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July 20, 2019, Livestock Exchange Ballroom

Allison Johnson and Michael Koch had been together for almost a decade before their July 2019 wedding. The Omahans met in middle school and were friends and tennis partners before dating in high school.

After her tennis career at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and his at Creighton University, they went on a Disney cruise to celebrate their coming graduations from grad school. After a fancy dinner on the ship, they went to the deck to look for dolphins. Michael pretended to see a pod so Allison would turn her attention away from him. When she turned back around, there he was with an engagement ring.

For their wedding of 270 guests, Allison wanted a simple but elegant look, with neutrals and muted colors — and lots of happiness. “My theme was joy.”

With help from their parents, the couple’s biggest expenses were catering and florals. “I did not want to deal with any other decor other than flowers,” Allison says, and she was blown away at how Taylor’s Flower Shop transformed their reception space. Photography was their most important spend.

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Allison’s advice for brides-to-be: Just roll with it. “Unpredictable things during planning and on the wedding day are inevitable.” A mishap during the ceremony drove that point home. The couple's wedding bands were put in the church safe after the rehearsal dinner … and didn’t make it out before the start of the wedding. Allison and Michael and everyone else realized this just as the priest was getting to the exchanging of the rings. A relay between church staff, ushers and groomsmen finally got the bands up to the altar, with a running play-by-play from the priest. “I was SO nervous up on the altar and overwhelmed by so many feelings. When this mishap happened, all of our wedding party and guests erupted with laughter, and I felt like I could finally relax,” Allison said.

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Sweet moments of the day included the bride’s first look with her brothers, then walking down the aisle together, Allison surprising her grandpa with a dance at the reception, and Michael’s mom giving Allison “something blue” — his baby rosary, which she carried in the pockets of her gown. (Yes, it had pockets!)

Allison and Michael didn’t exchange gifts, but she surprised him with a suit jacket accessory that made sure “Pepa,” Michael's beloved late grandfather, Omaha businessman Harry A. Koch Jr., was a part of their day. Pepa passed away a few months prior to the wedding, so Allison got one of his ties from Michael’s grandma Gail, learned to sew from a friend’s mom, and stitched a swatch from the tie into the lining of Michael’s jacket.

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Since marrying, the biggest adjustment for the couple has been living together for the first time. Their favorite gifts are a custom drawing of native Nebraska plants by the matron of honor’s sister, artist Grace Gaard, and the wedding itself, from their parents. “Nothing could have been as special as it was without their help.”

A fun tip from Allison: If the timing works out, send thank-you notes as holiday cards, with pictures from the wedding and newlywed life. “It gives you a deadline for getting the notes done.”

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Essential details

THE COUPLE Allison Johnson and Michael Koch

PHOTOGRAPHER M. Julie Photo

WEDDING DATE July 20, 2019

REHEARSAL DINNER Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, catered by Abraham Catering and eCreamery

CEREMONY St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church

RECEPTION Livestock Exchange Ballroom

VIDEOGRAPHER Amory Films

BRIDAL GOWN "Ashton" by Jenny Yoo, Ready or Knot {Wedding Chic}

ACCESSORIES Custom veil by Designs by Karen, using lace from the bride’s grandmother's wedding gown; earrings: Olive & Piper; shoes: Badgley Mischka

HAIRSTYLIST Bride: Kelsey Kloster/Avalon Suites; bridesmaids styled their own hair

MAKEUP ARTIST Bride did her own makeup; bridesmaids and moms: Patty Gray/Mary Kay

BRIDESMAID DRESSES Lulus

MEN'S ATTIRE Jerry Ryan

RINGS Borsheims

FLORIST Taylor’s Flower Shop and Greenhouse

CAKE Annette’s Catering and Desserts, Weeping Water

CATERER Brandeis Catering

RENTALS Livestock Exchange Ballroom

MUSIC DJ Conrad/Image Entertainment

TRANSPORTATION VIP Sedan & Limousine; Ollie the Trolley

INVITATIONS/PROGRAMS Templates from Etsy (invitations: MarryMePaperBoutique, menus: PearlyPaperDesign, programs: simplysuite, seating chart: MintyPaperieShop); printing by Digital Express Inc.

GUEST ACCOMMODATIONS Marriott Regency; Hotel Deco

HONEYMOON Disney cruise to Alaska