Wait. How much are Flowers? Everything you need to know.

So often clients will ask me a rough estimate of cost on certain things such as flowers, photography, DJ’s and more. I’ve decided over the next couple of months, I’m going to interview vendors to give answers to your commonly asked questions. I sat down with Sally from Stella Grey Blooms, one of my favorite florists in Chicago and here’s what she had to say!

Let’s start with a little background. Stella Grey Blooms is a Chicago Floral Boutique that offers traditional to contemporary… to trend setting floral designs.

Owner, Sally Papedis, with a background in fashion and interior design turned her creative talents to floral design.  Her attention to detail, color and balance (and sometimes off-balance) can be seen in what has been referred to as “floral art”.  Sally teamed up Nancy Konstantos (a drummer in an alternative band), who has over 25 years of experience in the floral industry.  They share the same creative vision in floral design – that sometimes you need to learn the rules to break them to create something truly unique.  They have been booking weddings since 2017. 

Jessica- What would be your advice for couples working within a budget regarding florals?

Sally- If you are on a strict budget, find a professional florist you can trust and let them know your budget and your vision.  Then the florist can recommend cost effective florals that are in season and make several recommendations to cut costs.

We have done wedding florals for as little $500 to over $5K and each couple was just as thrilled at the end of the day because we provided them their vision and met their budget.
Jessica- Love this! Because you really can have the wedding of your dreams on a budget, you might just have to get a bit more creative than you once thought! Jessica- What would be your advice for couples working within a budget regarding florals?
What’s the average cost of flowers? 
Sally- I would say for an average wedding you should estimate $2k for the basic floral needs. However, the costs will vary up or down depending on the florals you choose, how many are in your wedding party and the size of your wedding and if you want flowers at the ceremony and the reception.
Jessica- Favorite floral arrangement & why? 
Sally- We had a couple that wanted to maximize the impact of the flowers at the reception because the venue was very industrial and cold… and they wanted to provide a garden feel.  So we created a 6 foot long floral waterfall for the head table of open peach roses and a variety of greenery that was the “wow” factor they were looking for.
And the carnation wall of over 300 hand strung carnations and 6 hours of labor… but it was so worth it when the bride said, “This is better than I expected”.
Jessica- I know that wall- it was beautiful! Below is a picture! 
flowers 5
Jessica- Dos & do nots on refurbishing floral…taking ceremony flowers to receptions, using bridal bouquets at head tables, etc?
Sally- Everyone wants to use the bridesmaids bouquets at the reception but it’s a lot of responsibility on the wedding party and the wedding coordinator. There is so much going on the day of and to make your bridal party responsible for the florals doesn’t always work out. I’m sure you agree, Jessica.
Jessica- I do. I really do.
Sally- If you are transporting florals from the ceremony to the reception, have it done professionally- do NOT leave it up to a groomsmen- and minimize which arrangements to take that make the most sense. For example, the large centerpieces, garland and wreaths make sense. Every single aisle flower or wall sconces does not. The less movement the better as things get moved around, ribbons get crushed and don’t look as nice as they initially did.
flowers 8
Jessica- How difficult is it to get out of season florals? Would you suggest they pick something else?
Sally- Yes, always have a backup flower. You can usually get florals out of season but you are going pay a higher price, the size most likely will be smaller and the color might be off….because its nature… and we have no control over what comes in.  Best to stick with what is in season, and again, always have a back up flower option.
Jessica- What is a must have, in your opinion, when it comes to flowers? 
Sally- Must have is the perfect Bride’s bouquet. If the bride is happy, then everyone is happy!
Jessica- I’m obsessed with the bouquet below! And neutrals mixed with jewel tones is so in right now!
flowers 3
Jessica- Have you received any outrageous requests? 
Mini hockey sticks in boutonniere, the couple were huge hockey fans and even had hockey sticks in the back of the church.
And we had a few request for silk flowers… not gonna do it.
Jessica- okay, I love everything about hockey, including a hockey themed wedding, not gonna lie. And I can’t stop laughing at the not going to do silk flower comment…amen!
Biggest mistake couples make when it comes to flowers?  
Sally- Couples underestimate the cost of flowers – 
Jessica- So true! I think they underestimate the cost of a wedding altogether. What is your favorite trend of 2019?
Sally- Garden roses, lots of greens and bringing the outdoors in.
flowers 2
Sally, it was such a pleasure chatting with you. I am a huge fan of your work and look forward to working together again soon!
To learn more head over to their website- www.stellagreyblooms.com
Follow them in Instagram- @stellagreyblooms
Or stop by and say hi! Stella Grey Blooms is located at 2057 W. Irving Park Rd in Chicago.
Scroll down to see more of their fabulous creations!

