Noir Weddings

Melissa + Dan

Incredible photos courtesy of  JBe Photography . (And a couple of less incredible photos from us.)

Incredible photos courtesy of JBe Photography. (And a couple of less incredible photos from us.)

I can barely believe it, but here we are, with Melissa + Dan's wedding come and gone, to share all of the fun details from their beautiful day.

Wedding planning is an interesting business because after months and months of planning and communicating with a couple every week (if not every day) the wedding finally arrives and then, very suddenly, the whole thing is over. There are no more decisions to be made, emails to be sent, chalkboards to hand letter...

With Melissa and Dan's wedding this felt especially vivid because they gave us the opportunity to really be part of every detail of their wedding from vendor selections right down to paper design. And it was awesome! They truly put their faith in us and, for that, we are immensely grateful.

Dan and Melissa are a fun, adventurous couple and they wanted their wedding to reflect that. Luckily for us that meant they were open to some really amazing locations in Milwaukee, Merriment Social and Hot Water Wherehouse, and a non-traditional mix & mingle style reception with enough southern food and donuts to feed the entire state! Merriment Social knocked it out of the park with the spectacular menu they put together which we shared below because it's just that fabulous. The incredible couple also hired some of our favorite people in the biz: Jesse Lynn of Kidron Music, JBe Photography and Wood Violet. We love these vendors to the moon and back!

When it came to decor for the day, we really had to flex our creativity muscles to find ways to fit big decor dreams into a reasonable budget. Our two venues have their own style and drama without any effort so we decided to use that to our advantage. For the ceremony we went super romantic. Hot Water Wherehouse is all brick and glass with a bit of a dark & foggy feel thanks to its huge old windows. Candles upon candles upon candles played on that dark and romantic vibe. A couple of tall vases filled with sticks placed on stage acted as a frame for the couple up front. Tall stools on the ground continued the framing—one featured candles, the other held a wine box for a sweet part of the ceremony.

With a mix and mingle reception, we went for a low-key vibe for decor. We let the gorgeous wooden tables (mix of high and low) shine through and placed tin vases with succulents on each. Candles made their return on several tables, including the head table where we also re-used the bouquets to add a floral touch. 

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For some added drama, we built up the donut station with 2 glass window panes draped in marsala fabric. A gold mailbox to hold cards added some fun to the gift table and a little station on the bar let guests write date ideas for the new mr. and mrs.

Every station featured a sign designed by our very own Bryce Ulmer to match the invitation suite he created for the wedding. Throw in a few reserved signs and chalkboards drawn in the same design style (by yours truly) and we had a cohesive, modern look with a slight feminine flair.

It was a blast putting these plans together and we're so grateful for Dan and Melissa's faith in us. Cheers to the happy couple!

Xo,
Ashley

the vendor list
the photog: JBe Photography
the ceremony: Hot Water Wherehouse
the reception + food: Merriment Social
the flowers: Wood Violet Floral Design
the music: Kidron Music
the rentals + lettering: Noir Event Co.
the hair + makeup: Scottfree Salon
the dress: MoriLee | Eva's Bridal
the suits: Michael Kors | Mike Bjorns
the paper: Noir Event Co.

the menu (because are you kidding me with this)
cocktail hour: veggies + ranch dip, cheese + crackers, roasted garlic hummus + pitas
food stations: beef brisket, bbq pulled pork sliders, chopped salad, baked beans, mac 'n cheese, buttermilk biscuit bar, nashville style hot chicken, fried brussels sprouts, shrimp & grits, and blackened catfish sliders
donuts: maple bacon, old dirty bastard (aka chocolate w/ cookie crumbles), boston creme, sugar w/ blueberry compote, and apple pie cyclops
late night snack - dumplings!: brat & cheese curd w/ beer jam, breakfast sausage w/ maple tamari, cheeseburger w/ social sauce, and buffalo chicken w/ bleu cheese

A Tale of Two Wedding Planners: Why I Hired Noir

Our lovely bride, Tanya, took the time to write a blog post for us because she's just that great. We hope you enjoy Tanya's thoughts about her wedding planning experience and what it's like to work with yours truly.

For gorgeous details from Tanya + Max's wedding, check out our post here.


Congratulations! If you're reading this, you're probably newly engaged. You're also probably newly overwhelmed with all of the information that you now have to absorb—bridal magazines, websites, reviews of vendors, I could go on. I felt the same way when I started the wedding planning process. My first step was to consider hiring a wedding planner. In this guest column, I'll go through why I chose to hire wedding planners, why I chose Noir, and why I'm so fortunate to have worked with Colette and Ashley.

