Lucky In Love: I Spy Dinner

With the toasts and cake cutting wrapped up, our guests headed in for dinner. The only thing that happened during (before) dinner was the prayer–the pastor made it just in time to ask the blessing. (Saving my backup to the backup from needing to say the prayer–our first option was my childhood pastor who was sadly unable to make it to the wedding last minute due to health issues.)


The food was excellent! One of my first posts was about choosing a caterer, but I don’t think I ever updated you on our pick. We had 8ish caterers to choose from, ranging from some of the fanciest caterers in the Chicago area to pretty low-budget (picnic/BBQ type) caterers. We opted for Twomaytoz, a local caterer with much more reasonable prices than some of the upscale caterers, but the food was delicious. Their menu wasn’t quite as extensive as others, but ultimately your guests will only see a few choices regardless of how big the menu starts out. And our caterer’s restaurant was only three blocks away (which ended up coming in handy). Our photographers even took pictures of the lasagna and the salmon!


We were actually told to expect 60% of our guests to order beef, but it was well under 50%, which was a (cost saving) surprise–the vegetarian was also more popular than anticipated. And soooo good. I’m not sure if more people ordered the lasagna because they were chicken types and didn’t want the fish or what.

Our youngest guests got my mom’s coloring books and age-appropriate toys, but I wanted something fun for our adult guests too.


This was another one of those last minute projects that I didn’t get a chance to post about. After our month of weddings, we knew we’d like to give our guests a menu too. But the menu was blank on the back, and I’d seen other brides do I Spy…


Mrs. Meerkat‘s is one of the most popular

So I decided to do one too! I’d heard mixed results–they were a hit at some weddings and not one person did it at others. Our venue had all kinds of cool details both in the historical inside and the beautifully landscaped outside. I wanted guests to at least know what was there even if they didn’t go check it out. (I actually really wanted to do a scavenger hunt, regardless of whether or not anyone actually used it, and this seemed like a good compromise.)


This one ended up happening pretty last minute. Meerkat shared her template with me, but I was doing my menus three to a page, so it ended up being quicker to create my own formatting (in Word, because I’m fancy like that). I had three different cards, partly because I had so many details I wanted to incorporate (you can see them below), which I thought was fun (the kind of detail I’d notice if I was a guest even if no one else did). The colors turned out not amazing, but whatever. This was one of my last-days-of-school projects and I was pretty over it–I just liked coming up with all the things for people to look for. Disclaimer again: It isn’t amazing. I’m really sharing it so you can have my lists without retyping them if you’re interested, because I gave up on getting the colors to look decent and they’re the stock fonts from my mac, because, you know, five days before the wedding I was not about to learn to download fonts. Basically, I used my worksheet formatting skills because I have no graphic design skills…

I know results vary on these, but I should have had more faith in my guests–several people did it. My friends were particularly into it–my friend L asked Shamrock to pose in front of our M (groom AND favorite decoration). When I saw him setting up the picture, I asked if he wanted me in it and a quick consultation with his I Spy card told him no…”but if you could find a bridesmaid, that’d be great.” Seconds later, MOH Sis came down the stairs and he grabbed her, shouting “You! Bridesmaid! Picture with the bride!” It was priceless.

Other friends told me they had fun with it too, so overall I’m definitely glad I went for it.

Did you have I Spy at your wedding? Did anyone actually do it?

All photos by Caili Helsper Photography


Catch up with the Clover wedding:




Lucky In Love: Toasted

Soon enough, we headed down the stairs for our slightly-more-grand entrance. After a few words, it was time for the toasts.


All photos by Caili Helsper Photography

First up was MOH Sis. You may recall MOH Sis had never been in a wedding and researched and pinterested the heck out of every aspect of her duties (which is extra funny when you consider she asked for an ax for Christmas–she’s much more into camping than crafting). She also wasn’t thrilled to speak in front of others but she did a fantastic job.


And she kicked off her job by thrusting two drinks into our hands for the toasts (no one, including us, thought of that) and grabbing our dad’s for herself. She gave me a glass of “I think that’s water” while Shamrock got a glass of “no clue sorry”…and I think she got tonic water judging by the face she made when she drank it! (Helpful hint: Put someone in charge of getting you a drink. Or your sister will steal the spares off a table.) She did a beautiful job despite being nervous. It was touching and heartfelt, and had just enough specific information to be extra funny but not so much that everyone not in on the joke is going, “huh??”


