Maria & Kevin’s Backyard Barn Wedding

artistic DIY backyard wedding portraits in Madison
Where our wedding was, and how we chose the venue(s):

Our wedding was at our farm outside of Columbus, WI. We purchased a small farm almost 2 years ago and the barn was in amazing shape. It’s over 100 years old!

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Our favorite part(s) of the wedding:

My nephew Tyler who is 19, sang and played acoustic guitar during our ceremony. Almost every single song he learned was recorded before he was born. When Kevin walked down the aisle with his parents, Tyler played, ‘Holding out for a Hero’, by Bonnie Tyler. He did AMAZING. Kevin is a HUGE Footloose fan. This song was appropriate for so many reasons!

Kevin and I also wrote our own vows. It was so touching to be able to express our vows from the heart.

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DIY backyard weddingbackyard wedding in a barnbarn weddingWhat was definitely worth it:

Having it at our place. The photos and memories from that day mean so much more knowing it was in our backyard.

Greatest challenge planning the wedding:

We are SO GLAD we had our wedding on our farm BUT living at the same place as the venue could sometimes be a challenge. We wanted to constantly ‘do things’ in preparation. I am a sprinter and this was more of a marathon…I probably swept the barn 20 times before the actual day J.

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Resources that helped us along the way:

Pinterest and Etsy! I would find things I liked on both sites and then bring these ideas to my dad. He played a HUGE role in helping us construct a lot of our décor. I would tell him what I liked and he would build it. He actually built the bar in the barn out of old barn wood.

Advice for other people planning their wedding:

The day will go by so quickly. Try to enjoy every moment! Don’t stress, everything will get taken care of.

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Other cool stuff people should know:

My dad and I made all of the decorations. He trimmed birch trees, placed them in corners of the barn and we strung clear lights on them. He found an oak tree already down. He trimmed it to be the base of our cake. He spent a lot of time stringing lights and hanging material on scaffolding.

We purchased our centerpiece flowers from a vendor at the Sun Prairie Farmer’s Market the morning of our wedding.backyard wedding DIY detailsDIY details

The wedding photos we’re most excited to see:

There was so much going on that day, we are excited to see our guests engaging with each other. We know there were bits we missed and we can’t wait to see what was captured in the photos!

artistic DIY backyard wedding portraits Backyard wedding DIY

We chose Maureen Cassidy Photography because:

We met with Maureen in January and immediately felt comfortable with her. She had only one day open in September, our date. It was meant to be! She has such amazing energy, we knew she would be able to capture our day perfectly. And when she confirmed she would climb the barn banisters if needed, we knew she was our photographer! The day of our wedding, she was so much fun!

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Ceremony & Reception Venue: our home

Hair: Bfix Salon in Madison, WI

Make up: My sister and I did ours together

Wedding Dress: I found my dress online. It was from a boutique in NYC and had been a mannequin sample.

Bridesmaid Dress:

Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Everyone picked their own

Catering: Eldorado Grill provided our dinner with smoked brisket and mashed potatoes

Bar-tending: We had kegged cocktails provided by Dlux. Old-fashions were on tap!

Rentals (tents, chairs, linens, etc.): Event Essentials

Officiant: Rev. Rita Erickson from Tomah, WI. She was great!

Wedding planner: Kevin and Maria 🙂

Flowers/Florist: Wild Apples Floral in Baraboo, WI

Invitations: Maria made them. She has a design background.

Dessert: Market Street Diner did our wedding cake along with rustic pies, pumpkin and s’mores bars.

Basset Street Brunch Club provided us with donuts. Guests were encouraged to take them home for breakfast the next day. Flavors included Maple Bacon (yesss!), Oreo-Crusted and Sprinkled.

Photography: Maureen Cassidy Photography

Bands: During cocktail hour, the No Name String Band: Midwestern new-time string band.

Our dance was The Rusty Hearts: electrified, stringified and countrified music.

