^ Melissa, one of my bestest friends in the whole world, surprised John and I and took us to Chicago last June as an early wedding present. Her boyfriend, Brandon, was there for work and she knew we've been wanting to capture the Chicago skyline for Ink the Print! She revealed the surprise via cake because that's her thing and she's excellent at it.
^ This was our view in the morning. We had arrived the evening before and had drinks on the rooftop and a late dinner at Fado (We love the Fado in Philly so of course we HAD to go to the Chicago one as well!)
The first morning in Chicago was a crazy emotional one for me. John and I were about to put an offer on a house we had seen back at home the day before so I was on the phone with the realtor several times that morning. I also got a LAST MINUTE appointment at the Chicago BHLDN to try on wedding gowns. Last minute, as in I got a phone call that morning and said aloud "Why is Chicago calling me?!?" It was BHLDN informing me there was a cancellation and we had less than an hour to get ready and be there. This was amazing because I had my heart set on their dresses and the closest BHLDN at home was in NYC and they were booked through August...and I needed to find my dress SOON. And lastly, as Mel and I were in the Uber car to the bridal appointment, my mom calls me to tell me my sister-in-law, Cara, was in labor and my soon-to-be niece or nephew was coming early!
^ BHLDN (pronounced BEHOLDEN) was so beautiful and perfect. Really, SO BEAUTIFUL, SO PERFECT. We drank champagne out of pretty cans and I tried on at least 10 gowns. The last gown was THE ONE. I knew it because Melissa cried and I didn't want to take it off. The whole time I'm trying on dresses, I'm thinking of my sister-in-law and brother and their child about to make his or her debut into our world. It was pretty surreal. Not to mention I was in Chicago for the first time and that champagne was our breakfast so we had a buzz going on.
^ We celebrated with more champagne when we got back to the apartment to get John. We cheersed to finding my dress, to Cara and Baby McWilliams, and possibly finding our first home. Oh, and to being in Chicago with my bestie and fiance! I remember swaying my long black skirt around the apartment pretending I was still wearing my new wedding gown. I couldn't stop smiling. I couldn't wait to marry him.
^ We went to Lou Malnati's for lunch so we could get some signature deep dish pizza. It was really good, but I spent the second half of the meal outside on the phone with our realtor about the house, and with the lady at BHLDN trying to change my payment method. While the payment method change was a success, the realtor conversations were not. The house ended up having some issues we did not want to get involved with so we decided not to pursue it. (Fast forward to present day, I'm so happy we didn't buy that house because we found our house a week later and it's perfect for us.)
^ Brandon's cousin plays for the Blackhawks. Pretty awesome.
^ Inside The Bean!
^ We had a lot of fun being tourists.
^ We were nervous the sky wasn't going to clear up that weekend...we had to get the skyline!
^ That night Brandon grilled us chicken on the rooftop and we also bought some Indian Food and Pierogies (because there was a place down the street called Pierogi Heaven and I needed it.) My kind of dinner! Afterwards, we stayed in and watched the worst/best movie ever, Zombeavers. And I finally got the text that IT'S A BOY, which I was already most certain about. My new nephew, Shane Robert (who we now lovingly call Shane Bob) was healthy and Cara was doing well, too!
^ Breakfast at Glazed and Infused!
^ We spent the second half of the morning at the Lincoln Park Zoo. I knew there was a good skyline view (minus the fog) and all three of us can't pass up a zoo visit. P.S. Brandon is working during day 1 & 2, hence why he's not in the pictures.
^ Then we went to explore the Old Town section.
^ In case you were wondering, this is what our tequila face looks like. Big Star was one of my favorite memories in Chicago. The only available seating was outside and of course it rained, but we had margaritas and tacos and we were on vacation!
^ Words to live by.
^ I was SO excited about Wicker Park because I love the movie, Wicker Park.
^ We stopped in at FatPour for an after lunch special of PBR & a shot of Malort. Malort is some weird stuff.
^ This is my other favorite moment in Chicago. And yes, I'm aware both moments involve tequila. The 7-Eleven across the street from where we were staying not only sold alcohol, but they had Patron for sale behind the counter. We couldn't resist.
^ Brandon took us out to dinner that night to Quartino. We ordered a bunch of small plates and tried all kinds of things. It was delicious!! I still dream about the seafood, the wine in tiny cups, and the never-ending pile of hot plates.
^ Then we went to a dueling piano bar and drank this big blue mistake. It was a blast.
^ It finally cleared up the last day we were in Chicago and we had a beautiful Saturday. John and I had to catch an early evening flight home so we squeezed in all our skyline photos. We went back to Lincoln Park to get a good shot.
^ Love him so.
^ Our future Chicago vacation home.
We visited Navy Pier (we were there first day, but it was not as pretty) and rode the Ferris wheel!
^ Then Melbabe & Colbabe spun in the revolving doors together one last time as we headed up to the apartment to grab our suitcases to go home. John and I bid farewell to Chicago and took the "L" train back to the airport. But first we struggled with how to get on it and ended up following strangers several blocks to find the right station. Tourists.
Chicago is one of those cities where I can't wait to go back because there's so much to do. We squeezed in a LOT for only being there for really only 2 1/2 days. A huge thank you to Melissa for our amazing early wedding present and to Brandon for housing us in his awesome work apartment.
Here are the Chicago Skyline coasters we have available in our shop now:
P.S. John and I went to visit Baby Shane the very next day...
^ Couldn't stop stroking those cheeks!