This Beer-Loving Couple's Wedding at Anheuser-Busch Was a Brewery First
Melissa and Jesse met for the first time via the online dating site OkCupid, and then met in-person over burgers and beers in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. After hitting up a bar nearby for skeeball and conversation, the two made plans for a second date—and during the following three and a half years, there would be even more. Jesse decided it was time to propose while Melissa was in St. Louis visiting family with Colby, their dog. When she flew back, he was hiding in their bedroom with their cat, Fuggle—who always greets Colby when she returns. Wondering why Fuggle wasn’t there, Melissa looked for the cat around the apartment and heard it yowling from behind the bedroom door. She threw open the door to find Jesse down on one knee. “After days of going over in my head what I wanted to say to her—about how much I love her, how happy she makes me and how lucky I am to have her in my life—all I could think about was that Colby was going to run in and knock me on my back,” Jesse says. “So I asked her if she would marry me, and I try to tell her the rest of that every day.”
OH, HOPPY DAY
The couple tapped into their mutual passion for craft beer and brewing for wedding-day inspiration—but they also wanted to incorporate unique details into each and every aspect of the day. Having the wedding in St. Louis was a decision made practically from the start. A budget stretches further in the Midwest, and guests would be able to enjoy a new city without spending thousands to go farther afield.
Melissa found her dress at the famous Kleinfeld Bridal (from TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress”). She’d made the appointment for the experience, but found the fitted A-line dress of her dreams (and price range) there, where Randy from the show told her she looked like “a Grecian-goddess version of Joan from ‘Mad Men’”—which “pretty much sealed the deal!” she says. To keep family close on the big day, she borrowed her jewelry and clutch from her mom, grandmother and sister, and Jesse offered up his great-aunt’s pearl broach, no turned into a necklace for her to wear. Jesse opted for a custom-made suit that the bride and groom picked out together, Budweiser cufflinks and argyle socks from STL craft brewery 4 Hands.
When it came time to decide the venue, the couple had only one place in mind: Anheuser-Busch Brewery—Melissa’s dad and uncles all had worked there, and “me and my sisters pretty much grew up at the place,” she says. “There’s no place more ‘St. Louis’ than the Budweiser brewery, and we couldn’t think of a more special place to seal our union.” As it turned out, it was the first time the brewery had hosted a ceremony. “We were so lucky that a number of people at AB worked really hard to get us permission to host such an event there and allowed us so much freedom to make the day our own,” Melissa says.
RAISE YOUR GLASS
Guests gathered in the newly renovated tasting room to sample beers before the ceremony, also held there. Friend Jeremy Friedman was the perfect groomsman-officiant: As a Catholic-Jewish man (Melissa is Catholic; Jesse is Jewish) who is incredibly passionate about beer, he was the obvious choice to facilitate the vows the couple had written together. Then, Jesse’s uncle, Glenn, imparted a special message to the couple, filled with meaningful advice from representatives from both families. Finally, to honor each of their heritages, they chose a twist on a unity candle (a unity beer) and the breaking of the glass (Jesse broke a beer chalice).
Afterward (and after a few more samples), everyone received private tours of the grounds. “My favorite part of the location was the soaring ceilings, which allowed for amazing acoustics,” says Melissa. The beer theme was also carried over creatively into the fresh flowers in Melissa’s bouquet and the boutonnieres: Angie from Elegance in Bloom worked wheat, grains and hops into beautiful arrangements.
Guests then ventured to City Museum, where the reception was held in Architecture Hall. They enjoyed St. Louis barbecue by Callier’s Catering, plus a wide variety of local beers; brews from their favorite New York brewery, Finback; and even the couple’s own homebrews, on burlap-covered tables named after the couple’s favorite breweries (Jesse’s Brooklyn family at the Brooklyn Brewery table; Melissa’s at Anheuser-Busch). Prior to the big day, the couple had brewed 20 gallons of a strawberry rhubarb wheat and a black IPA (named respectively for the dog and cat), as well as made a batch of their award-winning ghost pepper hot sauce—Jesse’s mom and Melissa had driven it all out from Brooklyn. The Cakery Bakery completed the meal with a multi-tiered, multi-flavored cake featuring buttercream hop vines.
The celebration went into the night with music from family and friends, a live band, and plenty of dancing—topped off, of course, by a late-night snack of Imo’s Pizza, Provel bites and toasted ravioli.
Photos by Your Story Studios. This story ran in the August 2015 issue.