There’s nothing better than having a sweet, funny, and helpful coworker when you’re new on the job. Just ask Madeline Rullo, who met Jesse Siegelmen while working at a restaurant near the University of Wisconsin campus in 2006. “I didn’t have much experience, so he helped with everything from opening bottles of wine to driving me to work in massive Wisconsin snowstorms,” she remembers. The next year, she traveled to New York City to help Jesse celebrate his birthday, which became the first chapter in their love story. Seven years later, in May 2014, Jesse proposed—on Maddie's birthday!—in Amagansett, New York.
The couple didn’t rush into planning their wedding, choosing September 17, 2016, as their date. “It was so nice to be able to book the venue and vendors we really wanted,” says the bride. They chose the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum in Maddie’s hometown of Milwaukee, a spot she’s loved since childhood. “It’s the most beautiful garden and museum overlooking the lake, and our guests could wander the property and galleries,” she says. Keep reading to see how the couple made their Lake Michigan wedding, photographed by Anna Page Photography, look like it was straight out of Italy. (Hint: It starts with their Tuscan-inspired venue!)
Maddie’s Monique Lhuillier gown was the perfect mix of feminine elegance and fashion-forward style. It featured a strapless corset bodice and was topped with lace and finished with a hand-draped chiffon skirt, and she paired it perfectly with a full-length tulle cape with Chantilly-lace appliqués. “I fell in love with the Chantilly lace immediately and couldn’t get it out of my mind, even as I tried other colors, styles, and even bridal pantsuits,” she says. When she saw that Monique Lhuillier was having a trunk show at Saks Fifth Avenue, she made an appointment and left Jesse on another floor while she slipped on the dress. “As soon as I put on the cape, I knew it was the One,” she says. “I was so giddy that I nearly showed it to Jesse, but instead I sent a million photos to my mom and sisters.”
She added Miu Miu sandals, plus an Italian-inspired bouquet of Patience garden roses, scabiosa, white stock, delphinium tips, and olive branches.
The couple turned to their family for the wedding party, with Maddie’s sisters serving as bridesmaids and Jesse's dad and brother as groomsmen. Their niece and nephew were the flower girl and ring bearer, and they carried chalkboard signs they’d made with their mom, which are now hanging in Maddie and Jesse’s apartment.
“Our first look gave us time to laugh, cry, and chat with each other,” says the bride. “It was a wonderful, private moment that we cherished.” Afterward, the couple extended their alone time (with their photographer in tow) to tour the gardens, take in the beautiful grounds, and settle their nerves before their Lake Michigan wedding.
The ceremony scene was set with a garland lining the aisle and two over-the-top arrangements of hydrangeas, stock, delphiniums, snapdragons, and roses.
Maddie walked down the aisle with her mother by her side. “We practically sprinted through the great hall, we were so excited,” she remembers. “But as my brothers-in-law opened the French doors to the terrace, we paused and took a deep breath. It was so special to hold her hand and soak up every step of that walk together.” Once outside on the villa's great terrace, she and Jesse exchanged vows with views of Lake Michigan in the distance. "It created a truly picturesque setting, and with bright blue skies and sailboats on the water, it was absolutely breathtaking,” she says.
Though rain was in the forecast, Jesse and Maddie got lucky with the weather and continued their Tuscan inspiration by dining outdoors. At cocktail hour on the terrace, guests sipped cucumber, mint, and vodka cocktails and snacked on Wisconsin cheeses while the ceremony venue was transformed for the reception.
At dinnertime, long tables were topped with thick gray cotton linens and vases holding clusters of white roses and hydrangeas. Between four long tables, the couple sat with their families at a large head table. “We served dinner family-style, so we kept the table design clean and chic in order to ensure plenty of space for passing plates and wine,” says Maddie. Dinner consisted of fresh panzanella salad, grilled beef tenderloin with truffled mashed potatoes, wood-grilled Amish chicken with roasted Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin ravioli with fried sage and toasted hazelnuts. “Our goal was to throw an amazing and delicious dinner party with locally sourced ingredients, and it was an absolute hit,” says the bride.
Instead of a traditional wedding cake, the couple served desserts that represented their home states—complete with “Made in NY” and “Made in WI" signs. For Jesse’s home state of New York, they had a chocolate-malt cake from Momofuku Milk Bar. In honor of Maddie’s Wisconsin roots, they had apple pie from Elegant Farmer, topped with Kopp’s frozen custard.
After their first dance, to “Stay with You” by John Legend, Maddie and Jesse invited guests on the dance floor as a DJ played “You’re All I Need to Get By” by Marvin Gaye and other hits from their alma mater. As the night drew to a close, everyone released wish lanterns from the terrace before heading to an awesome after-party planned by the groom. “He was able to get DJ JP Solis from Riff Raff's, our favorite nightclub in NYC, to come to Milwaukee!” They re-created the club’s tiki theme in their hotel’s private bar, complete with tiki heads, punch, and face paint. Says the bride: “It was the perfect exclamation point to an amazing day!”
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum || Officiant: Reverend Carol Saunders || Catering & Design: Gracious Events || Bride's Dress & Cape: Monique Lhuillier, purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue || Bride's Shoes: Miu Miu || Groom's Attire: Ammar Belal || Flower Girl's Dress: BHLDN || Hair: Shannon Rosandich of Vagaro || Makeup: Bjorn Nasett of Beauty Milwaukee || Bride's Jewelry, Engagement Ring & Wedding Bands: Jordan Smith at JS Diamonds || Invitations: Paper Source || Paper Products: Paper Presentation || Music: Sound by Design || Rentals: Canopies Events || Signage: The Duo Studio || Desserts & Favors: Milk Bar, Elegant Farmer, Kopp's Frozen Custard || Transportation: High Class Limousine || Photography: Anna Page Photography