Tonight, Russ and Julie are celebrating their first anniversary with an overnight stay at the Pfister.
They play a version of the Newlywed Game in the café.
They say that after waiting to get married years after most of their friends did and a decade after Russ’s twin brother, it was worth it. And that the mundane parts of married life (“Who’s going to the grocery store?” “Who’s going to clean the shower?”) can be the most fun.
She guesses that the biggest thing that’s surprised him about marriage is how she is right there, night after night, after he’s lived alone for 17 years. He guesses that she’d choose a second honeymoon in Iceland.
He says that he loves how fiercely devoted to her family she is, and notes that marriage has somehow calmed her. She writes, “I feel safe with him” in blue sharpie. It doesn’t exactly fit the question, but needed to be declared.
They both write that one of the most memorable moments of their wedding day was when they were announced on the balcony of the Pfister’s Imperial Room, surprising all their guests.
Most of their answers don’t match up, but they laugh a lot.
It is July 29, 2016, and Russ and Julie are married at Old Saint Mary’s Church in Milwaukee.
They sit at the alter, looking out at at all their family and friends during the ceremony and relishing having everyone they love under one roof.
They have a gorgeous reception in the Imperial Room.
Their wedding is classic with nods to a bygone era, like the mess jacket Julie’s beloved father wears.
After a precious minute of whispering together behind the curtain in the ballroom, to their guests’ surprise and delight they are announced and appear on the balcony. It is as close to a moment of royalty as one could hope for.
Their wedding really was the dream day.
Engaged now, Russ and Julie are searching for the perfect wedding venue.
They try other beautiful hotels, but nothing feels exactly right. The Pfister is next on the list to tour.
When they walk in, Russ remembers being the best man in a friend’s wedding in the Imperial Ballroom ten years before, and thinks how the Pfister has been exalted in his mind for decades. Julie loves the old-world feeling of the ballroom and the iconic beauty so much she can barely breathe. She asks Russ how he’d feel if they get married at the Pfister, and he says “like the king of Milwaukee.”
Julie moves to Kentucky for work. Russ, who had long-ago vowed not to bother with a long-distance relationship, finds himself smitten enough to tell her how serious he is before she leaves.
After she returns home from the bar, Julie tells her parents that she’d met the man she was going to marry, who was named “Russ….Something”.
On a July evening in 2013 at a bar in Chicago’s Gold Coast, Russ is with 18 friends at a bachelor party. Julie is there too, but only because she is somewhat reluctantly appeasing her younger sister who’d begged her to go out.
Russ, being the most social and chatty man in his group, is dispatched to Julie’s table to break the ice on behalf of his crowd of friends.
He assumes Julie lives in Chicago and since he isn’t at all interested in a long-distance relationship, he tries to set her up with one of his friends.
Julie think he’s cute and persistently tries to get his attention. She tells Russ that she has just interviewed for a job in Milwaukee, where he lives.
Realizing he may actually have a chance to possibly see this woman again, he says Let me reintroduce myself.