Alix and Bill's Beautiful Ballroom Wedding in Milwaukee

Liz Banfield

No doubt about it, Bill Port had a cool plan to propose to Alix Colgan, his girlfriend of four years and a self-described ice-pop superfan, during a double date at a Milwaukee mini golf course in 2013. After writing "Will you marry me?" on a Popsicle stick, he'd whipped up his own batch of strawberry-lemonade icies and stashed them in the freezer at the course's clubhouse. "I figured by the ninth hole the girls would get thirsty, and we'd go grab the ice pops," explains Bill, a sales engineer. "Then when we got to this beautiful waterfall at the 18th hole, I'd show Alix the stick with the question." But it was an unseasonably hot May evening, and the frozen treats turned to slush. Fast. "They were gone by the 11th hole," says Bill, who waited, Popsicle stick in his mouth for seven more holes, until he could present it to Alix as planned. "He handed it to me, and I assumed it was just a joke printed on it, so I didn't really look," recalls Alix, a respiratory therapist. "Then he said, 'This isn't working!' and got down on one knee. Once I knew what was going on, I couldn't get over how sweet it was. We're big golfers, and his plan felt so right for us."

The duo kept looking for sweet aspects that felt "so right" for them as they planned their wedding at the Milwaukee Athletic Club (MAC). Built in 1917, the stone building boasts a stunning ballroom, complete with crystal chandeliers and 24-karat gold detailing, and on-site hotel rooms for out-of-towners. On October 4, 2014, nearly 170 guests gathered for their nondenominational ceremony, written by the bride and officiated by a friend of Bill's. After a quick foray outdoors for photos, the newlyweds, lifelong Green Bay Packers fans, made their reception entrance to Todd Rundgren's "Bang the Drum All Day," the tune that's piped into the stadium every time the team scores a touchdown. Many of the wedding's other personal touches came from friends and family pitching in: Alix's dad assembled the wooden table numbers, the co-owner of the bar where Alix and Bill met deejayed, and Alix's mom baked her famous baklava as favors.

As for the groom's contribution? He had one more surprise up his sleeve: a weeklong honeymoon, which he devised as a mystery getaway for his new wife. "He told me to pack for warm weather," she says. "Until I saw it on the check-in screen, I had no idea we were going to St. Lucia." They had massages every day and lay on the beach in the sunshine. For Bill, nature finally played along. "I'm a meticulous planner, so I was a little bummed when the proposal didn't go perfectly," he admits. Now he realizes all that matters about that day is that Alix said yes: "The end result is pretty perfect."

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The Inspiration

Liz Banfield

The grand ballroom's hand-painted ceiling inspired the day's color palette and motif.

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The Invitations

Liz Banfield

The bride modeled the stationery suite on her grandparents' wedding invites from the '50s, choosing a classic script thermographed on cream card stock, overlaid by a sketch of their venue.

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Welcome to Wisconsin

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Welcome bags held cheddar cheese, Sprecher root beer, caramels from Alix's hometown of La Crosse, Wisconsinite beer, a map of the pair's favorite Milwaukee spots, and a napkin with a foil-stamped welcome from the couple.

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The Bridal Bouquet

fall wedding bouquet
Liz Banfield

Café au lait dinnerplate dahlias (along with smaller maroon versions) anchored Alix's bouquet, made by Munster Rose.

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A Bit of Sparkle

Liz Banfield

Alix accessorized with pieces from Kwiat's vintage collection, including a right-hand ring accented with rubies.

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Wine-Colored Dresses

Liz Banfield

The bridesmaids chose chiffon J.Crew dresses in different cuts but the same ruby shade.

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Petite Posies

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Bridesmaid bouquets included ranunculus, dahlias, garden roses, nandina foliage, olive leaf, and nine bark.

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A Gem of a Gift

Liz Banfield

On average, Alix has known each of her bridesmaids 16 years. She showed her love by giving them Nikki Baker earrings in a calligraphed hexagon papier mâché box.

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The Boutonnieres

Liz Banfield

Ranunculus, rose hips, andromeda heather buds, and olive leaf made up the groomsmen's boutonnieres.

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Tie One On

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Groomsmen were gifted neckwear custom-made by Tiecrafters tucked into golden boxes.

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The Flower Girl

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Bill's 5-year-old niece wore a crown of millinery roses and leaves.

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Little Feet

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The bride and her flower girl, fully representing the day's color palette of soft white, blush pink, and ruby red, in their attire.

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The Ring Box

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A vintage Jasperware box stood in as a ring pillow.

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The Ceremony

Liz Banfield

The couple's friend, who plays on a bowling league with Bill, officiated the civil ceremony. "At the ceremony, I wasn't as nervous as I thought I'd be at first. But right before I walked down the aisle to wait for Alix—that's when it hit me. I knew I'd start to tear up as soon as I saw her, so I had to keep psyching myself into not crying like a baby," Bill recalls. "As we were saying our vows, I kept having these flashback moments to before I met her, when I used to say I'd never get married. And I'll never forget that moment where we promised to take care of each other, no matter what."

