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Garden Party

A 13-year romance culminates in a breathtaking mountaintop proposal and a dream outdoor wedding celebrating true love.

Carissa and Christopher on their big day


The cake by Amy Beck Cake Design had subtle and elegant patterns on each layer.


Carissa’s second cousin’s twin daughters served as flower girls.


The couple’s rings, including the one-of-a-kind Tacori engagement ring that Christopher designed (with elements of three different rings he loved) from Marshall Pierce & Company


The bride’s glittering Jimmy Choo heels


Tables were decked out in smoky purple linens from BBJ Linen and three distinct centerpieces by Fleur. 

When Carissa Ilg met her childhood friend for lunch and a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago, she had no idea that another masterpiece was in the making. Her friend brought along Christopher Daya, a college pal, and the pair instantly hit it off. Eleven years later, Christopher orchestrated an elaborate proposal atop Vail Mountain—a place the couple has visited every year since 2006. “I skied all day with the ring in my jacket pocket, waiting for just the right moment,” Christopher remembers. “I must have checked my pocket 100 times that day to make sure I had not lost it!” Luckily, it was right where he left it, and Christopher proposed as his future father-in-law captured the moment.

After enlisting planner Beth Bernstein of SQN Events, the couple selected the Chicago Botanic Garden as their venue. The English Walled Garden served as the site of the ceremony, where the pair exchanged vows under a floral archway created by Fleur. “The ceremony is when you express your commitment, so we wanted to ensure it did not take a back seat to the reception in the planning process,” Carissa says. After vows were exchanged, with Carissa in Monique Lhuillier and Christopher in custom Suitsupply, guests proceeded to the garden’s terrace for cocktail hour, allowing the couple a moment together. “One of our treasured memories was immediately following the ceremony, when we could reflect on the significance of our commitment and enjoy our specialty St. Germain cocktails while overlooking the lake,” Carissa adds.

Before dinner, the couple kicked off the festivities with dancing in the McGinley Pavilion, which had been decorated in charcoal, silver, and smoky purple with metallic accents. Later, Carissa surprised Christopher with a groom’s cake of Vail Mountain, complete with figurines of the couple in ski gear, a nod to their engagement and shared love of the slopes (though tropical Maui won out for the honeymoon).

Venue Chicago Botanic Garden
Planner Beth Bernstein, SQN Events
Flowers Fleur
Bride’s Gown Monique Lhuillier, Ultimate Bride
Bride’s Shoes Jimmy Choo
Bridesmaids’ Dresses Amsale, Bella Bridesmaids 
Groom’s Suit Custom Suitsupply
Invites Magnificent Milestones
Catering Culinary Landscape
Cake Amy Beck Cake Design
Music Arlen Music Productions
Videographer Leap Weddings
Linens BBJ Linen
Hair & Makeup Sonia Roselli