Chicago Wedding Show Round Up

A Few of Our Favorite Wedding Shows in Chicago

Booking season is underway! Many couples get engaged between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, leading to a jump in inquiries and consultations in late winter and early spring. Booking season for us! Planning season for you! If you got engaged over the holidays, you’ve likely started to dip your toes into wedding planning and begun your search for wedding vendors. We talked earlier about how to begin your search for wedding vendors, but I’d like to focus a bit more on wedding shows.

The wedding shows of the past have a pretty rough reputation as a cattle call of potential clients, shuffling through cheesy displays and pushy sales people. Thankfully, a few wedding shows have popped up in Chicago to defy that stereotype. Each of these shows is taking place in very cool, non-traditional wedding venues, so there’s the bonus of checking out a few of Chicago’s most interesting venues while at the shows. Here are our favorite foils to the traditional wedding show, in chronological order of when they are scheduled in 2016:

Indie Wed. Saturday, February 6th, 2016. Ravenswood Event Center, 4043 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago.
Indie Wed has a young and hip vibe, with many up-and-coming wedding vendors, as well as more seasoned, but still small and independently owned, wedding peeps. Held at Ravenswood Event Center, Indie Wed is three floors of displays from wedding vendors. Pollen has been there more years than not, though a booked wedding prevented us from applying to display this year.

Dose Trousseau. Sunday, February 14th, 2016. Morgan Manufacturing, 401 N. Morgan St., Chicago.
This is the first year for Dose Trousseau, which is being held in conjunction with Dose Love at Morgan Manufacturing. If you’re familiar with Dose Market, you know the vibe: a curated selection of hip, tasteful, high-quality, hand-made goods from small, local businesses. Dose Trousseau offers the wedding version of these qualities, with a hand-picked roster of wedding vendors who share the Dose aesthetic. Yes, we’ll be there!

Committed. Sunday, March 13th, 2016. Greenhouse Loft, 2545 W. Diversey Ave, Chicago.
Organized by the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance, Committed is a more intimate show of wedding vendors who are members of the Chicago Green Wedding Alliance. This means all the vendors are doing their best to be environmentally and socially responsible. For couples who share those priorities and want their wedding to reflect their values, the GWA has done the work for you to vet these wedding vendors. Of course, Pollen will be there!

A few other wedding shows are on my radar that I’ll want to check out this year. Feel free to leave suggestions for wedding shows worth checking out in the comments!

Indie Wed 2014

We were excited to participate on once again in Indie Wed, held on Saturday at the Ravenswood Event Center!  Indie Wed is “THE alternative to traditional wedding expos.”  Traditional wedding expos are not our thing, so we’re happy to have this opportunity to meet potential clients who also have a more independent spirit.

Pollen's 2014 Indie Wed display

Pollen’s 2014 Indie Wed display

Amanda joined me (Lynn) again to person our booth.  Our grey backdrop was accented with flowering branches framing the structure.  On display, we featured three different wedding looks, with a centerpiece and bouquet for each.  All three were in our signature gardeny style, some more whimsical than others!

Bouquet in purple, orange, and pink, with Dark Milva roses, purple lisianthus, scabiosa, allium, and jasmine.

Bouquet in purple, orange, and pink, with Dark Milva roses, purple lisianthus, scabiosa, allium, and jasmine.

One look was gardeny and bright, in tones of purple, orange, and pink.  Ornamental kale, dahlias, and roses were the focal flowers, with scabiosa and hanging amaranth adding interest.  I created a loose, tall piece in a clear vase, as well as a bouquet in a a complementary style.

Another vignette was soft, romantic, and vintage-y, in a muted color palette of grey, peach, and ivory.  A low centerpiece of spray roses, dusty miller, amaryllis, and anemone in a gold mercury glass compote was accompanied by a bouquet, boutonniere, and mercury glass votives.

Centerpiece with artichokes

Centerpiece with artichokes

The third set was a bit more dramatic, with artichokes, ranunculus, and scented geranium in a dark, rich color scheme.  The centerpiece’s container was a bronze footed urn.  I ended up wearing the boutonniere I made for this vignette.  I unintentionally wore an outfit that matched it quite perfectly!

Thanks to all who stopped by!  If you missed us at Indie Wed, we’ll be at Committed at the end of the month.

