Real Wedding: Jen and Eric

April 24, 2015

Jen and Eric are a couple of Ohio natives who now call Milwaukee “home.” They met at a summer barbecue during medical school and were vacationing in August of 2013 when Eric asked Jen to marry him. “We went to Bar Harbor, Maine,” Jen says. “The first day we were there, we got up super early to watch the sunrise at Cadillac Mountain — it’s the first place in the continental U.S. where the sun rises. Once the sun was up and the crowd left, Eric proposed. It was perfect.”

Jen knew from the moment she moved to Milwaukee that if she ever got married while living there it would be at the Villa Terrace — and she was right. The gorgeous, Italian-style villa inspired her as she planned her wedding; she wanted the entire day to appear effortless and classic. In the summer of 2014, Eric finished his medical residency in Indiana and moved to Milwaukee, too. “We’ve really enjoyed exploring Milwaukee. We wanted to incorporate our appreciation and love of our new home via our wedding invitations and our guest book — a canvas with and outline of Wisconsin and a heart over Milwaukee. That was our one DIY project!” They also hired their new favorite neighborhood deli, Bunzel’s, for a rehearsal dinner of pulled pork and barbecue chicken.

The couple also wanted to represent Ohio in some way, so they got Buckeyes (chocolate and peanut butter balls) from Jen’s favorite hometown confectioner, Malley’s Chocolates, to give as wedding favors. Another way to rep Ohio: frozen custard. “After our very first date, Eric and I went to a frozen custard stand in Toledo,” Jen says. “Needless to say, we were both pleasantly surprised at Wisconsin’s obsession with frozen custard! Our favorite place to go is Gilles on Bluemound; we always try to go on our way home from Brewers games. We were thrilled they were able to create a custard sundae bar for our reception!”

The details came together perfectly for Eric and Jen’s wedding on a beautiful but slightly chilly day in mid-September. The entire event from the photos to the ceremony to the reception was held at Villa Terrace. The couple was wed outside on the terrace overlooking Lake Michigan, in full sunshine with sailboats gliding by. “Our close friends did readings, which was really special,” Jen says. “One of the readings was a quote by E.B. White about his experience marrying a Bryn Mawr girl. Since I went to Bryn Mawr College for my undergrad, my best friends and I vowed that we would have this reading done at our respective weddings — we’re three for three!” Jen doesn’t remember being nervous during the ceremony; after all, she and Eric had note cards with their vows on them. And the first kiss: “An amazing, sweep-you-off-your-feet kiss.”

Between the ceremony and reception, guests enjoyed a cocktail hour on the terrace and in the ballroom. Cocktails came complete with hand-served eats, catered by Zilli Hospitality Group — all incredibly delicious. Jen and Eric had their formal photos taken before the ceremony so that they could enjoy the cocktail hour and mingle with their guests. And these photos didn’t even feel all that formal — Anna Page Photography created a fun, laid-back experience for the entire bridal party.

Dinner was served in the Villa Terrace courtyard — something that turned out to be a learning experience for Jen. “At the time of planning, in my head, I thought dinner in the courtyard would be gorgeous! I envisioned everyone enjoying the weather, food, and each other’s company. What I didn’t realize is that in mid-September, the sun would be setting around dinner time — and once the sun goes down, the cold sets in. It was quite chilly, but our guests took it well. We all ate quickly, drank lots of wine and champagne, then moved inside to start dancing. Once I started dancing, I never stopped!”

The couple had given their DJ, Midwest Sound DJ Entertainment, a list of songs and different genres of music they wanted him to play. One song that really stands out to Jen is the father-daughter dance: “I’m very close with my dad. Walking down the aisle with him was very emotional — I’m surprised I didn’t start crying right there! But I ended up opening the floodgates during the father-daughter dance.” One great piece of advice from Jen: Wear comfortable shoes. Jen’s mom is actually a ballroom dancer, so she recommended ballroom dancing shoes — cute and sensible!

For dessert, the couple chose a red velvet cake from Simma’s for the cake-cutting ceremony. It was a small cake, since Jen actually loves sheet cake, that’s what they served their guests. They placed the sheet cake next to the Gilles custard sundae bar, encouraging guests to create a dessert masterpiece. All of this food coordination was a great reflection on the Zilli Hospitality Group; “They were easy to work with, especially with other vendors providing dessert.”

Aside from comfortable shoes, Jen advises brides-to-be to just be themselves. “When you stop trying to do what’s trendy or think about all of the expectations — of family, friends, dates-of-friends, coworkers — and start focusing on the things that are important to you and your fiancé, that’s when the magic happens.” Her other advice stems from money matters and honeymoon plans: “It’s okay to splurge on what is important to you and cut costs in other areas to stay within your budget. Also, Eric and I waited to honeymoon (in Maui!) until the winter after our wedding. Not only were we able to get away from the cold, but we also enjoyed planning and anticipating the honeymoon away from the craziness of the wedding. We’d recommend going this route for any Wisconsin newlyweds!”

Bridal Registry~Sur la table, Bed Bath and Beyond and Sears
Rehearsal Dinner~McKinley Marina Overlook with Bunzel’s BBQ catering the dinner
Ceremony & Reception Location~Villa Terrace
Caterer~Zilli Hospitality Group
Cake Designer~Simma’s (cake cutting ceremony), Sam’s club (sheet cake)
Flowers~Sendik’s in Wauwatosa
Invitation Designer~Aaron Sales
Music/Entertainment~Midwest Sound DJ Entertainment
Transportation~Complimentary transportation from Marriott Courtyard in Downtown Milwaukee
Photographer~Anna Page Photography
Dress Designer~Catheterine Deane from BHLDN
Formal Wear~Suits from JC Penney
Bridesmaid Dresses~Weddington Way with Kate Spade pearl earrings from the Bride
Wedding Bands~Mid-Continental Gems Inc in West Allis

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