Charleston meets Tuscany for this Wisconsin Estate Wedding

Combining classic elegance and Southern charm, this Wisconsin wedding captured by Michelle Kujawski Photography is oh so sweet! From the monogram details throughout to the couple’s pup making an appearance, this wedding shows how you can have a timeless wedding and still be unique and true to you!

From the beginning of the wedding planning process, I described our wedding inspiration as, “Charleston meets Tuscany.” I studied abroad/lived in Florence, Italy while in college. The romantic, elegant, warm aesthetic of Tuscany was exactly what I wanted our wedding to encompass, but I was torn because I also wanted a classic southern wedding. We decided, why not marry the two. Ultimately, we wanted to create an experience that transported our guests to a completely different world; one that was elegant, romantic, rich in culture and beautiful. We decided on a color palette of neutrals with pops of soft pastels (peach, blush, french blue, rich marigold yellow). The result was truly better than our wildest dreams. The wedding ceremony transported you to a Firenze courtyard and the wedding reception to a historical, elegant southern ballroom. The room reveal brought me to tears because I could not have transformed the space in a more perfect way than our vendor team did.

Like so many other brides, I had saved pictures of dresses for years that were very classic and consistent in look. I envisioned a simple, satin, A-line dress with a long train and low cut back. Ahead of my bridal appointments, I sent inspiration images to the stylists to relay what I had in mind. I did my best to keep an open mind and reiterated that the inspiration pictures were just a starting point. That said, the first bridal boutique and first dress I tried on ended up being “the dress”. When I tried on “the dress”, I just knew that it was everything I had imagined (with a few additional embellishments). I felt obligated to keep trying on dresses, so I tried on a dozen additional dresses, but I was reassured that it was okay to love the first dress and go with it. So the first dress I ever tried on was my “say yes to the dress” moment. I would be remiss if I did not mention that I had the most incredible tailor that was able to bring my vision for my dress to life. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable an excellent tailor is in the wedding dress process. I had ordered a few yards of additional fabric with the dress which allowed my amazing tailor to customize the dress.

Our ceremony was incredibly personal and will forever be one of my favorite parts of the entire day. To start, we had been watching the forecast all week and decided to take the chance by having the ceremony set out on the terrace overlooking Lake Michigan. Right when the string quartet began to play and we were about to begin the processional, it began to rain and did not look like it would let up. We last minute changed to our rain plan, which was to have the ceremony in the courtyard. I secretly had always wanted to get married in the courtyard, but it felt unconventional, but I am so thrilled it worked out how it did. All our friends and family picked up chairs and moved them to the courtyard—it was all hands-on deck! Once we were finally ready to go, the rain changed to a mist, birds were chirping, and it was the most romantic and magical setting. Our guests were seated around the perimeter of the courtyard and the processional went through the middle. The setting was incredible, but the content of the ceremony was even more special to us. Our dog was our ring bear and he tried to jump into the fountain, in the middle of the courtyard, while walking down the aisle which sparked a joyful mood for our guests! Additionally, we had asked my grandmother to perform our ceremony and she wrote the most touching ceremony that had everyone laughing and in tears. We both wrote personal vows, and it made every moment so authentic for us. The ceremony was not how we had intended it to be, but it was perfect in every way imaginable.

Throughout the wedding planning process, we held true to the fact that we wanted the wedding to feel “very us”. When we were making decisions throughout the process, we kept coming back to, “what would personalize our day so that guests knew they were at our wedding.” This made the process so much more fun and personalized because we got excited about the littlest things coming together. A few of our favorite personalized choices were to have a whiskey tasting bar, writing our own vows, custom watercolor envelope liner of our venue, importing ice cream from Texas, burying/digging up a bottle of bourbon, including our dog in the ceremony, and having my grandmother as our officiant.

Another incredible memory was our room reveal of our reception. My bridesmaids and I got ready at our downtown loft and our wedding ceremony and reception were at separate locations, so I had not seen the room at all. When I walked into the ballroom, I was truly moved to tears. To see my sketches, obscure ideas, family antiques, and wildest dreams come together was surreal. As we walked through the ballroom and passed by the florals, details, the dessert bar, Hunter’s Cabin, whiskey tasting table, etc. it was better than I could have ever dreamed. I will forever remember the awestruck moment.

One of my favorite decor portions of our wedding was the creation of an area we called, “Hunter’s Cabin”. Given the unknowns of our guest count, due to the pandemic, we knew that we would have extra space, in the ballroom, to be creative and we were trying to be intentional by having different types of experiences for our guests. My husband has a very large whiskey collection and we thought it would be great to include a curated whiskey tasting area in the ballroom to share some of his collection with our guests. The whole concept took on a life of its own and we decided to name the space after our dog, Hunter. We ultimately turned an alcove of the ballroom into, “Hunter’s Cabin” and created a chic cabin themed area with a whiskey tasting, additional bar, high tops, seating, cabin decor, and topped it off with custom napkins, cups, and photos of our dog, Hunter. A few other details to note, we pulled in my favorite woodsy Candle Fish candles to bring in scent, we had individually wrapped Swedish Fish in candy dishes with “catch of the day” labels, we were able to use some of our family antiques around the space to make it more personal, and I hand painted a Hunter’s Cabin sign. Overall, Hunter’s Cabin was a popular watering hole all night and allowed guests to have an open area to mix and mingle if they wanted a break from the dance floor. This addition really contributed to the Charleston, southern portion of our aesthetic and made the ballroom so personable.

Photography: Michelle Kujawski Photography | Ceremony Venue: Villa Terrace Museum | Reception Venue and Catering: The University Club of Milwaukee | Planning: Natural Elegance LLC | Floral: Bird & Bumble | Stationery: Coqui Paperie | Videography: Degroot Film Co | Cake: The Cake Lady | Desserts: Yield Bakehouse | Hair: Hair by Smash | Makeup: Melody Sopa Artistry | DJ and Lighting: Sounds by Design | Ceremony Musicians: Gabriel’s Horns | Linens: BBJ Linen | Chair Rentals: Collins Custom Creations | Furniture Rentals: Canopies Events | Bridesmaid Dresses: Dessy | Bridesmaid Dresses: Jenny Yoo | Groom’s Attire: Michael Kors | Bride’s Shoes: Loeffler Randall | Submitted via Matchology