Real Wedding: McKenzie and Jason

March 27, 2015

McKenzie had a rule about not handing out her phone number to guys at bars — that is, before she met Jason. He had just moved to Milwaukee for his Ophthalmology residency and ran into McKenzie at the Milwaukee Ale House. With some friendly encouragement, Jason started laying on the moves. McKenzie enjoyed their chat but eventually went on her way, sticking to her rule about no-numbers-in-bars. She was on her way home when she reconsidered her policy, walked back to the Ale House, tapped Jason on the shoulder, and dished out her digits. Perhaps the fact that he understood and respected her no-numbers policy was what made Jason the exception; as McKenzie says, “Best rule I’ve ever broken.”

On the couple’s three-year anniversary, Jason planned a hot air balloon ride and the perfect proposal. But this is Wisconsin and the weather didn’t cooperate; high winds meant the ride was cancelled. But Jason knew McKenzie had her heart set on a hot air balloon, so he concocted the next best thing: a mammoth assortment of balloons bunched together in the shape of a hot air balloon! Jason went on with the proposal, and the two planned to finally take that hot air balloon ride this summer.

McKenzie and Jason planned a very intimate wedding with just 45 of their nearest and dearest. The vibe: classic elegance with a healthy dash of individuality. The couple made their own wedding invitations, starting at Broadway Paper. “We ordered custom calligraphy stamps and spent an entire weekend hand stamping each invitation with luxurious gold ink,” McKenzie says. “Jason then used his meticulous surgical seals, closing each invitation with a custom wax seal. I used the skills I learned in a calligraphy course to address each envelope.”

In keeping with the classic theme, the couple decided on white floral arrangements and décor. The bridesmaids selected their own dresses to create a soft ombre effect, and the groomsmen each wore a grey suit of their own. McKenzie wore two gowns: “I wanted something regal for the ceremony and something a bit sexier for the reception.” The couple had their first look at the Villa Terrace; this was one of McKenzie’s favorite things they planned. “It was such an intimate moment, and I’m so glad we took the time to spend a few minutes together before the day’s festivities began.”

Both the ceremony and reception took place at Bacchus. Jason’s parents are both ministers and Jason’s father officiated, making for an extremely personal experience. “Together, we have blended spiritual beliefs, so a ceremony that represented us both and felt authentic was really important. One tradition that we both felt moved by was the laying on of hands. It was such a powerful moment to have our loved ones encircle us, lay their hands upon our shoulders, and share their energy with us. We also had each guest bless our wedding bands.”

Another moment McKenzie will never forget: “Our wedding was outdoors overlooking Lake Michigan on an extremely windy day. As we were saying our vows, the wind gusts perfectly started to wrap my veil around Jason; it felt like our lives were literally intertwining.”

Good food was extremely important to Jason and McKenzie, which is the main reason they settled on Bacchus — they knew they wouldn’t be disappointed. “When we envisioned our wedding, the one constant we kept coming back to was our family and friends sharing an incredible meal. To this day, many of our guests remind us of how special and delicious the meal was.” The couple picked their favorite dishes, with a focus on perfectly cooked steaks. “One of the best parts about getting married at Bacchus is their timeless menu and the fact that we’ve been able to go back and have one or two of our wedding dishes regularly.” For dessert, in place of a traditional wedding cake, the pastry chef made each guest an individual strawberry-orange shortcake with Chantilly cream, candied orange zest, and fresh mint — each cake was as beautiful as it was delicious.

In lieu of a guestbook, Jason and McKenzie created a sort of blended marriage certificate/ketubah (a traditional Jewish pre-nuptial agreement) for the guests to sign. “We agreed on text that was important to the foundation of our relationship along with values we wanted for the lives we’d build together. Each guest signed the certificate to affirm that they would support us as we uphold these promises to each other.” The framed certificate now hangs in the couple’s home as a constant reminder of what was important to them on their wedding day and to carry that with them throughout their lives.

After the reception, McKenzie and Jason walked from Bacchus to the Pfister, where they stayed the evening in one of the hotel’s suites. McKenzie and her close girlfriends had actually stayed there the night before the wedding, too — to do “girly things,” says McKenzie. But heading back to the Pfister suite with her new husband offered an entirely different feel: “Walking through Milwaukee, the city we fell in love in, felt extremely romantic on our first evening as husband and wife.”

When it comes to wise words for brides-to-be, McKenzie’s advice centers around to the joys of an intimate affair. “Setting out to have an intimate wedding is hard,” she says. “Weddings can become really big, really quickly. We easily could have come up with a guest list in the hundreds, and narrowing it down to under 50 was a challenge. At one point, our plans started to spiral out of control with a growing guest list and larger than life details. We paused, set a process, and really began to go about plans as a team. I’m so glad we did — it laid the foundation for how we’ll make decisions in married life. This experience was a reminder to stop, take a break, and look at what is truly important.”

Wedding Registry~Macy’s, Crate and Barrel, Sur la Table
Invitations~Broadway Paper
Rehearsal Dinner~Le Reve
First Look~Villa Terrace
Ceremony and Reception~Bacchus
Cake Designer~Bacchus
Flowers~SKW Floral and Décor
Music/Entertainment~Ann Lobotzke
Transportation~Blackline Limousine
Photographer~Tru Studio
Hotel~The Pfister Hotel
Ceremony Dress Designer~Priscilla of Boston from Zita’s Bridal
Reception Dress Designer~Tadashi Shoji from Zita’s Bridal
Formal Wear~Hugo Boss
Rings~C.D. Peacock
Seamstress~Tina Cotton
Tailor~Oleg Yusufov

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