Justin & Jessica: Engaged

Justin Muench and Jessica Schmit are full of fun, unique ideas, and truly are a perfect match! Going on five years together, they’re ready for a spectacular wedding celebrating with family and friends (and lots of dessert….LOTS). Read on for their love story and whimsical engagement photos taken by Courtney Smith Photography!


How did you two meet?

It all started on a stormy winter day at Lambert Airport in St. Louis. Justin was rushing to catch his flight to deworm orphans in El Salvador and Jessica was late for a flight to Geneva to present a lecture on The Constitution and the Feminist Agenda. Scurrying to Gate A4, Justin ran straight into Jessica on her way to A13, causing her papers to go flying. As they both bent down to collect the lecture notes, their eyes locked and sparks flew.

Just kidding.

In true millennial fashion, Jessica and Justin met on the Internet. The algorithms of OkCupid worked their magic and with a match rating topping 90% (experts still debate the exact number), Justin thought it was worth sending a message. Around November 24, 2012 (based on reconstructed chronology), Justin sent Jessica a message clearly indicating he had actually read her profile. After a few messages back and forth about their shared love of Radiolab and hoppy beers, they had their first date on December 2, 2012. Despite the fact that it was Jessica’s law school finals week, these two crazy kids hung out the following three nights in a row (please forgive her, Ruth Bader Ginsburg!). Three furbabies, twenty two road trips, and countless tacos later, they’re ready to make it official in front of their friends and family.


Share one of your favorite dates.

The Time: December 24th, 2015

The Place: Chicago, IL

The Drama

Jess and I had just finished our annual marathon of Christmas Eve tradition that is over-indulgent brunch, nostalgic shopping, and exploring some of the world’s best museums alongside her fun-loving parents in the heart of the Windy City. Truth be told, our night of good old-fashioned holiday drinking the preceding evening had started to catch up with us so we decided to head back to our Bed & Breakfast to catch a quick nap before continuing with the festivities.

It was then, at 2pm on the streetside outside of our accommodations, that I noticed the unthinkable… our car, newly purchased just one month prior, had been T-boned in its parking spot sometime the night before rendering it completely undrivable. Even worse, the culprit had fled the scene leaving behind nothing but broken glass, a busted rear axle, and a slightly diminished sense of faith in humanity.

Now you might not have thought about it before, but finding a business willing to tow your car to another city 5 hours away, and on the evening before Christmas, can prove to be quite the challenge. That, coupled with the facts that we were traveling with two dogs, and couldn’t find an available rental car within a 200 mile radius, had us wondering if we’d make it back home in time to see the rest of our family for the holidays. After 4 hours on the phone with the insurance company, we found the last tow shop open in Chicago. We were even able to find a complete stranger on Reddit.com that was willing to drive us (and our dogs) halfway home to Springfield, Illinois where my parents graciously offered to pick us up for the remainder of our journey. This Planes, Trains, and Automobiles sequel might not sound like the start to a great date, but I’m getting to that.

Tears were shed, frustration was made known, police interviews were taken, but we decided to put that behind us and make the best of the remaining time we had, and believe me, WE DID! That very same night we shotgunned pitchers of margaritas and laughed hysterically in theatres to our now favorite holiday movie, The Night Before. We had a fireside dinner while enjoying some of Chicago’s best British pub food and culture alike at Owen & Engine. We popped over to Longman & Eagle for some world-class cocktails and hipster certified farm-to-table desserts and then ended the night with a romantic stroll along Logan Square Park, marveling at the local resident’s extravagant Christmas-light displays.

Ironically, it was the best evening I can remember. But not necessarily because of the entertainment, food, drinks, or lights; I had such a great time because the person I was spending it with, was determined to make the best of a crappy situation. Rather than (justifiably) wallowing in self-pity, Jessica had chosen to squeeze every drop of joy out of our adventure.This reason, is what made that night the best date I ever shared with Jessica. She had, and always has, reminded me that perception is reality… that we have to choose to create our own happiness. I realized once again, in the spotlight of juxtaposition, that I had found my teammate for life. How sweet it is to know that that in the midst of discomfort, your partner is always on the lookout for the silver lining.


