Timeless & Romantic Wedding Inspiration

Vintage Weddings

Grandma’s Wedding Dress for a Heartwarming Elopement Celebration


After eloping a few months earlier, Shannon & Dave planned the most fabulous family celebration filled with meaningful traditions, favorite recipes (grandmas pies made the perfect desserts) and loads of love – including a very special moment for Shannon and her Grandma Carol! Luckily the wonderful Emily Steffen was there to photograph every moment, smile and tear…..

Grandma's Wedding Dress for an Elopement Family Celebration

“Grandma’s first glimpse of Shannon as she came around the corner wearing her 60-year-old wedding dress brought her to tears,” remembers Emily “Her hand clasped over her mouth and her eyes filled with tears as she looked at her husband out of the corner of her eye. Grandma couldn’t get the awe and wonder off her face the rest of the night…she was elated that Shannon chose to wear such a precious piece of her story into the beginning of their own! :)”

Lush with greenery, tall trees and the most wonderful open spaces for celebrating under the twinkling stars of a warm Summer night, Norskedalen was the perfect location for the couple’s relaxed and rustic big day. I will let bride Shannon tell you all about it, and the heartfelt details of their classic vintage wedding…..

“We chose  Norskedalen Nature Center in Coon Valley, WI for our venue.  I found pictures online of a wedding that I could only dream of with green lawns and sky high tress.  After further research, I found out it was a nature center and that they hosted weddings there.  We had actually planned to get married by the pavilion but then we walked the grounds and stumbled upon the arboretum.  The tress were breathtaking and our decision was made right then and there.”

Blue Floral Wedding Invitations // Photography ~ Emily SteffenPeach and White Bridal Bouquet // Photography ~ Emily SteffenVintage Inspired Groom in Suspenders // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

“My dress was arguably the biggest part of our wedding celebration.  It was my paternal grandmother’s 60 year old wedding dress that she purchased for $110 – that was a lot of money back then!  When my sister and I used to play over at grandma’s house with our cousins, all of us girls were in awe of grandma’s dress and the huge perfectly framed picture of her seated wearing it. 

A little background: My grandmother is the quintessential definition of “grandma”.  Her house always smelled of the food she was cooking. She was hard-working and tough.  My fondest childhood memories were at my grandma’s house.  I always felt welcome there and most importantly, I felt safe there.  So I couldn’t do her any greater honour than to showcase her wedding dress 60 years later. She only saw me in it for the first time as I walked down the aisle and her expression was priceless – every guest talked about it for the remainder of the day.”

Bride in Vintage Wedding Dress // Photography ~ Emily SteffenBride in Vintage Wedding Dress // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

“Our color palette was simple: navy blue and cream, with pops of coral accents. My bouquet of roses, ranunculus, peonies, white Veronicas and ferns, as well as our floral arrangements, was created by Wild Apples in Baraboo, WI.”  

Vintage Blackboard Wedding Sign // Photography ~ Emily SteffenVintage Outdoor Wedding Ceremony Seating // Photography ~ Emily SteffenWedding Guests // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

“Since we were already technically married, I walked down the aisle alone (my choice).  One of my favourite pictures of myself from the day was me waiting for my cue to start walking.  I am surrounded by greenery and I am looking down at my flowers.  I looked exactly how I wanted to look.  The actual walk was a blur.  Once I stepped out of the greenery, everyone could see me walking, including Grandma Carol who had yet to see the dress.  My sister fluffed my dress as I emerged and I heard her start sniffling and I almost lost it right then.  I instead put on a perma-grin and zeroed in on David at the end of the aisle.  If I had looked at my grandma, I would have broken down immediately.  Luckily I had Emily Steffen to capture her expression, which was amazing!”

Bride's in her Grandma's Wedding Dress // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

“Hands down my favourite moment of the day was my Grandma’s reaction to my dress. Even though I was too emotional to look at her immediately, I saw her reaction in the photos and when she gushed about it after the ceremony. It made her entire year and I can’t think of a better way to honour one of the most important women in my life. She truly helped shape the person I am and showed me the type of woman that I want to be.”

