Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Rockford (Michael Cullen Photography photo)

A Bride’s Inside Guide to Local Venues

Of all the components that comprise a wedding ceremony and reception, few are as important – or as challenging to schedule – as the venue. Whether you dream of a Midwest destination wedding or a hometown setting, our area offers spectacular options.

Rockford Bank & Trust Pavilion, Rockford
Rockford Bank & Trust Pavilion, Rockford (ellAdele Photography photos)

Easy on the Eyes: Rockford Bank & Trust Pavilion, Rockford

From the moment Danae Savitski first met her husband Sonny, she knew the two would create lifelong memories together.

“I wanted to marry him almost as soon as I met him,” says Danae, of Stillman Valley, Ill. “He says he had this feeling from the start as well, but the process of getting to know each other over the next couple years confirmed everything we felt from the beginning.”

The couple initially met at City First Church in Rockford and through mutual friends more than four years ago, but their relationship took off when Sonny, of Rockford, visited Danae when she worked at Tavern on Clark in Rockford in November of 2015.

“I heard of his reputation and I knew he was humble and genuine, and when I got to know him, he had a great sense of humor and he was so easy to talk to,” Danae says. “He was also easy on the eyes.”

After they dated for just under two years, Sonny made his move on March 29, 2018. He asked one of Danae’s friends to plan a girl’s trip to Chicago. When Danae arrived in the city, she was surprised to discover Sonny waiting for her outside of Adler Planetarium, a breathtaking view of the Chicago skyline behind him.

“That’s where he proposed,” Danae says. “I was shocked. He says everything went exactly according to plan, except it was much colder than he anticipated, so he felt like he had to say what he was going to say quickly.”

The couple started searching for wedding venues, but at first didn’t find anything that spoke to them. Then they discovered the Rockford Bank & Trust Pavilion.

“We loved it because it’s in Rockford, we had the reception and ceremony in the same location and it checked off all of our other boxes,” Danae says. “The staff was so great to us from the start and they really worked with us on pricing. We knew it was the right spot.”

The Rockford Bank & Trust Pavilion features 5,500-square-feet of elegant space with a large stone fireplace, giant glass windows that overlook Aldeen Golf Club and an outdoor pergola.

It holds about 250 people for weddings and 300 for social events. The venue hosts 50 to 70 weddings each year, says Taneel Fraley, director of operations. Fraley suggests booking 10 to 14 months in advance. Danae booked about one year in advance.

The couple got married on June 8, 2019. Guests raved about the wonderful venue, Danae says.

“They loved it. Everyone was commenting on how beautiful the space was, inside and out,” she says. “It was convenient, it’s a great part of town and everything was easily accessible. It was an incredible experience for everyone, and most people had not been there before, so they were very impressed.”

Looking back, Danae says she wouldn’t change a thing.

“Our wedding was honestly a dream come true and the best day of our lives,” she says. “We wanted to enjoy every moment with each other and with our family members and best friends and that’s what we did. Everyone we worked with was incredible and we would recommend their services to anyone.” – JP

Ceremony: The Rockford Bank & Trust Pavilion, Rockford 
Music/DJ: Greg Saunders Big Day DJ, Rockford
Catering: Giovanni’s, Rockford
Photographer: ellAdele Photography, Rockford
Flowers: London Avenue Designs, Rockford
Bride’s Gown: Vera’s House of Bridal, Madison, Wis.
Hair of bride & mother of bride: Kayla Bucey, Rockford
Hair of bridesmaids: RD Artistry, Rockford 
Makeup: RD Artistry, Rockford  
Ceremony Arch: Built by Ben Carter, Rockford 
Videographer: Nate Carter, Rockford 
Cake: Stacy Lidvall, Rockford

Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront, Rockford
Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront, Rockford

Beauty & the Backdrop: Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront, Rockford

Rockford’s newest wedding venue is sure to be a gem, and a destination unlike anything else around. Set just off the Rock River in the former Amerock/Ziock building, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Rockford Riverfront & Rockford Conference Center taps into beautiful views of the riverfront and downtown Rockford, in a location that’s hard to beat.

