We have loved working with Connie and Jessie. They are an amazing couple. Two of the most beautiful people we have ever had the pleasure of knowing, inside and out. Making their wedding dreams come true has been such a fulfilling and awesome experience for all of us in the eleven eleven WEDDING family.
As a a team of sponsors, we are so thrilled to be part of Connie and Jessie’s lives and their wedding. We are mostly thrilled because they are such good, kind and deserving people. It’s also an honor and a privilege to be hosting our first same-sex wedding. Every one on the eleven eleven WEDDING team is proud to be making this wedding a reality. We hope there are many, many more same-sex weddings to come!
Each and every sponsor has given so generously and kindly. They have made Connie and Jessie feel so welcomed and loved, every step of the way. With out these extremely wonderful sponsors, we would not be giving this wedding away. To say “thank you” does not seem good enough. There are, honestly, no words we can find to truly express our gratitude. We will leave you with this quote from Mother Teresa, it say’s it better than we can. “What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”
Here’s to a long and happy life together for Connie and Jessie!
We are so excited to have Centerpiece Productions join us as a sponsor for Connie and Jessie’s eleven eleven WEDDING!
Centerpiece Productions will be covering their dance floor to match our design and decor and it will be the perfect final touch.
We are so close now! Lots of final meetings, dress fittings, walk throughs and other exciting things happening. How exciting!
Centerpiece Productions was founded by Lawrence “Larry” Neiman after 15 years of experience consulting on special events projects for industry leaders including 3DL Design, Sparks, Giltspur, Heritage, Derse, Icon, Chicago Exhibit Productions and others.
A set is only as good as the quality of the team & materials and used to build it. When necessary to go outside our in-house team of Larry, Rene, Danielle, Josh, Justin, Shana, Greg, Brian & Mike for design, productions or Special F/X we work with certified ISES professionals.
The wedding has started to seem real for us. We started at Magnificent Milestones in the early afternoon where we met with Greatest Expectations, our wedding planners, then sat down with Kara from Magnificent Milestones and then Kelly from Fleur, afterwards we headed to Bella Bridesmaid.
Magnificent Milestones will be providing us with all of our invites, programs, cocktail napkins, menus and basically anything printed. Personally I felt very overwhelmed with all of the styles, shapes, sizes, colors, and combinations of options that go into just the invitation. Jessie and I went through a stack of cards picking out pieces of each that we liked, while others got vetoed. We had some ideas and in the end are completely thrilled with the suggestions Kara made and cannot wait to see it all come together. Her biggest suggestion involving font helped us in finally choosing a theme for the big day. Envision “Great Gatsby,” including color, glamour, cocktails, mirrors and lots of candlelight. Wow we finally nailed it down!
Next Kelly from Fleur showed up to share some of her incredible work and beautiful ideals. Not knowing much about flowers we found that just about anything goes. The only difference we ran into was in that Jessie wants her bouquet more natural and free looking, while I would like mine more composed…says a bit about our personalities! While brainstorming about centerpieces and ceremony flowers we also discussed the seating options and how we want the ceremony to play out. Kelly had great design ideas and with the help of the wedding planning team from Greatest Expectations, ideas were bouncing between them that were once unimaginable to us.
From there we moved on to Bella Bridesmaid where our girls Nicole, Kelsey, Cat, Cassie, (oh, and Fernando one of the bridesmen who happened to be in town) met us. Erin threw each girl into a room with a slew of dresses and said go! Again we had some idea of colors we wanted but as for style were completely open. There were some definite no’s which you could always tell by the look on Jessie’s face, and quite a few maybes. The first dress I liked, Jessie said no… guess what style the girls picked as the final.. the one liked! We decided on two different colors, one neckline, with two different skirts. At the end of the meeting I had to pick out the flower girl dress and we decided to make it our last two colors, bringing our color palette complete. Erin was so calm and patient, and took the time to make each of our bridesmaids feel comfortable and beautiful.
Through all the overwhelmingly exciting options presented to us throughout the afternoon we had Heather and Katherine (from Greatest Expectations) there to bounce ideas off of, calm us down, organize our thoughts, and be the most wonderful support team. We couldn’t be more grateful to have such great women as our planners.
