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Hotel Arista featured in "Chicago Style Weddings"

Hotel Arista was recently featured in the September / October 2013 Edition of "Chicago Style Weddings" Magazine.  Check out the entire feature on pages 268 & 269.  Katie and Jimmy were such a pleasure to work with on planning their dream wedding!  A beautiful palette of Platinum, Fuchsia and White set the tone for a wedding that no guest could ever forget!  The ballroom was draped with sheer white draping and the dance floor was covered in white vinyl with the couple's signature logo and lounge furniture.  Elizabeth Wray designs helped to create a room that was not only breathtaking but magical.  The cocktail hour began with guests being greeted with butler passed hors d' oeuvres and champagne cocktails with a purple orchid as the garnish.  Dinner began with a First Course of Wild Mushroom Soup with Truffle Oil & Parmesan Crouton and Second Course of Classic Caesar Salad.  A decadent entree of Pekin Duck Breast and Filet Mignon was served.  After dinner, guests danced the night away to beats provided by Back Third Entertainment and enjoyed late night snacks.  The highlight of the evening was a special surprise mini-wedding cake presented to Katie's Parents for their 30th Wedding Anniversary.  Best wishes to Katie and Jimmy!

Davina Arceneaux
Director of Catering, Wedding Specialist

Modern Elegance - Danielle and Scott

The modern and elegant wedding of Danielle and Scott was a fete that will be remembered by guests for years to come.  We started planning this beautiful wedding a year in advance.  Upon meeting Danielle, I remember her excitement about her upcoming wedding and her bright smile and big personality.  The fun never stopped as we embarked on a unique and inspirational journey towards planning the wedding of Danielle's Dreams! 

There was not a dry eye in the house as the two exchanged vows in the Hotel Arista Ballroom.  A harpist played as guests arrived and the room was finished with soft lighting and beautiful floral.

Guests dined on hors d' oeuvres during cocktail hour including Rustic Bread with Goat Cheese Mousse & Crispy Basil, Chilled Shrimp Cocktail Shooters and Tortilla Chips with Grilled Skirt Steak and Jalapeño Guacamole.  As the doors to the ballroom opened, jaws dropped at the romantic soft colors and breathtaking floral designs.  

The entire ballroom was uplit in white up lighting with a custom gobo light.  Tables adorned with Silver Beaded Charger Plates and Ivory Linens provided intimate tables for guests.   The bride added special touches by alternating custom vases with pearls and floating candles along with floral pieces provided by her florist.

Dinner Service included a Bibb Lettuce Salad with Hearts of Palm, Blueberries, Candied Pecans and Blueberry Vinaigrette and their choice of Herb Crusted Salmon with Smoked Bacon Corn Sauce or New York Strip with Red Wine Sauce served with Jumbo Grilled Asparagus and Creamy Orzo Pasta with Chives and Marscapone followed by a Custom Wedding Cake.  

The night was truly magical.  The evening ended with dancing to an amazing DJ.  The room was filled with fun, laughter and love.

I would like to wish Danielle and Scott the best as they start their new lives together.  Thank you for allowing myself and Hotel Arista to share in your day.

