Luke & Meleah

July 27, 2013
Oak Park, Illinois

We are so happy and grateful, and the highlight of this weekend was seeing so many friends and family come together, full of love and celebration. Thank you for making it all possible.


Parents of the bride
Alex and Mary Anne Geertsma

Mother of the groom
Ann Seemann

Chief usher
Erik Geertsma

Usher and ring bearer
Malcolm Seemann

Flour girls
Katy Geertsma and Evelyn Seemann


Dr. Jen Walter

Matt and Jen Geertsma, Marta Johnson, Jesse Seay, Levi Stahl and Sandy Weisz

Violet Deal, Andrea Ferguson and Meghan Lyda


“Running Away”

A song by The Polyphonic Spree, read by Sandy Weisz, a friend of the groom; when Luke was awaiting Meleah's return to Chicago, he found himself playing this song and hoping it told the story that would soon unfold.

I’m projecting and reflecting desire For you to come into my life The rays of this day will outshine them all For me and you to get along

It’s like running away with the wind in our face It’s like flying And you and I are open wide

I feel so excited and delighted today ‘Cause you decided to be in my life

It’s like running away with the wind in our face It’s like flying And you and I are open wide

It shows, the electric show

I get around the world on your freeways It’s true, when you let it go


From the Tibeten Book of Living and Dying

Read by Matt and Jen Geertsma, brother and sister-in-law of the bride

So then, it is essential to know what real devotion is. It is not mindless adoration; it is not abdication of your responsibility to yourself, nor undiscriminating following of another’s personality or whim. Real devotion is an unbroken receptivity to the truth. Real devotion is rooted in an awed and reverent gratitude, but one that is lucid, grounded, and intelligent.


A letter from Mark Twain to his wife, Livy

Read by Levi Stahl, a friend of the groom

Oh, let me praise you, Livy, and don’t take it to heart so. You mustn’t deprive me of so harmless a pleasure as that. Even if you prove to me that you have the blemishes you think you have, it cannot appal me any, because with them you will still be better, and nobler and lovelier than any woman I have known. I will help you to weed out your faults when they are revealed to me, but don’t you be troubled about the matter, for you have a harder task before you, which is the helping me to weed out mine.



By Billy Collins; read by Marta Johnson and Jesse Seay, friends of the bride

You are the bread and the knife, the crystal goblet and the wine. You are the dew on the morning grass and the burning wheel of the sun. You are the white apron of the baker, and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard, the plums on the counter, or the house of cards. And you are certainly not the pine-scented air. There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge, maybe even the pigeon on the general's head, but you are not even close to being the field of cornflowers at dusk. And a quick look in the mirror will show that you are neither the boots in the corner nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know, speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world, that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star, the evening paper blowing down an alley and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees and the blind woman's tea cup. But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife. You are still the bread and the knife. You will always be the bread and the knife, not to mention the crystal goblet and—somehow—the wine.

First dance

Our first dance was “The Sifters,” by Andrew Bird:

We followed by dancing with our parents to “Unforgettable,” performed by Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole:



We will post links to photo galleries as they become available.

The New York Times

We had the rare treat of being featured in the Sunday “Vows” section of The New York Times: “Saying It With Flours.” (For all its fact-checking and editing, The Times managed to spell Luke's name wrong, but for weird and complicated reasons, he wouldn't have had it any other way.)

Of course, for all the details, be sure to read our version of our story below.

Our story

Meeting Chicagomag

Luke wasn't going to even look at Meleah’s profile at first. After all, the dating service predicted only an 83 percent match, and Luke had a strict policy of meeting only women with a 90 percent match or above.

But he was intrigued by her profile name — “Chicagomag“ — because he was at the time employed at the Chicago Tribune. He wondered whether the woman on the other side would be a reporter for Chicago magazine, which shared his building, so he broke his rule and looked.

Chicagomag was not a reporter. She was in fact Meleah Anne Geertsma — Chicago M.A.G. — and she was beautiful. And smart. And into bikes.

He quietly rated her four stars.

The next day, she wrote him, having noticed that he had a great smile, a keen eye, and intelligent thoughts and pursuits. And was into bikes.

Over the weekend Luke and Meleah exchanged more e-mail, and on Monday, Memorial Day 2010, we met for a drink at Handlebar, a bicycle-themed restaurant in the Meleah’s Wicker Park neighborhood.

In person, Meleah was beautiful. And smart. And into bikes. But also generous. And warm. And quick to smile.

Meleah, meanwhile, was struck by the crinkle lines around Luke’s eyes when he smiled (which he also was quick to do) and how quiet he was — although perhaps too quiet. She took note of his powers of observation, which she assumed arose from his journalism background. (Or maybe it was the other way around?) She also sensed a strong inner integrity that came out in his quiet way.

We went on another date that Thursday, after which Luke had designs on leaning in for a kiss as we stood at Meleah’s door, but our stupid bikes stood in the way. The kiss would have to wait for the third date.

The third date was scheduled for the next week.

It didn’t happen.

Instead, Meleah told of news that had just come. The good news was that she had gotten her dream job. The bad news was that her dream job would be in Washington, D.C. She would be moving in a month. The third date would have to wait.

The long con

Not long after Meleah left Chicago, Luke’s best friend asked if he had a plan. “All I can do is try to be a good friend,” Luke told him. “If she finds happiness with someone else, then I will be thrilled. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll get another chance someday.”

“I see,” his friend said. “So you’re playing the long con.”

