Sam and Alex marry at the Cupola Barn in Oconomowoc

Sam & Alex’s Romantic, Rustic Wedding at the Cupola Barn

Kelsey Lawler

October 21, 2019

How They Met
Bride Sam and groom Alex met in eighth grade at Fox River Christian Church. “I knew him as the quiet mushroom-headed looking kid,” Sam laughs. “Alex knew me as the chick rocking the oversized mom jeans with bangs and Aeropostale sweatshirts.” Little did they know they’d meet again in science class at Waterford Union High School. “We officially started dating in August of 2011 and have been together and in love ever since.”

The Proposal
Alex popped the question while the two were on a cruise in 2017. “When we arrived in Florida, we noticed multiple items from our luggage were missing, ultimately creating chaos,” Sam says. “I was throwing stuff in the airport and yelling while Alex was trying to calm me down, as always. What I didn’t know was that Alex had my engagement ring hidden inside our luggage.” Alex quietly panicked, but the ring — and his secret — remained safe.

Once on the cruise, following bouts of terrible sea sickness, Sam and Alex dressed up one night to go see a show on the ship. Alex claimed he was bored of watching the festivities and insisted the two walk to the front of the ship. That’s when it started pouring rain: “Quickly we ran inside. That’s when Alex goes, ‘Hey Sam.’ I go, ‘WHAT KID.’ I turn over and he’s down on one knee. I was so shocked and ecstatic. It was unexpected to say the least. The most wonderful thing!”

Wedding Planning: The Look, Feel & Fashion
Sam and Alex planned a gorgeous, rustic wedding with a ceremony and reception both at Cupola Barn. The look was handmade and DIY, with lots of lace, greenery, and wildflowers accented with a color palette of mauve and tan. To match theme, two-toned bridesmaids dresses came from Savvy Bride. Sam found her rings at Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds and her lacy gown at Bliss Bridal. Rounding out the natural look, the bride and her maids all wore real flower crowns on the day of the wedding. “They turned out so beautifully!”

Sam also incorporated a heart-shaped locket and pearl necklace in her bridal bouquet, in remembrance of her grandmother who had passed away a few years prior. “I remember looking down at the locket and feeling the pearls between my fingers. I felt loved in a way I can’t explain. I know my Amma was looking down on me. My heart was full.”

An Outdoor Ceremony
The Cupola Barn ceremony was held outside on a hot, beautiful day. Sam loved seeing Alex tear up as she walked down the aisle, her dad at her side. One thing that made the event unique was their unity ceremony: “We had a special box and asked our closest family and friends to write something special for us ahead of time, then walk up and drop it in the box. Alex and I plan on reading all of these special messages on our anniversary.” Alex and Sam’s puppy, Lambeau, also made an appearance at the ceremony.

An Unforgettable Reception
During the Cupola Barn reception, Alex and Sam wanted to encourage guests to get outside, so they had ladder toss, games of bags, tic tac toe, and a s’mores bar outside for people to play and mingle. “I still cannot get over how amazing the venue was,” Sam gushes. “The owners always responded back to my emails in a timely fashion and prepared me with a wedding timeline and questions. The owners also had no restrictions on vendors, which ultimately helped us save money and enjoy our day because we could pick exactly what we wanted.”

Since they could bring in whatever food and drink their hearts desired, the bride and groom went for taco and barbecue food trucks instead of a sit-down dinner. Dessert was a lovely, small naked cake topped with berries and whipped cream from Sweet Perfections.

At sunset, the entire bridal party took sparkler photos with photographer Amanda Ketterhagen. “My photographer Amanda was so wonderful at making us feel comfortable and getting the best shots possible, even in hot weather! I was so thankful that she sent me a sheet to fill out that listed everyone I wanted to take pictures with.” As for the sparklers, they made for a brilliant photo op, but Sam cautions brides to be careful with sparklers. “My dress almost set on fire!” Luckily, the bride’s brother was there to avert any real disaster.

Sam says one of her favorite parts of the night was the dancing, especially her father-daughter dance. “After a minute of dancing, we had the DJ ask for all of the fathers and daughters to come out and dance. Then after Alex and his mom danced for a minute, we asked mothers and sons to come out and dance. It was beyond beautiful and sentimental to see everyone out there dancing. I remember my dad and grammy dancing, and that instantly melted my heart!”

DIY Decorations
Alex and Sam’s wedding was truly chockfull of DIY goodies. For starters, Sam customized many wooden boards that served as décor and way finding, for example: boards with the order of the day, “all of me loves all of you,” “welcome to our beginning,” and more. Sam also adorned a small wooden ladder with greenery and pictures of herself and Alex. Hand-stamped packets with wildflower seeds were the guest favors, and Sam worked with Alex to hand-paint the wooden boards for some of the games.

With the help of her maid of honor, Sam crafted the dried floral and greenery centerpieces using glass frames. Last but not least, Sam feels endlessly blessed for her aunt’s help, who works in a printing shop. “She printed all of my invites and save-the-dates.”

Advice from the Bride
Sam didn’t hold back on letting us in on her advice for future brides. First up: “Get a videographer in addition to the photographer. You’ll feel like you’re reliving the day every time you watch your video!” Secondly, she recommends arranging for a clean-up crew after your wedding, if your venue doesn’t already provide one. She also suggests working ahead to identify which vendors you need to tip the night of the wedding and how much. “Handwrite thank-you cards to all the vendors, put the tip money inside, and give it to them at the wedding.” Last but not least, Sam wants to remind all brides to eat lunch!

Bridal Shows Bridal Expo
Make-up Artist Lustrous Studio, New Berlin
Hair Stylist Alexis Walkowski from Steven Edwards Color Group
Nails Perfectly Polished
Invitations Bride’s Aunt
Rehearsal Dinner Thunder Bay Grill, Pewaukee
Ceremony & Reception Cupola Barn
Appetizers Karen Trakas
Food Trucks Taco truck from Azteca Restaurant and BBQ truck from Wilma’s Smokehouse
Bartending Service Timer’s Beverage Center, Racine
Cake  Naked cake from Sweet Perfections and mini desserts from Gooseberries
Calligraphy Signs/Chalkboards Vintique Rentals
Flowers Gia Bella Flowers
Music/Entertainment Midwest Sound
Officiant Julie Scheibe
Photographer Amanda Ketterhagen Photography
Boudoir Photographer Cassandra Holen
Videographer Marah Petre
Honeymoon Punta Cana arranged by Andrea Ward from Boomerang Escapes
Gowns Bride: Madison James from Bliss Bridal; Bridesmaids: Savvi Bride
Formalwear Burlington Menswear
Rentals Gertrude and Evelyn Vintage Rentals and Vintique Rentals
Linens All Star Rentals
Rings Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds and Jewelry by Johan