The marriage of Fred Brandstrader and Jackie Griggs, a day of joy and love at a time when Thanksgiving and holiday festivities were just beginning. It took place at one of the most unique event spaces in Chicago, Architectural Artifacts and with all their family and friends, awesome music, wonderful food…one of the best weddings ever. Congratulations to the new Mr. and Mrs. Brandstrader!!!
Katie and Scott are getting married and I was lucky enough to shoot their engagement session. We started out on a lovely fall Sunday at Madison’s Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Everywhere we looked was a great photo opportunity. Katie is so beautiful and Scott mentioned to me that he was voted “best smile of 2006,” senior year of high school, and that helped make for an easy day…We went on to University of Madison’s campus hot spot, the Union and finished up the photos at Cooper’s Tavern down the street from the Capitol of Wisconsin. I am so looking forward to next year’s wedding at Trapper’s Turn, Wisconsin Dells. It will be nothing short of awesome!!!
So she built her life around caring for others – parenting, entertaining, throwing parties, celebrating the major milestones and accomplishments of the ones she loves most.
She took responsibility for the elders in her family, from her grandmother to her aunts, and she took care of her husband Rich when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer until he passed away in 2003.
And over the last 10 years she has been perfecting her role as GG, grandma to seven little girls.
So the generous caregiver and entertainer turned 70 this year and her three children knew it was time for her to be the recipient of love and care, the center of the attention for a change.
Shayne, Todd, and Jon hosted a party at our house on Saturday, September 7, 2013 for 70 of Sharon’s nearest and dearest.
She thought Todd and I were having a small family get together to celebrate September birthdays, so of course she assumed she was in for a night of pizza on paper plates and a cake from Jewel.
But as she drove down the street she noticed a huge gathering on our front lawn, and most important, seven little girls holding a big pink banner that said Happy Birthday.
Then she noticed Jon and Kathleen who flew in from Seattle, Erik who flew in from D.C., and Mary Ellen who flew in from California.
Then there were the rest of her loved ones, including the Pacyna’s, Schnotala’s, Richie’s beloved Caruso family, and so many other long-time friends and neighbors.
The night was full of fantastic food (thank you Patti Schnotala), beautiful décor and presentation (thank you Chris Schnotala), and lovely flowers (thank you Barbara Donati). It was just the kind of party that Sharon would throw, but this time it was for her.
After drinks, appetizers, and dinner, Dorothy Steiner, Sharon’s long-time next door neighbor, led the crowd in two songs written specifically for GG.
Then Happy Birthday was played on the piano as all seven grandchildren helped her blow out the candles.
Todd’s rendition of “Mean” by Taylor Swift was the first karaoke of the night. Shayne followed it with “Me and Bobby McGee”, Jon and Charlotte sang “Sweet Caroline”, and Bob O’Malley channeled Mick Jagger for “Start Me Up”.
Then the microphone was taken over by the kids while GG danced and clapped along.
Toward the end of the evening she opened a few gifts (animal print shoes!) and then knew it was time to call it a night when she found herself in an over-the-shirt bra and pink hat.
Thankfully Cheryl captured the feel of the event with her beautiful pictures, and this blog allows GG, and us, to relive the experience.
I know I speak for everybody when I say it was a pleasure to give back to someone who gives so much, a joy to surprise someone who is not used to being surprised, and a gift to be able to spend an evening with family and friends who know how to share, play, and love.