Ben Yaucher has always been terrified of heights. He found himself facing this fear his sophomore year of high school, when he went on a leadership retreat as part of the student council. While anxiously waiting for his turn on the zip line, he stood in line next to a pretty blonde freshman. Despite his unease, Ben managed to use the adrenaline of the activity to build up the courage to talk to her. Her name was Shelby Sitorius, and about 10 years later, she would become his wife.
Due to the length of their courtship, Shelby and Ben had been talking about marriage for a while, though once he started shopping for rings, things started to move much faster. “I went in with the intention of looking. Two hours later I had purchased the diamond and the jewelers started making the ring,” reveals Ben.
Shelby knew that her boyfriend, a high school teacher, planned to spend his spring break in Chicago where she was attending graduate school. What she didn’t know was that he began laying the groundwork for his proposal when she visited him a week prior in their hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. “When I was home, Ben showed me a sweet note that one of his students had written to him. It said: ‘Dear Mr. Yaucher, I hope you have an amazing spring break and you get to spend a lot of time with your beautiful girlfriend,’” shares Shelby. When spring break finally arrived, Shelby picked him up from the train station and immediately wanted to call her mom to report that Ben arrived safely. “Ben told me that he had a story to tell me first, which – I now know – is because he didn’t want my mom to accidentally spoil the surprise. At the time, I was extremely confused because it was a really boring, pointless story,” laughs the bride. He told her she forgot something at his place when she visited, and handed her the student’s note again. Shelby was puzzled. “I thought it was sweet when he showed it to me, but it wasn’t something I felt I needed to keep forever,” she admits. That’s when she realized Ben had crossed off the word “girlfriend” and replaced it with “fiancée.”
Though the couple had a traditional Catholic ceremony officiated by the bride’s childhood priest, the nuptials also featured many personal touches. Ben played baseball in college and coaches the team at the high school where he teaches. Not only was the rehearsal dinner baseball themed, but the ring bearer also carried the rings – held by a handmade ring holder made from a baseball – in the groom’s glove. Ben and his groomsmen wore patterned socks similar to what Shelby’s father wore at his wedding to her mother. In the bride’s bouquet of ivory roses and ranunculus blooms were small charms featuring photos of her parents and grandparents on their respective wedding days. Shelby also wore her mother’s bridal veil, and the flower girl’s dress was made with the same lace and silk as the bride’s gown: an exquisitely structured dress with a scalloped neckline. “She is always beautiful, but I don’t know if I have ever seen a woman look and glow the way she did that day,” says the groom of his bride.
After the ceremony, the bridal party and guests traveled two blocks for cocktail hour at a lavishly decorated reception space. “The visual concept for the wedding was traditional with a fresh, current vibe – a modern supper club feel,” illustrates Shelby. A neutral, warm color palette of cream, camel, brown, soft grey, and matte gold filled the space. “Clear acrylic ghost dining chairs kept the room from feeling heavy and let the tables shine,” the bride adds. Conveniently, the mother of the bride is an interior designer and shares a similar taste with her daughter, making her a valuable contributor to the wedding-planning process. “Her vision of a supper club was translated perfectly into an atmosphere that could not have been more [gorgeous],” gushes Shelby. “The whole thing was beautiful,” adds the groom. “HMR Designs really outdid themselves [with the décor].”
For their toast, the bride’s younger sisters highlighted the couple’s early beginnings. “They told a story about a time in high school, where they were teasing me like all younger sisters do, and I told them that ‘it doesn’t matter, because there is a sophomore boy at [Joseph A.] Craig [High School] who likes me.’ The entire ballroom laughed,” remembers the bride.
Despite the formal décor, Shelby and Ben took a unique approach to the reception by getting the dancing started right after the bridal party was introduced. “[The band] played the first set and got everyone hot and sweaty and ready to celebrate! Waiters passed cold towels and the first course was served,” recounts the bride. Each course was followed by another set of dancing – an opportunity that Shelby took to change into a white party dress partway through the festivities. Ben really pushed for live entertainment, and he was quite pleased with how it turned out. “Since the wedding, our friends love to talk about the celebration, and the music is the first thing everyone talks about,” says the groom.
After slices of the five-tier buttermilk cake with crème brûlée, salted caramel, and raspberry fillings were enjoyed, revelers moved to a cocktail lounge area for an after-party. It was a full day for the bride and groom, but a happy one. “So much happens, from the moment that you wake up in the morning with your best friends to going to sleep next to your new husband,” muses Shelby. “Make sure to be fully present in the day and stop to enjoy the most important moments.”