Sophisticated Wedding in Chicago with Branch & Succulent Décor

Rebecca and Adam

Photographed by: KingenSmithLocation: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Although Adam Draizin rarely contacted anyone on the dating site Jdate.com, something about Rebecca Halpern’s profile compelled him to email her. Next thing they knew, Adam and Rebecca were out to dinner and having such a wonderful time they all but missed the concert they had planned to see. Later in the relationship, after Adam moved from Chicago to Phoenix, Rebecca returned from one of her frequent visits without plans to see him again for another three weeks. But only one week later, Adam surprised Rebecca at work and brought her to the same spot where they had shared their first kiss to propose.

Rebecca describes their nine-month planning period as “not enough time to second-guess yourself, but just enough time to be thoughtful.” In considering the look of the wedding, she re-visited her vast collection of interior design magazines and tore out “anything and everything that seemed interesting.” She brought the clippings to her consultant Jennifer Anderson and floral designer Kehoe Designs to help communicate a vision built on her personal motto that “less is more.” Rebecca and her designers achieved a level of elegant simplicity, in part, by pairing the color ivory with a few carefully chosen motifs.

For the ceremony, dramatic manzanita branches and hurricane candles lined the ivory aisle leading toward the uniquely understated chuppah, which consisted of four columns suspended from the ceiling. It was a striking architectural element that honored Rebecca’s father, who works in the construction industry. Its simple design showcased but did not detract from the ceremony, allowing the couple to take creative risks where it mattered most. In exchanging their original vows, Rebecca chose to speak candidly instead of scripting her words, and the traditional Jewish music that opened the processional was replaced by a gospel trio singing Aretha Franklin’s “You’re All I Need to Get By” when the small wedding party walked the aisle. “It was a fantastic surprise,” remembers the bride.

Because the mother-of-the-bride is a food critic, there was natural emphasis placed on the evening’s menu, beginning with artfully designed hors d’oeuvres during the cocktail hour. The innovative dinner, which included courses of Chilean sea bass over lotus root and filet mignon with a chanterelle puree, was served at long tables intended to feel like home, albeit one with enviable style. “I wanted the tables to have the look of a fabulous dinner party in a Park Avenue apartment,” explains Rebecca. Burlap runners layered atop ivory linens created a canvas to accommodate the grouped centerpieces, which varied from table to table. Coordinating arrangements of manzanita branches, orchids, and dahlias were displayed in both low and tall vessels and were unified by accents of white coral, succulent cacti (to represent the couple’s new home in Arizona), mother of pearl nut dishes, and a profusion of candles.

Adding a whimsical touch to the celebration was the groom’s cake, which depicted Rebecca and Adam riding through Chicago on Adam’s yellow motorcycle. They were cruising past a red light traffic camera (Adam’s business) with a bag of golf clubs strapped to the bride’s back (she once played professionally). To ensure the couple’s other wedding cake (a seven-tier carrot cake covered in cream cheese frosting and coconut shavings) did not go to waste, the bride and groom gave boxed pieces to their 300 guests as treats for the trip home. For their out-of-town friends, Rebecca and Adam also created thoughtful gift bags that included a collection of items inspired by the Windy City. From the moment Rebecca and Adam shared their first dance to the upbeat tune, “Best of My Love,” it was all about the party. “Everyone loved it and was on their feet for the rest of the night,” beams Rebecca. Thankful for the experience, she adds: “It meant a lot to have everyone we care about there. To look around and see everyone having a great time was very gratifying.”

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