As guests entered the Chicago park for a garden wedding, they were greeted by an unusual décor element: children’s drawings. At the time of her wedding, Allie Cooper worked as an elementary school teacher, and the mother of the bride had Allie’s first grade students draw pictures of her and the groom, David Davidson, getting married.  “This set the stage to our whimsical wedding,” says the bride. While the couple took part in all the wedding traditions of their Jewish culture, they also had an intently personal celebration. Eschewing all the classic first dance songs, David and Allie swayed to “I Want to Grow Old With You” by Adam Sandler, as featured in his film The Wedding Singer. The father-daughter dance had a similar cinematic twist, dancing to the theme from Father of the Bride. Allie also wore her mom’s veil as a blusher during the ceremony and was married with her grandmother’s wedding ring.

It was only natural to have the importance of family highlighted in the wedding, since the bride and groom may never have met without the interference of her parents. When a family friend wed in Napa the weekend before school started, Allie elected to stay behind to prepare her classroom. It just so happened that David’s brother was the groom, but luckily Allie did not miss her chance at meeting her future husband. “After hearing David’s hilarious speech at the rehearsal dinner my parents developed a plan to set him up with me,” the bride reveals. Her mom used her and David’s shared medical professions to ask him a question. “My dad conveniently walked over at the same time, and my mom said, ‘What do you think about him and Allie?’ To which my dad famously replied, ‘Seems like a cool dude,’” she laughs. David emailed her a week later, and ten months after that the happy couple was engaged.

With well over 450 people on the guest list, the bride and groom had to find a location that worked. “I really did not want a hotel wedding,” admits the bride. “I did not want it to feel cramped.” A tented reception made the most sense for the whimsical, English garden look desired by the bride. Their wedding planner, Paulette Wolf of Paulette Wolf Events, showed the couple a local Chicago park with city and lake views that proved to be the perfect spot. HMR Designs took advantage of the spring season to incorporate all of the bride’s favorite blooms: peonies, garden roses, and hydrangeas. The couple wed under a show-stopping chuppah, made with an abundance of branches and hydrangeas in shades blue, pink, green, and ivory. The floral theme continued throughout the reception: “I am not a huge fan of one big centerpiece with a ball of flowers on top, so instead we went for several lower flower arrangements on most of the tables,” Allie explains. Mercury glass and crystal vases were also featured, and the table numbers were made of moss.

With such a large wedding, the newlyweds had to make a concentrated effort to spend as much time together as possible, and advise other couples to do the same. They spent time together “with the exception of the cocktail hour when people were literally pulling us to talk to them!” exclaims Allie. But the bride notes that it’s also important to take a look around and appreciate all the people who are there to celebrate with you. “During dancing, some friends put David and I on their shoulders. We were able to see all of our guests dancing and having a great time. I just felt so much love in the room,” the bride muses.