An Elegant Wedding at the Bride's Family Farm
When Carolyn ‚ÄúDolly‚ÄĚ Reese met John Kozlik, they were in a place that‚Äôs about as far from the bride‚Äôs family home in the rolling farmlands of Illinois as you can be ‚ÄúWe were both attending Saint Louis University, but our paths didn‚Äôt cross until January 2011, when we were studying abroad on Australia‚Äôs Gold Coast,‚ÄĚ Dolly explains.
After dating for five years, John proposed in Parc Monceau in Paris. And while the couple clearly loves to travel, they knew it was time to return home to the Midwest. ‚ÄúI knew it was time to move back home and be close to my family,‚ÄĚ says the bride of their decision. ‚ÄúWe wanted to start our new life with a celebration we‚Äôd never forget.‚ÄĚ
Read on to see all the details from the couple‚Äôs meaningful church ceremony and epic reception at Dolly‚Äôs family‚Äôs farm in Geneseo, Illinois. Kristin La Voie was on hand to capture every detail planned by Kate Ryan of Gold Leaf Event Design & Production, with additional floral design by Rishi Patel of HMR Designs.
The couple worked with Emily Baird Design to create their custom invitation suite, which offered their 298 guests a glimpse of the wedding to come: a black-tie optional celebration with ‚Äúa palette of jewel tones and gold details,‚ÄĚ explains the bride. The suite included a foldout itinerary with suggestions of things to do in the area and information about the weekend's events. On the Friday before the wedding, the couple hosted friends and family for a welcome party that included bowling!
As a welcome gift, guests received boxes from Teak & Twine filled with craft beer and treats like chocolate and shortbread.
Dolly wore an ivory silk dress designed by Martina Liana. ‚ÄúIt wasn‚Äôt a style I expected to fall in love with, but as soon as I put it on, I imagined myself standing next to John at the altar, and I knew he would love it!‚ÄĚ she says. She paired her wedding dress with her mother's engagement ring, a day-of gift from her mom. "It's aquamarine, which happens to be my birthstone, and I‚Äôve thought it was the most beautiful piece of jewelry since I was a little girl," she says. "It served as my ‚Äėsomething blue‚Äô.‚ÄĚ
John donned a custom peak lapel tuxedo, which had the couple‚Äôs married last name and wedding date stitched into the inside pocket. ‚ÄúHe also clipped his grandfather‚Äôs Marine Corps pilot wings inside his jacket and wore his other grandfather‚Äôs cuff links,‚ÄĚ says Dolly. ‚ÄúAnd he wore my wedding gift to him: a Longines watch!‚ÄĚ
Groomsmen sported tuxedos rented from The Black Tux (‚Äúthey made the process a breeze,‚ÄĚ says the bride), while bridesmaids wore black gowns by Jenny Yoo and carried bouquets of David Austin O‚ÄôHara garden roses and white ranunculus.
The 2:30 p.m. ceremony was held at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in nearby Bettendorf, Iowa, the same place the bride‚Äôs parents were married. Dolly and her father walked up the aisle to a live performance of the ‚ÄúWedding Processional‚ÄĚ from The Sound of Music.
‚ÄúThere was no question we wanted to host the reception on my parents‚Äô property in my hometown,‚ÄĚ says Dolly. ‚ÄúThe family farm holds a special place in my heart. I have so many wonderful memories from childhood and John, my family, and I continue to spend weekends there enjoying the beauty of the country."
‚ÄúWhen we first began planning, I was struggling to articulate exactly what I wanted,‚ÄĚ Dolly remembers. The couple decided to work with Kate Ryan of Gold Leaf Event Design & Production. ‚ÄúShe asked John and me a few key questions, bounced ideas off of us, and‚ÄĒvoil√†! She presented us with a mood board that was spot on. Kate was able to bring my vision to life even when I couldn‚Äôt completely see it myself and made planning joyful and exciting.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHosting such a beautifully grand event in an often overlooked part of the country was a reflection of our appreciation for luxury, but also our love and pride for our families, friends, and the Midwest,‚ÄĚ says the bride. For the reception tent, HMR Designs created floral arrangements housed in gold vessels, with blush-colored roses and delicate greenery set against deep burgundy-and-emerald hues.
Geometric chandeliers were suspended above the tent‚Äôs bar and lounge. During cocktail hour, guests were treated to a ‚ÄúSeafood Market‚ÄĚ buffet where king crab legs, oysters, lobster, and jumbo shrimp with a trio of cocktail sauces were served.
‚ÄúJohn and I wanted to incorporate our dogs into the celebration, and decided to name our signature cocktails after each one, based on their personalities,‚ÄĚ said Dolly. ‚ÄúCoco is a vivacious, spunky little thing so we knew she had to be represented by tequila. Angus is an old soul and he loves to eat the berries off of our blueberry bush so there was no question that a berry old-fashioned would represent him.‚ÄĚ
Among the bride‚Äôs favorite reception d√©cor elements were the custom helix-shaped brass chandeliers, created by Rishi Patel of HMR Designs. ‚ÄúThey were inspired by my gown, made to mirror the way it moved when I spun,‚ÄĚ says Dolly. ‚ÄúThey took my breath away when I saw them for the first time!‚ÄĚ
Tables were set with abundant flowers, black tapers in cylindrical glass vases, and gold accents. Place settings featured single orchids and black-and-gold menus, which included an entr√©e duet of duck and sea bass. Cinnamon sugar churros and a variety of other treats were served via dessert carts throughout the evening.
The evening was marked by several surprises. ‚ÄúIt seemed like everyone was on the dance floor when the band played Katy Perry‚Äôs ‚ÄėFirework‚Äô,‚ÄĚ Dolly recalls. "As soon as the song ended, we heard loud 'booms' coming from outside. Everyone moved to the covered deck to enjoy the most incredible fireworks display set to our favorite songs. I think I cried through the entire show!‚ÄĚ
Following the display, the couple moved back inside to find the band Collective Soul waiting to perform a private concert. ‚ÄúWe have so many special memories of listening to Collective Soul with my family, so it was amazing to have them be a part of the celebration,‚ÄĚ says the bride, whose father had one last surprise in store. ‚ÄúHe commissioned my great uncle, who is a talented woodworker, to carve our names into the massive tree that the tent was centered around,‚ÄĚ she says. ‚ÄúNow every time we are out on the farm and see the tree, we are reminded of our special day.‚ÄĚ