flowers 7flowers 6

flowers 1flowers 4

Engaged + Wedding Planning doesn’t have to equal stress! Here’s a quick checklist- 8-10 months before the wedding.


8-10 Months Out

Now that you have had time to enjoy your engagement (hopefully) and have selected your venue, it is time  to start booking vendors. Around the 8-10 month  mark is when you want to secure your reception entertainment, florist, and photographer.

Weddings Unfiltered will provide you with a list of questions to ask each vendor so that you can stay on track and find the best one for you!

You’ll also want to start dress shopping, which can be a super fun and emotional activity you do with your closest and soon to be (in-laws) closest family members and bridal party. Grab some champagne, maybe some tissue and say yes to that dress!

Remember to try on all different styles even the ones you never would think. You’d be surprised what you actually choose.

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Wedding Gown Style Chart:


Another amazing activity you’ll do 8-10 months out is register! HELLO!!! Who doesn’t want to create some amazing wish list of everything you and your fiancée want and someone magically just buys these items for you!?

If you are having your reception at a unique location and you are responsible for providing all of the rental items, such as, tables, glassware, lines, chairs…etc, this is the time you will want to start researching all of this.

Check out the tablecloth guide below for the size of tablecloth as well as how many people can fit around each table size.


Here is a simple checklist to keep you organized!

8-10 Month out checklist:

               Book your entertainment

               Book your florist

               Book your photographer

               Start dress shopping


               Examine the need for additional insurance

               Contract rental items needed

               Start thinking about the kind of food you want at your wedding

               Reserve accommodations (block rooms) for out-of-town guests

To purchase your copy of Weddings Unfiltered click the link below!

Weddings Unfiltered



Congratulations, you’re engaged! Wait. Now what?

Okay, after you show off your new bling to every single person on the planet, it’s time to actually start planning! So often people ask me, what is the first thing I should do? Of course my response is, buy my book, Weddings Unfiltered. While I’m kind of kidding, I will give you a shortened version of things to check off in the first month or 2 of being engaged. ps. It doesn’t hurt to enjoy your engagement for a bit…especially around the holidays. Get through all the family crap, let everyone admire the sparkle, relax, drink heavily and then start planning.

The first thing you want to focus on is realizing the type of wedding you actually want. For example; have you always dreamed of a traditional wedding, which is usually held at a banquet hall, country club or hotel? Would you prefer a destination wedding? All of your closest family and friends celebrating on a beach. Perhaps a daytime lunch or brunch might be more your speed? Cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception is another option or do you like the idea of a unique site? These venues can range anywhere from barns, mansions and libraries, to an amazing restaurant you love. The options are endless.

Choosing your idea of a dream wedding can help with the next step and that is to create a budget. Depending on what type of ceremony/reception you want can also determine the amount of people you will invite based on how many a specific venue can hold. This is a great start to planning that budget. But please keep in mind that you should also consider the things that are most important to you…ie…photographer, flowers, bar and maybe cut back on things that might not be that essential…like chair covers or something. Your budget will also most likely change to fit your needs and wants. Regardless of budget I feel you can still have the wedding of your dreams…you just might have to get a little more creative. Which leads right into the next step, create a guest list. Jot down a tentative list of friends and family while getting help from your parents on both sides. The first question a venue is going to ask is how many people and what date are you looking for. Which leads right into the next step.

You’ll want to choose your date and time of the wedding,  as well as, book the ceremony and reception site. I feel like these all kind of go hand in hand. If you want a particular venue, you will need to see what dates they have available. If you want a specific church you’ll have to see if you can coordinate the church and reception site with date… it becomes a bit of a juggling act but again, there are a lot of options out there, so don’t stress too much about this. However, the sooner you book, the easier it will be to coordinate.

