Caroline and Sam at Milwaukee's lakefront

Caroline & Sam’s Astor Hotel Wedding in Milwaukee

September 9, 2021

How They Met: Mom Knows Best!

While Sam and Caroline were still in high school, their moms met through a women’s church ministry group and became best friends. “They spent years scheming to get us together, because they knew how compatible we were.” Not wanting their moms to be their matchmaker, the two resisted.

But Sam and Caroline wound up in the same class their junior year of college. They spent time studying together—but would mainly end up lost in conversation. “After traveling to a Christian conference together as friends, we both contracted Covid and had to quarantine together for several weeks. We quickly stopped denying our mothers’ advice and realized they were right. We couldn’t have been a better match, and now we couldn’t be more in love.”

A Monona Terrace Proposal

Sam proposed to Caroline on the Monona Terrace in Madison, with the help of her best friend. She blind-folded Caroline and led her to the magical spot. “When I finally got to take off my blindfold, Sam was standing in front of me with roses, twinkly lights, and a cute blanket and pillow set up. This was the spot he first told me he loved me. He proposed and, of course, I said yes. We had an audience of strangers watching and cheering!”

Wedding Planning

Caroline and Sam planned a June wedding with both the ceremony and reception at The Astor Hotel in Milwaukee. The theme was old Hollywood glam with colors of champagne, black, and white. Caroline found her gown at Amelishan Bridal, and Sam’s suit came courtesy of Dubois Formalwear.

Premier Parties of Wisconsin coordinated the wedding on behalf of The Astor. “Dave, the owner, is phenomenal! He bent over backward to make our day so special. The night before the wedding, he didn’t go to bed because he was cleaning up from an event in our space the night before. He was the best!”

The Ceremony

For Caroline, much of the specialness of the ceremony was in the music choices. “I chose the bridal party processional song to be ‘Stand By Me.’ My father and I walked down the aisle to ‘So Will I,’ which is my favorite Christian song. We wrote and read our own vows to each other, which sparked lots of tears and laughter among our guests. And the best part was the recessional song, ‘You Make My Dreams Come True,’ because the whole bridal party and family left the room dancing to the music.”

The Reception

To make the reception come to life, Caroline and friends tackled a handful of DIY projects. A close family friend made all of the signs displayed throughout the reception room—signs about no cell phones, directions to the champagne, seating cards, pictures of the dessert cake pops, and more. One of Caroline’s maids of honor designed the templates for the wedding programs. “We also did all the wax stamps by hand for each wedding program. There were 180. It took over six hours! Additionally, I hand-cut and wrote each name out of scrapbook paper for the seating cards.”

Dinner was catered by Louise’s. There was pesto penne, filet mignon, and stuffed chicken. Pizza came out later for a late-night snack. For dessert, there was an assortment of cake pops with delicious flavors of lemon, margarita, sea salt caramel, raspberry fudge, and oreo.

Dancing the Night Away

Caroline’s favorite part of the reception was definitely the dancing. When “Sweet Caroline” played, everyone formed a circle around her and sang the song to her. “At the chorus, Sam put me on his shoulders and everyone went crazy! It’s been so fun to relive that moment through videos.”

Everyone really danced their hearts out, packing the dance floor until the very end of the night. “Once the dancing was finally over, we had all the guests leave the room to prep for the sparkler send-off. Sam and I got to have one last dance together. It was the best, most-intimate moment of the day. We could not stop smiling.”

Budget Advice from the Bride

Caroline’s top tip for brides who are currently wedding-planning: “You don’t need to spend more than your budget to make your wedding special! There is so much pressure today to have the most over-the-top wedding because of social media. Sticking within your budget will bring lots of peace about the day and your life after the wedding.”

Hair Stylist Indulge Salon + Skin
Invitations Shine Wedding Invitations
Rehearsal Dinner Western Racquet Club
Ceremony & Reception Venue The Astor Hotel
Caterer Louise’s Catering
Dessert Sara Strunk Cake Pops
Flowers Urban Sense
Candles Cover it with Class
Coordinator for the Astor Premier Parties of Wisconsin
Music/Entertainment Smoov Music & Lighting
Officiant Steve Sonderman
Photographer Marissa Elise Photography
Boutique for Wedding Gown Amelishan Bridal
Boutique for Bridesmaid Gowns White Fox Boutique
Formalwear DuBois Formalwear
Transportation Churchill Luxurious Limo Service