Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wedding Planning RECAP @ The University Club

This week we are looking back at one of the weddings he had at The University Club.  We were excited to be back at The Club and working with their fabulous team.  There are a few things to note about this wedding.  The first, it took place on Valentine's Day, one of the most romantic days of the year!  The second, was being February 14th in Chicago, it actually was the first, coldest day of the year, so being so smart, this couple decided to have everything take place inside from getting ready onsite, to photos, to ceremony, and reception!

When looking back at how the look came together, Juliet Tan and her team at Juliet Tan Floral Designs did an incredible job pulling the couple's vision to life.  They wanted a sophisticated, whimsical, winter wedding.  I think the team did a great job and making that happen!

 We first look at the ceremony.  With the fire place as the back drop, by adding candles inside the fireplace and all around it created this incredible warmth space for the lovely couple to be married.  Accentuating the aisle with the tall centerpieces and candles was just simply romantic with a coordinating aisle runner.  To tie it all off, we brought in gold chivari (or versaille) chairs and the aisle was tied with a crystal garland!  Big thanks to Marcos and his team for pin spotting the florals down the aisle to help accentuate and illuminate them for our happy couple!

Then on to the reception.  We used the same room for the ceremony and created this magical look. With a combination of the taller centerpieces from the ceremony and a collection look for the rest of the guest tables, the dining room was magically set.  What was great too, as the sun set, and the room became darker, the romantic feel from the candles and the pin spotting over the guest tables was just fabulous!

One of the most magical parts of the wedding was the special head table for the couple and their wedding party.  With a long table, seating all the way around, the design was just incredible on how this came to life!

The gold wedding cake also provided a magnificent finishing touch to pull this entire design together!

Thanks for looking back with us and watch for another Wedding RECAP next week!

#chicagoweddingplanner #weddingplanner #chicagowedding #universityclubwedding #loveislivenitup

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Looking Back at One Year of Marriage Equality In Illinois!

A Note from Anthony Navarro:
One of the greatest joys I have had over the past year, is to finally work with same sex couples in Illinois and for the first time, be able to call their union celebrations a wedding.  Now, I have been working with same sex couples for many years, since I started in the wedding and events industry in 2001.  Actually, the first place I worked with did not even know how to work with same sex couples for their commitment ceremonies.  I had to reassure everyone, it was just like any other wedding.
 Over the past year, I have been honored with working with so many same sex couples.  This week, I have been looking back and even reconnecting with a few couples who's weddings were the first in Illinois to be on the books!
First, I was so happy to see Jason and Matt recently.  I looked back at their wedding at Cafe Brauer and remembered how amazing it was during the ceremony, listening to them recite their vows to one another after being together for 10 years, without a dry eye in the audience.
Gay Wedding Planner Liven It Up Events
Then, there was Steve and Scott at The Sofitel Hotel.  Their wedding was a day time event, where they thought they were maybe only going to have 100 people attend.  Well, because so many people wanted to come and support them, they had an overwhelming 180 guests attend.  It was a beautiful wedding and I could have not asked for a more amazing couple to work with that day!
Same Sex Wedding Planner Chicago Liven It Up Events
Then there was Geoff and Sasha who called me 2 months before their wedding.  They lived in Europe but family was here, so they wanted to throw a fun, afternoon wedding and realized they needed help.  Only meeting in person once before the wedding day and with quite a few Skype calls, we made it happen!  Again, back at Cafe Brauer, my home away from home, we were able to pull together this amazing day for them!
Liven It Up Events Marriage Equality Wedding Planner
Then of course, there was John and Matt!  Their wedding took place at The Rookery, which not only were they great to work with, but they had such a fun wedding as well!  When this wedding concluded, I received this note from one of their moms which made me remember why I do what I do.
"Anthony, at the Rookery this weekend, the beauty spoke for itself, but the smoothness of the event was silently spectacular!  I believe you are one of those rare individuals that can truly make magic surround others visually, mentally and emotionally. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. Those moments at the Rookery that won't ever be forgotten were surrounded by a calm, shimmering beauty that you made!  Thank you for making my dreams for Matt and John's wedding come true in the most beautiful way!"
This meant so much to me!
Same sex weddings chicago liven it up envets
And finally, the last leg of this year long journey came with the two events before the 1 year mark.  Those were 'Love is Love' and Kat and Lizzy's wedding.   Love is Love was the celebration event that took place at Cafe Brauer on May 28th, 2015.  With so many people in attendance and all of the sponsors cohesively working together, it was a success!  Most times, at these types of events, the sponsors all want to put their best foot forward and outshine all of the other sponsors, which is completely acceptable and fine at other events.  However, that was not the case at Love is Love.  The four caterers, Wolfgang Puck, Entertaining Company, J&L and Limelight, all came together, met, worked out their individual menus to make sure there was nothing repeated and everything was cohesive.  It was truly remarkable and admirable to see how it all came together!
Love is Love Rick Aguliar Liven It Up Events
To see more photos from Love is Love, click here!
Then, there was Lizzy and Kat's wedding.  Here's where I think the entire year came full circle.  I learned over the last year, there are no more bridal parties, they are wedding parities.  There are not bridal suites, there are wedding suites.  No longer does it have to be a Maid of Honor or Best Man, it can be a Best Woman and a Man of Honor.  As the laws have changed, the traditions have changed, and we all have to adapt and change with them.  What was most moving for me at this last wedding was, instead of a wedding party, the siblings were the ones who walked in.  First, a brother and his wife, then another brother and his husband, and then another brother and his boyfriend.  Only to follow both brides to walk in.  One bride with her mom and dad and then the other bride with her mom, dad and her step dad.  When everyone made it to the front, they all hugged and then the parents all sat down and the ceremony began.
Same sex weddings in chicago by liven it up events
It was then when it hit me... LOVE!  That's it!  It really is all about LOVE!  Oh course it's fun to design the flowers, and the food menus, and work through the music play lists, and help write the ceremony scripts, and design the invitations and so on.  But what was so special about the last year at these weddings, and all weddings, we were celebrating love.   One of the most simple, yet most beautiful things in the world.
As I continue this journey as wedding planner, I take that lesson with me.  Reminding myself and my clients that really, when it is all said and done, all you need is love!
#LoveIsLove #LoveIsEquality #LoveIsLivenItUp

