Kelly Vanderploeg Photo

Vendor Spotlight Kelly Vanderploeg Photography

Vendor Spotlight Kelly Vanderploeg PhotographyEverytime I pick up my camera, my heart starts beating a little faster. I am a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP), which is not that common…that test nearly kicked my butt.  I am also a proud member of Professional Photographer of America (PPA), Professional Photographers of America – Northern Illinois (PPANI) and Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI). I offically opened my proverbial “doors” for business in 2007.  That was when I was trying to be a mom, a wife, a paralegal and a photographer…and doing none of them well.  Today, as a mom of four, it is a daily struggle to balance it all, but it is a way of life I have learned to embrace. I am a hugger.  I am shorter than people think.  I try keeping life simple.  I love home improvement projects.  I love a spontaneous dance party and I keep music playing in our home 24/7.  I eat more cereal than Jerry Seinfeld.  I call Geneva, Illinois home. Check my website and drop me a line if you see something that makes you smile. Also, my Vander Blog is filled with some great weddings.

I am lucky enough to shoot all my weddings with my BFF, Faye, so, when you book me to shoot your wedding, you get her as a little bonus (unless you are having a smaller wedding and just need one photog — in which case, we can chat).  We have both been brides and also stood up in each other’s weddings.  We have seven kids between the two of us, including two sets of boy twins, so we are prepared for anything and are anxious to get out of the house.  The fast pace hustle & bustle of a wedding day gets our creative juices flowing and makes our hearts flutter.  We dress in black and are ninja-like…seriously, you may not even know we are there at times. Ironically, we both speak Spanish (truth be told, I am more fluent after a few margaritas), but we also speak perfect “wedding”.  This is a non-verbal language spoken with the eyes in which fluency increases after shooting weddings together for so many years.  We are there to capture your day as it unfolds…we are not there to run the show, but are ready to direct traffic when the time comes. And I can not guarantee you won’t find us on your dancefloor…it might have been known to happen…just sayin’. Vendor Spotlight Kelly Vanderploeg Photography.

Vendor Spotlight Kelly Vanderploeg Photography
Vendor Spotlight Kelly Vanderploeg PhotographVendor Spotlight Kelly Vanderploeg Photograph

Venue Selection Flowchart

Venue Selection Flowchart

Finding a venue for your wedding is no easy task. There are so many different options it can seem terribly overwhelming when trying to narrow it down to just one. And considering the fact that it’s the largest cost of your wedding venue, you definitely want to select a venue that is well worth the money you’re going to shell out.

This year’s wedding venue trends are straying from the traditional banquet halls and country clubs and opting for the more unique and extravagant locations, such as in a cave or on a glacier. But if you don’t have the budget to pull that off, it’s not a problem at all. By choosing a venue that is true to you and your fiance’s style, and of course staying within your budget, you’ll be able to set the scene perfectly for your big day. To help point you in the right direction, SimplyBridal has created a flow chart to help determine what type of wedding venue you should consider. Happy venue hunting! Venue Selection Flowchart.
Venue Selection Flowchart

NYFW 2014 Roundup

NYFW 2014 Roundup

It’s about this time every year where we begin to dust off our open-toed shoes and dream of warmer days ahead. But for the fashion elite, February marks the coming of Fall as they look way ahead to predict the biggest looks and trends for the most impressionable time of year. Don’t get us wrong, Spring is always a welcome showing for florals, sleeveless looks and the newly reinnovated crop top, but Fall is and has always been the big-time when it comes to high-end couture. This year was no different with the biggest names in the biz closing the shows with the most talked about trends. Here is our take and what you should start prepping for now… [pinit]

