By: Kristen Darkow
Okay, surely by now you’re sick of reading about our wedding, but I’m pretty sure this is the last blog I have slated to talk about our wedding! And, if you or anyone you know is getting married in the Twin Cities area, I’m hoping this will be a helpful post! Choosing the right vendors for your wedding can be intimidating – it’s a balance of not wanting to overspend, but also wanting to be happy with your choices. I think Andrew and I feel pretty proud of the vendors we chose as far as quality and price, and that’s worth sharing with others. 🙂 Here we go!
It was important to me that our ceremony be at the church I grew up in: Ezekiel Lutheran in River Falls. It’s a gorgeous building (a vaulted wood ceiling, tons of stained glass windows, etc.), and was meaningful to me since my family has attended there for generations. We also wanted to make sure our wedding message was centered on building a marriage on a strong Christian foundation, so no venue seemed more fitting than here.
We held our reception at Troy Burne Golf Club in Hudson. Part of the reason we chose late spring/early summer for our wedding was in hopes of having great weather. So, we wanted a reception venue that allowed us to get outside and enjoy the weather, but that was mainly indoors in the event that the weather wasn’t so great. 🙂 Troy Burne provided us exactly that. It has floor-to-ceiling windows, so even when we were inside, we were able to enjoy the stunning views and sunshine. It also has a beautiful outdoor patio, so guests were able to enjoy cocktail hour out there and step out for some fresh air and sunset views later on in the night. The golf course is also stunning, so it provided an excellent backdrop for some outdoor photos. Another major factor in this decision? Andrew loves his golf. 🙂 The staff was incredible to work with also – so kind, so thorough and responsive, and so professional. We definitely recommend Troy Burne to anyone looking to have a Twin Cities wedding!
Although our wedding and the rest of our vendors were Twin Cities based, we took our engagement photos in Madison, where we live. So, if you happen to be looking for photography in south-central Wisconsin, we definitely recommend Sarah Paige Photography! She’s super talented and very professional and even a̶l̶l̶o̶w̶e̶d̶ encouraged us to bring our dog, Storm!
Our wedding photographer was the wonderful Wendy Jo Stocker Photography! Clearly, based on the amount of photos I’ve already shared, we were very happy with how our photos turned out. 🙂 Isn’t it everyone’s dread to hate your wedding photos? That was one of my biggest worries – I usually hate photos that I’m in, and didn’t want that to be the case on our wedding day. But Wendy and Soozie were so attentive to detail and made sure we were in the best lighting, out of the wind, hair was just right, etc. They really have an eye for the best photo ops, and did a great job of capturing not only the posed photos, but also some excellent candids (all while remaining in the background).
Whether or not to hire a videographer was one of the greatest debates in our wedding planning process, and we are so glad we did! We haven’t even seen the finished video yet, but we were so impressed with Peterson Brothers Videography that we have no doubt our video footage will be phenomenal. Wedding videographers are viewed as a “want” but not a “need” when it comes to budgeting for a wedding, but when we talked to our married friends, the ones who hired a videographer said it was the best thing they did, and the ones who didn’t hire a videographer said it’s their one regret. After all, your wedding day only happens once and you can never recapture it! Videographers can run more on the expensive side, so we did tons of research on finding that happy medium of cost and quality. When we stumbled upon Peterson Brothers, we found an extremely reasonable cost without compromising on quality – their work is incredible! They were also so kind, so creative, and so professional on our wedding day. We’re very excited to watch our video when it’s ready. 🙂
Every girl looks forward to the day they get to shop for wedding dresses, right?! I was so excited for this day, and quickly booked an appointment at Raffine Bridal shortly after getting engaged! They assigned an associate to work with me throughout the entire appointment, and she walked me through the different dresses and let me choose some that I liked, but also pulled some that she had in mind based on my tastes. She never once made me feel rushed or pressured, and even teared up with all of us when I chose my dress! It was such a great experience, and while I’m glad I found my dress on my first day of shopping, I wish I could go back and try on all of their beautiful dresses! 🙂
I don’t have a “regular” hairdresser in River Falls, so making a decision on my wedding day hair stylist was a tough one! Again, I did a lot of research comparing prices and looking into stylists who would be willing to come to my house to get us all ready. Kylie Hines is the new co-owner of Reflections Salon in River Falls, and I’d heard great things about her work. I came in for a hair trial with a general idea of what I’d wanted done, and she nailed it! I definitely recommend her for bridal updos.
