Refined + Casual Wedding at a Private Residence in Illinois

Kelly and Dylan

Photographed by: Artisan EventsLocation: Lake Zurich, Illinois, United States

High school sweethearts Kelly Birginal and Dylan Nelson wanted something a little different for their wedding celebration. They envisioned a refined but laid back affair that would express their personality as a couple, and a setting that made the most of the brilliant fall weather. To keep it very personal and comfortable, they decided to exchange vows in the backyard of Dylan's parents' home in a suburb of Chicago. And to mix it up a bit, Kelly and Dylan hosted their reception in a barn often used for art shows on the grounds of nearby Good Shepherd Hospital.

They chose October hoping that they and their guests would be able to enjoy the crisp and colorful surroundings. They lucked out, and the seasonally-inspired decor – executed by coordinator Debi Lilly of A Perfect Event – created a cozy backdrop for the celebration. The ceremony aisle was sprinkled with fall leaves and rose petals and lined with hanging copper pails bursting with foliage and flowers. Richly-hued zinnias, dahlias, berries, fiddleheads, and roses comprised the bridesmaids' bouquets, and the flower girl carried a tightly-packed floral ball with a gold bell that announced the bride's impending arrival. The couple's dog Buckley accompanied the flower girl down the aisle, proudly acting as ring bearer. Kelly, in a lace halter gown with a chocolate brown sash fastened with a brooch shaped as an "N," made her way toward Dylan on her father's arm. The bride and groom exchanged emotional vows beneath an arbor of birch branches and hanging foliage.

Once they were officially wed, Kelly and Dylan rode to the reception in a green vintage car, the traditional tin cans tied to the bumper noisily trailing behind them. At the barnyard, guests enjoyed cocktails and fondue at coffee tables made of hay bales with orange paper lanterns dangling overhead from the arms of a large tree. Escort cards attached to its trunk were easily plucked from their clothespins when it was time to follow the walkway of pumpkins, potted mums, and glowing lanterns that led to the barn doors. Oversized "K" and "D" initials suspended by orange ribbon greeted guests on their way into the homey yet elegant setting for dinner and dancing. Dramatic iron chandeliers hung from the barn ceiling and dozens of ivory pillar candles ran the lengths of the rafters, creating a warm, cozy glow throughout the space. Each table was dressed in deliciously colored linens - pecan, persimmon, and nutmeg - and topped with grouped centerpieces in copper pots, urns, weathered vases, and watering cans. A menu card adorned with a red barn motif was placed atop bronze-colored glass chargers at each setting. It described the autumn friendly dinner featuring potato and leek soup served in tiny pumpkins, chestnut and sage-stuffed chicken, and caramel apples, followed by a tower of cupcakes boasting the couple's monogram on small chocolate hearts.

Dylan wrote the couple's first dance song, and the two took to the wooden-planked floor for their first turn together as newlyweds. Soon everyone was in on the dancing, taking small breaks from the action to lounge in leather club chairs arranged close by. The evening ended around outdoor fire pits where Kelly and Dylan joined their guests to toast s'mores - and one another. Kelly and Dylan continued to celebrate their nuptials during their honeymoon in Santa Barbara, California, where they stayed at the tranquil and historic San Ysidro Ranch.

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