Our September 1st, 2013 almost 100%-bartered wedding in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago… a day of Best Decisions, ending with the best of them all, becoming legal Best Friends.
I found out a week before the wedding that I couldn’t get ready at the venue. I reached out to a guy I had met twice, for all of 20 minutes, who lived a few blocks from the Secret Garden. An email later, I had a place to be prettified, thanks to James and C’ne! Fun side note: after their wedding venue fell through and after hearing about our great experience, they’re now getting married at the same place, exactly a year later!
Kristine did my hair and makeup, in exchange for us hosting a fundraiser for the Chicago Women’s Health Center. In November, we sent the proceeds from one of our Idea Potlucks to CWHC, about $600. Meanwhile, Husband was making his way over to meet me, his brother bringing my bike. Matching bikes bought on uber-sale at REI.He had time for a photo shoot and to look over his vows.Seeing each other for the first time.Time to go get married! Four block walk to the Secret Garden. It was all about comfort (and frugality) for us. My entire outfit, including jewelry and shoes, was $190 and Husband’s was $38. All are things we’ll wear again.Ceremony and reception all in one location. Best decision.Our bartered invitations, created by the ‘You must work with them!’ Spilled Ink Press No assigned seats, during the ceremony or at dinner. Best decision.Flowers gifted to us by Honky Tonk.No programs or other needless throwaways. Best decision.
Not only were our guests able to get free rides home, we also rode in style gratis — huge, luxury SUV to and from the downtown hotel, thanks to Uber.Didn’t buy any decor; scrounged up everything from home, my mom’s house, and from alleys.Engagement Party invitation created by Sara & Julie (looking to buy or sell a home? Best decision on your part will be to go to them!).
Honky Tonk let us bring in our own alcohol. The beer, we bartered for. The hard stuff and the wine, we bought from Trader Joe’s. Best decision. You can return any unopened bottles with a receipt, which we did. A few flavors brewed for us by Kim of Hail to the AleHusband carried this palette four blocks from an alley to our house. He’s still mad about it. We were in the alley at this point, feeling all surreal and whatnot. Is this really happening? Walking down the ‘aisle.’ Our friend Frank James married us. Best decision. We wanted someone who knew the two of us and could speak from an authentic place. He get ordained via the Universal Life Church so that he could marry us, which takes about five minutes on the internet.No bridal party. We asked a few of our friends to ‘be a part of the wedding,’ whatever that meant to them. Best decision. Husband’s friend from Vanderbilt, Richard.Our amazingly talented and big-hearted friend Tim played the ceremony music. The rest of the music was on my Nano. Best decision.My roommate from Boston College, Liz. She did most of the artistic decor, painting the signs and just being an all around Creative Genius. My friend from Boston College, Erin. Husband and I stayed with her and her husband in Amsterdam, on our first trip together. Husband’s brother, Tommy. Husband’s improv teammate, Jon, and his fiancé, Katie, sing ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’Vows. I wrote mine the morning of, in Starbucks, and the barista now knows me as the girl who wrote her vows the morning of her wedding (and who tried to scam Starbucks by asking for her “free wedding-day drink” which apparently is not a thing). If you’d like to watch our vows: my vows, Husband’s vows.
Friend Adrienne printed the lyrics to our song on plantable paper handed out to guests as they arrived, which we then all sang together.Friends Tim, Frank James, Carrie, and Derek led us in rounds. Also found in the alley. We wanted good comfort food, not your traditional dry chicken breast. Best decision. Our photographer, who has shot countless weddings, said it was the best vendor dinner she’s ever been given.
No head table. We had a Sweetheart Table, just for the two of us. Best decision.
Josh from Powell Brew House brewed three flavors for us. We had a No Kid wedding. Best decision. We rented a suite in the hotel everyone was staying in and bartered three babysitters, whom we armed with pizza, games, and arts and crafts. Then we stayed in the suite that night. Only drawback — it smelled like baby-pee. Tip: throw diapers in trash outside of your wedding-suite.
This is the parents wheeling their kiddies back to their rooms post-wedding.
Instead of a photo-booth, we had a live-drawer. Aka Husband’s brother. Best decision. Toasts by the parents.
Our angel, Kate of K.Bella Events. She was the most amazing Day of Coordinator. I almost didn’t have one (I curate events for a living and thought I could handle it), which would’ve been the dumbest decision. We bartered an improv workshop for her and her friends, led by Husband.
Instead of a wedding cake, we asked a few loved ones to bring a dessert, in lieu of a gift. Best decision. They outdid themselves.
One of my three rings and his ring. No wedding band. Best decision.
Six months into marriage, best decision. All of it.
The throwing of an event where I met Husband four years ago, the decision to stay home texting him all night instead of going to a party, the introducing a boy to my family for the first time, the trip to Europe just a few months into dating, him moving in, our collaborations, getting engaged in Asheville, NC, our wedding planning and wedding weekend, our fights and how we un-fight, our talks about traveling the world, our biking to improv shows and BBQ restaurants.
Best Friend. Can’t wait for the rest of our lives together…
PS – another Best Decision was waiting to go on our honeymoon. We waited about a month a half before we went to Hawaii for two weeks. As the memories of the wedding were beginning to fade and real life was taking over again, hooray! Oahu and Maui, here we come. If we had known the winter in Chicago was going to be this bad, we would’ve stayed…
Most photos by Angela Garbot Photography
HIGHLY-LOVED AND RECOMMENDED PETAYA VENDORS
- wedding invitations by Spilled Ink Press
- wedding photography by Angela Garbot Photography
- textual storytelling by Ruthie Kott
- wedding videography by Media for Social Change
- rehearsal dinner catered by Ambiente Chicago
- day of wedding coordination by Kate Buckner
- wedding beer and beer labels by Hail to the Ale
- wedding childcare by Lindsay Muscato, Ellen Lekostaj, and Christina Muscato
- wedding graphic design/printing by Adrienne Zeak Brust
- rehearsal dinner dessert by The Cooking Chicks
- wedding transportation by Uber
- wedding beer by Powell Brew House
- rehearsal dinner beer by Circus Girl Beer
- wedding hair and makeup by Kristine Lorenzo
- rehearsal dinner photography by Amy Boyle Photography
- wedding venue and catered by Honky Tonk BBQ
- brunch venue by Enerspace (We ended up cancelling the brunch because the weekend was getting too packed, but want to acknowledge Jamie being on board since she and her space are so awesome, and she was so fantastic to work with!)
- engagement photography by OKRFOTO
- teeth-whitening by Sugar Fix Dental