Nicole Izbicky and Marla Merchut met in 2002, when they were both in middle school. They were at the first Midwest retreat organized by their youth group movement, and didn’t interact much over the course of the weekend. A few years later, however, they found themselves together again at summer camp. This time, in their “mature wisdom,” the two girls began to develop a friendship, followed by attending college together and moving to New York for graduate school.
After seven years together, Marla and Nicole were ready to take the next step in their relationship. While they were in the process of moving back to their hometown of Chicago to begin their careers, Nicole used this transition as an opportunity to orchestrate an over-the-top proposal she knew Marla deserved. She emailed all their friends to who lived in or near New York, informing them that they would be throwing a “moving away” party, which would secretly double as an engagement party.
HAVING ALL THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TOGETHER IN CHICAGO WAS AN OCCASION THEY’D LOVE TO RELIVE EVERY DAY.
The proposal day started with Marla and Nicole going to lunch with their two friends. Nicole stepped away to take a call, but never returned to the table. Marla’s friends then surprised her with an elaborate scavenger hunt list of things to accomplish, and the day continued with clues, gifts, and tasks from Nicole. The hunt ended with Marla returning to her apartment, where Nicole was waiting with a picnic and proposal. The two exchanged rings, called to share the news with their families, and celebrated at the surprise engagement party with all their friends.
By the next day, the wedding planning process had already started. Marla and Nicole called the band they knew they wanted to book, but had no wedding date or venue selected. They set up meetings with venues around Chicago, and the details quickly fell into place. During the next year and a half, Marla and Nicole prepared spreadsheets, binders and lists, and never stopped searching until they found the perfect team of wedding vendors.
When their wedding day arrived, things could not have been more perfect. It was the weekend after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series after a 108-year draught, and the weather was a comfortable 68 degrees in November. The brides’ main goal in planning the ceremony was for it to feel intimate and special. Officiated by their summer camp rabbi, the ceremony actively included their longtime friends and family members.
The following reception was even more spectacular, as the live band exceeded their expectations and kept the dance floor filled the entire night. To top it all off, the day was beautifully captured by Marla and Nicole’s photographer, who became a good friend throughout the celebration. By the end, the newlyweds felt all their planning was well worth it, and having all their friends and family together in Chicago was an occasion they’d love to relive every day.
Location: River Roast Social House, Chicago, IL; Planner: Simply Elegant Group, Chicago, IL; Floral and Event Design, Rentals and Lighting: Epic Events, Northbrook, IL; Wedding Dress: Monique Lhuillier
Wedding Dress: Badgley Mischka