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Julie & Ryan

Chicagoans Julie Selakovich and Ryan Saunders celebrate their romance at a historic Florida destination.

Julie & Ryan

Julie worked with Swiss Cottage Designs on the invites. 

Couple outside the Inn

The cake, which combined carrot, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate, was made by the Inn.

It happens a lot in Chicago. You get introduced to a couple who happened to meet at the Old Town Art Fair, and who then continues their “first date” at Stanley’s, and you think to yourself: Now that is a true Chicago couple. Such is the case with Julie Selakovich and Ryan Saunders. Julie, the director of marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue, and Ryan, the president and founder of Izo Brands, met at the famous summer art fair, and dated for two and a half years before Ryan proposed in May 2012 at their house in Lincoln Park. “I had just worked out and was looking like a total bum and was at home laying on the couch,” says Julie. “We were going to get sushi and stay in—one of our favorite things to do—and he walked in the door with a pizza box.” It turns out the couple had gone to Rocco Ranalli’s on the day they met (late night, that is), and that’s where Ryan told her he knew he was going to marry her. 

When it came time to plan their wedding, they went through a few different options, but a Florida winter wedding was the answer. 

“We loved the idea of a destination wedding—having all of our closest friends and family to a place that felt very special and intimate,” explains Julie. “We stumbled upon Gasparilla Island over Christmas when we were visiting family in Fort Myers. Ryan’s mom and sister live there, and my dad lives there in the winter. We fell in love the second we stepped foot on the island; we both grew up going to different parts of Florida, but this just felt like a place that we could call our own and take our family to in the future.” 

The official festivities started on Friday night at a local haunt in Boca Grande—The Temptation. “We had all the speeches that evening, great local food and just a fun night,” says Julie. “Saturday the guys played golf and guests hung at the beach or toured the island. I went for a walk with my sisters and mom—it was so nice and relaxing.” 

Around 5pm guests hopped on golf carts for rides to the gazebo for the ceremony. “The ceremony was my absolute favorite part,” says Julie. “One of our best friends married us. We wrote our own vows and I worked with our band—who had the most amazing singer—on the song I walked down the aisle to, which was very nontraditional for a wedding. Our ceremony just felt very much about us. We didn’t have a bridal party except for three adorable flower girls; it was short and we vowed to one another what meant the most to us.” The reception continued underneath a tent where the seating chart was handwritten on a chalkboard. “The reception was a blast,” says Julie. “Having all of our friends and family under one roof—or tent in this case—made it all the more special.” 

For Julie, “Hands down, the paper products and calligraphy were a highlight,” she says. “Doing the save-the-dates and invitations was my favorite part of the wedding. I love paper. I had so much fun creating something unique. And then I spent hours finding vintage stamps—it was a lot of work, but it gave them a romantic feel.” For the wedding weekend, Julie created the itinerary and menus, and had a monogram made that was used for the cookie welcome boxes and popcorn bags. “I used the same monogram for my thank-you notes.”  

Sun, beach, golf, friends? What more could the couple ask for? Well, until the honeymoon this fall in Spain, that is.