Our Intimately Modern Pagan Full Moon Foodie Wedding Part 1

For nearly the entire life of this blog, I’ve been chittering with excitement about our wedding.

And now, at long last, here is is! I have been ever so excited to share it with all of you, but I have been utterly unable to narrow down the 500-something photos to a single post. The best I could do was three posts – the ceremony, the reception, and the food. Because the food really does deserve its own post.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool Wedding

So let me welcome you to our intimately modern pagan full moon foodie wedding (handfasting) ceremony!

We stayed at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel in the Gold Coast, downtown Chicago. We might not have gone so fancy for our accommodations, but this is what happens when you get married on Labor Day weekend and forget to check out hotels until two weeks before the date. We got a great rate through Trivago, though.

The hotel was gorgeous, and literally every person that worked there knocked our socks off with perfect service and super friendliness. We couldn’t possibly have asked for more.

Millennium Knickerbocker HotelMillennium Knickerbocker Hotel

Being far from traditional people, we got ready in our hotel room together. Tyler had helped pick out my dress, after all. I made my simple bouquet in the room with the flowers we brought (the sunflower for Baby Bear was growing outside our bedroom window just that morning). I did my own hair and makeup, I straight razored Tyler around the edges, and he waxed his handlebar mustache up beautifully.

Wedding Getting ReadyGalina One Shoulder DressWedding DIY BouquetWedding Getting ReadyHandlebar MustacheMustache Wax and Copper Wedding RingVictorian Crystal Blue Necklace

Off we went to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, a park/national historic landmark just off the north end of Lincoln Park Zoo. Best part, since we were doing such a small, essentially flash mob wedding (just show up and get married), we didn’t have to rent or reserve the space. It’s a public park, which is a really great, free option for a small wedding like ours.

Millennium Knickerbocker HotelWedding TaxiWedding TaxiAlfred Caldwell Lily Pool Wedding

The lily pool itself was originally built in 1889 to cultivate tropical lilies, and has since been transformed into a magical rock garden. Almost nobody who I have mentioned the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool to had heard of it – it appears we picked one of the best kept secrets in Chicago.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingAlfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingAlfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingAlfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingAlfred Caldwell Lily Pool Wedding

This may be one of the few weddings where the groom’s shoes outshine the bride’s. And I’m totally fine with that. Mine were a cute pair of flats I found at TJ Maxx for a steal, while Tyler’s were a gorgeous pair of Cole Haans. We had found a fun pair of olive green cord laces for them, and then up and completely forgot them on the wedding day. Whoops.

The silk flower clip in my hair is a new craft I’ve been working on. Made with dozens of layers of silk chiffon, organza and tulle and filled with dozens more Swarovski crystals, these babies are now available made to order on my Etsy shop!

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingHandmade Silk Flower Hair Clip

Because we arrived about an hour before everyone else (the limo with the rest of the family got way stuck in traffic), we had plenty of time to take pictures around the pond before the ceremony.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingAlfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingAlfred Caldwell Lily Pool Wedding

As soon as everyone arrived, Baby Bear immediately got up on the big rock in the middle of the circle and started dancing and entertaining everyone. As is her custom. My dear friend Jessie gave her precious little Shirley Temple curls, which lasted about 10 minutes into the ceremony. She takes after daddy, in that she is a tiny little furnace. And yes, her socks have little bugs printed on them.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingPagan Handfasting WeddingMoppet

Our officiant, who I have known most of my life, is the former queen of Medieval Times, wiccan, and and all around magical person. We got her ordained for the occasion, because there was literally no one else we could have imagined marrying us. She found this gorgeous Tree of Life journal, which contained our ceremony, and which she gave to us as a wedding gift. Just perfect.

Our wedding was a Pagan handfasting, which included casting the circle and calling the elements (represented by our siblings holding element jars). Ever so much magic…

Pagan Handfasting WeddingPagan Handfasting WeddingPagan Handfasting Wedding Element JarsCasting the Circle

Of course it wasn’t just Tyler and I officially joining together – after all, I have fallen in love with his daughter just as much as him. We wanted to find a special way to include her in the ceremony, so I wrote a portion of the ceremony for our promises to each other, and asked her if she was okay with me being part of her family now. Of course we had to interrupt her kicking of pebbles, but she didn’t seem to mind. She got downright cuddly on me, in fact.

Including Children in the CeremonyIncluding Children in the CeremonyIncluding Children in the Ceremony

A handfasting is much like a wedding, and just like unions of other faiths, there are some little traditions. The biggest one is the handfasting cord, which I made out of wool yarn  (I think I accidentally made macrame) and ribbons. We joined hands, and Tyler’s brother tied them together with the handfasting cord in an infinity loop.

And then we were married.

Wedding VowsPagan Handfasting WeddingRing ExchangePagan Handfasting WeddingWedding First Kiss

Lots of love was shared, lots of family photos were taken, and we were off to dinner!

Mom HugsGroom and BustleIncluding Children in the CeremonyMoppetAlfred Caldwell Lily Pool WeddingChicago

Our ceremony could not have been more perfect or more perfectly us. It was short, sweet, simple, and Rev Roz was amazing. Lots of people cried. There were copious hugs. And now we’re married.


On Monday I’ll be sharing part 2, the reception dinner at Tru, and on Wednesday part 3, the FOOD – and those you don’t want to miss. Thank you so much for letting me share with all of you!

All photos by Bobbie Recob of Roberta Rae Photography.


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