Once again absolutely everyone we have met has a beautiful soul, and couldn’t be more fun and thoughtful to work with. These two brides are happy and ever so grateful.
The past two Wednesdays Jessie and I have met with Talia Rappatone from Rappatone Boutique Training, who is our nutrition expert and personal trainer. When I utter this statement to most people, a tinge of jealousy and disbelief escapes their mouths. I too am amazed and grateful to have this as another aspect of our path to wedded bliss. I am very excited about our meetings with Talia because I have been on a track to wellness for a few months now and need just a little guidance, education, and someone to hold us accountable. Jessie on the other hand is a very excited but more apprehensive and anxious.
At our initial meeting with Talia we discussed a bit about ourselves, eating habits, exercise habits and she asked us to keep a food log. This was easy for mebecause I started my fitness pal (an app where you can input exactly what you eat, how often you exercise and it tracks your progress) a few months ago. It has taken Jessie a little bit to get used to it, but she is finally getting the hang of constantly tracking every little thing.
Last week Talia came into our home and went through our cupboards and we had a baking lesson. She showed us how to make our own carrot cake protein bars (recipe and nutrition info at the end). I was pleasantly surprised at the taste and texture of the bars (it actually tastes like cake and the serving size is rather large) and I know healthy baking will be a continued process.
We learned that anything made with corn, as well as dairy products needs to be organic. Eggs and meats need to be hormone free to protect your body from chemicals. Reading labels is very important; the fewer ingredients on the packaging the better and watch out for tricky ways to not call sugar by its real name (avoid anything with an -ose). Jessie has an intolerance to gluten and we learned how to keep an eye out for that. We now know to be more cautious when reading labels and yes organic does make a difference on how food affects your body.
I am a baker and sugar is my weakness. I love sugar in any form which means reducing it will be my biggest challenge. I have been introduced to Stevia extract and it’s my new best friend, it works as a substitute for sugar quite nicely. Now if I can only find a substitute for my ice cream addiction. Jessie’s Kryptonite is beer, the kind with gluten in it. We have become beer snobs over the past few years and really enjoy good, craft, gluten packed beer. Due to her intolerance and as a way to cut down on body bloating beer is a no-no. Thus far she’s made good decisions including ordering a gluten free beer while at Hopleaf, which may be considered a sin in foodie world but none the less I am proud.
Then came the body assessment test and measurements. We found out that we both hunch our shoulders forward, and my tailbone sticks out. That means I need to work on my core. Jessie has flat feet and is a heel striker, while I have high arches and strike with my toe. Put our feet issues together and you would have the perfect foot, even our feet know we’re the perfect pair! We discussed what our goals are and how to start working on ourselves. Jessie wants to drop some pounds and have “Angela Basset arms,” while I want to tone everything up. Talia upped my cardio from three days to four, and Jessie has to start at five days. Jessie needs motivation and someone to hold her accountable, so she has been instructed to text Talia every time she finishes her cardio for the day.
Progress is slowly being made, Jessie has texted Talia twice thus far, and I went to the gym on a Saturday which has never happened before. Although we had a busy Pride weekend we were very conscience of our decisions even when choosing cocktails. Vodka and soda is the staple drink now, and I even mixed it up by having some coconut water (yes it was spiked, but hey it was a holiday).
Our first work out was scheduled for a Wednesday, but Talia asked if we could move it to Monday at 7am. I agreed because it was the only free morning, but gave her fair warning that it would fall on the day after Pride. Jessie was mad I ok’d the time move but I assured her we’d be great. Talia met us at our place and we took our yoga mats up to the roof where the sun was shining and a perfect breeze was blowing. She made us work on finding our core and using it. There were jumping jacks, downward dog and walk ups, pliés, plank position, and modified push ups. What did I learn from all this, that my arms are weak. Jessie’s learned that she needs to breathe rather than holding her breath, and that getting up at 7 after Pride wasn’t so bad after all.
The journey will continue well past our wedding in November because we are learning habits that will last a lifetime. I am very thankful for all of this, and although apprehensive I know underneath it all Jessie is too.