When did you know they were the one for you?

Justin: When she left for her semester interning 7 states away. I cried like a baby for weeks.


How did he pop the question? Was it a surprise?

With Jessica being a Windy City kid, Justin and she have trekked to Chicago numerous times throughout their relationship. On their first trip there together in 2013, Jessica was sure to take Justin to Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, a combination of an awesome art installation and interactive playground for all of the wonderful varieties of Chicagoans to enjoy. While they played in the fountain’s water, she regaled him with happy stories she had there, declaring the spot her favorite place in the world.

Three years and a secretly purchased engagement ring later, Justin had hatched a plan. On a trip to Chicago on June 11, 2016, Justin kept telling Jessica that he really wanted to go to Blues Fest, located near Millennium Park. She thought this was a little odd as he had never expressed such an intense love for blues music before, but chalked it up to the St. Louis music scene finally soaking into his pasty soul. When they arrived at Blues Fest, Justin suggested they go take the requisite selfie by the Park’s infamous bean sculpture, Cloudgate (cuz, I mean, you gotta, right?). Strolling through the park, the couple could not resist stopping by Crown Fountain, watching happy kiddos splash around and tourists marvel at the video installations.

Shoeless and hand-in-hand, they wandered around the fountain, reminiscing of all the wonderful experiences they had together over the past three and a half years. Stopping suddenly, Justin turned to Jessica, told her he couldn’t imagine a more perfect place for this moment, and dropped to one knee, asking her to be his wife. Jessica did one last ‘Single Ladies’ dance, and the rest is history!


What is your favorite thing about your fiancé?

Justin: Her incredible sense of empathy for anyone/everyone. Her mutual love for beer, tacos, and spicy food. How she instantly becomes best friends with every dog she meets. When she laughs. I always stop what I’m doing to cherish every single one.

Sorry, I couldn’t choose just one!

Jessica: Justin has such an enthusiasm for life- he gets excited about so many aspects of our world that most people don’t ever think about- the vibrancy of peppers at the grocery store; the texture of a pastry; the sweetness of an older couple at a grocery store. It’s been the greatest gift in the world to be able to have the superpower of looking through life with that lens- savoring every little moment and experience, and treating them as a blessing.

He totally gets my weird- we can sing made-up random songs to each other about cleaning the dishes or the mailman and instead of thinking I’m a crazy person, he simply harmonizes with me. #truelove

He’s my best friend in the whole world and makes seemingly mundane and/or horrifying experiences (i.e. see the best date ever story) incredibly fun! I honestly cannot think of a time when I’ve been “bored” when I’ve been around Justin. Seems like a pretty good person to spend the rest of your life with, amirite?


How do you envision your wedding day?

Cuteness exploding from every angle and all the beer, dancing, and desserts my body can handle!!! 

We’ve dubbed the wedding theme as, “The-Mad-Hatter-throws-a-funktastic-garden-party-at-a-brewery-with-all-his-unicorn-friends.”


How did you decide on your venue?

Cute, rustic charm of a 100 year old bread factory turned brewery overlooking the Alton riverfront. ‘Nuff said!


Are there any special or family traditions you’ll be incorporating?

Overall, our wedding will be pretty non-traditional but Jessica will be walking down the aisle sporting the very same bridal-crown her grandmother wore in her wedding over 60 years ago.


What are you looking forward to most about your wedding day?

An opportunity to tell everyone closest to us how much we mean to each other. And liquid-nitrogen ice cream; lots and lots of ice cream.

(That’s what I’m talking about!)


Stay tuned for the “Schmuench” wedding. Trust us, it’s going to be an awesome celebration!


Photography: Courtney Smith Photography

Brian & Sarah: Engaged

It is almost Brian & Sarah’s two-year anniversary. What better way to celebrate than getting married?! We are so excited for these two and their celebration. Read on to find out all about their engagement, love story, and see their amazing engagement photos.


How did you two meet?