NYFW 2014 RoundupSapphire Blue: By far the hottest hue seen all over the runways, this purplish-blue stole the show with major players like Calvin Klein Collection showing it in ultra sleek and modern silhouettes. The key is to let the bold color do the talking and keep things pretty minimal. Other designers went a big further with the color offering separates that made a statement but also kept this bright blue as a neutral accessory, showing off how versatile it will be this Fall.[pinit]
NYFW 2014 RoundupSuiting: The obsession with the dress is over Sorry Brides, but the new menswear inspired vibe is all about suiting separates. From wide leg pants and jackets to ultra sleek suits with plunging necklines, the boy’s club is calling the shots this year with a whole new look for women. Thinking of a LWD for your wedding rehearsal? Go for a jumpsuit instead. It’s playful and sophisticated and a welcome change from the typical and often expected dress option. Ralph Lauren pretty much shut down the runway with his superior take on the look he has been perfecting his entire career. This is one trend that is also so classic and timeless we love seeing it reinterpreted this Fall.

Capes: We saw this one coming from a mile away when Gwyneth Paltrow showed up to the Oscars last year in a custom white Tom Ford dress donning and ultra modern cape. The look is actually very reminiscent of the 1960’s “Jackie O” era and it still works today. Lupita N’yongo earned our best dressed award at the Globes for her red hot Ralph Lauren cape gown and we know there are plenty more capes to come!

Fur: Fur accents and embellishments ( real and faux alike) were a key element in layered and textured looks from everyone from DVF to Altuzarra. The idea for fall is taking traditional pieces like jackets and tops to include luxe fur accents like collars, sleeves, and slim fur jackets in all kinds of bold prints.[pinit]
Jenny PackhamFeathers: Formal favorites Jenny Packham and Naeem Khan stuck with their outrageously gorgeous beaded looks and added a hint of feathering for movement. The look is perfect for bridal and adds an extra dose of glam to an already perfected look. NYFW 2014 Roundup.[pinit]
Naeem Khan

Vendor Spotlight A Sweet Delivery

Vendor Spotlight A Sweet Delivery

Vendor Spotlight A Sweet DeliveryWith Valentine’s Day upon us, it seems that chocolate and sweets are all we can think about.  As much as we love sweet treats, we can’t think of any better way to receive them than being sent a gorgeous hand picked box of perfectly style artisan candy. A Sweet Delivery does just that- it takes the art of giving up a notch with customizable boxes for work or play that are equally as delicious as they are stylish.  Our favorite part? The versatility of sending someone you love a box of gourmet chocolates in sleek clear tumblers or just surprising your favorite little person with whimsical gummy bear collections for their birthday ( both occasions which are on our personal gift- buying agenda!)

The company’s motto “ Because candy is always in fashion” echoes the overall theme of super yummy treats dressed up to look just as good as they taste. The mix of prints and patterns in their candy box collections are perfect for literally anyone in need of a sweet gift. And they customize for corporate gifts as well!

And this is another Chicago vendor we think would be perfect for wedding gifting and thank you’s. Want to thank your bridesmaids or the lovely host of your bridal shower? Send them a thoughtful and fashionable gift that they will talk about for days.

Owner and creator, Ami DiTomasso started A Sweet Delivery as an extension of her already thriving dessert design service, Sugar Chic Designs. Her impeccable eye and flair for food styling has put her at the forefront of to -die –for wedding and event candy displays that go way beyond your typical candy bar. Check out both sites and prepare to be wowed- it’s all almost too beautiful to eat…almost! Vendor Spotlight A Sweet Delivery.

Contact A Sweet Delivery

Vendor Spotlight A Sweet DeliveryVendor Spotlight A Sweet DeliverVendor Spotlight A Sweet Deliver

vendor spotlight drybar

Vendor Spotlight Drybar

vendor spotlight drybarVendor Spotlight Drybar. We’ve been hearing about this new phenomenon for awhile: A trip to the salon JUST for a blow out that keeps your hair styled and perfectly coifed for days. For some, it was an insider secret of the fashionable and super elite. Picture those always put together Upper East sider women heading to power lunches who simply don’t have the time ( or the desire) to give themselves the every exhausting blow out. But now, the “blowout” is more accessible and closer than ever, with a local haunt here in Chicago that is creating quite the loyal following.

