After ten years of marriage, Patricia and Fidencio celebrated their vow renewal surrounded by loving family and an abundance of fun! Originally married at City Hall, they fulfilled their desire of having a Catholic ceremony which took place at St. Francis of Assisi. Patricia and Fidencio enlisted the help of Naturally Yours Events to bring an elegant flair to their fiesta-inspired wedding at Catalyst Ranch. The cocktail style reception with their favorite Mexican dishes, bright florals and personal family touches created the perfect party atmosphere. See all the colorful details Cage and Aquarium beautifully captured from their day below.

It was important that Patricia and Fidencio’s children were an integral part of their wedding so they all served as bridesmaids, flower girls and ring bearer. During the ceremony, Patricia surprised her husband with a special performance by a Mariachi band!

The space at Catalyst Ranch fit the cocktail, fiesta theme with the venue’s eclectic furniture and bright color palette. It complimented the beautiful florals provided by Flowers By Stem and custom papel picados hanging from the ceiling.

Guests were greeted with margarita push pops and tasty cups of ensalada de fruta con chile – yum!

Salud to another 10 years Patricia and Fidencio! We had so much fun celebrating with you.

Thank you to all the vendors involved!

Planning: Naturally Yours Events, Lead Planner – Carlene Smith
Photographer: Cage and Aquarium
Church: St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Reception Venue: Catalyst Ranch
Florist: Flowers By Stem
Caterer: Catering By Michael’s
Cake: Bittersweet Bakery
Live Cocktail Band: Trio Mexico
DJ: Cage and Aquarium
Hair & Makeup: Deco Adamo
Transportation: M&M Limousine

Congratulations on your engagement! You’re ready for the wedding planning to begin but aren’t quite prepared for the amount of questions family and friends are going to bring up over the holidays about your big day. On the other hand, perhaps you and your significant other haven’t taken the next step with an engagement and you’re prepping to field all the “When are you finally going to get married?” questions. [Don’t worry – proposal season begins with Thanksgiving so the ‘pop’ may be just around the corner, *wink wink*]. Either way you may not be able to avoid these conversations but you can learn how to navigate them in the best way possible.

First, have some answers ready to go. Before any family gatherings, discuss with your partner how you want to approach certain topics when they are brought up. Family will be excited to hear what your plans are but if you have short, prepared answers then you can keep their stream of questioning at bay.

It’s okay to not give or have all the answers. Sometimes family doesn’t need to know everything. If you have set a date or time of year for the wedding, are you sharing it with people at this time? If you haven’t booked some important pieces like venue, then it might be best to keep it to yourself before putting a date out there. Your aunt may start interrogating you asking if you’ve thought of X, Y, or Z, but if you just got engaged you obviously won’t have every aspect planned yet. Thank her for her input and say those are all great things to consider, then move on. There’s no need to get overwhelmed by not having an answer to every question.

Stand your ground. When relatives can’t stop themselves from inserting their opinions on things you’ve already decided on, gently explain why these choices are important to you and your partner. For instance, you have a lot of kids in your family but want an adult only reception or you’re choosing a venue that only allows for an intimate crowd. You can approach these subjects without turning into a brides/grooms – zilla and your relatives will appreciate the explanation of why these decisions are meaningful to you.

Know when to change the subject. When you are engaged and wedding planning, people tend to act like that’s the only thing you have going on in your life but that’s certainly not the case. Chat about your new promotion at work, the trip you just took, the new tv show you’re obsessed with or you can turn the conversation towards them and ask about new happenings in their lives.

Remember to have fun! Wedding planning is exciting and it’s fun to figure out your vision, then see it come to life. Unfortunately, one big stressor can be family conversations. Take a step back every once and awhile to keep in mind that you are marrying the love of your life which is the most important part. Need help along the way? Working with an experienced coordinator or wedding planner can relieve tons of the stress that can come with wedding planning. Contact Naturally Yours Events to get started!

Live music versus recorded, instruments versus machines, band versus DJ. Which is the right fit for your wedding? We are here to provide helpful insight into choosing the best entertainment for your party!

