Page 1

June 2018

Every Dog Has Its

(Wedding) Day

Incorporating your pet into your ceremony

Giving Her Away

Bride Q&A

Hayley gives a glimpse behind the scenes of planning the big day

Wedding perspectives from a dad

Plus: 5 reasons to schedule engagement photos 7 unity ceremony ideas Planning the perfect party games A Publication of

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The Times - WEDDINGS

Inside this issue Sharing the Big Day

On the Cover

Perspectives from those who are part of the ceremony


MAN’S BEST FRIEND — AND BEST MAN Couples incorporate furry family members into the wedding party


DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL ON HER BIG DAY A father of the bride shares his account of giving away his only daughter on her wedding day



STRAIGHT FROM THE BRIDE A Q&A with a recent bride covering vendor selection, budgeting, choosing the dress and more

Before the Wedding ... 3

5 REASONS TO ENGAGE WITH A PHOTOGRAPHER Engagement photos are more than a trend — there are good reasons to schedule a pre-wedding photo session


MANUEL & HAYLEY Manuel and Hayley (Stout) Villafuerte were married March 30 at Starved Rock Lodge. They took advantage of the scenic location by having photos shot around Starved Rock State Park by Jessica Gretencord. Read more about their ceremony in the Wedding Profile on page 11.

GEARING UP WITH SOME FUN Before the wedding comes the bridal shower — let us help you plan some fun with these party games

A Special Touch 17

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED A UNITY CEREMONY? 7 ideas for incorporating a unity ceremony into your wedding

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Saturday, June 30, 2018 3

Great Reasons to Take Engagement Photos

uring their engagements, couples will make many decisions in regard to their weddings. Wedding planning can sometimes seem like a runaway train of appointments, schedules and deadlines. As a result, some couples do not take the time to enjoy being engaged, which is a special and unique time in their lives. Engagement photo shoots can be a unique way for couples to commemorate and enjoy the months preceding their weddings. Engagement photos memorialize the engagement and provide many additional benefits as well. Engagement photo shoots give couples a chance to connect with their photographers. Booking an engagement photo shoot provides helpful information to both the couple and the photographer. The photographer gets to see how the couple interacts in front of the lens and can determine any insecurities or strengths and weaknesses couples may have. These lessons can be filed away and help make wedding day photos look better. Similarly, spending time with the photographer gives the couple an opportunity to develop a rapport with their photographer. If couples and their photographer don’t click, scheduling an engagement shoot well in advance of the wedding gives couples a chance to find someone else to take their photos.


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An engagement photo shoot gives couples time to spend together. An engagement photo shoot is an ideal time to spend an afternoon in a special location focusing on each other without wedding planning taking up your time. Photo shoots provide a chance to get comfortable in front of the camera. Professional photographs taken before the wedding enables couples to view how they will appear in pictures. Seeing these photos might help couples grow more comfortable in front of the camera. This practice can help couples temper their anxieties prior to the wedding. An engagement shoot also can be a great time for couples to speak with their photographers about angles or styles they prefer or dislike. The bride and groom have save-the-date or social media photos. Engagement photographs can be used for save-the-date cards or social media postings (check with the photographer for licensing agreements). This can be a great way to spread excitement about the upcoming nuptials. Photo shoots provide a chance to experiment with vivid backdrops. Engagement photography gives couples plenty of opportunities to experiment with different locales, which may not be possible come the wedding day.




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Including Your Pet on the Big Day BY ANNETTE BARR

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hen Chris Delaney walked down the aisle to marry her husband, Aaron, last fall, all eyes were on her, including the pair belonging to her dog, Reba. “I treat Reba like she is a member of our family, so I wanted her to be included (in our wedding) like any other member of the family,” Delaney said.  Although the number of couples in the United States including pets in their nuptials is less than 10 percent, according to a survey by BRIDES magazine, there are several fun ideas for those who want to have their furry family take part in the celebration. Delaney began searching the internet for ideas and apparel for Reba, the red tick coon hound she had adopted in 2016, and was pleasantly surprised by what she found. “I knew she was going to be in the wedding, but I didn’t know there was stuff she could wear and be such a part of the wedding,” she said. 

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Reba watches as Chris Delaney walks down the aisle.

