Most wedding features seem to be geared towards the lovely ladies — time to switch things up. “Calling All Men, This One’s For You — A Groom’s Perspective.” Join us as we take a deep dive into the mind of a married man who has tried-and-true tips for making the wedding process a breeze for a groom.
We caught up with groom, Conner Carrick, who tied the knot just a few years back. Connor and his bride Lexi worked alongside CEO/Founder Tom Kehoe of KEHOE DESIGNS to create a wedding where not only friends and family would enjoy themselves, but the bride and groom could indulge on their wedding day.
Share this with a groom-to-be, and it’s time for him to take notes!
1. Let’s kick it off: what was the most important part of the wedding process for you?
Now, looking back on it, the actual planning for the wedding was the most enjoyable for us. My wife Lexi is a natural-born hostess, so the focus of the entire time is how we could arrange a party that our friends and family could really enjoy. And of course, we wanted to be able to enjoy our guests at the same time.
2. What were you most excited about for your wedding day?
I was the first groom to take “that plunge” amongst my immediate friends and family, and I was just really excited to see everyone experience this with us for the first time. It was the anticipation. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving when you’re able to throw something like this together. We were so fortunate to be able to host a wonderful wedding that everyone seemed to enjoy — long after the day had come and gone.
The best part of our night was the overall party, dancing, and the quality of the speeches. Both fathers really stepped up, as did Lexi’s sister and my brother. I personally underestimated just how celebrated we could feel. Our closest friends and family were dedicated to one thing the day of our wedding: ensure Lexi and I had a great time, and we truly did.
3. Did you have an opinion on the look and feel of the room/ceremony/reception? Certain style?
We were expecting about 150 people and the venue was pretty big, so we wanted the flow to work — the flow of conversation between tables, the flow of people on the dance floor. The overwhelming feeling after the wedding was all the people that we worked with really delivered on our expectations. From The Langham to our photographer, even the weather turned out for us! We thought KEHOE DESIGNS did an unbelievable job in terms of understanding what look we were looking for.
4. How did you guys discover KEHOE DESIGNS?
My strength coach, Ian Mack, had been Tom Kehoe’s personal trainer for several years. And he was like, “Hey. I know a guy!” And I was like, yeah, I take your advice on many things, but wedding design? I wouldn’t call that his strong suit as Ian’s not married. I was a little hesitant at first but so glad I did as Tom, and his team were great to work with.
5. How did you decide on the size of your wedding?
It was challenging because I come from a big family, and have now played for different hockey organizations, naturally your group of friends continues to expand. We knew we wanted more of an intimate wedding. There were so many people we wanted to invite, but knew we had to reign it in as guest count can quickly go from 150 to 300 really quickly. We just kept in mind that we wanted our guests to be able to mix and mingle with all the other guests with comfort and ease.
6. Band or DJ? Any special requests that had to be played?
Both! We went with a blend of DJ and band. We chose BKO for our band, and they played until midnight. The DJ stayed the whole evening — until 2AM. It was quite the party! For our first dance, we played Chance The Rapper + Francis and the Lights “May I Have This Dance.” Our first dance was coordinated, so Lexi and I rehearsed it quite a few times to make sure we got it right. That really got the party started.
It was really helpful to go through the music selection process with BKO, as wedding playlists are their forte. We told them the general vibe we were looking for, explained the demographics of our crowd, and then let them guide us as to what would kill it vs. which music would just be a buzzkill.
7. Food? Any advice for the tasting?
Our goal was to try to cater to everyone’s palates, giving everyone an option that they would really enjoy in terms of mains and hors d’oeuvres. We stayed away from dishes that Lexi and I really loved but knew wouldn’t be universally popular. Also, steered clear of flavor profiles that were personal favorites but could be thought of as too strong or sharp and opted to go with options that were more widely approachable.
8. Let’s talk booze. Any specialty cocktails? What had to be at the bar?
We had a full, open bar. You could get a cocktail at any time during the party. We did rosé and sparkling water before the ceremony and then offered wine with dinner. We then served espresso martinis after dinner for an extra boost — caffeine to jumpstart the party atmosphere.
9. What did you wear? How did you choose?!
I wore a custom-made tux from ESQ Clothing — as did my groomsmen. That was my gift to them. They did a great job in the tailoring process, and I’d done suits with them prior, and they do a nice custom suiting, which is the best way for me to go because of my build as a hockey player. There’s not a lot off-the-rack that fits me. I wanted something that could stand up to and complement my bride. In the end, I chose a look from the groom lookbook that the tailors sent — where the guy was sporting sleek slippers, no socks, and this sharp-ass look.
As for my day of wedding attire, I did the entire thing. Lexi had an idea of what I was wearing before the wedding, we talked about it a little bit, but really, I did the whole thing. I knew I was going to be standing up in front of all our friends and family, besides Lexi looking so stunning that I had to bring my A-game. So, I had a custom liner put in the tux, which was a picture from our engagement. Also, had the date sewn into it as well. I opted for a bow tie, which Lexi wasn’t a huge fan of at first, but then she loved it. As the groom, it was also a big day for me. I wanted to look the way I wanted to and had faith Lexi would like it. And she did.
10. Had you seen your Lexi’s dress before THE DAY?
Our first look was before the ceremony because that’s when we took our photos. We decided to do pictures ahead of time, so we could seamlessly enjoy the company of our guests rather than having to steal away for a while to take them. The first look during the ceremony is special, and I understand it, but we both enjoyed digesting the day in smaller bites, and that was one of them. We were able to appreciate the reveal in and of itself, which was really awesome.
11. What would you tell other grooms to pay attention to in the wedding process?
Grooms, you’ve got to listen for real. Whether you’re discussing band options or shoring up the budget, making it a process you go through together is sound advice I would give my friends and family. Really listen to your partner as you go through different options. The Devil’s in the details. Your attention to the details for your wedding starts before the actual day. While the wedding was such a big, important day, it’s the everyday work we put towards our relationship and each other that we’re most proud of.
12. Do you have any MUST DOS to share with grooms before the I DO on your special day?
The bride and groom need to find alone time. Find alone time to chew on what you’re about to do. Know the significance, take it seriously. We’ve talked a lot about facilitating a good time and a good party, but that’s not all that a wedding is. We take our marriage and the things that we’ve said very seriously. They’ve affected our lives and the lives of others for a long time.
Own the power of the day. Own how significant it is to so many people. So many people have been looking forward to this day and anticipating it on our behalf. Family members, grandparents…understand that it’s this massive snowball of positive momentum and love generated just for you.
13. Any final words for those grooms planning their wedding?
You’ve got to be realistic about the amount of time it takes to properly plan for this kind of event. If you wanted to throw a good-sized party for the holidays, it would take a lot of time. With a wedding you’re magnifying that party by how many times, depending on the price and size of your venue? It can be a massive event, and you’ve got to respect that and understand that it’s going to take time to do it right. The details aren’t just going to take care of themselves. You’ve got to give them the attention a wedding deserves.
WEDDING CREDITS: Photographer Kyle John, Design, Décor, Production by KEHOE DESIGNS, Lighting by BlackOak Technical Productions, Month of Coordinator by Samantha of Shannon Gail Weddings & Events, Venue The Langham, Band BKO.
Special thanks to Connor & Lexi!
About to pop the question? Are you or a friend planning the big day? When you know, you know. Let’s get started!
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Chicago, IL 60608