Ask Luke McNeese when he first met his new bride, Shelby Colwell, and he’ll say, “When we were in Boy Scouts together,” then laugh heartily.

It’s true. Shelby worked for Boy Scouts of America in Cedar Falls, while Luke worked for the organization in Wisconsin. They met at a training seminar in Dallas, Texas. Both were smitten.

The couple wed July 5, 2014, at Community Church in Hudson, followed by a reception at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cedar Falls.

“We wanted people to come and celebrate with us, to have fun and feel relaxed. It was important to have our family and friends share in our making that commitment to each other,” says Shelby.

Luke enjoyed being involved in the wedding planning. “I wanted to support Shelby and help her realize her dreams. I wanted us to have fun together and for guests to have fun. We take a fair-share approach to our relationship and did the same with our wedding. We both had tasks to work on, and we shared the workload as evenly as a bride and groom can,” he explained.

Shelby wore a Madeline Gardner dress and carried a bouquet of calla lilies and succulents. . “I wanted something simple, and I had an idea of what it would look like, but I ended up with something totally different. It had some beading and a train, definitely I wanted a train.”

The five bridesmaids wore purple, and the groomsmen were decked out in gray tuxedos with green ties.

As beautiful and heartfelt as the ceremony was, their guests were simply floored by the wedding reception. Connie Cizek and her crew at Petal Pushers Designs in Waterloo created party decorations and floral arrangements that pointed to the couple’s first meeting and love for outdoor pursuits.

“We were sitting at my dining room table, and I was trying to get to know Shelby and Luke, how they met at a Boy Scout camp and went canoeing. I wanted to intermix the outdoorsy theme. Wouldn’t it be cool to float a canoe above the head table? That’s where the ideas started,” recalls Cizek.

Although the canoe didn’t float above their heads (too difficult to stabilize for safety purposes), Cizek found a wrecked canoe while cleaning up their property along the river. She hauled out the half-canoe, along with an old tree stump and birch tree limbs that became part of a tablescape. There were also three-dimensional shadow trees designed by Cizek and fabricated by her husband and plenty of moss. Guests entered the setting to the sound of chirping crickets.

“I thought it was awesome. Connie and her staff had done an over-the-top perfect job. It reflected our lives together, and our family and friends could really connect with that,” enthuses Shelby.

Luke agreed. “Connie got it, she got us. She understood who we are, and she did what I expected her to do to create the look we wanted. So I wasn’t surprised to see how incredible it looked.”

Their wedding cake by Cakes by Isabel was created to resemble a birch tree, and cupcakes came from Scratch Cupcakery. After an elegant sit-down dinner and cake-cutting, Shelby and Luke’s first dance as a married couple was to John Mayer’s “Wildfire.”

“It totally fit our lives,” Shelby says.

Their “first look” at the beginning of the day, however, stands out as the perfect moment. “That was m favorite part of the day. It was the only time I got emotional,” Luke confesses.

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