Drybar, is an exclusive blow dry bar in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood that is attracting throngs of hair obsessed ladies from all over. And what sets this place apart from the rest is the attention to detail like the complimentary cocktails and great flicks being played on repeat on TV’s throughout the ultra chic salon space.

And the price really can’t be beat. For 40 bucks door to door you can walk in with a hot mess or usual wet bun and walk out a swingy-haired glamazon ready for a special night out or just a work week that leaves very little time for hair maintenance. The hours are super convenient with appointments starting as early as 7 AM and staying open late so that you can get a quick blow out for your early morning flight the next day.

We are obsessed with this idea for brides too. Who wouldn’t love to show up to their rehearsal dinner or bridal shower with hair that looks almost too good? Without the unintended hair nightmare of a self-one updo, Drybar keeps things simple in the best way possible. It literally takes your hair to new levels- more volume, better staying power, and several types of blow outs to fit each customer’s specific needs and events.

The super cute website boasts a simple “menu” that includes blow outs for little ones, at- home services ( what a dream!),  updos and all kinds of add ons like conditioning treatments and scalp massages. And if you think getting your girls together for some pre-wedding pampering is in order, they even do private parties! Perfect for the wedding and beyond, Drybar is our newest obsession- we dare you to try it and NOT go back! CONTACT DRYBAR

Heart and Soul from drybar on Vimeo.

vendor spotlight drybarvendor spotlight drybar

favorite wedding websites

Favorite Wedding Websites

Favorite Wedding Websites

Wedding inspiration seems to be all around us, and it’s no surprise that the Internet is full of sources of inspiration, no matter what your style, date, or budget.  However, sometimes it can be difficult to know just where to start, as there are just SO many great websites out there.  Here we have outlined several of our favorites, as well as sites that we often hear couples mention to us.  Happy browsing!

Style Me Pretty: This is without a doubt probably the most popular wedding blog out there.  SMP features some pretty incredible weddings of all different styles, offering great inspiration for couples everywhere.  They also feature some great DIY projects!

Wedding Chicks: Again, this is a great overall resource, with gorgeous inspiration.  Pay special attention to the tabs for “DIY projects” and “free printables”.  They have some great printables!

once wedOnce Wed: This site is similar to the two above, with a great DIY section.  Their “wedding ideas” tab also offers some great inspiration photos, easily pinnable on Pinterest.

Ruffled: We really love this blog.  They have great inspiration and some really good DIYs.  We also love their “local blogs” section, where you can search weddings they have featured by state.  This is cool because you can also get ideas for vendors, locations, and seasonal favorites.  (Yes, there are several weddings from Illinois!)  The “recycle your wedding” section also offers a cool place to sell and buy wedding goodies if you are are interested in going that route.

100 Layer Cake: This site has some nice DIYs, all with a similar vibe and feel: a combination of feminine + whimsical + dainty + a little earthy.  So if that’s close to your vibe, check it out.

Green Wedding Shoes: This has a similar feel to several of the other sites, with several DIY projects.  Many of the DIYs are fairly common, but they also have a few DIYs that we haven’t seen.  We’re currently crushing skull escort cards; they’re so rustic chic!)

Intimate Weddings: This site features smaller and as the name implies, more intimate weddings.  This is particularly nice for couples who know they want to go this route, as the site can be a reminder that you don’t have to host a 400 guest party to have a memorable celebration.


Vendor Spotlight Rosemary Fanti

Vendor Spotlight Rosemary Fanti

Vendor Spotlight Rosemary FantiVendor Spotlight Rosemary Fanti
Rosemary Fanti is a nationally recognized and published fashion, wedding and event illustrator whose work speaks for itself when it comes to capturing the most important moments in one’s life.  Her perfectly detailed work can be the ultimate keepsake and even double as a timeless piece of art to display in your married home. The portraits are impeccable and the idea of having an artist on-hand at your wedding to create a live illustration perhaps of a moment you may have even missed, is also just about the most romantic thing we can think of!

