Wedding Planner

Twice derailed by COVID, gift finally helps healthcare workers get married

Susan Smith and Zach Rosenfeldt came together when the industry they all love suddenly came to a halt, but their collective creativity couldn’t be contained even during a pandemic.

They brought flowers, balloons and lots of bubbles. The sight that drew curious neighbors to their windows had been dreamed up months earlier by a group of wedding planners and vendors.

“At the start of the pandemic, we were all sitting around as vendors and like most people, unable to do anything and feeling like our hands were tied and we felt really helpless, and yet these essential workers were doing everything they could for everyone,” said Jenny Barktus of JPB Designs.

So the team decided to pool their resources for a cause and offer one lucky couple – essential healthcare workers – their services and a place, all for free.

Love, the organizers decided, was also essential during a pandemic, and together they still had a lot to share.

So when Smith and Rosenfeldt returned home after another long shift in September 2020, the couple were greeted with a sparkling surprise.

Out of 150 entrants, with not one but two weddings canceled during Covid, winning the competition meant the couple were finally walking towards happier air.

“I was shocked because I didn’t think we were going to win in some ways,” Smith said. “I felt like there were so many people who deserved it, so knowing we were chosen was the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.”

Rosenfield cares for inpatients at the Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago as a clinical pharmacist practitioner.

“Making sure we’re using things in the right doses, using the right drug from a class of drugs,” Rosenfeldt said. mentioned.

Susan works at the same facility – in the Veterans Suicide Prevention Program.

“So our role here is to monitor and provide support to any veteran who has recently attempted suicide,” Smith said. “Throughout this process, we walk this patient through the process to make sure they receive improved care, seeing them more often.”

“They are so deserving and their work is fascinating,” Bartkus said. “They just gave and gave and gave, and we want to be able to give to them.”

Nearly 18 months after winning the ‘Love Is Essential’ contest, and with the work of dozens of talented salespeople on display at the Old Post Office in Chicago, Susan and Zach were ready to celebrate after the long road that it took to get here.

“I bought the dress before the pandemic hit and it sat in a bag for two years, untouched and unseen,” Smith said.

They even had a new addition to their wedding party – their daughter Shiloh who was born in August.

“It’s amazing that this wedding is finally happening,” Rosenfeldt said. “It seemed like it was just this fantastic future event that would happen one day, and now here we are. This is the reality.”

“We’re able to celebrate and have our whole family,” Smith said. “This is the first time I think our whole family has come together since the pandemic.”

Their dream wedding, made possible by generosity and kindness, was a success.

“Our hope is that this idea will become a movement and maybe other cities will adopt it,” Bartkus said. “We put the infrastructure in place and documented our process along the way so we could hand it over to another city and say, ‘Here you go. Take this and find vendors who can help you use it,” because it would be great to see it continue.

List of vendors who participated in the “Love is Essential” wedding contest:


Tricia Clarke Beauty @triciaclarkemakeup 773.377.5749


Tablescapes @tablescapeschgo 312.733.9700


BBJ @bbjlatavola


DeFloured @deflouredbakery


Enna Valley @valeofenna 614.377.1902

Yanni Design Studio @yannidesignstudio 770.815.3930

The dresser:

The wedding dresser @theweddingdresser


AEG @atmosphereeventsgroup 847.814.0223


The Old Post Office @post433events 847.682.0139


JPB Designs @jpbdesigns 312.771.7056


Something Blue Photography @somethingbluephoto 224.558.6854/847.845.6510


Blue Plate Catering @blueplatechicago 773.510.7706


Amp Event Professionals @ampeventproffessionals 630.267.3576

The musicians:

Jeff Livorsi 847.494.9131


Rabbi Evan 312.550.5665


Emanuele tuxedo rental


Simply Scripted Ink @simplyscriptedink


Vanilla @vanillechicago

Nothing Bundt Cakes @nothingbundtcakes


Cortland’s Garage @cortlandsgarage_ah

Revolutionary Beverage Group @breakthrubeverageil

Arizona Beverage Co @arizonabeverages

Haymarket Brewery @haymarketbeer

Maplewood Brewery and Distillery @maplewoodbrew

PepsiCo @pepsico