A Romantic, Modern Wedding at Hotel Arista in Chicago, Illinois

Jamie Barnett (28 and a marketing and national account manager) and Mike Higgs (28 and a senior account manager) planned an elegant, modern wedding at Hotel Arista in downtown Chicago, Illinois, for their summer nuptials. Having a clear vision and a knack for decision-making, the pair took on the planning process themselves, enlisting the help of a coordinator only for the day of the wedding. “We had a vision of a black-tie affair and everything went from there,” Jamie says. “Once we decided how we wanted the wedding to feel, the rest was easy. I truly loved everything about the planning process and wouldn’t trade it for the world.” Drawn to minimalist design, the pair selected a cool black, gray, silver, navy and white palette for the event and spiced things up with standout elements that spoke to their vibrant personalities, like pops of bright color and Jamie’s statement-making Hayley Paige ball gown. The pair ditched the traditional wedding flowers for hundreds of candles that delivered ambiance in a big way, casting a warm, romantic glow over the chic, modern space. A delicious meal and an unforgettable night of dancing were must-haves for Jamie and Mike, so making a top-notch menu and DJ were key. Hotel Arista didn’t disappoint, serving course after course of mouthwatering bites, such as macadamia-encrusted shrimp, flatiron steak and oven-fired pizzas. As for the music, John Simmons from Style Matters couldn’t have been a better choice. “The best compliment I received came the next day when my best guy friend from home called and said ‘I haven’t danced that much since our eighth-grade recreation night,’ ” Jamie says. Some advice from Jamie: “The best tips I would offer is to get on a Chicago wedding board website and ask for advice on particular venues and caterers in the neighborhood you want your wedding to be in. Also, meet with the people you are potentially hiring--at least once, if not twice--before you book them. In Chicago you have to book things about 12 months out to get what you want, but still make sure to do your due diligence. I found out that I could offer $100 nonrefundable deposits to some of the DJs and photographers to hold our date for a few days if I was still trying to make a decision between them and someone else. If you’re on the fence, put down a small hold deposit—it takes some of the pressure off.”