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 Wesley were married at Seneca Hills Bible Camp in Franklin, Pa. on June 1. “Both Wesley and I worked at this camp through high school and college, so we knew this was the place for our outdoor venue that we wanted,” Sarah said. The bride wore a v-neck lace a-line wedding gown with capped sleeves, accessorized with a jeweled sash and t-strap sandals, while the groom wore a white button-up shirt, brown vest, and pants, accessorized with a red bow tie. Bridesmaids wore mix ‘n’ matched short Free People dresses in various muted colors and carried bouquets of baby’s breath. Guests were greeted with a chalkboard sign that said, “Flowers for her hair and candies for his pockets” and asked to sit on top of hay bales covered with blankets. “While the music was playing during the ceremony, Wesley and I stood there holding hands and watching the river gurling by,” she said. “It was a magical moment for me when time stood still, and it was just he and I. So peaceful!” After the officiant officially pronounced them husband and wife, pieces of confetti were thrown in the air. The reception followed inside the retreat center. Tables were decorated with white linens, burlap runners, vintage vase and vessel and wine bottle centerpieces, and scattered rocks. In addition to a cookie bar, there was also a mini cake bar. Flavors such as white cake with raspberry filling, chocolate cheesecake, confetti cake, and white cake with chocolate filling. The newlyweds’ best advice? “Splurge on a photographer,” Sarah said. “Those pictures are the visual momentos that you are left with so make sure they are amazing.”
Mary and Cody were married at the YMCA’s Camp Kon-O-Kwee in Fombell, Penn. on September 14. “I can’t say enough about how much I loved our venue,” Mary said. “It was by far my favorite that we looked at, and I am so glad I found it! We wanted an outdoor/indoor space that could accommodate all our 300 guests without being crowded, but still feel intimate.” The bride wore a sweetheart a-line wedding gown, accessorized with chapel-length veil, while the groom wore a casual gray button-up and pants along with a tan vest and tie. Before the ceremony, instead of a first look, they chose to exchange gifts without peeking! “I was standing in a clearing in the woods waiting to walk down the aisle with my mom, dad, brothers, and all of my bridesmaids, and everything seemed so calm though,” she said. “I thought I would be really emotional and nervous, but I was just really really excited! The last six years had led me to that moment, and for just a few seconds timed seemed to stand still. I couldn’t wait to marry the man I knew was waiting for me at the end of the aisle.” Following the vows, guests were asked to choose a colored goblet glass to use for the night (just look at the massive collection!) and mark with their names for cocktails, tables were named after cities, states, and countries traveled to and from, and the fare? A gourmet build-your-own taco bar and seven cakes. “Of all the elements in our wedding day, the flowers are at the top of the list as one of my favorites,” Mary said. “My family owns a flower farm, and I grew up cutting flowers in the field dreaming of the ones I would someday use in my own bouquet.” At the end of the night, everyone gathered to send the newlyweds off to their honeymoon with wish lanterns. Magical, right?