Both bands fit our theme quite well. In fact the Rusty Hearts even countrified some songs from the 80s and learned how to play ‘My Maria’.


Maureen Cassidy is a Madison wedding photographer, Madison family photographer & Madison boudoir photographer who loves capturing connections, love and beauty in Wisconsin and around the world. If you would like to send her a message contact her {here}.

Our Stunning Backyard Wedding in the Northwoods

first look in woods at backyard wedding

Where our wedding was, and how we chose the venue(s): 

Our wedding was at the Mother-of-the-Bride’s cabin located on Rice Lake in Upper Michigan.  The rustic beauty of the cabin and the lake made it an easy choice for our wedding venue.  The cabin also had a special significance for both of us, as Hicham spent the summer of 2014 helping build the cabin from the ground up and I was also helping out the day the foundation was laid.

DIY rustic cabin for backyard weddingceremony on lake in backyard

Our favorite part(s) of the wedding:

The first look – after a lot of anticipation and a bit of stress, it was such a relief to finally share  a quiet moment with each other and hold one other close.  The rest of the day went by as such a whirlwind. Looking back, walking together for our first look in the beautiful north woods of the Keweenaw definitely stands out.

Also, being reunited with our friends and family. One of the hardest parts of living abroad is being so far away from all these amazing people.  It was the first opportunity many friends had to meet each other, and for others it was the first time Hicham and I had seen them in years.  It was very special reuniting to celebrate our love with everyone.

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What was definitely worth it:

The flowers: After a lot of hunting, my Mom found a small farm (Rock River Farm) in the U.P. that sells fresh flowers at a really good rate. A few weeks before the wedding, we drove out and met with the owner, Shailah, who is absolutely amazing! She was really accommodating and the flowers were beautiful. For the big day, Shailah made my bouquet, the floral crown for my hair, the two arrangements on the archway, and we had over 400 fresh cut flowers all for a very affordable price.

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What was definitely not worth it:

Too many small details: A few weeks before the wedding, when I was home from abroad for the first time in months, I went a little detail-happy during a few shopping trips to the craft stores.  There were a lot of little decorations that didn’t end up being used or put up because we ran out of time to set them up! I spent a lot of time stressing about little details and in the end they didn’t matter much. If you’re doing a DIY wedding, I would recommend sticking to a few must-haves and ditching the rest of the little details!

Our Planning Guidelines:

We live abroad, so our biggest planning guideline was that we had to be able to plan it from afar.  We had a lot of help, particularly from my family, with contacting vendors and getting the cabin ready for the big day.  I was also lucky that a lot of my close girlfriends were already married, which means that I had a lot of advice and tips for DIY wedding planning (lucky me!).

My Dad gave us a great piece of advice that became our other main guideline: figure out what is worth doing yourself and what is worth delegating or hiring someone to do.  This mantra was super helpful when deciding when to find a vendor and what to tackle on our own.  Sometimes, it’s totally worth it to hire some help! 
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Greatest challenge planning the wedding:

Living abroad! Although a lot of things could be organized by email and online, there were some things that just had to wait until we were back in the Midwest.  We were lucky that we had 3 weeks off in the States before the wedding.  Those three weeks were spent helping finish the cabin (the frame was constructed in 2014, but the entire interior, exterior and landscaping was done from May-July 2015!) and finalizing all the other last minute things, including having my wedding band made.  That said, we did what we could and tried our best not to stress out about the things we couldn’t get to before the wedding.

Resources that helped us along the way:

As mentioned, we had a lot of help along the way, from my parents and from a number of our friends including Kim (our Officiant), Nicky (who made our amazing cake and cupcakes), the entire bridal party and family members (who helped with wedding set-up), and the whole work crew that helped finish the cabin on time. Pinterest was another key resource to gather ideas and inspiration for our own DIY wedding.

rustic wedding in backyard rustic wedding in backyard in the UP outside wedding in backyard bridesmaids candids at ceremony

Personal Vows:

I, (Hicham/Whitney), take you (Hicham/Whitney), to be my lawful wedded (husband/wife), my partner in life and my one true love.

