Ode à la Rose
2023 W. Carroll Ave., West Town
Ode à la Rose founders Olivier Plusquellec and Louis Brunet are Parisian. And to be Parisian means to know beauty—and in this case, flowers. When they moved to NYC, they were disappointed to see all the dehydrated, wilted, sad arrangements on offer. So disappointed, they decided to start their own floral delivery service: Ode à la Rose. Plusquellec and Brunet started small, working with a few florists who trained in the specific style of hand-tied bouquets that the French have mastered—and they've only grown since. The team creates incredible arrangements with accents straight from Plusquellec and Brunet's home country: gigantic, plump fuchsia roses delivered with French macarons; lilies, wildflowers, and lavender accented with eucalyptus and wrapped in raffia. No detail is too small—the packaging, the richness of the hue of the flower, you name it—and they’re experts in keeping the flowers hydrated during transit. The team delivers in Chicago, as well as throughout the Northeast and New York City (where they have their premiere location above the Chelsea Flower Market). We're just hoping a West Coast outpost isn’t far behind.
259 Market Sq., Lake Forest
Molly Flavin knew she wanted to be a florist when she got her first job: sweeping stalks, petals, and leaves off the floor of a Chicago flower shop. For twenty years Flavin remained (mostly) under the radar, working via word of mouth. But demand for the florist’s classic, sophisticated arrangements grew, and by 2016, she needed a store. Flavin calls her shop a "floral boutique" and stocks a selection of linens and home accents that make concepting themes and bouquets a lot easier. She offers event consultations and in-home installations as well as bespoke arrangements. To learn how to do it yourself, book one of her sought-after flower-arranging classes.
1645 E. 55th St., Hyde Park
Yes, the flowers are the main event, but honestly, half the pleasure of visiting Hyde Park's Cornell Florist is the store itself. In the same location since 1939, the latest owners, Lindsay Levita and Steven Lucy, have retained all of the original features of the space, including the antique cash register. Known for their earthy, natural-looking arrangements of foliage and seasonal blooms, Levita and Lucy benefit from a Rolodex of regulars stretching back three decades. Nothing fazes these two, and both are especially skilled at walking through a venue and easily dreaming up an original vision—a godsend to indecisive couples. And should this be on your wish list: Cornell Florist also makes especially beautiful flower crowns.
224 N. Ada St., River West
Elaina Vazquez spent her early years honing her fine-dining skills (her résumé bullet points include the Culinary Institute of America as well as the kitchen of Joel Robuchon). But a strong entrepreneurial streak and a familial pull to Chicago took over: Boutique Bites was founded in 2008. In the last ten years, Vazquez has built one of the most in-demand catering companies in Chicago. There are few chefs who could pull off a six-course tasting menu (with wine pairings) for a large wedding like Vazquez. The BB team also handles the rentals, setup, staffing, and execution. And for those clients stuck for space, Boutique Bites has recently opened its own event venue—a beautifully restored warehouse in the West Loop neighborhood called Brique.
Snow & Graham
4021 N. Ravenswood Ave., Uptown
What started as a simple design studio back in 1998 has grown into a fully-fledged digital company more than adept at handling the stationery demands of the modern, time-starved customer. Snow & Graham's predesigned lines are perfect for those wanting to send out invites, announcements, or save-the-dates in a pinch. And clients wanting to design bespoke stationery are also well taken care of. All custom pieces are handmade on the softest double-thick 100 percent cotton-pulp paper—pasted by hand with nontoxic adhesive.
Nancy Chase Arrangements
Nancy Chase started out on a creative, nonfloral trajectory. A fine art graduate, Chase pursued a career in corporate art sales for years, then entered the interior design arena, before finally landing on flowers. The beauty and benefit of a career such as Chase's is that she has an unlimited pool of inspiration to draw on for her lush, colorful arrangements. Chase excels at weddings, and with the inclusion of one of her large-scale installations, little other decoration is necessary.
Toast & Jam
3317 W. Fullerton Ave., Wicker Park
This adorably named DJ company specializes in weddings, and folks on their team of (mostly women) DJs are equipped with all of the highly specific skills that weddings entail. They have a “never” list of cheesy, eye-roll songs, and a reputation for being professional and efficient, and great at reading the crowd.
Rob Krueger Photography
There’s no substitute for experience, and with more than 200 weddings under his belt, that's something Rob Krueger has in spades. When he's not shooting weddings, he's teaching photography classes or hosting his podcast, "Take and Talk Pics." Fair warning to grooms: He’s a huge fan of the “dip and kiss” pose.
Lex Nelson Photography
It’s no longer rare for a business to be bicoastal; less common is splitting time between Maine and Chicago, which is what New-England-girl-turned-Midwest transplant Lex Nelson does. (She’ll also travel pretty much anywhere in between and beyond for weddings.) Nelson, who graduated with a degree in Fine Arts and Digital Media from Northeastern University, knows the wedding biz well—she’s worked as a graphic designer, bridesmaid stylist, and worked her way up from wedding photographer assistant to second-shooter before starting her own company. Nelson’s detail shots of wedding-day gear as are lovely as her intimate couple portraits.
Feast & Imbibe
For oenophiles looking to elevate an event’s drinking situation above a well drink open bar, Feast & Imbibe will actually pair you with a chef and a sommelier simultaneously. Their Studio Kitchen in Evanston holds ticketed pop-up dinners once a month if you’d like to see them in action before you commit.