Dana Lea and Jeff Norby pose for a photo by the Root River dam in Lanesboro on their wedding day, July 11, 2009.
Dana Lea and Jeff Norby pose for a photo by the Root River dam in Lanesboro on their wedding day, July 11, 2009.
The mother of the bride... now there's a person who has a lot of behind-the-scenes work in a typical wedding, while remaining cool and calm under pressure and, of course, enjoying the day.

Star Polzin of Mabel has been involved with three weddings in the space of one year, from August 2008 through July of 2009. She's always been a creative type, so she enjoyed whatever help she might lend.

Her wedding

Looking back on her own wedding in October of 1998, Star said her creativity kind of kicked in. Engaged in August, she planned a wedding in just two months. To show just what you can do to have a unique wedding, Star bought her wedding dress at a garage sale. It was from the 1950s and homemade. Also, she picked up a bridesmaid's dress at Salvation Army, which matched perfectly.

"I work well under pressure," she stated.

Star made all the flowers for the wedding, which was held at the Lenora Church. She also made wreaths instead of using pew bows. A reception was then held at their farm shed, complete with a plastic tarp to cover the dirt floor.

It all started the creative juices. Over the ensuing years, Star has made many handcrafted designs, such as items for church bazaars and gifts. She enjoys creating pieces from barn board and includes barbed wire among the items she likes to recycle into new works.

Texas wedding

In August of 2008, Star and Al Polzin headed to Texas for the wedding of Jessica Polzin and Brian Pate. With Brian in the military, this wedding only had a month's notice.

Star was not much involved in this wedding's preparations, but she did have a perfect, unexpected and quick reception gift.

"To surprise them, I used a hint from a co-worker," said Star. She took a photo of the couple before the wedding, ran to a place with an instant photo machine to process and print a 5x7-inch photo, then put it in a frame and presented it to her stepdaughter and her husband.

"They thought, 'Wow, how'd you get that?' They thought it was pretty good," said Star.

Son's wedding

In September of 2008, there was another wedding. Star's son, Andrew Lea, married Emily Pfaffinger of Blue Earth. Emily picked colors of orange, brown and red for the fall decorations.

Star said "it all fell together" to decorate for this wedding. She had a lot of fall decorations at home, got more from a co-worker and bought a lot of items when The Brick House in Preston went out of business. Some items, including tablecloths, were purchased online on Ebay.

One special touch was making fall flower bouquets instead of pew bows. Fall flowers were tied together in groups with a natural vine-like string. Pew hooks were purchased and the flowers put on them for an original look.

Daughter's wedding

On July 11, 2009, Star's daughter, Dana Lea, and fiancé Jeff Norby were married. The couple had gone out for around nine years, meeting when Dana was 16 and Jeff was 18.

Star recalled when the couple announced they were engaged, planning soon started for the summer wedding. One idea for decorating came up around the winter holidays. The idea of Christmas ornament balls became central to the whole theme. First, Dana decided upon aqua blue and lime green as her colors. Star bought up all the Christmas balls she could find at sales, along with decorative hooks. She had an idea, remembered from a church event, to use clear ornament balls for centerpieces, finding those that people use to make their own ornaments.

Keeping it outdoors

Since Dana and Jeff enjoy the outdoors, Dana's sister, Lindsay Lea, took all sorts of outdoor photos to be placed in the balls. At first Star had them sitting, but then felt they just looked too much like ornaments. So decorative hangers were placed on the balls, which were put on ornament stands.

Star smiled remembering this, "Dana thought I was crazy with the ideas, but trusts my art skill. I said she'd have to see it to believe."

Keeping with the Christmas ball idea, they wondered how to fill vases on the tables. Star hoped to use something other than rocks or marbles. She found the answer with something called aqua gel. Each piece starts out looking like a small seed or bead. You add water and then the pieces swell. Star shared they put them in three 5-gal. buckets at home full of water when preparing for the wedding. She said there was a lot of helping in filling the vases with aqua gel and artificial daisies. Many of these items were purchased online.

The tables at the reception hall were covered with black tablecloths featuring runners of tulle and netting, twisted together at intervals. "It stood out. Try to think of something unique," Star urged.

