A: Steven and I bonded over our love of travel on our very first date. It turned out that we both had a the same top ranked destination on our bucket lists. Since meeting, we have traveled every chance we’ve got, become heavily involved in Rotary Youth Exchange, and made friends from all over the world. With that in mind, it seemed only fitting to have a travel themed wedding. This included international themed food, favors, decorations and flowers.
Q: Let’s talk wedding decor. How did you decorate your space for the ceremony and the reception? Was any part of the decor DIY?
A: We were very budget conscious about our wedding. There were a couple of key areas that we wanted to splurge on such as the photography, DJ, and food, so almost every part of our decor was borrowed, purchased second-hand, or DIY. I learned how to fold paper airplanes for place cards and origami flowers out of atlas pages for the boutonnieres. Instead of table numbers, we created postcards using photos from vacations we’ve taken together. My mom helped me make a sign at the entrance marking the distances guests had to travel to attend the wedding. In addition to the decorations, I created the save the dates, the invitations and the programs. It saved us a ton of money to do things ourselves, and we were really able to take pride in those details.
Q: What were the florals like in your wedding? Did you use flowers in any of your design elements like the bridal bouquets, centerpieces or ceremony backdrop? Did they play an important part in the overall style of your wedding?
A: I designed our centerpieces and bouquets myself. We chose long tables instead of round so that we could use a scattering of smaller elements rather than large expensive centerpieces. Steven drilled holes into stacks of books that served as vases on each table. The floral arrangements featured peacock feathers from a friend’s peacocks. I was able to make them ahead of time by going with a combination of faux flowers and Pothos vines instead of fresh cut flowers. That spring I chose the flowers for my garden flower pots with our wedding colors in mind so I would be able to use them at church and reception venue.
Q: Did you personalize the day in any way (food trucks, guest entertainment etc.)? What were some of your favorite parts of your wedding?
A: It was very important to us to showcase the talents of our friends and family. We enlisted our very accomplished musician friends to perform all of the ceremony music. Our photographer was a friend and former neighbor from Madison, and the desserts were made by a friend’s mother.More than anything, our goal was to make the day fun for everyone. We booked a party bus for the entire bridal party and significant others. It made stops for ice cream cones and craft beer on our way to the reception. It was Steve’s awesome idea to replace the glass clinking with a gong. When guests wanted to make us kiss, they had to pay $5.00 to ring the gong. We donated all of the money to the Rotary Youth Exchange program. This added a lot of fun and excitement to dinner and we raised over $600 to help send kids on exchange.
Q: Let’s talk fashion. How did you both choose your wedding day look? Describe the looks in detail.
A: It was important to us that our bridal party wore clothing that was comfortable and affordable: Aside from my dress, no one in our bridal party had to spend over $50 on their attire, something I’m very proud of. The bridesmaids dresses were knee length summer dresses in various shades of teal and aqua. They each picked out their own copper or brown shoes to wear, and I made jewelry to match each of their dresses. The groomsmen wore their own suits with matching shirts & ties. Steven’s suit was one he already owned. He added a bit of his own personality by wearing a superman shirt underneath as an homage to his favorite superhero.My dress took a long time to find, but the search was worth it. On a trip to Istanbul I had seen the most beautiful dress in a shop window. Of course at that time I wasn’t in the market for a wedding dress so I just snapped a picture. With that as my inspiration, I dragged my mom to every bridal shop in a 50 mile radius, but nothing was even close. So, I scoured the internet until I found one by Maggie Sottero with the same tulle fabric, A-Line silhouette, and delicate silver beading. I bought it second-hand online. It was in my size and needed hardly any alterations. I had the mother of one of Steve’s former students make a custom back-drop necklace to go with it.
Q: How did you meet? Tell us about the proposal.
A: Steven was an educator at a middle school in Cottage Grove, WI, and it was my first day substitute teaching there. We were both assigned to gym supervision in the morning. It was instant attraction from across the room, but didn’t even catch each other’s names. At the end of the day, he asked some kids from the class I had been subbing in. None of them could remember my name even though it had been written on the board all day. It would be another couple of months before I was called to sub at that school again and we could finally introduce ourselves.
Q: What was the most anticipated or special moment of your wedding day?
A: For me, there were two special moments. The first was to be walked down the aisle by my dad. He was in a very serious car accident about 6 months before the wedding, and over the next few weeks of doctors visits they discovered he had cancer. The car accident led them to catch the cancer in time, and his treatments finished the week before our wedding. It was nothing short of miraculous that he was able to walk me down the aisle.The second most meaningful moment came before dinner. We asked our guests to stand if they had traveled two or more hours to join us that day. Then we asked them to keep standing if they had to take a plane to get here. Finally, we asked them to remain standing if they needed a passport to attend our wedding. It was incredible to see how many people traveled enormous distances to celebrate with us.
Q: Do you have any wedding planning or marriage advice that you’d like to share with other couples planning their day?
A: Don’t listen to what others say about tradition and expectations. You can never hope to please everyone. The “risks” we took throughout our day are the things that turned out to be the most memorable. This is your day. Have fun with it.