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Blackstone Hotel Wedding - a pre-covid love story.

For Shelley & Rudy, it was the Blackstone Hotel wedding the weekend of March 14th that they had been planning for well over a year. Just over half of their 140 guests were from out of town. The wedding party featured five friends/family on each side, with the ceremony and reception portions of the wedding were to occur in the same event space. Before the pair of events, the newlyweds and their wedding party toured Chicago for city shots.

In late February, there were national news stories of a flu bug from China gaining traction as Shelley & Rudy’s wedding planning was winding down, with guest counts due by the 21st. With the confirmed meal selection sent to the catering team at The Blackstone Hotel, final reviews of timelines and vendors' details were our next focus. Knowing that Chicago’s St. Patrick's Day Parade was going to be less than a block away from their hotel, alternate plans and time adjustments were needed. Revised communications & times & maps were sent to all vendors about this massive city-wide event; the end of the email read, “Please note, being stuck in traffic is not an excuse for being late, don’t push your luck (of the Irish)!”

It's now March 4th, and the wedding is 10 days away; the news had more stories about other counties and the outbreak of the COVID virus. Shelley had received a few calls from out of town guests concerned about traveling due to the virus; they would let her know ASAP if they were canceling by the end of the week. By the end of the week, a lot had changed – the city parade was canceled, the famous dying of the Chicago River canceled, 14 of their guests canceled, and even a bridesmaid backed out, causing much stress and sadness for the Bride.

The Stylish lobby of the hotel and thoughtful details were discovered, including a love note from the goom on the antique typewriter.

The couple decided to press forward with their celebration. The Blackstone Hotel weddings are known for the elegance and historical tones of the building. The Chicago hotel, where since 1910, has attracted celebrities, socialites, and politicians. Appropriately named “The Hotel of Presidents,” this historic hotel has hosted several heads of state, from Teddy Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter. The Astors, Rockefellers, and Vanderbilts were also frequent visitors, as were revered icons as Lena Horne, Nat King Cole, and Rudolph Valentino. The hotel also had a notorious streak, favored by legendary mob bosses “Lucky” Luciano and Al Capone.

Getting ready for the day was at 2 locations, their home, and the Heaven Suite. The glam-squad arrived and transformed the wedding party into a glamorous group, including 2 moms, 5 bridesmaids, 1 bride, and 2 adorable flower girls. Everyone enjoyed the morning filed with music, excitement, laughter, and lots of hairsprays! While back at their place, Rudy and his friends hung out, joked a bit, and made sure they enjoyed their time together as most of these fellas flew in for the special occasion.

Once Rudy arrived at the hotel, it was time for the couple’s first look of the day. Set in the classic English Room on the 5th floor, the darkened wood-carved walls with leaded glass windows filtered in the perfect amount of daylight.

Rudy waited for Shelley to join him.

The look on both of their faces when they finally saw one another was ideal. After the couple only photoshoot, the wedding party joined in for a mix of formal and fun shots in the private club setting.

Following the portrait pictures, it was time to hit the streets where the entire wedding party toured the city in a mini-coach. Stops included The Chicago Lyric Opera House, LaSalle street for an Abby Road inspired shot, and an iconic dive-bar in the swanky gold-coast neighborhood.

Once the gang returned to the Blackstone Hotel wedding party, pictures were captured as the lobby doubles as a swanky set thanks to high-end furniture striking art, and a massive fireplace made for a great environment to conclude the afternoon of fun for all.

The Crystal Ballroom hosted both the ceremony and reception for Shelly and Rudy. The space is brimming with lovely ornate details as the double story historic ballroom has hosted celebrations for over 100 years.

Three massive crystal chandeliers are suspended, and the room is halfway wrapped with massive windows the look down to Michigan Avenue. A trio of string musicians were set to play such classics as Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring from Cantata #147, and Pachelbel by Johann Canon for the wedding party and the Modern song River Flows in you by Christina Perry for the Bride and her father. These talented musicians also hurred post-ceremony to the 5th floor Gallery event space for the cocktail reception to play for another hour.

The ceremony was beautiful; the Bride's friend had the honor of officiating the wedding, the couple wrote their vows and encapsulated their feelings for and life joining commitment to one another. The room defined the black, white, and gold classic pallet thanks to the chairs, floral, and black tapper candles that lined the aisle.

After the ceremony, guests were ushered to the Gallery space so the room could be transformed for dinner. The dinner reception continued the stylish look as ebony linens covered the tables, gold candles with black accents surrounded white floral with darkened leaves for a stylish look.

Once guests were seated, they enjoyed a delicious 3-course dinner while welcome words were given by the Bride’s father, the pair of toasts by the honored members of the wedding party, and then it was time to dance. Opening the dance floor was the couple dance to a classic “Dream a Little dream for me” by Doris Day; this throwback song ended with a perfect dip on the dance floor for the newlyweds.

While the dancing was nonstop for the remainder of the night, guests had the option to check out a late-night bites station of extra classic Chicago mini beef sandwiches and enjoy the fun captured in a digital photo booth with a shimmering gold backdrop.

Shelley and Rudy would be HBIC Weddings’ last pre-covid wedding, the following Monday; Illinois enacted a mandatory shutdown of everything in the state, but non-essential workers. It was the last wedding of mask-free interaction for many. Looking back, people hugged, danced, sat right next to one another (What 6-foot rule?); we had no idea what changes would be hoisted onto our lives.

The talented vendors for Shelley and Rudy'sBlackstone Hotel Wedding include:

  • Venue: The Blackstone Hotel

  • Photography: Rowan Oaks Studios

  • Videography: Vanilla Video

  • Reception Music: Toast & Jam

  • Makeup: Makeup Fine Makeup Art & Associates

  • Transportation: Transportation Windy City Limousine

  • Florist: Little Shop on The Prairie

  • Ceremony Music: Fretless Music, LLC

  • Photo Booth: I Love Photo Booth, Inc

  • Bakery: Bittersweet

  • Hair Stylist: Taylormade Salon Suite

  • Wedding Planner: HBIC Weddings

To see other classic Chicago love stories and our pro-tips you'll love, check out:

Patty & Jon Paul at The Intercon Hotel

Ellyn & Jim at Cafe Brauer

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