Carrot Cake Protein Bar Recipe
Fats: 1.25 grams
Carbs: 10 grams
Protein: 10 grams
1 cup oat flour
2 scoops vanilla whey, soy, etc protein powder
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp allspice
⅛ tsp nutmeg
4 egg whites
¾ cup Truvia or Ideal
8 oz baby food carrots, or pureed carrots
4 oz water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix dry ingredients in a bowl
Mix egg whites, Truvia, carrots and water in a bowl
Add wet and dry ingredients and mix until smooth
Spray pyrex glass dish with non-stick spray
Pour ingredients into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes
Makes 16 squares, 1 serving equals 2 squares
** All images from Amanda Hein Photography
OMG! We won the eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway! It still seems so unreal, someone pinch us!
Our first big planning day was this past Wednesday, and we had a blast! On the agenda? A meeting with Talia Rappatone from Rappatone Boutique Training and then a meeting with Kpoene at Mignonnette Bridal for our wedding dress consultation! On top of that we also had the support of Heather and Katherine from Greatest Expectations to guide us through our afternoon of planning.
We started the afternoon at Greatest Expectations office for a personal training consultation with Talia. Personal training is something both Connie and I are really looking forward to because not only do we want to look great for our wedding day, but we are ready to enhance our lifestyle in a healthy and meaningful way. Meeting Talia just made it all more exciting because she is the perfect to train us! Not only is she absolutely adorable, but she radiates a genuine kindness that immediately puts you at ease. We talked about our goals, our fitness history, nutrition, and ways to get the absolute most out of our experience together. Talia is even going to come to our home and evaluate what we eat! She is even kind enough to teach us how to make healthy meals and bake gluten free.
We are so excited to spend our summer and fall with Talia training at the gym and along the Chicago lakeshore. It’s clear that Talia is willing to go above and beyond to help us meet our goals and we can’t wait to show you the results!
After meeting with Talia we headed to Mignonette Bridal to discuss our ideas for wedding dresses. It’s hard for Connie and I
to keep secrets from one another but we are determined to keep one big surprise under wraps … Our wedding dresses! That means we’re taking our meetings with Mignonette Bridal separately! So when we arrived we decided to split; I sat with Kpoene and showed her pictures of my dream dress ideas, while Connie went off with Kpoene’s wife Anne to try on dresses and discuss her ideal designs. The whole process was captured by Amanda Hein who will be documenting the entire planning process and photographing the wedding! Working with Kpoene and Anne was so much fun. They immediately made us feel comfortable in their beautiful shop and helped us envision the most important dresses we will ever wear. I think we could have spent all day there playing dress up and talking about weddings! We are really looking forward to the time we will get to spend with them both as we continue the custom design process.
We are so grateful to have guidance and expertise from Greatest Expectations! While we were at Mignonette, Heather and Katherine sat down with us to discuss colors and themes (we were struggling with color!), as well as set up future meetings for dress fittings, engagement pictures, and personal training. I can’t imagine doing all this without a wedding planner! Greatest Expectations has made the planning process so easy for Connie and I. The best part is that they aren’t just there to keep us on task or set dates for meetings, they are there to help us visualize and express our ideas for our wedding in a way that is often hard to do on our own. They are with us every step of the way making the process as stress-free and comfortable as they can. They are so thoughtful and caring. They truly offer a custom, personalized product and we are so glad we have them by our side.
As we left our first planning meeting the one thing Connie and I kept saying over and over again was that these people, our wonderful sponsors, really care. They are dedicated to making this experience beautiful, fun, and stress-free. We are so grateful to be working with such talented and kind people.
We cannot wait until next month’s marathon planning session!
Amy and I had the pleasure of announcing this years’ winners for the eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway and the moment brought back so many unforgettable memories of our entire experience. To stand before all of the vendors and finalists with the winning envelope in our hands made both of our hearts race as if we were finalists all over again.
