I’m sitting here almost in disbelief that I’m actually writing this post. Blake is one?! What the what? But really, how is it even possible? My little baby has already been on Earth a whole year. It feels like just yesterday that I sat at this very keyboard sharing the details of his Nursery Reveal when he was just a few weeks old. Yet, here we are. I’m the proud parent of a one year old. Whoa. Talk about time flying, this year may have been a veritable time warp. Beam me up, Scotty.
Last weekend, we celebrated the occasion with friends and family from all over the country who wanted to share in the festivities as we rang in Blake’s first year. Congratulations were abound for Eric and me (apparently you get those when you’ve managed to keep a tiny human alive for 365 days) and the excitement was palpable for this special day. The first year marks a massive milestone and it was one that I (at first begrudgingly) decided to go all out for.
Once we decided to go big, then I knew I had to do it up with a fab theme, a killer location, amazing food, and sweets to die for. I’d love to say we pulled it off swimmingly, but of course I can’t wait to hear what you think!
If you haven’t guessed it yet, we went with a California Dreamin’ theme which was so fun to bring to life. Since my hubby Eric and I are both from Southern California, we were excited to bring a little bit of our West Coast roots into this Chicago-based shindig. It is summer after all, and what feels more apropos than surfboards, sand, waves and sunshine? Since Blake basically had no idea where he was or what any of this was for, we were able to indulge in our own childhood vibes and give him a surfer’s paradise even Kelly Slater would go crazy for.
This darling Surf’s Up chalkboard sign made by the incredible custom letter specialist Delaina (@delaina_j ) greeted all of our guests at the door and gave them a little splash of what was to come. She also hand-lettered all of our buffet and bar signs (more on that later!) which added such an amazing and personal touch.
And where was all of this going down you might ask?
Well, I was able to get access to the clubroom on the ninth floor at the luxury building, The Madison at Racine, which may or may not have been because I used to be a resident there. Cheers to the perks of living somewhere fabulous and staying in touch with the amazing team who manages the property! I was lucky enough to get an OK to come back to the building for this mega special occasion and use their gorgeous clubroom with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline as our venue. This luxury, full amenity building in the West Loop has a stunning clubroom with kitchen, two flatscreen tv’s, pool table (which I covered — can you guess where?), massive outdoor terrace, swimming pool, fire pits, and beautiful décor. It made for the most luxe starting point I could have asked for to build out our theme and host this momentous occasion.
Here’s a little peak at that view I mentioned… I mean, WOWZA.
Taking the rooftop clubroom space from upscale chic to Surfertown USA was no easy task and it called for a serious army of event décor pros. So, I called in the big guns, Paris312 and Gromeza Floral Design Studio. Yep, we needed not one, but two décor teams to help execute some pretty major focal elements and bring our theme to life. They both worked with me (um, tirelessly I might add) on coming up with some really spectacular ideas – some I never even thought possible – to give us a California Dreamin’ paradise beyond our wildest dreams.
Paris312 focused exclusively on balloon design and created a balloon wall photo backdrop that literally made my, well, everybody’s jaw drop. It was made to resemble an ombré sea of ocean colors with little foamy elements, glittering touches, and palm fronds peeking out. Brilliant doesn’t even begin to describe how this came together. In addition to this wall of beauty, Paris312 also did a personalized balloon wall – in gold, of course – over a seating banquette, a garland of more ombré balloons on our sweets table, and a TON of gigantic balloons with playful tassels and palm fronds attached to them all over the room. GLAM!
If you ever want to make anybody smile… I don’t care if it’s kids or adults, get balloons, lots and lots of balloons for your next event. It works like a charm and gives everything a little extra touch of whimsy.
But we couldn’t stop at balloons, not when there was still so much ground to cover! We needed to jazz up the buffet, hide that pool table I mentioned, and add a ton of additional beachy touches and personalized elements that would bring California straight to the midwest.
Enter the brilliant Ozzie, mastermind behind Gromeza Floral Design Studio. My mantra for most of this party became “In Ozzie I trust” because of all of the crazy, late night texts we would exchange where he would send me some wild idea that I never thought could actually happen (like he was going to hand-make a surfboard) and then poof!, the next day he was sending me a screenshot of him in his studio working away on a custom, hand-cut surfboard.
Bottom line: he gets shit done. Pardon my French.
There was not a single detail not thought of by Ozzie… from the STUNNING West Coast-inspired floral, to the custom lettering spelling ‘Blake’ for the dessert table, to the coconut bowls for the garnishes on our buffet, to the palm fronds beneath our party favors, and all of the cheeky signage, beach chairs, surfboards, and floaties galore, I literally cried when I saw it all completed. Our vision had not just come to life, it had been completely blown of the water.
And speaking of that gorgeously-adorned buffet, wondering what was on it? If you had to guess what food goes with a California Dreamin’ theme what would you say?
Did you guess tacos… and guac… and salsa, oh my?! Eric and I are positively loco for tacos and we went with our local favorite, Big Star, to cater the event. We couldn’t think of anything tastier than an amazing DIY taco bar and a little limeade and margarita action for our guests to munch and imbibe on. They have the most delicious taco selection, and we went with three variety: the al pastor, de panza and pollo with all of the fun accoutrements and sides! If you’ve ever been to either their Wicker Park or Wrigleyville location, you know that you can not go wrong with Big Star, ever.
And last but certainly not least, the DESSERTS! Is there anything better than a table full of them? Go ahead and think about it, I’ll wait.
I worked with the incredible Toni of Toni Patisserie on the desserts for a sweets table that was truly out of this world. The custom designs that Toni and her team created were almost too pretty to eat… almost. We had rad cookies in the shapes of palm trees, waves, woody cars and surfboards, cake pops adorned with flip flops, and the most darling shark fin cupcakes you ever did see. And then there was the cake.
Have you ever seen something so gorgeous? The pictures hardly do it justice. Toni Patisserie killed it with a three-tier ocean waves and edible sand masterpiece that held a delicious buttermilk cake with chocolate custard inside and a few special personalized elements for Blake. It was gorgeous and delicious, and most certainly my to-die-for bite of the day.
Of course, we made sure to get a little something extra from Toni so that we could partake in the highly anticipated first year smash cake rite of passage. To say it went exactly as one might expect would be a bit of an understatement…
The day would not have been complete without our amazing guests, family, and one of my good friends (and super talented photographer), Rachel Bires (@rach.bires) spending the day with us and celebrating one very special little guy.
It was so incredible and heart-warming to see so many of our favorite people and most loving supporters there to celebrate Blake and what this last year has meant to us and our family. Having a baby changes everything. Literally every single thing about your life. It challenges everything you know – or think you know – about the world and flips it right on its head. How can somebody so small transform you in a way that is beyond big? It’s not an answer that is found in just year one.
This event was the culmination of a year filled with much laughter, lots of love, even more tears and very little sleep. The party was fun, but the people there are what made it magic.
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