Indeed, we stayed in touch. Meleah visited Chicago frequently, and Luke took advantage of any excuse to meet up. During one such visit, Meleah mentioned her fondness for the movie “Stranger Than Fiction.” In her favorite scene, a man woos a Harvard Law School dropout and bakery owner with a gift of flours. “I’m just waiting for a guy to bring me flours like that,” Meleah told him. “That’s all it would take.”

Almost two years later, Luke and Meleah’s careers were in flux. Washington, D.C., lacked many of the qualities of urban living that Meleah had loved about Chicago. She was hoping to negotiate a transfer to her organization’s Chicago office, where she could build a more sustainable life and career. Luke, meanwhile, was hoping for a new position of his own. After 12 years at the Tribune, he was interviewing to become a Web designer at Chicago magazine — good ol’ Chicagomag.

Nearly simultaneously, it worked out for both of us. Luke got the job he wanted, and Meleah finalized a return to Chicago. Along the way were many chats and e-mail exchanges as we coached each other through our major life changes.

In May 2012, Meleah bought a condo in the Ravenswood neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side, not far from where two of her best friends had also recently relocated — and not far from Luke’s home. We again found excuses to hang out. Dinner here. A swim on the lake there. And on Memorial Day, a tandem-bicycle ride down the lakefront. “Normally I don’t like to give up control,” Meleah says when she recalls that ride. “But with Luke in front I felt I was finally with someone solid, someone I could trust to steer me safely. So I relaxed and sat back.”

Three days later, Meleah moved into her new home. This was another perfect excuse to hang out, and Luke volunteered to come help sweep. Along with an array of brooms and buckets, he brought a housewarming gift, a heavy box that Meleah opened in her empty living room over plastic cups of lambic beer, thinking at first from the box’s weight and squishiness that Luke had gotten her an air mattress.

But it was a box of flours — a half-dozen different varieties. She looked at it, slightly dumbfounded.

“Did you ever see ...”

Luke nodded his head.

“Did I ever tell you that ...”

Luke nodded his head.

Meleah sat quiet for a beat.

Then she leaned over, and for the first time we kissed.

Warmth, affection and togetherness

And so followed a near perfect summer. Rhubarb pies. Post-work swims in the lake. Banh mi in the park. Lakefront bike commutes. A weekend getaway to Holland, Mich.

After a few months, it came time to assess our seriousness. Sitting on opposite ends of Luke’s couch, we independently mapped out our lives’ big events over the next few years. Then we met in the middle and compared notes. Not only had we both selected all the same milestones for the next five years, but our schedules lined up perfectly, down to the month.

But in September, tragedy struck Luke’s family in California. Discussing travel to be with the family, Luke told Meleah, “I can’t really ask or expect you to come.” Meleah responded, “You don’t have to ask or expect — I’m offering.”

He went home immediately; Meleah followed shortly. Throughout the ordeal, core elements of our characters were revealed. There were no surprises, just confirmations, and we returned to Chicago with new understanding of family and of partnerships.

That November, we went home for Thanksgiving with Meleah’s family out East. For an outing together, Luke campaigned for a hike up Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. He feigned that it was because he'd read that Thoreau had frequented its slopes — he even feigned reading “Walden” for a few days — but in reality it was because Meleah had once mentioned what a special place it was for her. “I'd say it was hands-down my first choice for a wedding location,” she had written in July, “if one is ever needed.”

As we approached the top, cresting one false summit after another, Luke complained of being tired and cold. “There had better be something special at the top for us to hike all this way.” Meleah worried: “Oh, jeez, I’m pulling this poor guy up a mountain in the freezing cold and high winds. I hope he isn’t miserable.”

When we finally reached the bare, blustery summit, we found a nook in which to take shelter from the wind. This was Luke's cue. With chattering teeth and shaky knees — from the cold, surely — he lurched toward Meleah and presented her with a box. “Will you marry me?” he asked through frozen lips.

It was too cold to say anything more than “Yes.” It was not too cold to break out into a huge grin.

In the box was Meleah's engagement ring — a napkin ring made of rice-paper mizuhiki, a Japanese art form said to convey “warmth, affection and togetherness.“

The only person as happy and surprised as we were on the summit was the guy in full fatigues who took our picture. “Hey!” he yelled to his hiking partner over the wailing winds. “This guy just proposed to his girlfriend!”

On hearing the tale as the first recipient of the good news, Meleah’s mom opined that if she had had any doubts whether Luke was the right one for her daughter, his choice of ring erased them all. Then she hugged us both and wouldn’t let go.


We were thrilled with all of the friends and vendors who helped us have exactly the wedding we were hoping for. Here are some of them:

Venue: Elizabeth F. Cheney Mansion

Catering: J&L Catering

Salads: Thalia Spice

Pies: Cheap Tart Bakery

Cake: Swedish Bakery

Panda cake topper: Meleah

Alcohol: Binny's Beverage Depot

Photography: Sarah-Ji Photos

Bridal dress: Fuji Shono

Bouquet and boutonnieres: SeasonalBounty

Wedding rings: VK Designs

Lion dancers: Seven Star Lion Dance Group

Bombonieres: Aliki and Danae Seemann

Invitations: Birch + Bliss

Media coordinator: Luke

Panda illustration: John Kenzie

Printing: The Ink Well


Celebrating with our loved ones was the best gift we could have asked for, but for those who would like an additional way to mark our special occasion, we created two registries: one for our home and one for our honeymoon.

Honeymoon fund

We hope to visit Southeast Asia in early 2014. Select one of the options below if you'd like to be a part of our experience.

Meal from a street vendor
Tickets to Angkor Wat or similar attraction
Cooking class or massage
Contribution to bike trip
Night in a hotel
Contribution to airfare

We would also be honored if you instead chose to contribute to one of the following organizations: