Martha Stewart Wedding Party Chicago 2014

Today we’re continuing our Martha-themed announcements! This Sunday we’ll be showcasing a chic seventies-inspired tablescape at the Martha Stewart Wedding Party at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago.

Our owner Natalie Walsh will also be joining a wedding style panel discussion led by Darcy Miller of Martha Stewart Weddings alongside fellow event trendsetters from Lovebird Events,, BHLDN, and Magnificent Milestones. Get your tickets to join us for some serious inspiration!


We had a great time seeing familiar faces and meeting new blushing brides last year and look forward to more fun on Sunday! Click on the image below to see a clip of the awesome experience we were a part creating last year.

MSWP Video

This year our chic seventies table will be decked out with some of our favorite groovy things plus style inspiration from Courtney Callahan Paper, BBJ Linens, and Tablescapes. Don’t miss this weekend’s Sunday soiree! Here’s a sneak peek of the retro glamour we’re dreaming up for you!

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Well, Hello Darlings! It’s impossible to sum up how busy we’ve been over the past year, how many gorgeous weddings we’ve taken part in and all of the wonderful and heart-warming festivities that we’ve been lucky enough to be a part of, but suffice it to say we have a lot of lovely events and news to share with you on our blog soon and we’ve MISSED you!

Here’s our Top 3 List to get you up to date…

1. We updated our entire brand and created an entirely new from top to bottom! We are thrilled to share never before seen events with you and more in depth information about what makes Hello Darling the perfect fit for fabulously styled parties from weddings and showers to corporate and private celebrations. Please wander through our new pages, photos, and videos and let us know what you think!

New HD Site Image

2. We’ve entered the world of Instagram! Yes, we’ve been cheating on our own blog with our new Insta-lover. She’s easy, requires less of our love and affection, and give us immediate gratification…it’s true. It’s been a great way to keep you all up to date in a beautiful stream of behind the scenes action and current happenings, but we promise that we’re now back in action and look forward to sharing more full coverage, the backstory, bigger (and sometimes NOT square) photos with you and miles of event style! Please join us on the pretty and adventurous daily inspiration feed that we love oh-so-much at xohellodarling (which is also our twitter handle) Please feel free to tag us in events that we take part in with you too! We love to share in the excitement.

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3. Amongst some amazing press that we’ve been thankful to be featured in over the past year, we recently got the exciting news that one of our very favorite weddings of 2013 will soon be seen in the Real Weddings section of …which of course made us giddy, as we are longtime Martha fans.

Okay, that’s just a petite recap, but there’s more amazingness to come! Tomorrow we have more Martha news for you all as well!

xo, The Darlings

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Intern Intro ~ Marielle Oestermeyer

by Marielle Oestermeyer

Hello Darlings! My name is Marielle Oestermeyer and I am so lucky to be interning with Hello Darling this summer. So far my internship experience has been amazing and I cannot wait to learn more from the ladies at Hello Darling.


I always seem to be mixing bold styled items with current classic ones and I like to define my style broadly as modern vintage. I love shopping at a wide variety of stores and I believe that this large range shapes my personal style. From season to season I like trying new trends to see how they fit into my aesthetic. This traditional grey couch accented with a printed black and white Boston terrier pillow and gold circular table are exactly what I envision for my first home. The space is perfect for curling up with my two silky terriers, Linus and Lucy. In this living space I imagine entertaining my friends and serving my famous blueberry cake on these timeless white cake stands. I love how ranunculus, peony, garden rose, freesia, gardenia, and dusty miller complement anemone, which is one of my favorite flowers, and I will be placing this arrangement throughout my future home.

