Couple meet through Xanga blog

Photos courtesy of Couple of Dudes

A once-popular blog hosting website brought Parichard Sangern and Dennis Chan together.

Both had blogs on website Xanga in 2003, and after Parichard came across Dennis’ blog, the two began communicating. When an attempt to meet in person failed, Dennis blogged about everything he went through to try to meet with Parichard, including hours spent on his bike and a broken phone.

“When I read that, I literally fell in love with him before I even met him,” Parichard said.

A second attempt to meet was successful, they soon began dating and, in November 2012, Dennis proposed near Lake Michigan.

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Lauren & Clayton’s City View Loft wedding

Photos courtesy of Jenna Braunstein Photography

Lauren Rapciak and Clayton Faits were married April 12 at City View Loft in the West Loop. Lauren, the blogger behind Geek Girl Chicago, grew up in Westchester. Clayton is the creator of Our Fair City, a post-apocalpytic sci-fi podcast. The couple live in Roscoe Village.

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Engagement: Heather Knobloch & Brian Sherwood

Photo courtesy of Jonathon Napiorkowski

Heather Knobloch and Brian Sherwood are engaged. Brian is from Schaumburg and went to Schaumburg High School, while Heather lived six miles north in Hoffman Estates and attended Brian’s rival high school, Hoffman Estates High School.

The couple are getting married Oct. 3, 2015 at the St. Charles country club in St. Charles.

Below is Heather’s first-person story on how Brian proposed.

“Brian proposed in the most romantic way possible! He proposed on the day after our five year anniversary, May 3. Continue reading


Wedding vendor spotlight: Leap Weddings

We asked Ben Mahoney, owner of Leap Weddings, a few questions about wedding videography. Leap has been in business for eight years.  

Q. How long have you been in the wedding industry? What sparked your interest in doing what you’re doing now?

8 years. I actually sort of fell into the wedding industry. I was asked to shoot a wedding while in film school and immediately realized it was something that came naturally to me. Since then, I’ve just fallen more in more in love with the industry because of the amazing clients and vendors we get the opportunity to work with on a regular basis.

Q. What makes Leap Weddings unique and different from other Chicago area wedding videographers?

We value customer service and the experience working with us just as much, or maybe even a tiny bit more, than the actual end product we put out. The best compliments we receive come from a bride & groom within a few days (or sometimes even a few hours) following a wedding, before they have seen any footage at all, saying how much they enjoyed having our team as part of their day.  Continue reading

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Dad helps daughter throw garden-themed East Bank Club wedding

Photo courtesy of Phil Farber, Photo Images Inc.

Not many dads serve as their daughter’s wedding planner, but Brooke Handler trusted her dad, Joel’s, judgment when it came to making decisions for her and Jered Milton’s wedding.

“He kind of took over,” Brooke said good-naturedly, who added that she’s a lot like her father. “There’s not really anything I would have done differently.”

Brooke, a freelance writer and mom to 4-year-old Jack, is from Highland Park. Jered, a firefighter in Des Plaines, grew up in Northfield.

The Northbrook couple was connected through his sister, Rachel, and her aunt, Ronnie Briskman, who lived next to each other and got to talking one day as they walked their dogs. Brooke and Jered agreed to meet at a Starbucks almost two years ago and talked for four hours.

On July 4, 2013, Jered proposed while the two went sailing on Lake Michigan. Continue reading


Couple marry at Chicago Marriott Naperville

Photos courtesy of Just Love Me Photography

For April Hellermann and Eric Kemph, the Chicago Marriott Naperville stood out as a wedding venue because it was a spot that could host the ceremony, reception and out-of-town guests.

“We kind of wanted a place where we could do it all in one,” said April, a nanny who was born and raised in Naperville, where the couple now lives.

Eric, who works in IT in Chicago, is from Schiller Park. The two connected online and met in person in August 2011.

