A Wedding To Remember
Caleb Wuertenberg, 26, support specialist at Aesculap + Christopher Kijowski, 30, engineering account manager for Aerotek
Chris: I wish I could say we met in a quaint coffee shop or a fun night out, but we met on Myspace (yes, Myspace) eight years ago. He was friends with a friend from college; I saw his picture, sent a message and the rest is history. Marriage was always something we talked about, but we wanted to be sure we were truly ready emotionally and financially.
Caleb: The plan was to propose to Chris on Christmas morning, in front of his family. Every Christmas morning the Kijowski siblings play “Rob Your Neighbor,” and his sister, Jessi, and I had planned to rig it to have Chris get the ring …
Chris: It was a beautiful idea. However, unknown to Caleb, I told my family a few weeks earlier that I planned on proposing to Caleb. They had no choice but to keep their mouths closed to not ruin the surprise for either of us. So on Christmas Eve, I took him to an incredible dinner at Cielo. While we were there, I had a friend come into our home and decorate it with 100 candles and five dozen roses—and have a beautiful engagement ring waiting for him.
Caleb: I slowly opened the door to candles lit everywhere and rose petals leading to the living room where the roses surrounded a ring. Chris began to cry and could hardly say a sentence. I replied, “Yes—but you ruined tomorrow!” He stopped and looked at me and said, “What do you mean?” I said, “I love you, honey, but I have a ring for you tomorrow.”
Chris: I was just the lucky one who beat him to the punch.
Planning The Big Day
Chris: We knew we wanted a spring wedding from the beginning. We live right on the corner of Lafayette Park, and I always envisioned doing our wedding pictures with its trees full of life and flowers blooming. We landed on the first possible spring date that worked for both families, May 2.
Caleb: Usually, I plan and he entertains, but with the wedding, we each took on both roles. We agreed that our wedding was going to be one for the books.
Chris: We planned for 16 months. There wasn’t a day that went by where Caleb didn’t show me an idea on Pinterest for the wedding. We knew exactly what we wanted for that day: the look, the mood, everything. I wanted a super-emotional ceremony where our guests could literally feel the love we had for each other. And for the reception, we wanted a crazy party that would rival any Vegas nightclub.
Caleb: There were no guidelines, no apps or magazine to help plan a same-sex wedding. We had to create our own rules and traditions, and in some ways, I think it was easier. Palladium Saint Louis was able to support not only the ceremony, but also the cocktail hour and reception. Nicole, the event planner at Palladium, and her entire staff were amazing. I can’t possibly begin to describe how they went above and beyond to ensure the day was perfect for us.
The Big Day
Caleb: When Chris and I saw each other for our first look, the emotions were high. I just remember someone saying, “Oh, they’re here,” and then I hid so he wouldn’t catch a glimpse of me. As I walked over the bridge toward him, I kept telling myself to slow down: All I wanted to do was run to him. When I finally got to him and he turned around, it was a feeling I can only describe as magical.
Chris: That’s the moment everything hit me at once. It all was real. After eight years, I was going to marry this incredible man standing in front of me … and the tears started flowing.
Chris: Caleb and I talked at length about who we wanted to have officiate the ceremony. We finally landed on my godfather, Kevin Sypniewski. He was always someone I looked to for spiritual guidance, and it only seemed appropriate that he would be the one to marry us. Caleb and I wrote our own vows and exchanging them was, without question, the most emotional part of the day. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house (which is kind of what I was hoping for). Here we are three months later, and I still get choked up thinking about that moment.
Caleb: The food was absolutely amazing. Butler’s Pantry created chicken on jalapeno waffles and Jamaican shrimp on a plantain with crab cakes for the hors d’oeuvres, a farm-fresh salad that was bursting with color from the fruit and, to top it off, a stuffed chicken entree that melted in your mouth.
Chris: One of the most entertaining elements of the evening was the 400-square-foot light-up dance floor we imported from Kansas City. As soon as I saw it online, I knew I wanted it, and I didn’t care what kind of damage it was going to do to the budget. It was an absolute hit: It looked like it belonged in a Vegas club, changing colors and designs with the beat of the music. But the most hysterical part of the night came when our best friends surprised everyone by pulling off an expertly choreographed flash mob to a Beyoncé-Britney-Katy Perry mega-mix. The crowd absolutely went wild. It was so special simply being surrounded by so many people who love and support us no matter what society thinks is “right.” Everyone there believed that “love is love,” no matter which two people share in that love, and we are lucky to have such amazing people in our lives.
This story appeared in the October 2015 issue. Photography by Chris Files Photography.