Stefany and Dan met in 2018 through a mutual friend. After Dan convinced Stefany to go out for drinks with him on his birthday (slick move), the two have been inseparable ever since. Stefany and her mom, Judy, own badass bridal shop All About the Gown in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Dan looks intimidating with a power lifter physique, tats up and down both arms, but he has the heart and soul of a teddy bear. This is absolutely evident whenever he’s with his girls, Stefany and their two pit bulls, Kady and Gemma. Stefany and Dan could not be more perfect for each other, and we hit it off instantly.
Stefany first called me in early summer 2022, sharing that they had booked their wedding date at venue Ashton Hill Farm in Galena, Illinois. My ears immediately perked up- Galena holds a truly special place in my heart, for many reasons. My husband’s family has a lake house in Apple River (where we also got engaged), 20 minutes east of Main Street, so I’ve been heartily indulging in Galena wine tastings, spa days and SHOPPING for 20+ years. While Stefany and Dan chose Ashton Hill Farm for its white and black aesthetic and gorgeous floor to ceiling windows, they needed some help with the rest of planning, being unfamiliar with the area. Enter moi.
From our first conversation on the phone, Stefany stressed that she and Dan wanted their wedding to feel like “them”, which is SO refreshing and exciting, because traditional “rules” don’t apply. Dan walked down the aisle to “Return of the Mack”. I toted a Giordano’s pizza from the burbs of Chicago for the Schafers to cut instead of cake, which they don’t like. Stefany organized THE single largest pickle bar I’ve ever seen. It was also 100% non-negotiable that the couple’s dogs, Gemma and Kady, be present for the party. Step one was finding an airbnb that was dog-friendly.
Stefany, Dan, the pups and their closest family and friends stayed at the Ulysses Suites, conveniently located in the heart of Main Street. Galena’s General Express brought Stefany, Dan and their dogs to Ashton Hill Farm separately, as they chose not to see each other until Stefany and her dad, Gary, walked down the aisle. Both from Chicagoland, Tamara Makeup + Hair Artistry glammed Stefany and her girls, and Okyne Medialab provided beats for the ceremony and reception. Stefany rocked two gorgeous gowns (obviously) by Rachel Rose Bridal, a form fitting stunner with feathers and ruffles for her ceremony, and a show-stopping, sparkling A-line complete with leg slit (and custom underwear! Who knew?!) for the reception.
Team Lake Geneva also represented for the Schafer bash. Kristina Lorraine captured all of the winter magic. Steph of Parker Drive Event Co. designed a clean, chic room complete with black chiavari chairs from Unique Events Iowa and gold flatware from Inside Decor Rental. One of her most fun ideas was a plush lounge setting where guests could leave a message for the couple on a vintage black rotary phone from Fete Fone surrounded by a cloud-like ring of baby’s breath. Wanting something a little more special than a traditional arch or grounded semicircle for their ceremony backdrop, Lilypots Event Floral created the most extraordinary “frozen flora” ceiling installation, where individually strung petals appeared suspended in mid-air. Since the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all took place in the same room, Stefany and Dan first exchanged vows underneath this breathtaking masterpiece before the room was flipped for dinner and the Head Table was staged underneath. Surrounded by 100 guests, Kady and Gemma padding around contentedly, Stefany and Dan danced (briefly, when I busted out a bubble gun for a photo op), drank and were married!
Cheers to the Schafers!
Expect a revealing behind-the-scenes look at actual Cheers! events and tips and tricks cultivated from over a decade's worth of a-ha moments and lessons learned.