Jeff Kessler didn’t do the traditional, down-on-one-knee proposal.

He asked Kelly Kauten to be his bride when they were stopped at the top of the double Ferris wheel at last year’s Iowa State Fair.

“I never suspected a thing. Somehow he got my grandmother’s wedding ring out of my jewelry box, and when he proposed he offered me the ring,” Kelly recalls. “My first response was ‘are you serious?” and then I kissed him and said ‘yes.’”

The couple tied the knot May 27 at Park Place Event Centre in Cedar Falls, in what Kelly describes as “a romantic fairy-tale version of a wedding.”

She wore an ivory Vera Wang dress. “For me, she designs the best examples of what a wedding gown should look like. They’re romantic, but not old-fashioned. I tried on two other dresses and saved my favorite for last. It’s fuller on the bottom, but not too full, and has beautiful beading.”

Her five bridesmaids wore identical knee-length, strapless dresses in pale beige with a decorative net overlay and beaded drop necklaces. Each carried a bouquet of roses. Groomsmen wore black Calvin Klein tuxedos from Milroy’s Tuxedos.

“I had an idea that I didn’t want a lot of color at my wedding. I wanted neutrals and a classic look so my wedding photos wouldn’t look dated years from now,” she explains, smiling.

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Flower girls wore blush pink — “a sweet color for little girls” — and the ring bearer was her eight-year-old Italian greyhound, Cole Haan Blueberry. “I found a doggie tux on the Internet and he carried the rings on a bone-shaped keychain. He did a very good job. We loved having him in the wedding because he’s family, too.”

Choosing the right flowers was probably one of her most difficult decisions. Working with the florists at HyVee in Cedar Falls, she finally arrived at a mixture of three roses in shades of ivory, pink and peach. Bouquet stems were wrapped in ribbon secured with pearl pins. At the guest book table, a bouquet of snapdragons, roses and greenery made an airy, sweet statement.

Decorations at the reception were a little rustic and antique, such as blue mason jars pressed into service as flower vases. The menu included a chicken dish, red potatoes and a strawberry-spinach salad, and a two-tier cake with a shimmer glaze created by Cakes by Isabel. There also were Scratch Cupcakery cupcakes adorned with thick frosting and white pearls.

Kelly, who works at EPI, and Jeff, a manager at The Other Place, danced their first dance to Ben E. King’s classic “Stand By Me.” For the rest of the evening, their guests danced to tunes spun by Ultimate Entertainment. An after-party took place at Spicolis Bar and Grill with music by Lick it Ticket. Jeff, a drummer, climbed on stage to play, too.

Several special moments stand out, she says. “There was the ‘first look’ moment, that was special. Then we were nervous about the first dance but when we started dancing, everyone else just seemed to melt away, and it was only the two of us.”

Their honeymoon was an Amtrak trip to Florida that took them on a route through Chicago and Washington, D.C. In Florida, they visited Disney World and SeaWorld and spent time on the beach. On the return trip, they spent a 10-hour layover in Washington visiting national monuments.


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