We can’t decide which of these four Wisco weddings we love the most. How ’bout you?
Lipika + Daniel
While students at Western Michigan University, Lipika and Daniel Gimmler bonded over their “mutual love for cultures,” including foreign films and music. (Daniel moved to the United States from Germany as a child; Lipika was born in India and grew up in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.)
After graduation, Lipika took a job at Kohler, and Daniel eventually found remote work in Sheboygan. (The two dated long-distance until then.) Daniel popped the question on a Ferris wheel in Montreal during Thanksgiving weekend of 2018. Lipika had no idea a proposal was coming that weekend despite their continued chats about tying the knot one day. Engagement photos commissioned by a local photographer during the vacation, plus a cake inspired by Lipika’s favorite TV show, the Korean drama “Goblin,” made it official.
Back in Milwaukee, they quickly began planning their wedding – for January. “It was a whirlwind engagement,” says Lipika. “We didn’t want to waste any time at all.” Another factor: Daniel’s brother, a Cirque du Soleil acrobat, was on tour in Europe and had only a few dates open to travel to the United States. Both sets of parents traveled in – from Michigan and Dubai – for what Lipika calls a “fancy elopement.”
The day before the wedding, there was a henna-tattoo party with spiced wine in front of a fire. A ceremony at Pizza Man added local flavor, with Lipika walking down the aisle wearing a hand-painted sari and a shawl adorned with Arabic calligraphy. A dinner reception at Char’d, a Korean barbecue restaurant in the Third Ward, followed. “One of the advantages of doing the wedding in January was everybody was available,” says Lipika.
The couple found many of their vendors via Instagram. “I literally only made two phone calls,” says Lipika.
The couple made all of the decisions for their wedding weekend themselves, blending the best parts of their cultures. “We made the call on everything. We even wrote our own vows,” says Lipika.
“I’m really glad we got married in Milwaukee,” says Lipika. “It really is a city that’s special to us – and has a lot of firsts for us. We had an entire day dedicated to us.”
Flowers: Avenue Bloom
Hair/makeup: Wide Eyed Bride
Venue: Pizza Man (ceremony and a cocktail hour with appetizers); Char’d (dinner reception)
Dessert: Cupcake tower at Char’d (pastry chef now owns Odyssey Patisserie)
Honeymoon: Spain, Amsterdam and Germany
Invitations: E-vites, using Greenvelope
Apparel: Indochino (Daniel’s suit); Men’s Wearhouse (Daniel’s shoes); and Ayush Kejriwal (Lipika’s custom sari)
Lydia + Melvin
After hearing about Milwaukee’s Sherman Park riots during the summer of 2016, Melvin Turner emailed the love of his life, Lydia Johnson, to ask if her family was OK. They’d broken up the year prior after struggling to maintain a long-distance relationship.
After connecting online during fall 2012 – she was working in Milwaukee as an art therapist, and he lived in California – they talked on the phone several times, then went on an in-person date in Chicago. “Within the second conversation,” recalls Lydia, “he was convinced I was the person he was going to marry.” Reconnecting in 2016 was pure destiny. “That opened a window for him to sneak his way back in,” says Lydia. Next came a side trip to Chicago, where Melvin was celebrating his brother’s birthday.
Over breakfast at Maxfield’s Pancake House in Wauwatosa, as Lydia wrestled with how to reconcile their future, an older gentleman – a pastor – approached them out of the blue with relationship advice. “That was my sign that we should be together,” says Lydia. Melvin proposed, just before Lydia’s birthday, while on a Lake Tahoe hike.
They swapped “I do’s” in front of 180 friends and family members at South Shore Park Pavilion, just steps from Lake Michigan, on May 28, 2018, with the same pastor officiating. “I didn’t want to have a big wedding. I wanted to elope, actually,” says Lydia, whose father died in 2011. But Melvin’s sister’s cancer diagnosis prompted the need for a huge family gathering. Picking Memorial Day weekend allowed family to easily travel in from Tennessee, Chicago, Detroit and California. Having the ceremony on a Monday saved them money, too. Since most of the guests were traveling to Milwaukee, the bachelor and bachelorette parties were also held that weekend to avoid two costly trips to the Midwest.
“We always knew that if we got back together, we’d get married,” says Lydia, adding that while they shopped for rings together, the Lake Tahoe proposal was a surprise to her. “It was just a matter of time.”
