For their August 2015 celebration, Shannon and Dave were dedicated to creating a day to celebrate their marriage with friends and family present.
The young couple had eloped just before Dave was deployed to Afghanistan, but knew they wanted to renew their vows in the presence of friends and family once he got home.
With that in mind, they planned the day, staging the wedding in the beautiful natural setting of Coon Valley, WI, was combining it with a casual dress code and plenty of entertainment — a surefire recipe for a fun, low-key wedding that guests will remember fondly for years to come.
Images of the day were captured by talented photographer Emily Steffen, who compiled a stunning catalogue of the happy day.
While the wedding was designed with the comfort and entertainment of the guests in mind, there was one piece of classic bridal tradition on display, beautifully preserved and given pride of place: the bridal gown.
Shannon wore a lovely ivory gown, with a sweetheart neckline, a sheer yoke, and romantic flounces of lace.
She tells LittleThings that, initially, she just planned to wear the same dress she wore when they eloped, but her sisters and cousins insisted that she try on Grandma’s dress.
She tells us, “It fit like a glove! It was like it was meant to be. Grandma’s eye’s lit up! She couldn’t believe it fit and she said ‘I was a dish!'”
The gown, classic and elegant, wouldn’t look out of place in the catalogue of a high-end bridal boutique today, but this particular frock has a history all its own.
In fact, the elegant dress is a vintage masterpiece, handed down by Shannon’s grandmother Carol, who wore the gown at her own wedding in the 1950s.
Grandma, looking positively delighted, posed with her granddaughter, and her own wedding portrait from decades earlier.
The two women were married almost 60 years to the day apart.
The lovely gown has held up well over the years, and thanks to a classic design is just as appropriate in 2015 as it was in 1955.
Fashion trends may come and go, but a traditional wedding dress will never go out of style, especially one that’s been carefully preserved to avoid yellowing and fading.
Shannon had a few minor alterations made, but otherwise, the gown needed very little work.
She tells us, “The dress was never even dry cleaned. We took it out of the hope chest, did a few minor alterations and steamed it. That was all! Grandma has style!”
We can’t help but agree! These two beautiful brides, several decades apart, look equally perfect in the fitted, flouncing gown.
Despite all of the excitement of posing for the picture, the overflowing emotion of the wedding day is very much present.
Grandma, dressed casually for the mellow, relaxed wedding day is visibly moved by the sight of her sweet granddaughter, all grown up and getting married in a dress that has been in the family for 60-some years!
Happy tears seem like a perfect way to celebrate nostalgia and new beginnings.
Fittingly, intergenerational joy and love seemed to be the themes of the day.
The wedding dress may have skipped a generation, but the excitement did not.
This lovely image captures the moment that the mother of the bride caught sight of her daughter in the beautiful family gown.
The mother of the bride even helped her daughter into the gown, carefully adjusting the long row of buttons up the back of the gown.
Shannon’s grandmother had four sons, and always wished for a daughter, but ultimately ended up with four granddaughters.
The sweet gesture of her daughter-in-law buttoning up the gown seems like the perfect bridge between the three generations.
In fact, though you can’t see her in this picture, four generations of women from the family were present for the wedding.
That’s because Shannon and Dave’s toddler daughter was also on hand for the festivities!
Wearing a little white frock to match Mama’s elegant bridal gown, this little one looks pretty certain that the whole party is for her.
And we imagine that it must have been extra-special for Shannon’s mother and grandmother to have their littlest addition as a part of the celebration.
During the romantic vow renewal, there was nary a dry eye in the house.
As Shannon walked down the aisle toward Dave, it was clear that everyone present was swept up in the joyful moment.
Grandma, already teary, must have been especially moved to watch her family grow.
Afterward, the newlyweds treated their guests to an open-air reception, beautifully staged.
The tables were laid with sprigs of wildflowers and bottles of wine.
Meanwhile, dramatic fairy lights lent a warm, festive glow as evening fell.
Pretty place settings proclaimed the day’s events for the convenience of guests.
We love the floral motif of the napkins, and how it blends perfectly with the mismatched florals of the dish ware.
Their overarching theme of pastoral beauty makes for a beautiful setting, and a casual, relaxed ambiance.
And, of course, every great wedding reception has dancing!
We particularly love this snap Steffen captured of the bride and her baby girl dancing together.
Sensibly, the baby girl changed into something more comfortable, but Mama sweetly sticks with her hand-me-down gown.
And when Shannon and Dave took the floor to dance together as husband and wife, their love for one another couldn’t be more clear.
These two look like their ready for a long and happy life together, and we wish them every happiness.
We can’t help but think that Grandma’s beautiful vintage dress will make for a lovely good luck charm!
If you love to see a wedding that’s mixing tradition with new beginnings, make sure you SHARE with any friends who love romance and fairy tale endings!