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.
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
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