The bride and groom kicked off married life on a very sweet note.
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As a digital strategist, Kori jokes that she is an early adopter of the latest technology and apps—so it made perfect sense when she turned to Hinge (a new dating app at the time she signed up) to find her match. After a few bad blind dates, she almost deleted the app, but gave it one more shot with Paul, who had joined thanks to the encouragement of friends. Luckily, given their dozens of mutual friends (which is how the app connects users), the platform's algorithm connected them.
Their first date was at a speakeasy in Washington, D.C. "I shared my love of Bon Iver so Kori suggested we see his side project perform live for our second date," says Paul. Over drinks before the show, they bonded over their love of travel, musical theater, and shared enthusiasm for sloths. Not long after, the government shut down, and as two federal employees furloughed for three weeks, they had nothing to do. So they spent every day together, binge watching Breaking Bad, traveling to New York, and falling in love.
After dating for a couple of years, it was time for Paul (now a writer) to pop the question to Kori (who is the editor-in-chief and director of digital partnerships at the Obama Foundation). They were working one floor apart from each other in the same office building, so Paul would stop by Kori's office to see if she could step away for a walk to get frozen yogurt. Just days before her birthday, he came down to take her to a rooftop happy hour—supposedly atop their apartment building. But when she noticed the cab wasn't going in the right direction, he lied and said he must have put the wrong address in. Instead, they arrived at a fountain and park, where he asked her to marry him amid large photos from their adventures and lots of flowers. He also surprised her by hiding her family behind nearby trees so they could witness it all. They celebrated after over burgers and bubbly at one of their favorite neighborhood spots.
During their engagement, the couple moved back to Kori's hometown of Chicago, and decided to share their love of the Windy City with 250 loved ones, at their October 28, 2017, wedding. They chose Morgan Manufacturing, an industrial event space in the West Loop as their venue. Candlelight and jazz music added warmth and ambiance, and guests were greeted with Aperol spritzes (the couple's favorite drink) before the humorous and heartfelt ceremony anchored by a lush chuppah with bursts of color, and toasts, special performances, and dessert kept things festive during the reception. It wasn't just any dessert though—it was a one-of-a-kind wedding cake followed by a parade of dozens of the sweetest confections. And why not? Love is sweet.
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"The opportunity to create our stationery was one of my favorite parts," Kori says. "I adore Happy Menocal's whimsical style, bright colors, and custom approach. The process started by sharing our story with Happy and led to a design that incorporated personal touches." Those touches included two sloths climbing up the envelope liner in honor of the couple's shared love of the cute creature, blues that reminded them of some of the places they've traveled to (like Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park), and a seal with their initials that was used throughout the wedding from the welcome bags to the chocolate discs on the desserts.
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Tote bags were printed with the sloth illustrations that first appeared on the wedding invitations and filled with some of Kori and Paul's favorite things and Chicago treats: LaCroix sparkling water, SkinnyPop popcorn, Wild Ophelia caramelized peanut butter cups, Vosges chocolates, and sweets from Eli's Cheesecake treats.
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For the black-tie optional celebration, Paul sported a Ralph Lauren tuxedo, Brooks Brothers shirt, and Cole Haan shoes. He personalized his ensemble with a pair of vintage cufflinks with the presidential seal from the Kennedy administration that Kori gave him, as a nod to the fact that he's working on a book that takes place during the 1960 presidential campaign.
Kori had seen a photograph of Naeem Khan's "Amman" wedding dress and knew it was the one for her. "I never imagined myself in all white," she says. "In fact, as a child I said I'd wear black on my wedding day." She fell in love with the dress's neckline, intricate embroidery, and the pockets. Kori's "something old" was a pair of diamond-and-ruby earrings that her maternal grandmother had left her for her wedding. She also wore her paternal grandma's blue flower ring with a pearl at the center. And Paul surprised her with a rose gold bracelet that day, which she immediately put on.
White blooms adorned Paul's lapel and filled Kori's bouquet in a lush and monochromatic manner. The bouquet was made without greenery and kept monochromatic so as not to compete with Kori's gown.
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All About the Details
"I had the opportunity to meet Naeem and work with his son Zaheen throughout the process. I loved visiting their studio in New York and getting a small glimpse into their incredible process to create wearable works of art," says Kori.
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Kori and Paul's sisters wore assorted Chiara Boni La Petite Robe navy dresses and carried petite bouquets of peach garden roses, scabiosa, white and soft pink lisianthus, anemones, burgundy dahlias, camellia, umbrella fern, and scrub ivy.
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The ceremony took place under a wisteria vine and foliage-covered chuppah by HMR Designs that looked as though the floral and greenery grew naturally from the canopy. A soft taupe backdrop divided the ceremony from the dinner space and also served as a backdrop for the service.
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Clear and Cool
HMR Designs lined the aisle with Lucite planter boxes filled with branches and greenery to bring in a modern yet natural element. "They served as 360 window boxes with smilax, nagi, and dragonwood compositions," says Rishi Patel of HMR Designs. They were topped off with geometric hurricanes and candles.
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The front of the program boasted the seal designed by Happy Menocal, and her illustrations of fall foliage, flowers, and an olive motif. Inside, descriptions of each tradition helped all guests understand the symbolism.
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Kori has long been drawn to Monique Péan's jewelry for the stunning designs that are modern with a vintage feel and made with sustainable materials. She loved the antique look of her engagement ring and the champagne diamond.
