Door County Couple Envsions a Local Wedding
As Door County business owners, Kelly Avenson and Elliot Goettelman knew they wanted their wedding to be locally sourced. “We also wanted it to be memorable and different, and to reflect our personalities,” said Kelly.
And as artists – Kelly is a photographer and Elliot a musician – they had a vision for their day. “But,” she laughed, “we’re also probably the most indecisive people in the world, but thanks to our friends and family, it all came together perfectly.”
The couple set out to plan their day with the help of an army of creative friends and can-do family. They chose a beautiful Door County Land Trust property overlooking the waters of Lake Michigan for their ceremony and the former Sturgeon Bay train depot as their reception site.
“The Depot had stood vacant for quite a few years,” said Elliot, “but it was such a cool space and a great location.” Elliot enlisted the help of his dad, Dirk, a jack- of-all-trades, to spruce the building up. “We worked together and got the place cleaned up and ready to go,” he added.
Their rehearsal dinner was held at Steep Creek Farm, a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm owned and operated by Elliot’s brother and sister-in-law, Adam and Meg Goettelman. Mason jars of flowers decorated long tables in the barn and children ran through the fields until well after sunset. Dinner was an informal buffet of brats and burgers and friends of Kelly’s from her hometown of Oelwein, Iowa brought a load of sweet corn from their farm to add to the feast.
The next day, a light rain abated just as Kelly walked down the grassy aisle carrying a bouquet of flowers that included broccoli from Steep Creek farm. She joined her groom while an acoustic duo, the Thompson Brothers, played stand up bass and guitar. After the ceremony, guests gathered around the back of a pickup truck and were treated to homemade mead and hard cider made by Paul Schnorr, a home brewer and friend of the couple. “Mead is a traditional wedding beverage,” says Schnorr. “It’s festive – kind of like a dry honey champagne.”
Meanwhile Kelly’s best friend, designer Katie Starr, used up-cycled pieces such as old typewriters, photos and lanterns to create a funky, intimate feel and decorated the depot in vintage style. “Everything we had we got from Katie’s garage or our garage or from friends, right down to the plates, silver and linen,” said Kelly. “We only had to rent the tables and the tent.”
The bride and groom arrived at the depot in a vintage 1971 Volkswagen Beetle with the wedding party close behind in a gleaming 1956 Chevy wagon. A buffet of Wisconsin cheese, homemade pickled veggies and fresh sushi made with local ingredients greeted the crowd. Craft cocktails and local beer quenched their thirst, and a “kissing booth” complete with vintage hats and props was set up to encourage photos. As guests mingled under the string lights in the courtyard, they could see the waters of Sturgeon Bay and the iconic shapes of the Bay Ship shipyard.
“It was really neat to have the reception right here in the heart of Sturgeon Bay,” said Dirk Goettelman. “It was a great tribute to Kelly and Elliot and what they stand for.”
Dinner was a smorgasbord of locally sourced, seasonal foods, with pulled pork and barbeque from Birnschein’s Door County Meats at the center. Caterers Judy Samida and Guy Fortin prepared all of the side dishes, using vegetables from Steep Creek Farm. Creamy broccoli bacon salad, colorful beets and tangy potato salad with mustard vinaigrette were loaded onto china plates at the buffet table. Fresh greens and Washington Island wheat bread rounded out the meal.
Music inspired partygoers all night long, from the Thompson Brothers, to the red-hot 10-piece band Wifee and the Huzzband, to rockers Adam Mackintosh and the Last Dancers who finished off the night. “We danced hard,” said friend Melissa Clark, “and we didn’t stop much!” There were no speeches that night, but there were plenty of songs as dancers belted along with their favorite tunes and got blisters on their feet.
And dessert? There were many children who approached the dessert table with awe and longing and a few parents were seen swatting eager fingers away from the icing before the cakes were cut. In lieu of a large white wedding cake, the couple chose a variety of cakes made by Jenna Kasten of Gourmet A-Go-Go, a Sturgeon Bay bakery and deli. Chocolate espresso, white cake with raspberry frosting and carrot cake were a few of the choices. “People had more options that way,” explained Kelly, “plus, we really couldn’t decide.”
The drinks kept flowing, and trays of barbeque were put back out later in the evening to keep guests satisfied. When the festivities finally wound down at 1 a.m., a good number of partygoers walked down Third Avenue to local watering hole Poh’s Corner Pub to continue the fun.
After the months of preparation and detail work, Kelly and Elliot enjoyed their day to the fullest. “I made a point to be there in the moment,” said Kelly. “I know that sometimes brides feel pressure to talk to every single person, but I wanted to enjoy it and dance with my husband.” And dance they did. “It was an incredible night,” said Elliot. “Everybody was there for us, and we felt the love.”