Real Wedding | Julie & Matt

I am always so in awe of the super stylish brides who, not only host an amazing wedding, but actually design and craft most of it themselves. Julie and Matt’s is one of these stunning weddings.  The details are just so charming, and so perfectly suited for a garden wedding.

Julie & Matt | June 20, 2009 | Chicago, Illinois

How he proposed
Matt and I took a wonderful trip to northern California, exploring from San Francisco to Big Sur and finally up to Napa Valley. My friends put the idea in my head that maybe he would propose on this trip, but I didn’t think it would happen because no such question had been asked and we were already flying home the next day. Well the last evening we had out there, while out on a walk, he surprised me at sunset, on one knee, in a private apple orchard overlooking Napa Valley. It was breathtaking and just perfect.

The ceremony
We wanted a cathedral ceremony but with personal touches added onto the traditions.  We had both my childhood pastor and Matt’s priest officiate the ceremony together and a string quartet and organ playing our favorite classical pieces. I’ll always remember exchanging our vows and the emotional rose ceremony where we honored our parents.

The moment Julie will never forget
Our wedding day was filled with so many precious memories, but my favorite one was when I was walking down the aisle and met the tearful eyes of my husband-to-be. We were both so overcome with excitement and emotion at what we were about to do and the joy we felt made everything else happily blur into the background.

The reception
A lush green garden was the perfect setting for our summer wedding in Chicago.

We wanted to incorporate our very different cultural backgrounds (the bride being Korean-American and the groom coming form a strong Irish heritage) as well as celebrate the creative spirit that inherited from both of our mothers. So, we used a color palette that was mostly greens and soft whites and had a traditional Korean Paebaek ceremony between dinner and dessert.

Although many of the details were made by our own hands, we hoped to create an evening that would be a unique and vibrant, yet sophisticated and cohesive. Our reception was held on the elegant grounds of a historic mansion and we were so lucky to have it turn out so beautifully.

Splurges and Savings
We knew from the beginning that photography and food were two things we really wanted to be memorable, so we budgeted for that….and then my dress became the next in line after a venue change inspired me to look again and I fell in love with the dress of my dreams!  We needed to offset these costs, so we ended up designing and making many of the wedding items ourselves.  I am a jewelry designer who has a love for creating all kinds of things, so from the bridal party jewelry to the cake topper, the flower girl and ring bearer accessories, the centerpiece planters, cake stands, the wedding paper suite, etc., I designed and made them with the help of my very creative and wonderfully willing family (both sides are artistic, but my graphic designer sister was especially invaluable!)

What made her wedding dress “The One”
I think I tried on about 20 dresses total. I found one I loved at a sample sale that I thought would be perfect for a romantic and whimsical garden wedding. However, after my husband insisted on holding the ceremony in a cathedral, I had to look for a more formal dress and knew I found the right one when I saw it in a photographer’s photoshoot and my jaw dropped.  It was the perfect balance of classically romantic and modern-organic for me.  The flattering cut of the dress felt current yet the lace detailing and overall feel were almost old-world with all the lace and the edge detailing.  Also the hand-cut silk blooms complemented the natural feel of the garden setting so well. I felt so beautiful and glamorous in a very understated and radiant way.

Her advice for other brides
I feel like I could write volumes on this subject, but I think my favorite piece of advice was to really savor each moment of your wedding day because even after all that planning it really can fly by.  Also, try not to let little wedding day hiccups get to you because there will inevitably be something that’s a bit off, but can be memories that you laugh at together. If you embrace the day, every one around you will enjoy and love it too.

Julie’s Wedding Dress: Amsale Emerson, Blue Label Collection / Photography: Olivia Leigh