Although Kadie Bilodeau and Justin Uretz initially met in high school, it wasn’t until their college years that they got to know each other on a deeper level. “From the minute we began dating, there was never any question whether or not I would one day be marrying Kadie,” Justin asserts. During a visit to their hometown of Chicago for the holidays, Justin took the opportunity to ask Kadie to be his wife. After a joint family dinner, everyone gathered for dessert and cocktails at the home of Kadie’s parents. When the doorbell chimed unexpectedly, Kadie found five of Justin’s friends on the porch. They handed her a box that contained a note instructing her to meet Justin outside. A violinist softly played the couple’s favorite songs as Kadie followed the candlelit path to find Justin waiting on bended knee. The surprises didn’t end there – as Kadie and Justin made their way back into the home, Kadie’s friends began to appear one by one. “Justin had planned a surprise engagement party with all of those dearest to us… it was a night we will never forget,” Kadie says.

Certain that they wanted to marry in Chicago, Kadie and Justin decided to employ the expertise of an event designer to assist in the preparations for the special day since they would be planning the wedding from Los Angeles. Together, they began searching for a venue that was stylish and modern, yet evoked a timeless element. The couple ultimately opted for a chic hotel with a fashionable “Great Room” located in Chicago’s famed City Center near the Sears Tower and the Chicago Art Institute. Kadie’s vision of classic, yet romantic elegance was perfectly complemented by the venue. “I loved the palette of warm ivories with a graphic black contrast to add a contemporary feel to my otherwise classic taste.” For the bridal party, the couple bypassed the traditional route and instead asked their respective siblings to stand beside them on the big day.

The ceremony décor was kept understated, but the room looked extraordinarily elegant with simple mood lighting, black glossy chairs with cream colored cushions, and pillar candles in varying heights that lined the lengthy ivory aisle runner. The bride wore an original asymmetrical lace gown designed by Monique Lhuillier, the celebrated designer for whom Kadie works. Even Kadie’s shoes included gorgeous detail: handcrafted azure heels were added to satin peep-toe pumps to serve as her “something blue.” The couple was asked by their officiant to write love letters to each other to be read aloud at the ceremony. “This allowed us to express our feelings freely,” explains the bride. “It was very memorable… laughter and tears were shared by everyone.”

At the reception, seating cards were nestled in ebony boxes filled with jet-black crystals beside a towering arrangement of ivory Ecuadorian roses in a large black lacquer vase. Ivory linens covered reception tables, contrasting beautifully with black chairs boasting geometric detail. A total of three striking centerpiece designs were placed on guest tables to create an eclectic mix of décor. Tall black lacquer risers were topped with perfect spheres of open ivory vendela roses on some tables, while black lacquer candelabras displayed a variety of candlesticks on others. Finally, low arrangements of ivory roses designed to form a floral hedge were accented with black stones. The finishing floral touch was a single creamy rose placed beside each personalized dinner menu at every place setting.

“We really wanted the evening to feel like a fabulous dinner party… we hoped for a stylish wedding that made our loved ones feel comfortable and welcomed,” asserts the bride. The couple also wanted every guest to feel involved in the festivities whether or not they chose to dance, so they incorporated a lounge area where they could usher everyone together following the dinner service. “The progression of the night was something that our guests had not previously been exposed to, and because of that there was an element of surprise in the air,” Justin shares. Chic furnishings, a black dance floor, two open bars, and a sumptuous dessert table ensured that guests mingled and enjoyed themselves away from the dining area.

Planning a wedding in Chicago from Los Angeles may have had its challenges, but with the support of family, a fantastic planner, and each other, the couple ultimately achieved their vision. “Make the night about the two of you and the love that brought you together in the first place,” advises Justin, and Kadie completely agrees. “We had the time of our lives.”