Winter Wedding with Catholic Ceremony + Luxurious Reception in Chicago

Raquel Pagonis and Carl Fiebig II

Photographed by: Ann & Kam Photography & CinemaLocation: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Raquel Pagonis was only a fourteen-year-old high school freshman when she first met Carl Fiebig II, a sophomore. “I had a feeling of being star struck!” she exclaims. Despite her initial feelings, she didn’t pursue a relationship. “I didn’t have many boyfriends. I had two older brothers and my father who knew my every move,” Raquel admits. Instead, she and Carl became close friends. Her father may have had a protective instinct, but he still was able to sense a spark between the pair. “The first time my dad ever met Carl, I had a group of friends over to my house and he met everyone. When they all left, my dad looked at me and said, ‘You’re going to be with that kid one day!’ I told him, ‘No way, we are just friends!’” she laughs. 

It took 10 years of friendship before the duo took the step towards a romantic relationship, but once they got together there was no stopping them. Due to the close bond of the Pagonis family, Carl knew he wanted the blessing of his sweetheart’s parents and brothers before asking for her hand in marriage. “I asked her dad to have breakfast one morning when back in Chicago,” Carl explains. “Coincidentally, he initiated the conversation, asking me about my intentions, and I surprised him with the engagement ring I had in my pocket. He was extremely happy and we had a heartfelt conversation for a few hours before approaching the rest of the family.”

Shortly after ringing in 2018, the lovebirds went on a ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado with some of their closest friends. Because Carl was known for elaborate surprises on their vacations together, Raquel wasn’t suspicious when on the way to dinner he asked her and her two friends to put on blindfolds. “The men start leading us down this icy path to what I thought was dog sledding or something else. At this point I didn’t know the other girls had taken off their blindfolds,” Raquel remembers. “They did a great job acting like they couldn’t see.” A violinist started playing a rendition of John Legend’s romantic hit song “All of Me” and when Raquel removed her blindfold, she realized their friends were nowhere in sight. “Carl got down on one knee, and after the proposal he told me he had to ask me three times because I was in shock!” 

Selecting the venues for the ceremony and reception was an easy task. It was important to the couple to have a traditional Catholic mass, so the cathedral they grew up attending was the obvious choice. Raquel had fallen in love with photos of the reception space years prior, and Carl, along with both their families, were on board as soon as they first visited the social club. Though the bride and her mother greatly enjoyed planning the celebration, Michelle Durpetti of Michelle Durpetti Events was brought on to help tie everything together. 

Two large arrangements of greenery were all the church needed for décor during the ceremony, and the bridesmaids’ bouquets matched – eschewing more traditional flowers. The bride’s strapless ball gown from Mark Ingram Atelier included modern architectural details as well as a separate capelet to wear for the vow exchange. Her voluminous veil, white gloves, and sparkling headpiece completed the distinctive style. “Carl and I love fashion,” Raquel shares. “It was very important for us to have a look.” The groom wore a velvet navy jacket, and he and his groomsmen all wore metal lapel pins instead of boutonnieres, which beautifully complemented the metallic champagne-hued dresses worn by the bridesmaids. 

Though a picturesque flurry of snow began to fall outside, the interior of the reception continued the verdant aesthetic of the ceremony. In order to avoid clashing with the Gothic hall, centerpieces were made with an abundance of foliage interspersed with flowers in the palest of shades. Candles were added to create a warm lighting design for an inviting atmosphere, which suited the couple’s desire to have the event focus on friends and family. As a special surprise, the grandparents of the bride hired a live event painter, who created a beautiful piece showcasing the newlyweds during their first dance.  

The dance floor was as full as the couple’s love for one another, not only during the live band’s performance that concluded at midnight, but also through the DJ set that ended at 2:30 a.m. – and beyond. “Guests were in the room until 3AM; we couldn’t get people to clear it!” reveals the bride.