Rachael and Erik are devoted to their friends. “They’re a strong part of who we are,” Erik says. Indeed, their friends not only helped bring them together, but also helped them plan a wedding — in just two months.
Rachael, a graphic designer, and Erik, a structural engineer, were merely “friendly acquaintances” during their time at Lee’s Summit high school. They lost touch until the night before Thanksgiving in 2006, when they ran into each other at Buzzard Beach, where they may have been involved in a little dirty dancing.
Rachael announced to her friends that he was going to be her boyfriend. Erik, who was getting over a breakup, didn’t want a relationship. “We went on dates, had fun ... but I refused to be called ‘boyfriend,’” he recalls. That first year of dating, he remained elusive, but started falling for Rachael’s charm. “She’s an intelligent optimist. She likes to have fun and she’s impervious to my cynicism,” Erik says.
Rachael admired Erik’s ability to get along in any situation, especially with her diverse group of friends. She also liked how Erik was so different from her friends from the Kansas City Art Institute: “He’s also wicked smart and loyal,” she enthuses.
They bonded over their love of gardening and dancing at Tiger Beat, the ’80s-themed night at McCoy’s in Westport. Almost exactly a year after meeting at Buzzard, they became exclusive. Two and a half years later, Erik proposed during a spring party at his south Kansas City house. He arranged for Prince’s “Kiss” (a song Rachael always pulled him aside for at Tiger Beat) to play as everyone danced. At the end of the song, the lights went up and he dropped to his knee, ring in hand.
Not wanting to go through another winter in separate abodes, they set the date for four months later. Both children of divorce, they wanted to get started on the right track, so they invented a “preparing for marriage” boot camp, where they sought out mentor couples and asked every married person they knew for advice. “We both had a lot of fear, but that bred fruit that was good,” Erik says.
That fruit blossomed in an apple orchard at the Red Barn Farm in Weston. Rachael and Erik got married in a short religious ceremony in front of an arch made of huge sunflowers while dragonflies hovered around them. The wedding had an informal feel; when the bride and groom showed up, some of their 176 guests were at the bar, drinking wine.
Rachael and Erik high-fived when they became husband and wife, exchanged kisses, then exited down the aisle together. They enjoyed that so much that they snuck around through the field and walked back down the aisle again to cheers from their family and friends. Naturally, the night ended with what Rachael describes as a “big sweaty dance party.”
How did they plan a wedding in two months?
They were able to book Red Barn Farm after a cancellation. Their friends played a big part in helping out. Erik’s mother, an interior decorator, and some of Rachael’s friends made the arch, the bouquets and the centerpieces. Another friend who works at You Say Tomato catered the dinner. Erik’s aunt, a wine distributor, gave them a discount, and a printmaker friend designed the invitations and programs.
What advice would they give?
Rachael and Erik made a pact to spend time together during the day; to stop frequently, hug and be present in the moment. “We didn’t want the day to fly over our heads,” Erik said.
While they took pictures on their wedding day, Rachael and Erik also had a separate photo session on a later date. “It was less rushed,” Rachael explains. Dressed in their wedding clothes, they went to different spots around town — like Diamond Bowl in Independence Square — for more pictures of just the two of them.
Any funny or touching anecdotes from their wedding day?
Rachael and Erik woke up early to go to the Red Barn Farm to set it up. They packed their car, got in, held hands and prayed. They took deep breaths, turned the key in the ignition ... and nothing. The car, which was full of their wedding stuff, was dead. Fortunately, Erik had a friend who was staying at his house who helped jump-start the car.