We met on Match. It was fate — Brian had just activated his account, and I had just increased my “age limitations”, otherwise I never would have seen Brian’s profile since he’s soooo much older than I am 😉 I made the first move by liking one of Brian’s photos (likely the one with Nathan Fillion because who doesn’t love Nathan Fillion). Brian sent the first message, and I was impressed with his thoughtfulness; Brian was impressed that I could use a semi-colon correctly. We messaged back and forth and then decided to meet up. Brian suggested Orbit Pinball Lounge, which happens to be at the end of my block (maybe I should have been concerned that he was stalking me and already knew where I lived). Unfortunately, it was Labor Day Monday and Orbit was closed. So after meeting on the street outside, Brian suggested Urban Chestnut Brewery. He offered to drive us both there; I accepted after making sure this wasn’t all part of his plan to kidnap me. Once at Urban Chestnut, we talked for hours, closing the place down. I was captivated by Brian’s descriptions of various psychology experiments and thought “finally, here is a guy who I will always have interesting things to talk about with”. We met up two more times that week; Brian even made me homemade lasagna on our third date. We bonded over our love of being active (we ran a race every month last year), our desire to travel and have adventures, and our fondness for cooking together (we’ve taken cooking classes and made pasta from scratch) and trying new foods (we are working our way through the Post Dispatch’s Best 100 Restaurant List).


When did you know he/she was the one?

Sarah: I knew very quickly that I truly enjoyed spending time with this guy. The thing I love most about Brian is his readiness to try new things and the fact that he’s always up for an “adventure”, whether that’s learning how to swing from a trapeze or traveling to Europe, learning Italian or trying a new recipe. I knew for sure that I could spend the rest of my life with him, when we took a trip to Switzerland and Paris in the summer of 2016. After spending 17 days together, navigating the train system of Switzerland, hiking in the Alps, staying in small Airbnb’s, I knew that we could tackle anything together. I never doubt for a minute his love for me; everyday he makes me feel special in big ways and small, whether it’s taking out the trash, cooking me dinner when I have to work late, planning amazing birthday celebrations for me, or bringing me flowers “just because”.

Brian: After our third date, I knew I wanted to spend more time with Sarah. She had a great laugh and was always up for trying something new. Our dates took us to rooftop patios, hiking in nearby parks, concerts, the Muny, street festivals, half marathons, to a balloon glow in forest park, and even to Shakespeare in the park! No matter what random event or destination I suggested, Sarah was always willing to go along with me. Our most exciting adventure together was a trip to Switzerland and France. There is no one I would rather have at my side hiking in the Alps or running desperately to catch a train than Sarah. Sarah is an amazing partner for all of the big, exciting events in my life, but also all of the small day-to-day moments. After a long day at work, the best part of my day is getting to cook dinner and spend time with her. I look forward to a lifetime of both big and small moments with Sarah.


How did he pop the question?

One of our favorite memories together is hiking in the Alps during our Switzerland trip. So, it was only appropriate that Brian propose while we were hiking. Brian planned a wonderful weekend getaway for us. We went hiking at Taum Sauk Mountain(the highest point in Missouri). After a morning of hiking and taking in the beautiful waterfalls, we stopped for lunch at scenic lookout. After we finished our sandwiches, Brian went to pull the “cookies” out of his backpack, but when he turned around, he had a ring in his hand. He said, “thank you for coming on this adventure with me today. I can’t wait for our next adventure”. At this point, I was crying and he slipped the ring on my finger. Shortly after a family came hiking by and took some photos for us. We then drove to Chaumette winery, while I tried to Facetime my family and friends to share the good news. Brain (in typical boy fashion) just mass texted a photo to all his friends. At Chaumette, we did a wine tasting, had an amazing meal, and witnessed another couple getting engaged (this was the 5thproposal we’ve seen; apparently our love makes others fall in love!). It was a perfect weekend 🙂

What is your favorite thing about your fiancé?

Sarah: Brian has one of the kindest hearts of anyone I know. He is constantly putting others’ needs before his own. He can’t walk past a homeless person without giving them some money. He also loves his family and would do anything for them.

Brian: Sarah is fearless and always up for a new adventure. She is very patient and kind- hearted, especially with children.