I give to you in the presence of our loved ones as witness,

My promise to love you without reservation,

To trust and honor you through times of good health and bad, and times of joy and sorrow. 

I promise to comfort you in times of distress,

And to encourage you to achieve all of your goals.

I will grow with you in mind and spirit,

Always be open and honest with you,

And will love you, today, tomorrow and always.

No matter where in the world we are,

My home will always be wherever I am with you.

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Advice for other people planning their wedding:

Don’t stress the small stuff and remember that things have a way of coming together in the end!  The other most important thing is to have fun, because the day will fly by!  The day after the wedding, Hicham and I both said, “We want to do it all over again, it went by too fast!”

The wedding photos we’re most excited to see:

The first look photos!  Whitney is also pretty excited to see the photos of the keg stands (which she missed out on and only found out about later on in the night)!northern wedding in backyardcandids at wedding

We chose Maureen Cassidy Photography because:

We were referred to Maureen by Natural Intuition Photography, who had done our engagement photos (but was booked our wedding weekend). As soon as I looked at Maureen’s website, I knew that her style was a good fit for us!  Maureen and I emailed and chatted on Skype a few times in the months before the wedding and Maureen is so easy to work with.  She has such a great spirit and a natural calm about her that we didn’t even stress at all about the photography.  The day of the wedding Maureen (and her second shooter) were amazing – they worked so quickly and quietly that we sometimes forgot they were there!  Our guests loved them and so did we! 

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Wedding Vendors:

Ceremony and Reception Venue: Private residence on Rice Lake in Upper Michigan

Hair: Regis Salon

Make up: I did my own!

Wedding Dress: Maggie Sottero

Bridesmaids Dresses: Each bridesmaide chose her own dress.

Groom:  Custom-made in Lebanon

Catering:  Kanga’s Catering

Bar-tending: We did our own alcohol and had our friends Sherri and Tim help serve!

Rentals (tents, chairs, linens, etc.): UP Event Rentals

Officiant: Our lovely friend, Kim Hodges

Wedding planner: Us!

Flowers/Florist: Rock River Farm near Marquette, MI

Invitations:  Betty Lu Designs

Dessert: Another lovely friend, Nicky Gagnon Outinen

Wedding Bands: 

His – from a jeweler in Hicham’s home town of Tyre, Lebanon

Hers – custom-made by Thomas Dailing at Lee Ayers Jewelers of Stevens Point, WI

Photography: Maureen Cassidy Photography & Amie Heeter 2nd shooting

Maureen Cassidy is a Madison wedding photographer, Madison family photographer & Madison boudoir photographer who loves capturing connections, love and beauty in Wisconsin and around the world. If you would like to send her a message contact her {here}.

Featured on A Practical Wedding

Last summer I photographed a super fun and unique wedding at the Madison Children’s Museum. As sometimes happens, I never got to blogging it (until now!).  

Lucky for me the bride submitted their wedding to her favorite wedding site A Practical Wedding.  Check it out! It really has so many awesome resources and I really love her write-up on their wedding!!
The link for the featured blog post on A Practical wedding is {here}

featured wedding on A practical wedding

Maureen Cassidy is a Madison wedding photographer, Madison family photographer & Madison boudoir photographer who loves capturing connections, love and beauty in Wisconsin and around the world. If you would like to send her a message contact her {here}.

Winter Wedding at the Barn at the Harvest Moon Pond

I love photographing weddings!

Every wedding I feel like I love it more.  I love witnessing and documenting the joys, passions and expressions of each couple. For this winter wedding, Tracey and Doug made my job so crazy easy! Tracey has an awesome smile and is one of those full-of-life people in a perfect way! Doug is so tender, loving and free with his expression of love. The whole day you could just tell that these guys hit the jackpot with each other.