During their vows, the couple included a ritual Alix saw on Pinterest: "Before the ceremony, we wrote letters to each other and got a bottle of wine from 2009, the year we met," she explains. As a friend sang The Carpenters' "We've Only Just Begun," they placed the items in a box and nailed it shut, to be opened on their first anniversary. It was great except for one thing: "We didn't realize how much the room echoed," she says. "We got a few hammer blows in and decided we'd finish it afterward—it was so loud!"

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A Moment Alone

Liz Banfield

The couple opted not to see each other prior to Alix's walk down the aisle. Before the ceremony, they snapped a single picture together—holding hands through a doorway but facing opposite directions. After they were married, they did a quick portrait session on the grounds of the MAC and on the Marquette campus nearby.

"Someone told me to take time with Bill at the wedding, to sit back and look at what we'd accomplished—to revel in that moment, since the day goes by so fast," Alix says. "I was really grateful we did that, and I'll never forget the minutes we spent alone after the ceremony, taking in everything we'd worked so hard for."

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Sealed With a "P"

Liz Banfield

Crimson wax, stamped P for Port, sealed the escort cards.

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Sister Sister

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The bride hugged her older sister, who had helped her every step of the way.

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The Signature Cocktail

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Bill likes Shirley Temples, so the vodka-spiked version—Dirty Shirleys—were up for grabs at the bar. Custom cocktail napkins encouraged guests to "Cheers to the new Mr. and Mrs. Port."

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All in the Family

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The bride's two sisters, Kristina (far left) and Melissa Colgan (right), and mother, Ann Shattuck, helped with wedding planning, from shopping for Alix's dress to putting together the favors.

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The Reception

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Alix's father painted and mounted the wooden table numbers. Centerpieces filled with dinnerplate dahlias (the day's signature bloom), ranunculus, roses, hellebores, and variegated hydrangea were arranged in gold pedestal vases and surrounded by gold mercury glass votive holders.

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On the Menu

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Guests dined on a harvest salad and entrées of chicken piccata, queen-cut prime rib, and three-cheese-and-portobello ravioli.

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Advice for the Newlyweds

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Mimicking the venue's geometric ceiling, a custom Velvet Raptor box in an octagonal shape enrobed in a merlot-hued velvet served as a keepsake box for the advice cards set out in lieu of a traditional guest book.

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The First Dance

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Alix and Bill had practiced their first dance to Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight" quite a bit before the big day. "He'd planned on dipping me a couple of times, but we'd never done the dance with my dress on," she says. "I hadn't taken into account the little train—or how tight it was—and the day of, we had to modify!"

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Fond Memories

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The pair laughed at Bill's best man's toast: He joked that he would rearrange the über-neat couple's furniture while they were on their honeymoon.

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Dancing With Dad

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Alix and her dad began swaying to a slow song when the DJ suddenly cut to a fast number. "My father was doing air guitar and dancing like crazy," she says, laughing. "I thought he was going to break a hip!"

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The Wedding Cake

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The four-tier marble cake, with raspberry curd and buttercream, was topped with porcelain flowers made by MeliMari.

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Sweets for Days

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As a surprise for Bill, who loves all desserts, Alix arranged for pastries—macarons, pralines, Napoleons, fruit tarts, and more from Le Rêve Patisserie & Cafe—to be passed along with the cake.

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Greek Treats

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Guests went home with baklava that Alix's mom made.

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Liz Banfield

Location and Catering: Milwaukee Athletic Club

Flowers: Munster Rose

Bulk Flower Source: FiftyFlowers

Photography: Two Guys Photography

Stationery: Cassidy Iwersen [design]; Checkerboard [printing]

Calligraphy: Yellow House Calligraphy

Cake: Regina's Bay Bakery

Desserts: Le Rêve Patisserie & Cafe

Bride's Gown: Judd Waddell

Bride's Accessories: Sara Gabriel [veil]; Kwiat [earrings]

Hair: Kaley Wittnik and Amanda Wolski of Hair and Body Solutions

Makeup: Ashley Brunner

Bridesmaids' Dresses: J.Crew

Flower Girl Dress: Sas and Asa

Bridesmaids' Earrings: Gioielli by Nikki Baker

Groom's Suit: Jos. A. Bank

Groom's Accessories: Custom ties by Tiecrafters

Wax Seals:

Custom Cocktail Napkins and Matches: For Your Party

Candles: Colonial Candle

Porcelain Flowers [on cake]: MeliMari

Ribbon: Mokuba New York, 212-869-8900

Postage: Champion Stamp

Velvet Box for Advice: Velvet Raptor

Welcome Bag Contents: Custom "luncheon" napkins and "Euro tote," For Your Party; Lakefront Brewery Beer; Mini Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese; Klement's Sausage Snack Stick; Sprecher's Root Beer; Finnottes Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Caramels

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