Grandma's First Look // Photography ~ Emily SteffenGrandparents at a Wedding // Photography ~ Emily SteffenGroom & Mother of the Groom // Photography ~ Emily SteffenOutdoor Wedding CeremonyWedding First Kiss // Photography ~ Emily SteffenHusband & Wife // Photography ~ Emily SteffenRomantic Wedding Portraits // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

“Our reception was at the same place as the ceremony – Norskedalen Nature & Heritage Center in Coon Valley, WI.  We just wanted everyone to have fun and enjoy themselves and the grounds. It was decorated almost single-handedly from rentals from A La Crate Vintage Rentals out of Monona, WI.  We had rented their harvest tables, vases, brass candle holders, vintage mix and match plates, etc.  The room would have been an empty shell without their help.  We added touches of our own with navy & cream polka dot napkins, white cheesecloth runners and greenery from Wild Apples.”

Rustic Wedding Reception Venue // Photography ~ Emily SteffenRustic Wedding Reception Venue // Photography ~ Emily SteffenRustic Wedding Reception Venue with Greenery // Photography ~ Emily SteffenGreenery Wedding Decor // Photography ~ Emily SteffenVintage Wedding Menu // Photography ~ Emily SteffenRustic Wedding Reception Venue // Photography ~ Emily SteffenRustic Wedding Reception Venue // Photography ~ Emily SteffenWedding Reception // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

“We did have a very small wedding cake just to have something to cut, which was made by one of David’s 5 sisters, Alaina. But the real desserts were homemade pies made by both of my grandmas.  To be honest, I was a little upset that I didn’t even get one piece of pie but I guess it is a testament to how good they were if there was none left!”

Bride & Grandma // Photography ~ Emily SteffenWedding Pie // Photography ~ Emily SteffenCute Ringbearer // Photography ~ Emily SteffenBride, Groom & Daughter // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

Pearls of wedding wisdom from the bride…

“”Make the day about you.”  I think brides and grooms get caught up in the fact that since they are inviting all of their family and friends that they have to cater to everyone.  For example:  we were actually worried that people wouldn’t come because we chose a venue that was a long drive on windy roads.  After much discussion, we decided this was our wedding and our vision and people will come if we are important to them.  We continued that thought process the rest of our wedding planning journey. 

“You can’t please everyone…so don’t try!”  We ran into many tough decisions in the planning stage such as doing a mother-son/father-daughter dance, having dad walk me down the aisle, getting married in a church, etc.  Not everyone agreed with every decision we made but we couldn’t worry about that.”

Wedding Lighting // Photography ~ Emily SteffenOutdoor Wedding Reception // Photography ~ Emily SteffenOutdoor Wedding Reception // Photography ~ Emily SteffenOutdoor Wedding Dance Floor // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

Tell us a little bit about your photographer…

Emily Steffen was a recommendation from my sister Dani Stephenson who’s a wedding photographer.  She would have been my photographer if I hadn’t wanted her to enjoy the day instead of taking photos 😉  I took one look at Emily’s blog and I booked her.  Because my sister is a wedding photographer, I know what wedding pictures I like.  It was an easy choice.  Besides her fabulous photography, Emily is so full of energy and life I couldn’t imagine our day without her.  She did everything we asked her to (and more!) and she did it without even interrupting our day.  I think at one point I asked her if she had taken enough pictures of my details and she said she got everything.  When I saw the finished photos, she did not disappoint.”

Romantic Wedding Portraits // Photography ~ Emily SteffenFamily Wedding Portrait // Photography ~ Emily SteffenBride wearing her Grandma's Dress with Grandma // Photography ~ Emily Steffen

A huge congratulations to the lovely Shannon & Dave, and big hugs to Grandma Carol! I must also add a heartfelt thankyou to them, and their photographer Emily Steffen, for allowing me to share their special day here on Chic Vintage Brides. If you love these photographs and would like to see more of Emily’s work do head over to her website www.emilysteffen.com. And be sure to find and follow her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

If you love the relaxed rustic style of Shannon & Dave’s celebration and are looking for more inspiration for your own big day, then you might want to take a peek at this colourful country meets city celebration and the glamorous rustic affair of designer Anna Campbell is one not to be missed – it is simply stunning! Or if you’re after something a little more seasonal, then I think you might like this Autumn wedding inspiration shoot in cobalt & crimson, and this elegant inspiration board in a palette of serenity blue and neutrals is heavenly.





Contributors & Credits

Photography ~ Emily Steffen Photography // Wedding Dress ~ Vintage Family Heirloom from Grandma // Floral Design ~ Wild Apples // Wedding Invitations ~ Minted // Bridal Shoes ~ White Toms // Hair & Makeup ~ Ultimate Salon, LaCrosse // Band ~ Double Talk, LaCrosse WI // Venue ~ Norskedalen Nature Center // Plates & Serving Ware ~ Vintage // Decor ~ A La Crate Vintage Rentals