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A search on Etsy, the Holy Grail of homemade, turned up the perfect “Best Dog” bandana embellished with burlap roses. And as it turned out, Reba lived up to the title. “I was just so surprised. She sat there for it. She watched me walk down the aisle. She sat well for the ceremony and sat well for pictures. She exceeded by expectations,” said the proud dog mom. The day of the wedding Delaney had prepared Reba to be a model member of the bridal party. That morning Reba was exercised, kept as close as possible to her daily routine and was paired with a dog-loving couple and close friends who Reba knew. According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Delaney was top-dog in preparation. Not all dogs would would be ideal wedding participants.

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Reba relaxes during the ceremony.

Annette Barr

It is important to consider her personality and comfort around people as well as ability to take commands. In addition to checking with your venue and lining up a pet-sitter, NAPPS also suggests discussing including your pet with your photographer. The Delaney wedding was at Deer Park Country Club in Oglesby, and Delaney said the staff could not have been more welcoming to Reba. “Deer Park was great! They let her into the reception and gave her a plate of chicken,” she said. “She sat with us while she ate. They were so accommodating with her.” If your dog is just too excitable to be there on the big day, another option is bringing him to your engagement session. When Bethany Haywood ties the knot with Drew Gama this fall, Annette Barr the Ottawa couple is still Chris and Aaron Delaney, of Streator, unsure if their young with their dog Reba on their wedding dog, Arya, will be includday last fall at Deer Park Country Club. ed in the ceremony.

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Saturday, June 30, 2018 7

However, Arya is already part of the big day as she sat in for a few photos during the couple’s engagement session. “We included her because she’s our first baby and made us a family. (It’s) cheesy, I know,” Haywood said. “We are still deciding if she will be in the wedding or not because she tends to get really, really excited around a lot of people.” Wedding-day stress can be high. Including a pet, such as a dog, can add to the mayhem or be a calming presence. “She was the star of the show,” Delaney said of Reba. “She relaxed me and calmed my nerves a bit because that’s what she does for me. She helps with my anxiety.”

Drew Gama and Bethany Haywood, of Ottawa, included their dog Arya in some of their engagement photos.

Annette Barr

Considerations before bringing Fido In its 2016 American Wedding Study, Brides magazine found that 8 percent of wedding ceremonies included pets. Before including dogs in their wedding plans, couples may want to consider a few factors to ensure Fido’s presence is what’s best for couples, their guests and, of course, their beloved pooches. Eligibility. Some venues do not allow pets that are not documented assistance animals on the premises. Confirm a venue’s pet policy before purchasing any wedding day attire for your dog. Couples who are intent on including their pets in their wedding ceremonies should only consider pet-friendly facilities, which may be hard to find. Couples who plan to take a limousine to and from their wedding also should confirm that the cars allow pets before booking. Personality. No two dogs are the same. Some dogs might love people and attention, while others might prefer one-on-one time with their owners. Dogs that are sociable and unaggressive may make perfect additions to wedding ceremonies, while animals that exhibit anxiety around strangers or seem uncomfortable in noisy settings should be kept out of the ceremony. Health. Dog owners also must consider their pets’ health when deciding whether or not to include them in the wedding ceremony. Couples who bonded over a love of their dog may really hope to include their furry friend in the festivities, but should not do so at the expense of the animal’s health. Outdoor wedding ceremonies under sunny skies may produce potentially unhealthy conditions for certain breeds or older dogs. Dogs that have difficulty getting around may need a wagon (and attendant) to make the rounds at the wedding. Assistance. Couples will be busy on their wedding days, so they may need to arrange for a caretaker to look after their dog during and after the ceremony. — Metro Creative Services

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Father of the


Giving a glimpse of what it’s like to give her away BY STEVE STOUT


arlier this year, as I stood waiting to walk my daughter, Hayley, down the aisle at her wedding, my mind was flooded with memories of our life together. Wasn’t it just last week that she took her first steps, started kindergarten, earned her driver’s license, went on her first date, packed clothes for college, and finally leaving home for her first full-time job? Dressed in her beautiful wedding gown and hidden from the groom, was this the little girl I carried? Following months of preparation, Hayley”s wedding went off without a hitch and most of the credit for the wonderful ceremony and day went to her and her mother. During my two decades of being a full-time wedding photographer, I had stood witness to more than 2,200 ceremonies, so I, as father of the bride, felt I did have some experience to offer. However, her mother and I were happy to see Hayley take nearly complete control of the wedding plans with a calm, mature

