Better Together | April 2017

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On this day…
We’re thrilled to introduce our new bi-monthly section of creative and stunning local wedding celebrations. Each reflects the couple’s culture and style at west-suburban institutions meaningful to them. These landmarks—the Naperville Riverwalk, Benet Academy, St. Charles Country Club, Arranmore Farm and Polo Club—play host to new beginnings, and provide us with a refreshing reminder that we are all Better Together.

Rachel Peck & James Alexander
Rachel Peck, 30, never expected a 2013 St. Patrick’s Day spent in Chicago with friends would lead to meeting her future husband. They were at Rockwood Place in Wrigleyville, the first bar of many that day, when a group of guys walked up to Peck and her friends and made conversation. Schaumburg-native  James Alexander, 28, was the only one who really connected with the girls and after talking for a while, he turned around and realized his friends had left—and his phone was dead. He looked at the group and said, “Well, I guess I’m spending the rest of the day with you girls!”

Peck and Alexander connected the next day and began dating soon after, until they became engaged two years later.

The couple paid homage to Peck’s family by getting married at the same venue as her parents: St. Charles Country Club. With the help of Carla Keeney, the club’s event planner, they created an elegant and traditional wedding with touches of nature that they had dreamed of.

Although the day had its dramatic unplanned occurrences—such as Peck being locked out of the house in her wedding dress because her parents had her purse and were still at the venue cleaning up—the couple still prides themselves on the dancing at their reception.

“My favorite part of the day was when dinner was over and all the things we had to do were over and everyone was just dancing,” Peck says. “To this day, everyone still says we had the best party at our wedding because everyone was dancing the entire time and it was so much fun.”

The couple spent their honeymoon island hopping in Hawaii and is looking forward to moving into a townhouse they are building in June, which is close to Peck’s job as a second-grade teacher in Naperville.

Wedding Details
Photography: Samantha Jensen for Alicia’s Photography, Naperville
Bride’s dress: Allure Bridals from Crystal Bride, Geneva
Hair: Frank Gironda, Naperville
Makeup: Anne Hunter, Naperville
Bridesmaid’s dress: Wolsfelt’s Bridal, Aurora
Men’s attire: Lorenzo’s Formal Wear, Lisle
Live music: Dolce Strings string quartet, Chicago
DJ: Something2Dance2, Schaumburg
Décor and flowers: Debi’s Designs, South Elgin
Rings: Bella Cosa Jewelers, Willowbrook

Jessica Sommesi & Billy Kennedy
Like many couples, Jessica Sommesi and Billy Kennedy, both 32, met through a mutual college friend. When Sommesi, a Naperville native, was visiting her lifelong friend at an alumni event at Purdue University, she was introduced to his fraternity brother, Kennedy. They didn’t start dating until a couple of years later, but she always thought of him fondly from that initial weekend.

Flash forward five years when the couple was dating and Sommesi was living in an apartment in downtown Naperville. One morning they stopped for coffee and bagels before a special stroll on the Riverwalk with their puppy, Macaroni. It was getting ready to rain when they reached the Riverwalk Amphitheater and Sommesi was understandably anxious to leave. Kennedy convinced her to wait until the guy sitting behind them left, and then he used the romantic location to pop the question.

A family friend, Father Donald Heiar—known as “Padre” to the couple—married Sommesi and Kennedy at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. They wanted an out-of-the-ordinary reception and chose to use a beautiful transparent tent to allow for more customization of their celebration, and they enlisted Bianca Hall from Estera Events as their wedding planner. The 225-guest reception at Arranmore Farm and Polo Club was what Sommesi describes as “the normal wedding turned on its axis.”

“Overall I just wanted it to look visually and aesthetically stunning, while being extremely relaxed with a light-hearted, fun atmosphere, and I think we accomplished that,” she says.

The couple—who now lives in Kennedy’s hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin—spent a “minimoon” in South Beach, but would like to plan a longer trip to South Africa later this year.

Wedding Details
Photography: Natalie Probst Photography, Chicago
Videography: Mirar Productions, Chicago
Wedding planner: Biana Hall at Estera Events, Chicago
Bride’s dress: Carolina Herrera from Ultimate Bride, Chicago
Bride’s shoes: Stuart Weitzman from Nordstrom, Oak Brook
Hair: AJ Palace at Your Stylist AJ, Chicago
Makeup: Shannon O’Brien, Chicago
Bridesmaid’s dress: BCBG
Groom’s attire: Suitsupply, Chicago and The Tie Bar, Chicago
Groomsmen’s attire: and The Tie Bar, Chicago
Invitations:, Chicago
Tent: Blue Peak Tents, West Chicago
Catering: Boutique Bites, Chicago
Cake: Vanille Patisserie, Chicago
Dessert: Spin-Spun, Chicago
Transportation: Van Galder Bus Company, Janesville, Wisconsin
Band: The Chicago Players, Deerfield
Florist and décor: Fleur, Chicago
Rings: The Diamond Center, Janesville, Wisconsin and la’LOR, Chicago

Sarah Clark & Matt Connelly

For Sarah Clark, 26, and Matt Connelly, 27, it took four years in the same homeroom at Benet Academy before they became friends and started dating. But once they finally realized they made a good match, they never looked back.

The couple spent the next eight years together, including some from long distance as each pursued college degrees and careers. Eventually a visit led to a proposal while walking along Lake Michigan on Loyola University’s campus after dinner at their favorite Chicago restaurant. “Afterwards,” says Clark, “Matt hosted a surprise party with our friends and family back in Lisle; it was really fun.”

Clark followed her two older sisters’ footsteps and included both of them as her matrons of honor, and she used some of the same vendors as well. One thing that made her wedding completely unique, however, was the creative presence of local craft beer at their reception.

“We both really like craft beer, so we had a different microbrewery growler as the centerpiece from all different microbreweries in Chicago and St. Louis and across the Midwest, so each table had a different microbrewery and they had flowers in them,” Connelly says.

Clark’s favorite memory of the day was the Naperville Trolley ride the couple did with their wedding party between the ceremony at St. Raphael Catholic Church and the celebration at Riverside Receptions in Geneva, which the couple chose because of its location on the Fox River and the character it offered.

The Connellys spent their honeymoon in Ireland and now make their home in Chicago.

Wedding Details
Photography: RRG Wedding Photography
Bride’s dress: David’s Bridal, Aurora
Hair/makeup: Style Onsite, Schaumburg
Bridesmaid’s dress: David’s Bridal, Aurora
Groomsmen’s attire: Jos. A. Bank Clothiers, Inc., Naperville
Cake: The Cakery, Wheaton
DJ: Music by Design, St. Charles
Florist: Celidan Creations, Naperville
Rings: V&O Style Jewelers, Chicago