Thursday, January 21, 2010

$50 Gowns!

Would you believe me if I told you that the above dress was purchased for $50?

Well neither would I unless I knew it for a fact (which I do) so I wanted to share with everyone how such a feat could be repeated...

St. Anne's of Barrington
Bridal Faire
Saturday, March 13, 2010
8 am-4 pm
House of Hope Resale Shop
200 N. Hough St.
Barrington, IL

Last year when I was on the hunt for my own wedding dress, I learned from a friend about this sample sale which St. Anne's Catholic Church puts on every year.  Throughout the year they accept donations of bridal gowns (mostly samples from bridal shops) and sell them all for fifty dollars each.  No, that is not a typo!!

I attended this sale in March of '09 and, to be honest, it was a blast!  Obviously the search for your wedding dress is a very personal thing and for some it wouldn't be right without a private room and champagne served in flutes.  I loved that part of the process too.  I went to several salons and got the whole "treatment" but found I spent the whole time worrying that I was going to end up falling in love with a dress I couldn't afford.  When I heard about this sale I figured I had to give it a try!

My two maids of honor, my mom, and I arrived at the sale around 6 am (yes it was still dark out) and ended up being the second in line!  They didn't even open the doors to the building until about 7:40 or so.  It was cold and we had to bundle ourselves up but it was all part of the experience.  :)

We spent the waiting time discussing exactly what styles and shapes I was looking for in a gown.  We finally got inside just a few minutes before they opened the doors to the room with the dresses.  At exactly 8 am we all raced in and ran to different racks to each grab the maximum of 3 dresses.  There were a couple dressing rooms, but most of the girls were changing out in the open (tip--if you go to the sale, wear a tank top and shorts under your clothes unless you don't mind showing off your goods!).

In the end it took us about an hour to find and decide on the gown shown in the top photo.  It was a really positive experience--no claws out like I've heard of at other sample sales.  Whenever someone decided to eliminate a dress from their potential choices, volunteers were wandering around holding up those dresses so other women might have the opportunity to try them on.  There was also a seamstress there who could tell you if a dress you'd chosen could be altered either to fit you or be turned into your dream style (remove an embellishment, add sleeves, etc.).

If you're up for a challenge, I definitely recommend checking out the St. Anne's sale!  It just goes to show you that a beautiful gown does not have to be out of anyone's financial reach.  

And just for's a pic of the dress "in action":

***Wedding day photos by Melissa Marie Photography...the sale photos are from my personal camera***

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Joan and Pat's Wedding

It might not be standard procedure for a wedding coordinator to blog about her own wedding, but I figure it's just another way to showcase my work until the next wedding in March :)  We were trying to pull off a wedding for a large number of guests on a reasonable budget and I think we succeeded! I did not, of course, day-of coordinate my own wedding. My good friend Sara did a fabulous job with that (and as a bonus, her husband who is starting his videography business came with the package)!

Pat and I got engaged last August and I knew immediately I wanted a fall wedding; it's my favorite time of year! After looking at the options for our large wedding (250) we ended up deciding on November 7th at Galleria Marchetti. Our ceremony would be held in the beautiful sanctuary at First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park. Because Pat is Catholic and I'm Jewish we had to find a "neutral" location at which to be married. We had a priest and a rabbi officiate and the staff at First U couldn't have been nicer in accommodating all of our requests!

The day turned out to be a STUNNER. I mean, really--68 degrees in November?? How could you ask for more? My 6 bridesmaids, my mom, and I all had our hair and makeup done by two wonderful ladies who came to my parents house--so convenient. I found our makeup artist at the Clinique counter at Macy's--Karla Chihu--and we got our hair done by Gigi Philip.  Although people teased me for doing so much within weeks of becoming engaged, it was so worth it because we had all the best vendors! 

The ladies were transported to the church by a trolley from Chicago Rolls Royce and Trolley Company--we chose a trolley because it fit our whole bridal party, plus parents and grandparents and the significant others of our siblings for photos after the church! 

After photos we went straight to GM. They REALLY outdid themselves--they had set up a little plate of fruit and cheese plus champagne in the bridal room for Pat and I to nibble on while we let the moment sink in.

The room looked fabulous.  We threw purple linens on all the tables, and combined with our florist's work (DK Floral Events) and the beauty of the GM Pavillion it looked like a million bucks!

