Four sets of Chicago newlyweds share the stories of their unions, adding to the patchwork of personal, beautiful, and truly unforgettable ways our city’s sweethearts say I do.
Natalie Stone and Caleb Pearson
Chicago Botanic Garden, Aug. 26, 2017
When the universe sends you a sign, you take note — and if you don’t? No worries, it’ll just send you another. Such is the case of Natalie and Caleb, who worked together in New York City, but didn’t realize they had a romantic connection until the universe stepped in and moved Caleb right across the street from his future bride.
“We kept our relationship a secret from our coworkers for an entire year, until we had to announce that we were leaving the company and moving to Chicago together,” says Natalie, a former Make It Better intern. “To this day, we have no idea how we dated — and even lived together — for so long without anyone finding out about us.”
Once the lovebirds came clean to their colleagues and moved to Chicago, Natalie’s hometown, they wasted no time making their intentions clear.
“Caleb moved to Chicago a month before me, and the night I flew in, he proposed,” she remembers.
A little over a year later, the wedding festivities began with a rehearsal dinner at the Deer Path Inn in Lake Forest. The following evening, surrounded by 175 guests, the pair tied the knot in a ceremony officiated by a mutual friend at Chicago Botanic Garden.
“We fell in love with the venue because we will be able to revisit it and have that memory for the rest of our lives, which isn’t possible at a lot of other places,” says Natalie.
Cocktails, dinner, and dancing soon followed, punctuated by memorable speeches and late-night ice cream cones. The highlight of the night? A photo booth, which the couple ordered on a whim at the very last moment (surely, another sign from the universe).
“We weren’t planning on having one, but looking through all the pictures on the day after the wedding ended up being one of our favorite moments,” says Natalie. “It was so surreal to see people who didn’t previously know each other having so much fun together.”
- Venue: Chicago Botanic Garden
- Photography: Elena Bazini
- Event Planning and Design: Jaci Weber of Clementine Custom Events
- Catering: Chicago Botanic Garden
- Florals: Edwards Florist
- Entertainment: TVK Orchestra
- Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
- Hair and Makeup: Sonia Roselli Beauty
- Dress: Alvina Valenta
- Attendants: Brideside
Melissa Parker and Caitlin Robinson
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, June 18, 2016
If surprises are the spice of life, then Melissa and Caitlin are doing something right. Hitting it off — and knowing they had something special — within minutes of meeting was the first unexpected delight of their relationship. A year later, along came the second surprise.
“Caitlin asked me to marry her on a Friday night along the Chicago riverwalk,” says Melissa. “The next morning, I asked her to marry me by blindfolding her and taking her to her favorite place in the whole world, Wrigley Field.”
Number three showed up in the form of their wedding venue.
“We visited a number of locations with our planner, Heather, before deciding on the Nature Museum,” says Melissa. “She’d suggested it right away and we said no, but she was right!”
With a location booked, the couple wasted no time planning the rest of their details, including a rehearsal dinner at Dinosaur BBQ in Lincoln Park. And then, a year after getting engaged, Caitlin and Melissa exchanged self-penned vows in a beautiful outdoor ceremony in front of 225 of their friends and family. Cocktails, dinner, and dancing soon followed, and then it was time for surprise number four, this time to the delight of their guests: a choreographed dance to the song “Now That We Found Love” by Heavy D & the Boyz.
“The looks on everyone’s faces as we danced said it all — no one would have ever guessed that Caitlin would do that,” says Melissa.
Number five was the wedding cake, a gluten-free confection with a rainbow pattern hidden inside. Number six? The accompanying ice cream sundaes, served ballpark-style in little Cubs hats, a curveball from Melissa to Caitlin. And finally, to round out the evening, lucky number seven: “A recap video of the day produced by the videographers on site and shown to guests at the end of the reception,” says Melissa.
As for surprise number eight? We’ll let you know when we do!
- Venue: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
- Photography: Husar Photography
- Videography: Key Moments Films
- Event Planning and Design: Heather Vickery of Greatest Expectations
- Catering: Limelight Catering
- Florals: HMR Designs
- Rentals: HMR Designs / Tablescapes
- Entertainment: The Union
- Invitations: Magnificent Milestones
- Hair: M: Fridah Shirazi; C: Maggie Murphy
- Makeup: M: Debra Petrielli; C: Amy Spagnoli
- Formalwear: Bespoke suits by Sam Koi
Young Moon and Matthew Saretsky
Chicago Cultural Center, Oct. 29, 2016
If you’ve ever needed proof that opposites attract, here it is: When Young and Matthew first met, in a 65-student section during their first year at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, “Young was an ostensibly serious student, sitting in the front row of each class and furiously typing notes on her laptop, whereas I sat quietly in the back of the class with a pen and pad of paper,” says Matthew. And yet, three-and-a-half years later, during a weekend trip to Sedona, Matthew found himself down on one knee asking Young to marry him. After a heartfelt YES, the Midwest natives agreed that a fall wedding in an iconic Windy City location best reflected their vision and aesthetic, and plans for a celebration at the Chicago Cultural Center were soon underway.