Next you’ll want to decide if you need to hire a full service wedding planner. This person will be with you every step of the way. They will help with flowers, and linens and food selection and everything in between. Now there are also Day Of Coordinators (DOC’s) but you would meet with them about 3 months before the wedding typically.

You’ll also want to choose your bridal party, which is super fun! I would suggest to ask your closest family members or friends and leave it simple. I wouldn’t worry either if it’s not an even count on both sides. Don’t ask someone because your fiancee has 6 people and you only have 5.  It’s ok. Include people that know you and your fiancee well and have been a part of your life for a long time and will continue to be part of your life well after the wedding.

And finally plan an engagement party. This is completely optional but if you are going to celebrate your engagement, now is the time to do it!

Here is a quick checklist to get you through the first month or two of your engagement.

–         Vision the type of wedding you want

–         Create a budget

–         Hire a full time wedding planner

–         Choose date/time

–         Create a guest list

–         Choose a ceremony and reception site

–         Choose wedding (bridal) party

–         Host engagement party

Congratulations to you all that have gotten engaged and best of luck with the planning! Pick up your copy of Weddings Unfiltered today to guide you through the entire planning process!

And if you’re looking for a day of coordinator, please contact us at info@weddings-unfiltered.com.








Marriage Proposal + Chicago around the holidays = A definite yes…maybe!

With the Holiday season- AKA- engagement season quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to share some ideas on how to make your proposal pop! 

Here are some won’t cost a thing but will provide awesome pictures ideas. If there aren’t pictures posted on social media, did it even really happen?

 So let’s dig in and figure out what would best suit you and your partner!

Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Aside from it being free, you can also enjoy photos with Santa to show off that ring, warm spiced wine and frosty beers (in case they say no…jk) holiday snacks and so much more! 

Zoo lights


The Bean at Millenium Park- aside from ridiculously cool pictures, you can enjoy ice skating, carolers, and of course the beautifully lit- City of Chicago Christmas tree!

the bean


Christkindlemarket Chicago- Admission is always free and there is so much to be offered! This market has now become a Chicago institution offering not only typical German food and drink but also diverse holiday entertainment!

christkindle market


Once (s)he says yes, you can warm up at one of my favorite spots, Mindy’s Hot Chocolate bar… for some amazing hot chocolate along with a variety of sweet treats…fresh bling…and did I mention chocolate? Be sure to book a table ahead of time.



And if you really want to impress (or maybe scare them half to death) your partner, you can schedule a private Helicopter tour of the city with Chicago Helicopter Experience!  What better way to see the holiday lights while staying warm in the comfort of a luxury helicopter! And she or he will most likely say yes seeing as they have nowhere to go. Win/Win! 


Chicago Helicopter Experience offers many different package options, ranging in price, for more information click the link below.


If you’re looking for a romantic restaurant, Chicago has limitless possibilities. You can find one of a kind city views at Signature room at 95th, Cindy’s Rooftop located in the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel or Everest on the 40th floor.

One place that is dear to my heart is the Walnut Room located in Macy’s. The tree is unbelievable and the drinks are pretty darn good too! Whether you are looking for a sultry jazz-era vibe in Bavette’s or a warm cozy escape from the cold at Gilt Bar I have no doubt you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

So get out there and plan the perfect proposal! Best of luck. And of course, after they say yes, remember to buy my book; Weddings Unfiltered- The No Bullsh*t Wedding Planning Guide to keep your sanity once the planning process begins.


Meet Kelly Russell, author of A Girl’s Guide To Chicago + check out her five favorite date ideas for the Holidays!

In honor of National Author’s Day, I sat down with my favorite local author, Kelly Russel. She recently published her first novel; A Girl’s Guide to Chicago which takes all of us on her personal journey from dreaming about moving to the city at the age of 7 to her dream becoming a reality as well as her experiences once she finally got there! Her passion for this beautiful city is so pure and her kindness and authenticity shines through in her writing and I’m excited to call Kelly my new friend.

A Girl’s Guide to Chicago is filled with so many fun ideas and little hidden neighborhood gems that you certainly do not want to miss!  Click the link to pick up your copy today and become a tourist in your own city again! It’s also the perfect holiday gift for anyone that needs a little motivation to follow their dream!


