While watching orcas jump through the ocean, Taylor Halsted proposed to Emily Siegel on a hotel balcony in Cabo San Lucas. After taking a few weeks to enjoy their new engagement, the lovebirds were excited to start planning their big day. All in, the process took 18 months.

When looking for a venue in Chicago, Emily and Taylor knew they didn’t want to host the celebration at a hotel or standard event space. Instead they chose to tie the knot at a famed natural history museum, complete with a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and flying pterodactyls. “You don't have to spend a lot on décor when your venue is that unique and gorgeous,” the bride notes. “It speaks for itself.”

To create the finishing touches that would turn the museum’s front stairs into a stunning ceremony site, a chuppah adorned the bottom of the steps. Guests overlooked the Chicago skyline, as well as arrangements of white and blush florals with plenty of greenery. “I have never been a fan of bright colors,” Emily explains of the timeless aesthetic for the nuptials. Décor featured navy and white elements, accented with fresh greenery and hints of gold – as well as “something blue” china at each guest’s place setting.

“You don't have to spend a lot on décor when your venue is that unique and gorgeous. It speaks for itself.”

The ceremony was largely secular, while still honoring the bride’s Jewish heritage with traditions including the breaking of the glass. Emily was gorgeous in a custom strapless gown and ostrich feather overskirt, both from Monique Lhuillier. Taylor was dashing in a classic black tuxedo from Ralph Lauren. The touching vow exchange was presided over by a childhood friend of the bride, and Emily admits to ad libbing some of the promises she made during the ceremony – making it truly from the heart.

Starting off the reception was a choreographed routine performed by the newlyweds. “We spent weeks learning our first dance, and it went off without a hitch,” the bride reveals. “It was to the first song Luke and Lorelai danced to on Gilmore Girls... I'm a super fan. Our dog's name is Gilmore. You get the picture.” Reminders of the pair’s beloved pup were seen throughout the fête, including the topper of their wedding cake. He also served as the ring bearer.

Though the navy-and-white square target-style dance floor was kept full until midnight thanks to The Gold Coast All Stars, the festivities didn’t end there. A local country music bar hosted an after-party that lasted until 3AM! It was a magical day for the newlyweds.