Scores of soon-to-be brides, attendants and grooms attended the South Side I Do “wedding stroll” Sunday, browsing florists, caterers, planners and venues who set up shop in different businesses around Downtown Hyde Park.
Amy Allen, publisher of Modern Luxury Weddings magazine, organized the event with the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement’s UChicago Local economic development initiative. Allen also sponsors wedding walks on Oak Street in the Gold Coast and West Loop neighborhoods; this was her first event on the South Side.
Leslie McDavid, operations manager of the Vanille Patisserie chain, said the company’s founder Sophie Evanoff came up with the idea for South Side I Do, and that Vanille began emphasizing its wedding cake operation five years ago out of its flagship Lincoln Park location.
“We get a lot of clients on the South Side coming out to the North Side for our products, so I think it’s convenient for people all around,” McDavid said, adding that business at its Hyde Park location, 5229 S. Harper Court, open since December, is going well.
Lindsay Levita, owner of Cornell Florist, 1645 E. 55th St., said most of her work comes from commissions with the U. of C. but she is trying to build up her presence at weddings, which she estimated makes up a third of her business. She said South Side I Do had been a good way to network with other area businesses in addition to consumers.
Courtney Haywood heard about South Side I Do from a friend and was pleased to gather ideas for her wedding next November “and to see what the South Side has to offer, because “I do want my wedding on the South Side of Chicago.”
She said, “Being here definitely gives me more ideas, so I won’t be all over the place. It’s a good event.”
Allen was pleased to give customers like Haywood this opportunity.
“We find that brides really want to find unique places to have their weddings no matter where they live,” she said, suggesting that someone attending the wedding stroll from the suburbs may decide to have their wedding at The Promontory, 5311 S. Lake Park Ave. W. because of the event. “Our goal is really to spread the word out to the broader base.”