When I look back at my wedding pictures and watch our wedding video, the happiness and energy from our guests is palpable. When guests still comment years later that ours was a standout event, it warms my heart. I can undoubtedly say that my whole wedding process- from planning to closing the venue out- was 100% enjoyable and memorable.

The day before the wedding, my sister and I were getting our nails done- she wanted to remind me that I was, in fact, getting married tomorrow. She felt she had to remind me because I was so calm, happy, and collected, without a care or stress in the world. I had everything going for me and all the love and support from my family and friends that made my engagement so exciting and my wedding so overwhelmingly magical.

Even as I was getting my hair done on my wedding day, I knew it was a special day and I knew I was a key player in that day, but it just felt so easy and normal, despite all the fuss. Little did I know that every detail of our romantic lake wedding would truly go just as planned.

Our Romantic Lake Wedding

I became so enamored with all the pretty things that surrounded weddings through the planning process and wanted to share that special day with you.

pier

Location, location, location

With so many of our friends getting married in the Chicagoland area, Justin and I knew we wanted to plan a truly unique and special wedding. Growing up spending my family summers in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, I was immediately drawn to the classic, beautiful lake life that exists just an hour and a half north of Chicago.

wedding

After Justin and I visited our one and only venue, our hearts were sold on The Riviera ballroom, an elevated ballroom on the glistening shores of Geneva Lake. We were married at the church across the street from my family’s summer home, where I got to enjoy walking the long, beautiful aisle of St. Benedict’s church.

Wedding planning It's Simply Lindsay

Afterwards, our bridal party and families took an adorable red and green trolley around the lake to The Riv. With ceiling to floor windows on three walls, all of our guests would have the best seat in the house, no matter where their table was placed.

trolley
trolley friends
Wedding Planning It's Simply Lindsay

Ceremony

It was never a question to me that I would have both of my parents walk me down the aisle. You can read more about that and other wedding traditions to reconsider here.

Wedding planning It's Simply Lindsay

Also, instead of a ring bearer pillow, I found this beautiful Antique Silver Chest Box. Not only did it keep the rings safe, but it added a unique, small detail to the wedding. Now, the box sits on my daughter’s night stand and holds my pearls and her rosary.

Ring bearer box- It's Simply Lindsay

Cocktail Hour on the Lake

Feeling inspired by the lake scenery, we decided to have our cocktail hour aboard The Grand Belle of Geneva, designed after turn-of-the-century steamers, including brass furnishings and pine decks. The Grand Belle offered generous space with a cozy atmosphere for our guests to enjoy.

Grand Belle- It's Simply Lindsay

I particularly liked that it was enclosed and climate controlled on the main deck as well as a portion of the upper deck. When you ventured upstairs, guests got to feel the open, fresh air and enjoyed the beautiful lake mansions. We used this opportunity to walk around and mingle with all of our guests instead of a traditional receiving line.

boat

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TIP: consider not doing a traditional receiving line and instead naturally making your way to your guests during cocktail hour. This will benefit the bride and groom and their parents so everyone is sure to enjoy every second of your special affair.

Live Music

Ever since I was a young girl, our family enjoyed the amazing music of Tom, a talented local musician who played at a nearby restaurant. I recall requesting songs throughout the years- everything from Disney classics to boy band hits, and Tom knew them all.  He played them effortlessly on the piano in addition to bringing in trumpet- yes, that’s right- he can play the piano and the trumpet at the same time. Tom joined us for cocktail hour to astound our guests with live entertainment as we enjoyed champagne, delicious appetizers, and the breathtaking scenery of our hour and a half ride. Thanks to Justin’s groomsmen for constantly bringing us appetizers so we were able to enjoy everything.

Wedding: It's Simply Lindsay

TIP: do not get too caught up in mingling and pictures that you miss your cocktail hour; make sure to enjoy all the food selections you worked so hard to choose. Also, with all that mingling, be sure to wear comfy shoes.
wedding3

The Reception

When our boat docked, the Riviera reception was just a pier’s walk away.  Soft, golden uplighting started to glow as we enjoyed the sunset around dinnertime.

Wedding planning It's Simply Lindsay

Before dinner though, Justin and I performed a choreographed dance and had the traditional cake cutting. My dad and I learned a few fun and basic dance moves that paired well with our song choice, Pink’s Please Don’t Leave Me. I much preferred our humorous song choice and upbeat moves for the father daughter dance because I don’t like being overly sentimental or emotional.

dad

cake

We also had two special stations: a lemonade station with specialty lemonades and a make-your-own ice cream sundae table open at dessert time. Also, I find guest favors a waste of money. Not that I don’t want to honor and thank my guests, but I can’t think of one wedding favor I have A. actually taken from the wedding or B. ever used. We opted to serve a small Bailey’s shot inside an edible chocolate glass in lieu of a traditional favor.

dance

wedding dance

toast

Tip: try a choreographed dance to add some interest to your first dance.