Marielle HD Blog Collage

Floral arrangements offer the opportunity to create something beautiful and creative in a variety of ways. I love how each flower has a unique personality, much like each bride, and how these traits help shape the creation of a one-of-a-kind arrangement. This personalization is what drew me to Hello Darling and made me want to learn the art of floral and special event design, especially after seeing their flawless work on my oldest sister’s wedding. Hello Darling is also designing the floral and lighting for my middle sister’s wedding and hopefully one day my own! Working on constructing the perfect chuppa, floral arrangement, lighting, or any specific detail adds up to a large workload and I love the constant bustle of setting up each exquisite event. It is still early into my internship here at Hello Darling and I have already learned so much from these wonderful ladies and I am so eager experience more. Please feel free to introduce yourself to me at future events as I am so looking forward to meeting all of you as I intern at Hello Darling!

photos clockwise from top: Flowers via Hello Darling, Room design via Vintage Revivals, Blueberry cake via goodtoknow recipes, Cake stands via Style Me Pretty, Silky terriers photo via my personal collection.

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Hello Darling ~ 8 Darling Years

by Natalie
Eight years ago I was twenty eight, and decided that I had what it took to open a floral and event styling business (creativity, blind passion, strong work ethic, eye for the details, genuine interest in the happiness I could create for others with my talents, and a good dose of ignorance for what was before me…and a name).


It all began at a particular dinner with two of my closest girlfriends, Kathryn and Maria. Maria (a small business owner and particularly feisty Italian) asked me why I didn’t start my own business doing what I was so good at and had been doing for so many other businesses and friends for so many years. I defended my stance as I had with many others (and her) before with a long list of reasons that my life would change if I did: I won’t see my friends anymore (including them), I won’t have time to be with my boyfriend (now husband) or create a family, I wouldn’t make any money (true), I’d live in wedding world 24/7 (yep), and that I’d have brides calling me every day stressing me out (and making me smile) as they had for my employers, and that I’d no longer have anything to talk about with my friends but that…and so on. Maria wasn’t having it and exclaimed “Natalie, you could talk yourself out of anything! Why don’t you just try it and if you don’t like it you can quit!” I explained that the wedding business is not like that! If I didn’t like it I couldn’t just get out because it’s a cyclical business that never lives in the moment but rather always looks to the following six months to a year for survival alone. Kathryn, who was then a stationery designer, basically agreed with what I was saying but also encouraged me if it was what I wanted to do and said she’d help and support my decision.


Then, for some reason I cannot recall, we decided that it would be fun to name this pretend business. The next couple of hours went by as we threw out endless ideas, avoiding anything with my name or the name of a flower or anything overly specific in case in the business I wanted to branch out in different directions such as photo styling, fine art photography, or planning. As we drove home exhausted from our pretend plans I said, “I want something that’s old Hollywood..something that you’d answer the phone 'hello darling'.” And that was the beginning. We shrieked, we laughed, that was it! Hello Darling! That had to be it and it had to be MINE! I immediately checked that the name wasn’t taken in the Illinois LLC database and began months of font research and worked on branding ideas while attending small business workshops and talking to people about my decision. This was scary and not everyone supported my big idea though they’ve all come around since. It was unplanned in many ways and underfunded in all.


I was working “for myself” as a photographer for years before this while freelancing as a floral designer, and at the time was working my first full time job for someone else, managing the shop for my friends at Stems. Since college I had been shooting weddings, fine art, fashion, and interior photography for local fashion designers like Michelle Tan and interior designers such as Nate Berkus. This wasn’t my first leap of faith or the first time I’d placed myself under great pressure out on my own. I had little to no idea what I was going to be doing in this new business besides working really hard to make things as gorgeous as possible and clients as happy as possible. Besides my creativity and design experience, basic knowledge of marketing and branding, my organized and type-A personality, and my base of vendors and trusted design assistants, I had almost no accounting experience beyond simple invoicing and contracts from previous photo clientele. I wasn’t aware of what might be on the other side of the door and it was terrifying and exciting while I was opening it. If I had known the challenges that were waiting for me it’s hard to say whether I would have done it. Looking back, I now think that an entrepreneur may be a visionary with little regard for the obstacles hiding on the horizon and tons of guts and commitment required to reach for the glory of the dream.


