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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

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