Bridesmaid Dresses & Flowers

Our guests were introduced to our lovely bridal party; and when I say lovely, I truly mean it.  My bridesmaids are all special to me in different ways, and I wanted their dresses to reflect their individual styles.  Each of my girls had different dresses and styles within blush, gold, and champagne tones that matched the soft, romantic feel of the wedding. For tips on how to coordinate different bridesmaid dresses, click here.

Bridesmaid Dresses- It's Simply Lindsay

Bridesmaids It's Simply Lindsay

flower picture

My mom has a funny obsession with taking pictures of people with their faces near flowers; it has actually become a bit of a joke in our family, so when she suggested the strange bouquet head shot above, I rolled my eyes and agreed, but now I look back on that picture and laugh.

The lush, soft flowers consisted of peonies, hydrangeas, and English garden roses, with several tall centerpieces (think 4-feet tall) with natural Manzanita branches and tea lights hanging from the branches.

flowers

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Tip: choose different bridesmaid dresses that suits your girls in the same palette.

Seating

While I understand that some venues have space constraints that are only conducive to a head table for the wedding party, I knew I did not want a traditional head table. I loved that my sister did a sweetheart table and let her bridal party sit at tables with their guests, but Justin and I went a different route. We were at a sweetheart table centered between two adjoining rectangular tables where our bridal party sat with their dates. That way, Justin and I got to spend dinner with our closest family and friends- I love that I had my husband on one side, my sister at the other, and all of our best friends surrounding me. What could be better? I urge you to consider an alternative to a traditional head table (blog post on this to come!). It can be an extremely awkward, unnatural, and uncomfortable configuration for your bridal party and their dates.

tables

Tip: ask your venue for alternatives to a traditional head table.

Table Numbers

I am an English teacher and a lover of literature, so as a special touch for table numbers, my mom printed romantic quotations from some of my favorite books. We used beautiful 4 X 4 golden-jeweled picture frames that matched my colors perfectly. Instead of the traditional individual place cards, we displayed an enormous, elegantly printed page with everyone’s names and table numbers in a large, beautiful displayed on an easel. To me, spending money on lots of little place cards that just get thrown away seemed silly, so this was a great alternative. I use a few of these frames throughout my house and have given others away as gifts!

Wedding: It's Simply Lindsay

Tip: think outside the table card- opt for a large display of alphabetized names and corresponding table numbers and use pretty picture frames to display the numbers- add your favorite quotes or pictures for a personal touch.

Something Old

I was lucky enough to receive a present from my Gram – my “something old” for the wedding. My grandma is extremely dear to me- in fact, my daughter is named after her. Look how cute my Gram and Grandpa are?

gram

She gave me my great-great grandma’s three string pearl bracelet that I proudly wore, representing such wonderful history of my family.

getting ready

TIP: if nobody is offering, don’t be shy! Ask family members for your ‘something old’ to incorporate a truly special piece with lasting sentimental value.

What were your favorite parts of your wedding? If you’re engaged, what vision do you have for your wedding? Share any helpful tips below and be sure to pin for inspiration.

Everywhere
  • Lauren Angelico

    Your wedding was just perfect! It was beautiful, elegant and so you. I completely agree about the head table…the stereotypical head table is so dated. We did a sweetheart table and I loved that. One of my favorite things about my wedding was our choreographed dance. Nobody expected it and I think we rocked it!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You absolutely rocked it- it was incredible. I’m glad we’re obsessed with one another- you know that I wanted everything you had, down to your wedding dress, but in the end I’m glad I compromised and made it my own : )

  • Chelsea

    Oh my gosh, Lindsay! Your wedding pictures look like they are straight out of a movie. I’m so happy that the whole process was fun and magical for you- that’s the way it should be- less stress, more happiness. I’m a WI native and I’ve never heard of anyone having a wedding where you two had yours. This makes me so excited to eventually start planning my wedding.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks Chelsea! Too often I see stressed brides who aren’t fully able to enjoy everything, and it’s a shame. It’s over so quickly so you should love every minute of the whole process.

  • Diana

    You wedding looks so beautiful! I also really love your bridesmaids dresses! http://www.littlemissfangirly.blogspot.com

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thank you, Diana- I love how the bridesmaids all looked! 🙂

  • This looks so stunning! Thank you for sharing it with us today!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for stopping by and for the kind comment, Trisha.