“He says he knew the day he met me, he was going to marry me,” April said. She needed a bit more time to know for sure, but after talking on the phone for hours and a second date, the two became serious.

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Chicago couple marry at Radisson Blue Aqua Hotel

Photos courtesy of Leathem Photography

Because Jennifer Long and Eric Fried sought a modern feel for their wedding day, the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago, with its contemporary, monochromatic look and floor-to-ceiling windows, was the perfect fit.

“We just liked that it was very classic but then very modern, too,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer, of Chapel Hill, N.C., is a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Eric, from Highland Park, is a management consultant in Chicago.

The couple, who now live in Chicago, met on Jewish singles website JDate.com in September 2009. In July 2013, while visiting Los Angeles, Eric surprised Jennifer with rose petals and champagne on their hotel’s rooftop, where he proposed and the two watched the sun set before a celebratory dinner.

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Morton Arboretum wedding was meant to be

Photos courtesy of FotoEnvy

Married 10 years after they first met, Diana Hazen and Rich Stoffle believe fate had a heavy hand in their story.

“We always kind of felt like it was meant to be,” Diana said.

Diana, who grew up in Naperville, and Rich, of northwest Indiana, met at Indiana University in summer 2004. At her mom’s insistence, Diana stayed at school for the summer and happened to meet Rich through mutual friends.

They lost touch a few years after college, but in August 2011, Diana and Rich ran into each other on the street in Chicago. Rich lived in Arizona at the time and was visiting. Five days later, they found themselves standing next to each other at the same Chicago restaurant bar.

“It was a total fluke,” Diana said. “It was very right place, right time.”

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High school sweethearts marry in Oak Park

Photos courtesy of Melanie Rose Goldberg and Elizabeth Jane Neurauter

When Dan Magner proposed to his high school sweetheart, she was practically waiting for it.

“He was really nervous and I was really ready,” Sarah Wallace said.

Dan and Sarah met almost eight years ago as teenagers at Oak Park and River Forest High School.

Dan popped the question in May 2013 at his apartment, and then celebrated by going to dinner with Sarah at The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center.

The traditional Catholic ceremony was held at the Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park on June 21. Sarah’s mom and Dan’s dad served the Eucharist as part of the full Mass.

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Pharmacists caught love bug in drugstore

Photos courtesy of R.E.M. Video & Photography

For Jennifer Casey and Robert Kamper, Walgreens is more than just a neighborhood store. The two met there in 2005 working as pharmacy technicians. Yet they didn’t start dating until three years later when Jen left for pharmacy school at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Their long distance relationship endured for four years, until Jen returned to her hometown of Algonquin.

Bobby, of Lake in the Hills, proposed on Christmas Day 2012 in Costa Rica. Jen was expecting a Fossil watch she had picked out as her gift. Although she kept asking for it during the vacation, Bobby kept holding off. Instead, the box Jen thought was for her watch was actually a ring holder.

“I’m horrible at surprises so I was expecting exactly what I wanted for Christmas and it wasn’t at all what I was expecting,” Jen said.

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Long distance couple marry on Skydeck of Willis Tower

Photos courtesy of Timothy Whaley & Associates

Along with their first wedding anniversary this month, Maitlyn Lucatorto and Kevin Michaels are also celebrating Kevin’s return from Afghanistan and anticipating the arrival of their first child.

Maitlyn, a Barrington native, met Kevin, of Naperville, through friends in 2011.  Shortly after, Kevin enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.

“We’ve been in distance most of our relationship,” Maitlyn said. “We’re able to talk every day now, though, whether it’s through phone, email, Facebook or letters in the mail.”

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Allison & Michael’s Hollywood themed wedding

Photos courtesy of Emilia Jane Photography
Allison Streuter and Michael Vainisi were married July 5 at Holy Family Church in Barrington with a reception at the Inverness Golf Club. The couple currently live in Los Angeles.

