Ryan and Kelli’s wedding proves that smaller doesn’t mean less impressive. With COVID forcing them into a smaller guest list, they still designed and held a classic and timeless church ceremony with Chicago’s skyline in the background. This beautiful and meaningful ceremony has so much joy and we hope that you love reading their story!
Ryan and Kelli met in the 6th grade, when Kelli moved to Sycamore, IL (a small town outside of Chicago). They attended the same middle school (and then high school). When Ryan was entering high school, his parents bought a house on the same street as Kelli and her family. They grew up as childhood neighbors and best friends!
Ryan proposed to Kelli in March of 2019. He had originally planned to propose on a Sunday before brunch, but the weather forecast was bad so at the last minute he pulled a lateral. He lured Kelli to the Chicago lakefront to meet his parents at a restaurant nearby for dinner, but when they arrived he took her on a walk down the pier “to kill time.” Kelli was obviously complaining because it was cold and the walk was pointless, (she also had a very serious hunch he was about to pop the question!) so Ryan finally got on one knee and asked her to marry him!. He had actually drawn a map of where he planned to propose so that Kelli’s sister (who he flew in from Seattle!) and his brother could take photos, but they were both so anxious they didn’t make it quite there. Kelli was so excited to see her sister and then find out that their parents and Ryan’s other brother were waiting nearby with champagne! They had a lovely dinner at their favorite Italian spot (Sapori Trattoria) and celebrated all night.
Kelli and Ryan always had a pretty clear vision of what they wanted their wedding to be like. They wanted it to be classic, timeless, and have a church ceremony. Kelli has a pretty conservative style so they always knew the color scheme would be fairly neutral, and focused more around greenery and accents than bold colors. Kelli and Ryan also had initially envisioned a very large wedding (300 guests+) and were on track for that but COVID had a plan of its own. Despite the shift in size, their vision to have a classic wedding that was lively and fun for those who attended remained consistent. There was also never a debate that the wedding would take place in Chicago, as both Kelli and Ryan are very much city folks (ha!) and absolutely love where they live. Choosing Theater on the Lake really embodied everything they were looking for and the venue has an absolutely unbeatable view of the Chicago skyline. It was also right on the lakefront near where Ryan proposed and the first venue that they toured!
Kelli chose the Camila wedding gown which was Alyne by Rita Vinieris. It is a natural waist ball gown strapless dress with buttons down the back. Kelli never pictured herself in a strapless dress but after trying on many different dresses this was absolutely the one! When the wedding was originally planned for May, strapless made since but when Kelli and Ryan pivoted to October, Kelli bought a lace jacket off the rack at Nordstrom to make her dress more seasonal. It ended up matching perfectly despite the first time she had it on with the dress was at alterations!
There was never a debate that Ryan would wear a tuxedo on their wedding day, as it completely matched the classic aesthetic they were going for. He had a unique boutonniere to differentiate from his groomsman but otherwise had a very classic look to his attire. Kelli surprised him with a Longines watch as a wedding gift to add an additional flair to his look.
One of the most important things to Ryan and Kelli while planning their wedding was that it was fun, which for them translated to a band. Having live music was a non-negotiable. It was also something they splurged on from a budget perspective because they felt it set the tone for the entire event. Both Ryan and Kelli are fun, social people who love to dance and what better way to celebrate than with a live band!
What were your favorite parts of the day?
“A major highlight of the day was the ceremony. It felt so good to finally be married in our parish church after postponing and rescheduling our wedding multiple times. It felt so comfortable and natural, we were really able to enjoy every minute of it.
Another top highlight was seeing our reception venue for the first time. All of our planning and decisions around the small details came to life and it absolutely blew away our expectations. We made a lot of last minute changes in order to make the event COVID friendly and it all came together in away that made us feel like our day was completely normal (while still being very safe). Flower Firm’s creative expertise and our sweet heart table (which was the ultimate last minute change) ended up being one of our favorite parts of our wedding!
Something else that will always be really special to us is that even though we did have to downsize our guest list, we were really able to spend time with every guest throughout the day. We had a conversation with everyone during cocktail hour and again during the reception. The quality time was unmatchable and made us feel even more special.
Lastly, although we didn’t have a formal dance floor, our guests found ways to dance in a socially distant way that allowed our band to really shine. Again, kudos to our vendors for making the day feel as normal as possible despite the changes. Kelli’s brothers even tried a special dance move that they were not successful with but that we will remember forever!”
Kelli’s veil was extremely special to her. It was, at first, a plain and simple veil but a local seamstress added parts of her Mom’s wedding dress to it. It has beautiful and ornate details along the bottom, and also has a blusher. Kelli’s sister plans to also wear this veil at her wedding!
Kelli also wore her grandma’s ruby ring. Kelli’s grandma was born in July and Kelli was the first grandchild also born in July so the ring is very symbolic.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their weddings now?
“As couples continue to navigate COVID and what that means for events, I would recommend focusing on what feels right and most comfortable for you. As with any event you can’t cater to everyone, and that is especially relevant now that there are so many different opinions and levels of comfort with the pandemic.
Our biggest priority was making sure that our original vision was still apparent on our wedding day, because at the end of all of it all, this was the day we got married and we wanted that to feel special and in line with what we had been imaging/planning for years. We were so lucky that we were able to keep our vision and work will of our vendors to follow guidelines. It was a priority for us to make sure our vendors and our guests felt safe, which meant we had to make sacrifices (table size, timing of the event, masks, etc.). However, when we look back on our day we can’t even tell the difference because we were surrounded my the family and friends most important to us. And of course, we were FINALLY married :)”
Photography: bonphotage | Ceremony Venue: st. clement parish | Reception Venue: Theater on the Lake | Event Planning: Olive Fine Weddings and Events | Floral: The Flower Firm | Stationery: Paper Love Club | Videography: bonphotage | Wedding Cake: defloured | Rentals: Food for Thought | Hair: Tamara Makeup & Hair | Makeup: Tamara Makeup & Hair | Bride’s Cardigan: Nordstrom | Band: Front of House | Bridal Salon: Bella Bianca | Groom’s Attire: The Black Tux | Bride’s Shoes: Manolo Blahnik | Bridesmaid Dresses: Brideside | Bridesmaid Dresses: Hayley Paige | Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids | Wedding Dress: Rita Vinieris | Earrings: BHLDN | Veil: Custom! | Submitted via: Matchology