L'Oreal, a Media Relations Manager for Girl Scouts of the Greater Chicago area and Jeff, a Client Associate for J.P. Morgan met through mutual friends but didn’t hit it off right away. A few years after meeting, the two began courting and in 2013, Jeff proposed at L’Oreal’s childhood home! This beautiful proposal led to an absolutely unforgettable wedding ceremony at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland. Jeff may not have been able to kiss the girl under the sea but they sure got pretty close.
November 1, 2014
Wedding Location: National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland
First Dance Song: "Love on Top" by Beyonce
Jeff and I met in May 2008 through mutual friends but it wasn't love at first sight. He was dating someone else at that time and even after their relationship ended, I was convinced he was too "quiet, shy and boring" for me to even consider dating. Boy, was I wrong! We eventually became really good friends and started dating in May 2011...there was just one problem: I was living in Baltimore, MD at the time and he was living in Columbus, OH. And he moved to Chicago, IL a month after we started dating for a job opportunity. But we decided we could make it work. So we dated long-distance for two years until I moved to Chicago in July 2013.
At the beginning of 2013, Jeff had promised me that would be the best year of my life and on the weekend of Thanksgiving that year, he made good on his promise and proposed to me at my childhood home. I was in disbelief...so much so that I walked away from him and left the poor guy on bended knee with the ring in hand. Once I realized this was actually happening for real, I happily said yes!
I thought we were on the way to celebrate our engagement with my parents and my sister, who'd left the house earlier to "pick up my Christmas gift." Little did I know about 30 of my friends and family members would be awaiting us at the restaurant! As soon as I hugged my dad, I burst into tears. It was one of the happiest days of my life!
My wedding gown was a sherbet/blush-colored ball gown with a sweetheart neckline designed by Lazaro. I first fell in love with the gown while watching "Say Yes to the Dress" with my mom and my sister years before I got engaged. When the time come to pick a gown, my mom, my sister and I went to Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, where they film the show. It was a magical experience, like a dream come true! My grandfather passed away in 2011, but had left money for my sister and I to have the wedding of our dreams. I was able to wear my dream gown because of him!
Wow, there are so many to choose from! We opted to do a first look due to our wedding timeline and the time of the year. The look on Jeff's face when I tapped his shoulder and he turned around was priceless! He literally covered his mouth and backed away from me, it was so worth it. Walking down the aisle with my dad is something I'd always dreamed about as a little girl. And our first dance was so much fun, it felt like it was just the two of us on the dance floor! I also surprised my sister, who was my maid of honor, with a special medley featuring some of our favorite songs. Here's a link to our wedding video.
Help a bride-to-be out!
Stay true to yourself and your vision. I allowed people to talk me out of having a receiving line and it is one of my biggest regrets to this day. You only get one shot at this, so #TreatYoSelf (within reason). And don't forget to take a moment to relax and enjoy it! I know everyone says this, but the day goes by so fast. It's over in the blink of an eye. Be sure to set aside some time either before the ceremony (like a first look) or between the ceremony and reception to spend time together just the two of you.
Photographer: Kathleen Hertel
Videographer: Andre Sturdivant
Wedding Dress Designer: Lazaro
Wedding Dress Salon: Kleinfeld Bridal
Wedding Shoes: Nina Shoes
Hair: Brandi, Salontra Select Suites in Baltimore
Makeup: MAC Cosmetics
Garter: Garters by Kristi on Etsy
Bridesmaid Dresses: Donna Morgan via Bella Bridesmaid in Baltimore
Groom & Groomsmen Suits: Tzarelli from BlackTie Formalwear in Lincoln Park, Chicago
Ceremony & Reception Venue: National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland
Wedding Planner: Tami Smallwood Brown of Blush Weddings & Event Planning
Florist: Robert Champ at Flowers by Lucy in Aberdeen, MD
Cupcakes: Jason Hinsley at La Cakerie
Caterer: Classic Catering & Events
Programs: B is for Brown on Etsy
DJ: Gordon Thorn from Absolute Entertainment