Davina Arceneaux
Director of Catering / Wedding Specialist

Eco Chic Wedding

Kathryn and Kurtis really wanted to make it their day and together planned a wedding that would touch on who they are and the things most important to them as a couple.
Kathryn tells the story of her wedding …
31 Gorgeous Yellow, Orange, And Green   Wedding
11 Gorgeous Yellow, Orange, And Green   Wedding
41 Gorgeous Yellow, Orange, And Green   Wedding
51 Gorgeous Yellow, Orange, And Green   Wedding
21 Gorgeous Yellow, Orange, And Green   Wedding
6 Gorgeous Yellow, Orange, And Green   Wedding
The ceremony site was an easy decision… it was outside in the Hedge Garden at the Morton Arboretum, which is where we had our first date, and where Kurtis proposed. The Reception was at Hotel Arista, which initially caught our interest with its clean and natural, yet modern, style (similar to ours). We were more than sold once we tried their food, and when they were named the only LEED certified Hotel in Illinois, it couldn’t have been a more perfect fit.
Being the detail oriented people that we are, almost every aspect of the day was personal in some way, and being the outdoorsy people that we are, the garden feel that started at the Arboretum naturally spread into the entire day.
My favorite color is yellow and Kurtis’ is orange, so we wanted to stay in that range. Once we found the perfect color in the bridesmaid dresses, everything grew from there. I call it marigold.  We like to match, so we really didn’t stray from that color… from the bow ties down to the soup.
The monogram took on a life of it’s own. We both love symmetry, so the reversing the second “K” for symmetry was an idea I had had for months, the bracket effect with our final design simply won out over the hundreds of options we designed. The save-the-dates and invitations stemmed from the monogram, and I designed the cake to match the invitations.
We made the cork boards (to display the place cards) ourselves, mostly from corks we had saved for years, to show our love for wine and it tied into our “green” efforts.  The table numbers were painted on rocks, our signature drink was made from organic vodka, and in lieu of favors, we made a donation to our local forest preserve district.
We opted for a sand ceremony which was only appropriate for two beach lovers in the Midwest, and it allowed our family and friends to have a role in the day, representing they roles they have in our lives.My dress was the second one I tried on, and the only one that made my mother, Aunt, and MOH cry.  Our flowers were calla lilies – white and “marigold” only.  I wore my grandmother’s bracelet that was a gift from my grandfather and the necklace my mother wore the day she married my father was wrapped in my bouquet. My favorite photo of the day was taken right at the spot Kurtis proposed in the Spruce plot at the Arboretum. We didn’t plan our wedding with a theme, but I think our earthy, yet classic style showed through in the end.
Ceremony: Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL / Reception: Hotel Arista, Lisle, IL / Photographer: Artisan Events, Inc. / Videography: Artisan Events, Inc. / Cake: Cocoa Bean / Florals: Expressions / Band: Al Sofia / Bride’s Attire: Rivini / Groom’s Attire: Perry Ellis / Invitations: Thia & Company

Toast Tips for Giving Memorable Speeches

The honored tradition of toasting a newlywed couple can be exciting, but let's be honest: it can also be very stressful, especially when you're the maid of honor or the best man.
We have some advice to help ease your bridal party's nerves and provide them with confidence.  Below is a list of traditional and fun toasts that can be personalized for your special day. Cheers!
Wedding Toast: Maid of Honor to Couple
It can be hard to share your best friend with someone else, but I have been thrilled to share (bride) with (groom.) The love you show to each other is inspiring and beautiful and I look forward to seeing it continue to grow. I am honored to be able to raise a toast to my wonderful best friend and her new husband. To (bride) and (groom)!
Wedding Toast: Best Man to Wedding Guests
I propose a toast to the guests who have honored the lucky couple with their presence today. I know that it is the love and support of their families and friends that enabled them to make the journey that came to such a happy ending. I pray all of you will always continue to love and support them in the coming years.
Wedding Toast: Maid of Honor to Bride
(Bride), we have shared so much our lives with each other. I am so honored to be sharing this day with you. Starting today, you will begin to share a life with (groom), but remember that I will always be here for you and always ready to stand up by your side. Here’s to our everlasting friendship!
Wedding Toast: Best Man to Bride 
I rise to offer a toast to the bride. May this day be the beginning of a new chapter in a love story that will endure forever, and bring joy and happiness to her and her new husband. May she always remember and honor the vows she made today and let them be the strong foundation on which their life together will be built.
Wedding Toast: Maid of Honor to Groom
To (groom), who through his love has shown me a different side of (bride.) He has made her happier than I have ever seen her, and I can’t wait to witness how your love continues to help her grow. I am so happy that she has you in her life. To (groom)!
Wedding Toast: Best Man to Groom 
Here is to my friend. Today I had the honor to stand beside you on this most important day, as you have so often stood by me in good times and bad. I wish you and your lovely bride nothing but happiness, prosperity, and good health.
Davina Arceneaux, Director of Catering

Get in Optimal Shape for your Wedding Day

Every bride and groom wants to look their absolute best on their special day.  