Buy Book Here

1. What inspired you to want to write your book, A Girl’s Guide to Chicago

Well, it might sound clichè but I’ve always wanted to write a novel. Chicago is truly my heart and soul and I just love living here, so I wanted to write a fun and girly story that would also inspire other girls and help them navigate their first year in the city. I love the process of publishing a book that I definitely can’t wait to do it again.

2. Do you have a favorite part from your book?

I love that my novel walks you through what it’s like to live a full year in Chicago. How to make it through the winters, enjoy every moment of the summers, and my book also guides you through the best things to experience throughout the city.

3. Where can you get the best dessert? (I am obsessed with finding the perfect cupcake, donut, gelato, pie!)

Oh me as well! I probably have to have something chocolate every single day. I actually wrote a girl’s guide all about the best desserts in Chicago. However, I have to say my favorite dessert in Chicago is the Buttercake at Mastros. If I’m looking for a quick little treat, I love Magnolia Bakery on State Street. Their cupcakes always taste homemade and I love that.

4. If someone was coming to Chicago for 24 hours what would you tell them they must do? Must see/eat/experience?

Haha, I’ve actually done a guide on this as well! This is such a difficult question because there is so much to see and do. If you are visiting Chicago during the summer and you had one day I would say, take the architecture boat tour, walk and sit along the Riverwalk, walk a little of the lakefront and see the skyline from Olive Park, visit the Art Institute of Chicago for an hour or so, enjoy a drink on Cindy’s rooftop. It’s one of the best views of the city. Followed by dinner on the patio at La Colonial. If you have time the next morning before you leave for the airport. Take the Blue Line to O’hare and stop at the Damen stop in Wicker Park see one of Chicago’s coolest neighborhoods and don’t forget to stop by Stan’s Donuts.

If you are visiting during the winter and you had one day, I would go up to the Hancock Building, enjoy lunch at RL Restaurant, the grilled cheese and tomato soup is the best!. See the holiday lights on Michigan Avenue and do a little holiday shopping. (It starts getting dark at four!) Watch the ice skaters or go ice staking at Millenium Park. Enjoy the spiced wine at the Christkindlmarket, or hop on the 151 bus and see the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo. End the night with deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s.

5. What do you think is the most overrated thing about the City? Most underrated? 

Ummm geez the most overrated thing? I don’t know, I love this city so much. Haha, I know. Navy Pier. It’s okay if you have a family, but there are so many other things to see and do in the city. Every time someone comes to visit Chicago, they say they have to go to Navy Pier. The most underrated thing is probably that our city always gets overlooked by New York and LA because it’s “not safe.” Chicago is truly such a beautiful city, nothing beats the lake and the skyline.

6. What do you think makes Chicago so unique/different than other major cities? 

The people and that our city sits around gorgeous Lake Michigan. There’s nothing better than walking along the lakefront.

7. What/where is the most romantic date you went on in Chicago?

I don’t know if it’s the most romantic thing ever but my boyfriend, now husband use to go out of his way to drop things off by my apartment. He would show up with hot chocolate, or a cozy blanket because my first apartment in Chicago was freezing all winter long. We would then cozy up on the couch and watch a movie. A memory that really stands out to me is the first official day we hung out, we did a whole bunch of fun holiday things all around the city.

Because my first date with my now husband was around the holidays, and we always love to do tons of holiday things around the city every year.

Here are my five favorite date ideas for the upcoming holidays. 

  1. See It’s a Wonderful Life at the Music Box Theatre. It’s one of my favorite tradition that I love to do every year.
  2. Go see the carolers on Friday nights in December in Millenium Park, followed by dinner downtown.
  3. Grab a peppermint mocha from Starbucks and walk down Michigan Avenue to see all the holiday lights.
  4. Take the CTA holiday train downtown and get some spiced mulled wine from the Christkindlmarket.
  5. Go to Bloomingdales Home and pick out an ornament together for your tree. Bloomingdales has the best ornaments.

Enjoy a date night with your favorite girls and celebrate the holidays with the chocolate bar at The Peninsula. Bring an ornament to exchange.