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The love story:
RJ and I met and started dating during college (in the Fall of 2008). RJ worked as the theater manager at the Orpheum theater in Madison and I worked as a waitress at the restaurant that was in the theater’s lobby. I thought he was cute, but I remember thinking that there was no way he’d be interested since I thought he was way older than me (surprise: he wasn’t, we are the same age). Also, I was a clumsy waitress, and one night when he was working I dropped a HUGE tray full of dirty dishes right in front of him. After that I was always pretty embarrassed in front of him. But one night, I was working a cocktail shift and he was working the late night movies. There was a big party going on so people were only interested in going to the bar, so RJ and I both had a lot of downtime. We started chatting, realized we had a ton in common, and hit it off. We ended up hanging out in the box office for hours and making tons of popcorn after midnight for all the party guests. We both hung out way past our shifts so we could keep chatting with each other. From there we started seeing each other outside of work and going on dates, and the rest is history :). getting ready detail shot madison wi beautiful bride black and white wedding photo
Where our wedding was, and how we chose the venue(s):
The wedding was at Monona Terrace in Madison. We visited a few different venues in Madison, but we were pretty sure we wanted it there, and once we toured the rooftop and community terrace, we both fell in love with the location and knew we wanted to get married there. Monona Terrace is only about a block away from our first apartment together, and we used to hang out on it’s roof terrace in college and read or play cribbage together. We loved the idea of a ceremony outside on a rooftop. Plus the unique and modern architecture coupled with all the beautiful plants in the building made it an easy decision for us. It definitely fit our personalities. 
Our favorite part(s) of the wedding:
Probably the unique wedding ceremony and the fact that it was written 100% for us. We love that our officiant Owen knows us so well and wrote such a beautiful ceremony that fit our personalities exactly. We loved that it incorporated our beer unity ceremony, our own written vows, and also acknowledged my mom and RJs dad, both who passed away last year. 
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Our Planning Guidelines:

Stay true to our personalities and keep it simple. 

Greatest challenge planning the wedding:

My family is Jewish, RJ’s family is Catholic and Protestant. Neither RJ nor I are very religious ourselves. So it was hard at times to balance all of that and still make everyone happy. Ultimately though, it was our wedding and we wanted it to fit our personalities while respecting our families’ traditions.

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Personal vows: 

Sophie’s Vows:

RJ, I choose you, today and every day, to be my husband, my companion, my soul mate, and my best friend for as long as I live. You have shown me what true, unconditional love feels like, and for that I can never thank you enough. I love so many things about you: I love how you actually cry when you laugh really hard; I love the concentration on your face as you work in the kitchen making delicious meals to share with the people you care about; I love how you warm up my feet when they feel like ice, and how you tuck me in and snuggle up with extra blankets to keep me warm, even when you’re already sweating; I love how much you love your family, and how excited you get as you watch your nieces grow up; I love your determination, self-motivation, and willpower to achieve and surpass every personal and professional goal you set for yourself. You inspire me on a daily basis to be the best version of myself that I can be, and I am so proud to be yours. For these, and so many more reasons, I promise to be faithful to you, support you, and trust in you completely. I promise to listen to you with compassion and understanding, and speak to you with encouragement and honesty. I promise to put your needs before my own, and to be sensitive to your goals and aspirations. I promise to experience all that life has to offer with you, and to turn the mundane into unique and fun-filled adventures for us, together. I promise to work at our love and always make you the first priority in my life. For the rest of my life, RJ, I promise to be the best to and for you as you have been the best man, the only man for me. I love you with my whole heart, and I promise I always will.

RJ’s Vows:

Sophie, from the moment we met here in Madison, just a few blocks from where we stand, you have been my friend, my voice of reason, my partner in crime, my taste tester, my sous chef, my accountant, my guiding light and my rock. Being back in Madison here today, reminds me just how far we have come, how much we have been through and how much we have changed. But even more striking than the differences I see, are the things I love about you that have remained steadfast after all of these years. Your cute smile, your amazing energy, your tenacious spirit, your disdain for scary movies and, of course, your affinity for turtles. Those unwavering quirks and qualities are exactly what make me so excited to enjoy, love and explore life with you. Through our journey together, no matter where in the world life takes us, I promise to be the best husband I can be, to make you laugh when you are down, to help and support you to reach anything you want in life- whether it is a life long dream or a glass on the top shelf, to always kill it in the kitchen as your Chef Boy RJ, to still listen to you even when the game is on (playoffs excluded), to grow old with you, but never grow up, and to unconditionally love and support you through good times and bad, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health from this day forward, forever and ever.

happy newlyweds monona terrace guests giving hugs after wedding ceremony bridesmaids having fun madison wi photo fun photography bridal party madison wiResources that helped us along the way:

Making google docs for EVERYTHING and sharing them so everyone was always on the same page.

Advice for other people planning their wedding:

Make decisions and stick to them. There’s no point in going back and forth and changing your mind about everything a million and a half times. We made quick and efficient decisions and it made planning so much easier. I loved how involved RJ was in the planning. It’s easy as a bride to take over all the planning, but I’m really glad I didn’t. RJ and I did get mad at each other and stressed over stupid things sometimes, but overall, I’m really happy that we shared the planning.

Where we allocated the most and the least funds: 

Most funds were given to food, alcohol, and photographer.

Least funds were for the centerpieces. We made all the centerpieces because I love DIY projects. We made all the cupcake stands and used string balls instead of spending a ton of money on floral arrangements for each table.

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The wedding photos we’re most excited to see:

All of them!!! I can’t wait to see the photos from the first look and the mini-session with just RJ and me. I can’t wait to see the photos with my bridesmaids and the ceremony photos too! I’m excited for the getting ready photos and sunset photos and photos of guests and ahhhh just everything! So yea, all of them! I’m just so excited to be able to re-live the wedding again through all the photos!

We chose Maureen Cassidy Photography because:

RJ works at a photography studio and he did a ton of research to choose his top 5 favorite photographers in the Madison area. Then, he had the creative director and lead photographers at the studio all vet all his top choices by writing pros and cons about the photographers’ portfolios. They all loved Maureen’s portfolio and website, and after RJ had a quick first call with her, we knew, without a doubt, that she was the one!

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Ceremony Venue: Monona Terrace Rooftop

Reception Venue: Monona Terrace (Community Terrace Room)

Hair & Make-up: Brideheads

Wedding Dress: The Wedding Shoppe (in St. Paul, MN)

Bridesmaids Dresses: Donna Morgan at Nordstrom

Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Amelishan

Catering & Bar-tending:Monona Terrace

Officiant: Owen Pratt

Flowers/Florist: Abundance Acres

Invitations: Minted.com

Dessert: Cupcakes from Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery (they were amazing and the baker worked with us to make 4 unique cupcake flavors)

Photography: Maureen Cassidy Photography

DJ: Milwaukee Airwaves

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}.