 

Why hire a wedding planner at all?

 

1. A planner will save you money.

Let's get the obvious question out of the way. If you're thinking about hiring a wedding planner, and you've done some preliminary research, you've realized by now that you will likely be spending several thousand dollars if you choose to hire one. That's a huge chunk of change. To be honest, I did not believe the many reviews that said hiring wedding planners would save me more than they cost. I was wrong. Here is a small but representative list of what Noir Event Co. saved me:

  • $13,000 on venue and catering.
    I thought I would save a lot of money and planning time by having a wedding in my sister's backyard. I nearly committed to this plan before Colette and Ashley did the research and told me that between renting tents, linens, and chairs, hiring security, and essentially building a venue from scratch, we'd spend thousands more than we'd save. Colette and Ashley also ran an analysis comparing how much a wedding would cost at four different venues we were considering. I never would have known what expenses to factor in and what questions to ask to get this analysis done alone.
  • $1,000 on flowers.
    Our amazing florist's original estimate gave me some serious sticker shock. Ashley and Colette came up with an idea I never would have thought possible—our florist sold us loose flowers for centerpieces and Ashley and Colette arranged them in vases themselves. This saved us about $1,000. And the centerpieces looked beautiful because Ashley is a creative genius.
  • $600 on paper.
    We were about to print escort cards, menu cards, and other paper products from weddingpaperdivas or a similar website, which would have cost around $650. Then, Ashley and Colette tipped us off about some gorgeous templates on Etsy. We downloaded the templates, which cost about $6 total, and then printed everything on shimmery ivory cardstock from Office Depot, which cost about $30. Even our graphic designer friend loved them!
  • Travel expenses like gas and plane tickets, which we'd have had to pay to see and screen each of our vendors. The best part of having Colette and Ashley recommend and screen vendors was the savings we got from not going to a million meetings with a million vendors.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Colette and Ashley's experience, their time, their energy, and their knowledge saved our budget. If you're still going on husband #1, and you've never planned a wedding before, it's unlikely you'll save as much alone as you will with experienced help.

2. a planner will save you time and stress.

Chiavari chairs. Don't know what they are yet? You don't want to know. There are items that Colette and Ashley had on their to-do list that hadn't crossed my mind—we needed to rent chairs for our ceremony (I know, duh, but in the midst of planning, I forgot about that whole guests-need-to-sit thing), we needed to measure the aisle for an aisle runner, we needed sand and buckets to make our sparkler farewell end safely, and so on.

Thankfully, I did not need to come up with everything that needed to get done and I did not need to solve problems alone. I knew I could trust Colette and Ashley to (1) remember everything that needed to get done; (2) tell me what to do at a good time (so I didn't have a hundred items to do all at once); (3) send me links for things I needed to buy, so I could just click and purchase rather than searching for hours; and (4) keep me calm along the way.

Apart from managing and organizing, Colette and Ashley took over the role of communicating with vendors. When Colette and Ashley solicited price estimates and detailed quotes from four different hair/makeup salons, two florists, two DJs, several shuttle bus companies, and other vendors, I did not have to sift through the enormous stream of emails alone. Instead, Colette and Ashley followed up with all of the vendors, made all of the information easy to digest, and reminded me of any important deadlines. Also, after a particularly nasty DJ scared me out of talking to him (my family's recommendation, Colette and Ashley would never have recommended him), Colette and Ashley did the dirty work of telling him we were going with another DJ.

Why hire Noir?

Hiring a wedding planner is something most people do only once, so I found reviews to be unhelpful when I first searched for planners (after all, how could the brides know if it could have gone better? Or worse?). What I did find helpful was looking at any work product that was available—the design and organization of a website, the writing on a blog, the photos of a completed wedding day, the communication (are they replying to my emails?). I was compelled to hire Colette and Ashley because their website was well-designed (none of that 90s-monotype-corsiva nonsense), their communication with me was near-instant, their preparation was evident from our first phone call, and photos from prior weddings made me confident they could pull it off expertly.

