A Classic, Intimate Wedding at Maggie Daley Park in Chicago, Illinois, Focused on Family
Sydney and Todd, who first met at a wedding themselves, tied the knot with an intimate, family-only wedding at the Cancer Survivors' Garden in Chicago's Maggie Daley Park. Although the couple got engaged at the height of the pandemic, "it actually created the opportunity for us to lean into an intimate and romantic ceremony and reception," explains Sydney. Their intimate garden wedding in Chicago was attended by only their nearest-and-dearest loved ones which allowed the couple to "spend time focusing on the details and curating a special day for everyone there. It was not only our wedding day but the first time many of our family members were able to get out and celebrate something in a very long time."
Since Sydney grew up near the Cancer Survivors' Garden, selecting it for the wedding venue was an easy choice. "I have always wanted to get married at the Cancer Survivors' Garden in Millennium Park. I grew up right by it and every time I would pass its magnificent pergola I would hope one day I would get to marry underneath it. My mom is a cancer survivor and Todd’s mom was battling cancer at the time of our wedding so it felt even more meaningful to have our ceremony there." In keeping with the family-centric nature of the wedding day, the couple had Todd's sister Essense officiate the nuptials, which included both breaking of the glass and jumping the broom rituals. As another meaningful nod to family, Sydney "left little Polaroid baby photos of us pictured with each parent on all of our parents’ chairs, with a handwritten note on the back. The sentiment being that our wedding day is not only a big deal for us, but it is also a big day for parents, too!"
Following their garden wedding ceremony, the couple took a page from the classic movie Father of the Bride (whose theme song the couple selected as one of the processional songs) and celebrated with a backyard wedding reception. "The minute you walked into my parents’ backyard the tent really popped and set the scene. We wanted our guests to feel as though they were transported to an elegant reception and not just 'in the bride’s childhood backyard. The florals on the table were mainly greenery with eucalyptus, white flowers, and touches of plum. I wanted it to be mostly greenery to inspire the cozy, romantic, candlelit vibe of our intimate dinner party set in my parents’ yard,'" explains Sydney of the couple's backyard wedding reception in Chicago, Illinois. Similar to the photos they gifted their parents at the wedding ceremony, Sydney and Todd took a personalized route when it came to reception place cards. "We had fun personalizing many aspects of the day and loved being able to focus on making our guests feel special and thought of. Instead of named place cards we printed baby photos of each guest and wrote hand-written notes on the back of each card. It was a gift to see everyone so surprised by it and excitedly recognize an old photo of themselves as they sat down to dinner."
One of the couple's most meaningful wedding gifts was a collection of advice they were gifted during the wedding reception. "At the reception, our mothers presented us with a large bag containing the most precious and timeless gift of all. They had teamed up and reached out to all of their friends and our friends—essentially everyone who would have been at the wedding - and asked them to fill out cards with their best 'marriage advice.' We had dozens upon dozens of envelopes containing their words of wisdom and well wishes. We got to read through them in the nights and weeks that followed our wedding night. Generational trends immediately emerged; our parents’ generation consistently referenced the adages 'Don’t go to bed angry' and 'Don’t sweat the small stuff.' To our surprise, many advised to 'Visit your parents often.' The overwhelming theme of our Millennial generation’s advice was to travel and see the world together. We didn’t realize, until putting this to words, that each generation’s advice reflected what they missed the most during the pandemic." In that vein, Sydney and Todd encourage current to-be-weds in the throes of wedding planning to "embrace whatever comes your way—both when it comes to planning your wedding and in your marriage. You have the best partner by your side to take it on with; beyond that nothing else really matters. We never thought we’d be planning our wedding in the middle of a pandemic and it was the best day of our lives. No matter what your wedding looks like, it will be the best day of your life."