Enchanting – that’s the word that best describes Susan and Jason’s wedding day. The couple met in 2007 when Jason swooped in to help Susan run a business. “We worked together and grew very close,” Susan recalls. “We waited seven years, endured many struggles, but on the coldest day of January 2014, Jason found a running stream that hadn’t frozen. He took me there and got down on one knee.”
The couple started planning an utterly dreamy wedding. The theme: An enchanted forest in the vein of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “We had both been married before with formulaic weddings, so we wanted the opposite — something unexpected that would bring joy and happiness to everyone there. In fact, we almost made it more about our guests having fun than anything else.”
The ceremony took place at St. John the Baptist, a very small Catholic church in Paris, WI, that was over 100 years old with beautiful stained glass windows. Susan and Jason actually belong to another parish — St. Mary’s in Kenosha — but live closer to St. John’s, hence their choice of venue. “We brought the entire choir and orchestra from St. Mary’s to St. John’s,” Susan says.
The couple brought the enchanted forest theme into the church too, with birch trees, greenery, and a 4-foot wide aisle runner of real moss. But with all this beauty — from the décor to the choir hymns — Susan’s favorite moment of the ceremony was when Jason set eyes on her for the first time. “I could tell he was choked up,” she says. “We locked eyes and nobody else mattered. We weren’t nervous; we had waited for this day for a long time. We were overcome with joy.”
The party then moved to the reception site: The Mountaintop Chalet at the Grand Geneva Resort. The couple chose this location due to the quality of the venue and its proximity to both Milwaukee and Chicago. Plus, being a resort, the location would appeal to out-of-town guests looking for a weekend get-away. But these advantages are just the tip of the iceberg. “We loved the ski chalet’s glass walls and how it was so rustic and brought the outdoors inside.”
So how did they create a midsummer night’s dream indoors? The space was transformed with more than 80 trees, hundreds of vintage colored-glass vases, draped greenery, bistro lights hanging from the forest canopy, thousands of plants, and special touches like fairy houses. Susan and Jason skipped table linens to allow the natural wood to show through, and each had a unique tablescape of driftwood, flowers, mossy rocks, succulents, candles, and vases filled with flowers. Stepping into the Mountaintop Chalet was like stepping into another world.
The couple mingled their enchanted forest theme with a sense of historic charm. Vintage furniture filled the entryway, “memory stations” with old photos of loved ones sat here and there about the space, and guests were invited to leave presents and cards in a “gift trunk” from 1878.
Instead of using the venue’s place settings, Susan shopped for vintage finds. Each guest had three vintage pieces in their place setting with a note on the table inviting guests to imagine all the dinners this china had seen — and now, it was part of their day. Each place setting also had a small gift: a bottle of locally-produced honey. The other gift to their guests: homemade vanilla in glass jars.
Other DIY projects included mostly décor. Susan made the fairy houses and other tabletop decorations: “I made four forest-y centerpieces and the decorator worked to incorporate them.” The man behind the flower magic is Rod Oksuita and his team from Best Events in Janesville. “Rod went above and beyond to bring my vision to life, incorporating my DIY items and transforming every inch of the space into an enchanted forest.”
The other key players who helped pull off this dream: Wedding Consultant Kelly McDonald of Timeless Events and the wonderful staff at the Grand Geneva. “With Kelly, I didn’t have to worry about a thing from the rehearsal until the wedding reception was packed up. She did an amazing job. As for the team at the Grand Geneva, they were outstanding, especially with accommodating our special decorating – and the food was absolutely amazing.”
Speaking of food: Dinner was a lavish buffet of New York strip loin, roast turkey, a mac n’ cheese bar, a pasta station, and a selection of imported cheese and fruit. For a late night snack: falafel and pizza. Sweet things included a gorgeous cake with three flavors, made by the Grand Geneva chefs, and small desserts like cupcakes and European pastries scattered throughout the room. But the candy buffet stole the show: “It was the candy buffet to end all candy buffets,” Susan says. “Fancy truffles, all sorts of purple and green candies, all displayed on or in antique glass dishes, Turkish glass, vintage jewelry boxes, and tree stumps.”
With how unique Jason and Susan’s wedding was in all others ways, it comes as little surprise that their music selection for the reception was equally so. A bluegrass band, Above the Town, played during cocktail hour, and the guests raved about them. After dinner, they kept the party going with Ted Oliver Dueling Pianos, which was highly interactive and appealed to guests of all ages.
Despite this magical, over-the-top enchanting wedding, Susan’s advice to brides-to-be is very simple: “Don’t let the night go by in a blur without taking a few special moments with the people you care for — especially your husband. Take some time to be alone with him, spending some quiet moments to create special memories.” The beautiful wedding images were captured by Julie MayRee Photography.
|Wedding Consultant||Timeless Events|
|Invitations||Handmade by the Bride|
|Rehearsal Dinner||Corleone Sicilian Restaurant, Lake Geneva|
|Ceremony Location||St. John The Baptist Catholic Church, Paris, Wisconsin|
|Reception Location||The Mountaintop Chalet at the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva|
|Caterer and Cake Designer||Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, Lake Geneva|
|Flowers||Rod Oksuita, Best Events, Janesville|
|Music/Entertainment||Cocktail hour and dinner: Above the Town Bluegrass Band|
After dinner and dancing: Ted Oliver Productions dueling piano show
|Photographer||Julie May Ree Photography|
|Dress Designer||Oleg Cassini from David’s Bridal, Brookfield|
|Formal Wear||Mike Bjorn’s, Kenosha|
|Honeymoon||Two weeks in Manitowish Waters in a log home on a FISHING VACATION!|