Their wedding was in January (oddly there was no snow) at one of my favorite barn wedding venues: The Barn at Harvest Moon Pond.

Where was your wedding and how did you choose the venue?

We chose The Barn at the Harvest Moon Pond.  We were both looking for a country setting and loved the idea of an old barn.  The Barn at the Harvest Moon Pond was perfect.  It had a huge fireplace as you enter the barn and chandeliers with large timbers.  We were able to have the ceremony up stairs in the hay loft and reception downstairs.  The owners, Gary and Renee are great people and easy to work with.

What memory stands out most from your wedding day?

We had so many great moments it’s hard to narrow it down to a few.  Some of the highlights included my eighty one year old Cowboy Dad walking me down the aisle, taking pictures on the ice (harvest moon pond), Doug and I scooping out ice-cream to the kids, carriage ride, seeing everyone with cowboy hats on, intimate ceremony with Doug and I giving out communion, vows, awesome music and serenade from the band at the end of the night

Venue photo, Barn at harvest moon pondgetting ready for the weddingdetails of barn at harvest moon weddingflowers at the weddinggetting ready for the wedding at barn at harvest moon

What was the most enjoyable part of planning your wedding?

We enjoyed all of it!  We had fun being creative and letting the ideas flow.  This allowed us to think outside the box, like when Doug suggested cowboy hats for everyone, I was thrilled.  Then we went to work on how we could get hats that were nice, yet reasonable cost wise.  We took chances like ordering off the web.  It wasn’t always perfect, but we rolled with the errors and didn’t lose sight of the big picture which was to create a fun and relaxed atmosphere.
What was your greatest challenge in planning your wedding?  What did you feel least prepared for? 
Since we planned this in three and half months, we should answer “everything”!  But, the most difficult part was ordering the food.  We had Eldorado Grill for our caterer and they were fantastic.  The food was fabulous and we heard about it weeks later.  The difficult part was ordering since on our buffet line we wanted to provide lots of variety with several entree options.  However, we also didn’t want to end up with triple the food.  In the end, we calculated spot on and we were really relived the left overs were not coming on the honeymoon.  Burritos don’t travel well.
Which moment(s) are/were you most excited to see in your wedding photos?
We are excited to see our “first look” and the one’s taken while we were on the ice in our dress shoes!  We’re also looking forward to pics of us scooping out ice-cream to kids.  Plus the pic of our guests in the moment having fun!

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What personal touches did you add to the wedding to make it your own?

We wanted to make our wedding a fun and relaxed environment, but we also wanted to have a level of elegance.  Doug made the wedding arch and we decorated it with garland.  The tables were decorated with white table cloths, candles, evergreens and each table had a chocolate cake.  We also gave out cowboy hats to start the party.  By choosing the barn, our ceremony was incredibly intimate which seems unlikely given we had 200 guests.  Our Pastor told our love story and we chose vows that reflected how we felt.  We had live music which included Chris Hanson for ceremony music and a live band, The Mighty Wheelhouse for the reception.  We had carriage rides available for our guests and bean bag toss at reception.

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What resources (blogs, friends, websites) helped you in planning your wedding?

Pinterest became our obsession and our favorite “go to place” to see how it had been done by others.  We also asked our friends and photographer for ideas.  One common question we’d ask is, “what’s the one thing you would change about your wedding?”  The answer we most often received was, “I wish we would have hired a better photographer or videographer”.  We took steps to be sure we were in good hands.

What advice do you have for people planning a wedding?

Be true to who you are.  Choose things that make you happy and represent you.  Make the day about your love for each other and the love you have for others.  Choose quality people you believe will carry out your vision and ones you have confidence in.  We found we gave a bit of direction, showed our trust in them and let them lead.  By showing our gratitude we were thrilled at how generous they were with their talents.  Our band, Wheelhouse serenaded us one the dance floor, our cake people delivered 25 + cakes when typically they don’t deliver, our pastor came back early from vacation to marry us and we could go on and on.  Everyone was so very generous it felt like even the vendors were all just friends celebrating the day with us.

