From the very moment these two sweethearts promised to say “I Do,” they knew just where to celebrate their big day – Walnut Grove Farm.  Yep, not only is this stunning locale the very lucky (and very dashing) groom’s family farm, it’s also one of the most breathtaking settings you will ever lay your eyes upon, with a tree-filled clearing perfect for ceremonies and a glorious red barn adding a touch of rustic elegance to the landscape.  Kari Bedford Photography was on hand to capture all of the pretty and the heartwarming moments are literally FILLING the gallery.  Join me there for more.

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From the Bride… Nathan and I met during our freshman year at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign. Nathan proposed at midnight on New Year’s Eve 2011 while ringing in the New Year with our closest friends. It was such a celebratory night filled with champagne, good food and fun! I was excited to start planning our dream wedding. We both love the fall, with its rich colors and crisp weather, and had a perfect location in mind: Nathan’s family farm, Walnut Grove Farm, in Knoxville, Illinois. Located just three hours west of Chicago (where we both live and work), the farm is breathtaking — especially in the fall with all of the leaves changing and endless fields of corn. The town of Knoxville is small and quaint with beautiful local shops and restaurants. We both wanted our day to be romantic, classic and intimate. Our photographer, Kari Bedford, was married on the farm, so I knew she would know just how to capture the day. We also decided to have a string quartet play during our ceremony in the Walnut Grove and asked members of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra to play because Istvan Szabo was also married on the farm. Our pastor, the Rev. Michel Clark has known the King family for more than 30 years, so it was only natural for him to marry us. My close friend, Candice Albergo, designed and baked our red velvet wedding cake. We also served homemade pies from family-owned Bishop Hill Bakery, which turned out to be a big hit among our guests! All who attended went home with handmade soy candles with various fall fragrances made by Jartastic Gifts, a local artisan. I designed the programs and menus, using a beautiful tree stamp I found at Paper Source. The tree stamp not only symbolized the Walnut Grove, but also the growing love we have for each other.

We wanted everyone to feel welcome at Nathan’s home and to celebrate our marriage and the joining of our families. It was important to both of us to make meaningful choices and incorporate tradition and family. I wore my mother’s veil from my parents’ wedding 37 years ago. My friend Jill Novak and her mother, who own an Etsy shop called Jill’s Boutique, modernized the veil by adding pearls to the veil’s crown and transforming the veil cap into a hairpiece, keeping the lace and pearl detailing. (We ended up using pieces of the original veil to make a handkerchief that we gave to my mother at our rehearsal dinner.) Little did I know, my mother would let me use her lace handkerchief from her wedding day as my “something old.” And I couldn’t have a farm wedding without my cowgirl boots! Nathan’s mother, Jan, designed all of the flower arrangements for the event — they were stunning. She created a large ceremonial wreath surrounded by gourds, pumpkins, corn stalks and bundled hay, as well as gorgeous eclectic table arrangements with succulents and flowers freshly picked from the garden. We were overjoyed when Jan had a straw wedding wreath made for us, covered in hundreds of twinkle lights. It was hung in the barn for our reception, and it was truly a heartfelt surprise. We also used Jan’s antique tablecloths to help create a vintage look.

As we said our vows, we were surrounded by our family and close friends. My sister was my matron of honor, Nathan’s twin brother was his best man, my cousins were my bridesmaids, Nathan’s nieces were our flower girls, and my cousins’ sons were our ring bearers. Nathan’s groomsmen were a collection of family and close friends from grade school and college. It was so special to marry the love of my life with our support system surrounding us on that crisp autumn evening. After the ceremony, we took beautiful pictures around the property. We then had a cocktail hour in the barn, decorated with flowers, gourds, hay bales and twinkling lights. We then moved to an open tent and had dinner under the stars. We chose a menu to highlight local fare, including a greens and apple salad, roasted vegetables and filet mignon. Once we cut the cake and served the homemade pies, we returned to the barn to celebrate and dance! Nathan’s aunts surprised us by performing an original song they wrote for us. As we danced the night away, we knew we had chosen an unforgettable location and will always remember our wedding day fondly! 

Wedding Photography: Kari Bedford Photography / Wedding Venue: Walnut Grove Farm in Knoxville, Illinois / Floral Design: Jan King of Walnut Grove Farm (The Groom’s Mother) / Officiant: Rev. Michel Clark / Catering: Club 41 / Pies: Bishop Hill Bakery / Wedding Cake: Candice Albergo, A Friend of the Bride / Wedding Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas / Wedding Menus + Programs: DIY with Supplies via Paper Source / Ceremony Musicians: Members of the Peoria Symphony Orchestra / Equipment Rental: AAA Rents / Guest Book: Shutterfly / Favors: Jartastic Soy Candles and Specialty Gifts (jartasticgifts@yahoo.com) / Wedding Dress: Priscilla of Boston (Now Closed) / Bride’s Accessories: Mother of the Bride’s + Redesigned by Jill’s Boutique / Bride’s Cowboy Boots: Frye via Nordstrom / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: ML Monique Lhuillier via Nordstrom / Flower Girls’ Dresses: Rare Editions via Dillards Groom’s, Groomsmen’s + Ring Bearers’ Attire: Nordstrom / Rings: Donna Jewelry Co.

Monique Lhuillier is a member of our Look Book. For more information on how members are chosen, click here.