Fall, Green/Olive, Historic & Unique, Orange/Coral, Real Weddings, Traditional, West, Yellow/Gold/Ivory/Creams

Karissa & Ryan’s Autumn Wedding in Downtown Waukesha

February 11, 2019
Karissa and Ryan marry at the Rotunda in Waukesha

Karissa and Ryan had a 12-hour first date. After matching on E-Harmony, the two chatted for a bit before deciding to meet for a daytime hike at Devil’s Lake. “It was one of the hottest days of the summer and we were both drenched in sweat by the first 10 minutes. So much for trying to make a good impression!”

Later in the hike, storm clouds rolled in and unleashed buckets of rain. “Ryan had packed a picnic for dinner, but we were completely soaked and it was still raining,” Karissa says. “So we went to the local Wal-Mart, bought dry clothes off the clearance rack, changed, and went out to a restaurant for dinner.” Before they knew it, they’d had a 12-hour first date. Ryan proposed to Karissa during another hike near the bluffs by La Crosse. Fun fact: Both Karissa and Ryan went to undergrad at La Crosse, but their paths had never crossed.

The happy couple planned a late September wedding at the Rotunda in downtown Waukesha. Keeping all of their festivities west of Milwaukee, the rehearsal dinner was held at the Delafield Brewhaus, and pictures were taken at Nashotah Lake and the Retzer Nature Center. “We also took some nighttime photos in downtown Waukesha.”

Leading up to the wedding, Ryan and Karissa practiced their first dance in their kitchen. “I would wear my heels and the hoop from under my wedding dress, as I didn’t want Ryan to see the dress itself before the wedding, and he would wear his formal shoes,” Karissa says. “Our dog thought it was a game and would jump up to try and join the dancing.”

Ryan and Karissa had loads of help from family and friends to make their day unforgettable. “I remember the night before, all the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and family spent several hours helping us decorate,” Karissa says. “Each person used their time and talents to bless our special day. We had friends and family come from all over the world, including Honduras and Australia. It was such an amazing outpouring of love from those that mean the most to us.” Ryan’s mom made the invitations and thank-you cards, his aunt handled all of the flowers, and the Maid of Honor made a “Pup of Honor” bandana for the dog, just to name a few.

Karissa wore her grandma’s dress: “I always knew I wanted to wear my grandma’s dress,” she says. “She wore it in 1963 and my mom wore it in 1987. I had also always dreamed of an autumn wedding. The style of the day took shape from there. We found the Rotunda, which was an elegant ballroom. The bridesmaid dresses were olive green with autumn-colored flowers and decorations.”

The bride and groom said “I do” with a Christian ceremony also held at the Rotunda. “Ryan and I wrote our own vows. We wrote them together, and they were very unique and personal to our relationship. We currently have a copy hanging on our bathroom mirror so that we are reminded of them daily.”

At the reception, the food and drinks were catered by Chef Jack’s. “Everything about it was amazing! We did a semi-sit down style.” Guests were served a fresh autumn salad, then were invited up to a buffet dinner. The menu included a vegetable medley, Parisian oven-roasted potatoes, penne pasta Alfredo with sun-dried tomatoes, bourbon peach chicken, and chef-carved roast sirloin with mushroom sauce. “Everything was absolutely scrumptious. Tony and the team did a fantastic job, and we had many people comment that this was the best wedding food they had ever had.”

Instead of appetizers, Ryan and Karissa chose to serve a late-night snack of quesadillas. There were three flavors: brie and spiced pear, grilled chicken with caramelized onions, and roasted asparagus with bacon. For drinks, beer, wine, and soda were hosted all night. For dessert, multiple flavors of cupcakes. “Our baker made Ryan and me a private stash of cupcakes that was placed in our car to eat the next morning,” Karissa says. “This was so thoughtful, especially since I didn’t get to try any at the wedding!”

One memorable moment from the reception, aside from the hoppin’ dance floor, was the bouquet toss. Karissa’s first attempt went a little long. “My brother ended up catching the bouquet near the bar,” she laughs. “I decided to try the toss again, and my college roommate caught the bouquet. She got engaged the next day! I guess what they say is true!”

Looking back, Karissa’s advice for future brides is to remember that it’s okay not to have everything you see on Pinterest. “Your wedding day will be special because of the people, not the things. Take time to incorporate meaningful details and family heirlooms; it will mean a lot to those you love. Make sure to stop at several points throughout the day to look around and take it all in. You only get married once, so enjoy it!”

Hair stylistRoots Salon, Brookfield
Rehearsal dinnerDelafield Brewhaus
Ceremony & ReceptionThe Rotunda, Waukesha
Catering & BartendingChef Jack’s
Cake Designer/DessertExtra Special Touch Bakery, Waukesha
Music/EntertainmentSmoov Music, Mukwonago
PhotographerThe Paper Elephant, Brookfield
GownBride wore Grandma’s dress from 1963 that was also worn by her Mom in 1987
FormalwearJad Brothers, Alpharetta, GA
Bridesmaid DressesDaisy Formals
RingsKrikawa Rings
Decoration RentalsVintique Rentals, Oconomowoc
Bridesmaid's EarringsWillow Lane Jewelry
Unity Candle & Guest PlaqueEtsy
Flowers, Just for Fun, Planning, Stylized Shoots, Trends and Ideas

Action! Staging Your Scene with Backdrops

February 8, 2019
wooden plank backdrop with couple's initials, greenery, white linen couch and coffee table

Backdrops can be tricky. On the one hand you want them to be beautiful, but only as an accessory to the bride and groom. The prettiest thing up there should be you. Your guests shouldn’t say “excuse me, lady in white? You’re blocking the view.” However at some point you won’t be up there yet, and the backdrop is there to set the scene, to provide some context. It is an expression of, “This is our vibe. This is the party you’re attending, as represented by our decor.” It’s the hors d’oeuvre to the main course, the couple in love.

