A Modern, Black-and-White Wedding at The Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin

Mary Ording and Ethan Hemer met through a mutual friend at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so they chose to wed where it all began. “Being back i

Mary Ording and Ethan Hemer met through a mutual friend at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, so they chose to wed where it all began. “Being back in Madison felt like the perfect ending of one chapter, and the amazing beginning of another,” Mary says. To represent Mary’s suburban upbringing in Indiana and Ethan’s more rural one in Wisconsin, guests’ welcome bags included state-shaped cookies, with hearts over Indianapolis (Mary’s hometown) and Medford (Ethan’s).  The most meaningful decoration at the couple's ceremony at Grace Episcopal Church was where the they stood to exchange vows—an area rug (a gift from Mary’s aunt). “Ethan and I love the idea of something so special living in our home,” Mary says of the area rug. After the ceremony, the party moved to the Edgewater, where the couple shared what they love about Wisconsin through food and drink: fried cheese curd appetizers and Wisconsin-style brandy Old Fashioneds. A coffee bar featured a maple nut latte, made with real Wisconsin maple syrup, with coffee from Roast Coffee Catering. The hotel was transformed into a classy “indoor garden” through greenery, ivory blooms, and a classic black-and-white color scheme. Tulips were used in honor of family, heritage and spring, which inspired the statement-making upside-down tulip “garden” on the ceiling at the Edgewater Hotel. “There was always this great connection between our family and our Dutch heritage, especially with tulips,” Mary says, adding that tulips make her feel close to her late grandparents, who had emigrated from the Netherlands via South Africa.  Wanting to reflect a true joining of two families, the couple displayed a wall of black-and-white family photos at the reception site, and the fathers of the bride and groom gave a speech together, taking turns telling stories. Says Mary, “It’s emotional for Ethan and me to think about how far we’ve come individually and how far we can go together.” —Chrissy Sorenson

Mary and Ethan's stationery suite included details about the rehearsal dinner and a postwedding brunch, in addition to their custom hashtag, #Ethangetsmaryed.
To represent Mary’s suburban upbringing and Ethan’s more rural experiences, guests’ welcome bags included state-shaped cookies, with hearts over Indianapolis, Indiana (Mary’s hometown) and Medford, Wisconsin (Ethan’s).
Mary, at 6-foot-3, had a hard time finding the right dress. “I’m a long human,” she says. “It isn't exactly easy to find a classic, simple, fitted dress.” The last gown she tried on had the top of a Rita Vinieris gown paired with the bottom of another, creating Mary's  one-of-a-kind dream dress. “I will never forget feeling so beautiful,” she says.
Mary added a pop of color to her wedding day look with a pair of jewel-embellished satin blue Manolo Blahniks.
Mary's midlength veil featured decorative horsehair trim, matching the horsehair lace on the bottom of her gown.
The bridesmaids wore long black dresses in styles they felt most comfortable in, from off-the-shoulder to spaghetti strap and halter top.
The groom and groomsmen kept it classic in black and white with gray ties. (The groom wore a darker gray-striped Burberry tie.)
Mary's aunt started a family tradition of buying an area rug for nieces and nephews when they get married. The couple exchange vows while standing on the rug, then take it home to serve as a reminder of the commitment they made to each other on their wedding day. “Ethan and I love this tradition and the idea of something so special living in our home,” Mary says.
Grace Episcopal Church opened in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1858, a Gothic sandstone structure attracting Presidents Grover Cleveland and Harry Truman and artist Georgia O'Keeffe.
A mix of gold-framed black-and-white photos from family weddings was displayed in the main gallery outside the ballroom, at the Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin, giving it a personal living room feel. “Without these wonderful examples of love, Ethan and I would not be who we are or love the way we do,” Mary says. “We are so grateful for them.”
An alphabetical seating chart simplified the process of guests finding their assigned tables. A wooden frame and a strand of greenery decorated the chalkboard, making it feel more wedding than school.
Ethan’s signature drink was a Wisconsin-style brandy old fashioned, while Mary’s was a gin-based Moscow Mule.
When looking for decor ideas, Mary fell in love with a statement piece of white tulips hanging upside down from the ceiling at the Edgewater in Madison, Wisconsin. “They looked beautiful, and I truly felt like my grandparents were there in spirit, an influential part of our day,” she says.
Tall calla lily centerpieces added height and dimension to the white and green floral theme, while an upside-down tulip garden on the ceiling served as a reminder of family, heritage and spring.
“Sarah of Cherry Blossom Events helped me discover my wedding-planning mantra, ‘Will I love this [decision, item, design] forever?’ And with this, the flood gates in my mind opened,” Mary says of the planning process. Black-and-white-striped ribbon added a touch of class to the place settings.
One of the fancy drink options in the coffee bar was a maple nut latte, made with real Wisconsin maple syrup.
The white cake featured one layer of gold and cascading black-eyed panda anemones (made from fondant). “Her attention to detail was amazing,” Mary says of Kim Wojcik of Creative Crumbs. “She truly hit it out of the ballpark.”