When it opens in April 2020 along the Rock River, the Embassy Suites will be the only upscale lodging option within 3 miles of downtown – and it’s expected to be the largest full-service branded hotel in the area.

Boasting 160 two-room suites, the Embassy Suites is set inside a fully renovated 13-story, 233,000-square-foot factory built in the early 1900s along South Main Street. It’s located just blocks from Rockford’s premier dining establishments, The Main Street District, the BMO Harris Bank Center, the Coronado Performing Arts Center, the UW Health Sports Factory, the outdoor festival park at Davis Park, and much more.

Attached to Embassy Suites is the 13,000-square-foot Rockford Conference Center, a brand-new venue that can accommodate a wide variety of gatherings from beautiful weddings to conferences, meetings, symposiums and social events.

When it comes to nuptials, Embassy Suites can accommodate parties up to 550 with unique spaces for ceremonies, receptions and rehearsal dinners. Bookings are currently being accepted for 2020, and they’re filling up fast.

Additional amenities include two restaurants, a full-service salon and spa, a large fitness room, an indoor pool and whirlpool, and a golf simulator.

While the views along the Embassy Suites’ patio will be stunning enough, they’re even better on the rooftop, where you’ll find a cocktail lounge with two-tiered deck, a dining area and panoramic views of Rockford’s cityscape and riverfront – from 12 stories up.

To find out more about this brand-new Hotel & Conference Center, call (815) 668-7878 or go online to esrockford.com.

Embassy Suites by Hilton:
Two-Room Suites • Free Breakfast • Free Evening Reception
On-Site Dining • Plan an Event • Hilton Honors • Meetings & Events

Rockford Conference Center:
13,000-Square-Foot Social Events Venue • Capacity of 550 • Catering

Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center, Oglesby, Ill. (Hannah Persson photos)
Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center, Oglesby, Ill. (Hannah Persson photos)

A Weekend Event: Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center, Oglesby, Ill.

Aubrey Marks grew up in California, but was familiar with the small town of Paw Paw, Ill., where her dad lived. 
“We’d come back every Labor Day,” she recalls. During one of these annual visits, she met Kevin Johnson, a Paw Paw native. For him, it was love at first sight. The two developed a friendship, even though they lived far apart. 
When her dad fell ill in April 2017, Aubrey moved across the country to help take care of him. 

“It was such a difficult time, but Kevin was there for me every step of the way,” Aubrey says. “My dad completely recovered and Kevin and I fell in love, so it turned out to be such a blessing. We got engaged that September.”

Aubrey remembers the proposal being “magical and perfect.” During a beautiful fall day, the couple explored Kuipers Family Farm, in Maple Park, before going out to dinner. Meanwhile, Aubrey’s sister, Amanda, was busy with setting up decorations. 

“We got back to my dad’s house and Kevin said my sister had a surprise for me,” Aubrey recalls. “He led me into the backyard – where there’s cornfields as far as the eye can see – and when I opened my eyes there were twinkly lights and candles everywhere, and the prettiest pink sunset.”

Kevin got down on one knee, and Aubrey cried as she accepted his proposal. 

Initially, Aubrey booked a large cabin in Tennessee with the idea of making her wedding a full weekend event. But after having lunch at Starved Rock Lodge, in Oglesby, Ill., she revised her plans. 

“The second I walked in I just knew that this was the perfect place to have the wedding,” she says. 

That very day, she booked the venue for Dec. 15, 2018.

Once the wedding arrived, Aubrey was pleasantly surprised that her wish for a whole weekend event panned out. On Friday night, the guests gathered at the Lodge’s Back Door Lounge to enjoy live music, drinks and dinner. 
“It was so amazing to see all of my favorite people combined in one place,” Aubrey says. 