You have an opportunity for this design choice not only at the altar, but also behind the head table, should you decide to have one. It can also be used at the entrance to your reception where guests may want to take a photo, or where your cake or gifts will be displayed. Perhaps each of these places could use the same background, or something similar to jive nicely while being unique to each location. Lisa Loosen with Heavenly Creations Events notes that trends lately lean toward the earthy, nature based aesthetic, “with or without the greens, the flower strands, anything wood, metal or round (hoops). Bohemian/boho-chic, metallics, geometrics.” She suggests softer colors in keeping with today’s style, however as with all fashion, deeper colors are on the horizon.

Rustic touches like these might be right up your alley in keeping with a romantic, ethereal atmosphere. After all, weddings can be many things- playful, exciting, elegant, even casual, but romance should be the thread woven throughout. Danielle Cole with Alfa Flowers has also seen a demand for neutral tulle designs incorporating lots of greenery, even a floral swag to tie in with other arrangements in the ceremony. Hoops are big for these designs as well, noting “using one hoop as a focal point really brings your eye to the center where all the action is happening anyway, with the added bonus of only having to hang one.” Imagine the subtext of standing together in front of a golden toned or birch hoop while giving your vows, as though you are standing in a spotlight, or a full moon. What emphasis that small detail adds to such a moment in your lives.

Other more “boho” options you might consider according to Melissa Maas at Bank of Flowers could be a macramé curtain or tapestry, a hedge of potted arborvitae or boxwoods, or a floral wall, which is just as it sounds. What a dreamy scene, marrying amidst a blanket of ranunculus and peonies, wafting your way with every breath. And don’t forget the original backdrop, Mother Nature herself. If you are planning an outdoor wedding, it’s possible the landscape behind you is more striking than anything you could have ever designed yourself. If indoors, is there a fireplace or eye-catching decor you could incorporate? In either case, a simple arch or standing planters frame your ceremony perfectly while bringing the focal point back to where it belongs: You. (Okay, your fiancé, too.)

If your opinion of arches is of lackluster predictability, well, think again, according to Stephanie with Cover it with Class. This old standby has come a long way, with updated triangular and circular shapes for a more modern or new age feel. Think about creating a vignette within the arch, “with backdrops featuring crystals and chandeliers to create positive vibes and energy for the evening.” Stephanie suggests using imagination with your ceremonial mandap or chuppah as well, noting cultural tradition need not be staid or stale either. Incorporating warm lighting with cultural regalia “will create a glow and enhance the design of the overall look.”

Lisa reminds us glitz is always “in,” with many couples opting for strands of crystals, pearls, glittering lights, and billows of curtains. The inherent shimmer and drama of these elements really dresses up a space, adding sophistication while keeping things spirited and fun. Play with lighting so that it hits the sparkle just right, experiment with uplighting for an old Hollywood feel, or soft, twinkly lights for a magical, wintery mood.

Abstract and creative scenery can be a memorable touch, since it more pointedly speaks to your personalities. An idea might be to blow up your vows, a love note, or your fiancé’s proposal speech, and have them printed onto a neutral backdrop, in your own handwriting or an elegant font. Using a light projector, cast your new shared initials onto a darker colored screen, or a symbol that means something to you both. For example, two passionate deer hunters may choose to stand before a silhouette of trophy antlers. Another idea is to incorporate photographs and repeat your vows amongst countless images of framed family wedding photos, a welcoming to the tribe of “’til death do us part.”

Like all wedding décor, altar designs are your opportunity to set a tone. However because its whole job is to highlight you, it carries with it a special responsibility. You might say your backdrop is your wingman. It should contrast you just enough that you stand out, but also blend seamlessly with your style. It should look great on its own, but it must really let you shine once you enter the room. It should make a statement, but not so loudly no one hears your “I do.” Basically, it should have your back.


Looking for the perfect backdrop for your big event? Check out these coordinators & consultants  and rentals, florists, decor, and signage vendors to help turn your vision into a reality!

Ballroom, Blue/Aqua/Navy, Downtown, Green/Olive, Pink/Blush, Real Weddings, Summer, Traditional

Amanda & Jordan’s Intimate Downtown Wedding at VUE

February 4, 2019
Amanda & Jordan at the Hyatt Milwaukee

Amanda had moved to Milwaukee after college for a job and Jordan had moved for his master’s degree when the two met through a mutual friend one night at a dive bar called Fink’s. “We ended up sitting at the same table and chatting all night about our love for dogs, hockey, beer, and BelAir salsa.” Soon after, Jordan asked Amanda on a date, and the rest is history! Jordan proposed during the nighttime water show at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. “I had no idea he was going to pop the question,” Amanda says. “My first words were, ‘Is this for real?’”

It was real as could be, and soon the couple had set a date for June of 2018. While planning, Amanda attended the Wonderful World of Weddings show and the Alfa Flowers Bridal Open House. She and Jordan ended up going with Alfa Flower & Wedding Shop to create their ceremony arch, bouquets, and all of the floral décor. “The flowers were so fresh that the arrangements were still in tact after coming back from our honeymoon!” Amanda says. “I was even able to replant the succulent from my bridal bouquet.”

The wedding color scheme was actually inspired by succulents, playing off the natural blue, green, and soft pink tones. “We had steel blue bridesmaid dresses, light gray suits, natural greenery, and hints of soft pink with both gold and silver accents. The stationary, bridal bouquet, and party favors all incorporated succulents. Plus, the plant is a nod to Las Vegas, where we got engaged, and San Diego, where we honeymooned.”

