Six years after graduation, one might find a casual reunion with high school friends over drinks to be a relaxing way to unwind. Jennifer Jhin was looking forward to a night out with close confidantes, completely unaware of her impending encounter with one particular, unfamiliar face. Jennifer found herself speaking with John Plunkett – a fellow classmate whose path she'd somehow never crossed. He was simultaneously a comfortable acquaintance and a perfect stranger. After hitting it off that evening, the two struck up a romantic relationship, and five years down the road, they found themselves planning their nuptials.

“I remember walking past her in the hallways… seeing her years later and actually meeting her was a little strange,” admits John. “But I knew that I’d be proposing someday after only a few months of dating.” He followed through with that plan on Easter 2014. “We had an egg hunt for our dog, Pilot, in the yard of John’s grandmother. The ring that we’d custom-designed together was hidden in one of the plastic eggs – Pilot brought it to me,” Jennifer recalls. For the next year and a half, the creative duo combined their eye for detail with their top-of-the-line tastes in order to bring their vision to life. As a licensed architect, John was excited to be a pivotal voice in the process. “The event design was both very relatable and a lot of fun,” the groom says. “Creating an atmosphere and an experience for the reception with the help of our amazing event designers was great: from early conceptualizing all the way through to the final product.”

When selecting a concept for the affair, Jennifer and John worked closely with celebrity planner Mindy Weiss and expert floral and event designer Rishi Patel of HMR Designs to fashion an “English garden” right in the middle of Chicago. “The chapel we selected for our ceremony doesn’t allow for much décor aside from flowers flanking the tabernacle, so that’s what we did: two huge floral pieces reflecting the same colors and flowers as in the reception,” explains the bride. The pair prides themselves on their timeless style, so every detail of the service was chosen to represent the elegance and sophistication of their romance.

As a former cellist, the bride desired classical music to be played as she descended the aisle; however, she decided to forgo the classic melody “Canon in D” in favor of tunes that were part of a more nontraditional wedding repertoire. But of course, even the most refined of events have their little hiccups. “During the ceremony, the priest – a dear family friend who is also getting somewhat advanced in age – called Jennifer ‘Jennette,’ not once, but twice,” laughs John. “We both thought it was pretty funny, but we did our best to keep our composure and not chuckle as we repeated our vows.”

Just ahead of the reception, while guests were enjoying light fare and conversation during cocktail hour, the newlyweds got a private peek at the space they’d spent over a year designing. Both were entirely overwhelmed by the magnitude and opulence of the room: an abundance of creamy ivory florals and green foliage in the form of centerpieces, suspended focal points, dance floor lining, and accent wall coverage filled the area. A very light, subtle blush hue displayed itself on table linens and drapery – everything was so bright and airy, one would more readily believe they were floating through an alfresco Eden than a venue in a bustling city.

As revelers entered and found their seats around dreamy white-and-green arrangements of varying sizes, the party quickly picked up. As a self-proclaimed “dessert-aholic,” Jennifer ensured that friends and family were treated to an array of sweets throughout the evening. “In lieu of favors, I opted for a large dessert table with miniature offerings – pies, caramel apples, crème brûlée, and more – along with cotton candy, my niece’s favorite, and an elaborate hot chocolate station,” tells the bride. Anyone with a sweet tooth would have fawned over the main confection. The duo presented their nearest and dearest with a towering cake featuring tiers of alternating flavors – yellow cake with lemon and blood orange fillings and chocolate cake with ganache, hazelnut, and vanilla fillings – as well as alabaster sugar flowers in a winding cascade down the side of the masterpiece. “Perfection!” exclaims Jennifer.

“I was surprised by how much fun we both had,” the groom reveals of the celebration. “I’m a fairly organized person,” adds the bride. “I know exactly what I like and what I don’t like – this made things extremely easy for us.” They both credit the success of their event with being prepared and thinking ahead. “Before getting into the details, try to conceptualize the big picture first. What kind of atmosphere are you trying to create? What aspects are most important to you? It helps guide the little decisions and will result in a more cohesive event overall,” John notes. Staying true to yourself will pay off in the end, according to the couple. “The best advice I can give is to stick with your gut, but be open to recommendations from your planner and vendors – they know what they’re talking about!” confirms the bride.