The Details
Photographer: Emilia Jane Photography, Chicago
Videographer: Wellspun Weddings, Chicago
Ceremony venue: Holy Family Church, Barrington
Reception venue: Inverness Golf Club
Caterer: Inverness Golf Club
Officiant: Father Terry
Wedding planner: Kathleen McLaughlin
Floral arrangements: Barrington Flower Shop
Dress: Pronovias
Shoes: Bagley Mischka
Jewelry, accessories: vintage pieces from my grandmothers
Earrings: The Red Magnolia,
Hair comb: Glamorous Bijoux
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Amsale
Tuxedos: The Black Tux
Disc jockey: Keith Christopher
Hair: Gina Scalpone, Glamhairus
Makeup: ClaudiaBarrutia, Anna Householder
Accommodations: The Renaissance Hotel, Schaumburg


Highland Park natives marry in elegant Drake Hotel wedding

Photos courtesy of Steve Koo Photography

Angelica Marconi likely is one of few brides who can say an item she once shoved up her nose played a part in her wedding day.

After the blue button she stuck up her nose at age 4 was removed at the hospital, Angelica’s mom, Randi Spiegel, kept it.

And once Angelica decided on her lace and organza dress from Vwidon in Chicago, her mother asked the dressmaker to have the button sewn into the dress for the day she married Jacob Zweig.

The story illustrates their wedding’s unique blend of quirk and classic elegance at The Drake Hotel in Chicago.

Angelica and Jacob, who now live in Skokie, are both from Highland Park; Angelica attends Chicago Medical School, and Jacob is working on his doctorate in cognitive neuroscience at Northwestern University.

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Brunch Deer Path Inn wedding ‘worth the wait’

Photos courtesy of Andre LaCour Photography

The night Stephanie Friedman met Roger Partynski for their first date, poor weather and a long commute for Roger could have set the tone for a tense night.

But a saying on a marquee outside the restaurant they met at seemed serendipitous, and has stuck with them since: “Patience…it’s worth the wait.”

Stephanie, of Northbrook, owns a Chicago area pet care business; Roger, from Chicago, is a warehouse manager in Countryside. The couple, who live in Chicago, met online in April 2013 and soon after in person.

“I actually think we really were blown away,” Stephanie said of their first date.

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Wedding vendor spotlight: Gina Scalpone, Glamhairus

photo (67)We had the pleasure of finding out more about Gina Scalpone and her business, Glamhairus, which has been open for four years.  

Q. How long have you been in the wedding industry? What sparked your interest in doing what you’re doing now?

I have been in the industry for 18 years now. Being a part of someone’s wedding day is such a positive, fun experience. I love being creative and having the instant gratification of seeing how great my clients look. There’s nothing sweeter than a happy bride!

Q. What makes Glamhairus unique and different from other Chicago area wedding stylists?

We do everything, not just hair, and the best part is that we go directly to the bride. Glamhairus is an image consulting company, so we can help a bride put their look together from head to toe, whether it’s for their wedding day, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, etc. This includes hair, makeup, accessorizing and more. Continue reading

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Couple go for simple, relaxed Kenilworth Beach wedding

Photos courtesy of Creative M Photography

Jenny Stringer and Ryan Browne were determined to keep their wedding simple, so much so that they planned it in just 6 weeks.

“We didn’t want to get caught up in all the details,” Jenny said. “When you focus on what’s happening and the people that are there, it will always be perfect.”

Once Jenny, formerly of Wilmette, and Ryan, of Buffalo Grove, selected Kenilworth Beach for their venue, their other vendors easily fell into place, aside from their photographer, whom they secured only because of a cancellation.

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Wedding vendor spotlight: Jane’s Blue Iris, Hinsdale

We had the pleasure of finding out more about Jane Gavran and her business, Jane’s Blue Iris in Hinsdale. Jane’s has been in business for nearly 30 years.

