Travel

Citywide Services

Establishment neighborhood
Molly Flavin
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.
Cornell Florist
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.
Boutique Bites
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.
Lex Nelson Photography
925.876.5949
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.
Larkspur
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.
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