In honor of Earth Day this month (April 22nd), we’re sharing tips on our favorite area of expertise: green weddings! Naturally Yours Events prides itself in being an eco-friendly wedding planner, and we’ve got plenty of hacks to help you make your wedding less wasteful. Here are just a few simple ways to incorporate the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle!) into your wedding.

1. Rent, don’t buy. You might think that buying your own inexpensive linens that you found on Amazon is a good idea, but we’re here to tell you it’s not. Aside from the extremely low quality of the linens (thin, cheaply made, and not ironed), the problem is that you most likely won’t know what to do with them after the wedding. Who wants to deal with dirty, food-stained linens? Once you realize that dry cleaning them costs even more than buying them, you’ll probably end up tossing them anyway.

Photo by Studio Starling

2. It’s unnecessary to buy paper programs for every single guest. Most couples just take one program to share, so count on ordering enough for about 70% of the guest list. This will result in less paper waste and a lessened paper cost.

Photo by Allison Williams Photography

3. Choose to serve a plated dinner. Due to the reduced amount of portions (as compared to family style and buffet style), a plated dinner will yield less leftover food. This means that less food will end up in the garbage at the end of the night. Additionally, when compared to a cocktail style reception, less cutlery and napkins will be wasted and thrown away.

Photo by Studio Finch

 

4. Donate your flowers at the end of the night. Nothing is more tragic than throwing away gorgeous, fresh blooms at the end of a wedding. Choose a florist that would help you donate your flowers to nursing homes or hospitals. Even without the help of your florist, you can donate them yourself by using Random Acts of Flowers.

Photo by Z+V Photography

5. Allow bridesmaids to choose their own dresses. Give your bridesmaids a specific color or color palette, and let them to choose a style of dress that they feel comfortable in. This way they can purchase a dress they’ll wear time and time again, instead of getting something that they’re not comfortable in and will live in the back of their closet forever. Type A brides don’t need to worry – you can always approve the dresses before the wedding!

Photo by Coach House Pictures

 

There are plenty of little hacks to make weddings more eco-friendly. In a notoriously wasteful industry, small modifications go a long way. For information on more green wedding vendors in Chicago, please visit the Green Wedding Alliance website. If you’d like to learn more about eco-friendly events and weddings, please contact us at info@naturallyyoursevents.com!

Samantha and David’s wedding exemplifies making a wedding truly your own. They decided that the white dress, church, and tiered wedding cake were just not them; what resulted was a super rad wedding day that celebrated their union perfectly. Check out these amazing photos by Soda Fountain Photography and learn more about their awesome day:

Their first look was at the University Club of Chicago in the gorgeous library.

The bride wore a custom bubble gum pink wedding dress that complimented her amazing red hair (done by Lauren Stephens, Art and Science Salon).

Naturally, the wedding party took some photos in front of Exit, the bar in which Sam and David first met four years ago. 

The gorgeous and eclectic floral was done by Asrai Garden. It was the perfect spring color palette.

Columbus Park Refectory was the beautiful venue they chose for their ceremony and reception. The colors and open air space of the venue made it the perfect setting for a spring wedding. 

The cool centerpieces were made by a friend. The center “stone” shone in alternating LED lights. 

Their guestbook consisted of a blank album, where guests were encouraged to snap an instant Polaroid and insert it. The delicious dinner was provided by Food For Thought. Afterward, they cut their wedding pie! These pies were provided by Bang Bang Pie, and were accompanied by delicious coffee from Dark Matter.

Other vendors involved in Sam and David’s big day were Aries Charter and Carrie Grucv (DJ).

It’s no secret that weddings tend to cost a pretty penny, but sometimes couples are blindsided upon seeing the individual cost breakdowns of wedding services. Here are the top three wedding cost shocks and some tips to overcome them.

Photo by Husar Photography. Floral by Petal Play.

Floral. One common wedding decor element comes as no surprise: fresh floral. The price of the floral, however,  is often not anticipated by couples doing their wedding planning; it’s typically much more expensive than they thought. Here’s the secret on how to cut down that cost – think local, seasonal, and be flexible. Here are some examples: 1) clients on a tight budget can incorporate candle-heavy centerpieces on half of the tables, while the other half has complete floral centerpieces. 2) Have low centerpieces (as opposed to the big, tall ones) because they are much more cost-effective. 3) Reduce your bridal party, because personal flowers can be expensive. 4) Be open to substitutions. You don’t have to have peonies. Be open to garden roses instead – these flowers are very comparable and more readily available (which means less money). One big piece of advice we give to our couples – make sure to go with a good florist who is in your budget – DIY floral is definitely something we highly recommend avoiding.

Photo by Studio Starling. Invitations by CW Designs.

Invitations. When you’re mailing over a hundred pieces of finely crafted paper goods, it’s going to get pricey. People often forget that even just the amount of postage can add up to over a hundred dollars. Here are some tricks to cut down your invitation cost: 1) Typically, each additional information card (map & accommodations, RSVPs, other activities…) costs additional money. Consider including your wedding website on your invitation to deliver this information rather than including it on your mailed invitations. 2) Make sure your invitation is a size that can fit in a standard size envelope (or else you’ll have to pay a postage premium). 3) For addressing, cut out calligraphy writing and go with digital printing instead. 3) For RSVPs, go with a postcard (without the envelope) or with a digital RSVP. Don’t forget that your guest count does not equal the amount of invitations you’ll be sending – it’ll be per household instead.