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wedding Planning RECAP @ The Wit Hotel

This past fall, we had a great run with some fun clients and some fun venues.  The team at Liven It Up Events is no stranger to The Wit hotel, however, this was the first time we had done a wedding at The Wit at their space at Cibo Matto.  This former restaurant space is now used for intimate weddings and events and we just love this space!
The first piece to the designing process was to work through the ceremony location.  We used a small ballroom for the ceremony that we completely transformed with the help of Juliet Tan Floral Designs and Elegant Event Lighting.  Juliet and her team provided a beautiful aisle runner, candles and rose petals that lined the narrow aisle and EEL provided this stunning backdrop with uplighting.  It was stunning!
Wit 7
The next step was to work through the transformation into the main room for dining.  The original plan was to use the tables that were provided by Cibo, which were wood topped and their assorted furniture for seating.  After taking a look and thinking about it, the couple decided that they wanted a less natural look and more of a glam look.  
The first thing we had to do was select table linens and chairs to coordinate.  The couple loved the idea of using a more natural color linen, so still rustic, but more polished.  From there, we decided to use the crystal chivari with blush seat cushion and napkin.
Wit 6
The next step was to create a more modern look with the floral by adding in candelabras, assorted collections of flowers, mercury glass, and tons of candle light!  By creating larger tables for seating, we were able to create this amazing wedding.  
Wit 1
Wit 2
Wit 4
With careful positioning of the guest tables, we were able to use the lighting already in the room to help create the perfect ambiance for the wedding!
And there you have it, another RECAP from the team at Liven It Up Events!  More to come next week.   