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attitude in deciding the details tremely worried) about getting the wedding gown soiled she wanted for the day. There was no “Bridezilla” rampaging before the ceremony, we (along with her official photographer in our family over the event. — friend Jessica Gretencord) My daughter wanted a simtook the formal walk in the ple, yet memorable wedding woods to great photographic and she chose the majestic success. Starved Rock Lodge for both Fortunately, we returned the ceremony and reception. the bride and dress unharmed Hayley wanted a venue back to the lodge in plenty of where the wedding and receptime before tion could the nuptials. be held in The most important Just minthe same utes before location thing I wanted my music as well as daughter to know as we our cue was a place that our walked down the aisle played, my cellphone out-of-town together was that (on silent) guests could stay wherever life takes her buzzed in suit overnight. and her new husband, my jacket. I anThe historic lodge, my heart shall be with swered and was told by a family them with every step. a photografavorite for pher pal that drinks and dining, was perfectly suited for a canyon rescue by local first responders was in progress. the occasion. I thought of telling Hayley The only major concern we should delay the ceremony for the wedding day was her for me to cover the news tip, and my desire to hike into but I remember an important a Starved Rock canyon for wedding portraits. And though fact: Brides before the wedding have no sense of humor. I was warned (and I was ex-

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So with my baby girl on my arm, I walked her down and tearfully gave her away to my new son-in-law, Manuel Villafuerte. As I kissed the bride’s cheek, I whispered my joy and love to her. The most important thing I wanted Hayley to know as we walked down the aisle together was that wherever life takes her and her new husband, my heart shall be with them with every step. Later in the evening after the dining and dancing, as

The Times - WEDDINGS

a tired Hayley and Manny said thanks and goodnight to their guests, I overheard my daughter tell a friend, “It was a perfect day.” What more could a father and mother want to hear from their daughter about her wedding? So my advice to future fathers of the bride is simple: Stay out of the women’s way in the planning. You’ll be glad you did.

Father Steve Stout and daughter Hayley share a dance during the reception.

Jessica Gretencord

STEVE STOUT is a retired reporter/photographer from The Times newspaper.

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Duties of the father of the bride can vary from greeting guests to helping hired vendors set up the ceremony. At his daughter’s wedding in March, FOTB Steve Stout plays stepladder to assist florist Mary Mecum of Mary’s Special Touch decorate the fireplace mantel at Starved Rock Lodge.

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Stout-Villafuerte Wedding Profile



anuel and Hayley Villafuerte were married March 30 at Starved Rock Lodge. Hayley is a teacher and Manuel is a correctional officer. They reside in Grundy County. HOW AND WHEN DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET? Hayley: We initially started talking through an online dating site in June of 2012 and we finally met face-to-face in October of 2012. HOW DID HE PROPOSE? He proposed on Christmas morning, 2016, in my parents’ family room. HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR WEDDING DRESS? I originally found a wedding dress at Goodwill when a local shop made a generous donation of wedding dresses to them. However, I wanted the whole experience of shopping for THE wedding dress with my mom and two bridesmaids. So, I made an appointment at Bridal Elegance in Ottawa and within 10 dresses, I found THE dress. I never really dreamed of the perfect wedding dress but as soon as I put it on I knew this was the one I wanted.

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It was very special that my mom and two of my dearest friends were the first ones to see me in my dress. HOW DID YOU PRIORITIZE YOUR BUDGET? I knew I wanted to have a simple wedding with my closest friends and family. I made sure to keep my list small, no plus-ones for guests and no children helped. We also made sure to focus spending on wedding extras we truly cared about and not spending money on unnecessary items. HOW DID YOU CHOOSE WHERE YOU WOULD GET MARRIED? Starved Rock Lodge has always held a special place in my heart since I was young. I also love that you could stay where you had your ceremony and reception. All in one place is very convenient not only for the bride and groom but also your guests.

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WHAT WAS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR WEDDING? We hired all local vendors. Growing up with my dad owning his own business made hiring local an important factor to me. Yes, sometimes you may pay a little more but benefiting your community is what should matter. My invites were made by a neighbor from my previous neighborhood. With my father being a well-known photographer we decided to hire a friend of his to do our wedding, Jess Gretencord. Mary Mecum, who owns Mary’s Special Touch Floral studio in La Salle, did my bouquets and floral arrangements. We also hired local musician Steve Sharp instead of a DJ, La Salle-Peru High School instructor Matt Makeever performed as our piano player and Matt Klein, an L-P student, was our videographer.