Guests stayed up late, enjoying the Lodge’s comfy couches in front of a large fireplace. 

The wedding day was a long and happy occasion, from mimosas in the morning to an afternoon ceremony at Saint Mary’s Parish to dancing the night away at the Lodge. 

“The whole experience was magical,” Aubrey says. “We had an open bar all night and it was so reasonably priced I couldn’t believe it. Once the reception ended, we all headed right back to the Back Door Lounge for another hour of fun, laughter and love.”

On Sunday, the newlyweds hosted a brunch for their guests.

“My whole dream of having everyone in one central place for a whole weekend perfectly came true at Starved Rock Lodge,” Aubrey says. “My husband and I stayed for a couple more days, and it was such a special way to start our new life together.” – LG

Ceremony/Catering: Starved Rock Lodge, Oglesby, Ill.
Ceremony: Saint Mary’s, Utica, Ill.
Photographer: Hannah Persson Photo, Wheaton, Ill. 
Lighting: SueZ’s Linens & Things, Blackstone, Ill.

Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford (Mark Peterson photos)
Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford (Mark Peterson photos)

A Second Home: Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford

The Burpee Museum of Natural History means a lot to Rachel Seger. While growing up in Rockford, she went to the museum often, especially for special events like Paleofest and the Burpee for Animal Hours. She was even there for the unveiling of the new location when the museum moved to Riverfront Museum Park. 

“It was like a second home to me,” Rachel says. 

So when she got engaged to Marc Ruiz – a Streamwood, Ill., native who she met through mutual friends – it was a no-brainer that they’d choose the Burpee for their wedding ceremony and reception. 

The proposal was simple, but sweet.

“We were at our home getting ready to run a few errands, and he just knelt down and proposed,” Rachel recalls. “He said he felt it was the right time.”

The couple were married on Nov. 17, 2018. They booked the venue a year in advance.

Rachel appreciated the way Burpee provided unique entertainment for wedding guests. 

“They were able to roam the museum while enjoying the wedding festivities,” she says. “Everyone had a wonderful time.”
The couple included some special dinosaur-themed touches in the decor in honor of the location.

Throughout the wedding planning process, Rachel relied on the Burpee staff to help with “anything and everything.” 

“They went above and beyond to help our day go off without a hitch,” she says. “The staff was very friendly and available to answer all the questions we had before and during the big day.”

The museum has a variety of rooms to utilize, depending on the total number of wedding guests. Rachel and Marc decided to host their festivities in the Mahlburg Auditorium, which impresses with high ceilings and large windows. The space, located right off the front entrance, is ideal for about 150 guests. 

Smaller rooms are available for more intimate weddings, while The Riverview Room & Terrace, located on the riverfront, can accommodate up to 250 guests.

Now that the Barnes Mansion has been restored to its Victorian glory, couples can use the space for photo shoots and/or pre-ceremony preparations.  

“I feel like most venues don’t offer those kinds of options,” Rachel says. 

The couple continued the magic of their wedding day with a honeymoon in Disney World. They’ll certainly be back to the Burpee Museum to make even more memories together. – LG

Ceremony/Reception: The Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford
Music/DJ: Flipside DJ Entertainment, Rockford
Catering: ABC Catering, Rockford
Photographer: Mark Peterson (bride’s brother-in-law)
Photobooth: Spotlight PhotoBooth, Rockford

Goldmoor Inn, Galena, Ill. (UnPosed Photography photos)
Goldmoor Inn, Galena, Ill. (UnPosed Photography photos)

Worth Every Penny: Goldmoor Inn, Galena, Ill.

Hannah Plickebaum knew her boyfriend, Jason, would propose to her, but she didn’t know when or where.

So, when Jason got on one knee and proposed to the girl he met at the University of Iowa in front of her entire family at Christmas, she was blown away.