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wedding Planning RECAP @ The Patrick Haley Mansion

Here we are again, looking back at another wedding we were so delighted to work on!  This time, we found ourselves at The Patrick Haley Mansion in Joliet.  This was our first wedding in this gorgeous space and we just loved it! What was so much fun with this wedding was that both the bride and groom were professors in the arts field, so throughout, we were able to play with a literary theme along with playing with the majestic feel of this historic mansion.
The first thing that we wanted to do was create a focal point in the room, as always, this was the happy couple at their table.  Instead of having a traditional, long head table, we had what is known as a feasting table.  This table seats the wedding party and more, all the way around the table with a space in front for the couple to be seen and works great for photos!
Patrick Haley 1
The next piece that was important was working in decor, non floral, on the guest tables.  Our suggestion was to bring some height into the room because of the tall ceilings, so the mother of the bride found these beautiful crystal candelabras that we used.  On the other tables, the couple found old books and artifacts that we stacked on each table.  It was such an elegant and fun way to blend the two styles!
Patrick Haley 3
All together, the room looked grand and elegant with it's natural features, only enhancing it's beauty with the decor we brought in!
Patrick Haley 5
Another fun feature was the use of the library in the mansion.  This is where we had the "escort cards" which were actual books that the guests were able to keep as a favor!  We were able to stack them on the book cases on the window ledge.  It was such a fun way for the guests to find where they were sitting!
Patrick Haley 2
Finally, we wanted to use the salon for more than just cocktail hour, so we used the salon as the back for the dessert station.  Unlike most weddings, there was no wedding cake.  The couple loved strudel, so that was what we served, strudel!  It was not only a fun station, but so delicious!
Patrick Haley 4
And there you have it!  Another Wedding Planning RECAP from Liven It Up Events!  More to come next week!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wedding Planning RECAP @ The Sofitel

When you have a couple tell you that they want their wedding to feel creative and different, what do you do?  All weddings have similar elements, what really makes the difference is in how you put them together.  What was great about this couple who were married last year at The Sofitel Hotel in Chicago, was there were a few things they knew for sure.  They wanted with their decorscape to have some bling, white in the flowers, some modern touches and then from there, were open to suggestions.  Here's what happened.
After careful considering, the couple chose to work with our friends at Revel Decor.  The first part of the wedding we started to design was the ceremony. They wanted to make sure the aisle had an impact, but also conscious that the floral did not block the guests view of the ceremony.  They also wanted a little more of a unique chuppah so the chose this design.  It was magical!
Sofitel 1

For the reception, they wanted to make sure there was a little more of a wow, so bring in just four giant floral statement pieces was the way to go!
Sofitel 2
Also playing with the head table, we incorporated some fun candelabras that were more on the modern side that had a big impact on the table and the room as a whole.  You can also see the amber colored up lighting throughout the room.  It was the perfect way to warm up the space!
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With lighting one of the things we also had to do was to pinspot the centerpieces to illuminate the arrangements in the room.  Can can see the white colored light here in this photo on of these tall statement pieces.
Sofitel 4
We also looked for some bling in the floral pieces along with some more bling on the wedding cake!  Thanks to Cake Sweet Foods, Mary and Gretchen made this cake come to life!
Sofitel 6

We made sure to finish the look with the crystal chivari chairs to hold true to the modern value of the hotel!
This was such a fun wedding to plan, what a great couple to work with, and could not ask for better partners here!  Big thanks to all who made this wedding come to life.  As always, more to come from the team at Liven It Up Events next week!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wedding Planning RECAP @ The MCA

One of the spaces we have been working in for many years is the Museum of Contemporary Art or The MCA in Chicago.  The from weddings to corporate events, we have done quite a few of these over the years.  This past fall, we had a lovely couple host their reception there and wanted something a little different than what we typically see in the space.
First thing was, they wanted to do all long tables for the guest seating.  Normally, it a wide space, it is not a problem.  Long tables actually take up more space and you can fit less people.  What was great was the guest count was low enough to do this in the space.  Not going to lie here, we had to adjust the floor plan slightly on the day of the wedding, but the team at Wolfgang Puck was incredible and were able to make it happen!

The next two pieces to designing here were that they wanted it to feel almost as those we were outdoors, but with a modern twist.  The easiest way we found that was to use lighting projections of leaves on the walls and the dining room.  And thanks to Art of Imagination, we were able to do that, along with the beautiful back drop to highlight the head table.