It turns out my gut was right—Colette and Ashley brought all of the enthusiasm and understanding from our first phone call to each interaction we had. Their website is a reflection of their business and of each of them—professional, cute well-organized, and well-designed. I truly cannot speak better of Colette and Ashley as they are hands-down the best professionals I've ever had the pleasure of working with. I had so many guests come up to me before and after the wedding to ask me "who were those wonderful women?" because Colette and Ashley handled the whole night so smoothly. Not a single thing went wrong. Not. One. Thing.

And finally, I'll end on this: my mother has higher standards for service than anyone I've ever met. We literally had to ask her to leave a hair and makeup trial because she made the poor hair stylist cry (!). She is not shy about voicing her opinion and she expects more of people than she pays them. The highest compliment I can give Colette and Ashley is my mother's unending, relentless, passionate praise for both of them. From her meeting them at our venue tasting, to planning meetings, and to the wedding day, my mother gushed over Colette and Ashley. She praised their organization, their attention to detail, their taste, their enthusiasm, and their sheer stamina. For anyone who has a doubt left in their mind about hiring Noir, I am available and always willing to talk more over the phone or email about Colette and Ashley. And for anyone that has doubts after that, call my mother.


Tanya, thank you for this incredible post and for your high praise. We think the world of you!

Tanya + Max

We are excited, thrilled, and, frankly, giddy to share Tanya + Max's wedding details with you. Before we dive in, can we all just take a minute to admire their beauty? I mean, are you kidding me? GORGEOUS PEOPLE.

Oh, Tanya and Max, where to begin with this amazing couple? We're going to get real with you, when they reached out to us all the way from NYC, we were nervous. We were intimidated by these incredibly intelligent, accomplished people and worried about delivering the wedding of their dreams while planning from a distance and accommodating many guests from different cultures who were traveling internationally.

Yes, Max, your wife is THAT beautiful.

Yes, Max, your wife is THAT beautiful.

While that may sound complicated, the truth is, Tanya and Max will probably be the most easy to work with couple we'll ever have. What we love most about them is their caring and generosity toward others. (How many couples do you know that have THREE wedding cakes so their vegan and gluten free friends can enjoy a piece?!) 

Throughout the entire planning process it was clear that the priority was taking care of their friends and family. This guided us every step of the way and when it came to the aesthetic details, decisions were easily made because energy was focused on taking care of their guests—plenty of food, a nice place to stay, and a fun, love-filled evening together.

If you've been following along on the Noir blog for a while, you'll know that we are huge fans of couples who add personal touches to their wedding. For Tanya and Max, these thoughtful details were woven into every aspect of the day.

Personal details included plenty of Russian + Chinese music, an incredible photo slideshow, and a couple of good friends serving as their officiants. Traditional table numbers were replaced with animal cards featuring a family pet photo and sweet story. Max's lovely sister, Annie, sang "A Thousand Years" for their first dance. For the ceremony, Max and the bridal party walked in to "Kakariko Village" from Legend of Zelda atop a moss aisle runner.

Gorgeous, locally grown flowers from Wood Violet added a brightness to the space and a pop of color to compliment Tanya's INCREDIBLE dress. 

Fun chalkboard signs directed guests outside to River Club's beautiful deck for the ceremony. Colette and I really battled the elements (lots of towels, mops, and brooms were needed) and had, not one, but two back-up plans depending on the severity of the weather. While the sky was quite finnicky all day, thankfully, the rain held off during the ceremony and it was able to take place on the covered area of the deck.

And listen, we're biased, we are SO biased, but this wedding had the best dancing we've ever seen. Max's moves blew our minds as Kidron Music played everything from "Buttons" by the Pussycat Dolls (Max's Song...and mine! I get you, Max.) to "Mundian to Bach Ke" (a punjabi song). Tanya looked like a glowy dream as she spun around the dance floor and appeased her sweet family from a chair in the air during Hava Nagila. 

I'm not ashamed to admit, I teared up during their ceremony and beamed as they headed back down the aisle surrounded by bubbles and loved ones. Their day was sweet, personal, and uniquely them. Colette and I are still non-stop shocked that these two extraordinarily wonderful people allowed us to be part of their special day and that Tanya continues to grace us with her friendship. Speaking of, look out later this week for a blog post she wrote for us. It's truly awesome.

Congratulations Tanya and Max! We know you'll have a beautiful life together.

