Today's real wedding is one we just know brides and grooms with timeless tastes will love.
You know we enjoy sharing new trends and cool weddings on the blog, but we also relish the variety of bringing you all things classic and elegant too.
And that's exactly what Claire & Kevin's beautiful wedding in Madison, Wisconsin was all about.
With a clean, natural aesthetic, preppy punches of navy, and an intimate, hometown feel, the couple celebrated their marriage with a day that was both sophisticated and sweet, and Katie Ricard Photography was there to capture it all in her gorgeous, candid style.
Blending hand-painted stationery, with fresh white blooms and vintage, collected vases, Claire and Kevin gave their esteemed venue at The Madison Club, a warm and personalised feel.
And keeping their own style modern yet timeless too, Claire looked stunning in her v-neck ballgown with chic lace touches, a soft, pretty upstyle and vintage-style earrings, while Kevin looked entirely suave in his black tux and bow tie.
If a romantic, simple, yet entirely elegant wedding sounds right up your street, scroll down to fall in love with this perfectly classic affair…
Wedding Day Snapshot
Our Love Story
At our wedding the priest talked about how our love was not coincidence, but guided by providence and the “how we met” story actually tracks back to a summer day in Spring Lake, NJ when I met my best friend playing on the beach.
Years later I attended her wedding and met (stick with me now) her mother's best friend from kindergarten's son, Kevin.
We took a few years to wind our way towards each other, but once we did we were inseparable and our past paths were so intertwined, down to being in the same places at the same times and not even knowing it until later, it seemed like fate.
We moved to San Diego from Philadelphia after two years of dating and a year later, Kevin surprised me at the park we go nearly every day that overlooks the ocean.
I was completely surprise, but managed to eek out a yes and we celebrated with Dom Perignon and my sister and her family that night.
We really went with a very classic style with personal touches.
The color palette was white, creams, greens, and navy – something very fresh and natural, while remaining timeless.
Kevin grew up by the water, so we wanted a way to weave that in without making in cliche, so we added in the navy to the garden-theme.
The Planning Process
We planned everything ourselves from San Diego. I elected not to hire a wedding planner because I do a ton of events planning in my career and because we chose The Madison Club as our reception venue and the staff there take such good care of you.
We looked for recommendations from friends to find vendors, but also did online research, which was surprisingly helpful and if a vendor was already booked we asked them who they would recommend.
We only traveled to Madison three times between getting engaged and the wedding. Everyone kept asking if it was hard to plan a wedding cross country, but it really wasn't!
With email, it was easy to communicate and we just selected photos of items we liked and shared them with our vendors, but in the end we really just vetted our vendors really well and trusted their expertise!
The one thing I did in San Diego was get my dress. It was so much easier to buy my dress and have all the fittings in my own neighborhood than try and fly back and forth to the midwest for it. Then the dress shop just shipped my dress to my parents house and had it pressed there.
The day itself couldn't have been better – when you're surrounded by family and friends and marrying the perfect guy, how could it not be! We both felt relaxed and happy because we knew we'd done all the planning details and now could enjoy our day.
I wore a fabulous Thai silk ball gown with a v-neck bodice tightly ruched at the waist and unique lace detailing with buttons down the back.
My two bridesmaids, my sister and sister-in-law, actually selected their dresses. I thought blue would look lovely on both of them, but largely left the style selection to them.
They selected a cocktail dress from Eliza J with a lace overlay elbow-length sleeves and v-neck bodice on an empire-waisted dress with a full faille skirt. The raw-edge fringe on the lace added to the romantic aesthetic.
The groom and groomsmen wore classic black tuxedos with black bow ties – a never fail, can’t go wrong look for men!
Since we’re both Catholic, we did a traditional full mass for our wedding.
We selected specific readings to reflect our style and selected each song individually.
Processional – Bist Du Bei Mir, J.S.Bach and Canon in D, J.Pachelbel
Recessional – Hornpipe from Water Music Suite in D, G.Handel
Bride & Groom First Dance – Ed Sheeran, ‘Thinking Out Loud'
Bride & Father Dance – The Temptations, ‘The Way You Do The Things You Do'
Groom & Mother Dance – James Taylor, ‘How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You'
The invitations were totally custom designed with custom art that I painted with my father, so those are one of a kind.
A favorite moment has to be coming out of the church just after we were wed to thousands of tiny bubbles floating in the air and seeing all our loved ones and dancing with my dad to The Temptations.
When we got engaged and thought about where we wanted to get married, we had a lot to think about.
I grew up in Madison, WI; the beautiful victorian beach town where he grew up and we both had such connections, Spring Lake, NJ; San Diego, CA where we currently live and got engaged; Palm Island, FL where we celebrated our first engaged New Year, and the fact that we have family and friends littered across the country – New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Utah, California, and Hawaii and international friends and family.
We finally decided to host our wedding in my home town of Madison. Being in my parents house and celebrating our wedding at the church where I'd grow up was important to me, Madison was where we decided to move to San Diego, and it was largely central for all our guests.
To top it off, the midwest in the fall is gorgeous, especially Madison, with two lakes in the downtown area.
We spent about $25,000-30,000 total on the wedding.
We wanted everyone to dance the whole night, we wanted AMAZING photos, and we wanted the best food and wine – so we splurged on the band, the photographer, and the venue/catering.
They were all well worth it because we had a wonderful time and so did all our guests, we really felt like we treated them to a wonderful evening.