Q. How long have you been in the wedding industry? What sparked your interest in doing what you’re doing now?

Jane’s Blue Iris has been creating wedding flowers for as long as we have been in business. Jane, having grown up in a “flower family,” has been involved in the wedding industry from a young age. Everyone who works at the store has a love of flowers and design. We are artists here. Once you begin working with flowers and understanding design, it is almost impossible to shake the passion that takes hold of you. Evolution of design through working with customers keeps the spark alive here. Continue reading


Bride wears peach, gold wedding dress for romantic Orso’s wedding

Ceremony photos courtesy of Jenna Braunstein Photography, reception photos courtesy of Rebirth Photo

Michael Klima proposed to his wife, Danielle Haynes, on April Fool’s Day, but he wasn’t joking.

“What would you say if I asked you to marry me?” Michael asked.

Danielle responded she would “probably say yes.”

A few months later, the couple married Aug. 9 in Chicago. They wed on the top deck of Orso’s, a restaurant in Old Town, and then proceeded to celebrate the reception on the vine-covered, candle-lit patio beneath it. The venue fit Danielle’s wedding vision of a garden-party feel.

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NYC couple return to bride’s home state for laid-back Kenilworth wedding

Photos courtesy of Duron Studio

Naomi Rosenberg is in debt to her twin brother. Her brother was roommates with Benjamin Schwartz of Baltimore, Maryland at Yeshiva University in New York City during their senior year. Naomi and Ben began dating the next year in October 2012.

Knowing that Naomi didn’t want a big proposal, Ben simply pulled out a ring at his New York City apartment in December 2013 to ask for her hand in marriage.

The couple then headed back to the bride’s home state for the June 15 ceremony and reception at the Kenilworth Club in Kenilworth.

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#TipTuesday How to plan a green wedding: Sept. 9, avoid flower foam

A photo of Carlene Smith, owner of Naturally Yours Events, a Chicago company that specializes in crafting environmentally friendly weddings.Every Tuesday, Carlene Smith of Naturally Yours Events will share one easy tip to make your wedding more environmentally friendly.

TIP: Avoid any floral arrangements that uses flower foam! Flower foam is that green styrofoam-like product that florists use to keep flowers in place and hydrated. It’s not biodegradable and it has chemicals that are considered toxic to the user and to the environment once it is chucked into the trash.

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Naperville couple bring Hawaii home to wedding

Photos courtesy of Rife Ponce Photography

Hawaii is one of Jenna Paolilli and Chris Wiley’s favorite places and it’s where they got engaged, so it comes as no surprise that their wedding had a prevalent Hawaiian theme.

Jenna, a Naperville native, had visited Hawaii with family nearly 10 times before meeting Chris, a Texan native, in 2012. Chris gained admiration for the island after a Hawaiian vacation with Jenna’s family in 2013.

“We conveyed a Hawaiian message throughout the whole planning process, from the wedding shower to the wedding,” Jenna said.  “We really wanted to bring Hawaii back home.”

The two met in 2012 through Jenna’s mom, Naperville native Diane Prodzenski who was a marketing representative and had Jewel-Osco as a client. They were all at Jewel once day when Chris talked to Diane and said Jenna was cute and that he would one day marry her.

Chris did just that — at the Fox Valley Country Club in North Aurora. Before exchanging vows, they placed their wedding bands in a Koa Bowl, a Hawaiian wedding blessing.

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High school track and field teammates tie knot in Libertyville

Photos courtesy of NeriPhoto

Deerfield natives Samantha Ford and Ryan Brown were running partners before they were partners in marriage.

“We were friends in high school but we never dated,” Samantha said.

They both headed to Indiana after graduation—Samantha went to Butler University and Ryan went to Indiana University.

“We stayed in touch and talked all the time,” Samantha said.

Their relationship started almost seven years ago during Samantha’s junior year and Ryan’s senior year.

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Geneva couple surprised with live animal entertainment for Chicago wedding

Photos courtesy of Rebekah Albaugh

While Anabell Torres and Christopher Solomon both attended Southern Illinois University, it was a school-sponsored Habitat for Humanity trip to Winter Haven, Florida in 2011 that brought them together.