Both the ceremony and reception were held at VUE at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Milwaukee.“We wanted an intimate wedding with around 60–100 guests,” Amanda says. “But it was proving to be very hard to find a venue in the city that was small yet still celebrated the fact that this was our wedding day. When we met Brit from the Hyatt, it was the best wedding gift we could ever have received! She was energetic, genuinely happy for us, incredibly helpful, and knew her stuff. She was organized and had our best interest at heart. It felt like we were planning our wedding with a friend.”

“Having our wedding at VUE gave us Milwaukee, the city where we met, as our backdrop. The Hyatt recently remodeled the space, so it was clean, modern, and truly stunning. It was the perfect alternative to a ballroom, if you want more unique views and don’t need to accommodate hundreds of guests.”

The location allowed Jordan and Amanda to take all of their photos right in downtown Milwaukee, too. “There was beautiful and iconic Milwaukee scenery all around us, so we didn’t have to rent transportation to take photos. Everything was within walking distance. The time saved meant we got to enjoy our entire cocktail hour! It was really important to us that we got to participate in our full wedding day, along with all of our guests.”

Dinner, drinks, and dessert were all catered by the Hyatt. Immediately following the ceremony, guests were invited to drink at Bar 333 in the hotel lobby, while Amanda and Jordan snapped some pictures with their families. Then, during cocktail hour, there was marinated beef satay, mini Monte Cristo sandwiches, potato-wrapped shrimp, and an open bar.

Dinner started with a simple romaine salad and three entrées: asiago chicken, lemon and chive pinko-crusted salmon, and vegetarian napoleon with cheese and roasted tomato sauce. On the side, there were smashed potatoes and asparagus, plus mini hot pretzels with cheese for a late-night snack.

Dessert was a devil’s food cake with chocolate chip cookie dough frosting and filling. The cake topper was a special hit. “It was a 3D print of us wearing our rival hockey team jerseys!” Amanda laughs. “I’m a Blackhawks fan and Jordan is a Penguins fan. Guests ended up taking the topper out on the dance floor, passing it around and even taking pictures with it! It was unintentionally the best party favor!”

Another incredibly special and unforgettable moment was Amanda’s dance with her dad: “He had a massive stroke in 2012, and we thought we lost him. It took some recovery and he is getting progressively better, however, he is still paralyzed on one side. But he was determined to dance with me! So, he went to extra therapy just to work on standing with more stability. And he did it! We had our father-daughter dance together and he stood for it! I know how hard that was to accomplish, and I am so grateful to have a family full of love. Everyone went out of their way to make our wedding day so special for us.”

Bridal Shows AttendedAlfa Flowers Bridal Open House and the Wonderful World of Weddings
Hair StylistAshley @ashleypauline_aveda & Jessica @Jessica.milaeger
InvitationsBluebird Paper Company (Chicago)
Rehearsal DinnerTransfer Pizza, Milwaukee
Ceremony, Reception, Catering, BartendingHyatt Regency Milwaukee – Vue Rooftop Ballroom
DessertGigi’s Cupcakes, Wauwatosa
Custom SignageBluebird Paper Company (Chicago)
FlowersAlfa Flower & Wedding Shop, Wauwatosa
Music/EntertainmentDream City Strings (Jared)
Engagement Photography Leo & Jenny Photography
Photographer WeddingHappy Gnome Photography
GownDavid’s Bridal Collection
RingsBrilliant Earth Chicago
Photography & Video, Planning, Trends and Ideas

Getting Ready Right: making the most of your wedding moments

January 24, 2019
Bride looking in mirror putting earrings on

Contributed by Marie Schneider of Wild Elegance Photography & Video

Try this: go onto Pinterest, and search “getting ready wedding pictures” and just sip a mimosa and prepare to be floored by the fluffy dress, handsome men in bow-ties, and dazzling shoes. As a couple about to get married, these images look carefree and easily flawless.

It is industry secret time: each of those pictures was painstakingly planned and used four basic elements to achieve a level of perfection that most couples desire on their wedding day. In order to ensure your getting ready moments are camera-ready, consider these big components to making every picture rock.

Giving you and your wedding party enough time to get ready is one thing. Allowing enough time for your photographer to create all those magical shots is another.

One big thing to consider, especially if you are not getting ready at the same location as the ceremony, is how much time you will need to get from point A to point B. If you want to capture both groups of the wedding party getting ready, hiring a second shooter is also helpful.

Another thing to consider is the detail shots: the rings, the dress, the centerpieces…all of those little things you have spent months planning out need their time to shine, too. Your photographer and videographer both need time with those items, which can be done while you finish up make-up or play some pool.

The big thing to remember is that you need to plan for lateness. It is better to hurry up and wait, than to be in a hurry and leave everyone waiting. While the party doesn’t start without the happy couple, a snowball effect can roll through the day if the getting ready portion of your day is not amply timed. Factor in an extra 15-30 minutes more than you think. Just bring an extra case of mimosa supplies in case you have some time.

The root words in photograph literally translate to light writing. That should give an idea of how important light is to pictures.

While every photographer can bring lighting in to make your space perfectly illuminated, natural lighting gives a lot of the drama, which can be found in the absence of light – shadow.

Find a clean, sparsely decorated room with windows on multiple walls for getting ready to deliver a light, airy look with your getting ready moments.

Conversely, if you prefer things dark and moody (I see you, Daria), find a darkly-appointed space with windows on one side of the room. By utilizing natural light, you can create a vibe and mood for your whole day. Plus, our skin just looks better in natural light.

If your getting ready options are limited, consider checking the light bulbs. Traditional light bulbs, or overhead fluorescent bulbs, create harsh, yellow lighting. If you can change them, do. If you cannot, talk to your photographer and make sure they have the equipment needed to lighten the space.

In addition, to making your pictures work, proper lighting helps in achieving the best makeup looks. Those selfie phone cases were created for a reason, after-all.