Photo by J. Brown Photography.

Transportation. Providing transportation services for your guests – especially if you have many of them – can be an all-day, unnecessary expense. Think about it – from their hotel, to the ceremony, to the reception, to their hotel again – that’s an entire day of transportation rental. Here are some different ways to cut down on this expense: 1) Choose a hotel near the venue, whether it be the ceremony or the reception venue. We typically recommend getting a hotel near the church or ceremony location, so guests can walk there at their leisure. 2) Only cover transportation from the reception back to the hotel. 3) Consider using the same vehicle to transport the bridal party and guests. 4) Especially if you have a younger and/or local guest list, let them fend for themselves. Uber is great for times like these! 5) Have your ceremony and reception in the same place. 

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with wedding planning and staying on track with your budget, let us help! We love guiding our clients and helping them achieve their wedding dreams. Email Naturally Yours Events at info@naturallyyoursevents.com today.

A series of fortunate events led Michael and Michelle to one another. They found each other through some common threads, and got together after Michael tried and (luckily) failed to set Michelle up with his friend. They fell in love, and Michael proposed on a bridge near their first date spot in Chicago.

When it came to their wedding day, they knew they wanted to celebrate their love with family and friends in their beloved city of Chicago. First, they had their beautiful ceremony at an incredibly ornate and gorgeous church – St. Michael’s in Old Town. Afterward, they held their reception at A New Leaf in Lincoln Park, a super unique and whimsical flower shop that has a venue attached.

The overall style of their decor was elegant, posh (without being stuffy or overly formal), and glamorous with a touch of whimsy. Greenery and wild flowers within the space set an earthy tone, while the use of orchids provided an upscale feel. The centerpieces seemed wild but also curated.

Michelle and Michael chose to have a cocktail style reception, and incorporated delicious specialty bride and groom cocktails into their bar menu. FIG Catering helped them put together amazing dinner stations: a raw bar, cheese and charcuterie station (a must-have!), and grill station outside. Being proud Italians, having a very Mediterranean-inspired menu was important to them. The food was displayed beautifully with vintage platters and rented marble pieces. Their gorgeous dessert table was put together by Cacao Sweets and Treats– including different delicious cakes and Italian cookies. Together, they cut into their almond wedding cake (an Italian tradition).

One favorite detail was the cigar bar. It consisted of a few vintage, wooden crates stacked upon one another, and featured custom matchboxes and cigar cutters. Guests were able to take a cigar and enjoy on the patio outside.

The dance floor, situated on the upper level, fed into the glam and whimsy of their decor. A beautiful pink sofa and two complimentary seats (provided by Bowery and Bash) sat directly underneath a pink neon sign that read “Love is the Drug”. Illuminating the dance floor, projectors provided by Atmosphere Events Group displayed a cool palm tree pattern.

Take a look at these amazing photos by Mark Federighi Photography and relive Michael and Michelle’s amazing day. Other vendors involved in their wedding celebrations were Andrea C. Pabon, Cage and Aquarium Productions, Odyssey Transportation, Binny’s, Dream Dry, Courtney Allen, and Marshall Pierce & Company.

\

When it comes to wedding receptions, there are a few ways to go about serving dinner. Whether you want to get creative with your meal- or want to go the more traditional route- is up to you. Emily Yao of Paramount Events is here to help you decide what type of dinner service you should have at your reception. 

Seated Dinner

A seated dinner is your usual wedding service where all the guests are formally seated and served a pre-plated meal consisting of greens, a protein and sometimes a dessert. Something to consider: How many options do you want to serve?  The most common thing we see are two proteins: a chicken and a beef, or a beef and a fish. A vegetarian is also usually included as an option. You’re definitely not limited to these options as some couples want to serve lamb, pork, or a shellfish. I even had a bride last year serve variations of Paella!

Julia Franzosa Photography

Julia Franzosa Photography

Dinner Stations or Buffets

Dinner stations allow for your guests to be seated formally or informally, and tend to the station at their leisure. This is nice when you want to give your guests many different options for food.  Something to consider: Do you want fun themed stations, or do you like a classic style buffet where the elements of a plated entrée are deconstructed and put onto a station? A themed station could be a Mexican station consisting of tacos and empanadas or a Chicago style station with Chicago Hot Dogs and Italian Beef. A classic style buffet usually consists of two proteins (chicken and a beef, etc), a starch (potatoes, barley, rice, etc), vegetables, a salad, and bread. Remember: you can always ask for variations of stations. Also, keep in mind that this option is usually more expensive since caterer has to bring in 20-30% more food to ensure they don’t run out!

Cocktail Style

Lastly, a cocktail style reception is a casual style of service usually consisting of passed hors d’oeuvres and smaller bite stations. Most of the time, cocktail style receptions don’t have full seating for everyone and work more on a flow basis. Servers will pass appetizers all night while attending to stations that have mini pizzas, mini burgers, and mini fries. Almost anything can be made mini, so don’t be afraid to ask! Are passed hors d’oeuvres your favorite part of a wedding? If yes, then this might be the style of reception for you. 

Abbey Moore Photography

What’s the best choice?

It’s really up to you and your fiancé. If you want more of a party/celebration feel – a cocktail style reception might be best or if you like the traditional plated salad followed by speeches followed by a dinner and more speeches, then a seated dinner might be best for you. Keep in mind, this is your wedding – so plan it how you want. For any wedding, social or catering questions – please reach out to Emily at eyao@paramounteventschicago.com. Happy Planning!