“We didn’t really get to know each other until we actually went on the trip,” Anabell said. “Once we got back, we continued to talk and stayed in touch and started dating shortly after.”

Christopher, of Geneva, Illinois, proposed over Labor Day weekend in 2012. Anabell, of Hoopeston, Illinois, had just returned from an abroad internship in Spain, and Christopher suggested they stay at The James Chicago hotel for the holiday. A few months before, Christopher planned a surprise engagement with the manager of David Burke’s Primehouse. He picked out the exact table and had the chef bring out the ring on a plate of desserts.

The July 26 wedding ceremony was held at Holy Family Parish Chicago and the reception was at Monastero’s Ristorante & Banquets in Chicago. The couple visited 12 different venues before choosing on Monastero’s—a decision made because of the restaurant’s charming owner, Maria Monastero.

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Q & A: Shital & Daniel — ‘Better Together’ at Holiday Inn Skokie

Photos courtesy of Sayyid Qadri 

Shital Gandhi, a Chicago native, and Daniel Stack of Lake Zurich, were married at the Holiday Inn in Skokie. The couple currently live Bellevue, Washington, where Shital is a mathematics teacher and Daniel is a software development engineer at Microsoft. They married May 17.

Q. How did you meet?

Daniel and Shital attended The University of Illinois at Chicago, where Daniel was majoring in computer science and Shital was majoring in mathematics and minoring in French. On Oct. 14, 2009, Daniel was in the Mathematics Learning Center studying for a Calculus 2 exam with some classmates. Shital arrived with her best friend, Ania Putyra, who came to be Shital’s maid of honor. They sat at the same table as Daniel to work on Abstract Algebra 1 and Introduction To Probability with their friend. Daniel was interested in Shital right away and got her phone number before she left. Shital began to fall for Daniel, and the two have been a couple since May 12, 2010. Daniel proposed on Oct. 29, 2011, and then gave Shital a gorgeous diamond ring with a second proposal on her golden birthday, Dec. 26, 2013, in front of friends and family.

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Batavia couple’s Friday the 13th wedding

Photos courtesy of GReyes Photography

Melanie Vartanian and Adam Gilbert jumped at the chance for a Friday the 13th wedding.

“Everybody think it’s a freaky thing or superstitious but we just thought it was fun,” Melanie said.

The Batavia couple met in April 2011 through a mutual friend and officially started dating later that month.

“He took me fishing on our first date because his favorite thing in the world is fishing,” Melanie said. “I think I got him once I proved I was a good fisherman.”

Melanie was under the impression they were going to Chicago on a dinner cruise for his parent’s anniversary in August 2012 when Adam popped the question on the boat’s top deck.

“I turned around and Adam was on one knee,” she said. “It was nice and cheesy just like I like it.”

The June 13 ceremony and reception took place at The Arboretum Club in Buffalo Grove. Melanie and Adam liked the venue’s high ceilings and big, bright space.

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Couple connect after ‘first date’ of training in the swamps of Virginia

Photos courtesy of Slack Photography

Sometimes, relationships accelerate faster in the military. That’s at least what Lake Forest native Kate Buss said, and it was definitely true for her and husband Peter Mahoney, who met in March 2013 during training at Fort Lee, Virginia. They spent 12 hours together as partners in a tactical training portion that took place in the swamps.

“We just really hit it off really quickly,” Kate said. She immediately picked up on his kind-hearted nature and found him, incredibly funny and very warm. Peter, she thinks, loved that she was quirky and a “character.”

Less than two months after they first met, on April 28, in the quaint town of Williamsburg, Peter proposed. Kate said a lot of people didn’t really believe them when they spread the news.

