Jeff and Dylan were set up by their mutual friend, Milan in the spring of 2017. "He was convinced that we would be a perfect match. I agreed to the date knowing Milan would be there as a buffer however, let him know that I was not looking for anything serious. Meeting Jeff was like listening to a song for the first time and knowing it would be my favorite. The connection was immediate. After just one date, it had felt like we had known each other for years."
"Jeff claims that he knew I was the one the second he laid eyes on me. It took me a few more months to admit that we were dating (even though everyone knew we were already dating). I believe the reason why Jeff and I make such a solid match is because we are friends before anything else. He is my soulmate, my life partner, my home. I am forever grateful for Milan."
The couple eloped at Eden which is a small restaurant located in the West Loop in Chicago and decided to have a quick ceremony followed by cocktails and dinner with sixteen and their nearest and dearest. "Our first date was to Blackhawks game and the arena is located just blocks from the restaurant. We started with drinks at Eden and made our way to the game. When looking for a small venue, it was a no brainer. The owners of the catering company we were using for our wedding also own this restaurant so we were able to have our pre-selected wedding menu which meant a lot to us. That was probably one of the only things that fully crossed over from wedding to elopement. The best part of Eden is that we actually stood and got married in the exact same spot that we first met years earlier on our first date. Full circle is an understatement." Dylan wore a satin long sleeved dress by Australian label Bec & Bridge. "I had my eye on this Bec & Bridge dress for what felt like forever. I kept trying to find an excuse to purchase it so when the brand had a site-wide sale this past March, it was a no brainer. I bought it when lockdown first began initially for our rehearsal dinner. My parents advised me that I should not purchase anything for the wedding with so many unknowns however, I convinced them that if the wedding were to get downsized, this would be the perfect dress. I was lying a little because back in March, we were convinced we were having our 250 person wedding in October. (It ended up being absolutely perfect for our elopement and with the décor and floral styling by Flowers For Dreams, that I had in mind!)
As the months passed and the pandemic grew worse, Dylan and Jeff realised they needed to make the call. "In June we decided to fully postpone our wedding to July of 2021. The anxiety over making the decision was crippling. Was I to send our invitations or send postponements? Were we making the right call? We thought, what if the world is back to normal by the fall? Once we postponed, we felt an incredible sigh of relief and were able to put planning behind us for a few more moths." Fast forward to September and Jeff suggested an idea to Dylan one evening - “what if we still got married on our wedding day?” "If we have learned anything over the past year, it is that life is not promised and that nothing is more essential than each other", so the couple decided to go ahead with their originial October wedding date. Dylan had one month to plan their micro wedding, which was captured by We are the Bowsers. "I quickly emailed our vendors seeing who was available to help with our elopement. At this stage of the pandemic in Chicago, the largest gathering you could have was just 1/10 of our original guest count. We loved the idea of having just immediate family as well as our best man and MOH there with us which put us at 15 guests. Jeff’s grandfather was initially supposed to marry us but traveling was not an option. We brainstormed and immediately called Milan, the friend that introduced us back in March 2017. Within the next week, Milan was ordained and working with my mother on the wedding speech!"
What was the most important aspect of their wedding planning? "To keep it small! We wanted our guests to feel comfortable and safe. Everyone got tested prior so we felt confident we could keep everyone healthy."
Whilst the couple didn't have a traditional wedding it was important for Dylan to keep certain elements. " Even though we only had 15 guests, I still wanted to have my moment of walking down the aisle with my dad and seeing Jeff for the first time. We also decided to do our first dance in front of our family (Song: Diamonds or Twine by Ryan Hurd) but cut father daughter and mother son dances until 2021."
"One of my favorite memories of the day was just moments before walking down the aisle. My dad brought up our father daughter dance song his phone and we had a moment to ourselves dancing in a back room of the restaurant, taking in the moment before he gives his little girl away to the man of her dreams."
Any advice to other couples getting married, particularly during Covid? "At the end of the day, it’s not about the big party, it’s about the love you and your partner share. It’s so easy to get caught up in the planning and the excessive, unnecessary spending, the large guest list, etc. I was there, I get it. But there was something so incredibly special about having a small intimate wedding. Having each one of our guests be able to stand up during dinner and give a toast or share a story was one of our favorite parts to the night. Our elaborate large wedding turned into an intimate dinner party and we have no regrets. Oh! And hire a videographer. Period. That is one expense to not skimp out on. It may seem like a big expense for a small wedding when you are also getting photography however, don’t cut it out of the budget! We both basically sobbed when our videographer We are the Bowsers sent us our video. Not only is it the most beautiful thing we have ever seen, but its magic to us. We watch it more than we would like to admit and will cherish it forever." "July 2021 will be a celebration of love and will look different than we originally planned. We plan to switch it up from the traditional plated dinner to more of a cocktail style black tie reception. Great music, great food, great bar. We are really looking forward to celebrating with friends and family when its safe!"
Ceremony and Reception location : Eden @edeninchicago | Photographer + Videographer : We are the Bowsers @wearethebowsers | Flowers : Flowers For Dreams @flowersfordreams Catering + Beverages : Paramount Events @paramountevents | Bride's Dress : Bec & Bridge @becandbridge | Groom's Suit : Ermenegildo Zenga @zegnaofficial | Rings : Dana Rebecca Designs @danarebecca | Shoes : Prada @prada | Earrings : Jennifer Behr @jenniferbehr | Bracelet : Cartier @cartier | Makeup : Shannon O’Brien @shannonobrienbrides | Hair : Rhona Kane @rhonakanehair