When you think destination wedding, usually your brain jumps straight to white sandy beaches, gorgeous French chateaus, or mountain retreats. But for this (I would be remiss not to say GORGEOUS) Chicago couple, the destination they had in mind was just two hours north in Wisconsin – and let me just put it out there, they have definitely put Wisconsin ON THE MAP. Judging by Nakai Photography‘s amazing photos, the destination was every bit as beautiful as the couple themselves, and that is something we LOVE when it comes to weddings. Another thing we love? Galleries filled to bursting with pages of stunning details!

Mike and I both attended the University of Kansas but never knew each other in college. After college we both made our way to Chicago and found each other first as friends due to our common KU connection and love of KU basketball. After a year or two as friends we decided there was something there more than just friends. We dated for the next three + years before we got engaged.

Our proposal was very sweet and special to my heart because it was quiet, personal, and such a sweet moment between the two of us. It was Friday, August 13th and Mike picked me up from work to run home to change as we were planning to meet friends out for drinks after work. To my surprise after walking a few steps into our living room the room was covered in dozens of red roses and propped up in the middle was a photo collage Mike had created of all these amazing photos and moments we’d spent together all the time we’d been together. He then whisked me away to the Trump Hotel for an evening of celebrating with friends, family, champagne, a six course tasting menu and celebrating the next big step he and I were about to embark on together.

For my 29th birthday, Mike took me to Kohler, WI for my birthday present. I, being from Chicago, couldn’t believe I had never been to OR heard of this place Kohler, WI which was only a short 2 ½ hour drive from Chicago. I was familiar with Kohler as in toilets, sinks and showers…., but Kohler, WI? Although we weren’t engaged yet I somehow found myself enamored by the thought of having a wedding at this Wisconsin destination gem. I could envision a wedding in the garden courtyard, where I would walk, what music I’d want playing, where I’d want people to sit.

Mike being from Green Bay and I from Chicago – we loved the idea of a destination wedding minus the major travel expense and having to actually get on a plane. After Mike proposed later that summer after our first trip to Kohler we joke that he ‘planted the seed’ for the idea of getting married in Kohler on purpose with that trip. It took us only but a few hours after getting engaged to look at each other and in one word we both knew “Kohler” was meant for our wedding and was fitting of our personalities and style in every way possible.

I wanted to stick with the idea of a garden theme with the hint of rustic elegance. The grounds and surrounding area of the American Club are filled with lush gardens and flowers I wanted to utilize those attributes that were already present in nature and accentuate with classic colors such as green, navy, browns and cream for my wedding colors. The American Club to me feels so opulent that I can only imagine the groom/groomsmen in tuxedos and the girls I found Lula Kate dresses from Bella Bridesmaid which had a high collar and their hair pulled up and back for a more sophisticated look to match the setting.

We wanted our ceremony to be very meaningful, intimate and personal. We ended up writing our own vows to one another. We didn’t read them to each other at all beforehand so it was a complete surprise to both of us to hear what the other one had written.

We had a rock ceremony which we read a prayer and had everyone at our wedding holding a stone during the prayer and everyone made a wish or positive thought toward the bride/groom during this time. Mike and I now have a beautiful glass canister in our living room with all the stones from our wedding so we have a little touch from everyone from our wedding we can look at and remember the big day from and those that helped us to celebrate such an occasion that will forever be special in our heart.

Some of my favorite photos are at a private residence we were given special permission to take photographs on the grounds in Kohler just down the street from the American Club. The garden maze, gazebo, back patio, front yard, fallen rustic trees – all were such neat and unique picturesque locations.

The photos in front of the Kohler factory are pretty amazing too. These were the pictures we took after the ceremony and I feel you can see and feel the happiness we were feeling in the moment plus the anxiety and nerves seem to have been lifted. The industrial look of the Kohler gates yet softened with the rustic vines overgrowing is one of my favorite backdrops.

I still remember going to see my ballroom before any of our guests came down from the cocktail hour. They opened the double doors and when I looked inside it was beyond anything I had even dreamed or thought up in my head. The head table was covered in white and ivory roses. We had lit candelabras on tables dripping with gorgeous fresh flowers with different size candles filling the open spaces on each table. Our friends still rave about the décor of the ballroom, I still remember tearing up at how amazing the day had turned out and how all my visions had turned into reality thanks to my amazing parents and planners at the venue.

Photography: Nakai Photography / Dress: Enzoani / Hair + Make-up: Custom Hair Lounge, Tania Gilbert and Nevsy Zee / Bridesmaid dresses: LulaKate from Bella Bridesmaid / Band: Eddie Butts Band / Wedding programs, invitations, menus, name cards, paper needs: Jessica Creter, Tulaloo Stationery / Flowers: Crystel Tershner at Destination Kohler / Event Planning: Lucas Chaltry, Events Manager Kohler / Ceremony Location: The American Club Courtyard / Reception Location: The American Club Ballroom / Shoes: Badgley Mischka

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