Make it Through Monday - My Brother Got Married!

On Saturday, June 1 at Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center in La Crosse, WI my younger and only brother Derek got married to his fiance Stacy in what was literally the most perfect wedding. From the weather to the ceremony, food, speeches, dancing and everything in between it couldn't have been better. I figured this is the perfect uplifting story to share for my Make It Through Monday moment powered by Winkie's Hallmark & Gifts! Many people have been asking why La Crosse knowing neither him nor her really have any ties there. They currently live in Chicago and knowing how expensive it would be to have the weeing there they opted out. She is originally from California but that didn't seem to make the most sense since the majority of people would have to travel out there. They are both super outdoorsy people and one time took a bike trip in the La Crosse area and realized how beautiful it would be to get married there. After doing some research they came across Norskedalen and decided it was the perfect place for them.

We arrived in La Crosse on Thursday morning to get settled in and started the day with getting our nails done! We knew we had lots of work ahead of us setting up and preparing for the wedding so getting pampered was the perfect way to get started! Later that evening we had dinner at the Freighthouse Restaurant which is a fantastic restaurant. It was so nice because a few other people from her family and some of their friends came early so it gave us the chance to sit down and enjoy lots of great conversation before all the hustle and bustle started the next morning. Oh and did it start with a bang! We got up bright and early ready to take on the day running errands and setting up the venue. The ceremony itself was completely outside and the reception was under a covered pavilion so we were basically starting with a blank slate. As mentioned the wedding was completely outdoors and with some rain in the forecast we were a little worried about setting everything up too early. We did what we could and just prayed it would all work out. It turned out better than we could have imagined and after frantically checking the forecast often they ended up having perfect weather. A little overcast, not too hot and no rain!

Stacy has an eye for beauty because she turned that wooden pavilion into the most magical wedding space. It was breathtaking and I was extremely impressed. Her attention to detail and making it special for both families involved was truly inspiring. It was tons of work to get everything looking that great but her and Derek had lots of family and friends helping out and for that I know they are extremely grateful. I love the setting up and tearing down of events like this. I think it's fun being together, laughing, problem solving and then seeing all your hard work come to fruition.

For the rehearsal dinner my parents rented out the La Crosse Queen which is a paddle-wheel cruise on the Mississippi River. We cruised up and down the river eating, drinking and enjoying everyone's company. It was the perfect setting and everyone really enjoyed themselves. I'm sorry I don't have any pictures of this. One thing I did NOT do a great job of this past weekend was taking pictures. I'll try to add in the professional ones as soon as they're available.

On the actual wedding day we again got up early to finish setting up the venue before needing to get ready for the big day. Once the final touches were put into place it was time to get beautiful and let me tell you that's a lot of work! All of the ladies got ready in Derek and Stacy's room while Derek and the guys got ready in my room. It was awesome having the hair and make-up team come to us as you know you're always pressed for time on a day like that. Once we were finally beautified we headed over to Norskedalen for pictures. Unfortunately all the pictures below are just from phones but I can't wait to see the professional ones. This was the most beautiful setting for a wedding. In between all the bright green hills and bluffs couldn't have been more perfect. Before you ask, yes all the bridesmaids were wearing white and yes this is what the bride wanted. Most people when they found out were pretty shocked but after you explain why it makes total sense. Honestly just seeing how beautiful the pictures turned out is reason enough to explain the white. We got so many compliments about how classy and stunning it looked.

I feel like I could talk about this wedding for days because of how wonderful everything was. The ceremony itself was so beautiful and each of their personally written vows had everyone in tears. I was really impressed with my brother's. I didn't think such beautiful words could come out of his mouth! The other thing that really impressed me was the food. It was so delicious! If you would have seen the space they had to work with you wouldn't have believed such good food could have come out of that. Lula Cafe in Chicago did the catering and if you're ever there looking for a good restaurant to try they come highly recommended! I'll finish this up with the dancing since that's where I spent most of the night. It is so fun seeing the dance floor packed with men, women, kids of all ages and people who maybe just met enjoying time together on the dance floor. My whole body aches today because of all the dancing but it was worth it!

What a weekend! It was truly amazing but I'm definitely a little wore out right now I must admit. All that hard work paid off though because it couldn't have turned out better. Thanks to everyone who made such a wonderful wedding happen and I'm so grateful to my brother and his new wife (yeah!) for including me in their special day! I definitely didn't take enough pictures so I hope you enjoy the pictures below I stole from people. :) Mostly courtesy of another bridesmaid and friend Liz who takes incredible photos so you're better off anyways!

Speaking of parties and celebrations, Winkie's Hallmark & Gifts is full of party supplies. They've got rows and rows of cards for any occasion and lots of party supplies like decorations, plates, napkins, etc.! They've also got great Wisconsin specific gifts. We had some people coming into town for the wedding from other states and countries so it's really fun sending them home with something that is specific to where we're from. Winkie's Hallmark & Gifts also has one-of-a-kind gifts that have been designed just for them! Check them out on the corner of Silver Spring and Lake Drive in Whitefish Bay!

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