“I thought he was going to do it in private, because he’s shy and a very private person,” Hannah says. “I also called him a butthead before answering.”

As she searched for a wedding venue, Hannah came across some photos of The Goldmoor Inn. She was hooked from that moment on.

“I saw the pictures online and I fell in love almost immediately,” she says. “After meeting [Birgit Radin, co-owner of The Goldmoor], I didn’t even want to look at other venues. She was amazing and the property was amazing. I was practically signing on the car ride home because I was so excited.”

To make sure they got the date they wanted, Hannah says the couple booked their wedding date about 18 months early.
“We set the date for June 22, 2019, since it was close to my late aunt’s birthday,” Hannah says. “It’s also my sister’s birthday, but she graciously let us share.”

The Goldmoor grounds can accommodate intimate weddings and elopements. The pavilion can hold up to 175 guests, and if it rains, protective sliding can be added. A roomy patio situated behind The Goldmoor overlooks a wooded area and the Mississippi River, which creates a perfect gathering space for cocktail hour.

A smaller gazebo that can fit up to 10 people can be used for elopements, and during the cooler months, The Goldmoor can host up to 50 guests for an indoor wedding.

Each spot on the property showcases sunning Galena landscaping that makes for a perfect wedding day backdrop.

Hannah says the guests who attended her wedding loved everything about The Goldmoor, especially the food.

“They were seriously amazed,” she says. “The property was gorgeous and the food was a hit. Every guest I spoke to was in awe of how perfect the food was.”

One of those guests who also gave rave reviews of the facility was Hannah’s mother, Sharon Murray.

“Everything was just as my daughter and her husband wanted,” Murray says. “I would highly recommend The Goldmoor Inn to any bride who’s looking for a perfect wedding venue.”

Hannah gives Radin and the staff at The Goldmoor a lot of praise because they made sure the day went according to plan.

“The entire staff asked what we needed and how they could make things better,” Hannah says. “I don’t think they let me worry about a single thing. When I mentioned to Birgit that I was scared of rain, she said, ‘Don’t be,’ in such a way that I was convinced that she’d keep the rain away herself.”

Hannah says getting married at The Goldmoor was worth every penny.

“They provide everything – it’s completely worth it,” she says. – JP

Ceremony/Reception/Catering: Goldmoor Inn, Galena, Ill.
Music/DJ: The After Party, Guttenberg, Iowa
Photographer: UnPosed Photography, Galena, Ill.
Flowers: Valley Perennials Florist & Greenhouse, Galena, Ill.
Bride’s Gown: Zazou’s Bridal Boutique & Tuxedos, Dubuque, Iowa
Hair/makeup: Tonic Salon & Day Spa, Dubuque, Iowa

Rockford Woman’s Club, Rockford (Mitch and Rachel Visuals photos)
Rockford Woman’s Club, Rockford (Mitch and Rachel Visuals photos)

Family Footsteps: Rockford Woman’s Club, Rockford

Chelsea Garrett and some friends from her church had a girl’s night in May 2016. The more her friends started talking about how great Tyrone, a fellow church member, was, the more curious Chelsea became.

“I made a comment and said, ‘If he needs a wife, let him know I’m available,’” she says.

What started as a playful joke slowly became a reality. Three months after that night with her friends, Chelsea was lending a hand at Auburn High School when she crossed paths with her future husband. Tyrone, who came to Rockford 12 years ago from El Paso, Texas, started a conversation with Chelsea, a Rockford native.

“What attracted me to him was his outgoing personality, and he was always kind to everyone,” Chelsea says.

Soon after that first conversation, the couple started dating.

“I never got bored and the conversations that we had were real,” Chelsea says. “I realized pretty early on that this was something special and he was something special.”

The couple went to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, with some friends in July 2017. That’s when Tyrone made his move.

