close down the place, on a week night!
“Four years later, we went out for our weekly Tuesday date night, had some cocktails at the J. Parker and enjoyed the park view – the place where we met. We then headed to dinner at North Pond by strolling through Lincoln Park. As we walked by the beautiful South Pond area, Christopher took a knee and asked me to be his wife. I answered, “Of course!” Where two kids met playing football they then became teammates for life.
“For our engagement photos, we captured these memories by returning to the Lincoln Park fields (our engagement spot) and P.J. Clarke’s (where we shared our first beer)… and yes, we drank on the photo shoot – highly recommended.
“We love the history, the jazz, the architecture of Chicago – and wanted to celebrate all that is fabulous about our great city on the wedding day! We started the day by getting ready at the iconic Renaissance Blackstone Hotel. The suites there are one of a kind – full of history and full of glamour. The morning flew by in a blur of champagne and laughter. But once I got in my wedding dress, time stood still. In that moment I became a bride and the happiness was overwhelming. I wished I could teleport to the church to see Christopher! Instead, I rode over to the ceremony in a beautiful 1948 Rolls Royce with just my father. It was such a blessing and emotional experience to spend that time with my dad.
“Once we arrived to the church, I started shaking though – so much planning had gone into this day, it was scary to think it was actually about to begin. My dad was solid though, and as he handed me off to Christopher all my nerves melted away. The moment you look into your groom’s eyes on your wedding day is a memory you will always have in your heart.
“For both of us, the most important part of our wedding day was getting married at our Catholic parish, St. Clement. It is where we coach girls’ basketball and where we connect in our faith – so it’s where we play and pray! The breathtaking church is just a small part of the wonderful St. Clement community.
“After the ceremony, we ran through a ribbon-wand exit, popped some bubbly, and hopped in our car for a private getaway moment as newlyweds. Having just a minute alone allowed us to drink in all our wonderful emotions and release a deep breath. We did it! We then returned for photos with our family and friends, starting at church, followed by a trolley ride into downtown. We ran around our favorite spots in the city and packed lots of photos into a very tight time schedule – only because our photographer, Jill Tiongco, is a miracle worker. Good thing I can run in heels! During photos with our wedding party, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off our face.
“Finally, after posing with the bridal party, we returned to the Blackstone where we enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by our reception in the Crystal ballroom – with dinner, cake, toasts, dancing, and a dangerously packed bar. I opted for a dress change after cocktail hour so I could be ready to dance all night. It was a total surprise for Christopher!
“To start the reception, we all filled our bellies with a beautifully curated meal by Iron Chef and James Beard winner, Chef Jose Garces – the executive chef at the hotel’s Mercat a la Planxa. During dinner, there were many tears and many laughs from some exquisite toasts. Then the best man pulled off a rap entitled “The Fresh Chris of Chi-Town” – and the fun began.
“The reception décor was full of rich, warm burgundy tones with gold accents. We wanted the glamorous Crystal ballroom to speak for itself, so we keep it simple by adding metallic and plum tones with touches of Chicago. The tables were full of ruby-toned florals and white pedestalled candles to help to room glow.
“We did get a little funky with a big marquee sign of our new last name on the dance floor – it was a fun addition to celebrate being unified under one name, but also added to the jazzy feel of the night. And you can’t do jazz without a touch of art-deco, so we incorporated classic deco fonts, scallop details, and art-deco inspired art into all of our printed signs – plus a champagne tower to boot!
“In a time of ever-changing wedding trends and non-traditional receptions – we decided to stay classic. We love new styles as much as the next person, but it was important that our wedding reflect us as a couple – and we simply love the classics. So per tradition, my wedding gown was white satin and lace, there was no first look, we exchanged religious vows in a church, the bridesmaids wore matching gowns, the groomsmen wore matching tuxedos (and we had to teach most of the guys how to tie a real bow tie), dinner was a seated four-course meal, and of course plenty of Frank Sinatra roared through on the speakers. We believe there are classics for a reason, and wanted to celebrate that! We are proud of the timelessness of the reception.
“We also embraced our city, our home, in every way. We celebrated Chicago with details like late-night Chicago-style hot dogs, iconic city photos and postcards, local Chicago beers at the bar (Krankshaft is a must!), and silhouettes of the distinguished skyline – on the favor tags, cut into the place cards, and wrapped around the cake. We even provided goody bags to all our overnight guests packed full of treats all made here in the Chicago area (although finding Green River in September was a challenge). Most of all, it was very special for us to share the band we’ve enjoyed many times at the legendary Green Mill (in Uptown) with our guests at our wedding reception. We also crafted our very own specialty cocktail, inspired by our favorite bars throughout the city. (Warning: Perfecting your signature drink with your betrothed will lead to many tipsy, yet unforgettable nights.)
“Finally, since we are both engineers and architecture enthusiasts, we included Chicago structures throughout our wedding. For example, we used photos of our favorite Chicago landmarks as table numbers, with handwritten “nerd facts” on the back about the building’s design and history. We also incorporated our professional engineering stamps and other engineering items (compasses, blueprints, etc.) subtly throughout the reception.
“By keeping our wedding plans classic, close to home, and rooted in tradition, the day was a true reflection of our life together in sweet home Chicago!
“The cherry on top of the Chicago jazz theme was our 18-piece band, the Alan Gresik Orchestra. The swinging brass sounds brought everyone to the dance floor! So understandably, some of our favorite memories from the night took place on the dance floor – like sharing our first dance as Mr. & Mrs. Gunn, dancing a choreographed routine with my dad to “My Girl” (copied from the Temptations of course), Christopher dancing “Cheek to Cheek” with his grandmother, family that came all the way from Ireland step-dancing, and the bouquet toss from the mezzanine down to the dance floor.
Christopher and I closed the night with a stroll along Michigan Avenue, taking in the sparkling skyline, on our way to the local pub to share yet another Guinness together, now as Mr. & Mrs. Gunn.” — Kelly
Ceremony: St. Clement Catholic Church // Reception: Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel // Photography: Jill Tiongco Photography // Officiant: Fr. Rex Pillai // Ceremony Music: Gaudete Brass Quintet // Additional Music: Harp player Renee Wilson, City of Chicago Pipe Band // Wedding Consultant: Clementine Custom Events // Bride’s Gown: Nordstrom // Hair: ReDux Salon Studio // Makeup: Kelly Haley, Sephora // Bridesmaids’ Gowns: ChiChiStyles.com // Formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse // Stationery: Minted // Flowers: KD Custom Floral // Catering: Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel // Entertainment: The Alan Gresik Swing Shift Orchestra // Sweets: Cake Chicago // Transportation: Classic Wedding Car