We were able to save in places by using the flowers from the church at the reception as well, making the invitations ourselves with help from friends and family, and sourcing all of the floral vases ourselves by coming thrift shops, along with friends, for different bud vases and vintage cut glass vases.
We decided against favors, but we did do custom match boxes that my husband designed with the details of our day and special artwork of Wisconsin, where we got married.
Advice for Other Couples
Take things in order and (sort of) one at a time – you don't need to plan what the flowers will look like before you have your venue.
You may want to look at dresses immediately, but how will you know what feels best before you know what your venue will be?
We knew we wanted to get married in my family church and wanted a best family friend who is a priest to do our ceremony, so we checked dates with him and the church first, then we actually had to book our band first because bands go quickly in Southern Wisconsin.
After that, we did venue, photography, and flowers. After all that I went to look for a wedding gown.
If I would have tried to start with everything at once I would have been WAY too overwhelmed! Take a deep breath, make a list, star the things that matter to you most, and work your way through it.
It is hard work planning a wedding, almost a second job, but you just have to look for the pieces that inspire you and make those your focus.
When you are planning a wedding from far away – don't panic! With email and the internet, it's not as difficult as it once was to plan from far away.
It's a good idea to see every venue in person and meet with the people you may hire in person as well. We went back for three long weekends and toured venues, interviewed photographers and florists.
One thing you may NOT need to do in person is see your band – with YouTube and Vimeo now almost all bands have a video and we were able to watch those to see which band we liked best. We hired our band sort of sight unseen and they were amazing!
In the end, it is about you and what you want as a couple. And, as I said about a million times throughout the whole process, as long as our friends and family are with us and we end up married at the end of the day, then everything went right!
The Decor & Details
We had some truly special family and friends that really pitched in to help us out and make things personal and special.
I borrowed a veil from a good friend, my sister's mother-in-law sourced about 90% of our vases which were all small, bud vases and vintage finds from different thrift shops – they couldn't have been more lovely!
Instead of buying a something blue, my sister made copies of my parents' wedding photo and my grandparents' wedding photo (who are deceased) and laminated them, tying them with a blue ribbon.
My husband's mom got him a special shamrock pin since his grandmother, who he grew up with and recently passed away, was from Ireland.
One of the most special parts of the wedding prep was the invitations. My dad is an architect and incredible artist and he and I did the watercolor laurel leaves for the invitations together.
My friend and sister's sister-in-law is a designer and she created and printed gorgeous invitations for us using the art my dad and I watercolored. Now I have that art and our invitations are truly one of a kind.
We selected The Madison Club because it is a classic “Madison” location and really reflected the elegance that we wanted for our day.
Established in 1909, the Madison Club has beautiful pre-war elegance in its design and has a modern gourmet chef and incredibly attentive staff to take care of you. Situated just blocks from the State Capitol, on Lake Monona, the Club serves as the premier destination.
The Madison Club also hosted great American icons, including former President Theodore Roosevelt, President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and the Dalai Lama.
We went more with a “look” than a particular flower. We wanted to go with whites and greenery like olive branches and eucalyptus to create a fresh, garden feeling.
We mixed the mediums of different flowers all in white to create a tapestry and texture. We also collected dozens and dozens of vintage vases in all sizes and shapes and filled them with flowers to create a tablescape.
We added candles and custom watercolored table numbers to complete the look. On the head table we had a garland of mostly greens to which we added some white face flowers and candles to romanticize and soften the look.
We did a formal sit down meal for our wedding. Since our venue is turn of the century, we were able to have a cocktail hour in a lower garden, move upstairs for the dinner portion, then moved on to dancing and cake.
For cocktail hour we did passed Mini Ahi Tuna Tacos,Char Siu BBQ Pork, Iced Shrimp Cocktail, Spinach & Goat Cheese Profiteroles, Brie & Apple, and a display of artisanal cheese and charcuterie.
For dinner we served a choice of Lavender Honey Glaze Chicken Breast with sauteed seasonal veggies, buttermilk grits, and citrus chicken jus or a Filet of Beef Tenderloin with Sauteed Seasonal Vegetables, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Wild Mushroom & Herb Demi-Glace.
The cake was three-tiers decorated with fresh flowers and the buttercream frosting had a swiss dot pattern. The top tier was almond cake with vanilla buttercream filling, the middle tier was vanilla chiffon cake with strawberry filling and the bottom tier was almond cake with chocolate buttercream filling.
We took two weeks off for our wedding, but we elected to take more time off around the wedding to spend with guests traveling into town for our wedding week/weekend.
We actually went to an NFL Monday Night Football game because we’re big Green Bay Packer Fans. Then we took a short trip to Northern California two nights in St. Helena, just north of Napa, for a little wine country relaxation and two nights in Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur for some hiking and views of the gorgeous California coastline.
We live in San Diego and were a little afraid that this wouldn’t be adventurous enough for our honeymoon, but we were exhausted after a week of family and friends and we were really glad we didn’t have to travel far to get to our honeymoon.
We then proceeded to have a wonderful time just exploring the northern end of our state at our own pace and enjoying amazing food and wine and views!
We’re also going to take a longer trip to Europe, but likely for our first anniversary – once we’ve saved up some more vacation time and a little money!
Isn't it beautiful? Those florals are fabulous, and I'm just in love with Claire's wedding dress, the neckline gives such an unusual finish to the classic ballgown silhouette, don't you think?
Thanks so much to Katie Ricard Photography, and of course, Claire & Kevin for sharing their elegant wedding with us.
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