How to Plan a Classic Formal Wedding in Chicago During the #MonthOfLove

Wendy Pashman from Entertaining Company and I (Anthony Navarro) got together and realized that one of the top styles that our brides seem to gravitate to is what we are calling “Classic Formal”.  You might ask, what is the definition to a Classic Formal wedding?

Elegantly styled and seamlessly polished in the style of Jackie O and Grace Kelly!.

Some of Wendy and my favorite venues that lend themselves to the Classic Formal style wedding are~

Chicago Cultural Center, Harold Washington Library, Café Brauer, The Ivy Room, Newberry Library,  Ida Noyes, and the Danada House.


In order to create this style wedding, let’s talk about how to build this wedding from the ground up!

Color Palette

I am recommending White, Ivory, Khaki, Taupe, Champagne, Sandalwood, with accents of Gold, Apple Green, Dusty Rose, Dove Grey, Charcoal, Navy

To see more design options, check out my Pinterest Board on planning a Classic Formal Wedding

Dress the Table

Round Tables, Chivari or Versaille Chairs in Mahogany, Gold, White, or Black.  Table linens in lamour or pintuck with hemstitch napkins. Table is set with Monochromatic White Round China, Bread and Butter Plate and knife, classic silver flatware, stemmed glassware, either plain or with a gold rim or cut crystal  for water, choice of wine and champagne flutes.  All of the place settings would match, nothing to mismatch and all china is consistent from one course to the next.


Floral arrangements can be a combination of elevated pieces and lower arrangements.  Florals should include classic flowers such as roses, hydrangeas, peonies, calla lilies, spray roses, tulips, lily of the valley, bells or Ireland, stock, and greenery.  The elevated arrangements can be based on a clear glass cylinder or trumpet vase, candelabra, or pedestal stand.  The lower arrangements can be in pedestal bowls, clear glass round containers, and both arrangement should be constructed to be in the round and tightly put together, rather than loosely arranged. An assortment of votive candles in clear glass round vessels or silver or gold solid vessels complete the tabletop.


Presentation of food : Elegantly Polished, Professional and Seamless.

Wendy Suggests….

Cocktail Hour with Waiter Passed Champagne from Silver Trays, White Linen Hemstitched Cocktail Napkins or Imprinted Monogrammed Disposable Cocktail Napkins

Full Service Bar, His and Her Cocktails (for summer, “Her’s” a cool G and T with Striped Straw and “His” a Classic Manhattan mixed up in Glass Pitchers).

For Autumn Winter Weddings…Hot Toddy Station with Cinnamon Sticks

 Cocktail Buffet Station might have All White Cruditee or perhaps stylized cruditee placed and presented in silver julep cups.

Menu Selections for Dinner: American Classics, American Regional, Seasonal and Local

First Courses include Lemon Chive Crabcake with Bacon Relish, Heirloom Tomato Salad with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese and  Apple wood Bacon Spinach Salad.

 Featured Classic and Formal Style Entrées include Grilled Steakhouse Tournedo of Beef, All Natural Pan Seared Amish Chicken Breast, Pan Seared Salmon with Roasted Butternut Squash Sauce, Chive Whipped Potatoes and Wild Mushroom Ragout.

For dessert, a tiered vanilla wedding cake with strawberry filling or on a more whimsical All American note: Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate buttermilk Filling

 Profiteroles, Petit Fours, Mini Tartlets



Having an 8- 12 piece band play music from the 40’s for cocktails and dinner to music from the 70’s to present for dancing.


Menu cards are a must and should be in the same formal theme as your invitations that should have been properly addressed by a calligrapher with a coordinating stamp. 


For the ladies attending, an elegant cocktail dress is appropriate and black tie for the men.  The bride will be resplendent in a classic ball gown with or without lace details.