Tell us your love story!
Kari and I met about 4 years ago at a mutual friend’s house. I'm a patent attorney and Kari is a scientist so we got to talking about science and patents – most people would have fallen asleep at the first mention of patents, but Kari lasted a few hours. A few weeks later, I was out with some friends and Kari contacted me; as it turns out, she was at a totally random bar about a block away from where I happened to be with my friends. Given the size of the city of Chicago, I thought it was such a coincidence that we happened to both be in the same neighborhood on the same day at the same time! I met her at the bar and we started seeing each other from there.
Tell us about the proposal!
We had had a conversation and decided that we were not going to propose to each other. So I was incredibly surprised when Kari proposed! She went to work on a Saturday and called to ask me to look for something in the kitchen. When I went to look, I found the first of numerous clues laid out as a scavenger hunt around our apartment. They were all related to different trips we had taken or things we had done together. The last clue was for me to meet her at a restaurant that was one of our first dates. At the restaurant (pizza, my favorite), Kari had three big photos of the two of us, and she had written one word on the back of each: "Let's" "Get" "Married!”
I actually forgot we had that conversation about not proposing, and I was kind of waiting for her to propose to me for a couple months. Then at some point I realized – this is so dumb, I will just ask her already!
When did you know that you were meant to be with each other?
I started thinking about things from the perspective of our life together, as opposed to my life or her life. We complement each other in lots of ways, and day after day I would find myself thinking, you know, I am so happy that this is our life. I don’t want anything else.
Tell us about your big day!
We got married on June 9, 2015. We planned our wedding to be in Hanalei Bay on Kauai and we had about 15 of our family and closest friends with us there. Two days before the wedding, we arranged for everyone attend a luau with us, and the day before the wedding we took our guests on a boat trip along the Na Pali coast. We wanted the whole thing to be something our family would really remember. The day of the wedding, we got massages and went our separate ways. We met up again later for a first look and got to spend some time alone for a little bit before the ceremony. We had all of our wedding guests help form a circle of flower petals before the start of the ceremony that we stood in with our officiant, our good friend Jennifer. She knows us both very well, so she was really able to perform the ceremony in exactly our style. And to tie in a bit of Hawaiian tradition, we exchanged leis with both our parents and each other. Although we wrote the entire ceremony, it turned out even better than we had planned – some combination of the scenery and our loved ones and each other.
What was your favorite part of your wedding day?
Reading our vows. We each wrote our own and had not shared them with each other prior to the ceremony.
For me, it was the first look, which I thought was the weirdest concept when I first heard about it! But I was feeling a little anxious once the day got going, and the best thing was seeing Nic and giving her a kiss and remembering that it was just us.
Going into the wedding planning, what did you definitely know?
I’m actually not sure we knew anything! As an LGBT couple, it just wasn’t something we had thought a lot about. Personally, I had honestly never thought about a wedding.
As much as a wedding is about the couple that is getting married, we felt very strongly that we wanted our wedding to be an important experience for our guests, as well. We wanted the ceremony to reflect our style and our shared experiences, and to really convey that feeling to our family and friends.
What surprised you during planning?
What surprised me the most was that there are SO MANY THINGS to think about for planning weddings. People asked us about having all kinds of “traditional” things for our wedding, most of which had never occurred to us at all, if we had even heard of them! One challenging thing was the fact that it was in Hawaii and we had to do everything from a distance. We had a wedding planner, which made the process easier, but we still had to do a lot of research and have some faith that the things we chose were going to be good.
Is there anything you wish you knew while you were planning your wedding that you know now?
Yes – it really does not matter! All the stuff you worry about, all the little things you think could muck the whole thing up, none of that matters. It’s something that married friends of ours told us, and I tried to tell myself while we were planning. At the end of the day, the point is that you’re with the people you love most, and all anybody wants is to see that you are happy. No one will ever know that you could have chosen white chairs but instead you chose the black ones. It really does not matter.
Any advice for couples planning weddings now?
My advice sort of follows from what I said above: do what you want to do and don’t worry about whether it is “wedding-appropriate.” Setting, clothes, music, food – doesn’t matter. You determine what’s appropriate for your wedding, and everyone will love it regardless.
Anything thing else you would like to add?
From the photographer:
There wasn't much decor at the ceremony or reception...mostly just Hawaiian leis and flower petals--one thing to mention is that the flower circle where Nicole and Kari were married was created by the wedding guests. It's a Hawaiian tradition for the family and friends to each put flowers down to create the flower circle where the vows will be exchanged. Also, you'll notice in the photos that Kari and Nicole also exchange leis with each other and their family members to symbolize the union of two families.