She also wrote me a separate “toast” in the form of a card on the morning of the wedding, with all the stuff that was too personal to say in a room full of people–that one was so sweet it made me cry.

Next up was Shamrock’s brother with his toast. He may look unprepared, but don’t be fooled. He has no paper because he memorized his whole toast–and delivered it flawlessly.


Also note that Shamrock is just smiling like a normal person during these toasts, while I’m all over the place.

And finally, Clover Dad was up. He had been looking forward to (and researching–guess it runs in the family) his toast for ages. After a minor timeline hiccup where he kept insisting he was going to toast during dinner (no Dad, no one is doing ANYTHING during dinner–we’re in different rooms), we determine he would go last and invite everyone to dinner after his toast.


He really did a fantastic job–my friends who had never met him were telling me how it was one of the best Father of the Bride toasts they’d heard. He took it very seriously, and it really was touching.


And with that, it was time to cut the cake. Our cocktail hour was pretty cramped, so we really didn’t make a big deal out of it. We just grabbed the knife and cut a piece.


Oh, and about the content of the toasts: Since you don’t actually *know* us, I figured the details don’t matter here. But…Later that night, Shamrock’s cousin (who I’ve met before) came up and told me what he had learned from the toasts was that I must be pretty quirky so we should hang out more so he can get to know me. Thanks…I think? But hey, I guess they were pretty accurate since I think I am that quirky.


Catch up on our story:



Lucky In Love: A (Not so?) Grand Entrance

Ahem…sorry for the absence. Potential excuses: a) I started school b) we sold my condo c) we finished moving (not to be confused with “are moved in”) d) I moved classrooms too for good measure e) I’m apparently no longer an organized person. Or just, you know, sorry. Before I vanished, I shared our reception details

Fresh from our little photo shoot, we pulled up to the reception in a downpour.


Except much, much wetter | Cheney Mansion

See that front door? That’s where we needed to get in. And we were on the other side of that fence, in a limo on the street. Our brave photographers asked for plastic bags to protect their equipment and went in right away–they had pictures to get! I, on the other hand, figured we could circle the block and maybe it would stop? (Yeah, no wonder the photographers didn’t believe me.) Finally, there was no escaping it. We had to go in.

Inside, Crafty had gathered umbrellas and my uncle and MOH Sis’ BF had come out to rescue us. It was REALLY pouring guys. But we had waited long enough. BM Mathlete took charge and told me to take off my shoes, stashing them in her purse. MOH Sis called her BF to come right up to the car. And I hiked my dress up (WAY up), and went for it. (Warning: Slightly indecent picture below, but it makes me laugh.)

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iPhone photo by Crafty. Check out the huge puddles. She apologizes for the blurriness.

And that is how I arrived in the middle of my crowded cocktail hour barefoot with dress around my waist. Since my legs were soaked, I couldn’t drop the dress all the way down right away, and had to wait a second to dry out a little as Shamrock and the rest of the bridal party made it inside. People started to notice as I left my dress down…


All remaining photos by Caili Helsper Photography

Good thing I don’t think of myself as super classy–definitely not how I envisioned entering my reception! But, honestly, a much better memory. I’m still a bit disappointed about the cocktail hour, but that barefoot, bare-legged entrance had me cracking up even as it happened!


Meanwhile guests signed the guestbook.


And relaxed throughout the first floor–my awesome cousin only had that sweet baby (held by her brother) six weeks before and still made the trip from Texas to Chicago–with her 3 year old too!


Notice BM Mathlete and her husband on the left–I found out afterward that the Pastor almost didn’t make it to give a prayer. In addition to our 2:30 wedding he was doing the 5 pm wedding, which started late because there were no flowers AND then a groomsman passed out…not to mention driving to the reception in a huge rainstorm! They were texting him and writing their own prayer to give if he didn’t make it.

And then it was time for toasts…



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Lucky In Love: Reception Details

Since this wasn’t our cocktail hour, our guests spent cocktail hour mingling on the first floor of the mansion. While I was sad that our outdoor details never saw the sun (ha. Sun. Rain.), I loved all of the pretty little things I spent so much time on (with plenty of help of course). And of course, they’re the most relatable part from someone else’s wedding–they’re always the one I’m most excited to read. So let’s see how the Clover wedding turned out!

On the first floor, three rooms were used for dinner, then there was a bar in the solarium looking over the gardens, the front hall, the library and the dining room. In the library, we had our card and gift table (MOH Sis freaked out that the card basket needed to be closeable and hit Goodwill with Mama Clover the day before the wedding to find the little basket-suitcase.) (Do you live in Chicago and want my basket suitcase? PM me!)


