ON THE EDGE OF EVENTS—FEATURING MATHEW LAHEY—FLORAL WEDDING SOPHISTICATION

When Mathew Lahey started working at a floral shop five years ago—he pulled stock off shelves. “It was grassroots,” he says, “as I acquired new skills, my creative vision continued to expand and evolve within events.”

Just one year ago, Lahey brought his floral wisdom and keen design eye to Kehoe Designs. “When my wedding clientele discover that I have a floral background, they immediately feel more confident in my work,” he says.

When Lahey first meets with couples, it’s all about getting to know their style. “I want them to talk about themselves, and share where they are at in the wedding process,” he says. “I’ll look at their Pinterest boards and even some of their home furnishings. Those details clue me into the kind of people they are. It’s critical that their wedding is personal to them. This is their story, and I want to bring it to life.”

When clients see Lahey’s design work unveiled on the big dayit’s emotional. “They’re thrilled,” he says. “We’re in this business to make people happy. It’s essential to provide a level of service that ensures the event goes swimmingly. Not only the day of but every moment leading up to the big event.”

Lahey selected two very different weddings that he produced alongside Kehoe Designs’ founder Tom Kehoe. “It was an awe-inspiring experience with both clients,” Lahey says. “They were two very different couples. It was an honor that they both allowed us the artistic freedom to ‘wow’ them with our designs—personalized just for them.”

‘Give Us Ralph Lauren & Bull Horns’ 

Lynn and Sasha were one of the first couples Lahey worked with when he joined the team at Kehoe Designs. “This experience set the tone for the type of work I’d be doing,” he says of the Ralph Lauren-evocative wedding.

Kehoe Designs, Mathew Lahey, Event Design, Event Decor, Wedding, Wedding Design, Event Designer, Event Producer, Chicago Event Design Company, Floral Design, Floral Wedding DesignPhoto Credits: Design & Décor: Kehoe Designs, Mathew Lahey | Lighting & Sound: BlackOak Technical Productions, Maggie Glasser | Planning: Lola Event Productions | Photography: Soda Fountain Photography | Venue: Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

The wedding ceremony and reception took place at the Chicago Athletic Association. “It’s a gorgeous, ‘Old World’ space,” says Lahey, pointing to its white-plaster ceilings, ornate woodwork, tall windows topped with lighted stained glass and gray-tone marble flooring.

“This couple was open to the designthey wanted something stylized and enchantedwith a touch of whimsy,” he says.

The Ralph Lauren desert-inspired design added a twist to a traditional wedding: charcoal velvet linens, bull horns placed casually on the tables, and feather statues. “We exclusively chose décor details that mirrored the content within a Ralph Lauren magazine. Luxurious and timeless,” Lahey says.

Lahey and the Kehoe Designs team built a custom birch branch and wood chuppah as a focal point. “The chuppah added a unique wintery element with its bourbon colored branches,” he says. “Then, we wove gorgeous white floral and green garlands through the birch branches. To add another layer of elegance, we hung tiny glass votives overheadwhere the couple shared their vows.”

The chuppah gave the lavish florals center stage. “Mathew wanted a canopy to lend a natural element without distracting from the cascading blooms,” says Tara Hoffmann, Product Design Manager at Kehoe Designs. “We started with entwined birch legs and elevated them with custom branch-embellished bases for soaring height. Adding this twist to an element let us focus resources on what really mattered: floral for days!”

Behind the chandelier-topped chuppah, they created a sea of floating candles. “Lynn and Sasha expressed their love for candlelight,” he says. “We filled 150 glass vessels with different types of pillars and floating candles. It created this halo effect. A perfect way to add a moody ambiance to the room!”

Kehoe Designs, Mathew Lahey, Event Design, Event Decor, Wedding, Wedding Design, Event Designer, Event Producer, Chicago Event Design Company, Floral Design, Floral Wedding DesignThe Kehoe Designs’ team conceptualized this custom birch branch chuppah. Draped with wreaths of white flowers and greeneryideal for a December wedding. For a couple smitten with candlelight, Lahey and his team strategically placed 150 glass vessels with pillar and floating candles near the chuppah and throughout the celebration space.
Photo Credits: Design & Décor: Kehoe Designs, Mathew Lahey | Lighting & Sound: BlackOak Technical Productions, Maggie Glasser | Planning: Lola Event Productions | Photography: Soda Fountain Photography | Venue: Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Dreamy Wedding Floral & Candlelit Sophistication

Jamie and Danny were no strangers to exquisite entertaining. They have enjoyed Kehoe Designs’ work since the celebration of Jamie’s sister’s wedding at the same hotel that they’ve chosen for their big day.  