First, we recommend laying out your priorities of the day. Your priorities help guide your style and vision. If you and your fiancé want an atmosphere that’s conducive to conversation and catching up with old friends from out of town, then a 13-piece band probably isn’t the right fit. However, if your family likes to boogie and all your college friends never leave the dance floor, then you can book that uninterrupted flow of music spinning off a DJ’s fingers or that high energy big band to keep the party dancing! Your priorities for the day will help set you on the right path.

Photo by: Steve Scap Photography  Band: Expo ’76

Second, consult with the big B…Budget. Quality DJs in the city of Chicago can be pricey, but a DJ hired for a full-day will usually be 50-80% more affordable than a live band. Obviously, the prices of live music varies dramatically based upon the number of hours booked, how many musicians, and experience. Budget will play a large role in influencing your decision, so consult this before beginning your musical search.

Photo by: Cage & Aquarium  DJ: Cage & Aquarium

Third, your venue will play a role in your musical choice. Important things to consider are the room capacity, the acoustics, the floor plan, noise restrictions or city ordinances, and access to electricity. If your venue is nestled in a neighborhood, it is likely going to have noise restrictions on decibels and/or how late the amplified music can play. Know your venue before booking this vendor.

Photo by: Mark Trela Photography

Lastly, if you can’t decide, have both! Consider a live string quartet for ceremony and cocktail hour, then switching to a DJ for dinner and dancing. Or have a trio for ceremony, 5-piece for cocktail and dinner, move up to an 8-piece for the start of open dance floor and end the last hour of die hard dancing with recorded music! All live bands require breaks- it’s hard work belting out those tunes for 45 minutes straight. To avoid silence during these 10-15 minute breaks, the band will put on recorded music- they have the capabilities to do both. A DJ on the other hand- can’t stop/won’t stop until the lights come up! Whether one, two, or three+ hours of open dance floor- your DJ is always mixing. Plus there are some DJs that offer you to book a live drummer to play along side them- best of both worlds is always an option!

Photo by: Ann & Kam Photography   Musicians: Fretless Music

Need recommendations for Musical entertainment at your wedding? Just ask!

Sometimes etiquette rules can be hard to keep straight, especially when you are juggling so many tasks leading up to your wedding day. Just like with any other service, tipping vendors involved in your big day is a customary practice. To avoid any confusion, we have put together a set of guidelines as to what the appropriate amount of tip is typical for wedding vendors.

Photograph by Tim Tab Studios

General guidelines to keep in mind:

– Tipping is not something you *have* to do. Vendors appreciate it, but never should expect it. Either way, keep in mind that all of your vendors are working very hard for you on the wedding day.

– There are some vendors, however, in which it is more customary to tip than others. This includes catering, bar, hair & makeup, and transportation etc. (Think about it – you tip these sort of people in your everyday life, so that doesn’t change when you hire them for your wedding)

– You should avoid giving “gifts” to vendors unless it’s something very personal to that vendor (massage, nice bottle of wine, etc). Sometimes when gifts are given not from the heart, it can feel like a consolation prize.

– If you are indeed planning on distributing tips to your wedding vendors, we suggest putting cash into a sealed envelope with their name/company name.  You can ask your planner/coordinator to hand these out at the end of the night or at completion of a vendor’s service. Alternatively, you can assign the task to a responsible wedding party person or family member.

Photograph by This is Feeling

Specifically, how much should you tip? 

Officiant- If this person is a friend or relative, it isn’t typical to tip them with money. Perhaps give them a small, thoughtful gift of thanks. If this person is a hired professional, donations are sometimes expected to the church ($500+), or, for a non-denominational officiant, you can give them an optional tip of $100-$200.

Ceremony musicians- $25-$50 per person.

Caterer- First, we suggest that you look over your contracts to ensure gratuity isn’t included already. If it is not, we recommend 18-20% of the total food and drink (don’t factor tax or rental type items), or $35-$50 for each server, busser, etc. and $100 for chefs/supervisors.

