Aloura and Alex met in Milwaukee not once – but twice! When they first met, Alex thought Aloura was dating their mutual friend and Aloura (although interested in Alex) decided that if they were meant to meet again, they would, so she did not take her friend up on his offer to set them up.
Fast forward months later to Halloween on Brady Street. Alex was in a women’s giraffe onesie, and Aloura was the butterfly Snapchat filter. They remembered each other and chatted at the upstairs bar of Joe Cats. After that, it was complicated.
Aloura had already made up her mind that she was moving abroad at the end of the school year. It seemed like awful timing. However, despite her efforts to not fall for him, she did. She found herself wanting to spend all of her time with him, and before long, they both realized they had something that neither one of them was willing to let go of.
When Aloura took a job in Shanghai, they agreed to do long-distance for two years. And while it was challenging at times, it brought them closer than they could have ever imagined. Traveling the world together, making memories, and hours upon hours of phone calls made them certain that it was a forever love. So, on the day she flew back from Shanghai and into their first home together, he proposed! It was a complete surprise and the best homecoming she could have imagined.
From Their Perspective
Our wedding day was originally going to be in August of 2020, but with the pandemic, we decided to both reschedule and reimagine our wedding day. Instead of an intimate wedding followed by separate events to celebrate with family and friends, we decided that if it was possible and safe to do so, to plan for a larger celebration all on the same day. The image of being able to gather again sounded like a dream.
However, we still wanted to dedicate time on that day for just us and our family, so we held an intimate ceremony (dogs included), followed by a first dance, then family photos at Olbrich Gardens. In between the ceremony and reception, we took a few hours just the two of us to take photos and enjoy time with each other before our Grand Entrance into the reception. For us, it was the perfect balance of feeling intimate and celebratory.
It was also very special to us that our wedding embodied family and community. From the date of our wedding, which was the 33rd wedding anniversary of my parents, choosing a venue in our neighborhood, being surrounded by local vendors, and choosing decor that brought our guests closer together was everything to us. Our hope was for guests to feel like they were at home with us, that they felt loved and joyful.
Sitting at our sweetheart table from Velvet Rentals and watching our guests sit in the long rows, under the chandeliers, passing food, and laughing brought us such happiness and gave us the feeling we were trying to capture. The feeling of home. Overall, this wedding was an absolute dream and we can’t wait to relive it over and over again!
Our dogs, Nora and Remy, were included in the wedding ceremony but not the reception since the excitement would have likely been too much for them. Instead, we created signature drinks inspired by them, and Aloura’s sister drew their faces to be included on the bar signage. Anyone who knows us knows how much we love those two, so it was great to incorporate them into the evening celebration!
Since our wedding day was also my parent’s 33rd wedding anniversary we had Shawn from Baked Lab make them a mini wedding cake, which we presented to them after the dinner. Seeing their faces as it was brought out and noticing that it had the doves from their original wedding cake on it was everything. Their love is inspiring, and having a moment to celebrate that was special.
There were so many small moments and touches that were special to us. Specifically, all the details we included to honor Aloura’s grandmothers, who were not there, but who mean everything to her. From the rug of doilies that we stood on at the ceremony that her grandmother crocheted and her mother-in-law stitched together, to the card box, which was her other grandmother’s jewelry box that her father made her as a child, to the gorgeous flower wall which was in honor of both of her grandmother’s love for gardening, they were all inspired by them.
And on a less sentimental note, the donuts! Every weekend Aloura purchases donuts from the local coffee house around the corner from their house, and she loves them. Getting to share this local treasure with guests at their wedding was highly anticipated and a hit!
The ceremony was absolutely our favorite part of the day. Being surrounded by our immediate family and dogs was exactly the love we need around us before we said, “I do.” We also chose to have our first dance right after being announced as husband and wife and having that time to just pause after the ceremony and take it all in was the moment we did not realize we needed. It was also the perfect moment because the trio from Gabriel’s Horns played our song beautifully and gave us those ‘we’re married!’ feelings.
While our ceremony was the highlight, we’d be remiss if we did not talk about our grand entrance to our wedding reception. It was perfect. Our wedding planner and DJ got everyone to create a receiving line, and as we got out of the classic car we were driving in, we could hear everyone clapping and cheering for us. It gave us both the biggest smiles and made us feel so loved. We could not have asked for a better way to start our night of celebration!
Advice for Couples
- While I (Aloura) planned most of the wedding details, having Olive Branch Events there to help a few months before and on the day-of was the best decision we made! Being able to feel relaxed and enjoy the day was priceless, especially for someone very detail-oriented like me. Even if you consider yourself a great planner, do not underestimate what an actual wedding planner can provide you – relief! We are forever thankful for their team.
- Make decisions based on what feels right to the both of you. While we switched to a larger celebration, it was not traditional. We kept the ceremony intimate, had our first dance right after being announced husband and wife, had no assigned seating at dinner, and I chose to do a first look with my dad. We did what felt right to us, and those decisions are some of our favorite memories now.