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WHAT WAS THE MOST MEMORABLE PART OF YOUR WEDDING DAY? I don’t want to sound cliche, but I can really say ALL OF IT! Enjoying our special day with our closest friends and family meant the world to me. It was a wonderful day.


‘Make it simple! In the long run it will be just as perfect as someone who had an extravagant wedding and you will thank yourself in the end.’

WHAT DID YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOUR CEREMONY? I am very happy that we decided to write our own vows to each other along with our officiant, who knew us well, adding personal comments about us. I also loved that we chose all Disney/PIXAR songs for our ceremony and cocktail hour. I loved walking down the aisle to the song “Tale as old as Time.” WHAT MADE YOUR RECEPTION THE BEST IT COULD BE? The first song sung at the party was performed on the piano by my father’s childhood friend, Brett Goad. It was the song, “Hand in Hand,” which was written by both of them. Also, I knew my dad could dance in his early years but had no idea he still had the moves. We also danced to another one of Dad’s original songs, “Crossing Paths.”

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DO YOU HAVE ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE BRIDES AND GROOMS? Make it simple! In the long run it will be just as perfect as someone who had an extravagant wedding and you will thank yourself in the end. Don’t let anyone persuade you away from your vision. Remember it’s YOUR wedding day! CHERISH EVERY MOMENT OF IT! It really does go by so fast. IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND CHANGE ANYTHING, WOULD YOU? I know it’s impossible to talk to everyone but I feel like I didn’t get the opportunity to stop and greet everyone at every table. I really wish I was able to, but time slipped away.

Hayley’s all-local wedding Are you interested in hiring all local vendors like Hayley? Browse the advertisements in this magazine to find vendors based in Starved Rock Country who can bring a uniquely local touch to your ceremony.

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Bridal Showers



oday’s bridal showers tend to be much different than those of yesteryear. These days, they seem to be more focused on fun and less on formality. Many couples are hosting co-ed wedding showers, incorporating themes and unique games to their itineraries.

Tiffany & Johnnie Tiffany (Arthur) DeClue and Johnnie DeClue, both of Ottawa, were married Sept. 8, 2012, at the Ottawa Wedding Chapel. And even though their wedding was nearly six years ago – Tiffany organized some unique shower games that still are trending today. “I had a toilet paper bride dress contest, (which involves guests using toilet paper to design a bridal gown for the bride), ‘Who Knows The Bride’ and gift bingo,” she said.

“Cassie” & Austin Cassandra Kelly-Bartolucci, also of Ottawa, opted for a coed bridal shower. She and her fiance, Austin Rosencrans, were married June 20, 2018, in Florida. They had an evening beach ceremony on the coast of Pensacola Beach, along the Gulf of Mexico. The bride and groom

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were especially excited for the videography, which was done by a drone; as well as seeing family from all over the world – including some from South America who have not reunited for several years. For their shower, Cassandra and Austin chose a baseball theme because they both grew up huge baseball fans. And even though they root for different teams – Cassie for the White Sox and Austin for the Cubs – opposites attract, and they turned their shower into a virtual day at the ballpark for both “teams.” “​We had a concession stand with peanuts, Cracker Jacks, Big League Chew, Baby Ruth’s, etc. We also had a build-yourown nacho bar,” she explained. For games we had bags set up outside and “Guess the Bride and Groom’s Ages,” where we had eight pictures of each of us from throughout our lifetimes. The person to guess closest to our ages in the pictures won a prize. Austin’s sister, Taylor, won,” she said. For Cassandra and Austin, the games didn’t end at the shower. The luxury beach house they rented for themselves and 20 of their guests offered sand volleyball and a pool.

