Having trouble deciding who to ask to be your maid of honor, best man or attendants?
Take a cue from Steve and Connie Richgruber.
They invited all their close friends and relatives to be in their June 16 wedding in Port Washington’s Upper Lake Park.
They planned to have 15 couples, but one guy got sick so they had 29 people — 16 girls and 13 guys, with male and female attendants for both the bride and groom. The party also included two male ushers, a adult ringer-bearer and flower girl.
There were four best men and four matrons of honor.
“They called themselves the Fab Four,” Connie said. “We had aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers and sisters. Steve’s in two bands. Every member was in the party.”
The couple also broke with tradition by having a two-day event — the outdoor ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday and a reception for 300 guests the following night at Racer’s Hall in Plymouth. The resort has a campground, so the couple and many guests stayed overnight.
Connie is a Cedar Grove-Belgium High School graduate. Her husband graduated from Plymouth High School.
The entire wedding was done their way — more precisely, Connie’s way. She planned every detail, choosing fun over tradition and economy over extravagance so they wouldn’t go into debt.
The couple gave each other the best Valentine gift this year. On Feb 11, they bought a house in Waldo.
“We couldn’t have done that if we had gone into debt (for the wedding),” Connie said. “We worked hard for what we have, and we came into the marriage with no debt. I found the cheapest of everything. It was a high-class, redneck wedding.”
She searched the Internet for bargains, finding a photographer who gave them a disk with all the photos with little editing and no restrictions, and an inexpensive caterer who included macaroni and cheese, Connie’s favorite dish, on the menu.
Spreading the celebration over two days allowed the couple to enjoy everything, she said.
“I’ve been in enough weddings where the bride and groom say, ‘It was gone in a blink of the eye,’ and we didn’t want that,” Connie said.
“Having such a big wedding party, we wanted to enjoy being with them. I have been in weddings where you don’t even get to talk to the bride and groom because they are so busy greeting guests and having pictures taken.”
One of the happiest moments, Connie said, was when her mother Linda Hansen arrived. Her mother had developed an infection two months earlier and was in the hospital for six weeks. She came home a few days before the wedding and used a wheelchair.
“She missed my bachelorette party and showers, but she was there and even danced to a song or two,” Connie said.
Connie had her father Doug Anderson and stepfather Ralph Hansen walk her down the aisle.
“My dad said, ‘It’s your wedding. Whatever you want is fine with me,’” she said.
The black-and-white wedding had understated Gothic overtones.
Connie wore a long, white dress with black lace trim on the bodice and skirt, carried black roses and chose black diamonds for her wedding ring.
Her attendants carried white roses and the guys had white rose boutonnieres, while Steve had a black rose on his lapel. She bought artificial flowers because they had to last two days.
Steve wore a black knit beanie, something he wears 95% of the time, Connie said.
“He’s kind of a diva,” she said. “He was growing his hair out and it was that in-between stage. He kept the hat on all the time, except when we went bar-hopping, then he took it off. Go figure.
“It still cracks everyone up that he wore the hat and I wasn’t upset. He is who he is. I wasn’t going to change him, and he’s not going to try to change me.”
Connie sported a new tattoo on her back featuring large angel wings, the words, “Laugh with, live for, dream with love,” which was also on their unity candle, and a yellow rose for friendship.
“You don’t know if you’re going to get your angel wings or not, and I wanted mine now,” she said.
Connie made personalized quilts for the female attendants.
The guys wore black-and-white Allen-Edmonds wing-tip shoes with the wedding date stamped inside. Connie, who works at Allen-Edmonds, helped make the shoes, which were a discontinued style so she got them for a special price. The guys paid half the cost.
Steve works for Toro Parts Distribution Center in Plymouth, but spends most of his free time and vacations rehearsing or performing with Carbellion or Last Call Trio. Connie’s brother Rob Anderson also plays with Last Call Trio.
The couple chose adults for their ring-bearer and flower girl because they wanted the entire party to go bar-hopping with them after the ceremony.
“Reece (LaPlant), our ring-bearer, is really crazy, but he’s prim and proper when he’s in a wedding. I told him I wanted him to be himself,” Connie said.
Before the ceremony, Reece told the minister and his mother that he was going to do something, but it was OK with the bride.
As he started down the aisle, he tossed his pillow to the flower girl, ran down the aisle, planted a big kiss on Stephen’s cheek, then ran back again, took the pillow and primly walked down the aisle next to Dilann Flint, who scattered white rose petals before the bride.
“It was great. Everyone was laughing. It set the perfect tone,” Connie said.
“We had some mishaps. The one thing my husband had to do, being in two bands, was to get the PA system to work in Upper Lake Park.”
Just as she was about to walk down the aisle with her father and stepfather, the music stopped. They waited, but nothing.
“I finally said, ‘Could I get a little dum, dum, da-dum?’” Connie said.
“So everyone started singing ‘dum, dum, da-dum,’ and I couldn’t stop laughing.”
After the ceremony, guests released black and white balloons in memory of friends and relatives who had died.
Steve made up for the sound-system snafu when it came time for the couple to dance at the reception.
He wrote, sang and played all the instruments for a song he recorded for his bride.
“I instantly started bawling, ‘You made me a song.’ It was awesome. It blew me away that he had done that,” Connie said.
The couple met when Steve’s band and her brother’s band went on a small tour together.
Connie was intrigued until she found out Steve was younger than her. She refused to date someone younger.
“I had three rules when I was dating — he had to be taller than me, stable and older than me,” Connie said. “I never broke any of the rules in 30 years. We became really good friends and ended up dating.
“I think that’s what makes it work so well. We were friends first. We were much more mature after those first few years.”
The couple couldn’t fit a honeymoon into the bands’ schedules.
“We may just hop on a motorcycle and take off for a few days,” Connie said.
“There was nothing standard about our wedding and that’s what we liked.
“My advice to brides is, ‘Do not listen to anyone else. You can take opinions, but don’t try to please everyone.’ The only people we tried to please was me and him.”
DRESSED IN A TUXEDO and black cap, Stephen Richgruber gave his bride Connie a big kiss. Above, the huge wedding party posed in Port’s Upper Lake Park.