Offbeat

Rachel + Trevor: A Sunny and Intimate Evansville Wedding

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Rachel + Trevor had a laid-back, intimate, and kid-friendly Spring wedding and it was awesome!

When I met with Rachel before the big day, she impressed on me how excited she was about the kid-friendly nature of her upcoming wedding day, particularly given that her three kiddos, and many others would be enjoying the festivities as well. And indeed, there were legos and coloring supplies aplenty!

Rachel + Trevor had that easiness about them that I love to see in couples who are truly comfortable with one another, and truly partners in life (and parenting). They chose to walk up the aisle together, which I always see as such a powerful sign of equality, and had their children and closest friends and relatives stand up with them at the altar. There were two moments so tender they brought me to tears; One small moment during the hand-fasting ceremony in which Trevor was running his thumb over Rachel’s forearm in that kind and loving way folks do when they’re alone. The other was just following the first kiss, when Trevor comforted Rachel, during an emotional moment. Rachel’s mother passed just a few short months before the ceremony, and when the joy of a special occasion stands in sharp relief to the pain of missing a beloved family member, joy and pain can be mixed equally in those moments and that small gesture of comfort was so sweet to see.

The wedding day was lovely, real, and simply a blessing to get to capture. I am so honored to have been able to celebrate with Rachel + Trevor and their kids and friends and family. Congratulations you two!

-Sam

Here are the vendors (with links) who helped make the day wonderful!

Ceremony + Reception Venue: Emma’s Table at John M. Evans Hall

Florist: Deo Gloria of Evansville

Bridal Gown: David’s Bridal

Engagement Ring: Rogers & Hollands

Catering: El Vallarta of Evansville

Cake + Desserts: Sweet Velvet Cake Co of Janesville

 
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Krystal + Jake: A Lego-Themed Madison Winter Wedding

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Doesn’t this wedding seem wonderfully Frozen-inspired?

Krystal+Jake had a B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L winter wedding day. It was cold as all get out, but so worth it, because just look at these first look photos and wedding party photos in that pretty February snow! Also, check out Krystal’s awesome use of a veil-turned-wedding-cape cuz holy smokes. <3

These two sweethearts also let us throw so much glitter at them to get that fun confetti shot, laughed and celebrated with their friends and families, and danced the night away. We loved how affectionate Krystal + Jake were with each other all day. They were so fun to photograph!

We are so honored to have been able to celebrate with Krystal+Jake, and take a look at their wedding day below!

—Sam

Here are the vendors (with links) that helped make this wedding awesome!

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Goodman Community Center

Officiant: Kayla Francis (friend of the couple)

Bridal Gown: Vera’s House of Bridals

Groom Tux: Men’s Wearhouse

Wedding Jewelry: TQ Diamonds

Wedding DJ: Aaron Jai

Florist: DIY

Wedding Cupcakes: HyVee

Catering: Blue Plate Catering

 
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Andrea + Adam: An Intimate and Chill Madison Wedding

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Great things can happen when you both swipe right…

Yep, that’s right, these two met on Tinder, and hit it off immediately. One of the things that stood out to me on their wedding day was how freaking excited they were to be marrying each other, and how pumped their kids were as well! Both Andrea + Adam have 2 kids from previously marriages, and these 4 are already thick as thieves. All 4 kids stood up with their parents as the wedding party, and part of the wedding ceremony was a little bonding ritual of sand to symbolize the blending of their newly formed family, which I loved. :) It was so sweet and meaningful it brought most of the guests to tears!

Andrea + Adam were also kind enough to indulge me in stopping by my favorite local mural (Try a Little Tenderness, the Otis Redding mural on Willy St.) and also to pop by the UW Arboretum to do some photos with the last of the fall colors.

This wedding was one of my favorites of the year, as I’m quite a fan of intimate weddings, and I’m so excited that Andrea + Adam invited me to celebrate with them! Congrats you two!

—Sam

Here are the awesome vendors (with links) that helped make their wedding day fabulous!

Ceremony Venue: Gates of Heaven Synagogue

Reception Venue: Wisconsin Brewing Company

Officiant: Rodney Spillane, Groom's Uncle

Wedding Dress: David's Bridal

Wedding Flowers: Dried Flowers Forever

Wedding Rings: Bride's ring - Handmade by Bride’s Uncle; Groom's ring - Chalmers Jewelers

Groom’s Suit: Men's Wearhouse

Wedding Party Dresses: Brides N' Belles

Hair & Makeup: Anaala Salon - Hilldale

 
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Ashley + Geoff: A fandom-themed Wedding

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This spectacular DIY offbeat wedding was one-of-a-kind!

