Ten years ago at this time, I was an anxious bride-to-be living in Lawrence, Kansas. I’d just graduated from KU in May 1999, and I was finally going to marry my high school sweetheart, Dan. The date was set: Saturday, August 5, 2000. Here’s everything you ever wanted to know about my lovely, hot summer wedding in Kansas City.
Choosing a date
Why’d we decide to get married in the summer? Isn’t it really hot in Kansas City in August? Well, both my and my husband’s parents were married in August, but the real reason we chose that date was a practical one: Dan had his apartment leased through the end of July. We were good Christian kids, and we didn’t want to live in sin in our beautiful new apartment. Goodness, no! So Dan didn’t really start living with me in our beautiful new apartment until after we were officially married, see? I don’t care if you have evidence that Dan moved in shortly after I did, in June. He still had that other apartment, right off campus-the empty, smelly one…
Choosing a church and officiant for the wedding ceremony
I’d grown up Catholic, but when I got engaged, at age 22, I wasn’t going to any church on a consistent basis, and neither was Dan. He’d grown up Lutheran, but he didn’t care where we got married; he said it was up to me.
I had to be a good Christian girl and get married in a church. Dan and I met with a priest to start our pre-marriage counseling, but I knew, after just one meeting, that I couldn’t go through with a Catholic wedding. I couldn’t commit to raising our (future) children Catholic. I told the priest I’d changed my mind and couldn’t get married in the Catholic church, and he told me I was making a big mistake. Wasn’t that sweet of him?
We then met with Dan’s former pastor, Pastor Pape, at Salem Lutheran Church in Lenexa, Kansas, and Dan and I both felt more comfortable with him. The “rules” of a Lutheran marriage were more acceptable to both of us. I’d been to church with Dan a few times when he was still living at home, and I already knew that the church building and sanctuary were beautiful. I loved the stained glass windows, the pipe organ and choir loft, and I liked the modest size of the church-it was more than adequate for our 200-or-so wedding guests.
I don’t think we made a mistake at all by getting married at Salem. Pastor Pape had known Dan since he was a kid, and he made me feel welcome, too. It was nice to talk about marriage with a man who was actually married.
Pastor Pape is no longer at Salem, but if you’re a Lutheran or disgruntled ex-Catholic looking for a pretty, old-fashioned stone church to get married in, in the Johnson County area, go check it out: Salem Lutheran Church, 9143 Haskins St., Lenexa, Kansas 66215.
Our wedding service was short, sweet, and traditional. We hired the church’s regular organist to play for us, and got our flowers from Hy-Vee in Shawnee on Quivira Rd. (that particular location closed several years ago). My flowers were so pretty, I had my bridal bouquet preserved.
We had our rehearsal dinner in a private room at a wonderful Italian restaurant in Olathe called Gambucci’s. Since Gambucci’s is closed now, I won’t bother describing the pasta, eggplant and chicken parmigiana, and heavenly desserts. (I miss Gambucci’s!)
Dresses, Hair, and Makeup
My bridesmaids wore light blue sleeveless dresses, which we ordered online because it wasn’t convenient for all of us to go shopping together. As far as I know, my bridesmaids never wore those dresses again.
I found my wedding dress at a boutique in Paola, Kansas, called Sandy’s Bridal. It cost less than $400-not bad! As you can see from my pictures, I didn’t mess with a veil or gloves. I did some research online and discovered that Sandy’s Bridal has a new owner. It is now called Emily Hart Bridal, and according to their website, the store is moving to Leawood, Kansas this month.
A family friend, Gigi Delaney, altered my wedding dress for me. Gigi still does alterations; her phone number is (913) 642-5917. After the wedding, my mom paid to have my wedding dress cleaned and preserved. Now it’s neatly folded and sealed into a big white box; it sits on a high shelf in my bedroom closet. Maybe my daughter will want to wear it someday.
One of my bridesmaids, my cousin Ginger, happened to be a professional beautician, so she did my hair and makeup before the wedding. I must say, my hair has never looked that beautiful since. I had pretty knots decorated with blue flowers and baby’s breath all over my head. Ginger used something like a million hairpins.
My maid-of-honor and I had our nails done at a place in Oak Park Mall. I couldn’t get rid of those damn fake nails until a week after I was home from my honeymoon (they looked nice, though).
My Almost-Perfect Summer Wedding Reception Close to Kansas City
Once we had the church and pastor booked for August 5th, we started looking for the perfect place to hold our wedding reception. Salem Lutheran Church had a Fellowship Hall that we could have used for our reception, but I wanted something a little more me. I don’t know how I found out about the Harris House in tiny Linwood, Kansas, but as soon as I saw it, I knew it was the place.