Getting ideas from other decorations, at times they would see the beads illuminated. They decided to purchase little turquoise lights that could be used in water. Star also purchased a bunch of Christmas lights to use at the community center in Lanesboro, where the reception was held.

She strongly suggested booking a reception hall as soon as a wedding date is being decided. Also, Star advised checking with your reception hall to see what wedding decorations they can offer - and any rental charge for items.

On the riverbank

Dana and Jeff had planned for years to get married outdoors. They just happened to have a lovely location in a backyard on the Root River - the Lanesboro residence of Jeff's dad, Jeff and Julie Norby.

"I tried to talk them out of it," Star confided, worried about inclement weather. But the day went off without a hitch, other than the couple - to quote an old saying - getting hitched.

Chairs for the small, family ceremony were rented. Star found a trellis for the couple to stand under, as well as a unique sand ceremony on Ebay. The sand was used instead of a candle unity ceremony. White sand representing a foundation from the couple's parents was blended with sands representing the bride and groom, in this case colored green and blue.

One unique aspect of the ceremony was having guitar music performed by Josh Rein, a member of the wedding party, during the processional.

The wedding had full involvement of parents and stepparents of the couple. Jeff's mother is Pam Flattum, and father, Jeff and Julie Norby. In addition to Dana's mother, Star and Al Polzin, her father is Danny Lea. Star noted she and Dana's father walked her down the aisle.

Many family photos were taken. Joanie Wissing took photos, including shots by the Root River dam and waterfall in Lanesboro. The site was both pretty and familiar, used regularly as a backdrop for Lanesboro prom and graduation photos. Additionally, the couple received an album with 400 to 500 photos taken as surprise gift from Jeff's uncle, Scott and Lisa Norby. Dana's aunt, Patty Olson, videotaped the wedding and her daughters edited it for another wedding gift.

Star also thanked next-door neighbors Denny Bell and Rocky Haddorff who helped with the outdoor ceremony by lending the use of their yard and facilities. They also gave the couple a wedding night stay at their Belle Rive Bed and Breakfast.

Getting the dress

Star recalled Dana wanted a simple wedding, but ended up with six attendants. She noted the original plan was to have the wedding party come down the river in canoes to arrive at the site of the wedding. But getting out of the canoes might have been a bit too much in dresses.

Mother and daughter hadn't realized you really need to make an appointment to try on wedding dresses when they stopped at Mestad's in Rochester. But they lucked out when Dana loved the first one she tried on.

Plans at first were to go with blue bridesmaid dresses in all different styles. But then Dana made the decision to get short black dresses, all in the same style, which looked very pretty with the lime and green mum and daisy flowers ordered by Jeff's mother.


Keeping things simple and light, the menu for the reception included shredded pork sandwiches, both potato and pasta salads, cut-up fruit and three or four kinds of cake. Star's aunt catered the food for the reception along with family members who helped serve. Star said she also did this for Andrew and Emily's wedding, adding, "It was much appreciated." The delicious cake selections came from The Pastry Shoppe in Lanesboro, a decision of the couple.

As Star noted, being spontaneous is good. Dana asked the day of the wedding for a wooden sign that would say "Just Married" and be carried by the flower girl and ring bearer. Star created it that morning using twine string for handles. She makes many projects from old barn boards. This one was a hit.

All in all the bride looked beautiful on her wedding day, the groom handsome, the bridal party elegant, the outdoor location (and weather) a dream come true, and the decorations one-of-a-kind and eye appealing. Indeed, it was a wedding day to be treasured always and the beginning of many happy memories.

Bridal party info

The Rev. Roger Knudson officiated the wedding.

Lindsay Lea was the maid of honor and bridesmaids were Sasha Norby, Kendra Norby, Stephanie Strahl, Kristi Chiglo and Misty Draper.

The best man was Anthony "Skip" Schwartz and groomsmen were Andrew Lea, Gabe Kimball, Ryan "Pokey" Benson, Brandon Qualy and Josh Rein.

Madison Lea was the flower girl and Gage Highum was the ring bearer. Ushers and usherette were Cody Schoenmann, Drew Darling and Bridgette Volkman.

Jeff and Dana Norby live in Stewartville. Dana is a special education teacher in the Rochester School District. Jeff is a fiberglass specialist at River Ridge Custom Canoes.