After 20-plus years together, Minnevangelist’s Ashlea Halpern and Andrew Parks finally tied the knot on August 6, 2022. Andy’s parents had flown in from Buffalo, New York, to meet their grandson for the first time, but had no idea they would be the guests of honor at our surprise wedding.
We told Mr. and Mrs. Parks to meet us in the lobby of their hotel (Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District) at 11 a.m. But instead of picking them up for brunch as we’d promised, we hired a New Orleans-style brass band (Jack Brass Band) to lead them in a second line parade to Gold Medal Park, where we planned to meet them in all of our wedding finery at the top of the hill.
Despite this being one of the driest summers in Minnesota history, it poured rain the morning of our wedding and we had to pivot to plan B — tasking our friends Aaron and Morgan with “kidnapping” Andy’s parents and guiding them to a spot underneath the eaves of the nearby Guthrie Theater, where the band and the rest of our friends would be waiting. (This was a truly intimate affair: just us, our baby, the grandparents, and six local pals.)
As the band serenaded Andy’s bewildered folks outside the theater, we emerged from the crowd to tears of joy. The rain stopped just as we started the ceremony, which took place under the Guthrie cantilever — one of our favorite architectural features anywhere in the Twin Cities and the first thing we ever wrote about for Minnevangelist.
Officiant Kjersti Moline led the formalities while our photographer, Elena Stanton, documented all the little details — everything from our bouquet and boutonnieres, designed by Studio Emme in South Minneapolis, to our mean-mugging son, who thought the band was very, very loud.
After the big pronouncement, Jack Brass busted out “When the Saints Go Marching In” and everyone danced beneath the Gold Medal Flour sign near the Mississippi River. Then we chowed down on pizzas pre-ordered from Northern Fires Pizza at the Mill City Farmers Market and headed to AxeBridge Wine Co. for a toast and cake — the latter of which was a Thailand-inspired creation by Ink Sweets.
The festivities wrapped by 3 p.m. and we sent our guests home with goodie bags filled with #MNmade gifts, including sweets from House of Halva and candles by Woodfire Candle Company.
All in all, a perfect day—rain be damned.