The Meeting

Dan and Erin met in 2016 during Labor Day weekend at mutual friends’ party in Chicago, despite the fact the two of them were both living in Elgin at the time.

How did we not match on a dating app, or run into each other around town, first?!  That afternoon, I took the train into the city on Crystal Lake’s line, since it stops closer to my destination of the then Wrigleyville/Southport area.  At the end of the night, I headed to the train station with other burbs folks.  Turns out, I read the train schedule wrong.

Instead of waiting at the train station by myself for an hour, I went home on the Elgin line with Dan.  We talked the whole time, and he dropped me off at my house.  Problem was, in the morning, my car was still at the Crystal Lake train station.  So, I hopped on my bike and took backroads from unincorporated Elgin to Crystal Lake, loaded my bike onto my car’s rack, and headed back home to Elgin.  Many family and friends that could have given me a ride were out of town for the holiday weekend, and Uber/Lyft wasn’t as common in the suburbs back then.

The First Date

The night after we met, Dan brought me to a bonfire at his friends’ house in Lisle, so our first date was in a group setting. The following day, though, we went biking just the two of us in Elgin. I didn’t have any Labor Day weekend plans, and he ended up occupying all three days! The bike ride ended abruptly though, when he suddenly had to go draft his fantasy football team. He forgot about his college friends being one hour ahead in Indiana, ha!

The Proposal

The plan was for Dan to spend Fourth of July with his family in Texas, and for me to spend it in northern Wisconsin with my family and friends from Spain.  Little did I know, he and my best friend Hollie drove six hours to the Northwoods to surprise me.  I was kayaking with my friends Maria and Emilio to the bridge that Dan and Hollie would have to drive over in order to get to the cabin.  Luckily, we didn’t see them!  My dad was taking pictures when he normally doesn’t, but I didn’t think anything of it, I assumed he just wanted to make sure the guests were having a good time.

When we got back to the pier (tired, sweaty, sunburned, covered in bug spray), my dad sent us to the neighbors a few cabins down to say hello via kayak.  We were worn out, but obliged him.  This gave Dan and Hollie time to set up the proposal.  Meanwhile, my dad hopped on the four wheeler and raced to the neighbors to ask them to stall once we got there.  In the process, he woke up a sleeping baby, and parked in the mom and grandma that needed to get to the store to buy it food!  As a result, we weren’t there as long as he’d hoped.

On the way back to the pier via kayak, I saw red things floating on the surface of the water.  At first, I thought it was garbage and was disgusted that someone would litter; especially in such a beautiful place.  Next, I thought maybe there was a fish net floating below the surface?  The wind had blown said objects into a perfect half circle.  But then it hit me, they were ROSE PETALS!  I looked to the pier and saw candles.  My mom would never put candles in the sun, so I realized there was a special occasion.  Turns out it was Dan and I’s special occasion!  Dan got down on one knee and proposed on the pier…with my late Grandma’s ring.  It contains her diamonds, her late mother’s diamonds, and my late Grandpa’s mother’s diamonds.  Hollie had tied the ring to dental floss in the event it fell into the lake!  Our proposal was the highlight of my family’s first summer at the 90-some-year-old cabin.  Dan and I were married at The Haight a year to the day from the proposal.

The Wedding Day

One of my favorite moments was during my dance with my dad. We both started singing along with Marshall Tucker Band’s “Heard it in a Love Song” unexpectedly. I knew the first look with Dan would be special, as well as my mom’s assistance in folding my veil back during the ceremony, and my dad’s bagpipe surprise, but our singing was unplanned.

Why an Intimate Reception?

Dan and I have been together for almost four years and living together for more than three—we were ready to be married.  We also have a lot going on during the next year.  They say there’s never a good time for a wedding, degree, etc.  Sometimes you just have to go for it and hope for the best!

What about the waves of guests?

There were more pros than cons that came with celebrating in waves.  First and foremost, it allowed us to actually talk to the majority of our guests.  Had there been 200 some guests in attendance, there’s no way we would have been able to do that.  This was especially important to us since we don’t see many of these people very often.  Another pro was that during the hour of sanitizing between waves, Dan and I were able to go take more photos downtown Elgin.  As a high school photography teacher, golden hour shots were on my must list, and without the shift change, we would have had to take ourselves away from our guests in order to accomplish this.

Dan and I only did the off-site ceremony, cake cutting, dances, and speeches with the first wave of guests, but Zoom, photography, and videography makes sharing those parts of the day with other guests an option.  Both waves had dinner, and the second wave’s highlights were dancing, and a sparkler send off.  That was the only con, if you even consider it one – the fact that wave 1 “missed out” on some of wave 2’s happenings, and vice versa.

We ended up opening our rehearsal dinner up to extended family and friends outside of the traditional bridal party, immediate family, and out of town guests in order to include more people, too.  We’re going to use our wedding band next summer instead, we couldn’t justify five musicians and their crew cutting into our guest list of 50.  It’ll be something to look forward to next year! 

How was the planning?

Entertaining 50 guests at a time was a lot less stressful than 200 all at once.  In fact, we almost didn’t bother with a rehearsal.  I figured, if there’s a blooper, oh well, there are less than 50 in attendance to witness it.  Well, I suppose more people than that when you add in our family and friends that attended via Zoom.

How was the overall experience?

Our experience was positive.  It was a super fun day that we’ll look back on fondly.  We can’t wait for our photos and video to be ready so that we can relive the day!  Overall, Dan and I feel very lucky – we’ve both been employed during the entirety of the pandemic, and our families have remained healthy.  There are so many others around the world right now that can’t say the same.  So our wedding plans were changed a bit—big deal! Anything goes during a pandemic wedding!  The rules are thrown out the window, which is such a weight off the shoulders.  What a relief for my perfectionist self!  

One of the reasons Dan and I felt good about proceeding with our original date at The Haight was due to the outdoor space.  We knew that even if the state regressed a phase of the reopening plan, we’d still be able to use the rooftop.  Additionally, an indoor space made for 200-250 people makes social distancing for 50 guests a breeze.  The Haight provided hand sanitizing stations, and linens and chairs were swapped out during the shift change.  Dan and I provided masks for guests.  Despite all of these efforts, to be honest there still were some guests that were uncomfortable attending, but we look forward to celebrating with them at a safer time in the future.  Something to look forward to!

The Shoutouts

First and foremost, The Haight for accommodating our crazy idea of two waves of guests.  I believe it was the first time the venue had done something like that.  We took a chance on each other, and everything worked out beautifully!  Our photographer – Erik Anderson, and videographer – Anthony Alanis made the day so fun!  Huge shoutout to Chef by Request catering

 for their flexibility and deliciousness.  Originally Dan and I wanted to serve a family style dinner,but to reduce the risk of Covid exposure, we ended up going with plated meals.  Mallory at Graham’s Fine Chocolates in Geneva provided yummy and unique cupcake flavors and our cutting cake.  The cool thing about plant shop Grow Geneva is that you can rent what you need as opposed to buy!  I don’t know what I would have done with 20 ferns otherwise!  Laura even delivers and picks them up for you if need be.  We also can’t say enough good things about our rehearsal dinner vendor – Pierogi Jo’s – YUM!  Talented makeup artist Abbey Jacoby was so fun to work with, and was willing to travel to the bridal suite, which made for fun getting ready photos and video!