While getting ready in a beautiful chateau overlooking the Swiss Alps with floor-to-ceiling windows sounds dreamy, it is not always possible. In fact, it is rarely the case.

Not to worry, though. You can create magnificent backdrops with a few little tweaks:
Move: If the getting ready location is cluttered with furniture, doilies, etc., that do not match your style, MOVE IT. Let the venue know and ask for help. Appoint wedding attendants to help. Ask your photographer for advice.

Decorate: Sheer white curtains over ugly wallpaper can make a huge difference in your background. Get creative and do what you need to make the space match your vibe.
Declutter: This one is for the wedding attendants: keep your stuff neat. Bring a nice overnight bad to keep your things in, and clean up as you go. By keeping your clutter out of the shot, or at least making it cute clutter, you greatly increase the impact and beauty of those getting ready shots.

Relocate: Sometimes, no matter what, the basement at church just will not fill your vision for wedding day posh. If that is the case, check out other options like a friend’s house or boutique hotel.

Consider outside: If you have a secluded, private space and it is great weather, consider putting that dress on in nature. Maybe you will have a Cinderella moment and the animals will help you get dressed. Even if you aren’t that magical, the lighting will be beautiful and so will you.

People + Details
Be picky over who you have getting ready with you. As much as having a large wedding party and all your favorite cousins and friends in the room with you, it gets overwhelming. Be specific about who is allowed in the space, and who is not, and assign a wedding attendant to enforce that rule.

Pick people who will make you smile more, or bring out your happy tears. Emotions are what make pictures worth it.

Aside from who you have in the room with you, what you have in the room with you matters.

Give your wedding attendants gifts that will make your pictures look publication-worthy, too. A cute makeup bag, a monogrammed flannel, or a custom flask are great accessories that can be in pictures without the space looking messy. A photographer can use these accessories to stage detail pictures, and create backdrops.

Bottom Line
No matter what, do you.

May your wedding day be everything you dreamed of and more!

Ask the Right Questions, Before the Wedding, Planning, Reception, Tradition / Theme / Culture, Venue Type

Ask the Right Questions: The Reception Site Edition

January 21, 2019
Hawks View reception

You’ve just executed your legally required first kiss and signed on the dotted line. You’re married! And you’re starving. The last thing you ate was a glass of champagne in your bridal suite and the premarital jitters have morphed into dance floor yearnings. It’s time to boogie.

But where to? You have options, options, and oh yeah, more options. Event spaces of every vibe, capacity, and price point line your city, as do barns, hotels, outdoor expanses, even restaurants. Not only is the ideal fantasy reception space within reach, you likely have a handful within that category from which to choose. So visit them all, see them first hand, be clear on the details that are important to you, and most importantly, Ask the Right Questions.

Bring this handy-dandy list with you when calling upon your potential reception space:

What number of people can your space accommodate?
What timeframe is the space available to us?
What are the deposit terms, and when is the balance due?
Are there differing rates depending on season, and day of the week?
Is there a private space for the bridal party and groomsmen?
For outdoor areas, is there a contingency space in the case of inclement weather?
Am I limited to your catering or catering partners, or can I bring in my own preferred vendor?
For sites providing food and drink, can a tasting be arranged?
What sort of tents, tables, linens, and dinnerware can be provided, and is there a fee associated?
Can our preferred bakery be used? And when are they permitted to deliver?
Will bartender services be provided? Can we supply our own alcohol?
Where can my guests park? And is there an additional fee?
How many restrooms are there? Are they handicap accessible?
If located in a hotel, is there a discounted room rate for my guests?

To see a full list of ceremony site questions, download the guide below:

Download the Questions Guide

Ease of planning might be a priority for you, which might mean a more “all inclusive” reception site would be a great fit, for instance with hotel ballrooms or professional event spaces. Some venues can provide everything but the groom, with beautiful options for décor, exciting menu selections, even an onsite coordinator for the day. Many brides envision a unique experience more attuned to the particular style and traditions of the couple, in which case a site with flexibility in who is feeding you, entertaining you, and keeping your glass full might suit you better. (In which case, see our previous posts for selecting your own caterers and rental companies.)

Whatever your preference, there are a plethora of providers capable of pulling off a poppin’ party. Visiting with them in advance and asking the right questions will take your long list from a mish-mash of Maybes to one drop-dead, devastatingly dream Definitely Yes.

Blue/Aqua/Navy, Budget-Friendly, Fall, North, Purple/Plum/Wine, Real Weddings, Traditional, Yellow/Gold/Ivory/Creams

Laura & Steve’s Sterling Chalet Wedding of Elegance on a Budget

January 21, 2019
Laura and Steve marry in Hubertus WI

Steve and Laura met in 2013 at a local bar. “We were really good at flirting,” Laura laughs. “We didn’t officially start dating until 2015.” Steve popped the question during a Sunday spent hunting in the woods with Laura. As it got dark, Steve insisted on changing the batteries in the trail cameras, and Laura wasn’t too keen on the idea.

“We had to walk into the woods a ways. My now-husband had a headlamp on his forehead so we could see where we were going.” After changing out the trail cam batteries, Laura turned to head back to the car, waiting for Steve to walk ahead and light the way. When he didn’t come, she turned around to find him on one knee, ring in hand. “I was shaking with excitement. Although we didn’t see any deer, it was the best hunt ever!”

Laura and Steve’s wedding theme was “elegance on a budget.” They planned a September celebration with a church ceremony and a reception at the Sterling Chalet. “I fell in love with this wedding venue the moment we stepped in,” Laura says. “Heidi gave us a tour of the building and was full of great information. Through our whole wedding planning process. Heidi was so wonderful to work with! She was just a quick text away with any questions.”

