Family Ties: Couples Return to Parents' Wedding Venues
When looking for a location for their weddings, these couples decided to keep it in the family and get married where parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins had before them.
Photo by Laurel Mountain Photography
When it came to the location of her wedding, Alexanna Kubler had no question in her mind. She would get married on her maternal grandparents’ property — now owned by her aunt and uncle — in West Newton, Pa.
Getting married on this property has become a tradition in Alexanna’s family. Alexanna and her husband Arthur Rodgers were the fourth couple to take advantage of the spacious backyard.
In 1974, Alexanna’s parents — Paula and Tom — kicked off the tradition, celebrating their wedding at Paula’s parents’ house out of necessity; the couple had to move to Hawaii, where Paula was going to school, and needed to plan and execute a wedding as quickly as possible.
The tradition continued when Alexanna’s aunt and uncle — Christine and Chris Suchko — said I do in 1993. After a 19-year break, Lauren, Alexanna’s cousin, picked it back up when she married her husband Steve Iacoboni and had the reception on the property in 2012.
“I didn’t even consider anywhere else,” Alexanna says. “It was a no-brainer.”
Alexanna and Arthur were the first couple to have both their ceremony and reception on the property. Because the last wedding had been five years prior, Christine and Chris had their work cut out for them as they made the yard wedding-ready.
Chris had been planning on building a barn and decided to fast-track the project in case it rained on the day of the wedding. He ended up building the barn in two months.
“That’s just his M.O., working with a crazy deadline,” Alexanna says.
Though it didn’t rain on Sept. 9, Chris’ barn was still put to use; guests were able to enjoy cocktail hour — complete with cornhole and Chris’ collection of antique cars — there. Chris opted to leave three of the walls open, making the barn more of a pavilion and creating an easy flow for the guests.
With the building of the barn came industrial equipment that often tore up the yard. Christine had to tend to the yard after every vehicle drove through.
“I am forever indebted to my aunt and uncle for work they did every day,” Alexanna says. “Whether it was planting grass or building a barn.”
Alexanna’s other aunt, Linda Ulander, was a huge help, as her daughter was the last one to be married there. She provided advice on what was important to fix on the property and what could go unnoticed.
Alexanna’s parents also lent helping hands. Her father helped with the day-to-day yardwork, and her mother provided the floral arrangements for the day, acting as Alexanna’s florist.
“My cousin and friends did my makeup,” Alexanna says. “My mom’s friend flew from Honolulu to marry us. My friends performed for cocktail hour. My uncle made signs for us. We served dinner on my mother's own collection of antique dishes.”
Alexanna and Arthur infused family in every single aspect of their wedding day, which made their day even more meaningful.
“I feel guilty about asking everyone to be all hands on deck for almost a year,” Alexanna says. “But, everyone was totally willing to put so much into making it the perfect venue.”
Fate led Anna Wagenhofer’s parents, Bruce and Mary, to meet at a festival at St. Basil Church in Carrick. The couple had a four-year age difference — she was 14, and he was 17 — and went to different schools; they likely would not have met had they not both attended the annual fair. Upon meeting, Bruce and Mary immediately hit it off and began dating. After a few years together, the couple married at St. Basil Church.
“If they hadn’t met there, [my brother and I] wouldn’t exist,” Anna says.
Years later, Anna’s brother Brian, who didn’t belong to a parish, was getting married. He and his now-wife Monica decided to use St. Basil.
“I knew when my brother got married there that it was a dream of mine to do the same,” Anna says.
When Anna and her fiance Brandon Detwiler were planning their big day, they faced an issue similar to her brother’s. Anna and Brandon didn’t belong to a parish, though they had been avidly attending mass led by Deacon Frank Szemanski, who is a close friend of the couple.
Anna and Brandon decided to get married in Saint Basil Church and have Deacon Szemanski officiate. This way, the couple could continue on with the tradition and make it their own.
Photo by Anne Patricia Photography
When Reverend Scott McCormick married Don and Kathy Stritmatter on May 31, 1980, he likely had no idea that he would get the opportunity to do the same for both of their children.
Caitlin Wykoff and Dan Stritmatter, married on Sept. 23 at the Grand Concourse, asked Dan’s late father’s close friend Scott to officiate, following suit of his sister, Dawn Stritmatter Rodgers, who was married to her husband Ed by Scott. Scott’s and Don’s families have known each other for 40 years and still remain close.
“There were so many ties to Dan’s family,” Caitlin says. “It was so meaningful.”
Dan’s sister, Dawn Stritmatter Rodgers, had worn their father’s wedding band on a chain around her neck since his death in 2007, and she gifted it to Dan to be his wedding band. Caitlin had the ring engraved with her and Dan’s wedding day, along with his parents’.
“Scott united us in marriage with the same ring that united Dan’s parents,” Caitlin says. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”