The river flooding and forcing you out of your wedding reception venue might put a damper on the best day of your life, but Hope’s bride Anna and her husband Dale took it in stride last September.
“We knew we didn’t want to see each other until we were in our dress attire, but knew we needed to speak and discuss a new plan. At the church, there is a staircase that is L-shaped, so we were able to hold hands around the corner without seeing each other. In that moment, I knew everything would be okay. It didn’t matter our guests wouldn’t experience our fancy reception or see the way we decorated. What mattered is that at the end of the day, we were married, and our guests were all there to support us, and that was so special.”
Anna and Dale met at a restaurant in Cedar Rapids following one of his wrestling meets at Coe College (he was an All American and placed 3rd in the nation his senior year!), but their paths didn’t cross again until later that spring when they played slow pitch softball together. They enjoyed seeing each other once a week and grabbing a drink after our games, and made it official in September of 2011. They shared BBQs, boating, sporting events, and spending time with their friends and family. And Anna got to learn lots about wrestling! They moved into their home of four years in 2013. On a trip to Florida, Dale popped the question:
“During college, I would wear this ring that had an elephant on it. Dale would steal this ring numerous times, claiming he would take it so I would have to see him again at the end of the evening. While in Florida, we decided to take some photos on the beach. After photos, my sister had that same elephant ring in her hand and said, ‘Anna, don’t you have a ring like this?’ I said, ‘Yes, I have that exact ring, but I didn’t bring it with me.’ Following that statement, Dale was on his knee and questioned, ‘Ever since I stole this ring from you, there’s been something I’d like to ask. Will you marry me?’”
The couple planned to marry September 24th with a traditional wedding style, using a lot of silvers, golds, coppers, and dark cranberry colors.
Anna had a relaxed time finding her unique, yet traditional wedding gown and veil at Hope’s. “I enjoyed not being overwhelmed with too many dresses. We started with a few dresses that caught my eye, and went from there. It was nice not trying on 50 dresses and getting double the amount of opinions of each! They made me feel very comfortable, and didn’t push me to purchase a dress only they liked, which is important. The appointment was so easy! Hope’s was the first store I looked for a dress, and I cancelled my appointment at a different store later that day. I remember saying, ‘Is it supposed to be this easy?’”
Anna found several ways to save some money while planning. “We bought the majority of our wedding decorations on garage sale websites and second hand wedding décor stores. Most of these items have been used only for a few hours, so spending full price on them is just crazy!” They skipped save the dates and had their guests RSVP online to save on printing and postage. They also skipped wedding favors, which they recognize aren’t usually a big deal to guests.
Luckily, the couple helped each other keep a great perspective when they were thrown a huge curveball the day of their wedding. They set up their reception venue (Veteran’s Memorial Building in downtown Cedar Rapids) the night before the wedding for their 450 guests. While the Cedar River was on the rise, they were assured it would not crest until Monday, and everything would go without a hitch!
However, thirty minutes before the couple’s first look on Saturday morning, Anna received a call from the venue coordinator that they were closing the bridges, and the venue was no longer available. They had just one hour to remove everything from the building.
“Long story short, we had such wonderful friends who went downtown and tore down our reception items. The next decision to be made was where will our reception be now? We couldn’t just put 450 guests anywhere! We reached out to numerous vendors, but most wanted us to pay thousands of dollars to use their venue. But we had everything already, our food, our drinks, our servers, etc. We just needed a location! After some discussion, we decided it made most since to have the reception in the same location as our ceremony. It ended up being a blast! Our guests ate a great meal, indulged in some great drinks, and danced the night away!”
The following Monday, the newlyweds headed to Riviera Maya in Mexico. They stated at an Excellence Resort, which they highly recommend. “It was beautiful… the amenities were clean, the food was phenomenal, and the staff was great!”
Anna and Dale are loving married life. “Experiencing life with a partner is so rewarding. Before we were married, we met with a sponsor couple on a monthly basis. Meeting with them was one of the best decisions we made! No marriage is perfect, and it is work. My advice to newlyweds is to surround yourselves with positive influences. Surround yourselves with other couples that want you to be successful as a couple. Marriages fail, more than half of the time, but putting true quality work into your marriage will make your partnership worth it!”
Anna and Dale, we are so happy for you and really appreciate you sharing your beautiful story with us! You handled a “wedding nightmare” with such grace and kept your perspective on what matters. We wish you a lifetime of happily navigating life’s unpredictability together!
Photography: Thad Buege Photography
Location of Wedding: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hiawatha.
Caterer: Mother’s Place Catering, Latimer, IA
Florist: Studio Bloom, Ely, IA
Hair: Country Cuts, Solon, IA
Airbrush Makeup: Tia Thompson, Cedar Rapids, IA
DJ: LMD Productions, Cedar Rapids, IA
Party Bus: Night Train Transportation, Solon, IA
Engagement Ring: Siegel’s Jewelry, Cedar Rapids, IA
Wedding Band: Corridor Diamond & Gold, Coralville, IA