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Why did you choose Maureen Cassidy Photography?

We wanted the best!  Maureen has the technical capability and creative side we fell in love with.  She is an artist and uses her talent to capture the beauty in and around her.  Her motto is, “always make everything fun”.  Now we can say in hindsight her motto was just as important as her technical skill.  We had a blast Maureen.  Thanks for increasing our “fun factor” on our big day.

first dance photos madison wi barn dancing madison wi maureen cassidy family wedding natural photography wedding outdoor dancing madison wi wedding madison area photos wedding natural Ceremony & Reception Venue: The barn at the harvest moon pond

Hair and Make up: Daisy Quintal, Union Hair Salon

Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal

Bridesmaids DressesDavid’s Bridal

Groom & Groomsmen Attire: The Men’s Warehouse

CateringEldorado Grill 

Bar-tending: Catered Cocktails

Rentals (tents, chairs, linens, etc.):none

OfficiantPastor David Dragseth from Lake Park Lutheran Church in Milwaukee

Wedding planner: none

Flowers/FloristDaffodil Parker

InvitationsOnline at Mixbook

Dessert (cake and such!):  Miller and Sons in Verona.

Photography– Maureen Cassidy Photography & 2nd shooting with Patricia from Rejoy Photography

Videographer: One Fine Day

DJ and/or band:The Mighty Wheelhouse Band

Horse and Carriage: Cinderella Carriage

Favors:  Cowboy Hats

Honeymoon: Puerto Rico and island, Vieques – highly recommend!

Maureen Cassidy is a Madison wedding photographer, Madison family photographer & Madison boudoir photographer who loves capturing connections, love and beauty in Wisconsin and around the world. If you would like to send her a message contact her {here}.

Published in the Huffington Post

Exciting news for me today! I got published in in the Huffington post in their wedding section.  The article was on their favorite winter romantic photographs.

Check it out here:

Here is the photo they chose.

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Maureen Cassidy is a Madison wedding photographer, Madison family photographer & Madison boudoir photographer who loves capturing connections, love and beauty in Wisconsin and around the world. If you would like to send her a message contact her {here}.

By | December 26th, 2014|Engagements, Featured Wedding Photographs Madison WI|0 Comments

Kelly and Matt’s University Club Wedding in Madison, WI

This was a beautiful gathering of family and friends, and here is what stood out to me about Kelly and Matt’s wedding:

  • They were so vibrant and adventurous while getting their wedding photos taken (such as dancing under pine trees!).
  • Close-knit, talented, and creative family, who contributed greatly to the natural and charming decorations.
  • Smorgasbord of delicious, organic dishes.
  • They added vegetables to the bouquets!!!

Where was your wedding and how did you choose the venue(s)?

After our engagement we took a tour of Madison venues. After viewing 6 locations in one day my mom mentioned the University Club; we are glad she did! The warm wood and chandelier glow reminded us of cabins and restaurants up north. We knew our family and friends would feel welcomed in the University Club space.

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 What memory stands out most from your wedding day?

Trespassing in the neighbor’s yard to have our first look under the property line trees!

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What personal touches did you add to the wedding to make it your own?

I studied Nutrition and Matt is a Chef. We spend the majority of our time cooking together and highlighted this passion by adding artichokes, cabbage, kale, pears, rosemary, and sage to our wedding flowers and decorations. Our whole family contributed their energy to make the wedding special. My mom, Julie, designed the table center pieces. My mother-in-law, Patty, printed family wedding photos, made a birch branch wish tree, a birch card box, and a framed photo for our groom’s dinner. My father-in-law, Jim, cut, stained, and wood burned our birch cake stand, table numbers, and cake topper. My sister, Amanda, water colored and designed our programs and menus. My Aunt Cathy made invitations, thank you cards, and pew bows for the ceremony. My Aunt Julie created our picture slideshow.