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Wedding 26

Q & A: Claira & Jason’s Koten Chapel, Alfred Rubin Center Naperville wedding

Photos courtesy of Dana Ann Photography

Claira Salvo, originally from Wheaton, and Jason Verdin from Bolingbrook, married Aug. 3, 2013, at Kotel Chapel at North Central College in Naperville. The Naperville couple had the reception at the Alfred Rubin Center, also in Naperville.

We asked the couple to answer some newlywed questions, and answers are below: 

Q. How did you meet?

Mission trips have a funny way of introducing people to each other thousands of miles away from home. We began our relationship a few months after a trip with our church to El Salvador. Although that was not the first time that we spoke to each other, it is where we created a connection and a friendship.

Q. What was your first dance song? Why did you choose it?

We danced to “Let it Be Me” by Ray Lamontagne. We love the message that the song relays about relationships, and it was a song that shaped our relationship.

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Photos from Chicago’s first NotWedding event

We can’t believe it’s already been a week since Chicago’s first NotWedding event! If you’re not familiar, read up on the NotWedding concept on our first report on the event. The bridal show alternative is done in the style of a big fat, fake wedding, complete with a ceremony, appetizers and late-night snacks.

Last Thursday’s event took place at City View Loft with an abundance of local wedding vendors and 165 guests in attendance. Below are a few photos from Booth Photographics.



Some Catholic schools in Chicago Archdiocese will close

UPDATE: Closed schools include one in Skokie and another in Highwood.

Citing rising costs and low enrollment, Cardinal Francis George has said some Archdiocese Schools will be closed or consolidated.

George made the announcement in Catholic New World, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s newspaper.

“We will not be able to maintain all schools in their current form,” George wrote in a column that did not identify any specific schools targeted under the plan.

“Some school communities will be welcomed into healthier schools to bolster them further. Others will come together to form a new consolidated school that will use the best of the schools’ buildings, teachers resources and program approaches.”

The news should not surprise some of the schools, as the archdiocese was sending signals earlier this year to those that were at a critical point.

“A fairly large group of schools at risk have an average enrollment of only 145, well below the required minimum of 225,” George wrote.

Meetings were held with those at-risk schools in May to notify them of their status, George wrote. But “many of these schools were not able to grow in student numbers” he added.

“Supporting many low enrollment schools, particularly those with demographic challenges, spreads our scarce resources very thin and limits our ability to invest dollars in strengthening viable school offerings for our students.”

The Archdiocese school system currently educates more than 82,000 Chicago-area children in 240 elementary and high schools, George wrote.

“We remain as committed as ever to Catholic education, and we believe a more appropriately sized network will enable us to strengthen our system and serve our children more effectively.”

George wrote that though operating costs are lower than at public schools, expenses have continued to rise. As a result, he wrote, “the cost of a Catholic education is now beyond what many families can afford.” Because of this, the archdiocese has helped fund school operating costs to the tune of about $165 million from local parish contributions and Archdiocesan assets over the past five years, he wrote.

Operating aid to schools from the archdiocese was more than $23 million in the 2012 fiscal year. It has declined slightly, George wrote, to $18 million in the 2014 fiscal year.

The announcement of which schools will come at 3:30 p.m. today.

Couple tie the knot in three ceremonies

A once-popular blog hosting website brought Parichard Sangern and Dennis Chan together.

Both had blogs on website Xanga in 2003, and after Parichard came across Dennis’ blog, the two began communicating. When an attempt to meet in person failed, Dennis blogged about everything he went through to try to meet with Parichard, including hours spent on his bike and a broken phone.

“When I read that, I literally fell in love with him before I even met him,” Parichard said.

A second attempt to meet was successful, they soon began dating and, in November 2012, Dennis proposed near Lake Michigan.

Parichard, a quality assurance manager in Elk Grove Village, and Dennis, a paramedic, are both originally from Chicago. The couple now lives in Skokie.

They were married at a Cook County courthouse on Aug. 28, 2013 — their 10-year dating anniversary — with their immediate family in attendance.  Continue reading

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