So, how do you make that happen?  It starts with a plan of attack.  I recently spoke with our Personal Trainer, Sarah O'Hara at Olympus Executive Fitness Center and asked for some helpful tips to help you to get in tip-top shape on your special day:

1)  Write down your goals.  You need to write them down, putting them on paper is the only way to make them real.  First, jot down how many months away your wedding is.  Then, think about what you would like to accomplish in that time and how you would go about doing it.  Then break it up into monthly, weekly, and daily goals.  For example, a goal plan may look something like this:

Monthly goal:   Lose 8 lbs, strive to eat cleaner by preparing healthy meals ahead of time, avoiding the grab on go cycle.

Weekly goal:  Lose 2-3 lbs, cut soda consumption to 1 can per day, eat more green veggies, workout 4-5 times per week.

Daily goal:  Write down all my meals, drink 65-75 oz of water, workout w/weight and cardio for 60 minutes, start a 12-week workout program today!!  Record your weight & measurements for more accurate tracking of progress.

Your daily goals will lead you to achieve your weekly goals, your weekly goals lead to achieving your monthly ones, and before you know it, you're at your goal weight and looking STUNNING!!!

2)  Get educated on a healthy diet and how to prepare fast, tasty and nutritious meals.  There are enormous resources out there, on newsstands, libraries, and on the internet.  Find some recipes that work for you.

3)  Know your physical limitations.  If you haven’t had a health screening or a physical in the last 2-5 years, it’s time to see your primary doctor.  If you do have physical restrictions or injuries, make          sure you get a clearance from your doctor before starting any physical activity.

4)  Get Support!  Get your fiancé, friends, and family to join you in getting healthy and in shape.              Feeling good is contagious, so get as many of your friends involved as possible!  It’s also been proven that those       who start a new program, or make a healthy life change, stick to it when they have more support.  So come on, getting the wedding party involved!!!

5)  Have Fun, and don't take it all so serious.  Forgive yourself if you skip a workout or don’t eat so healthy.  Just start over, and vow to make better choices tomorrow.  Achieving CONSISTENCY is the key, this is what will keep you on the road to reaching your goals.  Also, if you reach a workout plateau, don't give up everything you worked so hard to accomplish.  Keep at it.  Work through it.  These are temporary, it's only a matter of changing some things around, like your meal combos or your workouts.

By following these guidelines, you are on your way to not only a beautiful and healthy wedding day, but you are putting the foundation in place for a whole new way of living your life.

Davina Arceneaux
Director of Catering / Wedding Specialist

Video Light Wedding Portraits

Today's post is an excerpt from the book Direction and Quality of Light, by Neil van Niekerk. It is available from Amazon.com and other fine retailers.

For that dramatic, Hollywood look, a video light is probably the
easiest thing to use—especially when you need to work quickly,
like on a wedding day. With Allison and Scott’s wedding, the
majority of their romantic portraits (plates 11-7 through 11–10)
were taken using only a single video light, the Lowel ID-Light.
For this shoot, I chose to work with the Lowel ID-Light, instead
of the LitePanels MicroPro LED video light, because I wanted a
video light that was stronger. I also wanted the ability to diffuse
or focus the light, depending on what I needed. It was just the
more flexible choice for this event.

As you can see by the camera settings for these images, I
needed to work at high ISO settings and wide apertures. This is
because video lights are generally used in lower levels of ambient
light where the look of the rapid falloff gives the lighting a
dramatic look—and provides a lot of control. For example, in
the passageway seen in plate 11-8, the opposing mirrors gave an
infinity effect. The video light was ideal here for containing the
light spill; it’s basically what made this image possible. I could
have created the same image with flash, but it would have been
difficult to do it in the short time available.

