Story by Jenny Kite…
“My parents, married 28 years, had a charming garden wedding and I always thought that being in nature, surrounded by your friends, family and beautiful flowers was a wonderful way to start your life together. That decision set the theme for the wedding, so the hunt was on to find the a unique and suitable venue for our 200 guests”.
“…After countless visits to wineries, forest preserves, etc. my aunt suggested I check out the Iowa State University Research and Demonstration Farm in Lewis, IA (http://www.wallacefdn.org/), which was just a few miles from our hometowns. The minute we popped over the hill I knew that was the place. The grounds were perfectly manicured, there were gorgeous flowers, bushes and trees everywhere and it was all surrounded by the legendary Iowa rolling fields. It also had a nice sized conference center with interesting farm-inspired architecture, which was perfect for the reception. We had to overcome a few minor obstacles because the venue was designed for farmer’s meetings not weddings, but thankfully they also employ a wonderful staff.
After the location was chosen and the unbelievably reasonable rental rate of $100 was paid, the rest fell into place easily. The manager of the farm kindly offered to grow planters full of flowers in their greenhouse, which made a great focal point for the outdoor ceremony. I worked closely with David Claussen to design wildflower-inspired bouquets for the wedding party and for the reception. We wanted it to seem like we went to the field and picked them that morning. We kept the other decorations simple, using cream linens, burlap runners and simple wooden candle holders for the tables and a DIY ribbon centerpiece for the dance floor”.
We made a stop at the nearby Hitchcock House. This sandstone house was built in 1856 by Rev. George Hitchcock. The shot below shows the entrance to the secret room in the basement that was used to hide runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad.
“We had the extraordinary talents of Paul Hart singing catchy, modern tunes and playing his acoustic guitar as the wedding party, including eight flower girls dressed in adorable purple tutus with DIY flowers in their hair, walked down the aisle of 200 full white wooden chairs. I knew (and somewhat hoped) we would have at least one incident out of eight flower girls. Just a few steps down the aisle the littlest one, Bailey, decided to dump her entire basket of flower petals at the beginning of the aisle…and then pick them up. The pictures are priceless! The ceremony itself was a bit of a blur, but I do vividly remember hearing birds chirping and singing as we were saying our vows and putting on our rings, which was a welcomed unexpected addition to the day”.
“After the ceremony, the guests were invited to “sign our guestbook” by taking a picture in the DIY photobooth (complete with props!), take a staff guided tour of the farm aboard a comfy “people mover”/hay rack and/or enjoy dinner. It would seem odd to have a fancy catered dinner out on the farm (and wouldn’t be us, anyway), so with the help of friends and family we put together a delicious meal of roasted pork sandwiches, baked beans, macaroni salad, and refreshing lemonade along with a well stocked open bar.
We went through the typical traditions, first dance, parent dance, cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss, etc., but Adam and I both put our own personal touch on the reception. Adam, an avid glider pilot, brought his goofy glider hats for a posed picture with his “glider buddies” and I surprised him with a glider groom’s cake. My cycling buddies brought our team jerseys, which we put on (even over my wedding dress!) and performed “Cotton Eye Joe” as we typically do each year on RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa)”.
“After our wedding, I was worried that I’d forget the details or how we felt that day. Luckily, our wedding pictures really “tell the story” of the ceremony, the hoppin’ dance floor, the photo booth, the hay rack ride and the emotions of the day. I always knew I wanted a photojournalist-style photographer because posed pictures are boring, so I’m so glad that I chose Jim (James Nedresky) because of his style and passion for shooting landscapes, particularly prairie fields”.