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Updated: Nov 30, 2019

Today, Paul and I are celebrating 10 years as a couple and 3 years as husband and wife. Yes, not having to remember two different dates was a major factor in our choice. It was a very small ceremony so a lot of people didn't get a chance to hear our story, other than the hundreds of photos I uploaded to Facebook. A decade together seemed as good a time as ever to dust off those wedding photos and reminisce about the day we said, "I do!"

As I mentioned before, we had a small ceremony - about 30 people. We were young and broke and still wanted a dream wedding, so we kept our guest list as immediate family, grandparents, and some of our closest friends.

We had already been together for so long that I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted the day to go down. I Googled a few of my favorite things and quickly realized that a boat on Lake Geneva was the perfect setting for our nuptials.

Since we had Lake Geneva locked down, it was only natural that we chose the Grand Geneva Resort and the Geneva ChopHouse for our stay and celebration. Every time I visit, I'm in awe. The view of the golf course is spectacular and the accommodations had Paul and I feeling like royalty! The grounds are a dream setting for reveals, wedding photos, and anniversary dates to come! Now we celebrate with the ChopHouse Sunday brunch every year.

This was totally a DIY wedding. At the time I had a sister in the Peace Corps half a world away, a sister on the West Coast, the rest of my family in the Fox Valley, a wedding so small I didn't have a bridal party, and a solid case of OCD coupled with control issues, so A LOT of the details were taken care of by me. My saint of a mother pitched in by hot gluing ribbon on countless tupperware containers, making my veil, and hand making our beautiful wedding quilt for our guests to sign, and I spent hours hand lettering every envelope, sign, and tag and hot gluing flowers and ribbon on EVERYTHING, including a handmade photo back drop - and loving every minute of it. I know so many details of that special day were hand created with love!

To this day, I love the way my husband and I looked! He wore the first suit he tried on, it was almost too easy! He looked so dapper in Michael Kors, and I got his tie and nautical boutonniere off of Etsy. My dress was by Maggie Sottero - when I was in high school I used to scroll through her website endlessly, dreaming of the perfect gown. Manifestation at it's best! I got my incredible headpiece, garter, and bouquet on Etsy, my veil was a custom Norma Peerenboom, and all of my jewels were purchased at Kesslers Diamonds. The best part? My wedding shoes were jelly sandals I found new on Etsy. 90's baby fo lyfe.

Paul and I decided to do a reveal and get a first look of each other before we headed to the boat to get hitched. Before all of that, my moms and sisters helped me get ready and I had a very tearful reveal to my dad. I'm not crying, you're crying. After I got my makeup good and blotchy, I went down a staircase and awaited my fiance's arrival. First, my sister Ally came down and gave me her love. More tears. Followed by my mother delivering a beautiful message to me. Holy friggin tears. Now that I'm a wreck, here comes the guy I get to spend the rest of my life with, wearing the same smirk I fell in love with in the halls of Kimberly High School. Aaaaand I'm toast.

We took plenty of pictures on the grounds of the resort, and even got cheers from a group of nearby golfers - thanks for the love, randos! Before we knew it, it was time to head to the pier so I could hide in the back of the boat while all of our guests boarded. I had a backdrop set up so everyone got a picture before they set sail! My dad sat in back with me and kept me calm while Paul played host and welcomed our friends and family. The engine kicked in, the sun was out, and we were off on our marriage voyage. Everything was great, until I realized I didn't have our vows! Dad to the rescue - luckily I had them saved on my Pinterest board so he got me a phone, a napkin, and a pen and we made it work. That napkin came in handy wiping away tears during the ceremony, and now we have the crumpled mess in a shadow box. Some of the silliest screw ups can turn into the sweetest memories...