My makeup artist happened to be Kylie’s best friend, Jaimie Schnacky! A few of my friends have had their makeup done by her and said she did a great job. I went in for a makeup trial with her as well, and she listened to my requests (glam but still natural :)) and did such a great job. She did makeup for, like, 10 people on our wedding day and everyone looked fabulous.
We’re super lucky that Andrew’s Uncle Dan is an awesome DJ – Bandit Music Machine based out of Sioux Falls, SD. He provided an awesome mix of his own unique music and also songs that we had requested beforehand. He kept it lively and the dance floor was packed all night! We’re so grateful!
I think I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog how much I loved our flowers. I had a very specific look in mind (basically the main reason I wanted a May or June wedding) and A Cord of Three Wedding Rentals & Services nailed it. The bouquets were a mix of roses, peonies, hydrangeas, baby’s breath and eucalyptus…all of my favorite things. 🙂 A Cord of Three also provided our decorations, chair covers, center pieces, cake stands and set it all up and took it all down. We could not have been more pleased with all the work they did, and we absolutely recommend A Cord of Three!
My wedding and engagement ring are from Kessler’s Diamonds, who’ve been so great to work with! I think they’re more Madison/Milwaukee-based, though. Andrew’s wedding ring is from a place in the Twin Cities called Jewelry by Johan – they were able to take some wood from Andrew’s grandpa’s desk and put it on the inside of his ring. It’s gorgeous! Unfortunately I don’t have a great photo of his exact ring, but it looks similar to the one below.
Our cake was done by Key’s Cafe in Hudson. Cake wasn’t a big priority for either Andrew or me, so my parents really took the reins with this one. I told them I wanted something pretty simple and white, and they did an awesome job! They also took on the very taxing job of going to the shop and tasting different cake and frosting flavors. 😉
I can’t say enough good things about the seamstress I used. Alla at Milana Sewing & Embroidery was so kind and delightful to work with. She is so good at what she does, and came highly recommended by the bridal salon where I purchased my dress. You don’t trust just anyone to cut up and sew up your wedding dress, but I never worried knowing Alla knew exactly what I wanted and how to accomplish it. 🙂 She shortened it, took it in at the waist and bust (several times as I shed a couple pounds in the months leading up to the wedding), sewed on my belt, and steamed it to perfection prior to the wedding. She recently moved her business from Hudson to Menomonie, but it was well worth the drive each time. She’s amazing!
Rehearsal Dinner Venue:
Belle Vinez is a local winery owned by a River Falls family, set in the hills on the outskirts of River Falls and in a gorgeous, Italian architecture building. I actually contemplated hosting the entire wedding there, but because of current state laws regarding wineries vs. bars, the wedding would have had to wrap up by 9:00pm. We all knew that wasn’t happening. 🙂 So the rehearsal dinner was a great option! We had wood-fired pizza, appetizers, beer and wine, and it was all accompanied by a gorgeous night and beautiful setting. Couldn’t have been more pleased!
We had a large bridal party (20 people) plus the two of us, plus photographers, so we wanted a large enough vehicle to transport all of us from the ceremony to the reception with stops along the way. Schmitty & Sons provided exactly what we needed for a very reasonable price – and how cute is a trolley?
Our reception venue was already beautiful, but we thought a little drapery and twinkle lighting by We’ve Got It Covered would add the finishing touch…and it did! It provided the perfect ambience for the evening (both in the dining area and on the outdoor patio).
Bridesmaids Dresses/Groomsmen Ties:
We’ve mentioned on this blog a couple times how much we love Azazie…so that’s what we went with when it came time to choose bridesmaids dresses! It made it so easy for all of my girls to try on and purchase dresses when none of us live in the same area. They also sell neck ties in the same shades as their dresses, so we had confidence that the groomsmen would match the bridesmaids perfectly. If I had to do the wedding 100 times over, I’d choose Azazie every time!
Everyone loves a good photo booth, right? It’s such a fun thing for people to do during the reception aside from dancing. Unfortunately, I was too busy tearing up the dance floor to step foot in the photo booth 🙁 but luckily, a lot of our guests did make their way to the photo booth! Check out the photos here.
Phew. I think I officially have arthritis from typing all of that up. But we had some really great wedding vendors, and they deserve the recognition and if even one person uses them because of this blog, then I’ve done my job. 🙂