The University of Wisconsin-Madison was so important to Lily Donnellon and Ben Jacobs that they even considered getting married in Ben’s fraternity house where they first met. Instead, they opted for a three-day affair kicked off with a Friday-night rehearsal dinner/welcome party on campus, giving a fun, spirited tailgate theme that included the school’s marching band and a visit from Bucky the Badger as entertainment. The town of Madison is quaint, charming, and conjures up happy memories for the sweetheart alums and their families. “We wanted to incorporate our love for the college and Madison tastefully through the entire weekend,” Lily explains. 

Another detail where the couple wanted to illustrate their love for Madison was in the welcome bags. “I didn’t want to have a bag with just our names on it, so we opted for the phrase “Drink Wisconsinibly” and had all of our favorite Madison snacks, including Spotted Cow beer that you can only get in Wisconsin,” says the bride. Lily’s dad was also involved in giving the gifts a personal touch. “He shared his favorite restaurants, bars, and sites in town and wrote hilarious blurbs to explain why he loved each spot,” she explains. 

The sweethearts opted for a colorful palette to fit with their sparkling personalities. “The amazing HMR Designs took our floral design ideas and elevated them in a way I could have never imagined. The shades together were really breathtaking!” she illustrates. For the ceremony, punchy hued flowers were set in planter boxes down the length of the aisle, complemented with larger pedestal arrangements. The chuppah was a beautiful masterpiece of blossoms as well. “It really popped and was so different than anything I had seen before… it was very much reflective of the fun, lively, and vibrant look and feel we wanted,” affirms Lily. 

Alongside her father, the bride looked resplendent as she gracefully made her way to her beloved to the tune of Frank Sinatra’s “I Get a Kick Out of You” (the song she saw her parents dance to often in their family living room). She carried a bouquet that looked as if it had just been plucked from a field of wildflowers; the colorful mix included coral peonies, lavender cabbage roses, white clematis, blush sweet peas, salmon dahlias, and blue anemones. 

The service was layered with special ties to loved ones – including having Ben’s childhood best friend officiate. “It meant so much to us to have someone up there who knows how deeply we love each other and has witnessed that firsthand,” the bride confides. “He absolutely crushed it, striking the perfect balance between comedy and sentiment,” Ben adds. 

As the couple recessed, the Wisconsin Children’s Choir sang a Motown hit: “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).” Lily works in the music industry and enjoyed blending the song list with both favorite oldies and the newer sounds of today. As guests made their way into the reception area, they found their tables by way of song lyrics instead of typical numbered signs. 

The ballroom was made to look like a whimsical garden. Gorgeous ceiling pieces and a fully customized dance floor that matched their invitations and stationery left loved ones in awe. “Both made the room so incredibly stunning and looked amazing together,” illustrates the bride. “I was absolutely blown away to see it all come together on the wedding night, and even Ben was speechless.” Centerpieces filled with vivid florals and lush greenery graced tables, whilst hundreds of candles added a romantic feel.

The crowd enjoyed the choreographed first dance and father-daughter dance, respectively. The dance practices added some comedic relief during the last stressful months of wedding planning, notes the bride. Attendees then enjoyed a scrumptious chef-prepared supper of chicken and waffles. “We thought it was brilliant for a formal wedding,” shares Lily, who confirms that everyone loved the fare. Slices of a naked cake featuring two flavors were then passed to loved ones to rev them up for a night of even more merriment. 

The father of the bride jumped on stage with The Gold Coast All Stars for a surprise performance. The groom was shocked to learn that he hadn’t even practiced with the band! He started with “Wild Night” by John Mellencamp and had guests lined up at the edge of the stage singing along. “He was like a rock star!” exclaims Lily. “The energy was through the roof and it’s a moment I will never forget.” The revelry, including stage diving, sing-alongs, late-night bites, and dancing to a DJ and electric guitarist, continued until 2AM. 

Though it was a lot of work and wild ideas over two years of planning, the couple asserts that they were so glad they stayed true to themselves and designed the event they wanted to celebrate their love and devotion to each other. “It was easily the best weekend of my life,” concludes Ben.