And the options are pretty great. Ms. Fanti will create a live version or will book a sitting for after the wedding sessions for a more intimate experience.  And how about this for Grooms looking for a perfect gift for their new bride? A custom illustration of her in her dress- now that’s a surprise of a lifetime!

Each piece is hand signed by the artist and the ideas for gifts don’t stop at weddings. Rosemary creates classic sketches for new moms and their babies, couples celebrating a milestone anniversary and capturing major events like birthdays and family celebrations.  It’s a whole new take on portraiture but it’s also a complete ad total homage to classic illustration and we love it!

Rosemary Fanti has now become a Chicago institution and will dream up something incredible for any special occasion or even not so special occasion. Her website features people and pets, celeb sketches, and classic family pieces that delight clients for years. But for our purposes we really can’t think of a better way to document the big day than with an original piece of art you’ll have forever!

Contact Rosemary Fonti
Vendor Spotlight Rosemary Fanti

Vendor Spotlight Rosemary Fanti

vendor spotlight rosemary fonti

vendor spotlight rosemary fonti Vendor Spotlight Rosemary Fanti


spin spun

Spin Spun Cotton Candy Chicago

Spin Spun Cotton Candy ChicagoWe recently saw an amazing photo on a food blog of said blogger being presented with a gorgeous mound of fluffy pink cotton candy dressed with edible gold glitter and donning a birthday candle. Now that is what we call an upgrade on the typical free piece of cake on your birthday.  After doing a little research on how to make my own, and by that we mean BUY my own and sprinkle it with sparkles, we came across this adorable ( and local!) vendor, Spin Spun.

Spin Spun prides itself on being all-natural, gluten- free, nut- free, kosher, and containing as little as 100 calories per serving. It’s fun and super health conscious- 2 things we love! The sugar is even organic and to top it all off, they are serving up sweetness with a conscience- they are even fair trade certified!

So, now that we know that Spin Spun’s crazy cool concept works for just about every event and every palate, let’s get into the important details- the flavors! Although, the company claims this cute recipe is the secret to their one of a kind sugary magic ( see below), some of the innovative flavors include lemon coconut, salted caramel, and pistachio just to name a few!

Spin-Spun Cotton Candy Recipe (Same for each of our more than 25 flavors) :

1 Tablespoon of Inspiration

1/2 Cup of Passion

1 Tablespoon of Love

2 Teaspoons of Fun

1 Cup of Nature

2 cups of Awesomeness

And even CEO Seth Bankier can’t resist this old-time favorite. The idea originally came about while he was working in his office and suddenly had a craving for cotton candy. Simple as that, and about a million hours of research and development later ( tough gig, right?) Spin Spun was formed! The company is currently available for custom events and weddings and we can’t think of a more exciting surprise for wedding guests that grabbing a stick of cotton candy customized with your very own wedding colors! To check for availability or just to drool over the photos, here is all the info on Spin Spun!

Spin Spun Cotton Candy Chicago

Couples Choice Award 2014

WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014

WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014WeddingWire, the nation’s leading online wedding marketplace, is thrilled to announce that Music By Design has been selected as a winner of the prestigious WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014 for DJ Services in Chicago, IL.!

The esteemed annual awards program recognizes the top five percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. Music By Design’s selection as a Choice Awards™ 2014 winner was selected based on the positive experiences expressed by  past clients on WeddingWire, the world’s largest wedding review site with over one million reviews.  While many industry awards are given by the host organization, the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014 winners are determined solely based on reviews from real newlyweds and their experiences working with Music By Design.

WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014The WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014 are given to the top local wedding vendors in more than 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on professional achievements from the previous year. Award-winning vendors are distinguished for the quality, quantity, consistency and timeliness of the reviews they have received from their past clients.  As a WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ 2014 winner, Music By Design is highlighted within the WeddingWire Network, which is comprised of over 200,000 wedding professionals throughout the United States, Canada and abroad.