“When we were settled on the beach, my friends wanted to take pictures,” Chelsea says. “Everyone was talking about a boat behind me, so I turned around to look. When I turned around, he was right there in the sand down on one knee.”
When it came time to find a wedding venue, Chelsea decided to follow in her parents’ footsteps and get married at the Rockford Woman’s Club. Her parents, Ann and Terry Gulley, exchanged their wedding vows at the same historic venue more than 30 years ago on Feb. 13, 1988. They’re still married to this day.

“I knew about the venue, but I’ve never been inside,” Chelsea says. “My mom suggested we go check it out, and I felt in love.”

Chelsea and Tyrone tied the knot on Oct. 6, 2018. The couple locked down the venue a year in advance.

The Rockford Woman’s Club boasts 100 years of architectural beauty. It has a large space upstairs for dancing and music in the Belle Keith Art Gallery. There’s a sunroom positioned just off the gallery, which could be used for photos or a quiet place to catch your breath. Right outside the gallery is a balcony, perfect for a bouquet or garter toss.

“The venue is gorgeous and needed very little decorating,” Chelsea says. “You don’t need to add a lot of decor because the venue has so many beautiful details already.”

Head down a grand staircase and you’ll find an elegant banquet hall that’s large enough to accommodate 175 people.
Chelsea credits the staff at the Rockford Woman’s Club for making their wedding day extra special.

“On the day of the wedding, we were their No. 1 focus and they made sure everything ran smoothly,” Chelsea says. “[Nancy Whitlock, president of the Rockford Woman’s Club] was truly the biggest blessing to us, and she made sure everything went smoothly. I was so happy she was a part of the day.” – JP

Ceremony: Rockford Woman’s Club, Rockford
Officiant: Gabe Zammit, Rockford
Music/DJ: DJ Inkobah, Rockford
Catering: Salamone’s, Cherry Valley, Ill.
Photographer: Mitch and Rachel Visuals, Rockford
Flowers: London Avenue Designs, Rockford
Bride’s Gown: Essense of Australia; purchased at Brides by Young, Schaumburg, Ill.
Cake and Cupcakes: Sugar Jones, Rockford
Makeup: Taylor Elaine Makeup, Madison, Wis.
Hair: Arch Apothecary, Rockford

Cliffbreakers Events, Rockford (Mindy Joy Photography photos)
Cliffbreakers Events, Rockford (Mindy Joy Photography photos)

Elegant & Affordable: Cliffbreakers Events and Conference Center, Rockford

Alanna Cieslek knew what she wanted, so she went after it.

Instead of waiting for John Kveton of Berwyn, Ill., to ask her out, Alanna, of Palatine, Ill., took the bull by the horns and asked John out when they were both students at the University of Illinois Springfield.

“We met through the dodgeball club and through mutual friends,” Alanna says. “John was president of the club, which caught my eye and we’re both very athletic. I’m so glad I listened to my intuition because once we started dating, all the pieces seemed to fall into place.”

After the couple dated for four years, Alanna knew she was ready to marry John. But, it took John an additional three years to pop the question. He proposed when the couple visited Portland, Ore., in the summer of 2017.

The couple rented a house and in the backyard was a garden with a beautiful archway. The first night in town, John asked Alanna if she wanted to get some snacks at the store. She agreed and John walked out of the room and into the backyard. Alanna went to the car thinking he was there. Once Alanna saw an empty car, she went looking for him.

“I saw a glimpse of him in the garden and I went over there thinking ‘what the heck is he doing?’” she says. “He took my hand and we went over to the bridge and he proposed. After saying ‘Oh my God’ several times in pure shock, I said ‘yes.’”

When it came time to select a wedding venue, the couple knew Cliffbreakers was the right place for the reception.
“Cliffbreakers oversees the scenic Rock River has an outside porch so guests can go outside if they want to, and mingle,” Alanna says. “It also has a ton of new renovations.”

Cliffbreakers allows couples to get married in an elegant setting without breaking the bank. All-inclusive wedding packages start at $59 per person and include hors d’oeuvres, meals and an open bar, says Andy Bridwell, general manager.