“This will be a nerd wedding!” was the warning I got from Ashley + Geoff when they first booked us, and let me tell you, they did not disappoint!

For two awesome humans who met at a zombie larp (what?!), they had the amazingly nerdy wedding you would expect, and it was glorious. Each guest table was decorated with a different ‘fandom’, from Harry Potter, to Dresden Files (yay!), to Conan the Barbarian, and everything in between. Their card holder was a hand-made sarlacc pit (complete with little skeleton bride + groom). Their cake was Star Wars and Alien themed. And the list goes on. I knew this was going to be a fun wedding!

Following the short and sweet ceremony, in which Ashley’s dad, dressed as Darth Vader, walked her down the aisle, we went to take photos inside the Cave of the Mounds, which was a first for me! I can now say I understand how to light cave shots, so that’s new and exciting! ;) Then we got to enjoy the brief reprieve from the rain and take some photos under a dark & stormy sky, which complimented Ashley’s black and white dress and black veil so damn well. I’ve never been so happy to see clouds!

You could tell everyone, including the two of them, were having a great time celebrating, and let’s face it, after the actual getting married part, that’s what a wedding is all about!

We are so happy to have been able to celebrate with Ashley + Geoff. Check out some of our favorite moments from the day, and a big congrats to these two!

—Sam

Here are the vendors (with links) that helped make this wedding day super kickass!

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Cave of the Mounds

Bridal Gown: Vera’s House of Bridals

Groom’s Tux: Men’s Wearhouse

Cake: Carl’s Cakes

Catering: JL Richards

 
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Jenny + Jason: Elegant and Classy, but with Dinosaurs

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This sweet summer wedding wouldn’t have been complete without tacos, coffee bar, and, you guessed it, dinosaurs!

So Jenny + Jason met while working at Best Buy/Geek Squad, and have just about the cutest ‘meet cute’ story I’ve heard! After several weeks of not quite knowing whether or not they were flirting (haven’t we all been there?), they both figured it out when Jason asked Jenny to go with him to GenCon (a board game convention in Indianapolis, IN). From there, they were pretty much on the same page about that whole flirting business, and 6 years later, Jason proposed to Jenny at GenCon (they go every year) and she obviously said yes!

When it came to the wedding, one of the first things Jenny told me was that their theme was going to be ‘Elegant, Classy… but with Dinosaurs’ and I could not be more on board with that! Well, they sure as heck pulled it off, and managed to work in tacos and a coffee bar and then ALSO dinosaurs! (Dream clients, amiright?!) Also, Jenny’s wedding vows mentioned (consensual) butt-grabbing, which is always a plus in my book. ;)

Their day was filled with magic (and maybe one or two thousand mosquitoes, but it can’t all be perfect, right?) and was so damn fun! We had a blast telling puns, putting the little dinosaur decorations in fun poses, and eating rad food. I am so happy we got to celebrate with these two!

Check out the photos from this kickass wedding below, and if you’d like to see their engagement photos, click here.

—Sam

Here are the vendors (with links) who made this wedding day super amazing!

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Paoli Mill Terrace & Park

Wedding Coordinator: Dominique with Wood Violet Events + Styling

Invitations & Programs: The Bride!!!

Calligraphy, table numbers, and seating chart: The Crafty Peach

Wedding Florals: Briar Loft

Officiant: Terry Wesolek (close friend)

Bridal Gown: David’s Bridal (altered by Monica @ Monirose Bespoke Gowns)

Wedding Bands & Engagement Ring: Artemer Jewelry

Hair & Makeup: The Posh Beauty Bar

Wedding Cake & Desserts: Looking Glass Bakery & Madison Chocolate Company

Catering: Apps by Liliana’s Catering & Tacos by El Grito Taqueria

Table, Chair, & Tent Rental: Event Essentials

Decor Rental: A La Crate Vintage Rentals

Coffee Bar: Crescendo Mobile Bar

Beer: Pequod Distribution

 
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Ann-Marie + Yasmine: A Fancy BBQ Picnic Wedding celebration

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These two had a BBQ Picnic Wedding celebration with Fancy AF Dresses, Sock Puppets, and a Little Surprise for Guests During the First Dance! 