What readings did you have at your wedding?

Our friend Ann Smith read a passage from the book Anam Cara that focused on the celebration of our lives together.

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What was the most enjoyable part of planning your wedding?

Making the invitations and monitoring the response cards was both the most enjoyable and the most challenging part of planning our wedding. The invitations were designed by myself and my Aunt Cathy during a Spring weekend at our cabin. We then enlisted my mom and sister for a crafts assembly line. This happened more than once- they deserve multiple thank you cards!

What advice do you have for people planning a wedding?

Delegate! Accept the offers of your friends and family. Let go of the details and allow others to add creativity to your vision. Using my guidelines, themes, and colors, my friends and family made the majority of the DIY crafts.

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Any funny moments to share?

My father, Tom, made a gutsy and endearing gesture to welcome Matt to the family. He presented Matt with a Bears jersey during his toast, amidst a sea of Viking and Packer fans. The crowd reaction was explosive, the family members from Illinois cheered, but they were outnumbered by the boos and shouting of all the rest.

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If you had an unlimited budget or could simply redo your wedding day, would you have done anything differently?

If given an unlimited budget we would have sprung for a live trio to play Gypsy Jazz during our cocktail hour.

Why did you choose Maureen Cassidy Photography?

Maureen goes above and beyond to get the perfect shot, literally. She climbed a pine tree to capture our first moments together before the ceremony. A combination of our dance lessons and her photography skills created one of my favorite photos. Maureen‘s work does not include filters or editing tricks. Her photos are crisp, lively, and captured the moments exactly as I remember. Maureen is the photographer who will make you laugh even as you’re sweating in a field in your layered dress and full tuxedo.

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Ceremony Venue: First Presbyterian Church, Waunakee

Reception Venue: The University Club

Hair: The Premiere of Windsor

Make up: Mary Kay

Wedding Dress: Allure, The Wedding Shoppe

Bridesmaids Dresses: Kennedy Blue, The Wedding Shoppe

Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Savvi, Minneapolis, MN

Catering & Bar-tending: The University Club Staff

Officiant: Pastor Kirk Morledge

Flowers: Klein’s Floral

Invitations: My Aunt!

Dessert: Craig’s Cakes

Photography: Maureen Cassidy Photography & the great Rejoy Photography 2nd shooting for me

DJ and/or band: Jukebox Bandstand

Favors: Donation to Youth Farms, Minneapolis, MN

Honeymoon: San Francisco, CA

Maureen Cassidy is a Madison wedding photographer, Madison family photographer & Madison boudoir photographer who loves capturing connections, love and beauty in Wisconsin and around the world. If you would like to send her a message contact her {here}.

Leila & Jason’s Olbrich Garden Wedding

This was a great wedding, and I see a lot of ’em. Thing that made it so great was the love these two have for each other, and how honest they are about it and willing to let the whole world see. I so admire men in particular who show their love so openly, and Jason is one of these men. Leila and Jason’s love for each other is soooooooo strong and clear. It brings me peace to witness love like this, and is definitely one of the perks of this job.

How Leila and Jason Met

We both grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and went to rival high schools but never actually met each other until we were in college. During our first semester in college we both traveled to Milwaukee to visit friends from high school and instantly clicked. The problem was that we lived over 200 miles apart! But that didn’t stop us- the next semester Jason transferred schools and moved to Minneapolis to be with me there. Five years later we got engaged!


The ceremony was at Olbrich Botanical Gardens and the reception was at Madison Concourse Hotel.

What were your deciding factors in choosing your venue(s)?

We live in MN now but we decided to have the wedding in Madison because both of our families and some of our friends still live there. I’ve always loved Olbrich and absolutely LOVE flowers. Plus, we didn’t have to do much decorating since the scenery was already so amazing. Since it was an August wedding we didn’t want to have the entire wedding outside so people wouldn’t overheat. We chose the Concourse for our reception because of its location, good reviews, and flexibility with decorating. Plus they were able to take care of all the setting up and taking down of decorations for us, which was amazing.