Plate 11-7—Most of Allison and Scott's romantic portraits were created using a single video light. Exposure: 1/50 second, f/2.8, 1250 ISO, Lens: 24–70mm f/2.8 lens. Lowel ID-Light.

Plate 11-8—The controlled spread of the video light was useful in this mirrored hallway. Exposure: 1/30 second, f/3.2, 1600 ISO. Lens: 24-70mm f/2.8. Lowel ID-Light.

For plates 11-9 and 11-10, I turned down the brightness of
the video light to hold the detail in the background. If I had used
a brighter light on the couple, I would also have had to use a
faster shutter speed, smaller aperture, or lower ISO, which would
have made the background go darker—or even black.

As can be seen in plates 11-11 and 11-12, images of Tatiana
and Brandon at their wedding, the dramatic look of video light
works beautifully with black & white photographs. If I had
wanted to ease the contrast and bring in more shadow detail, it
would simply have been a matter of bouncing my on-camera flash
behind me. This would have to be done with the FEC turned
way down—to around –3EV—so that it just acted as a fill light.
The flash would also have to be gelled with a CTS or CTO gel to
avoid introducing a blue tint to the fill light.

Plates 11-9 and 11-10—Reducing the intensity of the video light enabled me to hold the detail in the dark backgrounds. Exposure: 1/30 second, f/3.2, 1600 ISO, 24–70mm f/2,8 lens. Lowel ID-Light.

Plates 11-11 and 11-12—Video light works beautifully for black & white images. Exposure: 1/60 second, f/3.2, 1600 ISO, Lens: 24–70mm f/2.8. Litepanels MicroPro LED video light.

Buy this book from Amazon.com.

Hottest Trends - 2013

What's in store for 2013 Wedding Trends?  It is going to be an amazing year to get married and a great time to be in love!  Check out more Wedding Trends you should say "I DO" to in 2013: 

Prints will be huge this year.  Geometric shapes and striped fabrics will be seen in bridesmaids dresses, wedding invitations, wedding cakes and linens.  It is a fresh and vibrant look, one which will really make your wedding unique.  The key to using prints for your wedding is to remember not to go too overboard. Colors should compliment each other rather than match completely.

Open Backed Dresses
Dramatic open backs will be seen from virtually every designer this year.  Dresses boasting lacy keyholes, sexy crisscrossed straps and flowing ribbons were all showcased in New York at the Fall 2013 Bridal Market.

Flower of the Year: Peony
Peonies reign as the most popular flower, even with their short window of availability.  Soft, lush, romantic blooms are in.  But with the bloom only available for two months out to the year, a back up option is the garden rose, which has the same delicate petal feeling but is much more readily available.  Garden roses in peach and pinks and layers of blush create a ombre effect.  The feel is modern with a charming and nostalgic edge.

Neutral Color Palettes & Communal Tables
Taupes, tans and grays never go out of style and look especially lovely when paired with metallics and pastels - think rose gold paired with desert tan.
Long rectangular communal tables are becoming more prominent at weddings.  Some couples are even foregoing the traditional formal head table and opting to sit with their guests.  It is a great way to put yourself in the heart of the party!

Foil Invitations
Dreaming of a glamorous look for your invitations?  Glints of metallic gold, silver and bronzes stamped directly on the invitation will add the perfect touch of sophistication.  Metallic flare on wedding invitations has been a wedding trend for a while now.  It looks like wedding trends for 2013 will be no exception.  Invitation experts expect brides to remain mad about metallics this year.  If you are not wild about having foil stamped on your invitation, another option is foil edging.  It is a great way to bring in another color and add a little bit of shimmer.  Think fuchsia shine on the edge of a classic black and white invitation for a fun, modern touch

Going Green
Being environmentally conscious is thankfully nothing new - but after Pantone announced Emerald as the 2013 Color of the Year, it's a great time to honor the enchanting hue.  Pair this beautiful color with black and white graphics for a modern twist. The color mint will also be a huge hit this year for spring.

Davina Arceneaux
Director of Catering / Wedding Specialist

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