As well as our family photo display, compiled by Shamrock and MOH Sis in the days right before the wedding. Since the cocktail hour was inside, most of our guests did end up swinging through the photos, which was fun. Since my parents are divorced, we didn’t want to do just wedding pictures, and Shamrock had actually wanted to do a photo slideshow with us as kids, earlier in our relationship, etc. That wasn’t possible logistically, but this compromise turned out even better–we got so many great compliments on it.


The dining room was closed off for the candy bar (which should have been upstairs, but since I didn’t know it was going to rain I couldn’t tell anyone to move it. Oh well!) so guests were pretty cramped in the remaining space. Everyone insists it was fine though. Look for the candy bar in a few posts–it was awesome enough to deserve its own moment!

The foyer held our beautiful cake (lackluster tasting experience aside, the cake was delicious).

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We also had our guest book set up right near the door–preliminary results show most of our guests signed too! Our “in memory” flowers made


And of course you’ve already heard about the placecards.


The decor for the huge mantel  turned out absolutely beautiful, with our giant M right in the center.

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And the centerpieces were exactly what I hoped for.

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The tables looked lovely. I made the table numbers a couple weeks before the wedding with an assist from a Cricut on the numbers.

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Mama Clover is a children’s librarian, so the kids also got a coloring book with crayons and an age appropriate toy.


Although I wish our colors were a bit more cohesive, I loved how it all came together and am so glad how many of the details our guests noticed and appreciated.

What was/is your favorite detail for your reception?


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Lucky In Love: The Cocktail Hour that Wasn’t

If you’ll indulge me for a second, I want to show you the cocktail hour we, um, didn’t actually have. So many people put hard work into details for this part of the reception, and it would have been really pretty, so….just pretend there’s people here. (They’re inside–it only rained for the cocktail hour and then the rest of the evening was very nice. Too late for me, though.)


The cocktail hour and dancing would have taken place on this patio. There were cafe tables and high boys, and even a beverage dispenser (a glass one, not a big orange Gatorade cooler like Shamrock pictured) if guests came early.


The dj would have set up right here (he did. Then he had to move it all. Yes, we tipped him well.) This is just to the right of the picture above–and its covering construction fencing–guess I didn’t need to worry about that. But if you didn’t want to dance, you could explore the grounds or play some of our lawn games. We had croquet (MC’s wedding present), chess, bags (boards made by one of our guests, symbol added by Mama Clover) and tic tac toe (painted by Mama Clover and me).

lawn games

Guests could wander down the paths to find the waterfall or the sundial, or sit on the benches throughout the yard.

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As cocktail hour wound down, the dj would gather all the guests back to the patio for toasts on the stairs and then they would have grabbed their place card from the trellis and headed inside for dinner.

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(Think how much cuter it would have looked outside). Of course, that isn’t quite how it all went down, but we’ll see that next. Thanks for indulging my make-believe cocktail hour with my details no one saw! Up next: all the rest of the reception details!

All photos by Caili Helsper Photography


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Lucky In Love: Strike a Pose

Fair warning: If you remember from my post on our engagement pictures, we are most definitely not models. So, we’re awkward. But we tried!

We left off outside the church, where we had just been announced. We headed right back inside to take extended family portraits (3) (I’ll spare you the family ones, since they look just like everyone else’s but with my family in my church.)


There were great casual shots…


And adorable posed pictures…


(These were all taken before the ceremony, which is why they don’t have bouts yet.)


These shots were taken in the Garth (a courtyard) at the church…the same place where we got engaged! (Oh hey, ushers! Glad someone’s suits fit!) (Also, every short person in this picture is related to the two of us. All of the tall people are not. Apparently we are only friends with tall people?)


Then we made a couple quick stops on the way to the reception…the first at a bridge:


And the second at Buckingham Fountain. It really is pretty, and Shamrock used to live right nearby so we would walk over there all the time.


There are plenty of fantastic pictures from all of these places, but I’m trying not to bore you here. Our final stop was a very quick one in my mom’s church garden (previously seen here–where Mrs. Stiletto had her first look. She got married in the church I grew up in!)