“Each year, WeddingWire looks forward to celebrating the success of the top-rated wedding professionals within the WeddingWire Network,” said Timothy Chi, CEO, WeddingWire. “Now in its fifth year, the Couples’ Choice Awards™ program continues to recognize the elite wedding professionals who exemplify a commitment to quality, service and professionalism. These businesses were chosen by our bridal community for their responsiveness and dedication to their clients over the past year. We are honored to recognize Music By Design for their impressive achievements within the wedding industry.”

Music By Design is thrilled to be one of the top DJ Companies in the WeddingWire Network of sites, which include leading wedding sites such as WeddingWire, Project Wedding,, Martha Stewart Weddings, and Weddingbee. We would like to thank our past clients for taking the time to review our business on WeddingWire. We value all of our clients and truly appreciate the positive feedback that helped us earn the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™ for 2014.

For more information about Music By Design, click Chicago Wedding DJ.

To learn more about the WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards™, please visit

About WeddingWire, Inc.
WeddingWire®, the nation’s leading marketplace serving the $70 billion wedding industry, is the only
online wedding planning resource designed to empower both engaged couples and wedding professionals. For
engaged couples, WeddingWire offers the ability to search, compare and book over 200,000 reviewed wedding
vendors, from wedding venues to wedding photographers. WeddingWire also offers a comprehensive suite
of online planning tools for weddings, including wedding websites and wedding checklists, all at no charge.
For wedding professionals, WeddingWire is the only all-in-one marketing platform for businesses online and
on-the-go. WeddingWire offers one simple solution to build a professional network, improve search visibility,
manage social media and reach mobile consumers. Businesses that advertise with WeddingWire appear on, and other leading sites, including (NYSE:
MSO), and

For the official press release: click here

the knot best of weddings

Music By Design The Knot Best of Weddings 2014

the knot best of weddingsMusic By Design The Knot Best of Weddings 2014

Music By Design named winner in The Knot Best of Weddings 2014

Chicago, IL (Januray 2, 2014) — Music By Design is pleased to announce they have been selected as a 2014 ­­winner in The Knot Best of Weddings, a special section featured on is the number-one wedding destination, most trusted by brides.

The Knot Best of Weddings 2014 provides a “by brides, for brides” guide to the top wedding professionals across the country, and is a must-have when it comes to selecting the best-of-the-best wedding resources. Whether they’re trying to find the wedding dress salon with the best service in Chicagoland, the most creative wedding photographers, top cake bakers or the hottest reception sites, engaged couples across the country want the inside scoop on the best from real brides.

Music By Design is also included in The Knot Hall of Fame. Comprised of winners of the annual Best of Weddings, a by-brides-for-brides guide to the top wedding vendors in 80-plus cities across the U.S., the Hall of Fame inducts wedding vendors who have won four or more Best of Weddings awards. This honorable list of 331 inductees includes less than 2 percent of wedding professionals.

knot best of weddings
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About XO Group Inc.
XO Group Inc. (NYSE: XOXO), is a global media and technology leader devoted to weddings, pregnancy and everything in between, providing young women with the trusted information, products and advice they need to guide them through the most transformative events of their lives. Our family of premium brands began with the #1 wedding brand, The Knot, and has grown to include, The Nest, The Bump, and XO Group is recognized by the industry for being innovative in all media – from the web to social media and mobile, magazines and books, and video – and our groundbreaking social platforms have ignited passionate communities across the world. XO Group has leveraged its customer loyalty into successful businesses in online sponsorship and advertising, registry services, ecommerce and publishing. The company is publicly listed on the New York Stock Exchange (XOXO) and is headquartered in New York City. Follow XO Group on Twitter @xogroupinc.

For more information, please contact

To view the official press release, click The Knot Best of Weddings 2014


Music By Design The Knot Best of Weddings 2014