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What memory stands out most from your wedding day? 

Leila: I have a lot of great memories from that day. I think the part of that day that I expected the least was seeing myself in the mirror with all my wedding attire on and all my best friends and closest family members around me helping me get ready and at that moment I was so emotional and overwhelmed with happiness! I didn’t think I was going to cry at the ceremony but I did and it was probably the happiest moment in my life. I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle and share that with my husband.

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What was the most enjoyable part of planning your wedding?

Leila: I loved making decisions with Jason for the wedding. We had the same taste for a lot of things but he also brought a few ideas to the table that I never would’ve thought of. For example, neither of us are crazy good dancers, so originally we were planning to just slow dance to Hard to Concentrate by RHCP (since that is a song we both love). But then Jason suggested we have a fun, semi-choreographed dance to Groove Me by King Floyd. We quickly put together a fun and upbeat dance. Everyone seemed to enjoy the change of pace from the typical first dance song.

Jason: For me the most enjoyable part was watching all of the individual pieces come together into a fantastic celebration. In the beginning there is so much stress and anxiety over what stuff to pick, which vendors to go with, and so forth. But once the decisions were made it was truly awesome to see the pieces come together into something that was so well coordinated.

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What memory stands out most from your wedding day?

Jason: Absolutely it was Leila walking down the aisle and seeing her for the first time was the most vivid memory I have of the day. She had done a very good job of keeping every part of her outfit and hairstyle secret from me, I really didn’t know what to expect when she walked out. When I saw her I almost fell over, she was so beautiful and radiant, I’ve never seen anything so beautiful and having no clue what was coming it hit me like a storm the moment I saw her.

Personal Vows

Leila’s: Do you remember the watercolor painting I made for you for our first valentine’s day? The words I wrote say: “I love you not only for who you are but for who I am with you”.  Those words are still true today and always will be. From the moment we met you’ve made every day better and have given me all of your love. You’ve been there for me through any hardship I’ve faced; you’ve held me when I’m upset; you’ve encouraged me to try new things and live life to the fullest. And I promise to always do the same for you. I promise to always support you, appreciate all the things you do for me, and be the best wife I can be. I couldn’t ask for a better partner to experience this life with and I can’t wait to start this new chapter in our life together. And as you always say “the fact of the matter is” I love you. Always and forever.


Leila, Standing here at the alter with you,
There are a few things I vow always to do.
Firstly I vow always to give you my heart,
There’s nothing in the world that can tare us apart.
Secondly I vow to always give you my mind,
Whenever you need laughter, support, or words that are kind.
Third I vow to always give you my shoulder,
To cry on or to hold when life is as heavy as a boulder.
Fourth I vow to always give you my life,
To share with you as my beautiful wife.
Finally Leila I vow to you,
To love you forever and always be true.


Their kiss as a married couple…

first kiss at olbrich gardens

And Jason could not stop kissing her.still the first kiss at olbrich gardens

And she loved that!!!still the first kiss at olbrich gardens bridal party photos happy newlyweds happy newlyweds at olbrich gardens bare feet and wedding dress outdoor wedding black and white newlyweds

What was your greatest challenge in planning your wedding? What did you feel least prepared for?

Leila: Coordinating the wedding from afar was difficult at times. Luckily, we had family in town to help us, but we did end up making the 4 hour drive plenty of times to organize all the vendors. It may have even been a good thing though because it made my mother-in-law and I a lot closer. We ended up talking on the phone almost every day and she basically became my wedding planner and second mom all at the same time! I felt least prepared for our speeches. I’m not very comfortable getting up and talking in front of a huge crowd so I was pretty nervous but Jason helped me through it by taking the lead.

