Some couples wed beneath blue skies in the great outdoors, others exchange vows in flower-filled ballrooms, and others declare their devotion at city hall. Kelli Lane and Jon Kilroy got married on a hotel room floor in their pajamas.
Lane, a tech teacher from Kansas City, and Kilroy, a statistician from near Chicago, had anything but a conventional courtship; so it’s fitting their early June, 2012 wedding at Willows Lodge was equally off-beat.
The duo met online in 2009—but not on a dating site. Lane had recently accepted a teaching position in Dubai, and, nervous about the process of moving and living overseas, she posted a question online about taxes. Kilroy responded, and the duo began chatting. He asked to be her friend on Facebook; she said no. Undeterred, Kilroy continued chatting with Lane until she finally gave in and accepted his request. Over the next few months, their Facebook chats evolved into emails, and soon enough the emails evolved into phone calls.
The twosome met in person once before Lane hopped on a plane and moved overseas. They knew there was a connection, but the timing couldn’t have been worse. While Lane was living in Dubai, she and Kilroy continued communicating long distance. After countless hours talking on the phone and chatting via Skype, plus rendezvous in Spain, Italy, and back home in Kansas City and Chicago, it became clear the couple couldn’t be apart. In December 2010, Kilroy proposed while visiting Lane in Dubai. The following June, Lane’s teaching contract ended, she flew home for good, and began planning their wedding.
They set the date for June 10, 2012. Lane wanted a destination wedding, but Kilroy wanted something more traditional. They compromised, and agreed to have a travel-themed wedding for 75 guests at an old movie theater in Kansas City. Lane designed the invitations to look like passports, and worked with a baker to create a tiered cake that resembled stacked suitcases.
The wedding planning was going smoothly until last fall, when Lane discovered she had severe food allergies and encountered serious health issues. She took a break from wedding planning and focused on getting well. By spring, she began feeling better, and returned her attention to the big day. But everything started falling apart. Recalls Lane, "I called the venue over and over and they weren’t answering their phone. We soon found out that the owner had been indicted for wedding fraud. Because our wedding package was all-inclusive, we lost everything. It was a nightmare."
There was more: Lane’s wedding shoes—Wizard of Oz-inspired ruby slippers, a nod to her Kansas roots—arrived in the mail ripped and torn. The dinner plates they ordered arrived cracked. Their minister bailed on them. Their lilies were delayed due to a storm. Even the cake servers they ordered arrived rusted. "The final straw was when my hairdresser canceled on me the weekend before Memorial Day," says Lane. "At that point, I just stopped talking. It wasn’t funny anymore. It should have been an easy, mellow wedding, but nothing went right."
Two and a half weeks before the wedding, they finally decided to cancel. They wouldn’t be having the traditional celebration they had originally envisioned, but one way or another the couple still wanted to be married on their planned wedding date. So they scrambled to figure out a Plan B.
Two weeks before their wedding date, Kilroy was up late researching online and came across local officiant Annemarie Juhlian’s website with information about eloping in Seattle. The Emerald City was the couple’s intended honeymoon destination, so they thought, "Why not get hitched there?" They called Juhlian and discussed the possibility of a last-minute wedding in the Northwest. "Once we decided to work with Annemarie and get married in Seattle, everything fell into place," says Lane. The couple changed their flights and added six days to their Seattle itinerary. Based on Juhlian’s recommendations, they booked three nights at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville—the wine country lodge would serve as the site of their elopement—followed by three nights in British Columbia, and two weeks in Seattle.
When they arrived at the Willows Lodge, Lane’s tech wheels started turning. "I got the idea that if we were married in our hotel room, rather than outside, we could stream our ceremony online via a webinar site so our families and friends could watch," says Lane. "It was perfect, because Jon I had spent most of our relationship communicating online—that’s how we fell in love."
The wedding date fell on a Sunday, the couple’s favorite day of the week, and that spurred a wardrobe idea. Explains Lane, "When I was living in Dubai, we always scheduled dates to talk on Sundays, and when I moved back to the US we continued the tradition by making omelets and having breakfast in bed—in our PJs—every Sunday." Since they were getting hitched in a hotel room, the duo decided to just wear their jammies. "We made custom T-shirts and had the passport logo from our original invitations printed on the back, and we found pajama pants decorated with the names of all the countries we had visited together," says Lane.
On the day of their wedding, they put on their PJs and got comfy seated on the floor. Two of the couple’s close friends attended (in person) as witnesses. Katie Cann-McTaggart, their photographer from Red Sparrow Photography arrived dressed in flannel; Juhlian wore a bathrobe. Using six Internet connections and web-conferencing software called Fuze, 20 people watched online as Lane and Kilroy said their vows. After the emotional ceremony, the couple cuddled up on their hotel room bed and listened as their friends read them a bedtime story: Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!,” the bride’s favorite book.
Although their wedding wasn’t what they had originally envisioned, Lane and Kilroy say they wouldn’t change a thing. "Everything happens for a reason," says Lane. "We had a very intimate ceremony and made a real commitment to each other. I have a very clear picture of the day and remember every detail: What Jon’s hands felt like, what it felt like sitting on the floor. I got to say everything I wanted to say to Jon that day, and we were able to share it with our closest family and friends—not everyone gets a chance to do that."