Josh was born and raised in the small town of Cambridge, Illinois with a population of just over 2,000 people. I am originally from small town Johnston, Rhode Island. We both ended up living in Florida where we met and currently reside.
I have worked in education for twenty years. Eighteen years were spent in the classroom as a Kindergarten teacher (which I absolutely loved). Josh and I became friends through mutual acquaintances, and I was also Josh’s daughter’s Kindergarten teacher! Josh currently works at the AAA National Office as a Sr. Engineer, Telematics and Data Insights.
After seven years of friendship, we both realized our paths had crossed for a bigger reason. No matter how hard I tried to run away from him, he always seemed to be there exactly when I needed him. He was patient, supportive, and relentless. I finally stopped running and Josh proposed on a private catamaran sunset cruise in Sarasota, Florida on May 25, 2019. Three years later, we were married.
The Wedding Venue
We went back and forth trying to decide on the best location for the wedding events. We kicked around so many different ideas from elopement to a wedding in Italy with the honeymoon all wrapped into one. At the end of the day, the most important consideration for us both was that our children, family, and friends were all easily able to attend and enjoy the weekend. We finally decided on the beautiful and historic Renwick Mansion in Davenport, Iowa.
Davenport is just a short 20-minute drive from where Josh grew up, so it was very convenient for his family and friends. Our Florida family and friends were happy to fly in having never been to Iowa or midwestern Illinois! The Renwick Mansion has eight beautiful rooms and a guest house on the property, so our children had their own house, and our out-of-state bridal party and friends stayed with us in the mansion throughout the entire weekend.
This was so special and made everything flow seamlessly. It was nice to have everyone so close and made every moment so much more meaningful and fun. What made the weekend even more interesting was that the reception was held in a stunning timber-framed barn in Illinois. The wedding events would take our guests into two different states being separated by the Mississippi River. We provided transportation for our guests making it a safe and easy for everyone.
The Wedding Vibe
We wanted a super romantic, classy, and elegant vibe with very personalized touches throughout the wedding and weekend. Even though we purposely chose two very different venues for the ceremony and the reception, the theme and décor flowed perfectly. I chose a variety blush shades with ivory and gold accents for the décor and a navy, blush, and dusty blue color palate for the wedding party. From the mansion ceremony to the timber frame barn, everything looked absolutely gorgeous. Both locations provided a very different, yet equally stunning aesthetic which matched perfectly with what we envisioned for our special day.
The Wedding Planner
We chose Jennifer Abrahamson with Southern Touch Weddings and Events knowing that she would perfectly and beautifully execute our vision. Jennifer is the absolute best planning and event designer and coordinated the day of the wedding events as well as the morning after brunch. We flew her in from Florida for the entire weekend and she nailed it! Our photographer was just as impressive, and I knew exactly who I wanted to capture our sweetest moments.
We flew in Alexandra Feild from Texas. Alexandra is ridiculously talented and has a charming and subtle way of capturing all of the most important moments without you even knowing she is there. She is also one of the kindest people I have ever met. My favorite quality about her might be how calm, confident, and beautiful she makes everyone feel in front of her camera. The rest of the vendors came from personal recommendations and vendor referrals, and they all added to the magic of the day.
The DIY Elements
There were some special DIY elements incorporated throughout the weekend. We wanted to make sure our children and the wedding party felt appreciated and spoiled throughout the wedding weekend, so I added customized bridesmaid’s bags, satin robes, comfy socks, and slippers in each of their guest rooms.
I also included sample-sized beauty items such as face wash, face moisturizer, wedding cake chap s
tick, sunscreen, hair scrunchies, a loofah, under-eye spa treatments and body lotion. Each room also had regular and sparkling waters, chocolates, snacks and various electrolyte choices- just in case! Everything was set up beautifully in each room before their arrival.
The best DIY element was a surprise from Josh. He knew I wanted to have some type of champagne fountain at the reception (because champagne is my favorite) but I couldn’t find anything that I loved.
Josh decided to completely design, fabricate, and machine the most beautiful champagne tower for our reception. He also custom-designed a 3-D printed topper that included our names, our wedding date, and the names of our children. It was a beautiful addition to the reception and our guests loved it, too.
Josh and I planned almost everything together but had a great support team in Illinois helping us along the way. Destination weddings inherently include a bit of distance anxiety planning for sure. His family helped us with so many things from wedding alterations, to playing the piano during the ceremony, hiring a violinist, planning a brunch and transporting wedding guests to and from the airport.
The Wedding Officiant
The most meaningful thing that his family helped us plan was our wedding officiant. We didn’t want the person marrying us to be a stranger. We wanted someone meaningful, supportive, and who we had a personal connection with. Josh’s family mentioned that Dr. Mullen (the very doctor that delivered Josh into the world) was retired and pastoring in the local church. He had not only delivered Josh but was a lifelong family friend. He was thrilled and honored to officiate our wedding ceremony. It was quite unique and very special.
I know it sounds strange, but we really didn’t have any fears or worries about the day. We had been waiting for this moment for a very long time and we were finally at the point that we could relax and enjoy the beauty of it all with those we loved the most. I tend to be a perfectionist and stress out about all the little things, and everyone was so shocked (and proud) at how calm I was on our wedding day! It truly was the most perfect day.
Our advice for future couples is to think about how you want your wedding to feel, not just how you want it to look. We made so many of our decisions based on how we wanted our children, family, and friends to feel throughout each event of our wedding weekend. And that resulted in a more romantic and magical wedding event than we could have ever imagined. It truly was the perfect day.
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