Newlywed Wisdom: 31st Edition
By Heather Dornhecker, The Bridal Guide, 31st Edition

Michelle Kuhlman first met David Harbecke at the end of her senior year of high school. Three and a half years later, on August 24, 2008, she walked down the aisle of First Baptist Church of Sycamore and officially became Mrs. (David) Harbecke.

Michelle is the daughter of Jennifer Kuhlman of Sycamore and Ven Kuhlman of Maple Park. David is the son of Ellen and Roy Harbecke also of Sycamore.

Michelle married David in a satin A-Line dress with beaded lace on tulle overlay below an empire bodice accented with a bow. Her fingertip veil repeated the beaded lace of the dress. Both were purchased from David’s Bridal in Rockford.

Her bridesmaids wore casual, canary yellow, mid-calf dresses that echoed wedding colors of yellow with green accents. The bridesmaids were each encouraged to choose a style of dress that enhanced her personality and body type.

The groom and his groomsmen wore Calvin Klein tuxedos on the long-awaited day, from Ducky’s Formal Wear in DeKalb.

Michelle walked down the aisle holding a casual country-style bouquet arranged of wild flowers in beautiful colors. Her bouquet was overflowing with Daises, in particular Gerbera Daises, and was quite stunning.

The beautiful bride also walked the aisle wearing a cameo ring from her grandmother that had been passed to her from an aunt. The cameo ring had sentimental meaning for both Michelle and her grandmother.

“Our pastor, Steve Persson, delivered a very personalized ceremony that was special to the both of us and our families. We will never forget it,” Michelle explained. The couple also had a good friend, Drayton Eggleson, sing “Center.”

Not only was their wedding both beautiful and memorable, but unique as well. “We left the church in a huge tractor which was the highlight of the evening. Our friends and family are still talking about it,” Michelle added. The couple reported that strangers stopped on the side of the road to take pictures of them as they drove through town.

David’s family has been farming in Illinois for many generations through well over a hundred years. Michelle added, “Weddings are certainly scheduled around planting seasons, oh, and church softball games! Because it is such an important part of his life and now mine, we felt it was important to take some of the wedding pictures around the family farm. The pictures turned out great and we loved riding from the church in the tractor.”
The Artistic Edge Photography, now in Rockford, and formerly of DeKalb, captured this memorable night for the Harbecke’s and their guests. Michelle felt that Jennifer of Artistic Edge Photography took many creative shots that turned out beautifully. “We love every one.”

Katie Applebee, of Dolce Vita Spa and Salon in DeKalb, styled Michelle’s and her bridesmaids’ hair for the wedding. In keeping with her intention to encourage her bridesmaids to show individual personalities, each bridesmaid selected a style to complement her dress.

Their wedding rings were purchased at Robbins Brothers. Michelle has a 3-stone setting in platinum representing the past, present and future, while David’s ring was made to shatter on impact for his own safety while working on the farm.

“David selected the wedding invitations from Ducky’s Formal Wear, DeKalb, and they looked great,” complimented Michelle.

Who says the bride and groom are the only ones allowed to be nervous on the big day? A flower girl decided that the walk down the aisle was just too intimidating. Luckily, the Harbecke’s had a quick-thinking usher. He took her hand and stooped to shorten his 6’3” frame down to her 3’ to avoid towering over her. He walked with her down the aisle, bouncing the basket of flower petals causing them to be distributed perfectly along the long white carpet. “It was a beautiful sight that we will all remember. To his embarrassment, we continue to praise him for his flower girl capabilities,” Michelle laughed.

The guests were welcomed to the reception, held at Riverside Receptions in Geneva, with homemade party favors. The couple wrapped boxes in yellow gingham paper and filled them with homemade cookies prepared by Michelle’s mom, Jennifer. The boxes served double duty as seating cards. The newlyweds put the guests’ names and table numbers on them.

While many brides see even the smallest error on her wedding day as the end of the world, Michelle took the absence of her cake at the reception surprisingly well! “Our cake never made it to the reception!” She exclaimed. Her mother and some of the bridal party hurried to the Meijer store, in Geneva, to buy every cake in the bakery. Thank goodness Michelle had gotten a groom’s cake from a different baker. They used the groom’s cake for the ceremonial cake cutting. Most of the guests didn’t even notice.

Riverside Receptions also catered the food for the evening. “We had a food carving station and buffet, and it was delicious. The views of the river were beautiful throughout the reception. Since our wedding, we have heard nothing but compliments about our reception.” The couple choose Riverside Receptions because a family members works there and because they have been to other events there. They had great confidence in Riverside’s capabilities.

“We had a great DJ, (Josh Nilsson of Spin N Play) who kept it family-friendly, but still got everyone to participate and have a great time,” Michelle mentioned.

“We tried to do a lot of the projects ourselves. David and I stayed up for hours many nights making programs, favor boxes, tying tiny ribbons on bubble tubes and wrapping the bridesmaid’s and groomsmen’s gifts. Those hours made the whole planning experience even more special, and every detail of the wedding uniquely ours,” Michelle said.

Not only did Michelle and David want to personalize their wedding by hand-crafting many items, but they also wanted their wedding to be original. “We wanted a beautiful atmosphere with a country feel,” she said. They incorporated yellow gingham in the table cloths and favors. Fresh flowers were arranged in simple white pitchers as table centerpieces. The centerpieces were surrounded by votives which created a beautiful and romantic atmosphere.

“For months I pored through tons of magazines. I found many ideas that I liked in Martha Stewart’s magazines as well as on her web site. I was able to determine the table settings I liked, party favors, color schemes and much more,” Michelle noted.

Michelle’s & David’s wedding tips:
  • Engaging family and friends with wedding preparations makes them feel included; you’ll all have a lot of fun.
  • Try to make everything you can. From cutting and ironing tablecloths to making favors. You can save a lot of money and still have all of the details that you desire.
  • Get a check list: they help a lot.
  • Doing things ahead of schedule takes a lot of the pressure off.
  • Most importantly: HAVE FUN WITH IT! Also, while the groom may be hesitant to be involved in each of the decisions and projects, he’ll appreciate having done so in the end. You’ll have fun and many happy memories.
The happily-married couple enjoyed a nice, relaxing honeymoon on a cruise to the Bahamas.
Michelle is a student working at the Kishwaukee YMCA, while David works at Triple H Farms. 
Michelle’s final words of advice for future brides: On the big day, don’t worry about a thing, no matter what happens. Relax and take the time to enjoy and savor every moment.

On the Cover: Mr. and Mrs. David Harbecke photographed by Jennifer Hagemeyer of The Artistic Edge Photography Inc., Rockford, Illinois. | p. 815-739-9937 | f. 815-754-5261