Love at first bite

May 2022 View more

University of Iowa grads Stephanie Kepner, 28, and Joseph Wheeler, 30, can trace their love story all the way back to Burger Night at a campus hangout in 2014. Wheeler was eating at the bar when Kepner stepped up to order a round of drinks for her friends. 

“She looks over at me and says, ‘I didn’t know they served food here!’ ” says Wheeler, who grew up in Glen Ellyn and works as an information technology specialist at Internet Brands. “I could kind of see her eyeing my food, so I asked her, ‘Hey, do you want a bite?’ ”

Kepner, who is originally from Geneva and works as a human resources generalist at TCS Education Systems in Chicago, took Wheeler up on the offer and sampled his burger and fries. 

“Right off the bat, I knew he was generous,” she says, laughing. 

They exchanged numbers and started dating soon after, even taking their relationship long-distance when Wheeler moved to Thailand for three months for a gig coaching hockey. In 2019 Wheeler proposed on a trip to San Diego at sunset on the waterfront.

They envisioned a winter wedding and centered their celebration in Naperville, marrying December 11, 2021, at Century Memorial Chapel at Naper Settlement followed by a reception at Elements at Water Street. They bookended the weekend with a rehearsal dinner at Maggiano’s and morning-after brunch at SixtyFour Wine Bar. 

A highlight of the night was surprising their guests with a choreographed dance they’d learned at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Glen Ellyn. 

“Neither of us knew how to dance … but we had so much fun learning it,” Wheeler says. 

The elaborate routine even featured a lift. 

“It was very extra,” Kepner says. “Everybody was cheering.” 


Venue and catering Century Memorial Chapel at Naper Settlement; Elements at Water Street in Hotel Indigo, Naperville

Bride’s attire Cristiano Lucci gown from Here Comes the Bride bridal boutique, Glen Ellyn

Bride’s accessories Badgley Mischka shoes from Macy’s, Aurora; earrings from Loft, Oak Brook

Bridesmaids’ attire 

Hair and makeup Blush and Braids Beauty Bar, Chicago

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

Flowers Trudy’s Flowers, Naperville

Cake DeEtta’s Bakery, Naperville

Rings Bride’s from Kay Jewelers, Lombard; groom’s from Zales, Lombard

Entertainment Violin and piano duo by Belle Music; reception music by 2ProDJS, Chicago

Day-of coordinator Rosanna & Co., Bloomingdale 

Photographer  Red Barn Wedding Studio, Des Plaines

Photos Courtesy of Red Barn Wedding Studio