Four Milwaukee couples offer advice on what worked – and didn’t – for their delightful, yet very different wedding days.
Luke & Andrea
How They Met: When Luke heard Andrea give testimony at Madison’s St. Paul University Catholic Center church retreat, he knew he had to get to know her and invited her out for coffee. They hit it off immediately – (“My face hurt because I couldn’t stop smiling,” says Andrea) – and a year-and-a-half later, they were engaged.
What They Wore: Wtoo by Watters for her, Generation Tux suit rental with Tie Bar bowtie for him.
Venues: Old St. Mary’s Church and Discovery World
Caterer: Bartolotta Catering
Advice: Flowers and decorations are great, says Andrea, but “at the end of the day, this is the first day of our marriage.”
One Detail That Didn’t Quite Work Out: They say everything, in fact, worked out as planned. Luke adds, “I think the day went as well as it did because we spent a whole year preparing. We had tons of different beliefs within the group but people respected that, they could see in our eyes and hearts when I saw her, what this day meant.”
Favorite Detail: They were close with Father Tom, who once roomed with Luke, and Father Eric from their own St. Paul’s. Their “floral genius,” Esther of Impressions by Esther Fleming, is also “the best kept secret,” wowing them from her silk prototypes to final, gorgeous execution.
Favorite Moment: For Andrea, it was best friend and bridesmaid Maria playing guitar and singing Sara Bareilles’ “I Choose You” for the first dance. For Luke, it was his mom singing “Ave Maria,” just as she had at her own wedding, and seeing Andrea walk in the church for the first time. “I kind of sobbed,” he says.
Jim & Romel
How They Met: Through each other’s respective ex-boyfriends, who were very good friends at the time, during house parties and through the Milwaukee bar scene more than 20 years ago.
Favorite Detail: Too many to choose, they say, but a favorite private detail were the Boston terrier cufflinks they each wore on Sunday in a nod to their beloved 7-year-old dog (and ring-bearer), Jake.
Best Moment: For Jim, it was hearing Romel read his emotional, funny and sweet handwritten vows aloud. For Romel, it was looking into the crowd of family and friends gathered as witnesses.
One Detail That Didn’t Quite Work Out: In addition to wanting more time with each guest, the couple wishes they’d made one big thank-you speech. Otherwise, “I thought we pulled it off,” says Romel, in large part because over the past 20 years, so many of their friends have married and shared their own wedding experiences. “We were very organized and had a lot of support from our friends.”
Best Advice for Others: Create a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to document your ideas and keep you on track with your plans, along with detailed records of which vendors you’ve paid and how much, which guests are attending and what gifts they gave so you can personalize thank-you cards.
Venue: The rooftop ceremony and dinner at Braise in Walker’s Point was the pinnacle of a three-day Milwaukee wedding weekend celebration. The men also gathered for fresh cuts, shaves and shoe shines at Bay View’s Stag Barber Shop the morning of the ceremony, hosted gatherings at Pastiche Bistro and Taylor’s Bar, and hosted a Milwaukee River pontoon ride, among other festivities.
What They Wore: Head-to-toe J. Crew for Jim (right), custom suit from New York City’s MySuit Tailor for Romel. Romel added 99-year-old Grandma Grace’s embroidered vintage handkerchief for a pocket square.
Will & Alyssa
What They Wore: A nontraditional, no-frills and glam-free dress by Anthropologie’s BHLDN for her, Men’s Warehouse navy suit for him.
How They Met: On an intramural dodgeball team sophomore year at UW-Milwaukee in 2008, where they played the remaining three years.
Venue: Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery. Besides the couple’s shared devotion to beer, “The most important thing is that the history between us is completely in Milwaukee,” says Alyssa. They incorporated Brew City details everywhere they could, and Best Place was so perfect that it was the only venue they visited.
Caterer: Mader’s, which allowed the self-described foodies to “keep ties with beer” while indulging in German fare like spaetzle and giant pretzels with mustard and cheese.
Best Advice for Others: “Stay organized, have fun and don’t get caught up in those minor details,” says Alyssa. “It’s gonna be a beautiful day no matter what happens.”
Favorite Detail: How seamlessly all the vendors worked together. “I can’t express how much we loved them all,” says Alyssa. “Kim from Pabst and Mary from Mader’s were like a magic duo.” Alyssa designed all of the paper works herself in the bohemian style and neutral palate that permeated the wedding. She and her DIY-focused dad built the altar pieces and hand-painted all the signs.
Favorite Moment: At the end of the night, all of the remaining guests gathered in a circle, held hands or draped arms and swayed as Alyssa and Will, in the center, enjoyed their last dance to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.”
One Detail That Didn’t Pan Out: “Honestly, there was nothing I would do differently,” says Alyssa, who didn’t try to make it perfect anyway. “We decided it was going to end up how it ended up – and it was phenomenal. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Nick & Elizabeth
How They Met: Four years after meeting at the Indy 500, Nick and Elizabeth reunited at a mutual friend’s birthday party in Chicago on Valentine’s Day 2013. Although they took their time dating and eventually moving in together, when they finally decided to marry they planned the entire wedding in just three short weeks.
Venues: North Point Lighthouse at Lake Park and the intimate back bar at Hinterland.
Caterer: Hinterland, Nick’s former employer and a frequent date-night spot.
One Detail That Didn’t Work Out: Elizabeth misspelled her future husband’s last name on an info sheet the couple sent out ahead of the wedding. “People were like, ‘Good thing you’re not taking his name!’” she says, laughing. The couple also forgot to write vows until the last minute in Pfister hotel rooms. “Nick totally got his vows online and I could just tell,” Elizabeth says.
Favorite Moment: Taking a borrowed, classic British MG for a spin around the block immediately after the ceremony, which was “really fun” and made for great pictures.
What They Wore: Anthropologie’s BHLDN dress with capelet for her, navy J. Crew suit and polka dot tie for him.
Favorite Detail: Despite the distance for many and extremely short notice for all, the vast majority of Nick and Elizabeth’s favorite people were there to support them – especially her late father’s mother. A friend played her dad’s old guitar as Elizabeth walked down the aisle.
Free Advice for Any Would-Be “Bridezillas”: Less than a month to plan a wedding? No problem. “I’m not saying it was the easiest three weeks of my life because it was really difficult working full-time and planning a wedding. But the day of, it’s like, ‘Who cares if every last detail isn’t resolved? It really doesn’t matter,’” says Elizabeth.