A Jewel of a Day

By Emma Thoelke
In Style
Kait Calys-Strohm and Justin Edward Vincent Strohm | Photo by Brea Photography

Kait Calys-Strohm and Justin Edward Vincent Strohm | Photo by Brea Photography

Kait is an autism services supervisor for Easter Seals Midwest, and Justin is a real estate agent and investor.

Our Story

J: We met online but first met in person at the Saint Louis Art Museum and dated almost five years before the engagement.

Photo by Brea Photography

Photo by Brea Photography

The Engagement

K: Well, we were visiting my family in KC…
J: I was planning on proposing then, but unfortunately I got food poisoning from some questionable shellfish. I ended up spending most of the trip laid up, and eventually I got tired of waiting for myself to recover. So, on the last morning we were in KC, I rolled out of bed while Kait was getting ready, dug the ring out of my bag and took a knee.

Planning the Big Day

Photo by Brea Photography

Photo by Brea Photography

 

K: The truth is, I wanted to go to city hall or Vegas. I’m serious—I’m not a very “wedding-y” girl.
J: But I wanted something that our families would be able to attend, to meet each other and to celebrate with us. I don’t think weddings are just about the couple getting married.
K: After a lot of deliberation, I realized that this was really important to Justin—and really important to our parents—so we decided to have a wedding.
J: We didn’t want an overly programmed, super-formal wedding. We absolutely did not want anyone to feel like the wedding dragged on.
K: I designed every piece of stationery that was used for the wedding and hand-addressed every single envelope. I love the art of the handwritten note, and I find a lot of value in a personalized piece of stationery. I wanted our guests to get that this invitation asking them to celebrate with us was meant especially for them.

K: I had some health issues for several months prior to the wedding, so I ordered 20-something dresses from various places to try on. I felt frustrated because everything was just so over-the-top and not me at all. I’m fairly short and full-length gowns felt like parachutes to me. But lo and behold, my best friend and maid of honor, Crissy Rea-Bain, emailed me a link with a list of “non-wedding wedding dresses.” From across the country we both picked out the same dress for me! It was a short, ivory lace dress by Diane von Fürstenberg. It was short and sassy—kind of like me.
J: Our rehearsal dinner was at Art Bar on Cherokee Street. It was a good place for our families to relax and get to know each other before everything started in earnest. Tom Halaska did an amazing job with the food, and Tatyana Telnikova made sure that the atmosphere was just right. I wanted the food at our reception to be memorable: hoisin-glazed spare ribs, stuffed Peppadews, prosciutto flat breads and a variety of other options.
K: Our ceremony was at the Jewel Box in Forest Park and our reception was at the Whittemore House. Who wouldn’t want to get married at the Jewel Box? You don’t have to decorate anything—it’s already gorgeous. And what I love the most about the Whittemore is that, while it is a beautiful, historic house, it still feels like a home.
J: I love the Jewel Box, both as a piece of architecture and for its historic value to St Louis. Our ceremony was at night and the Jewel Box is especially stunning, inside and out, when it’s illuminated.

Photo by Brea Photography

Photo by Brea Photography

K: We chose a fairly eclectic menu for our reception—Grace Dinsmoor, the executive chef at the Whittemore, was incredible. Our cake was from The Cakery Bakery in Dogtown—alternating tiers of red velvet and lemon, which isn’t traditional, but we went with what we love.
J: We wanted people to feel comfortable moving around the Whittemore. That meant no assigned seating: It was a big cocktail party.
K: It allowed people to mingle and talk and eat and drink and not feel like they were waiting for the next course to arrive. That’s the worst: waiting for the salad to get cleared because you want the steak.

The Big Day

K: Strangely enough, I was uncharacteristically relaxed.
J: And I was uncharacteristically nervous.

Photo by Brea Photography

Photo by Brea Photography

K: We met just down the hill from the Jewel Box at The Muny before the ceremony, and up until that point we hadn’t seen each other that day.
J: I didn’t know it would be this way, but as soon as I saw her get out of the car for photos, all of my nervous jitters went away.
K: I was just ready to get the show on the road. We decided to make our ceremony short and sweet—I don’t think it was even 10 minutes long. We wrote our own vows, and I’m pretty sure there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. We were all blubbering.
J: Really, the ceremony itself is a blur. But I remember thinking that “Something in the Way She Moves” (the song Kait walked down the aisle to, by James Taylor) isn’t usually 15 minutes long.
K: Walking down the aisle was the only time I was nervous the entire day—I was holding my dad’s hand so tightly.
J: Oh, and when we exchanged rings, Kait put my ring on the wrong hand.
K: I joked that maybe the wedding was annulled because of that little mishap. Thankfully, it wasn’t!

For tips on how to make your big day picture-perfect, check out the Wedding Survival Guide here.

This story appeared in the September 2015 issue.

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