Photography by Tom Nicol

Sarah & Mike’s Lakefront Wedding at the War Memorial

September 18, 2018

Sarah and Mike, who met at their Crossfit gym, got engaged on the first night they spent in their new home together. “We were so excited to begin this next chapter of our lives,” Sarah says. “We agreed that on our first night, we would take some time to enjoy the experience out on our porch.” In the moment, however, Sarah was intent on unpacking more boxes. “Unbeknownst to me, Mike had already hidden the ring under the porch chair and lit candles in the yard. It took two hours of convincing to get me outside!”

Once there, Mike pulled out his bucket list journal, which Sarah had given to him for his birthday three years prior. “He read his top nine list aloud, then let me read the 10th: ‘To marry the girl of my dreams.’ I felt like the moment couldn’t have been more perfect, and I love that it was shared just between the two of us.”

Mike and Sarah planned a June wedding at the War Memorial in downtown Milwaukee. The ceremony was held at the Fitz Plaza with the reception at Memorial Hall. “The venue was remodeled over the winter, and although we were privy to the mock-ups, the results exceeded our expectations. The venue overall felt competitively priced, modern, and flexible. The on-site coordinator, Jennifer, was extremely patient and responded quickly to our many questions. She helped us find a few of our vendors and proactively addressed details of the day that we hadn’t even considered.”

On the day of the wedding, Sarah wore a Paloma Blanca dress from White Dress. Mike says one of the moments that sticks with him the most was watching Sarah walk down the aisle: “My heart was doing backflips.” Sarah says one of the best parts of the ceremony was their officiant. “We asked my 85-year-old grandpa to dust off his old minister robes and officiate our ceremony. He did an amazing job mixing tradition and religion with humor and personal stories. Having someone we both love so much marry us was one of the highlights of the wedding.”

At the reception, some of the most memorable moments happened on the dance floor. “The dance with our moms is among my favorite,” Mike says. At the beginning of the song, Mike danced with his mom and Sarah danced with hers. Halfway through, they “mom-swapped.” “It was non-traditional, but a special moment for the four of us.” For Sarah, one of her favorite memories is their surprise first dance.

After joking about “Wagon Wheel” being their song, Mike had the DJ switch their chosen first dance song to the Darius Rucker tune. “He even went a step further and pulled out an American cowboy hat to dance in,” Sarah laughs. “That moment felt so special because Mike is not a country music fan, and the song felt so highly untraditional — but he put these facts aside to remind me that the night was about the two of us.”

Another personal touch came with the late-night snack. “Mike walked out of the kitchen carrying a platter of hot, homemade mac and cheese,” she says. “I was shocked. His family helped prepare the dish, and the caterer helped with the logistics. Mike’s thoughtfulness was just another reminder of how lucky I am to call him my husband.” More than just mac and cheese, there were also five different desserts following dinner, including a scrumptious cheesecake from Simma’s.

For Mike, one thing he wishes he knew while planning the wedding was how much the guests would love their wedding favors. “Just a week before the wedding, we decided to place candy bags on the tables, and we were surprised what a big hit they were. We also didn’t realize how much our guests would like the elephant place-card holders. Many people approached us throughout the night, complimenting us on this special touch. We wish we would have made it clear that these were gifts, as we heard many times after the fact that guests wished they knew they could have kept their elephant.” When all is said and done, Sarah and Mike agree: “We wouldn’t change a thing about our day.”

Make-up Artist Marissa Connet
Hair Stylist Erin Larkee
Invitations Zanna Paper (found on Etsy)
Rehearsal Dinner Bollywood Grill
Ceremony Location Fitch Plaza at the War Memorial
Reception Location Memorial Hall at the War Memorial
Catering & Bartending Zilli Hospitality Group
Cake Simmas
Chalkboard Artist & Flowers Adorn
Music/Entertainment The Latchkeys (cocktail hour); DJ Double Platinum (all other music)
Photographer Tom Nicol Photography
Photography second shooter ( Guys getting ready) Pink Spruce
Wedding Dress Designer Paloma Blanca from White Dress
Formalwear Men’s Wearhouse
Rings 12Fifteen Diamonds (Sarah’s)