Share one of your favorite dates.

One of the things we love to do is cook together, so one of our favorite dates was a pasta-making class at Kitchen Conservatory. We have since then made pasta at home using the techniques we learned in that class. (AEE: Well, I know where I’m going for dinner now!)


How did you decide on your venue?

We looked at several other venues before deciding on Windows on Washington. We liked the openness of the floor plan. It has an amazing bar and high ceilings. We liked the exposed brick and lighting and being near downtown. It’s really a space that you can do anything with and make it unique for your day!

How do you envision your wedding day?

We envision our wedding as a celebration. We just want to make sure everyone is having a great time (and takes advantage of the open bar so they are out on the dance floor!) Everyone tells us that the day will fly by and be a whirlwind, so we hope we can take a few minutes during the day to pause and take everything in.


Are there any special or family traditions you’ll be incorporating?

Sarah will be carrying a clutch that was custom made with lace from her mom’s wedding veil. Sarah will also have a memento from each of her grandparents on her bouquet in memory of them.

What are you looking forward to most?

We can’t wait to be surrounded by all our family and friends in one place, and celebrate our love for one another and the combining of our two families into one!


Be sure to “like” and follow us for sneak peeks of their special day on September 23rd!

Photography: Amber Green Photography

Frank & Samantha: Engaged

For over five years, Frank and Sam have been by each other’s sides. Through graduations, moving, and building a life together. Now they’re ready to tie the knot on September 9th! Read all about their story and check out their favorite engagement pictures below:


How did you meet?

Frank and I met while I was in Chicago doing an interview for graduate school. I was in town with a friend of mine for about 72 hours and we decided to go out in Wrigleyville the night after my interview. Shortly after, we arrived at Deuces and the Diamond Club, Frank and his friends walked up and started talking with us (or did we start talking to them..?) and we ended up spending the rest of the night bar hopping with each other. We ended the night at Mullens taking photos in the photo booth (it’s still our favorite photo strip) and made plans to go running on the lake path the next morning (had to take a rain check on that one).

How did he pop the question?

He popped the question while we were in Chicago visiting his family on Thanksgiving weekend in 2015. We decided to check out a new ice skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park and I started to realize as we were skating along that he was acting strange. He was on a major look out for someone to take our photo (something I had mentioned was a must for any proposal) and I’m usually the one doing that job! He eventually realized he was never going to be able to get down on one knee with ice skates on and people zipping by, so we left and walked over towards the Bean or “Cloud Gate.” While we were at the Cloud Gate we were once again taking numerous photos which I thought was so strange and then as soon as Frank handed his phone to a girl and whispered something to her I turned around and saw the look of surprise on her face and knew what was happening. I then turned towards Frank and that’s where it happened! I can’t remember anything he said because I halfway blacked out from excitement! We at least have it all on video! After I said “YES!” we both grabbed the phone and ran away from the Cloud Gate super quick (everyone, EVERYONE was staring at us!!!) and found a bench in the park to sit on to take it all in! It was a complete surprise!


What is one of your favorite dates?

Each time we travel together to a new or familiar city it is my favorite date with Frank! We always spend the entire time exploring new restaurants, coffee shops, hiking trails, scenic areas… it’s always so adventurous and each one has memories I will never forget.


How did you know they were the one?

SamAfter we survived a road trip from Chicago to Phoenix together? Just kidding! Frank and I had such a great connection right off the bat and he was everything I was looking for in a partner: handsome, smart, funny (kind-of), hard working. Our second year of dating we moved into a 600 square-foot apartment together (so close to the train tracks that it rattled every 6 minutes when the EL went by). It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment, but during that year living together for the first time, I knew he was the one for me.

Frank: I knew she was the one for me the day that I met her. From then on, my dream has been slowly coming true, and on September 9th, it will come true.

What is your favorite thing about your fiancé?

SamHe is hardworking, determined, smart, charming, and adventurous.

Frank: She is smart, open minded, and beautiful.


How do you envision your wedding day?

