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Autumn Wedding in Door County

I’ve seen my fair share of fall weddings, but none have captivated my heart quite like this. It’s a fresh, textured take on the rustic affair, with pops of golden yellow everywhere you look. Sash and Bow designed the beauty, Ebb & Flow whipped up the florals, and Emily Steffen made certain not a moment went missed. Get comfy-cozy and join me in the gallery right here.

From Emily Steffen… A wedding full of fall-colors, great textures and the BEAUTIFUL scenery of the Horseshoe Bay beach club in Door County, WI! :) All inspired by old black-and-white Carry Grant movies…..tall candelabras, a lush wedding dress and a dapper groom in a black bow-tie! The vision that Ashley dreamt up was amazing! The guests were greeted by the crashing waves of Lake Michigan and were wined and dined with amazing food, delicious macaroons and heart-felt toasts to the bride and groom! :) It was quite great that everyone around the over-sized square table-arrangement got a chance to toast the newlyweds! Ashley and John ended the night with a BIG hand and surprised guests with a Trolly-ride through scenic parts of door county and ended with a stop at the famous WILSONS for a late-night ice cream snack – John’s fave family ice cream parlor!

Photography: Emily Steffen Photography | Flowers: Ebb & Flow Flowers | Ceremony And Reception: Horseshoe Bay Beach Club | Ceremony And Reception : Horseshoe Bay Beach Club | Design And Coordination: Sash And Bow

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Wisconsin Nature Reserve Wedding

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!


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.

Photography: Austin Gros | Planner: Weddings By Nancy | Cake: International Bake Shoppe | Catering: Traditions | Floral: Monet Floral And Gifts | Music: DJ Kelly Wilde | Rentals: Topps Elite Tent Rentals | Video: Capture Studios | Wedding Venue: Norskedalen Nature Center

Romantic Winter Engagement

You would never know it, but it was freezing the day of this engagement session.  I’m talking a few degrees above zero kind of freezing.  But that didn’t stop these two cuties from frolicking around the gorgeous farm landscape, wine in hand, to celebrate their upcoming nuptials.  Nope, they braved the cold and wind and snapped up one adorable image after another with The McCartneys Photography.  See them all here.

From The McCartneys Photography… Early on in their wedding planning, Rach and Gar considered having their wedding on the beautiful farm you see in these images. The property has been in Gary’s family forever and from the rolling landscape to the charming red barn, it’s a scene that just begs to be photographed. After much deliberation they found another lovely place to celebrate their wedding day, but Gary’s Grandparents’ farm was the PERFECT spot for their engagement session!

We always love photographing couples in meaningful locations and spent weeks looking forward to this session!! Rachel & Gary put so much thought and planning into what they wanted to incorporate in their images, and we had countless emails bouncing back as they continued to plan & decide on outfits. Don’t you just love their style! And that stunning sequin top!?! Rachel and Gary’s picnic scene was made even more special by the wine Rachel brought back from Italy five years ago, a blanket that her parents got in Greece, and each of their favorite Cafe Latte treats! 

What happened on the day of their engagement session can honestly only be described as an experience. The wind chill was maybe a degree or two above zero, but between the four of us our spirits were full of laughter and warmth!  Walking the hillside, we made our way around the farm where we did backflips over the rolling hills and twisty trees that we thought were transplanted from California. If we’re being honest, these two deserve an award for managing to make single digit temperatures look like they were on an adorable date in Ireland. We cannot wait until their barn wedding this September!

From the Bride… Our relationship started with the first class we both ever attended at St. Mary’s. This class would be the bond that sparked conversations and a true beginning. Our friendship grew throughout college parties, cafeteria lunches, and sporting events. Toward the end of the year our relationship developed and we had our first kiss. Summer break came soon after and we were forced our separate ways. We kept in touch over the summer, but it wasn’t until sophomore year when we started to truly fall in love. I headed back to school early from summer break and Gary was heading back for work. The week prior to the start of school we were the only two on campus and spent the entire week laughing, drinking, and enjoying each other’s company. After many movie nights and ramen noodle dinners we eventually declared our relationship on October 9, 2008. (We didn’t officially know the day we started dating so we picked this day so Gary could remember, as it is the day after his birthday.) From there we became inseparable. We grew stronger and closer together every day. We were best friends from the start and knew that we were better together.

Every year we plan a weekend up north, just the two of us. With our busy work schedules, a weekend up north together is always what we need and look forward to each fall. Gary picked me up from work early Friday afternoon. As a surprise to me, he was waiting in my work lobby with a dozen pink roses. Me not thinking, and him smiley but nervous as can be, I was just excited to see him and eager to get on the road. Our plan was to make a stop at my house to pick up my bag and hit the road. To my surprise, I walked into the kitchen to find candles lit and roses everywhere. Gar is often very thoughtful and likes to surprise me with flowers randomly. So naturally I was very grateful for the thoughtful flowers, but still completely unaware of what he was actually planning. He then pulled me into the living room where a dozen more roses and candles were lit everywhere. With a white sheet hanging in front of the fireplace and a movie projector ready to play a video, I was very confused. Little did I know that the video he was about to play, would change my life forever.

Gar began telling me that he wanted to celebrate our 4 ½ year anniversary in a special way. So he put a ‘little something’ together for me. Gary, super talkative, sweaty and nervous. Me, still believing him and super anxious to see what he had put together to celebrate 4 ½ crazy amazing years. Gar had put together an incredible video, with the help of my sister, of photos of me growing up, our favorite songs and photos of when Gar and I met. At this point I was in shear amazement and pure tears. He had filmed everyone in my family and his, including my sister all the way in Austria, wishing Gar and I nothing but blessings and love as we started our life together. At this point, I was so covered in tears and so wrapped in his arms, I just knew. To end the video Gar shared a clip of himself expressing his love and what his world meant with me in it. He then got down on one knee and it all came out. The moment we will both never forget. The moment that I so ecstatically said YES and he so happily held me and kissed me.

Following the proposal, Gar and I shared a bottle of wine that I brought home from Spain four years ago. My family came home to celebrate with us before we took off to spend the weekend up north together. Every bit of the proposal was perfect and a day that we will both never forget. Looking back on the proposal it really is the little things that Gar did that meant the world to me. The thoughtful roses and candles lit everywhere, our favorite chips to snack on during the video, the secret video cameras set up to record everything, and my sister waiting at the top of the stairs listening to it all. Every bit of it was perfect.

Photography: The McCartneys Photography | Cake: Cafe Latte | Beer: Home Brew, The Couple | Wine: Italy

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The McCartneys Photography