Xo,
Ashley

the vendor list
the photog: Front Room Photography
the place + the food: River Club of Mequon
the flowers: Wood Violet Floral Design
the aisle runner + flower basket: GreenMossProducts on Etsy
the videography: Aerodef Productions
the music: Kidron Music
the rentals: Arena Americas
the hair + the makeup: Scottfree Salon
the dress: Miss Ruby
the hair comb: EllaWinston on Etsy
the paper: CharmingEndeavours on Etsy (printed at Office Depot) 
the cake: Whole Foods

Getting Real: Wedding Joys + Regrets

Long before Noir existed, I drafted a post for my personal blog, Affichomanie, about what I would do differently and what I'm happy I did for my own wedding. I'd like to think the advice could be valuable to a few brides + grooms out there. So, here are my thoughts speaking as a former bride instead of an event planner.

I Would Have...

1. Chosen different entrees for dinner. Food is very important to me and my husband. As vegetarians, we worked very hard to find food that was delicious, satisfying, and aligned with our beliefs as vegetarians. We chose an incredible gnocchi dish and an outrageously good ratatouille (which was also gluten free). Our tasting was incredible...lots of mind-blowing food. We couldn't wait to treat our friends and family. But when the entrees were served at our wedding, they were suspiciously small and, frankly, didn't taste at all like what we'd been served at the tasting. It was a huge disappointment and I still question whether or not choosing different entrees would have made a difference.

2. Embraced the full bridal gown shopping experience. I bought my wedding dress pre-big girl job so my funds were quite lacking. I also had a silly, but serious aversion to the idea of a dress attendant seeing me in my full glory and forcing me to try on dresses that wouldn't work for my particular set of body issues. I purchased my $1,300 Alvina Valenta gown online for a mere $700 and was thrilled with the purchase. Unfortunately, I wasn't as thrilled with the dress itself. It worked. It was the style I wanted. But not only did I not feel this was my dream dress, I deprived myself and my mom of getting that experience.

3. Saved that bottle Veuve Clicquot the hotel gave us instead of opening it for a couple of sips before falling asleep. What a waste. (The things I worry about years later are outrageous, I know.) 

4. Done my own makeup. I love the person that did my makeup and she did an amazing job with my eyes, but I'd like to think I'm pretty okay at doing my makeup. I didn't need to spend the money on it. And I feel I would have had the kind of foundation coverage that I prefer if I'd done it myself...I mean, my foundation looks better TODAY than it did for my wedding.

5. Made sure someone was designated to get me drinks and save some cake for later. Here's what I drank all night: a few sips of water at dinner, two sips of wine during cocktail hour, 3 sips of G&T during the reception. Here's how much cake I ate: 3 bites. You know how they say to make sure you eat at your wedding because you'll be so busy? It's not so much being busy as it is feeling too excited to eat. I still daydream about eating more of the cake three years later...

6. Waited to pick our bridal party until closer to the wedding. Don't get me wrong, I love my bridal party to death and have no regrets about who stood next to us on our big day. We had a 2 year long engagement and, in that amount of time, a lot can change in peoples' lives. Where we all lived, what we did, and even our relationships with each other changed. I think if we had waited a bit longer to make that decision, we may have avoided some uncomfortable situations with people who didn't end up next to us that day.

 

I'm So Glad I...

1. Skipped the garter toss. It's just not my style.

2. Had most of our photos done before the wedding. We were actually able to mingle with guests during cocktail hour!

3. Hired incredible vendors that I truly trusted. Colette, my homegirl, couldn't have done it without her. Daniel LaBelle was my incredible photographer, Andrew Quella rocked my wedding video, Sound by Design got my friends dancing, Wood Violet delivered gorgeous, locally grown flowers, and Karl's made rentals easy.

4. Didn't invite everybody and their brother. Our wedding was quite small--only about 70 guests--which meant I was actually able to say hello to everyone. It saved on cost and, for the most part, there wasn't anyone there that I didn't know. I loved every single person that was with us that night and, being the introverts we are, that was very important and special to us. 

5. Wore a veil. I was pretty dead set on not wearing a veil until my Maid of Honor and I wondered around the shop where my dress was being altered and found an incredible veil. It is definitely my favorite thing I wore that day and I still cherish it.

6. Didn't feel the need to offer several reception activities. Do you know how many guests leave right after dinner?! If I'd done what I had wanted (cigar + whiskey bar plus champagne + perfume bar plus photo booth plus...) I would have spent a ton and half of money on entertainment for very few people. Everyone was perfectly entertained by the open bar, amazing DJ, and DIY trail mix bar. That's enough, I tell you!

Xo,
Ashley