Catholic Ceremony + Garden-Inspired Reception at Chicago Museum

Dana and John

Photographed by: Beale & WittigLocation: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Though both Dana Kauck and John Bufalino had initially turned down a friend who tried to set them up, they were inevitably introduced at a party. Dana was smitten with John, especially after she learned he had just finished making 250 butternut squash ravioli for a dinner party. "[My] parents endearingly called John 'Butternut Squash Ravioli' for months afterwards!" notes the bride with a smile.

Following a proposal on Lake Michigan, the couple dived into wedding planning. Since Chicago is a symbolic and important location to the duo, they invited 200 friends and family members to attend their traditional Catholic ceremony at an iconic sanctuary followed by a ballroom reception at a historical museum in the "Windy City." To make the celebration even more personal, they include a variety of handmade elements in the details and décor of the day. "John designed and handmade many materials for the wedding – the invitations, save the dates, 'menus' printed on baguette sleeves, table numbers, [and] place card holders," shares Dana. 

As guests found their seating assignments on ivory cards tucked into birch branches, they entered a ballroom to find round tables decorated with creamy linens and unique floral centerpieces featuring an "overgrown garden" theme. Garden roses, hydrangeas, and additional blooms in shades of peach, sage, grey, and cream, as well as succulents, were arranged next to gilded wooden branches, which provided a rustic feel to the indoor space. In lieu of table numbers, tables were labeled with vintage-inspired printing press letter blocks.

As an ode to their first meeting, attendees enjoyed a course of butternut squash ravioli, in addition to a demi baguette served inside a baguette sleeve printed with the menu selections, a sweet pea shooter – referring to John's nickname for Dana, and a choice of three entrées. Following the sit-down dinner service, guests enjoyed slices of a three-tiered vanilla wedding cake with lemon curd filling, as well as an opera cream cake from the bride's favorite hometown bakery.

For their first dance, the groom's brother sang "Sweet Pea" by Amos Lee – another nod to John's nickname for Dana. Guests then enjoyed "a great amount of dancing" to the sounds of a live band, explains Dana. When asked what the best planning advice they received was, she says: "Wake up early the morning of the wedding and savor the first calm and quiet moments of what will be the biggest and best day." Her own advice for newly engaged couples is to relish the engagement, which she and John say they "absolutely" did.

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