Styled Photo Shoot on 100 Layer Cake

We were just thrilled to be a part of an amazing creative team of Indie Wed vendors who contributed to this styled photo shoot of Geometric Wedding Inspiration on 100 Layer Cake’s blog.  Thanks to Kelly at Indie Wed for inviting Pollen to be a part of it!  And thanks to Amanda Megan Miller Photography for capturing everything so beautifully!  Here’s a sample of the loveliness to be found in the full post. by Amanda Megan Miller Photography

Indie Wed 2012 Recap

Wow…  I’m so honored to have participated in another winter Indie Wed (year 3!).  I had an especially good time this year.  I got to catch up with a few past clients, see a few current clients, and meet potential future clients!

I was excited to meet some vendors with whom I have been hoping to cross paths.  And I got to see some friends’ new(ish) businesses, such as Plate, Crafty Broads, and Pink Cottage Pastry.  Kudos for taking the leap!

Thanks to friend/floral designer/interior designer Paul, who was at my side while putting together the display and on the day of Indie Wed.  Here’s the final display:

A couple of weeks prior to Indie Wed, Paul and I scoured The ReBuilding Exchange for inspiration, without too much of an idea of what we would do for the display.  We picked up some folding doors and somehow came up with the idea of attaching pussy willow branches to the doors.  The overall effect of the pussy willow was of a somewhat random pattern… neutral but natural.  We went with Pollen’s colors of dark brown, mossy green, and raspberry (picked up in the flowers).

I wanted to use furniture from the studio so that the display “felt” like Pollen.  The pedestals were locally made a few years back by my talented carpenter friends Carson and Dave.  The table was a craiglist find (with a little revamping to change the tabletop from orange to white and expose the layers of plywood).  And the chair is one of four Heywood Wakefield school chairs I picked up at the Kane County Flea Market.  (Have you been?  You must go!)

The display showcased our favored naturalistic style.  On display were a bouquet, a floral centerpiece, a planted centerpiece, a boutonniere, and a showier piece, like might be used at the guest book table or bar at a wedding.  The flowers all went together, but weren’t too matchy-matchy.

The designs kept with our eco-friendly focus, eschewing floral foam (a non-biodegradable petroleum product).  The focal arrangement was designed in a recycled glass vase.  The smaller floral centerpiece was designed in a vintage glass container.  While our first choice is to work with locally grown product, during Chicago’s winters that just isn’t possible.  So we hand-selected a combination of sustainable, domestic, and Dutch floral product.

photo by Lily Red Studio (©Lily Red Studio 2012)

The bouquet was loose and sprawling, and wrapped with a plant-based ribbon.

photo by Lily Red Studio (©Lily Red Studio 2012)

The planted centerpiece, a low container of succulents, showed an example of a centerpiece that can have a life beyond the day of the wedding.

The flowers used included the following:

  • from California, acacia, scabiosa, blackberries, and viburnum;
  • from the Netherlands, kale, anemone, muscari hyacinth, cymbidium orchids, snowball viburnum, ranunculus, hellebores, and bullet allium; and
  • from a certified sustainable grower in South America, blue thistle and hydroponically grown roses.

Paul “person”-ed the booth while I joined fellow Green Wedding Alliance members Nina from Tweedle Press and Molly from FIG Catering to give a short workshop on green wedding tips.

Thanks to all who came out to Indie Wed and stopped by to say “hi.”  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Indie Wed Recap v2

Pollen was lucky enough to be selected to display at Indie Wed not just once, but twice!  I have described last year’s display as “showing off.”  I created a bouquet, centerpiece, and boutonniere for three different looks, showing the range of styles Pollen can do.  Intimidated by a sophomore effort, and no longer feeling the need to be all things to all people, I took a different approach this time around.

This year, I kept it simple, and focused on the direction Pollen is heading, both in style and philosophy.  The style we’re honing is one that is naturalistic, a little gardeny, and seasonal.  And we’re making the transition to working only on weddings where sustainability is a focus, which was the original idea behind Pollen.

When I tell people that I started Pollen to be an eco-friendly option for couples planning weddings, I’m often asked, “What does that mean?”  This year, Pollen’s Indie Wed display answered that question.

Sustainable floral design means…

Designing in water, not floral foam. Floral foam (that green spongy stuff) is a petroleum-based product that is not biodegradable.  And it contains formaldehyde.