The rest of the wedding party stayed in the limo for this one; Mama Clover just wanted one or two pictures. Immediately after this picture, as they started to tell us to do something else, and I said, “Nope, that’s fine, she only wants a couple and we have to go. I think its going to rain.” Famous. Last. Words. I made it inside the limo, followed by Shamrock, Caili and Amanda. And by the time the last person got in, ready for our four block trip, it had started to rain.

All photos by Caili Helsper Photography


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Lucky In Love: The Best of Both Worlds

We were married in my Presbyterian Church but Shamrock is Catholic, so we wanted to do our best to put together a ceremony incorporating both of our faiths. I promised to tell you what that ended up looking like, which I realize is pretty boring if you are not having a mixed faith wedding, so, you know, pictures.

We started off our process by outlining the basic order of service at my church, as provided by the church coordinator (with modifications by BM Mathlete) is this:

  • Call to Worship
  • Hymn
  • Statement on the Gift of Marriage
  • Prayer
  • Declaration of Intent & Affirmation of the Congregation
  • Psalm (responsive)
  • Readings
  • Homily
  • Vows & Rings
  • Blessing
  • Prayer & Lord’s Prayer
  • Announcement of Marriage
  • Benediction

A Catholic service sounds like it would look like this (using references from Mrs. DumplingMrs. SunhatMrs. Gloves, and Mrs. Potion)

  • Greeting & blessing
  • Prayer (communal)
  • Readings (Old Testament, psalm, New Testament–often with songs in between or even replacing the psalms)
  • Homily
  • Vows and rings
  • Prayers & Lord’s Prayer
  • Blessing

Then we discussed some different things–how much participation did we want from the congregation? What were specific parts of the service that were important to us? For instance, Shamrock said that there usually isn’t much participation in a Catholic ceremony. And after meeting with the pastor who will be marrying us, we landed on an Order of Service we’re both pretty happy with! The parts of the service are bolded below, with any comments in plain.

We left off at the end of the aisle. Doesn’t Shamrock look so excited?


Sentences of Scripture & Call to Worship

Statement on the Gift of Marriage 


Hymn: All Creatures of Our God and King

Prayer (read by MIL)

Declaration of Intent (this is also important for Catholics, and we’d done the same when we met with the Priest several months before LINK??)

Affirmation of the Congregation

CHP_MikeMaryCeremony-70Reading: Proverbs 3:3-6 (done by my Dad’s wife)

Psalm 96 (sung responsively)—my Presbyterian church does these maybe once a year, but we do them every Sunday in Catholic church. The organist was really excited for this since he’d never done it in a wedding before, although our pastor was a little ambivalent. It went great though! We just printed the responsorial in our program and people followed right along.

Reading: Philippians 4:4-9 (done by my college roommate)

Homily—The Pastor did such a nice job with this. I’ve known him for years and Shamrock now knows him pretty well too and he really represented us well.


Solo: How Great Thou Art

Vows (Cracks me up. We’re both all sentimental, the Pastor is making a face and MOH Sis is looking at him like “what are you doing?)




Prayer and Lords Prayer

Communion: Communion was out originally because there can’t be “our” communion and we didn’t want something “his” or “mine” as part of our ceremony. But we reconsidered and ended up doing communion and it went fine. Presbyterians have open communion, which means anyone can take communion (so the Catholics could as well) but I do wish I’d written something about it in our bulletin. I think some people just weren’t sure they were allowed—I don’t think my students took communion and I know most of them go to church. We knew we’d have some guests who didn’t want to take communion, and that was fine too. Also, we sat during communion and my shoes peeked out and looked really cute. So it turns out they were visible after all.


Declaration of Marriage (the kissing part–our friends the month before were excellent church kissers. We were very intimidated.)


Marriage Blessing and Benediction

And then the important part was over.


Back up the aisle (to Rondeau), this time together, where we hide while the church empties onto Michigan Avenue and we’re introduced for the first time.


This is so much fun—at BM Mathlete’s wedding, I was next to a tall man screaming his head off as they came out the door. In shorts. And a tank top. Who had never met them. But man, was he ever excited.


With the major stuff done, it was time for fun. We were off to take some pictures on our way to the reception!


Did you mix faiths in your ceremony? How did it go?

All photos by Caili Helsper Photography


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Lucky In Love: We Process

Finally, it was time. I’ve mentioned before that my church has a lot of rules, and one of them is that the photographer may never pass the last seated guest (it’s a church service, not a photo shoot)—so these and all the other ceremony pictures are all taken from behind the guests. Caili didn’t bat an eye about the rules and our pictures turned out fantastic. Our guests waited for the ceremony to start.


