Sam Dekker and Olivia Harlan Bring the Romance Home to Wisconsin

December 13, 2018

Sound the trumpets because Wisconsin sports royalty is born anew! The granddaughter of a former Green Bay Packers CEO, herself an accomplished reporter for ESPN, Olivia Harlan has married her rightful partner, Sam Dekker. You may recognize Sam as Wisconsin’s 2012 “Mr. Basketball”, a second team All American for the Wisconsin Badgers team that advanced to the 2015 NCAA National Championship game, and currently a forward in the NBA for the Washington Wizards.

Combined the two make quite a team, and together they planned a wedding of which dreams are made. If Midwestern elegance is a wedding theme, these two showed us how it’s done.

Sam Dekker & Olivia Harlan rehearsal dinner | Photography by Paper Antler

Months before Sam and Olivia pulled off their stunning black tie wedding, Sam proposed to Olivia in his home town of Sheboygan. They were enjoying their summer, moving through an average day she hadn’t expected would result in an engagement. “It was very intimate and random!” Olivia laughs. “That day, we had worked out and gone to Walmart. I was so caught off guard! It was very romantic and simple.”

Romantic and simple might be the couple’s best descriptors, despite their impressive résumés. Their first date happened thanks to the recommendation of a shared friend, a set-up Olivia was skeptical of. They met at a bar and watched the Packers play, and things clicked right away. “Sam was so funny, quick-witted, sincere, humble, and easy to be around,” she says. “We fell in love very fast.” Just one month later, the magic of Green Bay endured. While attending a Packers game in person, Sam and Olivia exchanged those three little words, “I love you.” It wasn’t a leap from there to expect one day they would be planning their wedding.

Homage to their shared Midwestern roots was peppered throughout the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception, each held in the incomparable Door County, where Olivia’s parents reside. The rehearsal dinner took place at The Whistling Swan Inn and Restaurant, a favorite of her family’s. “All of the groomsmen stayed there as well, so we had the whole place to ourselves.” The next day, the party moved to Horseshoe Bay Golf Club, for both the ceremony and festivities to follow.

Olivia and Sam kept to a chic color palette of black, white, and cream, saying “I do” under a massive tent trimmed with sweeps of rich greenery and crystal chandeliers. Olivia walked down the aisle to the theme from Gone with the Wind, “a favorite movie in my family and my namesake, Olivia de Havilland.” During the Unity Ceremony, Olivia poured sand they had collected while visiting Jerusalem, symbolizing their foundation in faith. Sam’s parents added to that sand from Sheboygan, and Olivia’s from Door County, their respective hometowns.

In true Wisconsin fashion, two cocktail hours followed the ceremony, one before and one after dinner. A nod to local supper clubs, “we served traditional supper club drinks: a Grasshopper, Pink Squirrel, and Brandy Alexander.” Details like these helped to set the Midwestern summer vibe. Romantic seasonal lavender was incorporated throughout, with lavender sprigs in the champagne glasses, and a lemon-lavender wedding cake. The space was decorated with a mix of modern touches and antique furniture from Relics Vintage Rentals. Flowers were provided by Buds N’ Bloom in De Pere, Wisconsin. “Jerad was the best,” Olivia says. “His vision is so extravagant and beautiful. He worked tirelessly to transform the tent from the ceremony to the after party, while we had dinner.”

Supper club style didn’t end there. Honey-dipped cigars were hand-rolled on site by professionals, and Platinum, a live band based out of Milwaukee, were a must-book after having enjoyed them at a previous event. “No one wanted to leave the dance floor. We stole them from a friend’s wedding, and would do it again and again!” Fireworks mesmerized the attendees just after sunset, capped with a sparkler bedecked send-off. The night ended quite literally with a bang, and a twinkle.

The emotion of the day lives on in the couple’s shared memory. “I’ve never felt such tangible love in one place,” Olivia reflects. “It was overwhelming. You couldn’t tell who was Sam’s family or my family, his friends or my friends.” But don’t let the perfectly executed elegance fool you. This was at its heart, a very Wisconsin wedding. “Everyone became close over the weekend, and I loved looking out and seeing the non-stop laughter. We’re the first of our friends to get married, so it was a young, rowdy crowd. I wouldn’t have had it any other way!”


Sam and Olivia’s Wedding Vendors:


Event Planner~Door County Event Planners (Carrie Baldwin)

Reception Venue~ Horseshoe Bay Golf Club, Egg Harbor

Rehearsal Dinner Venue~Whistling Swan, Fish Creek

Cake~Monzu Bakery, Green Bay

Florist~ Buds N Bloom, De Pere

Photographer~ Paper Antler

Music/Entertainment~ ACA Entertainment (Platinum)

Wedding Dress Designer~Sareh Nouri

Bridal Salon~ Bella Bianca, Chicago

Groom’s Tux~Balani

Make-Up Artist~ Ashley Renee Makeup, Kansas City

Rentals~ Relics Vintage Rentals, Milwaukee

Transportation~ Door County Trolley