Just under three years to the day from their first date, Joe Silich was ready to propose to his girlfriend, Susie Schriber. Despite their frequent travels as a couple, Joe decided to go for an intimate and personal proposal in his home, instead of a proposal that may be more extravagant, but less meaningful. When it came to choosing the location for their spring nuptials, the bride and groom selected the hotel where they had their first date – at the bar – to keep with the personal factor of their engagement. “We also loved that [the venue] was large enough to accommodate [our 200 guests] yet still gave an intimate feel,” Susie adds.

The bride stunned in a form-fitting gown that expanded into a magnificent ruffled skirt, and her dozen bridesmaids’ floor-length ebony dresses were perfect for the black-tie affair. “We wanted a classy elegant [feel],” the bride explains. “We chose black and white as we felt that best reflected our style.” Although the attire and sweeping alabaster décor exuded traditional formality, Susie and Joe still chose to incorporate fun, personal touches into their big day. “Our Labrador retriever, Ryder, is an important part of our life so we dressed him in a tuxedo and had him as one of the ring bearers along with [my] seven-year-old nephew,” shares the bride. The choice in officiant also helped make the wedding personal. The couple asked the groom’s friend, who happens to hail from the bride’s home state of Wisconsin, to get ordained so he could perform the ceremony. “He was a good bridge between Illinois and Wisconsin for us,” Susie explains.

Guests were treated to a variety of appetizers and drinks at the cocktail hour, and for dinner they had a lobster salad and a choice of seared sea bass or filet of beef and short rib tortellini. “We had a five-tier wedding cake adorned with pearls, black ribbon, and flowers,” tells the bride. The confection alternated flavors, with some layers featuring devil’s food cake and a dark chocolate mousse while the other tiers had vanilla cake with both fresh strawberries and strawberry preserves.

The reception space perfectly fit Susie and Joe’s theme of “classy elegance” with HMR Designs' extravagant use of florals, which was captured by KingenSmith. “The centerpieces featured a soaring Swarovski crystal riser on a mirrored light box base that hosted a large, lush, dense arrangement of white and cream roses, white hydrangea, white spray roses, and white lilies,” the bride notes. A cuff of vanilla spray roses also adorned the riser, while the escort card table included glass candlesticks with floating candles and crystal votives.

Revelers danced all night long, with the newlyweds even extending their reception to keep the party going. “The entire day was magical for us and we truly felt we created the wedding of our dreams! It was great to see all of our friends out on the dance floor enjoying themselves rather than sitting at their tables,” gushes the bride.