Lucky me, my aunt is a calligrapher, so she hand-calligraphed all the place cards which gave the event a really elegant feel.

After dinner and the usual speeches and first dances I kid you not, our guests were on the dance floor like wildfire! We definitely have our fantastic band, TVK Orchestra, to thank. That was one of the areas (in addition to the reception location) where we splurged and it was SO worth it.

The wedding was a blast and I think everyone in attendance would say the same!  

***Photo credits:  Melissa Marie Photography***
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Five Grain Events

Well, this is my first official post as a blogger! I am in the process of starting an event planning firm called Five Grain Events, although I've been event planning for as long as I can remember. Let's see if I can catch everyone up as to why I decided to do this...

About Me

Beginning in about jr. high I realized that I was what one would call "organized". I planned (start to finish--at age 14) a trip for my immediate family and my aunt to St. John in the US Virgin Islands. I think that was about the time that my mom realized I was not following in her slightly scatter-brained footsteps. :) The trip went off without a hitch!

During my junior year in college I was recuritment coordinator for my sorority and planned 5 events plus numerous rehearsals in quick succesion for rush, and I was flattered when several people admired the fact that I was able to successfully pull these off without succombing to major stress like those who had held the position before me.

After college, I took a job at Lyric Opera of Chicago, but knew that I wanted to do more. I sent out my resume to several event coordinators in Chicago in the spring of 2008. I ended up signing on as assistant to Susan Jablonski who runs Pomme Productions and assisted her with several weddings.

During that summer two important things happened: 1) A friend of my boyfriend's brother was getting married in May of 2009. When she found out I was assisting an event coordinator, she asked if I would be day-of coordinator for her wedding. I gave an enthusiastic yes! 2) I got engaged myself. So, I knew the next year would be full of wedding planning and I'd get a chance to see if I really loved it!

Well, they both went FABULOUSLY! I knew it was time to start my own business...just had to come up with a name.

Five Grain Events

This was actually an easy one! The name comes from my married last name which means five grains in Italian. It also has to do with the fact that if you hire me, I can help remove a lot of the stress from the wedding planning process by taking care of some of those pesky details. "We're good for ya!"

I have 2 weddings scheduled for 2010, one in March and one in October and would love to coordinate a few more.  If you or any friends or family are interested in discussing an event further contact me at or 630-697-5078.  I'm looking forward to sharing the process with you as we go!
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Emily and Nick's Wedding

Going back in time, I thought I'd tell you a little about the events I've already done. Nick and Emily were married on a perfect day at the end of May, 2009.

As I mentioned, Emily and Nick are friends of my (now) brother-in-law, Steve, who was a groomsman in the wedding.  The ceremony took place at a really beautiful catholic church in the River North area called Assumption which perfectly fit Emily and Nick's 180 guests.

Afterward, while the bridal party went off to take some photos around town... assistant Melissa and I went to The Newberry Library to begin setup. The cake (by Rolf's Patisserie) was a stunning ivory design with swiss dots. Emily's florist, JBL Designs, added some hydrangea and ivy to the cake as well which was exactly the right amount of decoration.

The table numbers were neighborhoods in Chicago--an adorable idea!--and the centerpieces featured hydrangea, orchids, ivy, and lots of candlelight. Because the Newberry Library's Ruggles Hall is such a beautiful space, not much decor is needed to turn it into a stunning location for a wedding! The food was fabulous. Catered By Design did an excellent job and even brought this really awesome sculpture type thing they called a "wine tree". It was used during the cocktail hour for red and white wine, then they brought it into the reception where it housed champagne for the toasts! Really cool.

Despite a glitch with the dj (I won't mention his name here) playing several songs from Nick and Emily's "do not play" list, it was the perfect evening. The party lasted until the lights came up!

Overall everything went great as my first solo event. The Newberry events staff were shocked to hear I was a newbie and said they'd be happy to recommend me to future clients. And even my brother-in-law Steve, who is not always forthcoming with compliments, gave me a great review.  :)

Thanks, Emily and Nick, for allowing me to get my feet wet with your wedding! I hope it was everything you hoped it would be.

**Photos courtesy of Natalie Photo/Bella Pictures**
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