Last year, Cliffbreakers went through an extensive, multi-million dollar renovation, which included updated guest rooms along with refreshed ballrooms and corridors.

Bridwell says dates for 2020 are filling up fast.

Cliffbreakers can accommodate two weddings on the same day or host a large wedding for up to 800 people.

The stunning venue overlooks the Rock River, which makes for some beautiful wedding photos.

“We have some picturesque views of the Rock River, so it’s a natural setting,” Bridwell says. “This outdoor setting definitely sets us apart from other venues.”

Alanna and John married on June 23, 2018. They were the first couple to get married in the updated Cliffbreakers and the couple received rave reviews for their choice.

“Our guests enjoyed the food, drinks and atmosphere,” Alanna says. “People came up to me several times near the end of our reception telling me this was one of the best weddings they’ve been to.”

The staff at Cliffbreakers turned Alanna’s wedding dreams into a reality that ran smoothly and problem-free.
“It was the best day of our life,” she says. – JP

Ceremony: Anderson Japanese Gardens, Rockford
Reception: Cliffbreakers Hotel, Rockford
Music/DJ: Jeti Entertainment Wedding DJ Services, Rockford
Catering: Cliffbreakers Hotel, Rockford
Photographer: Mindy Joy Photography, Rockford
Flowers: John’s Mom, Jacqueline Wawrzyniak-Kveton
Bride’s Gown: David’s Bridal, Rockford

Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Rockford (Michael Cullen Photography photo)
Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Rockford (Michael Cullen Photography photo)

Surrounded by Beauty: Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Rockford

It was love at first sight when Megan Rush and Michael Buchman met.

“The person who actually introduced us is the same person who married us – our officiate Kyle Arwood,” Meg says. 
 During a trip to Colorado, Mike was able to pull off a big surprise. 

“We set off to hike through the park with a couple of our close friends. Toward the end of the hike, when the sun was setting, Mike dropped on one knee and proposed,” Meg recalls.

The rest of the trip was full of celebration. 

The Illinois natives looked for a wedding and reception venue close to home. They toured several places before deciding on Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden in Rockford.

“The main thing that drew us to this venue was the beautiful setting and privacy it provided,” Meg says. “We wanted it to feel like we weren’t even in Rockford during the wedding. We got married on June 15 and the grounds were absolutely amazing at that time.”

A flowing water fountain added a nice touch during the couple’s ceremony, which took place right on the grounds. Guests mingled indoors and out during the reception. 

“The patio was a pure delight for so many people,” Meg says. “If our guests got too warm outside, they just came back in to cool down.”

Meg encourages future brides to “just ask” if they have any questions while planning a wedding at Klehm Arboretum. 
“They’re eager to help with whatever you need,” she says. – LG

Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, Ill. (Luis Hermosillo photo)
Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, Ill. (Luis Hermosillo photo)

Picture Perfect: Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, Ill.

After 2.5 years of dating, Seth McCammond was ready to propose to Marta.

The couple had met while working at a pet store.

“We clicked right away,” Marta says. “Talking to each other was easy – we had similar interests and the same sense of humor.”

On March 12, 2016, Seth organized a family game night at his parents’ house. His siblings and grandparents were there, in addition to Marta’s family. During a game of Pictionary, it was Seth’s turn to draw and Marta’s turn to guess.

“I wasn’t able to figure it out,” Marta recalls. “I happened to look up and everyone’s phones were out – weird – but I started to guess again. He drew a hand, a circle, a ring… ‘Oh! It’s a ring!’”

The guess was correct, and both families cheered.

“I looked back to Seth and he was down on one knee, with a box in his hand and a gorgeous sapphire ring inside it,” Marta says. They both teared up as she accepted his proposal.