Ann-Marie + Yasmine (Fraggle as her friends call her) originally got married in April of 2016, but have been planning a celebration of marriage event for the last year or so! They wanted a laid-back, BBQ in the park kind of wedding celebration, with good friends and family, plenty of great food, and fancy *AF* bridal gowns! 

Spoiler alert: They nailed it! 

In addition to some seriously stylish dresses and amazing food, these two also had some awesomely fun sock puppet kits as their party favors for guests; How cool is that?! 

AND during their first dance? You guessed it, they rickrolled the hell out of everyone, and it was awesome! Particularly since I very non-ironically love the song 'Never Gonna Give You Up'. 

We are thrilled to have been able to celebrate the wedding of these two amazing individuals! Congrats you two!

-- Sam 

 

Here are the vendors (with links!) who helped make their day awesome! 

Ceremony + Reception Venue: Village of Belleville Community Park

Officiant: Dan "Canada" Killem (a family friend)

Event Coordinator: Gette (a partner)

DJ: Darkstone Management

Bridal Gowns: Both from Vera's House of Bridals

Florist: Blooms by Brandi

Wedding Desserts: Hubbard Ave Diner

Catering: Smoky Jon's BBQ

 
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Lia + Jeremy: An Offbeat, Multicultural Olin Park Wedding

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Lia + Jeremy had a fun, laid-back BBQ wedding at Olin Park in Madison, WI 

They originally met while Lia was dating a good friend of Jeremy's, and started dating sometime later. That good friend actually stood up with them as a groomsmen on their wedding day (yay for ex-couples who are still friends)! They were also originally a long-distance couple, with Lia in Milwaukee and Jeremy in Chicago, so it was only fitting that Jeremy proposed to Lia in their at one of their favorite coffeeshops in Milwaukee, and then proceeded to have a weekend filled with visits to their favorite spots in Milwaukee as well. They also bonded over the TV show Community, so I feel a special kinship with these two! 

Lia + Jeremy wanted a laid-back BBQ style wedding, with a twist! Lia, whose mom is Chinese, wanted to surprise her mom with an outfit change into a traditional Chinese gown at the reception, and the results were wonderful! Her mom was pleasantly shocked, and Lia looked stunning in both her traditional American dress by Melissa Sweet Bridal Gowns, as well as her traditional Chinese gown! 

These two were so sweet and fun to work with! We feel blessed to have been able to celebrate with them! Congratulations Lia + Jeremy! Thanks for having us (and for the AMAZING food truck fare from Umami)! 

--Sam 

Here are the wedding vendors (with links) who helped make Lia + Jeremy's wedding day so special! 

 

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Olin Park

Officiant: Ann Baggett (an friend of the Bride + Groom) 

Wedding Dress: Melissa Sweet Bridal

Tux: Black Lapel

Florals: DIY! 

Donuts: Greenbush Bakery

Event Coordinator: Vital Image

DJ: Vital Image

Hair & Makeup: Brideheads

Catering: Bauman's Natural Meats

Food Truck: Umami

Rentals (ceremony chairs): Mad Fox Party Rentals

 
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Helen + Dylan: An Intimate Wedding in the Woods

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This awesome, offbeat wedding took place at Hoyt Park in Madison, WI

On what was easily the hottest, most humid day of the year so far, Helen + Dylan said "I do" under the shade of a beautiful grove of trees in Hoyt Park. It was a fun, quirky, and short ceremony, followed by scones, juice boxes, and celebrating with delicious vegan fare at their near East side apartment! 

Thankfully everyone survived the heat and had plenty of energy left over to to laugh, eat, and dare each other to freestyle rap as a toast! 

Helen wore a blue wedding gown (have a mentioned how much I love non-traditional wedding gown colors?!) with a 100+ year old Obi from her family's time spent living in Japan. Their ceremony incorporated readings in English & Japanese, as well as readings from the Bahai faith. While I don't know Helen + Dylan well, it seemed to me as though they created a wedding day that was perfectly suited to the two of them, which we love! 

Congratulations to Helen + Dylan, and thank you so much for inviting us to celebrate with you on your wedding day! Also for the food. WOW was that good! <3 

-- Sam 

 

Here are the wedding day vendors that helped make Helen + Dylan's day so awesome! 

