Caroline McLinden and Sam McBride may have met in college, but it took until a year after they graduated from Miami University of Ohio for the two sweethearts to get together. “We were finally both single at the same time, went on our first date, and have been pretty inseparable ever since,” tells Caroline. While they were in the same general social circle in college, they were not close friends prior to when they started dating. “The most memorable thing about the beginning of our relationship was how well we clicked and how he immediately felt like home,” muses the bride. Perhaps this instant feeling of comfort is what led Sam to propose in such a charmingly humble way – when his beloved would least expect it. “We were out of toilet paper (romance!) and Sam insisted that we walk to CVS together to buy some more,” explains the bride. Despite her annoyance with the rain, the hopeful groom was able to talk his future bride into accompanying him on what she thought was a simple errand. “He proposed a block from our apartment. I’ll never forget turning around and seeing him on his knee in the dark in the rain asking me to be his wife,” gushes Caroline. “I was in shock for the next 24 hours.”

When planning the nuptials, Caroline turned to two experts: Her mother and her wedding planner, Beth Bernstein of SQN Events. “My mom had just planned my older sister’s incredible wedding the year prior, so she was my partner-in-crime throughout the whole process. She has impeccable taste and we had so much fun planning it together,” shares the bride. With the help of Beth and the mother of the bride, Caroline and Sam chose to have a fresh and modern take on wedding design. This plan fell together after selecting the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago for their ceremony and reception space. “We both appreciate clean and contemporary architecture, so the whole aesthetic of the venue just worked for us,” Caroline reveals.  

For the ceremony, the bride and groom stood on a raised white stage at the end of the aisle. A tall floral stand with a verdant arrangement of foliage and ivory blooms designed by HMR Designs stood at each corner of the stage. The couple chose to have their nuptials reflect their heritage in place of a more religious observance. The bride’s grandfather read a traditional Irish blessing and the newlyweds followed a bagpiper down the aisle for the recessional. “We had a meaningful ceremony that focused more on the importance of a solid foundation for a marriage,” Caroline explains of their choice.

Keeping with the modern color scheme, the reception featured floral runners of alabaster roses and green moss down the centers of long tables. Gold chiavari chairs added a touch of glamour, while elevated candles in glass vessels along the tabletops warmed the space. Guests were served an opulent dinner of Maine lobster salad with grapefruit and roasted tenderloin with crab cake and a blue cheese potato puree. A dessert station complemented the understated three-tier wedding cake. Revelers were delighted with late-night snacks of mini Chicago hotdogs, sliders, and miniature grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup shooters.

Though there is nothing she would change about her big day, Caroline wants future brides to “just remember that you’re really just planning a party” when stress starts to hit hard. “The relationship that it’s celebrating is the most important thing. Check in with your partner regularly and make sure you’re staying true to who you are as a couple every step of the way.”