Our ceremony was very simple. I walked down the VERY NARROW aisle (which is why some pictures look like I'm dragging my dad behind me..hey, maybe I was really excited!) with my father to the beginning of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Iz and met my man at the front of the boat. We had our grandparents bless our wedding rings and then we carried out a knot tying ceremony - we're very literal people. Honestly though I loved the symbolization - as we pull the ropes together, the knot gets tighter and tighter - whatever tests our relationship will only make us stronger. And it fit right in with the nautical theme! Other than hitting a wave that almost knocked me overboard, the ceremony was smooth, simple, and perfect for the new Mr. and Mrs. Mirkes. As we kissed, REO Speedwagon played the chorus to "Keep On Lovin' You", because we are those kinds of people. We had also handed out lighters as favors for the guests to wave along, but I think that concept was lost on them.

Now that the deed was done, it was time to party! We had three hours on the boat all together, and the time flew by! We played upbeat love songs from every decade while our guests sipped ALL THE CHAMPAGNE (literally all of it, despite my warnings we ran out) and ate food off of skewers so it didn't roll off of their plates - hot tip for any of my fellow boat brides out there...We truly couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day to cruise around Lake Geneva.

After we docked, our guests were shuttled back to the resort for dinner at the Geneva ChopHouse. While we waited for the bus to come back we took our family portraiture and took advantage of the golden hour. We made friends with the great people of Lake Geneva - again, thanks for the love randos! That pier is so picturesque - we had to take advantage of the fountain there!

We made our way back to the hotel where our guests were waiting for our grand entrance and first dance as a married couple. We danced to "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran - the lyrics really resonated with us so it was the perfect way to kick off this chapter. My dad, Paul's mom, and his Grandpa all gave lovely speeches that had the whole room tearing up and chuckling. Guests signed our quilt, and now we have their open bar memories to look back on for the rest of our lives.

My favorite mishaps happened at dinner. First, my dad and I danced together to "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys as our father-daughter dance. We used to sing it together when I was a kid and I surprised him with the choice. It was a hit, until the music cut out right before the second chorus! I only had half a second to panic, because without skipping a beat the entire room picked up where the song left off and we all sang together. Literally priceless and perhaps one of my favorite moments of the night.

Second, those lighters and the open bar came back into play...Each table had wish paper. If you haven't heard of it, guests are encouraged to write a wish for the couple on the paper, light it on fire, and it will float away. It's a really sweet thought and a cool concept, execution however...I warn you! If you're going to do this, please take the following external factors into play: the intoxication level of your guests, the safety on the lighter making it impossible to light if you're at a certain level of intoxication, and the direction the wind is blowing. Especially if you're all in a line so the videographer can film it. Amidst yells of frustration pierced cries of terror as literal fireballs came flying at people right down the line. The wind launched them right at my unsuspecting guests. It sounds more horrifying than it really was, it was actually hysterical. Although there were a few bruises accrued from the escape. The editing on the video is genius, because "I Want It That Way" is playing and as everyone is running away it sings "You are, my fiiiiirrreeeee". So. effin. good. Moral of the story, either let the paper burn a little bit before you release it into the air and it becomes a weapon, or just don't give your intoxicated guests lighters. Or do, the footage is epic.

At that point, we figured we'd call it a night. You can't top fireballs. While we were away taking pictures, our photographer handed out Go-Pros for our guests to record a message, unbeknownst to us. If you have the opportunity to do this for an event, I HIGHLY recommend. You really get to see the ones you love in such a cool place - LIT and high on their love for you as a couple. Who doesn't love a compliment to begin with - but to hear them in such a pure, unfiltered form is gold and cameras only bring out the best in people. I think we can all agree on that.

So that was our day...we got a couples massage, settled the bar tab, hauled everything home, and jetted off to our honeymoon in St. Croix right after! It was a whirlwind day with plenty of mishaps - hell we forgot Paul's tux in Appleton and the marriage license in Franklin and nearly lit our guests on fire - but it was our day and it was perfect for us. I can't thank our friends and family enough for helping us with everything, for traveling to Lake Geneva to be with us, and for being our support system before, during, and since our wedding.

It's been a dream three years as husband and wife, and an indescribable decade with my best friend by my side!

Photo Creds:

Lindsay Cavens

Tim Mirkes

Seth Franklin - Vital Image Photography

Rich Henry - Vital Image Photography

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