Laura turned to a lot of DIY projects and wedding resale pages on Facebook to find special pieces and decorations to bring her vision to life. She even bought her wedding dress off the rack for a great deal. Steve’s formalwear came from Tres Chic in Menomonee Falls — ”highly, highly suggested; everyone we worked with was helpful and the guys looked amazing!”

Laura is especially thankful that she and Steve were able to get into the Sterling Chalet the day before to decorate. “That helped a lot, knowing that it was done just the way I envisioned.” The bride and groom also chose to set up the reception room a bit differently than usual. “Normally at the Sterling Chalet, they place the head table to the side of the room. We, however, wanted the head table to be higher so everyone would be able to see us! This allowed the DJ to be closer to the bar area, so people could easily get drinks and then rush back to the dance floor, and people who didn’t want to dance could still watch from a comfy spot.”

In addition to the bar service, dinner was catered by the Sterling Chalet. “We had chicken cordon blue, beef tips, mashed potatoes, salad, and California vegetables — everything was delicious. We had to go back for seconds!” Steve and Laura worked with DJ Express for their entertainment: “Great experience at a reasonable price. Our dance floor was packed the entire night!”

Looking back, Laura says the moment that sticks with her the most is the emotion she felt just before the church doors opened and she walked down the aisle. “Everything I had been waiting for my whole life was happening. A rush of nerves and excitement hit me the moment the doors opened. But then I looked at my soon-to-be husband, and all I could do was smile.”

When it comes to advice for brides who are currently wedding-planning, Laura has some great words of wisdom: “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The week of the wedding, this was the best thing I could have done for myself. Once the day arrives, as hard as it is, just relax and enjoy it! Don’t stress about the small things, because at this point, there’s nothing you can do to fix them. Have a bridal emergency bag. Don’t forget to eat! And lastly, find five minutes to sneak away just the two of you — not even the photographer — to have some time alone. Steve and I did this, and it was so nice to sit and be with him for a few minutes, away from the chaos.”

Make-up ArtistMelissa Ann Make up Artistry, Pewaukee, WI
Rehearsal DinnerThe Iron Ridge Inn, Iron Ridge, WI
Ceremony LocationSt. John’s Weis Hall, Rubicon, WI
Reception, Catering, BartendingSterling Chalet, Hubertus, WI
CakeSweet Ginger’s Sugar Shoppe, Hartford, WI
Music/EntertainmentDJ Express, West Bend, WI
TransportationWittenberg Bus, Hartford, WI
PhotographerEmily Grace Photography
Travel/Honeymoon ServiceShooting Star Travel, West Bend, WI
Gown DesignerCasa Blanca
FormalwearTres Chic, Menomonee Falls, WI
RingsBride: Kesslers
Groom: Etsy (ring was made from deer antlers)
Budget-Friendly, Pink/Blush, Real Weddings, Spring, Traditional, West, Whites/Grays/Silvers

Elizabeth & John’s Springtime Wedding at Tuscan Hall

January 7, 2019
Elizabeth and John marry at Tuscan Hall Waukesha

When Australian-born Elizabeth traveled all the way to America from Down Under to visit family, one her cousins decided to set her up with John, a friend from school. “She lied to us, saying we each liked each other.” When the two started dating, Elizabeth ended up extending her trip. Throughout their courtship, John and Elizabeth did their share of long distance — “but I always came back,” Elizabeth says.

John always knew that Elizabeth wanted a private proposal. On the night he popped the question, the two had dinner followed by a horse-drawn carriage ride around Milwaukee, but John waited until they got home to propose. According to Elizabeth, “It was perfect.”

The couple planned a May wedding in Wisconsin, with an entire Australian contingent that flew in to celebrate the happy occasion. Elizabeth found her gown at Eva’s Bridal, and John chose a suit from Dubois Formalwear. On the day of the wedding, it was a balmy 90 degrees — a bit of a springtime curveball. “The ceremony was outside and everyone was hiding in the shade,” Elizabeth says. “My favorite part was John and I spilling the sand from our unity ceremony everywhere.”

After cleaning up the sand and saying “I do,” the party moved to Tuscan Hall for the reception, which was outfitted with linens and chair covers from Cover It With Class. “We had amazing food from Tuscan Hall! We served chicken and beef, and the cake was amazing as well. We also had ice cream, which was a big hit on a 90-degree day.”
LED lighted dance floor

Elizabeth says her favorite thing she planned for the wedding was her father-daughter dance. “Only three people knew what the song was going to be: me, John, and my mother. My father only thought to ask what he would be dancing to a couple minutes before the dance itself. I had picked a song from my childhood that he always used to sing to my brother and I. It wasn’t a dancing song at all, but it was very funny.” In the end, Elizabeth’s dad agreed it was the perfect song.

Other highlights from the day included DIY signage and programs, an LED dance floor (“everyone loved that!”), and time spent with friends and family for memories in the making. One thing Elizabeth wishes she would have known before planning her wedding: “How busy the last week before the wedding would be. I should have taken time off work!” In the end, through all the busyness, John and Elizabeth’s lovely, traditional wedding was everything they hoped it would be: “Fun, crazy, and exciting!”

Make-up ArtistTiffany Tia Traveling Makeup Artist
Hair StylistSamantha Bartholf
Rehearsal DinnerEmbassy Suites
CeremonyThe Gardens Wedding Center
Reception, Catering & BartendingTuscan Hall
Cake Designer/DessertFrosted Memories
Custom Signage & InvitationsDIY
FlowersJess Fleur Fun
Music/EntertainmentDouble Platinum DJ Service
PhotographerTialee Photography
VideographerChris Siegel Multimedia
GownEva’s Bridal
FormalwearDubois Formalwear
RingsBride's wedding ring was handed down from her mother.
Engagement ring was second hand
Groom’s ring from manlybands.com
RentalsCover it with Class

French Vineyard-Inspired Wedding Inspiration at Northcote Estate

January 6, 2019
Northcote Estate Bridal Fashion

The hillside vineyard, stately French gardens, sweeping lawns, and leafy arbors of Northcote Estate set the scene for a fairytale wedding fashion and design shoot. An amazing group of Milwaukee wedding experts worked together for a marvelous series of moments to capture.