The couple were married on Sept. 23, 2017, at Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, Ill. Their ceremony was held under two trees that formed a natural arch on the front lawn, and their reception was held at the Jarrett Prairie Center in the newly renovated museum and on the 2,600-square-foot wrap-around deck that overlooks 400 acres of prairie.

“The Jarrett Prairie Center was great for the reception because it offered indoor and outdoor spaces,” Marta says. “Our guests could go inside to cool down and get drinks, while the deck offered fresh air and picturesque views of the prairie.”

To make things even better, the sun was setting during their first dance as a married couple.

“The Byron Forest Preserve staff were always available to answer questions and go over all of the details,” Marta says. “Just step outside on the deck and take in that wonderful view. You’ll be sold right away.” – LG

The Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Club, Rockford (Nikki Kate Photography photos)
The Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Club, Rockford (Nikki Kate Photography photos)

A Fairway of the Heart: The Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Club, Rockford

Sabrina Schlupp never imagined herself a Midwestern girl. Born and raised near Daytona Beach, Fla., she was always a sun-and-summer kind of girl. And besides, she was looking for a serious relationship. But her friend Justin was so persistent about setting her up with his friend that, in 2015, she finally caved in and agreed to meet “the golfer.”

That golfer was Andrew, a PGA pro from the Rockford area and a wintertime transplant in Jacksonville, Fla. Though he’d been working for Rockford’s The Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Club in the summers, his ultimate ambition was to stay in Florida.

Something clicked at Andrew and Sabrina’s first meeting. “It just worked,” says Sabrina, who was drawn in by his outgoing attitude and their shared sense of humor.

“I remember one of the first times we talked on the phone, after he went back to Illinois, the first thing I heard was him singing Adele,” she recalls. “It was hilarious. I was like, ‘I kinda like it.’”

Three years later, Andrew was working as a golf pro at a Florida course when Sabrina, a school teacher, suggested they take advantage of her three-day weekend. They quickly arranged a trip to Savannah, Ga., where they could take a helicopter tour they’d gotten for Christmas.

But Andrew had a little more in mind. For almost a year, he’d been hiding a precious little box in his house.

The pair were preparing to board the chopper when a couple of photographers started taking pictures. Andrew got down on one knee. “It was just the way I wanted it,” says Sabrina.

Andrew comes from a large family, so it seemed natural to get married in Rockford. The pair searched a number of popular venues, but nothing seemed like the right fit. For fun, they stopped by Mauh-Nah-Tee-See.

Opened in 1926, the club provides a scenic backdrop for weddings, with a banquet hall that seats up to 300 people and overlooks the rolling hills of northeast Rockford. It’s available to members and nonmembers alike.

“You can see all of the golf course from there,” says Sabrina. “There was fresh snow on the ground, and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s so pretty.’ And I wasn’t used to snow. I just loved it.”

Picking the right ceremony space was a little trickier. Andrew wasn’t so sure they could do it at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See. So, Sabrina grabbed a friend and asked anyway. “They said they’d talked about it, but had never done it before. And they’d never had anyone who was so adamant about doing it,” she laughs.

Andrew and Sabrina were married on June 15, 2019, just off the 10th green at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See, beneath a tree the grounds crew trimmed just for the occasion. Following the ceremony, the wedding party hopped aboard a caravan of golf carts.

Sabrina sings the praises of events coordinator Dana Bauerlein, whose rapid responses during the planning phases put the long-distance bride-to-be at ease. It was also those little touches – chair covers, delicious food, planning for rain – that made the day a dream.

“I could go on forever,” Sabrina says. “It was such a beautiful day.” – CL

Ceremony, Reception, & Catering: The Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Club, Rockford
Photographer: Nikki Kate Photography, Chicago
Chair Rentals: North Park Rentals, Mvachesney Park, Ill.
Hair & Makeup: rdArtistry, Rockford
Flowers: Nothing Bundt Cakes, Rockford
Cake: Aurelio’s Bake Shop, Sterling, Ill.