On a crisp October evening in 2012, Jill arrived home to a unique display. Instead of the usual uncarved Halloween décor, a line of lettered pumpkins, which spelled out the words “Marry Me?,” greeted her. She followed the trail through the house to the deck out back, where Paul, her boyfriend of two and a half years, was waiting with a question-mark pumpkin and a ring. Although they had talked about wedding plans before, Jill didn't have any suspicions that a proposal was looming. “I had no makeup and my hair—” Jill laughs.
After the proposal, Jill and Paul took to wedding planning, booking a venue for the following November at the Little Log House Pioneer Village in Hastings. They chose the venue for its large, open spaces and ability to cater to all their needs. Jill and Paul wanted their wedding to be two things: relaxing and intimate. They didn’t just want their guests to be onlookers; they wanted them to experience the wedding as much as possible. As for the date, the couple knew they wanted an autumn wedding. “Fall is my favorite season,” says Jill. “It is relaxing to me after what is usually a very busy summer.” A yearlong engagement was more than enough for Jill, who found that even at the six-month mark, she was eager for the day to arrive.
The bride and groom were able to support each other equally through the planning process, with Jill specializing in the food and décor, while Paul made sure that the reception space was to their liking. The two wanted a space that could accommodate all 275 of their guests, but still maintain an intimate connection with each one of them. The guests themselves consisted of close childhood friends and family, who provided the perfect foundation for their celebration. “We had [guests] we’d known since we were little, friends we’d had for more than 20 years, which was great,” Jill says. She admitted that the seating chart was one of the only stresses in the planning process in matching people with complementary personalities at each table. If ever overwhelmed, Jill knew she could lean on Paul for support. The two maintained a stress-free engagement and even avoided day-of disasters—except for the weather.
Jill worked with her photographer, Kate Wenzel, to coordinate shots that would really complement the spaces the venue offered, particularly rustic outdoor backdrops and snowy grounds. “We wanted pictures that were not so formal or all inside,” says Jill. The plan for outdoor portraits didn’t waver, even when the temperature reached zero degrees the day of the wedding. To cope with the harsh wintry winds, the wedding party took breaks between shots, bundling up in coats and gathering in the church to stay warm. During one break, a groomsman caught a candid photo of Paul kneeling down and holding Jill’s feet to keep them warm, while she smiled at him behind blanketed layers.
November 23, 2013 was filled with small, special moments like this between the couple and the ones they loved most. Jill’s sister and maid-of-honor, Jenica, surprised the bride with a charm to place on her bouquet with a picture of their late grandfather. The tears began and continued to flow as the bride-to-be had a heart-to-heart with Paul’s mom, who was excited to see her only child get married. Jill and Paul decided to have one of their friends officiate the wedding. “We both wanted our ceremony to be very intimate, and having one of our close friends marry us was very special and important to both of us,” says Jill. Family continued to play a role in the wedding when the officiant incorporated advice from both families’ grandmothers on love and marriage into the ceremony. The interviews held more than 50 years’ worth of advice for the newlyweds, just the words of wisdom they needed to hear as they embarked on the journey of marriage.
Date: November 23, 2013
Ceremony/Reception: Pioneer Village, Little Log House, Hastings
Photographer: Kate Wenzel Photography
Bride’s Dress: David's Bridal
Bridesmaids Dresses: Each bridesmaid purchased her own dress from a variety of boutiques
Groom’s Attire: Men's Wearhouse
Groomsmen Attire: Men's Wearhouse
Rings: D Morel Gemologist Inc.
Catering: Lettuce Cater
Dessert: Variety of desserts from Costco
Flowers: Cathie Thompson
Invitations: Ann's Bridal Bargains
DJ: Greg Sliter
Singer/Musicians: Katie Snyder
Linens/Rentals: Lettuce Cater
Hair: Elm Salon, Hastings