Door County Summer Wedding at The Lodge at Leathem Smith

February 9, 2024

Jessica and Louie’s Door County Wedding
An absolutely perfect day for a couple whose stars finally aligned.

How They Met

Jessica and Louie met when they were in first grade. Fast-forward to middle school and high school, where once again, they attended together. However, not only were they not high school sweethearts, but they barely talked to each other in their teenage years. Their social circles didn’t overlap often beyond the classroom. After high school, Jessica and Louie went their separate ways. Jessica attended graduate school in Oklahoma and came home to Wisconsin every once in a while, but not often enough or for long enough to catch up with her high school friends.

After moving back home six years after graduation, Jessica was asked to referee volleyball in a bar league. On her first night as a ref, a man kept coming up to her to make fun of her “fake” Southern accent. At first, Jessica didn’t realize who the guy was, but when someone said his name out loud, she remembered she had grown up with him. Throughout high school, Jessica’s parents called him “Little Louie,” because the two were about the same height. However, Louie had grown much taller and gained some muscle.

From that night on, Jessica was very interested in dating him. She would even get to volleyball early to make sure she could ref the game his team was playing, and she would make an effort to always talk to him after the games. This courtship went on for about four weeks until Louie finally asked Jessica to go on a date with him. They went fishing the next day and both told their families about the other person. As it turns out, their grandmothers know each other very well, too. They told their grandson and granddaughter that they actually had a crush on each other way back in the first grade.

The Engagement

Jessica and Louie had been dating for almost two years when they took a trip to Nashville. Louie proposed to Jessica on a pedestrian bridge that overlooks the city. Their friends were with them and captured the proposal on video and took photos to capture the sweet moment. Prior to popping the question, one of Louie’s friends asked him if he had anything prepared. He responded with, “I am a simple man, so I’ll just ask, ‘Will you marry me?’” That is, in fact, exactly what Louie asked Jessica – nothing more, nothing less. The true shock was that Jessica was speechless, which is an extremely rare occurrence. To this day, Louie is the only person who has ever made Jessica speechless.

The Rings

The couple used Bay Area Diamond Company as their jeweler and thought they were amazing to work.

The Dress

Jessica found her dream wedding dress at The Bridal Event in Appleton. She knew it was the one when it fit her perfectly and had the designs she absolutely loved. To make the gown even more beautiful, she had a drop strap added – a feature she adored in another dress she had tried on.

The Ceremony

Jessica and Louie got married at The Lodge at Leathem Smith in Sturgeon Bay. Jessica’s godmother and Aunt Mary Jo officiated the wedding with a personalized ceremony. She told a play-by-play of the couple’s lives and shared how they grew up doing different things and finally connected when “the stars aligned.” It was fun to hear her reminisce on their lives from the perspective of parents and close friends. She even reached out to everyone beforehand to gather research, which she used in her speech. Jessica and Louie also wrote their own vows, which was one of their favorite parts of the day.

The Décor

Jessica and Louie’s outdoor wedding had a bohemian garden atmosphere through and through. The bridesmaids’ dresses were three different shades of green, dusty sage, dark green, and eucalyptus, and the décor sported muted summer tones such as mauve, peach, lavender, navy, gold, and cream. Jessica’s mother owns Flowers N Gifts by Judy, a flower shop in Luxemburg, and designed all of the floral arrangements for her daughter and son-in-law’s special day. Judy and her staff helped decorate two days in advance up until hours before the ceremony began.

Another aspect that made their wedding unique was the work everyone had done to make the space itself gorgeous. Many of the decorations were DIY projects. Jessica’s mother designed everything from the ceiling pieces to the head table backdrop, plus all of the floral centerpieces and planters. Louie and Jessica’s dad worked on the doors she walked out of before she came down the aisle. They also designed the wooden backdrop that displayed behind them during the ceremony. Louie welded the gold stands for the planters along the aisle, and Jessica’s mom planted all of the planters and watered them all summer.

Jessica’s uncle created colorful stained glass pieces that hung from the backdrop and door and rotated as the wind blew softly. Additionally, he created a smaller ornament-sized stained glass piece that was set on everyone’s plate as a ‘thank you’ for them to take home. Lastly, her uncle built 3-by-4-foot frames for their engagement photos, which hung from the trees throughout the venue. Louie’s dad built a bench for the photo area. A family friend restored an old chest that was gifted to the couple by Louie’s grandmother to use as a card box. And of course, the bride herself handpainted the signs throughout the venue. It truly was an amazing group effort to help the entire vision come together.

The Reception

Jessica and Louie’s reception was also held at The Lodge. The newlyweds were able to connect with people they had not seen in a long time, including many who traveled long distances to celebrate with them. Several guests came from across the country, as well as from New Zealand.

“We could not have asked for better food at dinner or a better band to dance all night to,” Jessica said. Every single guest brought lots of energy and love to the evening. After the band, The Blue Cheese Combo, finished playing right before midnight, one of the guests obtained a speaker so everyone could keep dancing. The party kept going until 2:00!

The Food and Drinks

Since Jessica and Louie are both foodies, they offered “action stations” throughout the main course. The stations consisted of three buffet-style options from which guests could take a sample of each or make a meal out of one or all of them. The options included barbecue (pulled pork, coleslaw, slider buns, and a variety of BBQ sauces); Mexican (ground beef hard shell and soft shell tacos, all the toppings one can imagine, chips, queso, and salsa); and traditional wedding fare (oven-roasted chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted veggies, and rolls).

The dessert table was a massive group effort. Jessica’s aunt baked 100 mini bundt cakes in four different flavors: chocolate cake with chocolate drizzle, carrot cake with buttercream, red velvet cake with white chocolate, and vanilla cake with buttercream. She also made 150 petit fours, which were lemon with raspberry filling. Together, her grandmothers whipped up over 100 cookies and over 100 Oreo balls. Additionally, Jessica’s bridesmaid Britt provided around 200 chocolate chip cookies and 100 chocolate-covered pretzel rods. Jessica and Louie’s cutting cake was from Cakes by AP.

Capturing the Day

The Lodge at Leathem Smith offered so many options for backdrops that the wedding party stayed on-site for all of the wedding photos. Uncorked Photography & Design shot both the couple’s engagement portraits as well as the wedding.  She was wonderful to work with and made the process enjoyable.

Advice to Future Couples

Pick one or two things that you care a lot about & put your money into those areas. Money is something that makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable talking about it. However, when planning a wedding money can go very fast. I think that it is important to think about the things that matter most to you and your day and then focus your money on those areas. If there are things that you would like to happen at your wedding but don’t know if you could afford it or don’t know if you can DIY it then ask around. I am sure that many people you know have great talents and are more than willing to help you if you are willing to ask.


Wisconsin Wedding Vendors:

Photographer Uncorked Photography & Design
Makeup Artist Classy Manes hair by Kristin Leiterman
Hair Stylist Classy Manes hair by Kristin Leiterman & Salon 212
Rehearsal Dinner The Lodge at Leathem Smith
Ceremony & Reception Venue The Lodge at Leathem Smith
Cake Designer/Dessert Cakes by AP
Flowers Flowers N Gifts by Judy
Music & Entertainment The Blue Cheese Combo
Bridal Boutique The Bridal Event, Appleton
Rentals (Linens, Chairs,Tables & Dance Floor) Rent a Tent, Denmark
Formalwear Jason Louis
Rings Bay Area Diamond Company