Rachel Levenick thought Bucky, the University of Wisconsin-Madison's badger mascot, was trying to steal her heart when he dropped to one knee during a pre-game tailgate at Camp Randall Stadium in 2012. But her then-boyfriend Daniel Koebler wouldn't have it. He knocked him out of the way and took his place, presenting Rachel with a ring in front of their family and friends. "Danny had hired Bucky, and everyone but me knew the whole time!" Rachel (an alum and huge Bucky fan) recalls. "It was just so perfect."
13 months later, the couple invited 200 guests to Wisconsin for a rustic wedding outside of Madison. The October 12, 2013 celebration was inspired by the bride's love of barn weddings, but with a formal twist. "Even though we were getting married in a barn in the fall, we did not want it to be a 'hoe-down' with piles of pumpkins and hay bales and orange and yellow mums everywhere," Rachel explains. By choosing a classic color palette of hunter green, ivory, burgundy and blush — and a talented team of vendors including photographer Paper Antler and florist Daffodil Parker — the couple was able to throw the elegant affair they had dreamed of.
Rachel loved how comfortable she felt in her ivory lace Allure Bridals gown, which featured a scalloped neckline and a satin sash embellished with crystals. "I'm just not a strapless dress kind of girl, so it was great to see that there were plenty of options out there with straps!" the bride says.
Can you believe Rachel made her own waterfall veil? "It's really one of the simplest projects there are, so it blew my mind to see how expensive veils were," she says. "My sister actually cut my veil to length the day of the wedding, once I'd put my dress on!" She carried a woodsy bouquet of ivory lisianthus, sweet pea, and strands of ivy. The handle was tied with a locket that held a piece of her mother-in-law's wedding gown, as well as her mother and grandmother's wedding rings.
Bridesmaids wore floor-length green chiffon gowns paired with vintage earrings and matching fur wraps, gifts from the bride. "They made for great fall wedding photos," says the bride of the wraps, which she also wore after the ceremony. Her 'maids carried wild bouquets of dahlias, seed pods, and ivy.
Rachel and Danny exchanged vows in a classic church ceremony officiated by her childhood pastor, then headed with their guests to Sugarland for the reception. There, guests were greeted by a giant DIY project: A stained wooden board with a heart made of string and nails and seating assignments pinned on floral fabric. To add a personal touch to the event, Rachel used elements like string art and vintage floral patterns throughout the space.
Grand wrought-iron chandeliers illuminated the barn, which the couple filled with round tables decked in ivory linens and floral lace overlays. Rachel wanted something more special than standard white chairs, but couldn't afford to fill the room with Chiavari, so she chose dark wood and leather folding chairs.
For months leading up to the wedding, the couple collected doilies and lace accents, mercury glass containers, and an assortment of vintage pieces, such as wood sewing drawers, to use as containers for the centerpieces. "We tried to create a balance between a 'collection of random stuff' and 'standard wedding' by curating collections of more unique pieces," Rachel says.
Centerpieces overflowed with ivy, hydrangeas, scabiosa pods, and lotus pods.
To dress up the head table, the couple hung sheer curtains from an ornate frame behind their seats and marked their places with string signs that read Mr. and Mrs.
Danny and Rachel topped their two-tiered wedding cake with wooden lovebirds. "Everyone raved about the cake," Rachel says, which included pumpkin with cheesecake filling, carrot with cream cheese filling, and chocolate and vanilla with cream cheese filling.
Because Danny adores rock ballads, the couple took their first twirl around the dance floor to Survivor's "The Search is Over." A live band, The Rhythm Kings, kept guests on the dance floor all night long.
Rachel and Danny enjoyed their honeymoon in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, which was "magical," Rachel says. "The months since our wedding have been great. I'm almost used to calling him my husband, but it still makes me smile every time."
Ceremony Venue: Advent Lutheran Church || Reception Venue: Sugarland || Bride's Wedding Dress: Allure Bridals, from Vera's House of Bridals || Veil: Homemade || Shoes: DSW || Hair: Ecco Salon || Makeup: The bride's sister || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Vera's House of Bridals || Groom & Groomsmen's Attire: Men's Wearhouse || Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Kesslers Diamonds || Florist: Daffodil Parker || Invitations & Paper Goods: Made by the bride || Music: The Rhythm Kings || Catering: The Old Feed Mill || Cake: Craig's Cake Shop || Rentals: Event Essentials, A La Crate Vintage Rentals || Photography: Paper Antler