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, Amanda El-Khoury 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, El-Khoury and Lucy benefit from a Rolodex of regulars stretching back three decades. Nothing fazes these two, and El-Khoury is 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., Chicago
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.
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.
333 N. Oakley Blvd., Smith Park
Larkspur owner Beth Barnett had a retail space in Bucktown for many years, but business has gotten so busy that she now fills her orders from a private studio (though you can still visit on open studio nights). Her arrangements are gorgeous year-round but particularly special come summer, when she uses flowers from Larkspur's organic flower farm in Southwest Michigan. The farm specializes in peonies—be still our swiftly beating hearts—in May and other local perennials for the rest of the summer. With one to two days' notice, they can deliver flowers anywhere in Chicago proper and to almost every suburb.
Redmoon Theater (closed)
Since they’re famous for jaw-dropping Cirque du Soleil-style public performances, few know that Redmoon's ridiculously talented performers also do private events. With specialties ranging from music to dance to acrobatics, their whimsical performances (and over-the-top costuming) can be easily customized.
Truffleberry Market Catering
With a client list that includes Chanel, Prada, and Louis Vuitton, you can be sure that Truffleberry Market has been properly vetted. Their events are known for adventurous menus and presentation, with dishes like mini lobster corn dogs, cucumber sandwiches wrapped in a delicate bow, and goat cheese cones. The team here is always up for a challenge, making them a great option if you have an ambitious theme.
Chicago’s Girl on the Go Personal Assistant
The concept behind Jancy Audet's company is kind of genius: She and her team come in to handle all of your most-dreaded errands, from booking travel to handling repairmen and contractors to her specialty, parties. Jancy's background is in event planning, so she's well equipped to take on everything from a 300-person wedding to the kids birthday party you don't have the time to put together.
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