The girl next door knew that her wedding would be the summer’s big experiment.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a wedding like ours, because of the different cultures and different religions,” said Elizabeth Razdolsky Michalczyk.
The 23-year-old Lincolnshire native and her then-fiance Jonathan Michalczyk, also 23 and from Lincolnshire, were the first from their two circles of friends to marry, so their ceremony and reception would be the testing ground that all of her girlfriends intended to study.
“We knew we were going to be the guinea pigs,” Razdolsky Michalczyk said.
But theirs was an opulent experiment: Razdolsky Michalczyk walked down the aisle June 21 wearing a dress that famed designer Chanel used in its 2012 runway show, and that aisle was at the Ritz-Carlton Chicago.
The ceremony included a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and several Eastern European nuances.
“Russian and Polish traditions are very similar, but the religions are very different,” Razdolsky Michalczyk said.
Elizabeth and Jonathan met at age 15 while attending Lake Forest Academy, but the attraction took three years to develop.
“We were, I guess, best friends, at first,” she recalled. “We were in all of each others’ classes, a lot of AP. We were kind of nerds.”
Something started to click the day that her older brother disabled the car; she learned that Jonathan lived close to her and started bumming rides to school off of him.
“Now, he accuses me of setting the whole thing up, but I didn’t like him at the time,” she said.
But a romance eventually began … and then college came. Elizabeth went to the University of Michigan, Jonathan to George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
“We both knew what we wanted, and we were very committed to each other,” she said.
The long distance and different majors — she will soon work at her father’s dental office in Buffalo Grove, he is an aspiring attorney — kept things interesting. In four years of flying monthly to see each other, the couple made it through some squabbles without ever taking a break or seeing other people.
Jonathan proposed on March 22, 2012. The quest for the dress began, and took Razdolsky Michalczyk to boutiques around Chicago and Ann Arbor … but the popular mermaid look was not working for her.
“I liked those, but I never had a moment where I was like, ‘This is the one,’” she said. “And they were all really expensive.”
The Razdolskys vacationed in Miami for Independence Day, and it was in the Chanel store that her father pointed out a short little number. Hurrying to try it on before the store closed for the day, Elizabeth opened her mind a bit.
“It was not extremely interesting,” she said — at first. “But once I tried it on, it was so much fun, how many shoes and how much jewelry went with the dress.”
She settled on Chanel pearls, and turned to other wedding details. Razdolsky Michalczyk credited planner Larissa Goldenberg with being instrumental in arranging a ceremony that blended disparate traits.
The couple brought in the Rev. Thomas Hurley from Chicago and Rabbi Evan Moffic from Highland Park as officiants. Marat World Entertainment combined the Eastern European musical traditions.
And they gave their guests plenty to study.
Razdolsky Michalczyk noted that one of her best friends will marry later this month, the other in May. Time will tell if she and Jonathan created a trend-defying or trend-defining event.