  • Such a beautiful wedding! I love the idea of a Sweethearts Table. One wedding that we went to this summer, my boyfriend was the Best Man and I wasn’t allowed to sit with him. Luckily one of my friends sat with me, because her boyfriend was also at the table. But what fun is it to not be able to sit with your date?! That was very considerate of you to do that (:

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thank you Amanda- I, too, have been the date of a groomsman and not able to sit with my husband. I was pregnant and knew no one!!

  • I loved every detail of your wedding! So beautiful! I’m not married but it has given me a lot to think about when that special day comes. Hopefully I can be as calm as you were. I’m sure I won’t be but I will certainly try. Thank You for sharing!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks for reading and for the kind comments.

  • Dana Brillante-Peller

    The favorite part of my wedding was walking down the aisle after saying “I do” and seeing the smiling faces of my family and friends!!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Oh my gosh yes- what an amazing feeling!

  • Wow! Quite a beautiful wedding! I’m obsessed with those bridesmaid dresses! I’m filming a wedding this weekend so I’m excited to see her dress and decor!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Oooh, that’s cool! Do you film a lot of weddings?

      • Yes! I’ve done 4 and am doing my fifth this weekend. They are posted on jcrproductionsmn.com!

        • Lindsay Katherine

          Cool, I’ll check it out! What have been your favorite things you’ve seen?

          • Every wedding is so different! I love when the bride and groom write each other letters or give gifts before the first look! So special!

  • Absolutely beautiful! I love all the white flowers – so classic and pretty! Good work planning such a beautiful day! 🙂

    • Lindsay Katherine

      I appreciate your kind remarks, Lauren! Classic and pretty- two great adjectives- just what I was going for!

  • Ashleigh

    Such a beautiful bride!! Your dress was gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing your pictures and tips! Looks like it was the perfect day!!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments, Ashleigh!

  • Your wedding was so beautiful and classic — I love your taste! And you looked absolutely stunning. I found myself nodding in agreement with so much of this. I was so calm and relaxed the weekend of my wedding, and it made the whole thing so much more enjoyable. Also, I’m so with you on wedding guest favors. I never really care for them at other people’s weddings, and I think dinner, drinks, and cake is quite a nice favor! But I LOVE your idea of the Bailey’s shot — so clever! Thanks for sharing these lovely photos and details with us. 🙂

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thank you for your kind remarks, Brittany! I’m so happy to hear you were also relaxed during your wedding weekend- it goes by so quickly, so it’s great to be able to soak it all in.

  • Simply beautiful!!! Congratulations!!!!

  • What a beautiful wedding! And you looked so calm and happy! I have to say I was the exact opposite–a bundle of nerves! Everything looked like perfection! So happy you had such a wonderful wedding!!

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Thanks Annie! It was a great day : )

  • Wow, Lindsay. I am in awe. I remember commenting on this before, but I didn’t know you as well back then, and want to comment again!! (reading my comment from 9 months ago before we were good friends is so cute! hehe). Your wedding was absolutely stunning in beauty and in personalization. I don’t even know where to begin. First of all- being the Wisconsin gal that I am, I love that you had it at Lake Geneva. And I LOVE that your bridesmaids all had different dresses but in the same color; that’s what I’m doing!!!! The flowers…your bridesmaids, the flowers at the tables…just WOW. I mean it, you had a stunning wedding. You should really submit this post into a bridal mag of some sort. You and Justin are so cute, and this post is all the more special now that I got to know him a little more. I love you guys together!! I also love that you broke traditional wedding traditions. Your head table idea is so unique and awesome. You are so freakin fearless and cool.

    • Lindsay Katherine

      You are such a peach : ) Thanks for your SECOND comment on this – I actually did update it a bit and appreciate you coming back to this post. I can’t wait to see how your wedding all comes together – I know it will be epic and a total Pinterest wedding. LOVE YOU.

  • Oh my goodness! Your wedding was simply stunning. We broke from tradition a lot, too and I’m so glad. It made the day uniquely ours.
    I love that you did a cocktail hour on the lake – that’s super cool. My sister got married in Cabo and her reception was on a sail boat. I’m a fan of water receptions. 😉

    • Lindsay Katherine

      Wow, a sail boat cocktail hour in Cabo sounds amazing!! I also love love loved your wedding photos : )

  • SO BEAUTIFUL! And you and your mom look identical! x

    • Lindsay Katherine

      aw thanks, Supal!! We definitely get that a lot more in the last few years.

  • Wow, so beautiful! Such a gorgeous bride and celebration! 🙂

  • Paige Allison

    Happy anniversary! You had a beautiful day. We had a healthy mix of traditional and non-traditional elements, and I thought it was perfect. Love your cocktail hour on a boat! How fun is that!