Having never sold events of my own I was shy in my meetings and really didn’t know what to say to clients at all at the start. I had loved creating the bouquets and décor that was sold to clients by my employers for years and had the vocabulary and experience to describe those things but I hadn’t actually had to sell them, or for that matter, to pay my bills based on my sales. To get beyond this fear and to get more organized in my approach I made a flower planner which helped me and my clients have a base from which to work and talk. Little by little I set up systems. Little by little my events grew and along with it the hours I worked, the team I depended on, the vendors that supplied my product, the ideas I was challenged to create, the advertising budgets, office size and décor, method of transportation to events, everything. I’m not one who is ever satisfied with the current state of affairs. I want it to be bigger and better. I want it to shine and for my entire team to be proud of what we do and for every single client to fall in love with what we create for them and of course, to like us too. To some that may not be sane or realistic, but it is what I expect.


After eight years I can say with great pride that we have never sold the same event to anyone ever. I wouldn’t bother working this hard to simply recreate cookie cutter events. Though recreating events takes less prep and thoughtful design time and turns a bigger profit, that’s never been my driving force and would never satisfy my creative soul or make our clients events feel like they do. My driving force is my passion for beauty and for making other people happy by making truly stunning, breathtaking, natural and original displays of art with the very best products I can get my hands on and that will never change. This takes hours of work, and yes, hours of phone calls with my clients (who are amazing), but all of it is worth it and shapes the beauty we create in the most personal ways. Because the time we put in and the dedication to the relationships we form with our clients we’re known for creativity, quality, tailored details, customer service, and honesty. Plus the words magical and whimsical come out of the mouths of our clients when they step into the environments we create for them.  I used to have a hard time digesting these fantastical words, or maybe believing them, but now they make me smile. I love that we make dreams come true. I really do.


Because of what I’ve built with so many supporters along the way, the hundreds of clients we’ve made happy and the thousands of guests who’ve felt special walking into the events we’ve been a part of, I’m proud to say that I own Hello Darling and without it and the last eight years I would never have had the pride to claim my own work like this. I never walk out of one of our events without thinking that it would be great to actually sit down at one of the tables as a guest and slowly take it all in as the evening unfolds. The whimsical fantasies that we create for our clients to hold, and look at, and breath in for a day turn into magical memories for years to come, so I guess it’s true what our clients say.


It literally makes me cry to proofread this. I guess I just wanted to share our little history with all who’ve been a part of its making for these last eight years and for those who are just getting to know us and shape our destiny now. Every one of you, whether a client or a colleague, family or friend, has changed my life and so many lives forever and will continue to. You’ve given me pride and joy in ways I had no knowledge of before and the rest of my history has a lot to live up to. For this I thank you, so very much. Eight years and counting…
Xoxo, Natalie

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Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party in Chicago

by Natalie

Hello Darling and Courtney Callahan Paper had a blast at Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party which came to Chicago for the first time on March 10th. Though we don’t normally take part in wedding shows, the name Martha Stewart certainly piqued our interest at the invitation (okay, we’re serious Martha fans) and we thought it was the perfect time of year to show what has been starting sparks in our creative hearts for upcoming trends, palettes, patterns, and stylish touches for events.

Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, reception vignette

We decided upon a boho-chic garden vignette beneath a softly draped, vine-wrapped canopy featuring a sweet little table set for eight. The colors (corals, bright jewel purple, vibrant blues, and white) were our initial inspiration, then the mix of ikat patterns, ball fringe, garden blooms, and vintage place settings set our wheels in motion. We loved the color and texture of the shantung linens from Private Label Linens and the crystal chiavari chairs and simple Eno glassware from Tablescapes complemented the entire look seamlessly!

Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, detailsHello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, ranunculus

A runner of delicate glass bud vases were filled with primo spring blooms of peonies, ranunculus, and anemone accented by fiery little gloriosa lilies, draping jasmine vines, and soft davallia fern.

Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, place cards

Courtney created these darling citrus slice place cards for each guest and petite accordion pleated menus which were both a huge hit. How amazing are these?!

Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, accordian menuHello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, table numbers

After scouring local thrifts for each layered place setting we hand painted vintage flatware to coordinate with the bright pop of color brought in by the napkin, bundled them with silver rick rack and Courtney created a contrasting but complementary pattern on the table number which added more interest to the décor.

Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, settingphoto 3

Behind our table a stylish bar was set using Hello Darling’s reclaimed wood bar, complete with Courtney’s custom “celebrate” signage set into the bar front (which we can custom design to suit all celebrations). Courtney also created these sweets favors set atop Hello Darling’s vintage silver serving tray.

photo 1Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, bar decorHello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, signage Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, lanterns

Courtney’s signage and a petite sampling of her invitation prowess were displayed amongst ribbon wrapped flutes, a mélange of silver mercury and milk glass candlelight and fresh blooms nestled between our silver lanterns and blooming branch arrangement atop lucite and wooden pedestals.

Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, bouquet

I designed a hand-tied bridal bouquet of coral charm peonies, apricot ranunculus, white anemone, white lilac, white hyacinth, and white garden roses accented by jasmine vine and tied by a navy sash to complement our décor.

photo 5

Thanks to Amanda Hein for the photo! We were thrilled to have our bouquet also showcased at the CBS morning news segment covering weddings trends where Anthony Luscia, Special Editions Editor of Martha Stewart, spoke about our flowers and Courtney’s paper.


We were excited to say hello to fellow wedding colleagues (Amanda Hein of Amanda Hein Photography and Élan Villamor of I Do Films, on the left and right of me) and the Martha Stewart Weddings team Amy Wilkins, Darcy Miller, and Anthony Luscia. We were extra excited to have MSW editor Darcy Miller photograph and tweet our table! photo 4

Darcy Miller Tweet

photo 2Hello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, settingsHello Darling   Courtney Callahan Paper at Martha Stewart Wedding Party, table runner

We can’t wait to unveil more of our collaborations with our studio mate Courtney Callahan and our fabulous clients later this season!

Happy Spring!

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Boutique Bites Fab 5 Years!

by Natalie

Last night we celebrated with our friend Elaina Vazquez as she toasted to five fabulous years since opening her fashion-forward foodie-centric catering company Boutique Bites. The event was held at Chicago Illuminating Company’s newest space and was filled with chic black and white décor designed by fellow design gal, Renee Price of Kehoe, ultra adorable paper designs by Laura Manteuffel of Elizabeth Grace and stylish rentals were provided by Tablescapes and Private Label Linens. Congratulations Elaina and team for all you've accomplished and thank you for the perfectly petite bites and delish sips you created for last night's celebration! I had so much fun taking pics of all your thoughtful details.

LOVED the black and white polka dot balloons!

Photographer for the evening’s festivities, Amanda Hein, took a break for a little silliness amidst the balloons with me.

Mini Sangria?? Yes, please!!!

Even a hamburger is tastier at this BB mini size!!

Cheers! We look forward to the celebrating the perfect 10!

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Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party in Chicago

by Natalie

Our new roomie Courtney Callahan moved in this past weekend and we’re already kicking our wedding styling magic into collaborative high gear. We’re creating a fabulous wedding reception vignette (okay, it’s essentially a booth, but that’s not pretty enough to describe what we have coming up for you) at the upcoming Martha Stewart’s Wedding Party in Chicago! We’ll be forecasting the trends to come in floral, linens, tabletop, structures, accents, and paper, using the freshest color palettes and patterns that are absolutely wedding dream worthy. Grab your tickets soon and stop by our display on March 10th for tons of one-stop shop inspiration from Hello Darling and Courtney Callahan Paper!

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Hello Darling + Courtney Callahan Paper

by Natalie

I’m SO excited to make this LOVE-ly announcement on Valentine’s Day!


