What’s a wedding like during a pandemic? Katy and Brendan never imagined in their wildest dreams that a virus would crash their plans, but in the end, their celebration was even more wonderful and unforgettable than they’d dreamed. Explains Katy, “Embrace the situation COVID has brought to the wedding industry. Having COVID change our wedding plans drastically from a 200-plus to 17-person day definitely helped shift our perspective to what’s most important. The little details, the fancy venue, the big guest list…it didn’t matter in the end. What mattered was that we are so in love with each other, we’re able to get married, and are starting our future together. “
They had a small church ceremony that was also on Zoom, and post-nuptials they were surprised with a social distancing tailgate in the church parking lot (ha!), friends put on a car parade past their house, and immediate family gathered for a mini-reception in Katy’s parents’ dining room. And it was all AWESOME.
Get all the details about how Brendan and Katy met, how she became a two-dress bride (one of which was our Faye), and their sweet Door County mini-moon (Greece had to wait!) from Katy below!
How did you guys meet?
“Brendan and I met the old-fashioned way—online! Funny thing is, we could have met six years earlier. I had previously worked with one of Brendan’s oldest friends and during that time she tried to set us up for years! We never ended up meeting then, but as chance would have it, we finally met in September of 2018 after connecting on Bumble. At the time, I was a 33-year-old single girl living with my parents (not exactly what you want to tell a new date). I had just sold my condo and was temporarily living with them before I closed on my new house. Our first date was a week before I moved in and my new house ended up being kitty-corner from one of Brendan’s good friends. So, Brendan was the one to introduce me to all of my new neighbors. As we talked for hours on our first date, we put together all of these coincidences, seemingly showing us from early on that we were meant to be.“
How did you know Brendan was “the one”?
“I feel like I knew pretty early on. Brendan always made me feel assured and at ease. I could be 100% myself all of the time with Brendan and I had never felt that relaxed with someone before. I told Brendan I loved him on New Year’s Eve of that year. He says now, he loved me then, he just didn’t know it yet. The way he navigated a NYE party with my friends and handled my emotions after not hearing ‘I love you’ back from him told me he would be a great partner for life. A few weeks later, he did say it and we were truly on our way to happily ever after.”
How did your sweetie propose?
“Brendan completely surprised me. That morning, I had coffee with his mom and she said, ‘I don’t know what he’s waiting for!’ I didn’t even think he had a ring. I was over at a friend’s house and when I came home that night there were flowers and candles everywhere. Brendan was waiting in our living room on one knee. He said he thought of a million different ways to propose but ultimately wanted to propose in the place we would build our life together. It was absolutely perfect, and our dog Oliver barked in agreement. As the shock of the proposal was still setting in, Brendan told me to open the front door. My best friend and her husband were there to take pictures of us and we toasted with an ’04 Merlot from Seavey Vineyards in Napa.”
How did you choose your gown?
“The short answer: my Faye dress definitely chose me. The long answer: I had already purchased an Allure dress secondhand online. My experience dress shopping at the bridal store was a little uncomfortable. I didn’t feel I could justify the budget for a gorgeous gown since we had a large guest list and were focusing our budget on our guest experience at the big party. When I was shopping for a dress, I felt like I could only look at gowns that were a deal and I was trying to fall in love with something that wasn’t perfect for me. The last dress I put on at my appointment I liked enough to look for it secondhand. I was able to find one in my size online from another bride who had worn it and my mom did all of the alterations. I liked it but the more I put it on, the more I couldn’t picture myself dancing in it at our reception.
I really wasn’t looking for another dress but in my search for centerpiece items on Facebook Marketplace, a picture of Faye kept popping up. I looked at the ad for over six weeks before I contacted the previous bride to try on the dress. She had never worn Faye, having chosen something else for her day, so it was pristine. I took two friends who are brutally honest with me to try it on in this stranger’s guest bedroom and we all were swooning. Everyone said my face lit up in a way it hadn’t in my original dress. The only problem was, it was a size too small. I didn’t buy it that night, nervous that I wouldn’t be able to get the necessary alterations done. Brendan was the hero in the story encouraging me to go for it after finding out it was only $225. He said, ‘Aren’t wedding dresses usually thousands of dollars?’ Yes, they are, and I got the deal of the century on this gorgeous gown.
My nervousness about the fit was totally set aside when Karen from Lea-Ann Belter answered my email immediately to let me know she thought the seam allowance would be enough to make the necessary alterations. I didn’t want to be rude or inconsiderate of the designer’s craftsmanship to ask about making alterations to a secondhand dress, but Karen couldn’t have been more gracious about it, giving measurements and suggestions to help make my dress dreams come true. The final touches were put on by the incredibly talented seamstress, Maria Arteaga. I would recommend her to every Milwaukee bride. She handled the dreamy tulle and delicate lace of the dress expertly and by the second fitting, it was the perfect fit.
