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A Backyard Wedding in Illinois With a Moody Color Palette

by Staff

Alex and Uche both played basketball in college, so it was no surprise that they found themselves on their company basketball team. “Alex hit a game winner a few weeks into the season while I was in the corner screaming for the ball. She looked right at me, refused the pass, and hit a game winner—in that order. It cemented my interest,” Uche says. “We didn’t start dating until nine months later and haven’t looked back.” In November 2019, Uche popped the question at Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash, Colorado.

Uche’s best friend has a property outside of Chicago, and when the couple was there celebrating their engagement, they decided it would be the perfect place to invite their 110 wedding guests. The Lake Forest venue was set to undergo a large-scale renovation that would take up to a year to complete. Luckily, everything was ready in time for Alex and Uche’s September 25, 2021 wedding. “First and foremost, we saw this as a celebration of color and culture,” the groom says. “We wanted the day to feel both dressed up and relaxed at the same time.”

Although the planning process required six trips to Chicago, the couple leaned on their diverse vendors, including their planner, Arin Busch from Big City Brides to execute their vision. They chose dark fall colors and aimed to highlight the surrounding landscape. Keep reading to see more of Alex and Uche’s wedding day, photographed by Chaz Cruz.

Alex and Uche enlisted Ellen from Proper Notice to create their invitations. They went with black cardstock and bold white fonts to craft a modern minimalist look.

Alex and Uche assembled welcome bags for their guests the week of the wedding. The welcome bags included beer, tequila, baked goods, popcorn, a map drawing of Nigeria, and a photo of the couple.

There was such a feeling of love and support all weekend that is almost indescribable.

The couple’s wedding weekend began with a beach day on Lake Michigan with games, music, and food. At the couple’s rehearsal dinner, Uche wore a blue traditional Nigerian outfit, while Alex wore a Les Reveries one-shoulder silk ruched gown. The couple joined hands in a sentimental ceremony with Nigerian traditions. “There was such a feeling of love and support all weekend that is almost indescribable,” Uche says. “So many people came away from our wedding with new friends. We see it as a reflection of the community we’ve built around our relationship.”

Alex wore a strapless off-the-shoulder Sarah Seven gown with a column skirt, pearl details, and draped tulle train. Uche spotted the gown online and sent it to Alex to check out. The moment she tried it on, Alex and her mom agreed it was the one. “Funny story, my sister’s husband also picked her dress out, too!” Alex says, “We both kept it a secret from them until the day of the wedding!”

To brides that are looking for their wedding dress, Alex advises, “Be confident in your sense of style and don’t be pressured by people outside your immediate circle.”

The bride wore Missoma earrings and Alexandre Birman shoes to complete the look. Although Alex originally tried retro curls, she decided to go with her normal middle part and soft waves on the wedding day. “I wanted to look back and think, yes, this is what I look like!” she says. Leading up to the wedding, Alex stayed on top of her skincare routine and used Peter Thomas Roth eye patches to reduce puffiness under the eye.

A bouquet featuring white florals, moody deep red blooms, and delicate baby’s breath joined Alex down the aisle.

Uche got ready with the guys in the “barn apartment” on the property. “We spun records and chilled with some nice mezcal cocktails,” he says, “It was nice to hang out with my best friends right before the biggest day of my life so far.” Uche wore a tuxedo and slippers from  Suit Supply, along with a Todd Snyder watch. He went with Saint Rita Parlor as his wedding day fragrance.

Neither of us expected it to be so emotional, but it remains among the fondest memories of the entire weekend.

Alex and Uche shared a first look before the ceremony, and they’re glad they had a quiet moment together. “Neither of us expected it to be so emotional, but it remains among the fondest memories of the entire weekend,” the groom says.

Guests were greeted by a champagne cart as they made their way to their ceremony seats, and Alex and Uche shared a quiet toast before the event began.

Guests were seated on benches lining the aisle and chairs angled toward the altar. “We kept it pretty organic because we were surrounded by such a beautiful setting,” Uche says.

When the ceremony began, Uche was accompanied by his mother, Maureen, as he walked down the aisle to Obadiah Parker’s cover of Outkast’s “Hey Ya.” Alex processed down the aisle with her father, Michael, to Ben Harper’s “Crazy Love.”

Alex and Uche wrote promises to each other and their vows included a portion where their guests stood up and said ‘yes’ as well. “Those involved guiding us through our relationship with the love, support, and wisdom that we felt lucky enough to be surrounded by,” the groom says.

Alex and Uche recessed back down the aisle to Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home”.

It was important to Alex and Uche to build time into their wedding day for moments together while also giving themselves enough time to spend with guests. They opted for an extended cocktail hour, which gave them time to take portraits with their photographer throughout the property. Guests enjoyed the couple’s signature cocktail “The Apollo,” which includes tequila, cointreau, lime juice, and club soda.

Alex and Uche’s reception took place underneath a tent in the yard. The entrance of the tent was decorated with an arch of greenery and twinkle lights. Guests found their table numbers on a large black display that mimicked the couple’s invitation suite. A sign read “this way to the disco” and the display was decorated with disco balls. The pair worked with Elizabeth and her team at Asrai Garden to create the unique entrance and a hanging greenery installation.

The couple wanted their reception decor to give off a romantic feel, so they topped tables with dark green table linens and filled them with black candles and floral centerpieces that matched the bride’s bouquet. A portrait of the couple was placed on top of black linen napkins at each place setting.

After Alex and Uche’s grand entrance at the reception, they shared their first dance to Childish Gambino’s rendition of Tamia’s “So Into You.” Uche danced with his mom to Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World,” and then Alex danced with her father to Bob Carlisle’s “Butterfly Kisses.” The couple created three reference playlists for their DJ to work from. “We had a really cool mix of hip-hop, rock, afro-beats, and oldies that kept the dance floor packed all night,” Uche says.

Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and their choice of entree while listening to speeches from the couple’s loved ones. “We’ll never forget all the laughter in the tent during Mr. Berlin’s speech,” Uche says, “He read a letter that Alex had written to him at age 11 and people were belly laughing.” The couple served hors d’oeuvres including bacon wrapped dates and lobster rolls along with a choice of three different entrees. They decided to skip a traditional wedding cake and served gelato and late night chicken fingers and fries instead!

The couple followed their celebrations with a well-deserved honeymoon in Barcelona and Mallorca. To couples planning their wedding, Alex and Uche recommend extending your cocktail hour, choosing a different dessert over cake, and making sure you hire great vendors. “The photographer is everything!” the groom says.

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