A Greek and Military Wedding in at Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort in Oak Brook, Illinois

Kristi Koszewski (24 and in marketing) and Phillip Arnold (26 and a US Army officer) blended Greek Orthodox traditions with a hearty dose of military pride when they exchanged vows at Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Westchester, Illinois. “I was lucky enough to marry the love of my life in the church where I was baptized,” Kristi says. “My childhood priest performed the ceremony. That was so special.” The Greek Orthodox ceremony was symbolic, from the Service of the Betrothal to the Service of the Crowning (symbolizing the beginning of a new kingdom, with the bride and groom reigning supreme under God's the divine authority). Guests received a program explaining the Greek Orthodox ceremony so they could follow along. “One of my favorite parts of the ceremony was when Phillip and I took our first steps as husband and wife,” Kristi says. “Our hands were joined by the priest and placed on the Gospel and the cross as he led us around the table. Our mothers threw white rose petals over us. It was a really beautiful moment.” A soft, elegant palette of blush, white and gold could be seen in everything from the invitations to the classy pink bridesmaid gowns to the soft hues of the flowers and the gold details on the cake—all colors that would complement the Army uniforms. After a traditional rice toss celebrating the announcement of the new couple, guests headed to the nearby Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort for the reception, featuring a beautiful golf course (great for photos), an elegant ballroom, an on-site spa and modern hotel rooms, simplifying the getaway for out-of-town guests. The evening began with a bang: When the wedding party was announced, they entered to smoke cannons spraying red, white and blue smoke. “It looked so awesome and set the tone for the party,” Kristi says. Dinner included Greek-style lamb chops, Veuve Clicquot and plenty of treats: both Greek and Polish sweets, traditional wedding cake, and a doughnut wall (with doughnuts baked by Kristi’s aunts). “Nothing says America more than red, white and blue doughnuts,” Kristi says. Late-night snacks included Italian beef, pizza and White Castle sliders, delivered as a surprise by Kristi’s uncle. During the dance, the couple honored their grandparents by bringing family to the dance floor, doing a shot of Early Times whiskey together and singing a song the grandkids had learned when they were little. “That was a really special moment," Kristi says. "I know we’ll remember it for years to come.” Another Greek tradition was the koufeta—almonds covered in a white candy coating—symbolizing purity, fertility, the endurance of marriage and a sweet future. The couple put their own twist on the tradition by including a golden toy soldier with every bag of almonds. “We encouraged our guests to take the soldier home and place him somewhere in their house to always remind them to pray for the men and women who bravely serve our country,” Kristi says. The night ended with Greek dancing, polka dancing and plate breaking: a true celebration of friends and family, Greek traditions, military pride and love. Opa! —Chrissy Sorenson