Working with sustainably grown flowers. Locally grown flowers are Pollen’s first choice, but in winter, we need to look to warmer climates for our flower supply.  We seek out flowers that have been certified as sustainably grown by a third-party certification program, such as Veriflora.  Or flowers that have been grown in the Netherlands, which leads the way in the cut flower industry with technology, conservation, and labor rights.  Our sourcing decisions are based on a thoughtful hierarchy of the least harmful impact of the cut flower options available, while fitting the budget and color scheme of the wedding.

Working with the seasons. What is seasonally available typically also is more affordable.  A display of forced spring bulbs (in recycled glass containers with vintage marbles) as a centerpiece demonstrated a seasonal option.

Considering the life of the centerpiece after the event. By using plants (such as the forced bulbs) as centerpieces, guests can take them home to enjoy for long after the wedding.  Alternatively, flowers can be donated to a retirement home or shelter.  Pollen can arrange to have your wedding flowers reused after the big day.

Supporting the community. Our display featured votive candles from Bright Endeavors, a local social enterprise working to break the cycle of poverty.

Working to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  We try not to buy more stuff if we don’t have to.

  • Pollen participates in Bright Endeavors’ votive refill program, in which they refill votive holders with soy wax for reuse.
  • Pollen will rent out containers for larger weddings, and otherwise offers a vase return program, in which clients (with prior agreement) can return unwanted vases from their wedding for a partial refund.
  • Pollen looks for alternatives to buying new.  The bridal bouquet in the display was wrapped with a vintage necktie, instead the usual satin ribbon.  Oh, and our table cover was upcycled from curtains and linens.

Special thanks to Kelly and Shannon for organizing Indie Wed; to Sarah (pictured below, on the right), who braved the crowds with me to be the face of Pollen; to Julie, who lent me her marbles (no joke); to Carla, who cut and folded paper for the display signage and handouts; and to Jessica and Peter of Matushek Photography, who took the photos!

Indie Wed: Not Your Mama’s Bridal Show

Pollen will be displaying again at Indie Wed this year!  I know, I know…  I’m not much of a wedding show person, either.  But this one is different, I swear!  Indie Wed features more non-traditional wedding vendors.  Ones that lean toward the modern, the edgy, or the eco-friendly.

Last year was fantastic, and this year looks like it’s going to be bigger and better.  Indie Wed will be at the Ravenswood Event Center again this year, right in Pollen’s neighborhood!  Mark your calendar for Saturday, January 29th.  Check out the Indie Wed website for more info and to buy tickets.

Indie Wed Display–Modern Theme

For the “modern” theme for Pollen’s Indie Wed display, the inspiration was a beautiful pair of Stuart Weitzman shoes.  The decor picked up the fuchsia color of the shoes with deep pinks, as well as pewter and silver, and conveyed simple elegance.

Modern Theme Mini-Inspiration Board

I featured fuchsia phalaenopsis orchids in the centerpiece, bridal bouquet, and boutonniere.  These flowers are so gorgeous and striking, that they really can stand alone.  I added lily grass to the tall centerpiece, and allowed the orchids to have some space, so the individual stems could be appreciated.

Tall and Modern Orchid Centerpiece

These beautiful orchids were grown in a western suburb of Chicago, so they only had to travel 25 miles to get here, instead of 2500 miles!  So not only are they very fresh, but they have a smaller carbon footprint than imported orchids, since they don’t need nearly as much fossil fuel to get to their ultimate destination.

For the bridal bouquet, I again allowed the orchids to stand alone, with a little lily grass added for a modern flair.  I wrapped the stems in pewter ribbon, then silver wire, to carry through the silver accents in the centerpieces.

Modern Orchid Bridal Bouquet

These flowers would be perfect for the couple planning a simple and elegant wedding that still makes a  statement!

These beautiful phalaenopsis stems were grown in a western suburb of Chicago, so they only had to travel 25 miles to get here, instead of 2500 miles!

Indie Wed Display–Quirky/Woodsy Theme

The Quirky/Woodsy vignette from my display at Indie Wed definitely got the most attention.  About a week before Indie Wed, I thought about cutting out this vignette, because I really hadn’t figured out yet what I was going to do for it.  I was thinking of the theme as Wintry/Rustic, and envisioned using birch bark as a focal feature, but the birch bark got the boot.  Twig balls and acorns took center stage, and the theme became Quirky/Woodsy.  I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this theme, because so many people reacted to it.