Ceremony Venue: Hoyt Park 

Reception Venue: Helen + Dylan's apartment

Florals: Abundance Acres Flowers

Wedding Gown: Purchased used and altered by Bride

Wedding Tux: Jazzman

Cake: Cara Moseley of The Green Owl Cafe

Catering: Lao Laan Xang of Willy St

Rentals: Benches from Mickelz Rustic Wedding Rentals

Celtic Harp: Rachel Avery

 
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Carrie + Tom: A Fun Library Wedding with Trivia!

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This wedding replaced first dances with some kickass Geeks Who Drink Trivia! 

Carrie + Tom have just about the greatest 'meet cute' story you've ever heard. They actually became roommates when they both moved up to Madison to work for Epic, and lived together for quite a while before they started dating! They bonded over Vincent Price movies, Edgar Allen Poe, wonderful Wisconsin beer, and surreal cartoons. They eventually decided to start dating (all while still being roommates)! 

How is that for a great way to start things off? 

For their wedding day, they definitely did it their way, including having Geeks Who Drink Trivia in place of dancing! (It was so fun to see the tables competing for first prize!) They also had a custom house crest (House of Crowlack) designed that combines their two last names into a SUPER sweet and mythical house beast! 

Congratulations to Carrie + Tom! It's been so wonderful getting to know you two and we are thrilled to have been able to celebrate your wedding with you! If you'd also like to check out their Engagement photos, click here

-- Sam 

Here are the vendors (with links!) who made their wedding day A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! 

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Madison Central Library

Officiant: Dr. Jo Carter (friend of the couple)

Wedding Dress: David's Bridal

Tux: Lucca Men's Clothing

Trivia: Geeks Who Drink (Hosted by Devin Renner) 

Florals: DIY! 

Cupcakes & Cake: Bloom Bake Shop

Catering: Willy Street Co-Op

Tea Favors: Matcha Tea Company

House of Crowlack Design: Rhea Ewing

 
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Erin + Chris: A Modern Vegan Wedding

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This illinois wedding was fun, stylish, and full of joy! 

Erin + Chris have been together a while. Neither of them are the kind of people who enjoy being in the spotlight (that's a common theme for our wedding clients!) and they were both a little nervous about having a day that was so intensely focused on the two of them. They wanted to make sure their guests had a lovely time, that their wedding was sustainable (100% vegan catering and compost piles), and most importantly that the ended up married at the end of the day! But it would be impossible for their loved ones not to love these two and shower them with attention, so I'm glad they held up so well and had a blast doing it! 

These two sweethearts met in high school homeroom in the north suburbs of Chicago and have been dating since they were 17! They went to separate colleges and eventually moved in together in Columbus, OH, before they were able to move back to Chicago together, to start their life with their rescue kitties and start their wedding planning!

Erin + Chris' sunny and light-hearted wedding day was everything you could want in a wedding. Congrats to these two as they start the next chapter in what is sure to be an amazing adventure! 

--Sam 

Here are the vendors (with links) that helped make their wedding day awesome! 

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Elawa Farm

Officiant: Jessica Erwin (friend of the couple)

Wedding Dress:  BHLDN

Wedding Rings: Family Heirlooms

DJ: Just Press Play Productions (Zach)

Hair & Makeup: Chroma K8 Hair Salon (Mary M)

Chuppa & Ceremony Chair Florals: Ooh-Ahh Floral

Other Florals: DIY! 

Cupcakes & Cake: West Town Bakery

Cake Decorating: DIY! 

Tent and Table Rental: Big Top Tent & Party Rental

Catering: Fancy Plants Catering and Kitchen17

Composting: Healthy Soil Composting

Alcohol: Binny's

 
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Jenny + Jason: An Adorable Dino-Themed Engagement Session

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Okay, so it wasn't all dino-themed, but there were dinosaurs and cats and eskimo kisses, so obviously it was pretty rad! 

Jenny + Jason met while working at Best Buy/Geek Squad. After several weeks of not quite knowing whether or not they were flirting, they both figured it out when Jason asked Jenny to go with him to GenCon (a board game convention in Indianapolis, IN). From there, they were pretty much on the same page about that whole flirting business, and 6 years later, Jason proposed to Jenny at GenCon (they go every year) and she obviously said yes!