Our friend and invitation maven, Courtney Callahan Papers, has joined our studio, making 450 North Paulina Street one hot spot for full event styling if I do say so myself! You can set up appointments with either of our companies individually, as you have in the past, or double the fun by setting up back to back appointments for your décor and paper needs! Rest assured that together we’ll leave no event detail un-styled!

We look forward to many collaborations with our fab clients on the horizon, meeting new friends, and watching where cupid bends his arrow next.

Cheers and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Surprise “I Do’s” At Spiaggia

by Natalie

I have always wanted to attend or throw a surprise wedding where the guests have no idea that they’re going to witness two lovebirds say I do and on Saturday we got to do just that! It was a very intimate celebration with only sixteen guests witnessing the wintery bliss of our bride and groom while looking out over Chicago’s lakefront from the private dining room of Spiaggia. White tulips, hydrangea, dendrobium and phalaenopsis orchids, birch and manzanita branches, metallic touches, warm neutral linens and candlelight set just the right tone for this romantic evening and our custom designed place cards stylishly guided each guest to their seat at the cozy dining table. Congratulations to Alyssa and Matthew! Thank you for making us part of your very special surprise! xoxo

Hello Darling - Phalaenopsis orchid and hydrangea bouquetHello Darling - Place card bandsHello Darling - Hydrangea and tulip bouquetHello Darling - Modern candlelit branch archHello Darling - Modern candlelit runner of blooms and manzanita branchesHello Darling - Place card bandHello Darling - Modern candlelit tablescapeHello Darling - Phalaenopsis orchid boutonniere

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Hunter’s Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah

by Natalie

Hunter’s Bar Mitzvah was one of a kind thanks to the inspiration of his very stylish and creative mother. She wanted his celebration to be boyish but modern, cozy, fun, and adult friendly without being over the top. She started by booking the modern and ecofriendly Greenhouse Loft venue then began her search for vintage sporting goods for her son’s party. She combed antique shops, EBay, Etsy, Jayson Home & Garden, and Chicago’s Randolph Street Market, coming up with some amazing vintage loot!

Hello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, baseball and orchidsHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, baseball basketHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, baseball bat

She came to us a couple of weeks before the event with loads of amazing props and asked that we bring the tables to life in an organic, rustic, fall meets vintage rugged sports, natural touch sort of way. She had already purchased these awesome striped linen runners and sweet napkins, hangtag table numbers, and had rented farm tables and custom-designed rustic chairs with linen seats created for her by one of our fabulous local rental companies, Tablescapes and we were excited by everything that she had put in motion.

Hello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, branches and orchidHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, bowling Hello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, bowling bagHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, bells of irelandHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, trophyHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, bowling ballHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, bark and textural arrangementHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, baseball table

Organizing unique props into artful displays is one of my greatest passions, and this event was no exception. I loved bringing my photo styling talents and photography together, creating and shooting every unique table and all the little vignettes that we assembled with the objects.

Hello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, baseball mittHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, skateboard on crateHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, bark vasesHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, boxing glovesHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, football helmet

From hockey and baseball to skateboarding and tennis, Hunter’s mom chose an amazing array of interesting items. She even made this darling pennant banner which we strung from trophy’s on his table.

Hello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, flagsHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, football trophyHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, footballHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, lanterns

Fresh moss, orchids, berries, fern curls, succulents, and scabiosa pods meandered along the tables between the props with driftwood, manzanita branches, and fun textural arrangements in bark wrapped vases and candlelit mason jars and lanterns.

 Hello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, hockeyHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, mitt and ballHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, pool and skateboardHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, punching bagHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, roller skatesHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, succulent and berriesHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, table collectionsHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, tennisHello Darling - Organic   Vintage Sports Bar Mitzvah, bark wrapped florals

I would have been happy if it was MY birthday but we also got approval from Hunter and his mom along with everyone who came in oooing and aaaaing over the unique concept. We had a great time working with our friend Denise from Entertaining Company, who did an amazing job, and enjoyed meeting the day of planner, Rochelle Baker. Go Team!

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