We love featuring business connections that happen through the RNBA, and as a special events photographer, I was particularly drawn to the story of Board Member Aaron Zaretsky and Carrie Campion’s wedding at the Langham in December 2016. They had been together two years, and they both had a fairly clear idea of what they envisioned for their wedding. So although they had only been engaged since the fall, when Aaron spontaneously suggested they get married before the end of the year, Carrie was all in.
Like many of our members who serve on committees and the Board together, Aaron and Suzanne Gagnon, Director of Corporate and Leisure Travel Sales at the Langham, had developed a close working relationship. When Suzanne learned that Aaron and Carrie were planning their wedding, she asked if they had considered getting married at the Langham. Aaron said the seeds had already been planted at the 2016 Board of Directors meeting when Suzanne had arranged to use one of the Langham conference rooms. He had been quite impressed with the aesthetics and incredible hospitality, so he agreed to have Suzanne connect him with catering manager, Allison Kracatovich. “We’re going to take good care of you,” said Suzanne.
Aaron and Carrie had a site visit with Allison shortly thereafter and quickly made the decision to have their wedding at The Langham. Aaron said it was a “done deal” after the venue walk through. “It wasn’t a meeting; it was an experience. Allison is phenomenal at what she does, and I don’t say that lightly.”
The Langham made the Zaretsky’s feel like VIPs every step of the way, fully featuring the gorgeous space and amenities, including Travelle restaurant. Allison helped with all of the logistics - head count, seating chart, menu, and even some day-of coordinating. Aaron was picked up in a car service the day of the wedding. Many of their guests - some of them high profile - said it was one of the nicest weddings they had ever attended. The drapery, lighting, and decor were breathtaking. The food selections were delicious, and full of originality and artistry. Their hotel suite was so luxurious they didn’t want to leave! Aaron said, “Nothing was ordinary.”
Allison and her staff were also able to accommodate very specific needs for their Sunday morning wedding. They gave Aaron and Carrie options for everything, and they had a solution to every issue, even if they hadn’t done it before. Aaron credits the Langham’s flexibility to the relationship that he had nurtured through the RNBA.
Allison agreed that the process was much smoother going into the arrangements with someone familiar to them. She already knew what was important to them, and their sense of organization helped her to serve them even better. She said they were very understanding of the planning process, and she had a lot of fun working with them. They trusted her, which made the working relationship unique and rewarding.
The Zaretskys also looked within the RNBA for their rehearsal dinner plans. Aaron said it was important that they worked with someone on the Board because they bear the most responsibility in the Association. The restaurants, in particular, really go above and beyond for the RNBA, so he and Carrie felt strongly about investing back. Janine Bobko, Sales and Event Manager at Sullivan’s Steakhouse, also serves on the Board of Directors with Aaron. He already had great rapport with Janine, and with Sullivan’s reputation and the availability of their private dining area, he and Carrie knew it was a great fit.
Janine was very gracious and flexible with them. She went above and beyond. The food was superb, the customer service was incredible, and the staff went out of their way to make sure they had a great experience.
Janine said she felt like she was welcoming family to Sullivan’s because the relationship with Aaron and Carrie was already there. While intrinsic to Sullivan’s approach to “far exceed expectations daily,” Janine says there was a different comfort level with the Zaretsky’s and everyone was able to be open and honest about their needs.
“Sullivan’s is about every relationship,” said Janine. She recounted how a server once ran down the street to get a two liter of Pepsi for a customer who didn’t drink Coke; and how one of the managers learned that a patron’s daughter was new to Chicago and connected her to a property manager in a nearby building to help her find an apartment.
“We’re more than just a great steak and a glass of wine.” While in the planning process, Janine looked forward to their celebration in a different way and worked hard to make it memorable.
Aaron and Carrie said their expectations certainly were exceeded by both venues, and they were glad to have chosen Sullivan’s and the Langham.