The Harris House is a gorgeous Victorian mansion, built in 1884. I happen to adore Victorian homes. Now, before you get too excited, I have to tell you that you can’t have your wedding or wedding reception at the Harris House now. Sorry. According to this article, the Harris House was purchased last year by the co-founders of GOD TV for half a million dollars, and I guess they plan to live there occasionally. They won’t be opening up the lower floor of their immaculate home to you and your wedding guests and serving you delicious, freshly-prepared horsd‘oeuvres, or setting up a tent, dance floor, and tables in the backyard-and it’s a darn shame!
Oh, you should have come to my wedding reception: it was “like something out of a movie,” as my father-in-law said. Most of our wedding guests made the rather long trip from the church in Lenexa to the Harris House in Linwood, and they all managed to find the place, despite the fact that I botched the directions on the wedding invitation (I instructed everyone to turn on the wrong street). Oops!
I remember at least four rooms in the Harris House that were open to our guests-a parlor, a dining room, a small sitting room, a large living room, and at least one bathroom. Upstairs-the family’s private living quarters-was off limits. The food was all prepared on-site, except for the cake. The exquisite platters of meat, veggies, fruits, and yummy vegetarian dishes were arranged on a round table in one of the rooms. There was a bar in the dining room. I didn’t eat very much (brides are too busy to eat), but everyone told me the food was wonderful.
It must have been in the high 80’s or low 90’s on the day of our wedding, cloudy, and humid. Whenever we got too hot dancing in the tent outside or strolling around the lovely, shady grounds surrounding the home, we could escape to the air-conditioned comfort indoors.
Wedding photographer, cake, DJ
We hired the wedding photographer, DJ, and cake decorator recommended by the owner/operator of the Harris House, and weren’t disappointed. John Wysocki was our photographer. Please note that the pictures you see attached to this article are not Mr. Wysocki’s work; I don’t have his permission to reproduce the professional pictures in my wedding photo album.
One of my most treasured family pictures was taken on the large front porch of the Harris House at our wedding reception. Later in the afternoon, when a rainbow appeared in the sky (yeah, I’m not making that up!), Mr. Wysocki was even more thrilled than we were. I have a couple of awesome pictures of Dan and myself posing under the rainbow.
Our DJ was a man from Lawrence, Kansas, called “DJ Dan.” I wasn’t able to find his website, if he has one. He did a great job, interspersing popular dance songs with all of the songs Dan and I requested. For our first dance, Dan and I chose Sting’s “When We Dance.” I still get goosebumps whenever I hear that song.
Our wedding cake decorator was a woman who worked out of her home in Eudora, Kansas. I wish I remembered her name! The cake was moist and delicious, and decorated with the same flowers used in our bouquets; the bottom and top tiers were white cake, and the middle tier was lemon. Mmm!
From Kansas City, we drove to Yellowstone National Park, stopping in Boulder, Colorado, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on the way. In Boulder we stayed at a charming Victorian bed and breakfast called The Boulder Victoria. According to this article, The Boulder Victoria was returned to use as a private residence in 2002, so you can’t stay there today. Too bad! In Jackson Hole, we stayed one night in The Jackson Hole Lodge-and, hey, it’s still open. Jackson Hole is a fun little town. We visited the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, saw a show at a Wild West-style dinner theatre, and slid down the alpine slide.
We wanted to stay in Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone, but didn’t make our reservation early enough to get a room, so we ended up in the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, and there was nothing luxurious about it-it was still better than camping, I suppose, and not very expensive. We had a great time exploring Yellowstone: spotting wildlife, hiking to waterfalls, watching geysers erupt, smelling the stinky hot springs.
Ten Years Later
It’s amazing how much has changed in just ten years. Dan and I now have two kids, a house, and completely different jobs, not to mention more wrinkles and stretch marks (well, Dan doesn’t have stretch marks).
At our wedding reception, we had all of our guests sign the mat around our engagement picture. That picture, with everyone’s signatures and personal notes, now hangs in my living room, with my dried wedding bouquet on top. Some of the friends and family members who signed our picture are no longer with us today. Others have gone on to get married and start families of their own.
I have fond memories of my summer wedding in Kansas City, but I’ve since decided that it’s a lot more fun to be a wedding guest or bridesmaid than to be a bride.
To see more pictures from my wedding and reception, check out my slideshow: My Summer Wedding in Kansas City – August 5, 2000.
Sources and Related Articles:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linwood,_Kansas (to learn more about the history of Linwood and the Harris House)