It was a party straight out of an episode of Sex and the City: each guest was asked to bring a member of the opposite sex in whom they had no interest in dating in order to populate the event with eligible bachelors and bachelorettes. It was the type of singles mixer that Barbara Balter and Dan Trencher wouldn't normally attend, but luckily, something urged them both to go. Not only did they manage to meet and hit it off, they turned out to be the only people from the event who went on to date.
After becoming engaged while on vacation in Puerto Rico, Barbara and Dan needed less than a year to plan their wedding. Between the advice of Barbara's sister, who was getting married just five months before her, and their wedding coordinator, Reva Nathan, the bride and groom were well equipped to make each big decision quickly and comfortably. "I expected the planning process to be stressful because people always tell such horror stories. But I found it to be really fun. What could be better than planning a spectacular party for all of the people who are most important to us?" says Barbara.
The couple knew that they wanted a fall wedding to take advantage of their favorite time of year in Barbara's hometown of Chicago. And the Windy City's Peninsula hotel turned out to be an ideal venue because it provided an elegant and sophisticated setting for their autumnal celebration.
Barbara and Dan were married in a Jewish ceremony that mixed traditional customs with contemporary touches. The pristine white aisle was lined with precisely manicured arrangements of fall-colored flowers and green reeds in varying wooden boxes. The bride and groom, along with their parents, stood beneath the sleek and modern chuppah, which was luminous with dramatic lighting. Although guests do not usually perform readings at traditional Jewish ceremonies, it was important to Barbara's sisters to honor the couple with a significant passage from The Velveteen Rabbit. "I think it was a really nice addition to our ceremony because the wedding was very formal and the reading from a children's book lightened everything up," says Barbara.
Another touching highlight was the attendance of the bride's ninety-nine year-old childhood babysitter. "I have not had living grandparents for many years, but I have always had Rosie," says Barbara. "It meant so much to me to have her at our wedding."
The decor for the ballroom reception was a continuation of the modern take on fall that had been established at the ceremony. Tables of different sizes were draped in chocolate brown silk linens and lined with stylized arrangements in numerous glass and wooden vessels. Orange lampshade votive candles poked their heads above the leaves and branches that jutted out in different directions from the centerpieces. The unusual tablescapes gave guests a unique perspective from every seat in the room.
The one area in which the couple allowed high style to take a back seat was the wedding cake. It was much more important to Barbara and Dan that the cake taste delicious rather than look a certain way. They ordered the confection from a tiny neighborhood bakery that had been a favorite of the bride's family for decades and left it up to their floral designer to use fresh flowers to dress up the simple chocolate cake with white butter cream frosting. This same cake that Barbara had grown up enjoying was the perfect finale to a dinner that included risotto, salad with goat cheese and figs, and rack of lamb. A station offering bananas foster also complemented the meal.
The couple lives in New York City where Dan was raised, and as a fitting tribute, the orchestra played Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" for the dancing crowd. The father of the groom also toasted the couple's dual-city heritage in his speech. With so many guests having made the trip from all parts of the country to attend their wedding, Barbara and Dan made sure to have as many opportunities as possible to spend time with family and friends. There were events the night before and the morning of the wedding, and just before the newlyweds left on their European honeymoon, they enjoyed one last brunch with their loved ones the day after the wedding.