After canceling plans for their dream intimate wedding, Ashley and Kari married, just the two of them, while their loved ones live-streamed.
How did you love story begin?
K: We have been together for two years. Kari was a veterinary student, and Ashley was a resident. We worked together and were merely acquaintances. Kari claims she had a crush on Ashley, which Ashley always teases is unvalidated and can’t be confirmed. Ashley thought Kari was cute, nice, and smart– but also straight.
A: Kari moved to a different state, eventually came out, and we started following each other on social media. I commented on Kari’s adorable new kittens on Instagram. Kari ended up coming to Chicago for a job interview, and we talked for a bit and reconnected. We then kept texting and speaking from that day forward. For three days straight, we spent all day and all night talking. I bought her a plane ticket to come to visit me three days later – that’s how sure I was of her. She came to visit me for a weekend, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tell us about the proposal.
Ashley is a planner, so she had the whole day planned. It started with brunch and cocktails at a nice restaurant. I had pre-arranged a pedicab waiting outside for us to take us to our next location (Kari thought it was just a nice coincidence he was there and available). He took us for a nice ride around Lincoln Park. Arriving at a lily pond where I had pre-arranged to have the pond to ourselves. We went on a walk around the pond until we reached the pond’s edge. I dropped down on one knee and proposed. I had a photographer hiding in the bushes to photograph it and had hired a violinist to play our favorite songs during the proposal (Moana, followed by lots of Taylor Swift!).
We were only engaged for two months! We had planned on a bigger wedding, but due to COVID and uncertainty about LGBTQ+ rights given the political climate, we thought, let’s just do it!
Any stories from the lead up to the wedding stressful or funny?
We planned our wedding in two weeks! We decided we wanted to get married, and once we had the idea, we knew we had to do it. It was initially going to be just us two at the courthouse. But then we wanted a nicer venue, and then we wanted our immediate family to watch on Zoom. Then we wanted all of our friends and family to watch. So it turned into 150 people watching our live stream. So within two weeks, we found a venue, dresses, flowers, cake, videographer, and livestream team, and actually planned our perfect wedding.
How did you find last minute wedding day outfits?
Given how last minute everything was, we didn’t have time to go dress shopping at a store. So we ended up ordering wedding dresses from an online store! We paid for eleven dresses, and they shipped them to us. We spent one night trying on all the dresses for each other in our bedroom, found one that each of us loved, and returned the other nine dresses for refunds!
Talk to us about the big day!
Our ceremony was intimate – just us two and Ashley’s sister (who flew in from Toronto to surprise her). We had the same violinist from our proposal play our songs during the ceremony. And we had a Rabbi perform a beautiful secular ceremony with all our friends and family watching on our livestream. We were also able to have our family members join in to give speeches from afar. We had a beautiful first dance to our favorite song (from Schitt’s Creek).
After our ceremony, we walked around downtown Chicago to the river and took photographs. A busker happened to be playing the saxophone, where we stopped for pictures. He played “Here comes the bride” and “Marry You” by Bruno Mars. We danced and were cheered on by a spontaneous crowd of onlookers. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go out for dinner due to the COVID dining restrictions, so we ordered in tons of Italian food for a romantic dinner at home on our couch!
What are your favorite moments?
So many! Dancing with the saxophone player on the bridge was pretty amazing. We were also getting ready at the venue and putting our shoes on with Taylor Swift (our favorite) shuffling on the sound system. It randomly played “Love Story” by Taylor Swift and got to the line “Marry me, Juliet. You’ll never have to be alone. I love you, and that’s all I really know”. And it was just such a memorable and emotional moment all of us just starting bawling. It was pretty special.
Did you incorporate any family or religious traditions into the day?
Ashley is Jewish, so we incorporated some Jewish traditions and prayers into the wedding. We each got to step on and break a decorative glass. We had my father’s prayer shawl wrapped around us for part of the ceremony and drank wine from a ceremonial goblet that Kari’s parents bought for us. We also signed a Ketubah – a Jewish wedding contract and chose words that were very personal and meaningful to us – things we promise each other.
What does marriage mean to you?
Marriage means getting to grow old together and spend day in and day out by each other’s side. It’s about accepting and loving each other– at our best and our worst. It’s about being excited to wake up next to one another and fall asleep next to one another every morning and every night– no matter how tired we are and no matter how much the cats bother us overnight. It’s about going through life’s journey as partners, side by side through everything.
Photography by Grey Garden Creative
Cake Alliance Bakery
Celebrant Rabbi Shoshanah Conover
Cinematographer LEAP weddings
Engagement Rings Edan Diamonds
Florist Life in Bloom
H&MU Hannah Elisabeth Beauty
Stationery Paperless Post
Wedding Rings Blue Nile