The next part of the design was what was going on the tables.  Since we were in a Modern Art Museum, the couple wanted to keep everything simple and minimal when it came to floral.  Thanks to Juliet Tan Floral Designs and her team, we were able to do that with tons of candles and jutting calla lilies on the tables.  Simple, but so elegant in this space!  
Even keeping it minimal on the place card table was perfect!

The one last element we brought into the space was the lounge furniture to keep in the cafe during dancing.  It was important to have some modern furniture for the couple integrated into the design, so this is what we chose.

And there you have it!  Another Wedding Planning RECAP from Liven It Up Events!  More to come next week!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Liven It Up Events Turns 8!

A Message from Anthony Navarro, Founder of Liven It Up Events
8 years
Eight years ago, on a cold February day, I was in my apartment, working from home that day, when I had the television on the background.  I had The Oprah Winfrey Show on, and those who know me, know that was a regular watch in my home.  That day, Suzie Orman was on and talking about how important it was to take control of your destiny and do what you love to do.  To make a long story short, that day I began to map out what I was passionate about and how could I take control of my destiny.... 8 years later, here we are!
What is most important to me as we celebrate 8 years of business to to give my thanks and gratitude to those who most deserve it, the clients, the event professionals, and the team at Liven It Up!
To the couples and clients that work with us especially those who gave me a shot, just starting out. For whatever they saw in me, to hire the new guy, stills keeps me in awe that they trusted me to take on their important day.   The reason I wanted to continue my work in the wedding industry was, and still is, I truly felt that working with someone to create their wedding was truly a gift.  I have always felt that the work that I get to do every weekend is truly magical. To be able to make something out of nothing and create a life time of memories in just one day – that is pretty powerful. Thank you for trusting me to take us on that journey.
To my colleagues and friends in the industry.  If I were to list everyone here by name, the list would go on for days.  I am so blessed to have met some of the most giving people on the planet.  People who work in the wedding industry do for others, at times bend over backwards, to make things happen.  I can think of different times when working with people that some how makes what would be the impossible happen for the client.  I truly believe that those moments are learning lessons and bond us together for life.
To the team at Liven It Up Events, both past and present.  When I began this journey, I never imagined that the team would grow much larger than me.  And now, I look and see that between Planners, Event Producers and Interns, over 20 people have come through these past 8 years to help make these magical days come to life.  You ARE the hardest working, loving, caring, dedicated and passionate people in the biz. I am so blessed to have you with me. Thank you for your continued support and dedication to the work and our clients.
Liven It Up Events
It has been an amazing road through the years in the events industry.  When I began my career, I was still in college, and my first job was a catering sales assistant.  Back in those days, I did not have an email address, I was faxing clients menus and contracts.  Things have sure changed.  Like the first time I ever worked with a same sex couple on their commitment ceremony, the first ever at the hotel I worked at.  I had to fight just to get it approved to be on premise.  And from there, the couples I worked with on their commitment ceremonies, to their civil unions and finally to their weddings!  I never imagined that we would come this far.  It has been an honor to be a part of the movement and the journey.
marriage equaity
It has been a journey.  With so many couples, from all walks of life, with celebrity guests at our weddings to family members from all over the world.  From all sorts of venues, hotels, photography studios, barns, art galleries, country clubs, mansions, historic sites, and more.  As we enter Season 8, I prepare to continue to create memories for all of those out there.  I thank those who choose to work with us, I am gracious for the opportunity to keep doing what I do, and appreciate the love and the support from all.  Here's to 8 years of memories and so many more to come!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wedding Planning RECAP @ Cafe Brauer

