High School Sweethearts

September 2019 View more

It just so happens that at East Aurora High School, a lot of students in band also happen to take French. That’s a crucial detail in the story of how French teacher Sarah Birdsall, 33, and band director Joe Kulick, 27, came to meet. 

“The kids would kind of start teasing me, being like, ‘Hey Ms. Birdsall, you know that new band director? I think you guys are soulmates,’ ” she says. “It became a running joke the entire school year, but I never saw him because our school is so big.” 

When Birdsall volunteered to help chaperone the band’s trip to Disney World, Kulick’s colleague took fate into his own hands and assigned them to the same bus. It seemed their dear students were onto something: They became fast friends and later on a trip to Cuba with mutual friends, discovered they had a romantic connection.

Kulick planned to propose on a Columbus Day weekend trip to New Buffalo, Michigan, but when Birdsall became suspicious, he decided instead to re-create one of their favorite early dates—a dinner at La Sorella di Francesca and dessert at Le Chocolat du Bouchard—a week before the trip. Kulick recruited their parents to decorate the balcony of their Naperville condo with roses, candles, and a garland of photos that chronicled their relationship. When he and Birdsall returned home, he popped the question. “It was truly like a fairy tale,” she says. “I was totally blown away.”

They married June 8 at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Naperville. “We loved the intimacy of the space. During the ceremony, it felt like everyone there was so close,” Kulick says. “Our pastor, Lucas King, wrote this incredible sermon about how being in love and being in a marriage is being both a teacher and a student,” Birdsall says.

When the couple arrived at their reception at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton, they were greeted by friends and family at a surprise patio cocktail hour arranged by Birdsall’s mother, and dancing ensued once the party continued inside. Naturally, this musically inclined groom did extensive research before landing on Blue Water Kings for their wedding band. “They blew it out of the water. It was unbelievable,” he says.

For their honeymoon, the couple took a Mediterranean cruise with stops in Barcelona, Spain; Florence, Italy; Mykonos, Greece; and Malta. 


Venue: First Congregational United Church of Christ, Naperville; Arrowhead Golf Club, Wheaton

Bride’s attire: Justin Alexander gown from Wolsfelt’s Bridal, Aurora

Bridesmaids’ attire: Jasmine Galleria, Lombard

Hair and makeup: Kim Piech Makeup & Hair

Groom’s and groomsmen’s attire: Wolsfelt’s Bridal

Music: Sue Flaatten (ceremony organist); Bluewater Kings (reception)

Catering: Arrowhead Golf Club, Wheaton

Cake: Oak Mill Bakery, Niles

Invitations: Minted.com

Decor: Tina Gregus, Twisted Vintage Decor, Chicago

Florist: Dean Futris, Phillip’s Flowers, Westmont

Rings: Tiffany & Co., Oak Brook

Transportation: Agapi Limousine, Naperville

Videographer: Petit Four Films, Chicago

Photos by Wes Craft Photography