It is often said that the best relationships stem from friendships. If ever there was a couple to prove that point, it would be Nina and Alex.
The two met as high school sophomores, but it wasn’t until the summer before their junior year of college that a four-year friendship turned into something more. “He was a bit immature in high school and needed to grow up a little bit,” says Nina jokingly. And despite the 12-hour distance that the couple faced as they completed college—him at Michigan Tech and her at Drake University—it was that foundation of friendship that carried them through to graduation in 2009 and their eventual move back to Minnesota.
Although the pair had talked about marriage, it still came as a shock to Nina when Alex pulled out a ring on the Stone Arch Bridge nearly two summers ago. So nervous that he forgot to go down on one knee, Nina first had to ask if he was joking before excitedly accepting his proposal. “He just had the ring in his pocket,” she recalls. “No box, no nothing. It was right as we were about to leave the bridge. He was going to ask me in the middle, but he was really nervous about the ring falling out and landing in the river.”
Luckily, that didn’t happen; and after calling relatives and friends with the news, they got right to the planning. First on the to-do list: booking a venue.
Nina and Alex visited seven locations before settling on FIVE Event Center in Minneapolis. The lounge atmosphere was perfect for the laid-back couple, whose main goal was for their guests to have a good time. The space’s natural lighting also highlighted Nina’s love for dark purple hues, which she accented with coral and bright greens to round out the color scheme. But it was the florist who really brought the couple’s colors to life. “I told my florist I wanted purple, coral, and green, and she totally exploded it with all these other colors that were just perfect and that I hadn’t even thought of,” Nina says.
Luck seemed to follow Nina and Alex through every step of the planning process. They had no trouble with vendors, and instead of dreading the seemingly never-ending to-do list, Nina actually enjoyed it. “If you’re worried it’s going to be stressful, you’re going to make it stressful," she says. "Every vendor that I finalized, I was kind of like, ‘Aw, that’s one less thing I get to do now.’ I think that people obsess about it too much. You have to take a step back and realize that it’s just the start of the rest of your life. That’s the important stuff, and your family is the important stuff.”
That point was emphasized when Nina’s mom, Vicki, was diagnosed with breast cancer four months before the wedding. Though going through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and battling a bout of pneumonia a mere 10 days prior to the ceremony, Vicki—who is now a survivor—was determined to walk her daughter down the aisle. Come wedding day, she did just that, and was even able to stay up and enjoy the celebration until 10 p.m. “She killed it. And her wig was phenomenal,” Nina laughs. “I think having that happen put everything into perspective. This is one day, and my mom was able to be there for it.”
Both Nina and Alex and their vendors worked to make sure Vicki was as comfortable as possible, bringing in a blow-up mattress and rearranging the photographer’s schedule so she could take naps in between the ceremony and reception. And while Nina’s main focus was on her mother that day, she also had the opportunity to experience something many brides never do: complete solitude. “I got ready at my parent’s house and there was a time when I was literally all by myself, making the playlist that was going to be played before the ceremony started,” Nina says. “I was so excited. They were songs that always made me think of Alex. And for that moment, it was just me and music.”
A self-proclaimed music buff, Nina wanted music to play a large role in her and Alex’s big day. To accomplish that, they both secretly picked lyrics from a song, which were then printed on banners and hanged as a backdrop for the ceremony. “We each picked something that we felt represented how we felt about the other person and how we felt about our relationship as a whole,” Nina says. “I also wanted there to be one element of surprise for both of us in the wedding because everything is so meticulously planned out.”
Personal details such as this helped Nina and Alex stay connected on their wedding day, something that can be difficult for many couples that get caught up in the planning process. But at the end of the day, Nina hopes other brides will remember to have fun and remain calm during this happy time in their lives. “If you get stressed, take a step back and just stop,” she advises. “Go do something with your fiancé and have fun. Remember why you’re doing it. There’s always tomorrow.”
Date: September 29, 2012
Ceremony/Reception: FIVE Event Center
Photography: Becca Dilley Photography
Dress: Glass Slipper
Bridesmaid dresses: The Wedding Shoppe
Hair: River Valley Athletic Club & Spa
Makeup: Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios
Flowers: Violet’s Flowers
Invitations: Linnea Wagner
DJ: Instant Request
Caterer: Premier Catering
Dessert: Cocoa & Fig