Opera House Indian Fusion Wedding at Thalia Hall {Chicago}

October 8, 2017 - by Preeti

We are back in the windy city of Chicago for a winter wedding! Ruk and Matt got married in the dead of winter, January, but they picked one of the coziest and most happening spots in the city, Thalia Hall, a remodeled opera house.

Ruk shares with us her wedding story and love of cake!

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Matt (who goes by Goose) and I met in Chicago, and it's a city both of us are in love with. It's really a city of neighborhoods and each one is so unique. Goose is a history teacher and in particular loves urban studies. So when we were looking for a venue we were lucky to be able to find a venue that had all the things we needed to make our guests comfortable during the wedding, but would also show our guests a tiny slice of Pilsen - a neighborhood they might not come across otherwise as a visitor.

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We got married at Thalia Hall which is a renovated opera house in Pilsen and is attached to Dusek's which is a now Michelin-starred restaurant. We are not super cool trendy people so it was kind of surreal that we were able to be married in such a special place. It was the perfect combination of an amazing venue with a really dedicated team, and a gorgeous historical building.

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I'm Indian and Goose is white so our ceremony was a modified traditional Hindu ceremony which lasted approximately an hour (I'm told, I actually have no idea how long it lasted).

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I had quite a lot of family coming from India and all over the world, and we were getting married in January in Chicago...so it was pretty important to us to make everyone comfortable. My family rented a house in Chicago where all my extended relatives stayed for about ten days and that was one of my favorite things about our wedding. We had a home base where everyone would come and go, and we got to spend a lot of unplanned time with everyone outside of the actual wedding.

We also had the mehndi there which was great because we didn't have to rent another space, and we didn't have any time restrictions or stress around transporting our family with some mobility restrictions to another venue.

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We both went to India with my mother to shop for our wedding clothes which was an amazing and insane experience. We actually met a designer in Hyderabad (where I'm from) named Ganesh Nallari. My cousin knew him and recommended him and he was just perfect. He understood what we were going for and designed really stunning clothes for both Matt and I, and for my sister. They were comfortable and fit perfectly. We didn't have any particular color schemes we were going for so we just picked what we liked and he kind of advised us on what would look good together.

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Goose is a history teacher and a hardcore history buff, I'm a doctor and I love cake. I would say we wanted to infuse the things that we love into our wedding while still having a somewhat traditional Hindu ceremony. My family compromised a bit in that we did not have traditional Indian food at the reception but our venue was awesome in that they made some traditional things (like samosas) from scratch. As in, the chef experimented with a bunch of samosa recipes!

I can't say enough about how adventurous and accommodating the team at Thalia Hall is. We did have traditional South Indian food at the Mehndi the night before the wedding so we got the best of both worlds I think.

I really wanted different cakes at the reception (who can pick only one flavor of cake??) So we had smaller cakes as our centerpieces and in a few different flavors. Then we had a larger main cake that Goose and I cut. So each table had a different flavor cake and as we came around to greet the tables during the reception we could sneak a little taste of one of the flavors.

The guests cut their cakes at the same time as us and they could swap cakes with other tables if they wanted. I ADORED the little cakes on the table- they were even more beautiful than I envisioned and our bakery and florist coordinated to decorate them.

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Coordinating everyone's expectations with the realities of wedding planning. In my family, this was the first wedding so everyone was learning things about how wedding planning works from scratch. Because we were not having a wedding in a hotel, my family had to do a some adjusting in terms of expectations of how the ceremony and reception would look and feel compared to a lot of the weddings they had been to previously. Weddings are also expensive, and when you are doing this for the first time it's hard to figure out whether you're paying about what is the normal rate for things or whether this is astronomically out of the normal range.

So I would say, ask friends who have done this before. If your family is involved with the financial aspect of the wedding, have them ask people they trust about how much things cost so they have an idea of what to expect.

Did you do any DIY (do it yourself) or special projects/things at the wedding?

We did! My mother is a pretty accomplished ceramicist/artist and she handmade and hand-painted little dishes for each wedding favor box. She also sculpted little pairs of birds to go on the tables near the centerpieces and a beautiful figurine that we placed on the card table that was a wedding gift to us.

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Goose's mom baked about a million fancy cookies that are our favorites for our wedding favors (Bourbon balls, yummm) and put them in beautiful little packages to include in the favor boxes. Both of them (and their friends) worked so hard and it was pretty special that our favors were very personal gifts from both of our families.

As a nod to Goose's love of history- our table numbers were notable presidential election years. Goose wrote funny little summaries of each election which we framed and put on the tables. He also included a few notable Indian elections which my family loved. He thoroughly enjoyed doing all the research for this.

What was your favorite part of the wedding?

We walked down from one of the little opera boxes in the theater to the reception. In that moment we could see everyone that had traveled in freezing weather to be with us, and then we got to dance down to Steve Winwood's Higher Love- total bliss!

Our ceremony itself, although it was on stage, felt very intimate because we really couldn't see most of the people in the room. That felt very much like just Goose and I, and our two families coming together to support our marriage.

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Don't be afraid to be goofy! I think people respond when you are having a good time so if you throw an event that you would want to attend people will have a good time.

We found a guy on Youtube who performs covers of songs we love (Africa by Toto). I had a glass of bourbon one night and decided to email him and we actually managed to get a hold of him and flew him out to Chicago to perform during our cocktail hour. So basically... you never know what can be done unless you ask!

We had lots of great 80's music, we had a prop area with presidential costumes which our nephews loved. Goose had a Baraat through the restaurant that involved a boombox, and the wedding party marching through with triangles, maracas, cowbells. My sister and best friend sang a Mariah Carey ballad for me- what more could anyone want?

Find a wedding coordinator you like and trust- they are completely worth the investment because they will narrow down a lot of complicated decisions and allow you to enjoy the day!

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{Wedding Credits}

Coordinator: Anticipation Events // Venue/Caterer: Thalia Hall // DJ: Toast and Jam // Cocktail Hour Musician: Mike Masse // Photographer: Heather DeCamp Photography // Hotels: Palmer House Hilton // JW Marriott // Florist: Fleur // Bakery: Alliance Bakery // Rentals: Tablescapes // Transportation: Windy City Limousines // Mehndi: Unnati Shah http://unnatizart.com/ // Valet: Five Star Valet

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