“Immediately upon our arrival, we fell in love with the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens as a wedding ceremony and reception venue. Without hesitation, we can say that Cuneo Mansion has been our favorite place to photograph in all of Illinois. Just as elegant as the historic estate itself was Alexander + Olya’s day, an early spring romance influenced by the couple’s Russian and European background. It was a beautiful commemoration of a longtime friendship transitioning to a lifetime as husband and wife.
The day started out with the bride and groom getting ready inside the mansion; Olya in the intimate, second-level bridal suite with just her mother, maid of honor, and delicate sequin-and-chiffon Vera Wang bridal dress. As she finished her look with a simple, sparkling headband and gorgeous jewels, Olya was not only glowing from the outside but also from within. It was easy to see that she was really looking forward to finally seeing her groom down the aisle.
While a small gathering of guests watched Alexander walk down the rose petal-lined aisle to wait for his bride, Olya exited the mansion and traveled down the stone-tiled walkway to meet her groom. She recalls that special moment:
“Walking down the aisle and seeing the face of my soon-to-be husband light up so bright when he saw me turning the corner was something I’ll never forget, along with the moments when I was standing next to my future husband saying “Yes, I do,” to each other, and when he carried me in his arms back down the aisle. It’s quite hard to even describe the day and the feeling you get when looking around and seeing those that you love all gathered together to support and celebrate your love. I could not imagine anything better.”
As part of their private estate wedding at the historic Cuneo Mansion, the two planned an exquisite outdoor garden ceremony among the infamous landscaped grounds. With the original landscaping developed by Jens Jensen, a world-renowned landscape architect of the early 20th century, the lush gardens and mature trees are an important part of the property’s significance. Framed by towering marble columns and a tranquil, turquoise reflection pool, the grounds are a true representation of an Italian countryside villa. So unique and elaborate is the property that the outdoor gardens, along with the reception hall, were both used in the 1997 film, My Best Friend’s Wedding.
While Alex + Olya viewed a number of venues, one of the main reasons why they selected Cuneo Mansion was the ability to use multiple rooms during the event. Following the ceremony, they held a formal and sophisticated Russian wedding reception initiated by a cocktail hour on the exquisite outdoor terrace and within the luxurious, gilded-in-gold music room. As the couple crossed the threshold of the estate and into the grand entrance, their family and friends showered them with gifts and then proceeded outside to the terrace for a ceremonial Russian loaf of karavay bread and wine. As the tradition goes, the bride and groom each take a bite of the bread, a drink of the wine, and then break the glasses from which they drank. The magical evening continued with dinner and dancing in the mansion’s illustrious Great Hall, a hallmark of the estate defined by 30-foot ceilings, retractable roof, stunning arcaded balconies, marble columns, and a vast collection of fine European artwork. Indoors and out, there were so many picturesque locations from which to capture the young, married couple. And even though A+O’s early spring celebration included a mix of sun and clouds, the rain held off until just after dinner began inside the Grand Ballroom… the lingering clouds gave us some dramatic photo opportunities while on the stairs outside of the pastel pink colored picturesque Cuneo Mansion. Mixing together the couple embracing and obvious passion for one another, with our intense lighting style, the gray moody clouds nicely set the mood for some luxurious, fashion inspired photographs.
Thank you Alex + Olya in booking us as your wedding photographers. It has been a pleasure getting to know you. Without a doubt, this was a long-awaited day for you both. With your story beginning long ago in Russia and well before Alexander’s educational plans brought him to the University of Chicago. From Alex, we’ll close this post with a recollection of their first meeting up until the engagement proposal:
“It happened when we were 13 in math and physics summer camp. I walked through the hall to my room when I saw Olya for the first time in my life. It was a while ago, but I remember it as it was today. Olya was talking with her friends and smiling so beautiful! That was the beginning. During the following 10 years, we were the best of friends. We lived in different cities, different countries, but we met every time we had a chance. In August 2011, Olya came to Chicago to visit me and I could not let her leave. I proposed to her after a month-and-a-half of dating…and now my best friend is my wife.”
Alex + Olya’s planning details:
Outdoor Ceremony: On the Mansion Gardens Lawn at Cuneo Mansion & Gardens
Reception: The Great Hall at Cuneo Mansion
Cocktail Hour: The Music Room inside Cuneo Mansion
Suits: Dolce & Gabbana + Zara
Bridal Dress Designer: Vera Wang
Bridal Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Bride’s Jewelry: Nadri + Swarowski
Bride’s Accessories (Sash): Vera Wang
Bands + Rings: Tiffany & Co.
Groom’s Cufflinks: Tiffany & Co.
Bridesmaid Dress: BCBGMaxAzria
Caterer: Bauer’s Catering
Cake: Oak Mill Bakery
Flowers: Petal Peddlers
Decor: Bauer’s Catering
Honeymoon: Dominican Republic
DIY Projects: Ring pillow made by mother of the groom
About Cuneo: Cuneo Mansion & Gardens are located in Chicago’s northwest suburb of Vernon Hills, a short drive from Chicago and just an hour from Milwaukee. Originally built in 1918 for Commonwealth Edison founder, Samuel Insull, the historic estate was later purchased by John Cuneo, Sr., a wealthy Chicago entrepreneur operating a successful printing company, dairy farm, and other organizations. Cuneo Mansion is a prestigious, well-preserved home that keeps company with some of the area’s finest event venues. Some of our favorite venues include mansions, museums, stately houses, cultural centers, country clubs, estates, villas, wineries, and vineyards.