Jason: Finding the time to do all of the little stuff was very difficult as both of us were in school and working during most of the year while we were planning. Little tasks or decisions that needed to be made together became rather difficult to accomplish with our different schedules, but we made it work!

reception wedding party photos bridesmaids sitting outside at capitol

How did you calm your wedding day nerves?

Leila: My bridesmaid’s helped me the most with that. My nerves were put to the test when our officiant showed up late to the ceremony and I thought at first that we might not get married! Luckily, he showed up but everyone around me helped me to stay calm and figure it out. When I was walking down the aisle, my dad talked to me about something else to keep me from bawling and kept me calm so I was able to make it in one piece.

Jason: Jameson and PBR! Every time I was going nuts about something one of my groomsman would hand me their personalized flask  and say “chill out and take a swig”. It worked.

bouquet and wedding shoes wedding party sitting on capitol steps reception wedding details, cupcakes and tables

What resources helped you in planning your wedding?

We looked for inspiration in a few usual places like Pinterest for decorations and hairstyles and asked our friends and family for their opinions on things. My mom also gave me Colin Cowie’s book on wedding planning and that helped for keeping on a timeline and making sure we had all our T’s crossed. Honestly, my mother-in-law was actually the person who helped us the most with wedding planning, setting up all our appointments, and keeping us on track so really we have her to thank!

Do you have any advice for people planning a wedding?

Leila: Make sure you enjoy every moment of being engaged and the wedding day itself. When you first start out you think you have so much time before the big day and then it just flies by! Make sure to also show appreciation to all the people who help you get to that point because they matter too. Most of all, just enjoy your time together!

Jason: Don’t sweat the little things especially on the wedding day. Try not to get worked up or upset if something doesn’t go absolutely to plan, no one will know and no one will care, something always goes wrong but enjoy the day. Hopefully, you only have a wedding day once, so don’t forget to have fun with it. It is a high stress event but let loose, get crazy, and live it up to the fullest on that day.

bride and groom first dances with father and mother bride and groom first dance at reception bride and groom kiss during first dance

Which moment(s) are/were you most excited to see in your wedding photos?

Leila: All of them!!! Maybe the ones from the dance floor because all of our friends and family were dancing the whole night so I’m sure we will have some good ones from that!

Jason: The dance for sure. also the decorations and look of the reception hall, I feel like I barely even got to see it.

reception dance photos

Any funny moments to share?

Leila: A lot! But Jason has a good one:

Jason: The funniest thing that happened was actually after the wedding was over, my brother who was also my best man came back after going out with a large group of people from the wedding, it was 3 am and he had given his key card for his room to his friends who left early and were staying with him in the room. He gave them the key card and told them he would knock when he comes back. After returning form the long night of drinking he goes up to what he thinks is his room door and gives a couple of very loud knocks to let his friends know to come and let him in, what he didn’t realize was that this was not his room, it was the room next door to his room. After a few sends who comes and answers the door but my grandpa, and my brother just looked at him swaying from drunkenness and my grandpa slams the door on his face. In the morning we all had a good laugh about it my grandpa thought it was hilarious.

funny wedding photo

If you had an unlimited budget or simply could redo your wedding day, would you have done anything differently? 

Maybe, if that was the case but thinking back on it, it was the best wedding we could have dreamed of. All of our favorite people were in one place together, dancing and partying like they’ve known each other for years. That’s what made it the best.


Ceremony Venue: Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Reception VenueMadison Concourse Hotel

Hair: Temptd Hair Salon

Make-up: my friend, Becky Cripps

Wedding & Bridesmaids DressesDavid’s Bridal

Groom & Groomsmen AttireSavvi Formalwear

Catering & Bar-tending:  Concourse Hotel

RentalsEvent Essentials

Officiant: Daniel Floeter, he is a Madison judge

Flowers/FloristMaureen Essenmacher

Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas

DessertGigi’s Cupcakes


DJ and/or bandRyan Etten

Favors: made them myself! Got materials from Party City

HoneymoonTurks & Caicos Islands