Pastoral Romance

The day was the vision of Janelle Meyer-Brown, owner of événement, who wanted to capture the feel of the French countryside. Lush florals, soft textures, and fresh fruit creates an idyllic picture of pastoral romance. “We tried to make a story of each vignette,” Janelle explains. “For the rosé bar, we imagined a bride stopping to pour herself a drink, pearls in hand.” She sets down the pearls and takes a sip.

Flowers were sourced locally by Bank of Flowers and feature sage-lavender, Veronica navy berry bushes, cafe au lait dahlias, eucalyptus, maroon smoke bush, purple allium and fuchsia stock. The centerpieces are embellished with ornamental pears, plums and grapes on the vine. “Just ripe for the season!”

Other décor and necessities, such as invitations, tablescapes, plates, and glassware, work within the theme and chosen colors. Paper goods from Coqui Paperie exude feminine romance, with watercolor flowers in a palette of soft blushes, purples, and greens to mirror the real-life arrangements.

Dreamy, eclectic furniture and accessories — everything from chairs to an accent dresser to dinnerware — came courtesy of the imagination at Relics Vintage Rentals. Small floral favors from Sweet n’ Flowers adorn each guest’s plate as they wait for a scrumptious slice of Simma’s three-tiered wedding cake in all its simply-detailed, flower-crowned glory.

Katy and Dale of the Artist Group and Jaime at JC Designs worked behind cameras to shoot the glamorous footage.

Feminine Fashions

Gowns selected by Bucci’s Bridal and White Dress Bridal Boutique are perfectly suited to the pastoral scene so beautifully set forth by these expert wedding designers, florists, culinary experts, and craftspeople.

Feminine is in, as decorative necklines, ballgown skirts, sparkle, and texture take center stage. Whether plunging or boat-necked with delicate sleeves, necklines boast full lace and intricate edges. Other ways to achieve texture, aside from lace, is the use of intricate beaded bodices, illusion netting with appliqué, and fabric with an intrinsic texture.

While some dresses hug the bride’s curves, others embrace the drama of a full skirts with tiers of ruffles, lush layers of tulle, and even a folded bodice. If not a princess-style bell shape, gowns tend toward the ever-flattering A-line, always with a defined waist.

While timeless fantasy fashion is in, more current silhouettes can be just as appealing. A modern high-low dress, featuring a shorter dress underneath a flowing floor-length skirt, makes for a wedding day showstopper. It’s also just as fashionable to practice modesty through high necklines and pretty sleeves as it is to bare some skin. Though the gowns featured here venture in a variety of directions, they’re all venturing in style.

Styling by Danielle Horvatin and Matt McFall, from Rosewood Weddings, tends toward breezy, effortless beauty. Hair is either softly pulled back, left to fall loosely, or is drawn up into a clean top knot. Makeup is kept clean-faced, save for a striking pop of color, as a red lip is always a classic choice.

Accessories from White Dress Bridal Boutique and Julie Schnoll, such as beaded headbands, statement earrings and necklaces, tiaras, jeweled collars, and dainty gloves, elevate each bridal look to something a bit regal. Featured in one of the pink champagne glasses is a stunning ring from Steven Paul Design. The center stone is a Malaya Garnet framed by diamonds. The stones are set in 18-karat rose gold — the perfect choice for a rose-tinted wedding day on a picture-perfect vineyard.


The new issue of Premier Bride is here!

January 3, 2019

We are so excited to reveal the 2019 Winter/Spring issue of  Premier Bride !

Milwaukee and SE-WI’s number one wedding planning resource that will help you from the moment you say “YES” all the way to the very last dance on your special day.

Inside you will find an easy to use Rehearsal & Reception Guide, a complete list of upcoming bridal shows, the top trends, and the best local wedding artisans in the industry! We’ve even made it easier to find what you’re looking for with color coded category pages. Stop by your local Premier Bride vendor to pick up your issue today!

And, while you’re finding that perfect vendor, don’t forget to register for our PB Rewards Program and let us know which vendors you’ve booked! It’s easy and you have the opportunity to win some Unforgettable Experiences.

This issue we will be giving away…..

HOTEL HIGH LIFESponsored by Hyatt Regency
BON APPETIT AT LAKE PARK BISTROSponsored byBartolotta Catering & Events
KEEPSAKE CLEANINGSponsored byMatinizing
THE GREAT ESCAPESponsored byCTS Travel
A NIGHT OF ACTIONSponsored byCMP Tactical Lazer Tag
LIVE LIKE A KINGSponsored byLake Lawn Resort
YOUR BEST HEADSHOTSponsored byMerle Norman
FLOWERS AFTER HOURSSponsored byBelle Fiori
FLOWERS FOR A YEARSponsored byAlfa Flower & Wedding Shop
FEED THE GIRAFFESSponsored byMilwaukee County Zoo
NEW NAME, NEW STATIONERYSponsored byCoqui Paperie
MODEL FOR A DAYSponsored byPremier Bride
Amazon FireSponsored byPremier Bride
WEDDING SPOTLIGHTSponsored byPremier Bride

For more information and details please click here!




Before the Wedding, General News, Planning, Reception

5, 6, 7, 8! Dance Lessons by the Numbers

December 31, 2018
Dance Lessons, Social Style Dance Lesson, PBMKE

So you think you can dance. Well, you’re right. Everyone can dance, some better than others. But can you dance the way you want to, the way you have envisioned on your wedding night, with a lot of people watching you? Maybe (probably) not.

