A Glittery, Boozy Illinois State Park Wedding

Set to the sound of Queen

Jessica, Laboratory Technologist & Austin, Network Engineer

One sentence sum-up of the Wedding Vibe: A sequin and floral extravaganza put together by our closest friends and family.

Soundtrack for reading: “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen

Other Cool Stuff We Should Know About

Our wedding was the culmination of sixteen months of hard work and planning. Jessica did a majority of the planning while going to nursing school full-time and working part-time as a laboratory technologist. It was a huge undertaking, but looking at sequin table runners and taste-testing wedding cakes was a bright spot in the midst of her chaotic life. Austin worked hard and we both saved enough money to pay for the wedding ourselves, with help from our friends and family with the food and catering.

There were a lot of sentimental touches in our wedding that made it feel like ours. First, my grandmother had the most beautiful engagement ring. When I knew Austin and I were nearing engagement, he asked me about my taste in rings. Everything he showed me I compared to that ring. I didn’t completely realize I was doing it. Austin asked my mother if he could give the ring to me as my engagement ring, and with the blessing of my aunt and the family it was mine to treasure. From there we chose our date, the day before my parents’ wedding anniversary and my grandmother’s birthday. It was a perfect way to honor them both.

We made several crafts and did a lot of DIY and DIT. Austin and I constructed the ceremony backdrop out of paper fans and gold bird confetti from BHLDN. That is my favorite craft from the whole wedding. It looked so spectacular. Jessica’s father made all of the meat for the wedding (we only needed meat for one hundred, but in his typical fashion he made enough for three hundred). Our friends and relatives made the sides and did all of the catering. That was an enormous undertaking, but it was so well executed and we appreciated it tremendously. We provided an open bar stocked with Absolut cocktails, since we are big fans of the recipes and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

We developed an amazing relationship with our florist, Corry, and she saw the exact vision we had for flowers. She also told us we could supplement her flowers with any we had growing at the time. We put the message out to all of our friends and family that we were looking for peonies. They happened to be in full bloom the week of our wedding. Two days before our wedding, we drove all over the Quad Cities tracking down peony leads. We ended up with six buckets of them; doubling the amount we had available for our reception. It was a wonderful way to spend that day together. It was nice distraction that had a huge payoff in the end. Corry was ecstatic and went crazy with all the extra flowers. She sent me pictures of the bouquets the night before the wedding and I cried because they were so beautiful.

Once the day was here, it was literally out of a dream. The reception venue was more beautiful in real life than I ever could have imagined it would be. I had made extensive lists for setup, but it was left to Austin, the groomsmen, and some family members to execute it. Wow, did they do an amazing job. More happy tears. My cousin, Will, officiated the ceremony Austin and I had written together. The ceremony was beautiful and easily my favorite part of the day. There were about twenty guests in attendance. It was so personal and intimate. After the ceremony, we had a larger reception with all our friends and family. The food was spectacular. The drinks were pretty and delicious. The dance party was a blast. I remember every little bit of that day so fondly. Oh, and at the end of it all Austin took my last name and we are married. How cool is that?

Favorite Thing About the Wedding

Austin isn’t terribly sentimental, but we both wanted to write our own vows. I was astounded when I heard his. They were poetry he had written. The most lovely words any man has ever said to me. I loved reading him mine as well because they were the most earnest heartfelt promises I could make to him, and that’s really what this day was all about.


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  • emmers

    This made me tear up: “Austin isn’t terribly sentimental, but we both wanted to write our own vows. I was astounded when I heard his. They were poetry he had written. The most lovely words any man has ever said to me. ”
    Congratulations. Wishing you a lovely and happy marriage.

    • ART

      I loved that part, too!

  • Ally

    Yes! Loving the sparkles! Also that song is great and will be stuck in my head for the rest of the day…we had it on our reception playlist as well :)

  • AndThenISawStars

    I want one of those bridesmaids dresses!! I’d live in it! Can anyone point me to the brand name?

  • Gina

    Everyone is crying happy tears! I love it. This is the first time I’ve teared up looking at pictures of a stranger’s wedding. Congrats!

  • Emily

    All of the weddings featured on here are wonderful, but for some reason this one is special. Maybe it’s the ring story which is very similar to my own, or maybe it’s just those bridesmaids dresses (ALL OF THE SPARKLE). Love it!!!

  • Brooke

    Yay! So excited to see a Midwestern wedding here! Everything looks lovely.

  • Nell

    Where did your glittery votives come from? They’re adorable!

    • Jessica Vann

      They are mercury glass actually. They looked awesome. I bought them at a wedding swap.

  • vegankitchendiaries

    From one bride who went apeshit with gold sequins to another… Congratulations! Sequined to the nines and classy as hell, good work! I especially love your gold glitter bunting. :)

    Everyone looks so happy in your (very beautiful) photographs… I like to think it always bodes well for a new union when people can’t shut off the happy tears xx

    • Jessica Vann

      Bahaha. People were very skeptical of my sequin hoarding during the planning phase. I don’t think they anticipated using the word classy to describe my wedding, but BOOM, there it is.

