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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Venue: Madison Concourse Hotel
Hair: Temptd Hair Salon
Make-up: my friend, Becky Cripps
Wedding & Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal
Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Savvi Formalwear
Catering & Bar-tending: Concourse Hotel
Rentals: Event Essentials
Officiant: Daniel Floeter, he is a Madison judge
Flowers/Florist: Maureen Essenmacher
Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas
Dessert: Gigi’s Cupcakes
DJ and/or band: Ryan Etten
Favors: made them myself! Got materials from Party City
Honeymoon: Turks & Caicos Islands