Here are some stats to think about when planning ahead for that special first spin around the floor with your spanking new spouse:

  • 99.9%: The percentage of engaged couples who will schedule a First Dance at their reception.
  • 25%: The percentage of newlyweds who will dance well during said First Dance, without prior planning or training.
  • 2: The number of left feet many brides and grooms are born with. This can be overcome, don’t despair!
  • 10: The suggested starting number of lessons by the pros at Social Style Dance, enough to feel comfortable with your choreographed steps, spins, dips, and if you so desire, hand jives.
  • 10: The number of dance lessons that can also be considered romantic date nights. The eye contact. The close physical touch. The sweat. The gyrating. You don’t get any of that at mini-golf, I can assure you. In fact it’s likely illegal. 10 lessons will go a long way, but if you have time for 25, even better. More lessons equal more confidence on the big night, and more moves to showcase to your guests.
  • 6-12: The optimal number of months before the date of your wedding that dance lessons should commence, as recommended by Fred Astaire Studios. The time in between is for practice, practice, practice, and life’s many other commitments. Presumably you will have more on your plate than just sashays in the months ahead.
  • 3: The absolute minimum number of months required to learn and practice your First Dance so that you look and feel like naturals the night of your reception. More months are better, but if you’re down to the wire, three will do.
  • $0: The cost for an initial consult and lesson with Social Style Dance. With their expertise you can determine the music, theme, and skill level that appeals to you. Choose from a traditional waltz, something funky and modern, perhaps a routine with some cultural significance to you. Dream it up and Social Style Dance will help you get there.
  • Thousands: The number of ooh, ahs, and awws your First Dance will receive with just a few months’ investment.

The jazz-handers at Fred Astaire Studios suggest bringing in your ideal music to your first lesson to help with brainstorming a style. Additionally, having an idea of what both of you will be wearing will eliminate any hindrances while on the floor, and again, will help your instructor formulate something specific to you. Certainly a groom in tuxedo tails or a bride swishing around in layers of tulle will want the dance to fit the look. Break dancing, for instance, would be off the table with this prior information.

Take these lessons as an investment toward the future. This will not be the last event you attend, and ideally, not the last time you and your new partner in life dance together. Obtaining skills like these will serve you on dance floors down the road, are an opportunity to learn something together, and are a great metaphor for marriage. You start out having no idea what you’re doing, but wind up on the same beat, flowing through life in sync, and showing the onlookers what you can accomplish as a team.

Click here to view a full list of local dance studios on PremierBrideMKE.com

Blue/Aqua/Navy, Planning, Real Weddings, Red, Summer, Traditional, West

Rachel & Bryan’s Late-Summer Wedding at the Oconomowoc Community Center

December 28, 2018
Rachel and Bryan marry in Oconomowoc, WI

Before Rachel and Bryan could ride off into their very own proverbial sunset, Bryan proposed to his horse-loving lady at Lifestriders, where both he and Rachel volunteer with therapeutic horseback riding. “I’ve been volunteering there for over 10 years, so it’s a very special place for me,” Rachel says. On the day of the proposal, one of the volunteers tricked Rachel into walking the field with her, when suddenly Bryan came out from behind a tree with Rachel’s horse, Sherlock. “Sherlock was of course making a scene, but Bryan still managed to propose. It was very sweet and just what I wanted.”

The happy couple planned a late-August wedding that was “fun and rustic, while still being a little old fashioned and formal.” Leading up to the big day, Rachel attended the Wonderful World of Weddings bridal show. The ceremony took place at St. Luke’s church. “The day before the ceremony was full of mishaps, including a flat tire, locking our unity candle in the reception venue, arriving late to the rehearsal, and our flower girl almost taking a swim in the baptismal waters. But the day of the ceremony went off perfectly; we couldn’t have asked for anything better!”

Before heading to the reception, Bryan and Rachel stopped for pictures at the proposal spot, Lifestriders. “My horse was a bit too spunky for me to hop on that day in my dress, but some of our wonderful volunteers prepped two of our lesson horses for Bryan and I to ride in our photos, which was really important to me. And we still got some ground shots with Sherlock, even though he was being a bit of a stinker. Personally, I think he’s jealous of Bryan!” Rachel laughs.

The reception, complete with a scrumptious buffet dinner and a night of dancing, took place at the Oconomowoc Community Center (OCC). “The reception space was gorgeous, and Paige at the OCC was wonderful and easy to work with. The OCC was the first reception venue we looked at, and we never even bothered to look at any others! We booked it the day we first saw it.” Dinner included a macaroni and cheese buffet (regular, three cheese chicken, spicy kick, and vegetarian), turkey and gravy sandwiches, salad, and rolls. “It was nothing fancy, and that’s perfect for us.”

Rachel says her favorite part of the reception was how her dad incorporated an old Sicilian tradition: “Throwing coins at the bride and groom during their first dance, while allowing all the children at the wedding to crawl around the floor, picking up the coins and keeping all the ones they could find.”

Another moment that sticks with Bryan and Rachel is their now-famous elevator photo. The wedding party was trying to figure out how to handle the grand entrance into the hall: “Usually at the OCC, the party goes up two flights of stairs and waits to be announced. However, one of our groomsmen uses a wheelchair and couldn’t take the stairs.”

“While we were standing around, trying to figure out how we could coordinate our stair entrance with Omar’s elevator entrance, my youngest bridesmaid piped up with, ‘Can’t we ALL just fit in the elevator?’” So the entire wedding party piled into the elevator, the bride and groom pressed against the back. “Before the elevator doors closed, our DJ snapped a picture. So far, it’s been our absolutely favorite picture from the night.”

Rachel’s best advice to future brides is to not freak out. “Especially in the week or two before the wedding. At that point, whatever is done is done, and if something’s not done, it’s probably not going to get done, so why worry about it?”