Thirteen months later, on a Friday night in late October, guests from near and far came together for a rehearsal dinner at Café Ba-Ba-Reeba! in Lincoln Park. The next day, with 265 of their loved ones looking on, Young walked down the aisle to her favorite piece by Debussy, and the couple sealed the deal in a ceremony that blended both Catholic and Jewish traditions.
“We also lit a candle in memory of my mother, who passed away just three months before the wedding,” says Young.
Guests were treated to a paebek, or ancient Korean wedding ceremony, during cocktail hour, and then it was time for dinner and dancing to everything from Motown to Top 40 hits.
“My favorite part of the night was seeing so many friends and family from different geographies and time periods in our lives,” says Matthew. “It was so humbling to know that everyone made the effort to celebrate with us.”
As the night wound down, guests were treated to Chicago-style hot dogs and Detroit Coney dogs, late-night snacks as opposite — and yet perfectly complementary — as the happy couple themselves.
- Venue: Chicago Cultural Center
- Photography: Riverbend Studio
- Videography: Wholehearted Wedding Film Co.
- Event Planning: Kayla Mousser of Big City Bride
- Catering: Limelight Catering
- Decor: K.LA Designs
- Lighting: VLS Lighting
- Entertainment: TVK Orchestra
- Hair: Tamara Makeup + Hair Artistry
- Makeup: Juli Valdez
- Dress: Carolina Herrera
Natalie Serrino and Timothy Peacock
Skokie Country Club, Sept. 16, 2017
In many cultures, the summer solstice — when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, marked by the longest day of the year — represents much more than an astrological event. The Chinese pay homage to Li, the goddess of light, the Druids celebrate the wedding of heaven and earth, and Natalie Serrino and Timothy Peacock, who got engaged on the summer solstice while vacationing in Iceland in 2016, will forever remember it as The Day That Natalie Said Yes.
The couple first met during orientation at Brown University in 2008, and while the connection was instant, “we were only 18 and had no idea we would get married one day,” says Natalie. But eight years later, in September of 2017, there they were at the altar.
The weekend commenced with a rehearsal dinner at The Peckish Pig in Evanston, and the next afternoon, the two said their vows at Glencoe Union Church — Natalie’s childhood parish — surrounded by 200 of their nearest and dearest. (Fun fact: Remember the church from “Sixteen Candles”? This is it.) Then it was off to Skokie Country Club for a party practically bursting with personal details: two signature drinks (The Mission, a margarita with a twist named to honor the San Francisco neighborhood where Tim and Natalie currently live, and The Champlin, a Texas mule named for the dorm at Brown where they met); a peacock with a “tail” of cupcakes that stood proudly next to the cake as a play on their last name; and a maid of honor speech complete with a 6-foot-tall banana prop (we didn’t ask). The highlight of the evening, however, was something that neither of them could have anticipated: a surprise fireworks display, orchestrated by the bride’s parents.
“It was incredible — we had no idea it was coming,” says Natalie.
The reception wound down at midnight, but the newlyweds partied on with their guests until the wee hours. And while their wedding day wasn’t quite as long as the solstice that set it all in motion, we have a feeling it was every bit as memorable.
- Venue and Catering: Skokie Country Club
- Photography: Brian Carey and James Gustin, Fig Media
- Videography: Codi Palm and Nick Sanchez, Fig Media
- Event Planning and Design: Donna Goodman
- Florals: The Flower Shop
- Entertainment: Indigo of Arlen Music Productions
- Invitations: Mi•Te Print
- Hair: Marci Aronesti of Pascal Pour Elle
- Makeup: Kate Johnson of Kate Johnson Artistry
- Dress: Diana by Lea-Ann Belter
- Attendants: Azazie
More from Make It Better:
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- 17 Spots for Dinner and a Show Around Chicago (Date Night, Sorted!)
- This ‘Houzz for Parties’ Site Makes Planning Celebrations SO Much Easier
Cara Sullivan is Make It Better’s Executive Editor. She has held positions at Cosmopolitan, Allure, and Martha Stewart Weddings magazines, and writes for many national and local publications. Sullivan lives in Ravenswood Gardens with her husband and two young daughters, and is a passionate supporter of Indivisible Chicago, a grassroots organization that focuses on direct actions that small, local groups can take to influence their representatives in Washington.