I envision a wonderful day with a lifetime of memories with Frank and I being surrounded by family and friends. I hope there’s lots of dancing, conversations, and photo booth picture taking! I envision smiles and a unique feeling of happiness that I’ve never experienced before.

How did you decide on your venue?

We decided on NEO because it had space for us to have both our ceremony and reception, and the spaces are both so different! I love, love anything with brick walls and lots of windows so I was sold the second we entered the 4th floor space. It’s very spacious and the ladies restroom has the best view! We also wanted a venue in the city as we are both city-people.


What are you looking forward to most about your wedding day?

I am most looking forward to seeing Frank at the altar, seeing all of our hard work come together, having family and friends come from near and far, and watching others have a great time. I am looking forward to spending the entire day celebrating our love for each other with everyone we care about.


Follow us for sneak peeks of their special day!

Photography: Emily Rose Studios


Jim & Suzy: Engaged

Suzy & Jim are getting ready to tie the knot after over five years of being together! They have an adorable 18 month old daughter named Remy and are ready to make their family official with friends and loved ones.


How did you meet?

We all were attending the first day of orientation of law school. All students were put into sections. Jim and I were put in A. Naturally, the best. Each section was divided into smaller groups and we had to sit together. In grade school manner, we were to go around the table tell everyone our name, where we are from, one interesting fact about ourselves, and why we choose St. Louis University School of Law (henceforth “SLU Law”). 

Jimmy was one of the first, he explained that he had a dog and showed us all a picture of Calvin (he won my heart first) on a VERY broken cell phone. Then another guy, we’ll call him Einstein, introduced himself and said he went to SLU Law because he just happen to get a full ride. After this statement was made, Jimmy looked at me and rolled his eyes, we both laughed. I knew then I’d get along with him.

Our first year of law school we had EVERY SINGLE class with our section. Again, it was like grade school where you where you stayed with the same 20 people for everything (except we did change classes). This meant I saw Jimmy every class, unless he decided to go out late the night before and came in late. This occurred more often than Jimmy would admit during the first year, especially when the Cardinals won the World Series. His most difficult time was our Friday 8 am Legal Research and Writing Class (LRW).

During a contracts class, which took place before lunch, Jimmy asked me to go to lunch. We had already been hanging out through study dates, softball games on Fridays, and the SLU Law Trivia Night. Jimmy drove me to The Hill because he said I must try it. For non-St. Louisans, The Hill is the Italian part of town. If you make it for the wedding, you may want to try it out! Anyways, Jimmy was set on taking me to Adrianna’s on The Hill. However, we showed up and it was closed. Jimmy decided to then take me to Amighetti’s on The Hill. Amighetti’s has always been close to our hearts, especially now that it is owned by Dominic Consolinio.

We got through school together and debated many, many, many topics, including whether a contract expires after a reasonable amount of time if there is no date of accepted provided (I won that one). I could not have asked a better person to share this experience with, I do not think either of us would have survived without the other. 

**Side note, Einstein left law school the first semester. Rumors indicate that he was involved in some illegal activity.**


How did he pop the question?

On August 16th, I came home to Remy’s crib with a ring in it.

Was the proposal a surprise?

Despite talking about it for along time, the proposal and actual time and day was a big surprise. Jimmy proposed exactly 4 years to the date of meeting each other. (Although he didn’t even know it!)


What is your favorite thing about your fiancé?

We have had our ups and downs and many surprises, some bigger than others, none of which we could have handled without each other or the support of our friends and family. We are always there for each other and we can’t wait to vow that to each other on our wedding day!

How do you envision your wedding day?

A day to celebrate with friends and family. We feel very lucky and blessed to have such great people supporting us and we hope to return the favor as much as possible. Despite the winding road, we have loved the destination, our family, our friends, and our home.


How did you decide on your venue?

We were originally getting married at the Lemp Mansion but had a change of plans about two months from the wedding day. There’s a brand new venue opening in the Central West End called The McPherson. Ours will be the first wedding ever held at the newly renovated building! It’s the perfect mix of classic and modern and so much detail went into the building, we can’t wait to share our day there.


Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for sneak peeks of Suzy & Jim’s (and The McPherson’s) big day on September 3rd!