Bridal Shows AttendedWonderful World of Weddings
Make-upVon Maur at the Corners in Brookfield
HairKim Meyer at Funky Farmhouse Studios in Hartland
Rehearsal DinnerRevere’s, Delafield
CeremonySt. Luke’s, Brookfield
ReceptionOconomowoc Community Center, Oconomowoc
CatererOut&Out Catering, Cedarburg
Cake Designer/DessertSweet Talkin’ Treats, Watertown
FlowersModern Bloom, Oconomowoc
Music/EntertainmentHigh Energy DJs, Waterloo
PhotographerCasi Lea Photography
FormalwearMen’s Wearhouse

Catering, PBtips, Planning, Reception, Tradition / Theme / Culture

Daring to be Different: Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free, and Allergen-Free Dining

December 27, 2018
Vegetarian entree wedding reception

In the not so recent past, we can remember a dark phase of wedding catering, a time in history when the courtesy of offering a vegetarian option to your guests meant a plate of buttered noodles and steamed carrots. A fine meal for residents in a maximum security prison, but definitely not an ideal meal for a wedding guest. At a wedding reception however, plated next to the fragrant array of colors and flavors of the non-vegetarian option, the classic noodle-carrot combo elicits a resigned shrug from the unlucky diner.

Vegans were even more rarely satisfied; the idea that a person would opt out of hollandaise was a downright slap in the face to any self-respecting chef. Having a shellfish or nut allergy turned appetizer hour into a game of Russian roulette. And a gluten-free life meant one thing at a wedding: starvation.

But we are in a new era, friends. Food preferences and limitations are common enough now that you can expect more than one odd guest with special needs. The chefs in the game today understand these greater challenges. We can now expect exciting dishes while managing food restrictions, creating unique options that don’t scream “high maintenance guest,” and instead blend in with or highlight other more mainstream selections. Lifestyle choices, religious beliefs, and health considerations are all easily accommodated simply by communicating and collaborating in advance.

Be Proactive

Identifying any dietary restrictions early allows for a more thoughtful menu. You and your spouse-to-be can design a meal to suit your own lifestyle choices or health mandates, while also respecting those of your guests. Preparation is key, and this involves some prior communication with your guests on the matter.

Saz’s Catering Sales and Event Manager, Angie Neiman, recommends including a section on your RSVP card for your guests to note any allergies or dietary restrictions. She also believes in accommodating such restrictions more organically by offering a varied menu to satisfy all tastes. “A well-rounded meal is a great idea, no matter if you have guests with dietary restrictions or not,” Neiman says. “Your selections should include a range of things from heavy to light, vegetarian to meat hearty, dairy-free vs. cheese, cheese, and more cheese. This will make sure every guest gets a chance to eat something amazing!”

Vegetarian wedding entrees, vegan entrees, vegetarian caterer Milwaukee, portobello steak

Ratatouille En`Croute with Steak Portobello Mushroom. The Ratatouille is squashes, onions and cheese wrapped in puff pastry and covered in marinara.

Think beyond the obvious and work with your caterer for hors d’oeuvres and dinner options. Bacon wrapped bacon is a crowd pleaser to many, but exclusive to others. Invite other flavors that not only satisfy a limited diet but also excite those without. Offering “safe” options to all guests allows for a more memorable menu. Another tip: this commingling of diets is easier to achieve with a buffet, being sure to clearly identify wherever necessary with a discreet “GF” or “V” placard, or noting what might be an allergy risk.

When crafting a sit-down dinner that respects special diets, it is imperative to work with a chef who knows what they’re doing. Chef Jack’s Catering warns couples not to assume every company can deliver dishes that fit within every dietary need. “You don’t want to settle for a meal that is sub-par, simply because your caterer doesn’t have the experience or menu options. Ask your potential caterers about their past experience creating and serving dishes that meet dietary restrictions.”

Prior expertise is also a safety measure for your guests. A great chef will know nut allergies aren’t limited to the nut itself, but also dishes made with nuts in proximity to the nut-free dish, or nut oil residue on an unwashed pan. The number of nuts in this paragraph is an allergen in and of itself, so we should probably move on.

Dinner Ideas

Let’s open our mind now to the new definition of a vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free meal. These can often include meatless rice pastas tossed with any number of robust sauces, lasagna made with dairy-free ricotta or zucchini noodles. Cheese isn’t off-limits to vegetarians, so the options open even more to them, adding flavor with dairy where animal protein is prohibited.

Steak isn’t just for the carnivores on your guest list. Veggie steaks are becoming a more popular choice for veggie friendly eaters. “They’re going to become more trendy in the years to come, and it’s more than just the typical portabella,” says Saz’s Sous Chef, Samantha Mackay. “On our menu, we have a seared cauliflower steak with roasted poblano vinaigrette, served with a charred corn and tri-color quinoa salad, and I can see this [translating] to beets, select squash, celery root, and cabbage.”


Don’t forget the optics. What we see on our plate energizes our taste buds as much as its scent. Saz’s is committed to bringing vegetarian and vegan meals to the table that aren’t simply brown, white, and beige. “You eat with all of your senses; you can see caramelization and bright colors, you can smell the roasted garlic and spices opening up, you can feel and hear the caramelization on top of a good crème brulee when you crack it. Why should vegans and vegetarians have to settle for a meal that can come off as an afterthought, when there are so many options in the food world now?”

Amy at TH Catering also believes in making diet-friendly meals delicious right off the bat. “Not only do couples like to choose a vegetarian item as their main dish for those that are vegetarian, but we have some that choose these dishes because they just love the taste!”

Flavor isn’t limited to the meat-and-potatoes crowd anymore. With prior planning, the right partners, and a big imagination, you will not only please those who subscribe to an alternative diet, but to anyone with a taste for good food.

For a full list of Premier Bride Milwaukee approved caterers, click here!