Wisconsin Nature Reserve Wedding
May 27, 2014
RusticRustic WeddingsOutdoor Weddings
I've never met an Austin Gros wedding I didn't absolutely love, but truth be told? This Wisconsin beauty might be my new all-time fave. Blanketed in natural scenery plus design from Weddings By Nancythere's basically a million pretty reasons to get cozy right here. Psssst: the film from Capture Studios is just a scroll away!
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From The Bride... When Lucas and I first got engaged, we knew we didn't want a traditional church wedding and ballroom reception. My brother tipped me off to Norskedalen. His exact words: "You should check out Norskedalen! It's perfect. You'll love it!" He was right. From the moment I stepped foot onto the Norskedalen property, I knew it was where we wanted to be married.

Initially, we fretted a bit over the possibility of bad weather - I even found myself researching average temperatures on September 15th, as well as how frequently it has rained on that date - but we quickly decided to trust our instincts and know that everything would be ok. As you can see from the photos, it couldn't have been a more perfect September day, with a high of 78 and not a cloud in the sky.

After settling on location, the next task Lucas and I dove into was music selection. Music is very important to both of us, so we knew we wanted to put a lot of thought into our music selections. We began compiling playlists - guest shuttle, bridal party shuttle, pre-ceremony, ceremony, post-ceremony recessional, cocktail hour, dinner, dance. Every song that played throughout our wedding, with the exception of the dance, was hand picked by us. We even made sure the songs transitioned well from one to another.

The drive out to Norskedalen was at least 30 minutes from town, so we arranged for coach transportation. We made a playlist for that, tailoring our music selections to the drive so that they started off with Animal Collective's "My Girls" in the city and ended with Band of Horses "I Go to the Barn Because I Like The" in the countryside. In between they heard Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles, Modest Mouse, The Kinks, The Beatles, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, and more. For the ceremony, we selected some of our favorite songs to play prior to the ceremony and immediately following, such as "Go Do" by Jonsi. The bridal party walked down the aisle to "Om Nashi Me" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and we recessed to "Home," also by Edward Sharpe. The most important song of all to me was my bridal procession. Before Lucas and I even got engaged, we knew that if we got married someday, I would walk down the aisle to "Saeglopur" by Sigur Ros. Sigur Ros has been my favorite band since I was 17 years old.

During cocktail hour, we played some of our favorite upbeat selections, including indie artists like Beirut, Kings of Convenience, and Devendra Banhart, but we wanted an eclectic mix too, since our tastes vary, so we also included songs like "In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry, "Dream" by the Everly Brothers, and "Mas Que Nada" by Sergio Mendes. During dinner, we decided to combine a mix of Rat Pack era lounge music with acoustic or lounge-style covers of alternative songs. For instance, Caetano Veloso's samba-inspired medley of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" or Regina Spektor's cover of Radiohea'ds "No Surprises." We wanted our guests to sit back and enjoy dinner and, once in a while, say to one another, "Is that a Nirvana cover?"

For our first dance, Lucas and I chose "Hysteric" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. We couldn't wait to dance to that song. For the mother/son and father/daughter dance, we decided to share the dance floor to Ben E. Knight's "Stand by Me." Lucas' mom has been his rock his whole life, and my father has supported me immensely. Those relationships are very important to us, and we are extremely close. We chose Stand By Me because we wanted our parents to know that even though we are grown up and married now, we still need them to stand by us and we will in turn stand by their side as well in love and support.

For the dance, we chose a DJ over a live band and don't regret it for a minute. The dance floor was packed until the night ended! We gave the DJ a list of requests and, most importantly, a strict list of "Do Not Plays." Perhaps I'm biased, but I think Kelly Wild served up the best wedding dance playlist I've encountered. We had so much fun!

I've talked about music a lot because it played such a vital role in our wedding day. We thought of it as our soundtrack. But that isn't all that went into our day.

Design: I've always described nature as my reset button, so we knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, and the rolling hills Norskedalen Norwegian Nature & Heritage Center was the perfect canvas. a rustic wedding but not a country wedding, so we introduced lux elements, such as chandeliers in trees. We wanted a bit of a hippie vibe but still high class, hence moss-covered tables with candelabras. We also wanted to include Lucas' love for literature, so we included vintage books in our design. Our primary colors were plum and moss green. The purple was inspired by my Grandmother, Marie Lokken. She passed away a few years ago, and purple was by far her favorite color - everything was purple for grandma - so we wanted to honor her by using a dusty plum throughout our design. Weddings by Nancy beautifully executed our vision.

Rings: The ring Lucas proposed with is my Grandma Lokken's wedding ring. She was very special to me, which is why we chose to take things further and use the plum color as part of our design inspiration. Additionally, Lucas' ring is his father's wedding ring. Unfortunately Lucas lost his dad when he was a baby, so it is very special for him to be able to wear Tom's ring. We love our heirloom rings, and there's nothing else we would have wanted.

Food: We worked with Traditions, a local restaurant and caterer in Onalaska, Wisconsin. They created a custom menu for our wedding and used all local and seasonal ingredients, which was very important to me and Lucas. We utilized passed hors d'ouvres during cocktail hour, which was a very elegant touch.

Beverages: My father loves wine. Since we used an outdoor venue, we were able to purchase all of the beer and wine and other beverages ourselves. In turn, my dad hand selected all the different wines we served, which were provided by UnWine'd from Onalaska, WI. We also served New Glarus beers, our favorite Wisconsin brewery.

Save the Date/Invitation/Program: I love writing, so I developed all the content for these items. Our close friend, Helena Ejica Martinez, is responsible for all of the design work, however. She is an incredibly talented artist and hand drew all of the artwork. Helena and I spent many late nights brainstorming concept and working on layout. This was a true labor of love, but I am so glad to have been a part of it. It is so fun to be able to look at our papers and remember all the precious time I spent with Helena as she created such beautiful and special pieces for us. We will cherish these papers forever.

Photography/Videography: We chose to work with Austin Gros out of Nashville and Capture Studios out of Minneapolis because they truly provide beautiful lifestyle and documentary style photography and videography. So much talent and so much creativity. When we look back at our photos and videos, it's as if we're experiencing the day all over again. That is what we wanted - to be able to relive our special day.

Final thoughts: So many people told us they didn't remember their own wedding day. We didn't want that to be true of our experience, so we really took the time to enjoy and appreciate every moment of our day. We can look back and say that we had as much fun at our own wedding as we have at other people's weddings - which is a big deal! That is the advice I will give every bride-to-be...just enjoy it. It goes by so fast, so give yourself permission to take everything in. This is your day, and no one expects you to do anything but enjoy yourself. Talk to who you want to talk to, take time to walk around and look at all of your flowers and the design work, sit down and eat your meal, drink your champagne, eat your cake, and dance until you fall down (which I did). The day is too special to spend time worrying.