I never pictured myself being a two-dress bride but COVID had other plans. In April, we made the tough decision to postpone our Memorial Day weekend reception to July. At that point, I figured I would wear my original dress for our ceremony day on May 24th. With the lace bolero jacket, it was perfect for the church. Then I would have my beautiful Faye dress for our pictures and party day in July. As the waves of COVID wore on and our ceremony day got closer, I got more and more anxious that the big party in July might not happen. I would be devastated if I never got to wear Faye. In the end, I decided to wear my original dress for our ceremony and changed into my Faye dress for our mini reception with our immediate family. I was able to do a little first look in Faye with Brendan and have our newlywed and wedding party photos taken in her. I felt amazing and Brendan and I looked pretty damn good that day. Tribute did a great job capturing the beauty of the dress.”
Tell us about your day!
“We had a Catholic ceremony in Brendan’s church, St. Catherine’s. Because of COVID, we were only able to have our immediate family with us in church, but we did a live Zoom of our ceremony for the rest of our guests. It was so fun to see pictures later of our friends dressed up at home to watch! After the ceremony, we were surprised by friends and family waiting for us in the parking lot for a toast. Only in Wisconsin do people tailgate for a wedding!
Later, Brendan’s closest friends did a drive-by car parade at my mom’s house where we had our wedding dinner. My mom was able to figure out a way to seat us all at the same table together for dinner in her dining room and we had a delicious BBQ dinner on my mom’s and grandma’s wedding china. One of my favorite parts of the night was our first dance, under the bistro lights in my parent’s backyard. With only 17 guests in attendance, we got to really spend time with everyone and savor each moment of the night together without having to rush around like on a typical wedding night. As we were dancing the night away, we both said everything else seemed so much less important now that we were married. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
What was your first dance song?
“I think we both knew marriage was our future when we picked our wedding song on a trip to Nashville. We had a long day exploring the city and ended at Skull’s Rainbow Room, a speakeasy lounge with a great jazz singer. Returning for the night and inspired by the great music we heard, Brendan danced me around the kitchen of the Airbnb to ‘The Way You Look Tonight’ by Frank Sinatra. Our wedding song was chosen, months before the proposal even happened.”
One detail you couldn’t live without?
“My Jewel by Badgley Mischka heels—definitely my biggest unnecessary splurge having only worn them for two hours.
But all joking aside it was the music that sticks in my mind as the most memorable details of our day and night. Brendan’s dad and brother played guitar for our ceremony so that we wouldn’t have additional COVID exposure with the church musicians. (Brendan kept joking we had to keep the body count down in the church.) They even learned Pachelbel Canon for me to walk down the aisle to. We decided on “Joyful Joyful” as our recessional song and they just didn’t think it sounded fun enough on guitar so we ended up using the version from Sister Act 2. Everyone was dancing down the aisle. I cry every time I watch the end of our wedding video with that clip.”
Describe your wedding day in five words or fewer:
“Brendan said, ‘Everything but our puppy.’ We missed him dearly on our big day since he’s such an important part of our family but there was no way puppy claws could be near the tulle on my Faye dress! PS—Oliver is almost 10 but he still acts like a puppy! I say, ‘Sun-drenched, love-filled day’.”
What was the funniest moment of your day?
“After Brendan’s dad gave a heartfelt and emotional speech, my dad started his speech with, ‘I’ve been around for ALL of the guys Katy has dated…’ Insert palm to face emoji here!”
What was your something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue?
“I didn’t really follow this tradition, but I did have a handkerchief around my bouquet from my mom’s best friend who was my babysitter growing up that kind of counted as something old, borrowed and blue.”
Three words that best describe your partner:
“Brendan is selfless, thoughtful, and fun. He says I am caring, goofy, and beautiful.”
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
“We were originally scheduled to go to Rhodes island in Greece on July 10th. When we had to postpone our wedding reception, July 10th was the day that worked for all of our vendors, so we canceled our trip. Since travel restrictions never got lifted, we couldn’t have gone anyways. Instead, we did a ‘mini-moon’ at Gordon Lodge in Door County, WI. Brendan has been going to Gordon Lodge with friends for years after one of his friends got married there. I was hesitant to plan anything since it wouldn’t be what we had hoped for with Greece, so Brendan took charge and planned a great mini-moon weekend. We had a lovely time in Door County social distancing and enjoying the scenery!”
Katy + Brendan’s Micro-Wedding Vendors
reception bridal gown: Faye by Lea-Ann Belter | ceremony wedding dress by Allure | photographer: Tribute Film Photo | bridal gown alterations: Maria Arteaga Studios | makeup: Beauty Unveiled by Tia | florals: Gary Newman Designs | catering: Double B’s BBQ Restaurant