Jen and Brad met on a group first date– for their maid of honor and best man! While the love connection didn’t happen for their best friends, Jen and Brad hit it off immediately and are so grateful they tagged along on that fateful group outing. Their first summer together was spent falling in love and lots of together time before Jen had to return to Grenada to finish veterinary school. The gut-wrenching goodbye when it came time for Jen to leave showed them that this relationship was something special that neither was willing to give up on, despite the challenges of a long-distance relationship.
Chicago is home to the start of their love story, so Jen and Brad couldn’t think of a more perfect location for the start of their forever together. They both had their hearts set on a New Year’s Eve barn wedding, which presented some challenges given Chicago’s climate, but they found their dream venue at The Pavilion at Orchard Ridge. The glamorous, rustic barn was the ideal spot for their chilly (coldest day of the year!) “I do’s.” Despite 19-degree Fahrenheit temperatures on Jen and Brad’s wedding day, the pair stayed cozy and warm thanks to lots of hand warmers, luxurious furs, and the glow of marrying their perfect partner. Jen was so impressed by everyone’s willingness to brave the elements. “Our entire bridal party was forced to lodge Hothands warmers in every nook and cranny while sprinting to and from the barn for outdoor portraits. Despite the frigid temperature, our incredible photographers and cinematographers still managed to capture so much raw emotion,” she said.
The couple found inspiration in their personal interests and favorites– from The Great Gatsby to their love of animals– that resulted in a cozy, elegant, uniquely personalized Big Day. The aisle was lined with fresh pine, the mood was set with twinkling café lights and moody candlelight, and a giant moose head made a statement on the mantle. Jen described the ambience as “nothing short of ‘lodge meets glam.'” The folk and country music of the ceremony was a perfect complement to the rustic setting, and included Jen and Brad’s favorite band, The Lumineers, as well as a soulful Christ Stapleton jam and upbeat High Valley number. Animals played a big part in Jen and Brad’s celebration, which is only natural as Jen is a veterinarian and Brad is an avid animal lover. Their sweet Papillon pup, Nutmeg, served as adorable and furry ring bearer. They also had a visit from two adorable reindeer, Comet and Elsa, who took photos with the couple and even tried to eat the bride’s bouquet! The animal love continued on in the couple’s honeymoon, as they ventured to South Africa to cage-dive with Great White Sharks, visit an elephant sanctuary, and spot the “Big Five” on safari in Kruger National Park.
There was so much to love about their wedding day, but Brad and Jen both said their favorite moment was running out into the elements for their spectacular sparkler shots. Thanks to adrenaline (and a little liquid courage), Jen was brave enough to throw off her fur and jump into Brad’s arms for an epic photo shoot. They both also loved the wide array of sweets available: cake, cupcakes, a s’mores and hot chocolate bar, and the last order of delectable donuts made by Chicago’s Glazed and Infused before they closed.
Amid all the excitement of a whirlwind wedding day, Jen’s shared some wise advice for future brides. “Go with the flow, even if it’s seeming to slightly veer off to the left. Focus on being present the entire day. Take a step back from the reception to gaze around, and soak in all of the love surrounding you and your spouse. This will ensure you will have a day worth a million memories… that, and your amazing wedding video!”
Photography & Videography: Forged in the North
Officiant: Pastor Dan Herman
Event Planner: Kayla Mousser of Big City Bride
Rings: Ethan Lord Jewelers
Bride’s Shoes: Frye
Hair: Kimora and Paige of Asha Salon and Spa
Formalwear: The Black Tux
Floral & Décor: KLA Design
Entertainment: Monastero Entertainment
Transportation: Windstar Lines, Inc.
Reindeer: A Zoo to You, Inc.
Rentals: Zap Props
Signs: Paper & Pine, Co.
Calligraphy: Calligraphy by CT