Catholic Winter Wedding with English Traditions in Chicago

Carolyn and Aron
Photographed by: AveryhouseLocation: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Intrigued by the handsome, English gentleman a friend set her up with, Carolyn Wiesemann knew right away that their backgrounds were worlds apart, but it was the differences that had her so smitten. “I knew Aron would challenge me and get me out of my comfort zone,” Carolyn admits. “Life has felt like an adventure ever since.”

The bride had never considered a winter wedding, but Aron’s grueling work schedule as a professional soccer coach left few alternatives. “So December it was!” laughs Carolyn. The couple embraced the season with the notion that they wanted their wedding to feel festive, but not holiday themed, with subtle nods to the time of year. “I wanted to create a feeling of warmth and romance,” describes the bride of her vision.

Over 200 loved ones joined the couple for their celebration, beginning with a traditional Catholic mass. As guests were ushered into the sanctuary, musicians played popular Christmas hymns, which added to the cheerful ambience. Dotting the altar and aisleway were floral arrangements in deep marsala, champagne, and blush hues accented with lush greens and fragrant sprigs of juniper and rosemary.

The procession began with the bridal party, who wore classic, long dresses in navy tulle complemented with velvet belts. Aron’s nephew stole the spotlight as he made his way down the aisle dressed dapperly in a black top hat and tails, per English wedding tradition. Finally, Carolyn appeared. She was angelic in a sparkling ivory gown with three-quarter-length sleeves befitting for the season. She carried a striking bouquet of peonies, dahlias, roses, amaryllis, ranunculuses, anemones, and sprigs of herbs and berries. “It was a lovely collection of blooms that was intentionally loosely hand tied,” illustrates Carolyn.

Aron had been squarely set against having a “first look” and admits he is glad to have waited to see his bride. “There was such a natural, excited buildup of anticipation,” he asserts. “Be supportive of your fiancée's vision, but speak up on aspects important to you.”

Once the service concluded and the newlyweds headed up the aisle, guests began to ring tiny bells they had been given. Before escaping the sweet sounds, Carolyn swiftly put on her grandmother’s vintage stole to stay warm. “We had an 18-degree wedding day!” exclaims the bride with a smile, reminding others newly engaged that you can’t control every part of the day.

For the reception, the couple felt the luxe site didn’t require much decoration. Loved ones found their seats by way of glass tree ornaments with their names and table numbers written in bullion calligraphy. Guest tables were bedecked with beautiful floral centerpieces, alternating in height and surrounded by candlelight. “The arrangements were slightly asymmetrical with blooms cascading over the sides,” describes Carolyn. “It was the romantic look I had hoped for.”

Attendees gleefully took part in the photo booth that Carolyn had arranged as a surprise for her beloved. “I realized halfway through our engagement that Aron and I never really considered having our wedding in England,” she explains. “I wanted to honor his home country.” With that in mind, the bride asked her planner, Beth Bernstein of SQN Events to help her customize a full-size backdrop of classic red telephone booths. Handheld signs with popular phrases, such as “Lovely Jubbly,” were used as props. The groom confirms, “It was a massive hit with all the funny English sayings you could pose with!”

Additionally, the couple offered guests Christmas crackers as favors, which are paper tubes filled with fun surprises. “It is an English Christmas tradition, and it was exciting to offer this to our American friends,” says Aron of the special treats.

Though the couple agrees that their fête was filled with many wonderful moments, the bride reveals her absolute favorite memory of the day: “We escaped for some reflection midway through our reception and just as we exited, it began to snow. It was magical.”

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