By Jenny Berg Posted November 3, 2011, 12:50 PM EDT
CHICAGO Wish Upon a Wedding is a nonprofit organization devoted to providing weddings and vow renewals for couples dealing with terminal illness and other life-altering circumstances. A Chicago branch of the organization launched in March 2010 and has since granted three so-called “wishes” for local couples. On Tuesday night, the group hosted its second annual gala at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel. Like Wish Upon a Wedding's board, the sell-out crowd included an ample amount of event-industry pros. The gala raised around $29,000.
“There is a lot of pressure when you have 260 people in the event and hospitality industry in one room,” said Ali Phillips, president of Wish Upon a Wedding and owner of Engaging Events by Ali Inc. “They see amazing events all week so they have a more critical eye.”
David Halsey of the Meetinghouse Companies, who serves as Wish Upon a Wedding's fund-raising chair, handled decor. Based on the popularity of '60s-themed television shows such as Mad Men, Halsey created a mod, black-and-white look replete with feather-strewn centerpieces and a light-up dance floor.
Another tricky thing about entertaining industry pros is that “often they are the ones working the events and are not able to enjoy the event [as guests],” Phillips said. “The challenge for our board was to make sure our guests learned more about Wish Upon a Wedding and our current and past wishes, but also to make our guests feel comfortable, enjoy a wonderful night, have fun, and be able to network.”
Activities ranged from posing in Shutterbooth Chicago photo booths to watching go-go dancers perform during cocktail hour. Illustrator Rosemary Fanti was on hand to sketch keepsake portraits, and guests could also create flip books in front of green screens from Record a Hit. The Becca Kaufrman Orchestra performed after dinner. Later, the Slideride food truck pulled up to the curb outside the hotel, doling out sliders as guests headed to the after-party at Bull and Bear.