Language of Love

May 2023 View more

A New Year’s Eve kiss led to forever love for this Lombard couple

Newlyweds Ashley Johnson and Rade Sekulic sharing their first kiss

In this digital age when algorithms seem to be making most love connections, Lombard newlyweds Ashley Johnson, 28, and Rade Sekulic, 30, are proof that you can still find your future spouse the so-called old-fashioned way.

On December 31, 2018, Johnson and her friends went to Adobe Gila’s margarita bar in Rosemont to ring in the New Year and toast her January 1 birthday a day early. Coatless and shivering in the line out front, they struck up a conversation with two men ahead of them. Though he seemed disinterested at first—”I was shy,” Sekulic now concedes—Johnson was captivated by this tall, quiet man with a Serbian accent, and as midnight approached, they found themselves standing near one another inside the bar. “I thought to myself: What’s the worst that’s going to happen if I kiss him?” says Johnson, who grew up in Odell, Illinois, and later attended Aurora University. “So I kissed him, and he kissed me back, and the rest is history.”

Ashley Johnson and Rade Sekulic

In the weeks leading up to their October 29, 2022, wedding at Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, Johnson secretly studied with a foreign-language tutor so that she could recite her vows in her husband-to-be’s native tongue. “Serbian, it’s a hard language,” Sekulic says. “When she started speaking, I was like, ‘Wow!’ I got lost for a moment, and it was a nice surprise.” The couple also was able to share a taste of Sekulic’s homeland with Serbian cookies from Balkan Bakery in La Grange, sent home with every guest as a favor. As a reference to their wintry meet-cute, they danced their first dance to “With You” by Tyler Shaw. “One of the first lines is, ‘Two hearts on a cold street,’ which is why I liked it,” Johnson says.

Wedding Vendors

Venue & Catering
Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Itasca

Bride’s attire
Morilee by Madeline Gardner gown from Wolsfelt’s Bridal, Aurora; Paradox London pumps from; jewelry from Allure Wedding Jewelry on

Bride’s hair and makeup
Stephanie Ruffino and Marissa Esposito

Ashley Johnson and her bridesmaids

Bridesmaids’ attire

Village Flower Shop, Plainfield

Groom’s and groomsmen’s attire
Men’s Wearhouse, Wheaton

Helzberg Diamonds, Rosemont

Cake from Delish Cakes, Bloomingdale; Serbian cookie favors from Balkan Bakery, La Grange

A place setting at the wedding

DJ by Luxe Productions, Arlington Heights

Rachael Watson Photography Inc., Batavia


Photos courtesy of Rachael Watson Photography Inc.