Alysa + Charlie
September 26, 2020
St. Philomena Catholic Church
The LaHood Home, Peoria, IL
Looking back on 2020, it's easy to look at all of the things that we missed out on or had to postpone due to Covid. However, when I think of Charlie and Alysa's wedding day, I think of what Caroline, Charlie's older sister and Alysa's Matron of Honor, said in her speech: "Despite everything - and there has been a lot - we were there today, on your original date, in the church, with all your family there, witnessing your sacrament. And we're here tonight, celebrating you guys. And the reason that is, is because this love is unstoppable. Your faith, your love for God, and your openness to Him - nothing will ever be in your way. You can accomplish it all. And I can't wait to see where your love and faith takes you next."
Alysa and Charlie had to start completely from scratch about two months before their wedding day. Instead of a huge reception hall, they downsized to a small private property- Caroline's back yard! The LaHood home was transformed into a wedding venue, and honestly, it was perfect. All of their vendors adapted and pulled off the reception with grace and ease. They called Clink, the cutest mobile airstream bar, borrowed a tent from their neighbor, rented tables, chairs, and linens, and put together an elegant reception. Alysa and Charlie reset their expectations and still had the most wonderful wedding day.
Spoiler - Alysa and Charlie's next adventure is at the end of this recap!
Ceremony: St. Philomena Catholic Church
Reception: The LaHood Home, Private Property
Florals: Georgette's Flowers
Photography: Shelby Photography
Videography: A Reel Life Moment
Coordination: Greater Joy Events - Wedding Day Coordination
Rentals: Peoria Rentals
Caterer: A Matter of Taste
Dessert: Jessica Stecher Homebaker
Hair & Makeup: V&E Studio
Dress: David's Bridal
Tuxes: The Black Tux
Transportation: A Touch of Class
Alysa and her bridesmaids got ready at St. Philomena, where they had their hair & makeup done, had the largest breakfast setup I've ever seen, and started off the morning celebrating Alysa with balloons and flowers. They were the best bridal bunch - whenever I checked in to see if they needed anything, they had nothing but cheery smiles and reassurances that everything was going exactly as planned. It was a dream morning! Also, I know I've mentioned that I love bridesmaid reveals, but man - I LOVE bridesmaid reveals. They're always filled with so much joy!
While they were getting ready, I was at the LaHood Home setting out linens, positioning cocktail tables, and setting up the welcome table, gift and card table, and guest book table.
After setting up, I checked in on the guys at Charlie's home. I helped with their boutonnieres and definitely spent a good amount of time hanging out with their dog, Walter, while Charlie took a moment to read his letter from Alysa. I was a *bit* worried when the guys said they wanted to walk to the church - luckily, we had enough buffer time in the timeline to allow for a longer travel time! Honestly, I was more worried about their light gray suits on a warm day, but they were totally fine when they arrived to the church! I opted to drive over and check on the ladies, so luckily Stephanie from Shelby Photography captured a few candid photos!
Alysa and Charlie's ceremony went off without a hitch! It was a beautiful ceremony, witnessed by their family and friends. Alysa and Charlie were actually able to have more guests at their ceremony than at their reception, due to the size of St. Philomena. Knowing that their ceremony meant so much to them made it all the more special that they were able to have more guests there to witness their vows. I've found that some of my favorite photos are captured during the ceremony, when the bride and groom glance at each other. I can only imagine that they're thinking, wow, here we are - this is real and it's happening!
We had plenty of time between Charlie and Alysa's ceremony and their reception, so we brainstormed quite a few ways to try to incorporate the family and friends that weren't able to attend their reception. We settled on meeting outdoors at Heritage Square after their photos for an informal cocktail hour, which went so well! Some of Alysa's relatives brought a traditional Lebanese spirit for a toast, and they were so thankful to be able to celebrate before departing for their reception.
While Alysa and Charlie were off taking photos, I was back at the LaHood Home putting the last minute touches on the reception. I welcomed vendors, set out greenery, lit candles, filled the drink dispensers, and turned on the lighting. Having a wedding coordinator allowed Caroline and her husband, John, to join the wedding party on the party bus and not have to worry about setup, as they had graciously agreed to host the reception at their home. Most importantly, I set out the traditional Lebanese kibbeh and stuffed grape leaves that Alysa's grandmother prepared as a surprise. I set aside a plate for Alysa and Charlie, since they would be arriving about a half hour after the cocktail hour started and I knew this delicious food would be gone fast!
Alysa and Charlie's reception was so FUN. They were announced into their reception with another surprise - confetti cannons! They immediately cut their cake, and took a seat for toasts. All three speeches - Alysa's dad, Caroline, and Sam - were all the sweetest. Then they mingled and enjoyed amazing individual servings from A Matter of Taste, drinks from Clink, and music from DJ4U. As the sun was setting, they shared their first dance together. Everything went smoothly and flowed seamlessly. It was the perfect ending to the most perfect day!
At the end of their day, I felt so incredibly thankful. No matter how many times I say it, it is never lost on me that I am so fortunate to be able to help couples truly enjoy their wedding day. You can see it on their faces - Alysa and Charlie were just so full of joy throughout their day! And, not only the couples themselves, but also those who are closest to them - their parents, siblings, wedding party... the list goes on. I am so grateful to have played a small role in Charlie and Alysa's love-filled wedding celebration. I know I'll never forget each of my couples, and I do know this wedding will hold a special place in my heart for years to come.
I promised to share Alysa and Charlie's next adventure - they are expecting a little miracle in August!
Congratulations, Alysa and Charlie!
"Hiring Greater Joy Events was the best decision we made during our wedding preparation! Madeline was so helpful when we had to change our plans and gave us great suggestions and tips to help our day go smoothly. She communicated with our vendors the week of our wedding so we did not have to worry about it. She truly went above and beyond to make our day so perfect! I would recommend her to anyone planning a wedding!"
- Alysa, Bride
"We hired Greater Joy Events for Wedding Day Coordination. Madeline's hard work and attention to detail helped make our wedding day go smoothly and be truly unique and memorable. She worked closely with my wife and I to make sure that our vision became a reality. Even during Coronavirus she made it a stress free process and let us enjoy the day with the reassurance that Madeline had done all the preparation and was there to make sure everything was going according to plan. We really couldn't imagine trying to plan the wedding without her and would recommend Greater Joy Events to anyone!"
- Charlie, Groom
"Madeline went above and beyond with her wedding planning! She was calm and reassuring and before a problem popped up, she had it solved. It was so great to meet with her before the wedding and talk out our vision and have her fine tune it and suggest ideas we had never thought of. She was so great in coordinating communication between all the vendors so we didn't have to. I can't imagine not having her for the big day and all the prep the day before. Thank you Madeline for such an amazing experience and perfect wedding day! I recommend her to everyone getting married so they can have the perfect day they always dreamed of!"
- Caroline LaHood, Sister of the Groom and Matron of Honor