The couple now live in California while Melvin completes a tour with the U.S. Air Force, and they welcomed a daughter last year. “We ended up celebrating our first anniversary in the hospital,” says Lydia. And despite Melvin’s returning to California the day after the wedding, and Lydia’s staying in Milwaukee a month to close out her art therapy practice, they are thankfully no longer in a long-distance relationship.
Flowers: Alfa Flower & Wedding Shop
Hair: Millicent Tucker at Restored Hair Salon and Suites (Lydia)
Apparel: Miss Ruby (Lydia’s dress); David’s Bridal (Lydia’s shoes); Men’s Wearhouse (Melvin’s suit)
Videographer: Union Films
Venue: South Shore Park Pavilion
Honeymoon: Airbnb in Hawaii
Cate + Patrick
In the beginning, Patrick Tinker was the “Parking Lot Guy.” Whenever Cate Bayles would run into him at the Sheboygan apartment building where they both lived, he would open the door for her and provide small talk. Then one day, he moved. They surprisingly “bumped” into each other again online, via a dating site, during summer 2014.
Three years later, while the couple were decorating a Christmas tree and lounging on the couch with their cats, Patrick popped the question.
“Getting married on the lake became a priority,” says Cate about their Oct. 6, 2018, nuptials. They wanted to highlight the fact that they live two blocks from Lake Michigan and love the water. Firm believers in sustainability and reuse, the couple thrifted and shopped from local vendors that represent their values. “We didn’t want anything to be thrown away,” says Cate. She sourced flowers for her bouquet from a local farmers market.
She scoured thrift stores for blue and green vintage drinking glasses (120 of them!) to give as favors. The invites that she and Patrick bought doubled as frameable prints, and they had a beer cart from Sheboygan Beer Co. rolled five blocks to the reception and ceremony venue: Castino Lakeview Mansion, which was built along Sheboygan’s waterfront in 1912.
“Neither of us are from the area,” says Patrick, who hails from Madison and is a Kohler Co. mechanical engineer. Cate, from Chicago’s south suburbs, is the director of education at Bookworm Gardens. “But we both love it here. We’re imports. It was really great to celebrate our relationship with our friends and do it in an area where we met.”
Flowers: Jennifer Joyce Design; and the Sheboygan Farmers Market
Makeup: Entourage Salon & Spa
Venue: Castino Lakeview Mansion, Sheboygan
Food and Drink: BoMallies Restaurant; and Sheboygan Beer Co.
Dessert: Sweet P’s Bake Shop
Invitations: c.Cal/Craig Grabhorn
Apparel: Miss Ruby (Cate); Bonobos (Patrick)
Rehearsal: Bookworm Gardens
Jeweler: Britta Lynn Kauppila (Cate’s rings)
Tiara + Ali
A downtown-Milwaukee no-fuss intimate wedding proved to be just what Tiara Toland and Ali AILeef wanted.
When they met as students at the Milwaukee School of Engineering – they graduated in 2017, she a native of Duluth, Minn., and he from Saudi Arabia – through mutual friends they immediately felt a connection. “We knew from our initial encounter that it was right, there was an immediate click, and we barely left each other’s side,” recalls Tiara.
The year before their marriage was a trying one. “Over the course of a year we went through many trying circumstances, including an unexpected pregnancy, a flooded apartment and transitions from academia to professional careers,” says Tiara. “This tested our relationship but we only grew closer.” That April, Tiara told Ali that she wanted to get married. And, about a month later, they were.
They tied the knot at the Milwaukee County Courthouse on May 17, 2018, with Tiara’s best friend and now brother-in-law as a witness. Then they lingered over brunch at The Café at The Plaza, a ground-level diner located within the historic Plaza Hotel Milwaukee. “It was an incredible location for classic photographs to be taken,” says Tiara. “Over brunch we sat in genuine, intimate bliss with a total focus on our budding marriage.”
Throughout their special day they were reminded of how carefree, fun and DIY a wedding can be. “I did my own hair and makeup,” says Tiara, “while wearing a white jumpsuit from Nordstrom.”
Today Tiara is a registered nurse at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center while Ali is a layout-design engineer at KHS USA. They are also raising their son Kareem, 2.
This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s Milwaukee Weddings 2020 issue.
Find the issue on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.
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