They say time flies when you're having the most fun, and weddings, when done right, can be the time of your life. For my new husband Ian Traas and me, it was over absurdly fast. On May 11, we got married after what felt like a lifetime of planning but actually just took three whole minutes. I had to rely on family and friends later to piece everything together and tell me how much fun they had (something I made them do repeatedly). Hearing that never got old since that was our goal aside from ending up husband and wife.
Out of town guests began trickling in on Thursday for our Saturday nuptials, and that's when time started sprinting. Every part of my outward appearance had a corresponding appointment that week—from my spa facial at Spalon Montage to my eyelash extensions at Jett Makeup and my last minute jewelry appointment with Catherine Thies at Filigree, I was completely marriage-worthy.
Table numbers were our favorite album covers // Flowers by The Foundry
Ian and I had our final meeting with the Grand Hotel that day. They had been so generous with us from beginning to end, but I was a bit concerned my bridal party wouldn't have enough room to get ready in the deluxe suite that came with our wedding package. I asked for a tour of the room, and they let me know there would be no need.
"We have a surprise for you," catering and events director Jill Hubbs said with a knowing smirk. "We all talked and decided that since it wasn't booked this weekend, we want to upgrade you and Ian to the presidential suite."
It was one of our cooler moments, I must say—the presidential suite?! I absolutely had to view it at that moment, I was so excited. The suite spanning the 12th floor was executive in every way, complete with a full kitchen, den, living room and two bathrooms. Certainly this would be enough space for my bridal troupe. It was at this point that I really started to feel anxious excitement.
Head table // Photo by Belle Noelle
I stayed in my new luxurious quarters on Friday night after what ended up being a humor-and-whiskey filled groom's dinner at Eat Street Social thanks to Ian's generous parents. Upon arrival, the Grand Hotel had left a lovely fruit and cheese plate and bottle of white wine with a nice note from the staff. I hung my dress in the doorway and snapped a cell pic, rounding out my Penny Lane moment of the weekend: "It's all happening."
The next morning, I woke up in the suite with my sister/maid of honor Erica and my beloved stylist from Chicago, Anna. I couldn't believe how early we had to start: 8 a.m. on a strict schedule set by my planner Casey Bahl of Belle Noelle. I made fun of "The Schedule" several times these last few months, but truth was, we needed it.
The dress by Tara LaTour // Photo by Sharolyn B. Hagen
At noon we put the dress on—a stunning navy blue Tara LaTour original from L'Atelier Couture (I know how pretentious that sounds, but allow me this one time to justify its grandness). My photographer Shari Hagen arranged for Ian to meet me for our "private moment" before heading downstairs to greet guests. He says that was his favorite time of the day—hearing the swish-swish of my dress coming down the Parisian decorated hallway of the Grand and turning around to see me all dolled up. We hugged for a moment before taking off to the Foshay to take a few pictures.
"I'm going to marry you now," he said slyly.
After pictures with family and friends, the ceremony began, which most people have told me was their favorite part of the event. With 140 people in attendance, it wasn't as intimate as I hoped but thanks to decor by Anna Hillegass (of the Foundry), the place was brimming with romance and warmth. What is usually used as a meeting room by day had transformed into a den of blush peonies and mercury votives, collages of our influences surrounding a slideshow, and the lyrics from our song (a running theme in our invites) sketched on a banner doubling as backdrop/isle runner. Before I knew it, it was time to walk, and that part I'm sure I rushed.
One of four influences walls
Our longtime friend Yerik Kaslow, who knew both of us before we knew each other, was ordained specifically for our ceremony. He did a superb job, telling our attendees why one makes up for what the other lacks, and what we told him the other would say is our greatest (and not so great!) trait. I could hear my bridesmaid's sniffling, I could barely make out the faces of anyone before me. It was a dream. My greatest fear in this process was to not make it through my personalized vows, but I did so without so much a tear! Funny how that works. Later, our friend Jeff told Ian, "Jen has you trumped on the vows front." That made me laugh.
Highlights from what followed:
+A memorable speech from my usually soft-spoken father about having more in common with Ian than he once thought, and wishing him well with his strong-willed daughter.
+A hilarious dance floor moment wherein my mother danced to Ice Cube's "It Was A Good Day" (DJ'ed by music impresario Jake Rudh)
+Many awesome photo booth shots
+30-second conversations with everyone we've ever known (or so it seemed like)
The next morning, we opened gifts in a daze, and a day later we were on a plane to Playa Del Carmen for some much needed beach time (we had planned on Barcelona, but everywhere in Europe was rainy!). The adventures we had on that trip probably deserve its own post, although to summarize: lots of sun and salsa.
I don't do this recap justice. So much happened in such little time—it was all a very weird feeling but felt so amazing to be so loved, not only by Ian on that day but by everyone in our lives that took time to celebrate with us. I wish I could remember more. Part of that was the vodka, sure, but a huge portion was just the fly-by nature of it all.
This bride is maybe not as carelessly blithe as I hoped to be—but all the lessons and emotions that I felt were so much more interesting. I learned who my friends are, how dedicated and special my family (and new family!) is, and exactly how lucky I am to be Ian's wife.
(Now that I have the benefit of hindsight: More later on recommended vendors, the decor, tips and a best-of list from the day!)
View: Photobooth images by B Fresh Photography
On top of the Foshay // Photo by Sharolyn B. Hagen
Photo by Sharolyn B. Hagen
Foshay // Photo by Sharolyn B. Hagen
Photo by Sharolyn B. Hagen
In the Prez suite // Photo by Sharolyn B Hagen
Me with wedding planner Casey Bahl // Photo by B FRESH