Tracy and Justin had only recently met during employee training – but while out celebrating the completion of a project with colleagues, the couple was surprised when a stranger sent them cocktails to “celebrate young love.” “We had just started to get to know each other, but [the stranger] obviously saw something that we were only just beginning to discover,” shares Tracy. Six years later, Justin led Tracy on a romantic scavenger hunt, visiting the sites of their favorite NYC moments before finally proposing in Central Park.

As the couple began to plan their wedding, they wanted to focus on elegance with a casual vibe that was representative of their personalities. Tracy and Justin fell in love with a hotel venue that offered the sophisticated simplicity they admired. “We loved the airiness of [the property’s] outdoor terrace, and its international flair that reflected our love of travel,” says the bride. The magnificent terrace was ideal for the warm Chicago weather, and it was important to Tracy to bring the outdoors in so that the entire event evoked a summery feel. A color palette comprised mostly of orange paired with white and accented with green was used to create a fresh and energetic environment.

The décor for the ceremony was clean and modern. Patterned wall hangings and flowing drapery provided a neutral backdrop for rows of rich, dark-wood chiavari chairs and an elegant chuppah fashioned of white flowers accented with greenery. Pillar candles encased in glass lanterns alternated with floral arrangements along the aisle, and square overhead platforms held ivory candles for additional ambient lighting. Bridesmaids provided a bright burst of color with persimmon dresses and nosegays of vibrant two-toned tulips that contrasted beautifully with the bride’s all-white bouquet. The traditional Jewish service included a unique twist on the Seven Blessings, which is customarily read by the rabbi. Instead, the couple arranged for the words of the blessings to be fastened to the bottom of seven randomly chosen guest chairs; each guest with a blessing attached to his chair was asked to proceed to the altar to recite. “It symbolized how important each of our guests was to us,” explains the bride.

An array of offerings greeted guests at the cocktail hour, where bottles of Champagne awaited corking in a fountain of sculptured ice while sumptuous hor d’oeuvres were artfully presented on hand-passed trays and at stationary posts. Reception tables swathed in crème brulée linens were dotted with pillar candles and topped with citrus-colored tulips. Gilded place settings featured ivory menu cards tipped in tangerine, and each napkin was accented with a single ranunculus bloom. Flowers in the same vivid shade adorned and enhanced the couple’s luscious buttercream wedding cake.

Additional overhead platforms made an appearance above the polished dance floor, this time verdantly festooned with living orchid plants. Attendees danced to the music of two live bands before exiting the evening with sweet favors of iced sugar cookies in the shape of the couple’s initials. “We never wanted there to be a break in the music, so band members rotated in and out. The room rocked all night long!” says Tracy.

“I wanted the evening to be a celebration – having great food and a high-energy band were the key ingredients in accomplishing that,” says Justin. The couple had focused on not allowing traditional ideas stifle their own idea of elegance, and they succeeded beautifully. Justin admits, “Maybe I’m biased, but I absolutely loved everything about our wedding – I wouldn’t change a thing.”