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Tamina Sheikh and Leo Friedman say “I do” at the Chicago Botanic Garden with family and some four-legged friends.

Tamina Sheikh and Leo Friedman, July 20, 2012

Bright-toned flowers and birch-wrapped pillar candles made up this arrangement by Erin McDonald.

Cocktails from the couple’s mojito bar

The reception setting at Chicago Botanic Garden

Guests plucked their place cards from an antique door.

Avigail and Nutella Bar-sef, the groom’s nieces, walked the aisle with the couple’s dogs.

Tamina Sheikh, then a Dallas resident, connected with Leo Friedman the old-fashioned way: through Facebook. “My sister and I came to Chicago for a vacation, and Leo noticed us out one evening and invited us to hang out with his friends,” Tamina says. “We became Facebook friends that night (thank goodness for Facebook!), and the next day he took me to dinner at Le Colonial. It was an instant connection.” Despite conflicting geography, the couple quickly learned they had a lot in common. “We both love to travel, love sports, the outdoors and reading—and our dogs,” Tamina says. “We were having so much fun together that the distance wasn’t that difficult.”

But by the next summer, the two were ready to take the next step, and Leo came up with a plan to ask Tamina to marry him. “He originally wanted to propose on the flight from Dallas to Chicago while we were over Oklahoma, where I grew up,” Tamina says. “But I fell sound asleep, so he had to come up with another time that we would be alone that weekend, and we had a wedding to go to. At the wedding, he took me to a private room and got down on one knee. It was magical. We didn’t want to step on the bride’s toes, so we snuck out and went and had Champagne and celebrated, just the two of us.”

After deciding to make their home in Chicago, the couple chose the Chicago Botanic Garden as their wedding location. “Leo and Tamina really wanted the wedding to be personal and to reflect their heritage and who they are as a couple,” says wedding coordinator Ali Phillips. “They picked the Chicago Botanic Garden because they love the outdoors and used to walk there as a couple after work.”

The wedding was full of sweet details, including Tamina’s lovely lace Monique Lhuillier wedding dress and her gorgeous bouquet, a mix of roses, peonies, stock, Veronica and lisianthus, designed by Chicago’s Erin McDonald. “It was feminine and soft, much like Tamina’s personality,” Phillips says. Two old doors with pictures of Tamina and Leo growing up acted as an escort card display. “It was a nice way to signify the door to their future,” Phillips says. And the couple paid tribute to Chicago Botanic Green Youth Farms with cards on each table explaining that the salad greens were grown by the students in the program.

But all that sweetness was countered with some heavy doses of high spirit. A mojito bar got guests ready to party, the groom’s lava cake from TipsyCake actually exploded (“It was amazing and a total surprise,” Phillips says), and two of the evening’s featured guests were Tamina’s and Leo’s dogs, both of whom walked down the aisle draped in greenery. Despite all the memorable details, for Tamina, the highlight of the evening was marrying her groom in her new hometown.

“I would have never thought that I would meet the man of my dreams in Chicago, but here I am, and I love him and this city more than ever!”