Chicago Wedding Inspired by Still-Life Paintings at an Art Museum

Anna and Shane
Photographed by: Carasco PhotographyLocation: Chicago, Illinois, United States

After Shane Caldwell worked up the courage to ask Anna Smylie for her number at their mutual friend’s going away party, she politely declined and informed the gentleman that she already had a boyfriend. However, fate took its course and the two eventually started dating. Little did Anna know, she would one day become Shane’s fiancée while visiting Redwood Regional Park in Oakland, California. “He popped the question and surprised [me] the morning of Thanksgiving before [our] parents came into town to celebrate,” the bride remembers.

In addition to attending marriage counseling with their pastor, the duo prioritized and arranged the religious customs for their Chicago soirée. “We also put a lot of time and thought into what other Christian traditions we’d like to include in the ceremony and reception, including hymns [and] beginning the night’s festivities with a communal prayer,” Anna explains. Instead of choosing friends or relatives to administer the bread and wine during the Eucharist, Anna and Shane decided to serve it themselves. “We loved the significance of turning the attention away from us and toward God after our vows. Another bonus was that it acted like a receiving line, so we got to see almost everyone we invited,” the bride reveals.

Along with sharing their faith with 150 attendees, the couple wanted to add a unique twist to their occasion. “I created a brand for our wedding that combined our two interests: design and science. We had a physics diagram for each stage of the wedding. 'Potential Energy' for our save-the-dates, 'Balance' for our invitations, and 'Magnetism' for our seating chart,” Anna illustrates. Guests also witnessed a whimsical palette incorporating navy blue, gold, sage, coral, and warm grey tones, which was inspired by the artistic ambience of the museum venue. “The floral arrangements were based on Dutch still-life paintings, so they were eclectic and featured functional objects like candles and baskets of fruit in addition to antiquated vases of bright flowers,” describes the bride. Another unique feature was the confection, which matched the color scheme and showcased broad paint strokes and a marble design. It even featured a layer of cucumber cake. “Shane had always been curious about whether someone could pull off the flavor in cake form, and our baker did,” Anna confides.

When asked what her best wedding advice would be for engaged couples, Anna insists that time is significant. “Don’t drag out your engagement period,” she affirms. “Eight months felt like enough time to plan an elaborate wedding, but not long enough to lose momentum.”

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