Three’s Company

November 2018 View more

Photography by Lilly Photography

Pulling off a proposal is challenging when your future fiancée doesn’t like surprises, but Joe Gephart, 26, managed to make it a magic moment regardless.

He and Naperville native Hanna Guenther, 23, met as students at University of Richmond in Virginia and dated long-distance after she transferred to Loyola University in Chicago. After they reunited in Chicago and found out they were expecting a baby, they moved to Naperville, where Gephart works for SkyBridge Resource Center.

When it came time to talk marriage, they had a discussion that included exactly when and where they would get engaged: the New Year’s Eve fireworks ceremony in Sydney during a family vacation to Australia. “I’m such a control freak, I had to know,” Guenther says. “And he can’t keep a secret from me either!”

“I had this whole elaborate proposal planned for the stroke of midnight with the fireworks, but I couldn’t make it that long,” Gephart says. Instead, he popped the question to a surprised (and bathrobe-clad) Guenther while they were getting ready in their hotel room.

Their wedding venue, the Wandering Tree Estate in North Barrington, had a nostalgic appeal for Guenther. “It reminded of my grandparents’ old house. That was like my happy place when I was little; it was magical to me,” she says. “That’s also where my parents got married, and this large, beautiful estate with gardens, it brought me back to that.”

They married outdoors under a display of crystal chandeliers and flower-laden wreaths hanging from a towering oak tree. Though the sweltering 98-degree weather prompted them to shorten the length of the ceremony, it didn’t put a damper on the reception, hosted under a tent decked out with fans. “No matter how high the heat index was, there were so many people on the dance floor all day long,” Gephart says. He will never forget tossing their daughter, Maja, in the air during the song “Shout!” and his mother busting a move after suffering from a stroke a year and a half earlier. “The last time I saw her [weeks before the wedding] she was still having trouble walking,” he says. “[She] was on the center of the dance floor with her cane thrusting in the air!”

The newlyweds’ first dance was also a touching moment. “We did it to ‘From the Ground Up’ [by Dan + Shay] … and the lyrics talk about having a baby girl, so we started off on the dance floor together and once it got to that line … that’s when we grabbed her and the three of us danced together,” Guenther says. “That was my favorite part, because it wasn’t about the two of us; it was about the three of us.”


Venue Wandering Tree Estate, Barrington
Photography Lilly Photography
Catering Limelight, Chicago
Bride’s dress
Bride’s accessories Shoes by Bella Belle, earrings by Kendra Scott
Bride’s hair and makeup Elana Darrus, Downers Grove
Bridesmaids’ attire
Groom’s and groomsmen’s attire
Planner Danielle Kuhn, Ohana Events
Cake DeEtta’s Bakery, Naperville
Music Music by Design, St. Charles
Florist Avant Gardenia, St. Charles
Rings His by Manly Bands,; hers by Zales,