Bartenders- If tip jars are permitted, $50-100 per bartender. If tips jars are not permitted or specifically requested to not be used, then gratuity should be $1-$3 per guest with a minimum of $100 per bartender.

Florist/Lighting/Decor- Tip is not customary, but you could give $25 per staff member for set up and strike crew, and/or $50-$100 for your lead contact.

DJ/Band- $50-$100 per person.

Photographer/Videographer- $50- $200 per person.

Hair/Makeup- 15-20% of total.

Transportation- 15-20% of total if it is not included in the contract.

Deliveries (sweets, vintage rentals, late night bites, etc)- Sometimes it is nice to give a little something for the delivery drivers but not expected. Perhaps $10-$15 per person.

Wedding Planner and Team- This can be whatever you are comfortable with. $100- $300 for Leads, $50-$100 for assistants is common.

Hotel- you usually leave a little something for housekeeping at the end of your stay.

Photograph by Cattura Weddings

We hope this post has made it easier for you to understand the typical practices of tipping wedding vendors. Happy planning!

You have the ceremony venue picked out- a city park, a quaint beach overlooking the water, a high ceiling loft, or the same location as the reception. If you choose a non-traditional space, the options are endless in creating a ceremony that reflects the two of you. Thus, we have put together this brief guide to assist couples and their chosen novice officiants in curating the perfect ceremony verbiage.

Naturally Yours Events has multiple recommendations for vendors that specialize in officiating ceremonies and public speaking. These professionals are experienced, talented, and certified. They listen to your story, guide the flow, and creatively put together a ceremony that reflects who you are as a couple- making it feel as though they’ve known you all along your journey. They also provide great insight in ways to fuse cultures and traditions in a neutral way. Or they can help you create your own traditions that will make your wedding that much more special.

We can guide you on choosing an officiant to hire that will fit your vision, personality, and budget. Just reach out!

(Photo by Ryan Moore Photography)

While it is advised to hire a professional to perform your wedding, some of our clients choose to have a close friend or family member officiate. This can add a personal touch to your ceremony, or honor the person tasked with this request- but where do you start to ensure this person is prepared for their role in your day?

This “How To” guide is helpful to share with them! Creating the ceremony, in our opinion, is one of the most personal things you will do during the wedding planning process and here are the steps to follow:

  1. Get Ordained: There are several different websites to use. The NYE team used Universal Life Church. It literally takes about three minutes (requested info is name, address, birthday, and a few other details). It is free, but we paid $25 to get a little wallet card to carry around and look fancy. Another good option is AMM.
  2. Length- determine how long your ideal ceremony will be. A typical wedding ceremony is 20-30 minutes long. Our advice is to keep it short and sweet. Guests often grow restless if the ceremony is lengthy, especially in uncontrollable elements like direct sunlight or Chicago wind. 
  3. There are six major parts of a wedding ceremony:
    • Processional (wedding party walking in)
    • Invocation (greeting/welcome, introduction of the couple, & reason for gathering- “We are gathered here today…”)
    • Declaration of Intent (meaning you’re here of your own free will and want to marry each other- “Do you take…”)
    • Vows & Ring Exchange (“I promise to..”)
    • Pronouncement (the marriage is declared official- “I now pronounce you…”)
    • Recessional (wedding party exits)

    You can use this basic outline to then build a ceremony that is uniquely yours. The words can be changed, but the meaning has to stay the same for these specific items. You can add readers, stories, jokes, traditions, unity aspects (tree planting or candle lighting), etc. 

  4. Practice! Encourage your officiant to write out the actual verbiage in a script format. They should then read it out loud to him/herself and to family or friends to ensure they are comfortable with the public speaking aspect. On the day of, we recommend a black or neutral folder to hold a printout of the ceremony. Print it in large, easy-to-read font with a clear outline, including breaks to pause and take a breath. Speak slowly and enunciate.
  5. Helpful Websites (with sample wording and additional information):


(Photo by Ingrid Bonne Photography)

And that’s it! Hopefully this gives a bit of guidance. Your Naturally Yours Event’s lead coordinator would be more than happy to read over the ceremony draft and provide helpful insight.