Melissa and James were married in a traditional church ceremony at Calvary Evangelical Free followed by a reception at the Rochester Senior Center in Rochester, Minn. on January 4. “We knew that we wanted a candlelit reception (with Christmas lights and candles everywhere),” Melissa said. “The [Rochester Senior Center’s] ballroom had tall ceilings with exposed beams, low lighting, and big windowns — perfect for the idea we loved.” The bride wore a strapless sweetheart fit ‘n’ flare wedding gown, accessorized with her hair in an updo, fingertip-length veil, faux fur bolero, knot gloves, and a pair of boots, while the groom wore a light gray suit, accessorized with a tie. Bridesmaids wore short gold dresses, accessorized with pashmina shawls, and carried bouquets of peonies and greenery. “I adored my bridesmaids/attendants’ dresses,” she said. “They all picked out their own glittery gold dresses, and they looked gorgeous. This kept their budget low, but allowed them to pick out dresses that fit their styles. Plus, glittery gold was fantastic with our ‘woodsy glam’ theme.” Almost 200 guests gathered to witness the joining of these two families at 5 o’clock. “The minutes before walking down the aisle were very sureal, yet clear,” Melissa said. “I was standing alone in the hallway as my bridesmaids walked down the aisle. The music was playing, and I was able to reflect on the journey that led me to my Mr. Wonderful. It was incredibly powerful to have that moment alone. To be in the moment and really say, ‘yes.’ I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” The reception took place in the ballroom shortly after portraits were taken in the snow! “Because I was living in Canada during wedding planning, my parents did so much work,” she said. “They are amazing. They handpicked, painted, and glittered over 3,000 pine cones. My dad cut down trees, making centerpieces, candlestands, and branch decor. We had tons of everything. It was really a winter wonderland wedding.” Dinner and dancing ended with a bag of Chicago popcorn from Carroll’s Corn. The newlyweds’ best advice? “The advice we would give couples is to identify your top priorities before you even start planning,” Melissa said. “My husband and I identified that we wanted to look good, have an A+ photographer, and have great decor/lighting. Throughout the planning process, having our priorities helped us to invest our time/money into the right places. It definitely brought a clarified vision, which helped a ton!”
Sarah and Matt were married at Canlis in Seattle, Wash. on August 16. “We both are foodies, and when we found out one of the nicest restaurants in the city did weddings, we jumped at the chance to have our wedding there,” Sarah said. “We also knew that their service is impeccable, and our guests would be well taken care of.” The bride wore a sweetheart a-line wedding gown with an illusion lace bodice and tulle skirt, accessorized with her hair in an updo, jeweled sash, and a pair of peep-toe high heels, while the groom wore a light gray suit, accessorized with a striped tie. “Our main colors were blue and yellow,” she said. “We wanted a lot of bright colors for the rest of the flowers.” Bridesmaids wore short long-sleeved lace blue dresses and carried bouquets of roses, dahlias, hydrangeas, daisies, and greenery. Before the ceremony, the couple opted for a first look on the staircase. It took place in one of the three dining rooms, which features 180 degree views of the Seattle city skyline, and officiated by her uncle/godfather. Once the vows were sealed with a kiss, it was official! Fun fact: the marriage license was signed in the wine cellar! “As a thank you to my parents for contributing to the wedding, we got them each a special present,” Sarah said. “For my dad, we arranged for one of the owners of the restaurant to put together a whiskey tasting for him and his two brothers during cocktail hour. All three of them absolutely loved it are still talking about it!” The reception followed shortly thereafter. Guests were encouraged to sit wherever they liked. Tables were decorated with white linens, blue napkins, vintage vase and vessel and wine bottle centerpieces atop wooden tree slices, and votive candles, surrounded by upholstered chairs. In lieu of a traditional guest book, “we put out little note cards where people could write down their funny or serious advice for us,” she said. The favors were even homemade. “I loved making our herb salt favors,” Sarah said. “We have gotten so many compliments on how practical, tasty, and how very ‘us’ they were/are.” A two-tiered buttercream-frosted cake was cut and served concluding dinner. The newlyweds’ best advice? “For the day-of, build some buffer time into your timeline because things will take longer than you think,” Sarah said. “Don’t sweat it if you have to cut out a picture location. In the end, it’s all about celebrating you and your husband. Also, both of you should take a moment during your reception to soak it all in and enjoy it.” At the end of the night, they jetted off to their honeymoon in Napa.
Joy and Matthew were married at Brush Creek in West Milton, Ohio on June 14. “We wanted a peaceful, outdoor setting that gave us the option to have our wedding festivities inside in case of inclement weather,” Joy said. “We adored the greenery surrounding the ceremony and reception site as well as the sight and sound of the creek in the background.” The bride wore a strapless lace fit ‘n’ flare wedding gown, accessorized with her hair half-up/half-down in loose curls and fingertip-length veil, while the groom wore a three-piece tan suit, accessorized with a tie. Bridesmaids wore long chiffon dresses and carried bouquets roses and baby’s breath. “I was thrilled with the attire of the wedding party,” she said. “I am so happy with my decision to alternate purples for the bridesmaid dresses and my husband’s decision to have the groomsmen were suspenders.” Before the ceremony, the couple opted for a first look. Guests were greeted with a wooden arrow sign that directed them. Aisles were lined with quote from 1 Corinthians 13, mason jar markers, and a burlap bow at the entrance. One the vows were sealed with a kiss, it was official, with ribbon wands being waved in the air! The reception took place shortly after. Tables were decorated with purple linens and napkins, wine bottle centerpieces atop lace doilies, and picture frame numbers, surrouned by folding padded chairs. Paper lanterns were hung overhead. “I cannot stop thinking about dancing for hours with my family and friends underneath the stars,” Joy said. “It was an absolute joy!” The newlyweds’ best advice? “Enjoy the planning process,” she said. “It can be extremely stressful at times if you let the little things get to you. Your engagement is a very special part of you and your fiance’s lives. Don’t let wedding planning consume you, make a conscious effort to do and discuss non-wedding related things with each other too.” At the end of the night, they jetted off to their honeymoon in Mexico.