Our mothers were escorted, my mom with my Uncle R (her younger brother) and MIL by her other son.Momsaisle


The bridesmaids processed to Canon in D Major.



Ringbearer very seriously escorted Flower Girl down the aisle—he’s a lot shyer than she is but he was very brave for her. It was adorable.



And then it was our turn—Clover Dad and I headed down the aisle to Fanfare-Trumpet Voluntary in D Major (but on the organ).




It was a loooong aisle! And this is one of my very shots from the whole day–so beautiful.



(Unfortunately there aren’t really any pictures of Shamrock as I come down the aisle because a guest stood in the center of the aisle—he actually had to take several steps to be able to peek around and see me at all.) And then the part we’d been looking forward to for over a year began! We spent a lot of time on putting together our ceremony, so I’ll share that as well as the pictures in my next post.


All photos by Caili Helsper Photography


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Lucky In Love: Ceremony Details

And with that, we headed over to the church.


We didn’t decorate the church since its so pretty on it’s own, but we had some sweet details I loved. Although the ‘maids flowers weren’t what I expected, mine were perfect.


Flower Girl enjoyed her pretty flower ball. For Ringbearer, my mom found a fairly plain ringbearer pillow at a resale shop (OMG you guys…it was originally over $50?!?!). Shamrock’s dad (Ringbearer’s Grandpa) passed away before we met. We wanted to do something to honor him, so his mom gave us his military pin and his service pin from the steel mill. It was a really nice way to keep him a part of the ceremony. Ringbearer took his job representing grandpa SUPER seriously, too.


My mom’s parents were married at the same church sixty some years ago, so I wore the pearls my grandma gave me as a graduation present. We were really close, and I know it would have meant a lot to her to see me get married in the same church they did.


Our ushers escorted guests to their seats and passed out programs. They were pretty simple, mostly just the order of service and a list of the bridal party. We mentioned our relatives that couldn’t be with us in these as well.

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We tried to carry over the look of our invitations, which I will now show you a picture of because Caili’s pictures are way better than mine and I spent a ridiculous amount of time and effort on these suckers.

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As part of our parent gifts, our three parents got a parent of the ___ hankie. Our moms are sentimental, so they loved it, and my dad’s impossible to shop for anyhow (I’m not kidding myself that he’ll use it again, but it was a nice gesture). I procrastinated bad on this one, but Mrs. Gloves & her hubby helped me out and did them super quick…guess who does the embroidery!


Shamrock surprised me with a gift—Ticket to Ride Germany, for our honeymoon (I love Ticket to Ride; to date I have had nine friends or family buy the game after playing with me—it’s awesome and you should get it too!).


And then the pastor gathered us for a prayer, and it was time to head downstairs.


It was almost time to go…

How did you remember the family members who couldn’t be there? Anyone else obsessed with Ticket to Ride (sorry couldn’t help it)?


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Lucky In Love: Getting Ready

Bright & early on June 21, MOH Sis, Crafty and I headed downstairs for breakfast with MC, BM Blondie and BM Mathlete. MC was in another wedding at the same time as ours, so it was great to be able to hang out and have breakfast with her and get our hair done.


Personal Photo–writing a quick note to Shamrock| All others by Caili Helsper Photography

The Four Seasons is on top of the 900 N Michigan mall, so we didn’t have to leave the building for breakfast (Oak Tree) or to get pretty (Mario Tricoci salon). I ended up giving my girls gift cards to get their hair done (I coordinated the appointments but let them pick which services they wanted), along with a more personal gift for each girl. I really struggled with if that was ok or not, but after a long discussion with another friend, we determined we both have bridesmaid gifts we never use—a smaller personal item, showing I put some thought into it, combined well with a higher value gift. All of us are over 30 and don’t need knick knacks, so I think this was a good decision and they were all grateful.

MC headed off to the other wedding (she was at a coworkers wedding, and a third coworker got married on the same day—there are 8 teachers at our school getting married this summer!) and we headed upstairs to get ready.


Meanwhile, our second shooter Amanda was hanging out with the guys.


Getting ready isn’t the most exciting process, but most bridal party members make the best of it. Our ringbearer tried, but…. NBored

(These pictures crack me up!) Being a grown up is boring, guys! He did see some action when he demonstrated his new shoe-tying skills for his uncle though.

Did you have friends getting ready with you or just your bridal party?


Miss something? Up first, we rehearsed.