Sophisticated Jewish Ceremony + Luxe Ballroom Reception in Chicago

Carly and Adam

Photographed by: Bob & Dawn Davis PhotographyLocation: Chicago, Illinois, United States

The holiday season is arguably the most romantic time for an engagement – something Adam Sheppard kept in mind when considering how to pop the question to his girlfriend, Carly Leavitt. “After she moved in, I came home one night while she was out, and I wished she was home,” Adam recalls. “After that night, I came up with a plan to propose.” He eventually decided that – due to their shared love of musicals – a Broadway-style show would be the ideal setting in which to ask for her hand. After attending an evening performance of Newsies with some of Adam’s relatives, the group elected to kill time before their dinner reservation and chose to wait for the rest of the audience to clear out. As they rose to leave, Adam claimed that he was unable to find his cell phone, and asked Carly to help him search for it. “Adam went to the front of the theater by the stage and told [me] that he thought he found it, but needed the light from my phone to be sure,” she recalls. “When I shined the light under the curtain, instead of his phone, I saw a box with a ring.” Carly excitedly accepted and as the couple turned around, they saw the ushers and Adam’s family holding up newspapers that read “She Said Yes! Adam and Carly Are Engaged.” 

Immediately, Carly and Adam knew that they wanted to incorporate those closest to them into their soirée. In order to plan their dream event, the sweethearts turned to the same man that had planned Carly’s bat mitzvah 20 years prior. “We knew he would be perfect,” the bride tells. “It was also incredibly important to have one of my closest friends officiate the wedding as our rabbi, and to have Adam’s brother-in-law's band keep the entire room dancing all night.” To round out their sentimental theme, the duo made the apt decision to host their espousal in Chicago, as most of their family and friends resided around the area. 

When the day finally arrived, both bride and groom were anxious to wed. Carly prepared for the ceremony with her bridesmaids, donning a striking Monique Lhuillier gown she’d fallen in love with instantly. “It had lace straps that dipped into a V-neck in the front, but what really sold me was the [scoop back detail],” she says. Bridesmaids wore long, black ensembles that they each chose themselves, expertly fitting each woman’s personality and body shape. Carly and her attendants paraded down the aisle illuminated by numerous candles and candelabra. Adam stood in awe of his beloved’s beauty underneath an oval-roof chuppah adorned with sheer ivory fabric and a crystal chandelier suspended overhead. The service itself followed traditional Jewish matrimonial customs, including signing the ketubah and the seven circles. Once Adam’s foot crushed the glass, the two were officially joined. 

The reception space exuded sophistication. “We decided to stick with ivory, white, beige, gold, and some blush pink,” tells Carly of their color scheme. “We worked with Rishi Patel of HMR Designs, who immediately understood our vision and planned the most perfect setting.” Round tables were bedecked in champagne linens and alternated between three different centerpieces: either a tall floral arrangement surrounded by smaller gilt candles, a lower arrangement of blooms accompanied by tall candles, or a single candelabrum encircled by perennials. Each bouquet was filled with traditional and garden roses, hydrangeas, ranunculuses, and orchids, all in shades of alabaster. Every individual display was perched on a baroque, rich gold vessel and trough. 

Revelers were in for a variety of treats served throughout the evening. With 13 different types of hors d’oeuvres ranging between comfort – pigs in a blanket and chicken skewers – to refined – brioche and crab cakes with a Cajun rémoulade sauce – every palate was sure to find something satisfying. However, the pièce de résistance of the menu was the four-tiered confection that the bride and groom selected for their honored guests. “The look of the cake fit perfectly with the style of the room,” assures Carly. “The outside was a white buttercream frosting, and the inside was yellow cake separated by chocolate, Nutella, and salted caramel icing.” 

Attendees sampled the excellent cuisine in between trips to the bustling dance floor by way of a lively band. “[I loved] performing on stage with the band while Carly danced with me: at the 
end of the song, we sang to each other,” 
Adam remembers. “The evening was a mix of a rowdy, fun party and an elegant affair: beautiful floral and candlelit centerpieces on the one hand, and [people] bouncing around the room dancing on the other.” Carly adds, “It was magical to be up there with him while having an opportunity to see everyone dancing around us.” Both husband and wife took an opportunity to bask in the warm glow of love they felt in that moment – relishing in the presence of loved ones, their amorous nuptials, and their bright future together.