“A day of true love and happiness!” How Lauren describes her and Mike’s wedding day sounds right out of a storybook, which is so fitting since their love story and wedding day has such a wonderful, modern fairy-tale vibe!
These two met at work and were friends for a few years before a fateful Saturday brunch with friends turned into something more. Lauren knew he was special, but a month into dating, a family hardship and Mike’s steadfastness reinforced for her that this was the person with whom she wanted to share her life. And the way he proposed? It’s of the sweep-you-off-your-feet variety in a low-key, awesome way!
Lauren, who danced the night away in our Madeleine gown and jetted off with Mike to South Africa for a honeymoon, shares their story and wedding day details below:
How did you guys meet?
“We met at work and were friends first! I had been working at the firm for a few years before Mike joined, and he quickly joined my work social. A few years later on a Saturday during March Madness 2017, a boozy, Saturday brunch with girlfriends turned into a long day of drinks and basketball with Mike and some other work friends…the rest is history!”
How did you know he/she was “the one”?
“It did not take long—a month or two! When you know, you know! It is hard to explain! I think because we were friends first, we already “knew” each other, so it moved quickly. I experienced a serious hardship in my life within the first month of dating. In early April, the Doctors told us that my dad (who had been diagnosed with Leukemia and had dealt with Alzheimer’s for several years) only had 2-4 months to live. It was the end of May, my dad took a turn for the worse and my family and I were trying to survive what we now know to be my dad’s last week of life. I remember being at the hospital thinking to myself, “Should he be here with me?”; “What will my brothers think?”; and “This is a lot considering we just started dating.” Sometime during that week, my brother asked me “Do you like this guy? He’s always around.” Mike never left my side, and I will forever be thankful he came into my life at the right time!”
How did your sweetie propose?
“This is a good one—I had no idea! Our friends, Jen and Ryan, were coming to visit Chicago for their first time from New York for a long weekend in January 2018 (yes—we had only been dating for about 9 months). The whole weekend was planned with some of our favorite restaurants in the city, pizza (of course!), and some relaxation. Our friends flew in Friday night—we met at Pequod’s and we were all so excited to be together for the weekend! Saturdays are for brunch, so we decided to go to this restaurant, Theater on the Lake, since it has great views of the city and it is along the lakefront (limited options in the winter). Although it was freezing that day, we decided to step outside to take some pictures with the view before the mimosas were poured. First, I took pictures of Jen and Ryan then, it was their turn to take pictures of us. As I am smiling for the picture, Mike is looking at me and saying all these nice things to me instead of looking at the camera. I say to him, “What are you doing, look at the camera!” I quickly realize what is happening and blurt out “Holy S**!” as he continues to say nice things, he gets down on one knee and asks me to marry him. I was completely surprised and was so happy our friends were part of it! Nevertheless, there is more! We enjoy the moment with Jen and Ryan then pop some champagne before calling our family and friends. Later I find out everyone knew except me. My sister met up with us to continue the celebrations. Of course, I want to see my family and friends right away, so my sister coordinates a location to meet up with them later that day. We show up at this bar in the South Loop, Scout, and 80+ people are there! I was completely surprised. Mike’s family and friends flew in from Buffalo, NY, NYC and SF. My brother and sister-in-law flew in from Charlottesville. I think I went to the bathroom and cried of happiness three times throughout the night. It was incredible! I later learned that Mike had been planning this for months. Since 2017 was one of the worst years of my life with the loss of my dad, Mike wanted to start 2018 off right and it was the first weekend he could get everyone together! Hey, when you know, you know!”
How did you choose your gown?
“Since our wedding was July, I was looking for something fun, lightweight, and I loved silk! I went to many stores in Chicago and nothing really was fitting the bill. After striking out at another local bridal store, one of the in-store bridal consultants suggested that I check out Bella Bleu bridal store, specifically because it carried Lea-Ann Belter. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what I ended up with. So, thank you to that bridal consultant that I did not purchase my dress from for pointing me in the right direction!”
Tell us about your day!
“We divided and conquered the wedding planning! We had a lot of fun doing it together and I think that is what made our day so special and fun for everyone. We wanted to enjoy the day while keeping it elegant and romantic. Our wedding was a traditional Catholic ceremony with a packed church. Following the ceremony, we took pictures on a bridge of the Chicago River and in Lincoln Park near the zoo.
Then came the party—what a blast! It started with our first dance and only went up from there. Despite Mike’s die-hard love for the Buffalo Bills, my brothers gave speeches that included the Chicago Bears song, which resulted with all of the Bill’s fans in the room firing back with “Let’s Go Buffalo…”.
Dining tables had to be collapsed and stowed away to expand the dance floor to maximum capacity, people were sweating, and eventually shirts were off. I don’t think anyone left the dance floor the entire night! Also, the weather could not have been more perfect. Summers in Chicago are hot and humid and a typical day at the end of July is 100 degrees paired with 100% humidity. It was a beautiful 70 degrees, sunny, with no humidity!”
What was your first dance song?
“”Superhuman” by Slander. I am more of a traditionalist, but this is not a traditional song. It came out when we started dating, and we both loved the song. It was inevitable that it would be our first song. Our first dance was electric—it really set the tone!”
One detail you couldn’t live without?
“Our families! We kept our wedding party small. I had my sister as my maid of honor and Mike had his two best friends as his best men. The rest of our party was filled with our three nieces and four nephews, brothers, sisters, brothers and sisters-in-law. It was not only a marriage of the two of us, but our families!”
What was the funniest moment of your day?
“We had the exact same reaction to each other’s gifts! We have the pictures to prove it!”
What was your something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue?
“Something borrowed: my sister’s veil, it was the perfect touch to my dress!
Something blue: a blue heart sewn in the pocket of my dress so I could carry with me this Miraculous Medal of Mary (my something new) that my mom had given to me. My mom was given the same medal on her wedding day, as well as her mom, and is a tradition she has passed on. My mom wears hers every day.
Something old: my mom’s purse she used on her prom day.”
Three words that best describe your partner:
“Loyal, Loving and Funny (love and laughs make everything better!)”
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
“We got married in July of 2018 (6 months after getting engaged). We wanted to take a three-week honeymoon, and it’s best to do so in December/January with work. We went to South Africa and Mauritius (off the coast of Madagascar). We went to Cape Town, took a road trip along the Garden Route, and went on Safari. It was amazing! If you can swing a 2+ week trip, I highly recommend it! Right after the wedding, we did go to Napa/Sonoma for a few days! It was my wedding gift to Mike. He had no idea and was so surprised! It was nice to be able to pull a fast on him, for once.”
Any advice for future brides/grooms?
“Enjoy and embrace the planning process. A lot of time, effort, and money go into one day, so remember it is about you and your commitment to each other. Communication is also key. It definitely helped that our offices, at that time, were next door to each other so it was easy to communicate updates or jump on quick call. Either way, have fun with it! Have fun on your wedding day! If you are having fun on your wedding day, it will naturally spread to your guests and you’ll end up with the best party/night of your lives.”
Lauren + Mike’s Chicago Wedding Vendors
wedding dress: Lea-Ann Belter Madeleine via Bella Bleu Bridal | photographer: Elizabeth Greve Photography | ceremony venue: Assumption Church | reception venue: Maggiano’s | hair: Salon Buzz | tux: Black Tie Tuxedo | invitations: Print Mart | video: Mike Staff Productions | DJ: Audio Effex – amazing beats!