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Korey Huyler | Photo: Chennergy | December 7, 2012
Julie Smith and Evan Jahn flee the hustle and bustle of the city for a summertime wedding in St. Charles.
Talk about pressure. Julie Smith and Evan Jahn knew that the 150 guests at their June 2 wedding were expecting a one-of-a-kind party in an equally singular setting. After all, both the bride and mother-of-the-groom are interior designers, and the father-of-the-groom happens to be one of the most famous architects on the planet. Yet, with all that hype, Julie and Evan exceeded all expectations and hosted a truly remarkable affair.
The Lakeview couple, who met on New Year’s Eve 2009, and who married at St. Chrysostom’s Church in the Gold Coast, hosted their reception at the groom’s parents’ equine breeding farm in St. Charles. Now why, you may wonder, was there so much buzz about the setting? Well, Evan’s dad is Helmut Jahn. And that breeder farm? Helmut and his wife Deborah designed it together; and it’s rarely been photographed. The “farm” was truly a remarkable place to host a reception—and the perfect spot to celebrate the union of this amazing couple.
Introduced by a mutual friend, Julie and Evan dated for almost two years before getting engaged in August 2011 in the park near North Pond restaurant with an emerald-cut diamond ring that once belonged to Julie’s mother, who passed away when she was in college. Evan and Julie kept the original setting intact, but made slight updates.
Once they got engaged, Julie, principal of JSE Design Group, started planning for her perfect day. “I wanted to have a classic wedding that also was emblematic of our unique personalities but also simple, elegant and mostly fun,” says Julie, a native of Grosse Pointe, Mich. “As a designer, and with Evan working for an architectural firm focusing on sustainability, we really wanted it to have our own special touches.”
The first step in the planning was picking the location, which was an easy decision. “We decided fairly quickly to have the wedding at the farm,” says Julie. “Evan suggested it, and I loved the idea. We spend a lot of time there and it is such a special place.”
Choosing St. Chrysostom’s for the ceremony was just as easy. “Evan’s grandmother was married at the church,” explains Julie. “And she, his mother and Evan were all baptized there, so we really didn’t see how it could be anywhere else.”
With Evan competing in both cycling and sailing in his free time, the hardest part of planning the wedding was picking the date. “We definitely had a hard time with scheduling between work and Evan’s sailing schedule and bike racing schedule,” says Julie. “I asked that he not bike starting a month before the wedding because I was so worried he would break a bone or end up with a huge cut or bruise somewhere!”
Another consideration for choosing the date? Wanting to show the farm at its best for their guests. Julie and her future mother-in-law spent a lot of time just worrying about the flowers. “We didn’t want to have it too early in the summer in fear it wouldn’t be warm enough and the flowers wouldn’t be in bloom,” says Julie. “And too late in the summer would be too hot to eat outside. After consulting the Farmers’ Almanac, we finally decided on June 2, and thankfully the weather was perfect! We had a great backup plan of cocktails around the pool and dinner upstairs in the studio if the weather was bad.”
Pool? Studio? As you can see, this isn’t your typical farm. Spread across 27 acres, there’s a main house, a guest house, a huge pasture where Evan’s mom raises horses and the highlight of the property: a minimalist, renovated dairy barn turned studio with many extra amenities.
Guests arrived at the farm in buses from the city and were transported down the long driveway to cocktail hour behind the orangerie next to one of the pastures by the main house. (“We thought people would enjoy getting to see some of the horses playing,” says Julie.) For dinner, guests walked across a large pasture to dine at a long L-shaped table outside the barn. There was definitely an element of surprise with the barn popping up out of nowhere, and with the pool and dancing inside.
In one of the evening’s many highlights, dinner was at an approximately 160-foot-long table with small breaks for the servers. “The final design was difficult for us,” explains Julie. “We all went back and forth on how to do it and if it would work. We were worried it may pose a problem for serving food, so we thought we had to have a few breaks for the servers to get through.” Once caterer Cleetus Freedman and his team at City Provisions were on board with the long tables, the plan was set.
In fact, all of the couple’s vendors understood exactly what she was hoping for with her city-meets-country wedding. For her gown, Julie chose a short Monique Lhuillier dress and veil from Ultimate Bride. She then worked with Miriam Carlson at Miriam Cecilia to custom-design a skirt to fit over the Lhuillier dress for the ceremony. Carlson also worked with all the bridesmaids to design their dresses out of the same fabric. The invitations (designed by Julie and printed by Papyrus) were printed on recycled paper with environmentally friendly ink. Flowers were by Virginia Wolff.
After dinner, guests headed into the barn for dancing to Hello Nuvo, desserts from City Provisions and cakes from Kim Klutznick. Though plenty of guests wandered around the barn looking at the amazing architecture and innovative rooms, most of the partygoers spent the evening on the dance floor.
“I loved every second of the day,” says Julie. “The location was amazing, but being surrounded by our closest friends and loved ones to celebrate our wedding was unbelievable. That only happens once in a lifetime.”