"Rings are the universal symbol of completion and unity," says Kori. "Keeping with the Jewish tradition, our rings are made of a single piece of metal with no adornments breaking the circle, which represents the wholeness of marriage and our hope for an unbroken union." Paul's yellow gold ring is engraved inside with the words "I am my beloved's" and Kori's rose gold band completes the phrase often heard at Jewish weddings with the engraving of "My beloved is mine."
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Prior to the ceremony, Kori and Paul signed their ketubah, which they both note as a particularly moving and memorable part of the day.
When it was time to start the ceremony, Paul entered to Erik Satie's "Gymnopedie No.1"—the opening notes ceased the chatter and introduced a palpable sense of reverence through the room. The bride's and groom's sisters then entered to "Seasons of Love" from the show RENT. And Kori processed last on the arms of her mother and father to the sounds of "Moon River"—which her parents danced to at their own wedding in 1980.
The couple spent a lot of time crafting their ceremony with Cantor Amy Zussman to ensure it reflected each of their family traditions and religions. They wove in Kori's Jewish background by wrapping her paternal grandfather's prayer shawl around them and also doing the circling of the groom. Paul's dad (a Unitarian minister) shared a reading and joined the cantor in the priestly benediction. But they also added new takes on traditions—like having each family member offer their original wish instead of the classic recitation of the Seven Blessings, and at the end of the ceremony, both the bride and groom broke a glass. A family friend who co-officiated retold the couple's story and spoke about their commitment to making a positive impact on the world. "What he wrote made us cry and laugh," says Paul.
After officially becoming husband and wife, the newlyweds recessed up the aisle to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder.
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Following the ceremony, guests moved to an adjacent room for cocktail hour. Passed hors d'oeuvres included these beet and goat cheese stacks, spicy tuna tartar, tiny loaded baked potatoes, and open-faced toasts. The band played jazz standards as the crowd mingled and popped into the photo booth.
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Kori and Paul wanted long tables at their reception so that friends and loved ones would come together over dinner. The décor was an organic mix of white, ivory, green, burgundy, blush, and peach blooms, surrounded by candles in a variety of containers. The head table (shown here) had no linen and was situated under an installation of greenery and light bulbs with visible filaments for a touch of the industrial aesthetic. Large olive trees were created around the venue's steel beam support poles as a nod of rustic vibrancy in accordance to the understated ceremony and reception design.
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"We had a blast at the menu tasting," Kori recalls. "Paul loved everything and described each dish as 'real nice.' It started as an inside joke but it stuck, so we decided to put 'real nice' lamb chops on the menu."
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When it came time to select the song for their first dance, Kori and Paul knew they had to go with "their song" even though it wasn't a traditional pick. Robyn's "Dancing on My Own" is one of their favorites though and also their go-to karaoke tune, so they worked with the band on an arrangement that started as a ballad so they had a moment to slow dance, and then the tempo picked up and friends and family joined them on the dance floor.
Here, Kori and her father shared a dance to the band's rendition of Billie Holiday's "The Very Thought of You." The bride's mother and sisters then joined in for a full-family moment.
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With the Guys
Other memorable, musical moments included Kori's sister (a jazz vocalist) performing "Paper Moon" and the band playing "My Girl" by the Temptations and "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5—the dance floor was "on fire" according to the groom. In college, the groom and his friends once did a performance at a fundraiser to that first Motown song, and during the reception they recreated a few of the moves. "It was so fun to watch," Kori says. "I loved the moment they bowed towards me at the end of the song."
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One Epic Cake
After Kori and Paul said a few words to the room, her parents wheeled out the one-of-a-kind wedding cake. Since Kori's grandfather started Eli's Cheesecake in 1980 and her family still runs the business, there were big plans for the main confection on the big day. "Eli's has a history of huge cheesecakes for events from presidential inaugurations to the annual Taste of Chicago, so it was fitting to have an oversized Eli's Cheesecake for our wedding cake. My parents rolled out a giant slice of the original plain cheesecake, topped with marzipan strawberries to scale, and the bride and groom wedding cake topper used by my parents and paternal grandparents," says Kori.
After the happy couple cut into it, the Eli's team (many of whom the bride has known her entire life) joined the band's musicians for a second-line style dessert parade, bringing out tables, carts, and trays overloaded with desserts as "I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)" played. "Dessert is a centerpiece for my family, so this was a fun and dramatic dessert reveal," adds Kori.
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Happy Menocal designed an accordion-fold dessert menu to showcase the spread, featuring illustrations of many of the confections on offer.
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Desserts for Days
The Eli's Cheesecake team prepared everything from cookies to mini pies to layered cakes to bars (including her grandma's recipe for brownies) to mini pies. There were also a few interactive desserts, like crème brûlée and frozen bananas. Some of the sweets were dressed up with chocolate discs sporting the newlyweds new monogram in edible ink.
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Photography, Olivia Leigh Photographie
Location, Morgan Manufacturing
Event planning, Reva Nathan
Flowers, HMR Designs
Videography, Kissing Gate Films
Officiant, Cantor Amy Zussman
Stationery and Calligraphy, Happy Menocal
Cake, Eli's Cheesecake
Music, Becca Kaufman Orchestra
Rentals, BBJ Linen
Bride's gown and veil, Naeem Khan
Engagement ring and wedding bands, Monique Péan
Hair, Alex Brown
Makeup, Carl Ray
Bridesmaids' dresses, Chiara Boni La Petite Robe
Groom's tuxedo, Ralph Lauren
Balloons, Luft Balloons
Ketubah, Starshaped Press
Photo booth, Fotio
Transportation, Tommy Limo, 708-527-1767
Welcome bags, Enviro-Tote