Here was the mini inspiration board for the theme, showing the inspiration piece: these somewhat strange-looking handmade owls I found a photo on Shelterrific’s blog.  The color scheme was green, plum, grey-ish aqua, and brown.

The Quirky/Woodsy Theme

For the centerpiece, I started with a natural basket made of twigs and moss.  I inserted a 5X5X5 inch glass cube vase to line it.  Thankfully it fit perfectly!  Instead of using floral foam–a much depended upon floral industry material–I designed the centerpiece in water.  I avoid using floral foam as much as possible, because it is both non-biodegradable and a petroleum-based product.  Oh, and it contains formeldehyde.  A couple of days before Indie Wed, I placed in the arrangement the non-floral items: a moss ball that I made from moss and waxed thread to provide some structure (my floral foam substitute), the branches, twig balls, and the succulent.  Here’s what that stage looked like:

The First Step of the Quirky/Woodsy Centerpiece

I later added the kale, stock, trachelium, and acorns.

The Final Quirky/Woodsy Centerpiece

For the bouquet, I used many of the same elements as were in the centerpiece. When I was thinking the theme would be Wintry/Rustic, I was planning on using a sweater-like material to cover the stems of the bouquet.  Instead, I used a green grosgrain ribbon with brown wooden buttons on the handle.

Quirky/Woodsy Wedding Bouquet

I didn’t get a good isolated shot of the acorn boutonniere, but here you can see it in the final display.  The boutonniere had matching ribbon and buttons to coordinate with the bridal bouquet.

Quirky/Woodsy Vignette

Another sustainable aspect of these designs is that many of the elements, such as the twig spheres, acorns, and branches, could be saved and used to create a keepsake.  The succulents could also be removed and would last for months kept in a low glass container with river rock and a little water. It’s a reusable bouquet!

The vignette I almost axed was the one I enjoyed making and looking at the most.  I’m so glad I kept it!

Indie Wed Recap

I had such a fantastic time at Indie Wed!  Initial estimates indicate that around 1,000 people attended the event, held on Saturday, January 30th at the Ravenswood Event Center.  It was so wonderful to see past, present, and hopefully future clients.  Seeing so many of my clients indicated that I was definitely in the right place!  And, wow, such a fantastic group of vendors!

For Pollen’s display, I created three floral vignettes, each with a different theme: vintage, modern, and quirky/woodsy.  I wanted to show the range of styles that Pollen can provide, and how flowers can truly enhance the theme of the wedding. The display also showed ideas for including eco-friendly options in wedding flowers.

Each vignette had a bridal bouquet, table centerpiece, and boutonniere, as well as a mini-inspiration board.  My idea with the inspiration board was to mimic the initial part of the creative process of designing wedding flowers.  Typically, a potential client comes to a consultation with a photo of some element of the bridal party’s attire, a color scheme, and sometimes an inspiration piece.  It’s my job from there to interpret this look through the floral design of the bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, and centerpieces.

In future blog posts, I’ll tell you about each vignette.  For now, I’ll share photos of Pollen’s Indie Wed display and our new business cards, hot off the presses and just in time for Indie Wed.

Pollen's Indie Wed display

Pollen Business Card and Contact Info

Pollen Business Card--Front

Pollen Business Card--Back

Check out a few of the other incredible Indie Wed vendors:

Delicate Creature
Fine and Raw Chocolate
City Provisions
Spilled Ink Press
Edyta Szyszlo Photography
Foodie Registry
I Do Films
Jeremy Lawson Photography
Toast & Jam
Green Paper Company

Indie Wed Ticket Giveaway

Planning a wedding that is more unconventional than traditional?  Then Indie Wed is for you!  Here’s your chance to win a pair of tickets to Indie Wed, Chicago’s very first independent wedding fair!

Indie Wed is a unique wedding show and sale that features independent, modern, edgy, and eco-friendly wedding vendors.  Indie Wed will be take place on:

Saturday, January 30th, from 11AM to 5PM at the Indie Wed Chicago
Ravenswood Event Center,
4025 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL.

To enter to win two tickets to Indie Wed, post your favorite indie wedding website and why you like it in a comment below, before the end of the day on Saturday, January 9, 2010The Knot doesn’t count! Not that there’s anything wrong with The Knot, but I’d like to get exposure for sites that are a bit more unknown.

A winner will be selected at random from the entries below.  Good luck!