Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin Wedding
December 10, 2013
Classic WeddingsBeach WeddingsSummer Weddings
Fair warning to those of you in the midst of planning your wedding. One look at this wedding from The McCartneys and you'll be tempted to throw out every plan you've already made, book your tickets to Elkhart Lake, start sewing all new programs, and grab as many cake balls as you can along the way. It's just that good.
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From the beautiful bride... We're both into triathlons and running races, so our save the dates were 'race bibs' with 8.24.13 as the running number. Eric came up with the idea, and I made them all by hand over Thanksgiving with her family on an assembly line.

Since the ceremony was outdoors on the beautiful Osthoff grounds near the gazebo, we tried to plan for a theme of "natural garden tones". Kind of rustic and casual at the same time -- with mason jars, crates, window shutters, barn wood frames, etc. The colors were light green, beige, and blush pink. Since the reception was indoors in a ballroom, we had to design multiple vignettes to try to bring the outdoors in. Andrea's aunt grew flowers for her in her Minnesota garden, and brought them all the way to the wedding to use in the vignettes. Each place setting had an herb sprig on the menu.

We also wanted to make sure that the wedding had some fun personal touches. We served Spotted Cow beer from Wisconsin (one of our favorites!), had WI cheese and sausage appetizers during cocktail hour, and had a "Mr. & Mrs" corn hole/bags board outside on the lawn for our guests to enjoy.
One of our favorite elements at the wedding was the desserts bar. Eric's family owns a chocolate store in Birmingham, Michigan. We ordered hundreds of chocolate truffles, cake pops, sugar cookies, almond bark, and chocolate covered pretzels. In addition to red velvet wedding cake, guests were able to pack up a bag of desserts and take it home with them. And it was amazingly styled by Katie Jayne from Jayne weddings, who showcased all the desserts in vintage crates and milk glass jars, and created a gorgeous backdrop to make it a focal point of the room. It was a huge hit... the entire desserts table was gone by the end of the night!

Eric actually proposed at the Osthoff Resort when we were there last year July. We went up to Elkhart Lake for a triathlon one weekend. My parents came up to watch them in the race on Saturday. Then on Sunday Eric surprised me with room service breakfast (french toast - her favorite!) on the balcony overlooking the lake. Afterwards he brought out the champagne & strawberries, he made a toast and proposed right then and there! We enjoyed a leisurely day on the lake, got a massage at the Osthoff's amazing Aspira Spa, and then he surprised me again by having her entire family join them for brunch at the American Club in Kohler, WI.

When we started planning our wedding, we started thinking back upon our favorite weddings that we've attended as guests. They all shared a couple common connections: an awesome venue with a beautiful setting. Whether it be in Jamaica, California, Chicago, or Cleveland - we knew we wanted to pick a spot that was fun for everyone to enjoy, and where we could enjoy a portion of the wedding outdoors. It became obvious that the Osthoff would be our wedding destination from the very beginning. It was sentimental to me (because my family used to vacation in Elkhart Lake when I was growing up), it was a special place for us as a couple (because we got engaged there), and we knew that our guests would enjoy everything that Elkhart Lake has to offer - swimming, boating, hiking around the lake, live music on the beach, shopping, and dining.

Lots of wedding elements were DIY, and while I spearheaded the efforts, there are lots of people to thank for their help and contributions! Since we live in downtown Chicago, we don't have a lot of space to "craft". So we went up to my matron of honor's parent's house in Racine, Wisconsin for a full day of spray painting and woodworking. Megan and her parents helped out - so we accomplished a lot in one day!

There were also multiple craft nights to prep additional wedding materials. My college friends came over one night to help me hand-make all the wedding programs. We cut out all the kraft paper, program paper, and flags - and then I used a sewing machine to sew it all together. Additionally, my other Chicago girlfriends came over to help create the Thank You Chalkboard and signs that hung up on the white window shutters.

When everyone was eating dessert, Kelsy & Butch snuck us out at sunset to get some pictures down by the beach. As we were walking along the water, a group of little girls started gathering behind me. You could hear them say to one another "Wow, it's a real princess!" and "She's soooo pretty." They hid behind the lawn chairs and would peek out their heads from behind them to watch us getting our pictures taken. Then as we were walking away, the shouted "No, don't leave us!" It was the cutest thing ever. Definitely a moment we'll never forget.

Since the wedding was in the middle of the Osthoff grounds, the guests sitting out on their balconies could watch our ceremony from afar from outside their rooms. As we exited the ceremony to the recessional music, all of our guests cheered and clapped. Then as we walked away, all the balcony guests who were watching our ceremony started cheering for us! It was a fun moment that made us laugh.

In the middle of the reception dancing, the resort's fire alarm went off. We kept dancing through it for a song or two, but then had to evacuate the reception for a few minutes until the fire department knew it was a false alarm. I guess our guests were having too much fun that they just "burned up the dance floor!"

I got this great advice via email from one of Eric's family members who recently got married. I got the same advice from my married bridesmaids as well. Since it was highly recommended from multiple people, I did it - and it turned out to be one of the best memories of the whole night!

"Just wanted to say hello. I hope you are enjoying the last push of organizing and planning and that your plans are coming together. I know you've probably gotten about a million pieces of unsolicited advice but I wanted to share something with you that someone told me before our wedding. Feel free to use it or trash this angrily!! We had a great time during our reception and we remember most of it but we were also pulled in a ton of directions and were a little frazzled. One of my friends told me beforehand that we should do this, and I did and it was a pretty great moment/memory.
Designate one of your friends family to pull you aside at some point during your reception. When this happens just take a few minutes together to stand off to the side and take in every thing and everyone. It's really an awesome feeling to see everyone together having a ton of fun and it's a neat memory for later. It's kinda sappy, I know...but it really hit me pretty hard how loved we are seeing everyone there and having a grand time. "

Also, my matron of honor gave me a journal when I got engaged, to document all the special moments leading up to the wedding, and of course memories from the big day. I actually ended up using it, and now it's full of great stories, pictures and mementos from the entire process start to finish. It took a lot of work, but I know I'll be thankful someday in the future that I have it!