Besides loving all things board-game related, Jenny also shared with me when we met for the first time that she was thinking of themes for their wedding, and 'Elegant, Classy, but with Dinosaurs' sprang to mind, and I was instantly sold! I love a good dinosaur-themed event and I love weddings, so clearly I cannot wait for theirs!

Jenny + Jason are so laid-back and fun to be around! They love cider, board games, and their cats (who made a special guest appearance, however reluctantly, in these engagement photos). So without further delay, here are the photos from this super fun engagement session! 

--Sam 

 
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5 Wedding Budget Tips for Couples

 
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Focus on what is important to the two of you!

Wedding budgets - kind of icky to think about, right? It wasn't my favorite part of the process either, so we wanted to provide some tips to couples looking for ways to reduce costs and focus on what's important about their wedding day; the celebration of their marriage! 

Tip # 1: Pick your top 3 budget items

This is going to look different for every couple, but working with your partner to identify your top 3 budget items will go a long way to helping you prioritize where to spend and where to save during the planning process! For Adam and I, our top 3 were photography (duh), food/drinks, and hotel rooms for our immediate family. For others, it could be venue, wedding planner, and food/drinks, or photography, venue, and flowers. Once you pick your top 3, those can be  your guiding points in decision-making during the planning process, and will help things go a lot more smoothly! 

Tip # 2: Wedding Flowers

If flowers wasn't in your top 3 (see Tip # 1), then this is a great area to save money in. Most cities in the US have farmer's markets where you could pick up flowers the day of, or, if that sounds too risky to you, you could work with a local flower farmer (yes, that's totally a thing) to get a few buckets of flowers that you can arrange yourself, and they can look to meet your color/style preferences where possible. In Madison, Mad Lizzie's Flower Farm is a great place to check out! Depending on the size of your wedding, your flower budget could look a little more like $250 than $2500, depending on the size of your wedding, and if exquisite and specific flowers aren't in your top 3, this is a great way to save while still getting beautiful, fresh flowers. Plus, you're buying local! 

Tip # 3: Wedding Bands and DJs

Again, if this is killer for you, and you want your guests on the dance floor all night, then do it up! We can recommend some great people! But let's say you're not super into dancing, and want a more quiet and intimate reception evening with your guests. If that's the case, don't feel like you need to have a wedding band or DJ just because it's what you usually see. You do you, and if 'you' involves an iPod (do they still make those?) and a playlist you and your person made together, well then that's freaking fantastic, and can save you some cash. :) If you want an intermediate solution, ask a friend to emcee the evening (announcing dinner, first dances, etc.) and then you've got the best of both worlds! 

Tip # 4: Dinner 

Here's a good tip, because even if great food is a super big priority for you and your partner, don't feel like you have to break the bank to provide it! As a person who has eaten a lot of wedding food, let me assure you that more expensive does not necessarily equal better tasting. Sometimes the opposite. You know what people love? Tacos. Pizza. BBQ. You know what's cheaper to provide than fancy plated meals that don't taste that good? Tacos. Pizza. BBQ. If you're in Madison, think of all the great places you could go with! Tex Tubb's Taco Palace has an amazing catering buffet that works for meat eaters, vegans, vegetarians, and those who are gluten sensitive, all without doing anything special! Ian's Pizza is iconic Madison food, and delivers! Smoky Jon's caters (although make sure to have a vegetarian or vegan option if needed)! There are tons of wonderful, local restaurants you can use that will provide fantastic food, at a fraction of the normal 'wedding plated meal' cost. Check them out! 

Tip # 5: Venue

This tip might be more geared towards weddings under 50-60 guests, but is still valid. Wedding venues are expensive, and if you're not attached to a particular venue, then you can get a little creative with where your wedding will take place. Your friend's backyard? Sure! A small local art gallery? Why not! At a State Park? Sign me up! Take into careful consideration whether your off-the-beaten-path venue can comfortably support the number of guests you'd like to invite, but otherwise, go nuts! 

In the end...

The two of you get to decide what's important to you. Figure out what's at the top of your list for your wedding day, and remember that your guests are going to remember celebrating with  you more than they're going to remember anything else, so try not to stress out too much, and just know you don't have to sell your first born in order to have a beautiful and fun wedding day! 

--Sam