The excitement of the moment overwhelmed us prior to even arriving to the reveal party. On the car ride to the restaurant, Amy and I were reminiscing about the entire experience. Being in shock that we’ve been married for roughly 6 months, we realized that the winning couple would be experiencing a life changing period of their lives that simply left us speechless. (For those of you that know me, this is very rare!!) What was so amazing was that we were given the opportunity to meet all of the wonderful vendors again. This was really important to us because we have been wanting to thank all of them again and again and again. To see the excitement in their eyes as they anticipated the announcement of this years’ winners truly embodies the essence of who they really are as individuals; so loving and gracious.
As we were watching the interviews prior to the announcement, Amy and I were very nervous (in excitement). We were whispering under our voices the entire time trying to game plan a “cool” way of announcing the winners. Well, as usual, we bombed. No fancy words or ridiculous antics, we froze and simply read the names on the piece of paper. I guess it all makes sense; very few things in life go as planned. Being on the other side at the reveal party was just as exciting as being a finalist waiting for the winners to be announced. It’s like everybody there was family….such an amazing feeling.
To Connie and Jessica….congratulations and get ready for the ride of your lives…it’s going to be fantastic.
First off let me just start by thanking everyone behind the eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway. Thank you to everyone who voted for us and thank you to the amazing sponsors!
The past month has been intense! We spent the whole voting week glued to our computers, phones, and pounding the pavement. We pestered our friends and family, we contacted every media source we could get our hands on, and utilized social networking websites to promote the contest in every way possible. We were so shocked by the overwhelming response from everyone that voted for us, shared our link, or wrote about our story. Our story and the contest was shared all around the world! We received such wonderful responses from long lost grade school friends to the It Gets Better Project. Regardless of whether we won or lost, we felt like this contest showed us that we are loved, that we are accepted, and that there is so much support for our relationship and for same-sex marriage. We never dreamed of this much support.
When we found out that we were finalists we were even more surprised! All our hard work (17 hour days of tweeting, sending out press releases, going to local businesses and organizations) really paid off. The next step was the interview processes. We were so excited to meet the Greatest Expectations team! Poetic Productions made us feel so comfortable in front of the camera! After the interview we waited a few weeks for the live reveal event at Nellcote. Let me just say that we were sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear who won!
Tuesday night finally came and we were so excited to be able to bring three of our closest friends and Jessica’s mother to Nellcote for the live reveal. The staff at Nellcote was wonderful, the food and drinks were amazing, and the space was stunning! It was a pleasure to finally meet the other finalists and generous sponsors, but as the event went on we grew more and more excited for the big reveal! Luckily having a blast in the Shutterbooth photo booth kept us at ease.
And then.. all of a sudden there we were, watching the interviews with the other couples and ourselves. Everyone had such an amazing story, some of which brought us to tears. It was such an honor to be in this contest with the three other couples. Then finally.. the big moment when last year’s winners Amy and Howard came to announce the 2012 winners and it was (Drum Roll Please!) Connie and Jessica! We were beyond shocked, but as we held each other close and cried, the applause from the crowd and the love from our friends and family affirmed our win.
The sponsors and other couples rushed to congratulate us with hugs and kind words. Our friends and family, who have been so supportive throughout our relationship and this contest cried. It was overwhelming and emotional and we couldn’t have felt more love and acceptance in that moment. We are truly blessed.
We cannot wait to start the planning process with all the wonderful sponsors of the eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway! We look forward to keeping everyone up to date throughout the process! And guess what? We’re getting married… IN NOVEMBER!
Thanks to our friends at Poetic Productions for this fantastic video! Much love to all our contestants and our winners, Connie & Jessica!
We are so pleased to announce that the 2012 winners of the eleven eleven WEDDING Giveaway are Connie and Jessica! This adorable couple impressed the sponsors with their beautiful love story and zest for life!
Connie and Jessica will be documenting their entire wedding planning journey so be sure to keep checking back for fun details!
We would like to give an extra special thank you to Nellcote for hosting the most amazing Live Reveal Party last night, Cris from BKO for the entertainment and to Amanda Hein for capturing these stunning images (she promises more will come very soon)! It was fantastic to see so many of our sponsors come out for the big reveal … This giveaway would not be possible with out them!
Thank you to ALL of our amazing finalists for taking this exciting journey with us and congratulations to Connie and Jessica! Buckle up, this will be a fun ride