The overall look for Jamie and Danny was sophistication, with an unexpected modern twist. Lahey was tasked to design each celebrationceremony, reception and dance partywith a cohesive look. “We developed these amazing suspended florals that were made largely out of white hydrangea and drippy foliage. They were in place for the vows, dinner, and dancing,” he says. “We echoed these florals throughout the entire space: flanking the aisle, on the place card table, and on the reception tables.”

The bride wanted a romantic and candle-lit atmosphere. Lahey thoughtfully worked this concept into the design. He lined the aisle with flickering candles of varying heights and collaborated with the Kehoe Designs team to custom-build a stunning eight-panel Lucite candle wall. “The shimmering wall created a clean, glistening backdrop for the whole night,” said Lahey.

Kehoe Designs, Mathew Lahey, Event Design, Event Decor, Wedding, Wedding Design, Event Designer, Event Producer, Chicago Event Design Company, Floral Design, Floral Wedding DesignPhoto credits: Design & Décor: Kehoe Designs, Tom Kehoe & Mathew Lahey | Lighting & Sound: BlackOak Technical Productions, Jonathan Zani | Planning: Reva Nathan and Associates | Photography: KingensmithVenue: Four Seasons Chicago

Kehoe Designs’ Bridget Frizzie (Creative Director), Hoffmann and Lahey collaborated with the BlackOak Technical Productions team to create the structure. “Mathew understood that this piece needed to make a big impact,” Frizzie says, “so we brought a fresh perspective and created a killer silhouette.”

Hoffmann focused on the wall’s delicate geometric engravings and how the candlelight could best accentuate the surfaces. “We designed a frame for the candle wall that allowed us to extend the entire width of the stage,” she says. “It was backed with a mirror to double the flicker and flair!”

With dramatic hanging florals and the attention-grabbing candle wall, Lahey designed minimalistic centerpieces. The tablescape magic happened in Lahey’s choice of details: gold-rimmed clear glass plates, subtle sparkling linens, and bone velvet napkins adorned with greens. Votive and tall glass candle holders. Gold mini-vases encased in gold-rimmed lucite boxes.

When it was time for the guests to continue the celebration post-reception, Lahey transformed the entire room into a nightclub atmosphere. Party on! Bright colors scaled the room—amber to blue-fuchsia—the lighting projected energy towards the dance floor. “The space completely transported the guests into a raging after party,” said Lahey.

The personal style of each couple genuinely drives wedding décor and design. “It’s our job as producers and designers to combine the tastes of the couple paired with our attention to detail to produce their special day. We design all the aspects of the event, so clients can relax and enjoy the experience,” says Lahey.

Kehoe Designs, Mathew Lahey, Event Design, Event Decor, Wedding, Wedding Design, Event Designer, Event Producer, Chicago Event Design Company, Floral Design, Floral Wedding DesignA candle-lined, white-carpeted aisle topped with bursting blooms and greenery created an unforgettable path to “I do.”
Even the place card table made a stunning display, with a vase of overflowing blooms and greens. Photo credits: Design & Décor: Kehoe Designs, Tom Kehoe & Mathew Lahey | Lighting & Sound: BlackOak Technical Productions, Jonathan Zani | Planning: Reva Nathan and Associates | Photography: KingensmithVenue: Four Seasons Chicago

Quick Qs: Mathew Lahey

What are you looking forward to in your career as an event producer at Kehoe Designs? What do you see coming down the line?

ML: Soaking up as much information as I can. We’re always learning. I don’t think any event producer will say that they know everything, so learning becomes a fun journey. You watch what other producers are doing, and you follow trends. It’s an exciting time for me because creatively I’m always challenging myself.

I also love building my portfolioI look back at my events and remember the feelings they evoked in the couples and guests. I’m always considering what I might want to change in the future or repeat elements that just really worked.

What would you say are the characteristics of a powerful event producer or designer?

ML: You have to be in love with helping people and enjoy what you do. It can be high-pressure work. Also, this is one of the most rewarding industries. You need to challenge and push yourself. Self-awareness is key.

What’s a trend that’s informing your vision for events this year?

ML: We’re steering away from super-dense floral arrangements on tables. Instead, we’re headed toward more detail-oriented tablescapes. I lean toward using a collection of smaller items that play well with each other for maximum effect. This allows the table designs to feel more styled and finished. You tend to notice the smaller details, the more you look at each piece. Our team wants to give you beautiful and impactful designs.

Kehoe Designs, Mathew Lahey, Event Design, Event Decor, Wedding, Wedding Design, Event Designer, Event Producer, Chicago Event Design Company, Floral Design, Floral Wedding Design

Mathew Lahey
Event Producer
Kehoe Designs
Get Social, Follow Mathew: @mathew_lahey
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Behind the creative force of Kehoe Designs, there are artisans, craftsmen, and visionaries who create one-of-a-kind, memorable experiences for you and your guests. 
To begin your journey in the passion-filled world of event design & décor, contact us or call us for an appointment at 312.421.0030!
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