To all of those who follow us, you can see that that the team at Liven It Up Events had quite a few weddings last year (and every year!) at Cafe Brauer at The Lincoln Park Zoo.  This wedding was quite special for an intimate group of guests for a lovely couple.  
When we started the process of planning this wedding, there were two things that were really important to the couple.  The first being food!  After a careful proposal review of a couple of caterers, the couple decided to work with Paramount Events who did a delightful job on the food!
The second piece that was important was to create an outdoor feel inside the Great Hall.  As the couple lived in California, surrounded by nature, they wanted to bring the outdoors in.  Impossible?  Not at all when you have Erin and Randy with Revel Decor coming on board.  The first thing we had to do was create a woodsy ceremony.  The Revel Team actually created and built the trees from scratch, lining the aisle with wooden pedestals and candles, finishing the look with a patterned wash on the floor.
Cafe Brauer 1
Then we took The Great Hall and transformed it with a few hanging pieces that were over the guest tables as well as surrounding the entire room with the trees from the ceremony aisle.  It truly felt as those the guests were seated in a forest, under the stars!
Cafe Brauer 3
Part of the look of the design was washing the room in a leaf/branch pattern which helped create this romantic wedding reception!
Cafe Brauer 4
Part of this look, was keeping what was on the guest tables more minimal and rustic and having the "wow" being in the suspended pieces!
Cafe Brauer 7
To help finish the look, Bittersweet Bakery made sure to create a custom wedding cake that would sit on wooden logs created by the Bride's father that just went so well with the room.
Cafe Brauer 5
And the sweet heart table for the couple was a wooden farm table, with a custom table top decor, seating being that of a sofa, framed with two giant trees and a suspended piece over them.  With some candles, lanterns and wooden boxes in front of the table, it completed this rustic look!
Cafe Brauer 6
The thing to remember is when looking for a wedding venue, with the right team, you can create any look!  If you love trees, you do not need a venue with trees as they can be brought in for a full transformation!  Thanks to our team and our partnerships, we were able to do just that!
Until next time... happy planning!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wedding Planning RECAP @ Cafe Brauer

Here we are again, posting another RECAP at Cafe Brauer!  This was such a fun wedding.  We had almost perfect weather that day were photos and family photos were able to take place in the park!  It just turned out to be a perfect day!
When the guests entered, they were greeted with a flavored water station to help them cool down and stay hydrated as the ceremony was taking place outdoors.
Once we were ready to move the guests onto the loggia for the ceremony, we moved them upstairs and outside for this short, yet meaningful ceremony.  The bride's vision was to hang all sorts of florals in mason jars and a variety of vessels over their heads as they were married.  The team at Kloeckner's Flowers did just that!

What was fun about this couple is they loved the idea of playing with natural elements, silver, and blue!  And thanks again to the team at Kloeckner's and Sue with Food Evolution, we were able to make this style and look come to life on the dinner tables!
Just a few more fun elements at this wedding were after dinner, we had a Gelato Bar, an Espresso Bar and a dessert station filled with all sorts of Italian pastries!  And, if you saw in our last RECAP @ Cafe Brauer, this couple also decided that in lieu of favors, would make a donation to PAWS Animal Shelter!
And there you have it!  Another Wedding RECAP at Cafe Brauer from your wedding planning experts at Liven It Up Events!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wedding Planning RECAP @ Trump Hotel Chicago

It is not often that the team at Liven It Up Events receives phone calls to help plan a wedding for under 50 people.  When we received this call from this couple, we were so delighted to learn more about what they were planning.  They were moving from Europe to Chicago and planning on having a destination wedding to Chicago with their closest friends and family.  The total guest list was right around 50 people and the perfect setting was the smaller ballroom at Trump Hotel Chicago.
The first part of the wedding we had to think about was the ceremony.  The ceremony space was not that large, however, the bride had a big vision!  She wanted a large circular structure that would make a grand impact as the guests came into the room.  Thanks to Alexandra and her team at Exquisite Designs, we figured out how to make that happen!  When we were all finished with the set up, we were all wowed!
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The next piece to think about was what were we going to do for the escort card table?!  With only 50 place cards, we did not want to over power the table with anything too large, so we used a smaller round table and had a floral piece that was large, but not overpowering to the table.  It came out great!

The last item to think through were the table centerpieces.  With only 7 tables, we decided to do the same floral piece on all of the tables.  And this bride wanted to go big (which we love!) so we did it.  We went big on the arrangements!  These pieces were so great.  Sometimes, in a room where there are great views, people think to scale back on the florals.  We tend to think by adding some elegant florals and pieces to the tables, it only enhances the amazing views!

The final touch in all of this was adding on the pinspots to the centerpieces to make them stand out, and the uplighting completely changed the mood of the room as the sun set.  It was just stunning!