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marriage advice for the bride Cassandra noted she, along and groom. with friends and family, did And some from much of the bridal shower and “PURSE SCAVENGER HUNT”” ​ wedding games, decor and gifts Make a list of common items themselves. women might carry in their Internet of ideas favorite bags, as well as less The internet — including common things one might sites such as and stash. Give a prize to whoever — offers a plethora keeps the most items in her of bridal shower ideas. Follow- purse. Include items like: hair ing are some from other sites. tie, pen, Band-aid, lotion, kid’s From toy, lipstick, fast food receipt... “GUESS THE DRESS”​CONTEST: etc. The No. 1 question on guests’ “WHOSE MEMORY?” There are minds when it comes to the a lot of treasured memories wedding is, “What will the within a room of BFFs. Have bride be wearing?” Challenge everyone write down a favorite them to design what they memory between themselves envision for the bride’s gown. and the bride. Put the memoSome sites offer printable ries in a basket and have the bride “forms” the dresses can bride read them aloud. Then, be drawn on to. the guests can guess who each CROWD-SOURCE MARRIAGE memory belongs to. ADVICE​: Create drink coasters For co-ed bridal showers... where guests can fill out their From the ​

Flickr | Danielle Walquist Lynch

Bridal shower guests create a dress from toilet paper as one of their shower games.

Flickr | Sarah Ackerman

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“​TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE”:​ Each guest introduces herself and dishes three experiences she’s had with the honoree —one of which isn’t true. The person who correctly picks out the lie gets a point. The best part? The truths often turn out to be wackier than the lies From love. (which offers many free printwedding. ables for the games): honeymoon. “GUESS THAT MOVIE”: ​Search

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Unity Ceremony

Wikimedia Commons

Planning Your



eddings celebrate the joining together of hearts, families and homes. The unification of a couple pledging vows to each other is the key component of the ceremony, and unity rituals are common during both traditional and nontraditional weddings. Unity ceremonies represent the magic of two people coming together as one. Unity rituals may be built into certain religious or cultural weddings as a normal part of the festivities. Other couples may want to embrace the idea of a unity ceremony to add something extra special to their ceremonies. Couples seeking creative options for unity rituals as part of their wedding ceremonies can explore these clever ideas. CANDLE LIGHTING: The lighting of a unity candle is one of the more recognizable and traditional unity rituals. During this ritual, the bride and the groom each light an individual candle and then together light a larger candle, which celebrates them coming together as one. SAND POURING: The pouring of sand into a vessel also is a popular unity ritual. In this ritual, couples choose two sands of different colors and then pour their respective colors into a vessel, allowing the different hues to mix together.

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This ritual can be expanded to include other family members, with a rainbow of colors blending for a now unified joining of families. UNITY CROSS: Christians may enjoy a unity cross ritual at their ceremony. A unity cross is a decorative cross with a holder, and the cross is held in place by three pins, which symbolize the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. During this ritual, the bride, groom and officiant will each set a pin in place. TREE PLANTING: Planting a tree or shrub that can grow with the marriage is a green idea and one that takes unity rituals to a different level. Couples can place the sapling in a decorative pot and then take turns watering it. Later the tree can be planted outside the couple’s first home. LASSO CEREMONY: This ritual is traditional in many Spanish- and Filipino-speaking countries. After vows are exchanged, the officiant wraps a floral garland or rosary around the couple. At the end of the ceremony, the garland is saved as a symbol of unity and love. HANDFASTING: This ritual comes from an ancient Celtic tradition that bounds the bride and groom’s right hands together during the wedding ceremony. Handfasting symbolizes couples’ commitments to

one another. FLOWER CEREMONY: In this ritual, couples can exchange roses or a favorite flower and then place them in a vase or basket.

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Starting a new life together?


Contemporary flare with that traditional, down home comfort. Customize to fit your room and lifestyle, and explore options of a soft-close drawer and power recliner! The motion sectional has individual seats allowing for infinite number of configurations.

MODERN COUNTRY BY LIBERTY FURNITURE Infuse your home with a rustic, primitive style by adding this collection to your master bedroom. Beautifully crafted from solid spruce pine in a smokey pewter finish you can get that country feel anywhere. Antique pewter bar pull hardware adorns diagonal planked drawer faces for a unique look. Available with a storage footboard you can add further functionality to your stylish room. All supported by simple tapered block legs this collection is perfect for any casual home.

Ottawa Lafayette St.

Jefferson St.

otss_2018-06-30_20.indd 20

Rt. 23 (N. LaSalle St.) & Jefferson St.

815-433-8875 OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK

FINANCING AVAILABLE *Photo for illustration only.

6/22/18 9:19 AM

OTT Bridal Magazine 06-30-18  
OTT Bridal Magazine 06-30-18