Rachel and Quentin were married in a traditional church ceremony at Edinbrook Baptist followed by a reception at Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park, Minn. on January 4. “It is only a few blocks away from each of our family’s homes, and a few minutes drive from the church,” Rachel said. “When I was young, my family would go to Easter brunch here every year, and I always loved it. I thought there would be no way I could afford to get married at a golf course, but our modest food menu put it right our price range.” The bride wore a strapless a-line wedding gown, accessorized with her hair in a sideswept ponytail, jeweled headband and sash, and a pair of t-strap high heels, while the groom wore a light gray suit, accessorized with a matching vest and tie. Bridesmaids wore long one-shoulder blue chiffon dresses and carried bouquets of roses and dusty millers. Guests were greeted with a non-tradtional card box and guest book — a birdcage and globe! Everyone was asked to sign on destination spots for the “future world travelers.” Fun fact: the ceremony was officiated by Quentin’s uncle. Once the vows were sealed with a kiss, it was official with almost 250 witnessing. Pine cones served doublt-duty as escort cards. Tables were decorated white linens, gold runners, mason jar centerpieces, animal numbers, and votive candles. “We printed off sketched pictures of animals so each table was a different one,” she said. “They looked really cute on the tables. We are so into animals, we already have three pets together and are planning our future pet family! The best part was that we announced that for any clinking of glasses, we weren’t going to kiss unless that table made their animal sound. When we first announced this, people started practicing their animal sounds. It was hilarious! It was so much fun hearing the animal sounds all night whenever anyone wanted us to kiss.” Breakfast was served for dinner and chocolate chip cookies instead of cake. “These are our favorite things, and we knew we had to have them,” Rachel said. The dance floor playlist was handpicked too. “I didn’t want to do anything except dance because it was all of my songs,” she said. “It’s cheesy! But in the middle of the party, the floor magically cleared and my husband and I danced to the Selena Gomez version of ‘Let It Go.’ We had just seen Frozen a few days earlier, and I was obsessed (even more than everyone else because, hello, I was a winter bride!). I love the snow and couldn’t believe there was a movie that celebrated it in such a great way. It was the best celebrating our beautiful new marriage in the -30 degree weather.” The newlyweds’ best advice? “Don’t get caught up in the things that the industry says you need,” Rachel said. “Make your wedding all about you and have it whatever way you want it. We had a ton of personal details and that’s what made the day so fun. We weren’t worrying about our wedding being perfect or ideal for anyone but us.” At the end of the night, they exited amongst a sea of sparklers and jetted off to Oregon for their mini-moon!
Alixandria and Joel were married at Buck Creek State Park’s C.J. Brown Reservoir in Springfield, Ohio on September 20. “It fit everything we wanted in a venue,” Alixandria said. “We wanted somewhere outdoors, near water (Joel always wanted a beach wedding, but with our huge families that just wasn’t happening.) and would allow us to do our own thing, be able to choose our food, decor, etc. The staff at the reservoir were so helpful from the very beginning and helped us achieve our dream wedding day!” The bride wore a v-neck lace a-line wedding gown with an illusion back, accessorized with her hair down in loose curls with a crown and a pair of TOMS, while the groom wore a dark gray vest and pants with a checkered button-up shirt, accessorized with a bow tie. Bridesmaids wore mix ‘n’ matched long and short purple dresses and carried bouquets of baby’s breath. Guests were greeted with an assortment of ceremony seating, from folding chairs and benches.”One of my favorite moments from our wedding was when Joel’s dad (who officiated) pronounced us husband and wife and told Joel he could kiss his bride,” she said. “Joel and I both just started laughing! We were so excited. We had talked about the day that we would finally be married for months, years. And it was finally here, officially! And true to Joel-fashion, he cracked this huge, goofy grin, and I couldn’t help but laugh at my silly HUSBAND.” The reception took place underneath the pavilion hung with string lights. Tables were decorated with burlap and lace runners, single stem vases and vessels, and vintage dinnerware and silverware at each place setting. “We mismatched it for appetizers and dinner,” Alixandria said. “My mom collected, washed, and prepared all of this for over 150 people. This is something my mom and I had always talked about doing at my wedding ‘one day,’ and she made it happen. Another detail from our wedding we loved is that most of it was done by family and friends. Decorations, prep work, chalk signs, the food, the bride and groom cake, our amazing cake stand, the bouquets, and all of the set up and tear down.” In addition to cake, there was also cupcakes and a “goodie bar” complete with lollipops, M&M’s, and Smarties. The newlyweds’ best advice? “Ask for opinions and suggestions,” she said. “And definitely take everyone into consideration. when planning your glorious day. But when it comes down to it, do what YOU want! Make sure that when the day is over, you don’t look back and say, ‘I wish we had done ___ the way I had envisioned it. Instead of this way so ___ would be happy.’ You are the ones who will be reliving this day and telling it to your grandkids and great grandkids.”