      Thank you for the well wishes! <3

      • vegankitchendiaries

        I was skeptical of my own glitter hoarding, to be honest. On rough days I’d look around the living room thinking over and over again… IS THIS TACKY?! But once you get the bright flowers mixed in, I think it really looks awesome.

        I forgot to add, that last picture of you bouquet-throwing is just the best! <3

        • Jessica Vann

          I also questioned myself with the gold glitter/sequins. “How much is too much?” “Where is the line?” “IS there a line?” Haha. I knew that I would look back on my wedding pictures and smile (hopefully) at how beautiful the day was. If not that, then I would smile at all the hard work we clearly put into it and how committed I was to my crazy floral/sequin dream.

  • HannahESmith

    Those bridesmaids dresses! LOVE!

  • KitBee


    Also, I love the Queen soundtrack! “Don’t Stop Me Now” must definitely be played at my (as yet hypothetical) wedding reception!

  • JDrives


    So many lovely photos, thoughtful and beautiful details, and happy tears. Bravo on what must have been a tough time planning, and many congratulations!

    • Hannah B

      like i want one of them, for my life.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Those cakes look so yummy

    • Jessica Vann

      The top tier that we ate was chocolate peanut butter caramel…I know, you got diabetes just from reading the name. The cakes were spectacular though. All fun flavors.

  • AR

    Beautiful!!!! And the groom taking the bride’s last name? Totally AWESOME!!! Congratulations to you both.

    • Jessica Vann

      Thank you so much! I landed a pretty cool open-minded guy. ;)

      • Jessie

        Jessica – My fiance flat-out hates the idea of a woman taking a man’s last name, I think our two names hyphenated is waaaay too long, and he says he likes my last name and would be happy to take it. I wouldn’t mind keeping my name, but I am so worried about what people will think. Have you experienced any backlash or issues? I am very nervous about people thinking I “made” my fiance take my name, when in reality he is the one that mentioned it and is trying to make it happen.

        • Jessica Vann

          My husband decided to take my last name before we were even engaged. He isn’t particularly close with any of his family and none of them attended our wedding. It seemed like the obvious choice for him to take my name since we both wanted the same name and he hates the idea of hyphenating. He never thought twice about it.

          However, I do live in the Midwest and I live in a town of small-to-moderate size. Lots of farm influence. When we first got engaged everyone asked me what my new last name would be. When I repeated to them my same last name, they were just blown away. Lots of comments about how I have him “whipped” already or whatever. To friends and family I would explain why we made the choice and everyone was fine with it. My dad thought it was awesome. Like Austin was honoring my dad by taking his name. My whole family was supportive of it.

          Also, every now and again I would mention the name thing to an acquaintance and get a high five or a really positive comment. That always made me happy and realize that not everyone is so binary when it comes to last names and that it doesn’t have to be such a radical thing to have a man take his wife’s last name.

          One weird thing I did encounter deals with legality. In some states, a man cannot simply take his wife’s last name through marriage. He would have to initiate a legal name change and go through the courthouse and what not. We got married in the state of Illinois and that is their law. The lady at the County Clerk’s office was very rude with how she informed us of this, I might add. “You can’t do that here!” was her response. We live in Iowa though and they allow either partner to change their last name with marriage without applying for a legal name change. Illinois may want to reconsider their law since they now allow same sex marriages. This would make things difficult for lesbian couples if they weren’t allowed to take their spouse’s name because of some outdated law.

          I hope your fiance will think about it and do what is best for you two as a couple and a family. The opinions of others doesn’t really matter as long as you are happy and he wants to do the paperwork. =P

          • Jessie

            Thanks Jessica! I really appreciate the info. It’s sad that you got some negative reactions, and I can’t wait for it to be the “new norm” for a couple to choose to share EITHER of their last names as their new family name. I think you are correct that the LGBT movement might help with that. Your wedding turned out beautifully. Congratulations! On a side note, I’m in Dallas now but grew up in Mt. Vernon, a small town near Cedar Rapids. Love, love, love to see some fellow Iowans looking so happy!

  • Let me just chime in here quick–Jessica and Austin were absolutely a DREAM to work with on their wedding day. Everything about the day and them as a couple was literally perfection.
    Plus, him taking her name? THE BEST THING EVER. I’ve told so many people about this and so many people have been like, “Umm…duh, that’s amazing, why didn’t I think of it?!” It’s so flippin fantastic.
    So excited to see this up on APW and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy again. Yeah, Jessica and Austin!!!

  • Stacy {Woodsy Weddings}

    The bridesmaid dresses are amazing. The gold glitter is such a fantastic choice and blends into the nature of the park seamlessly.

  • nickflyer

    I have nothing but the best of wishes for yourself and Austin! I’ve been wondering what/where you’ve been years now… and, now that I know a little, I’m finally relieved to see that you’re doing well enough. In fact, I’m elated! Congrats on the BSN, graduate school, marriage, house, passing your boards, and all else that I’ve missed. LuLz. I’m glad you realized that you’ve had it in you all along… =)

    To many more such years for us both!