Lynn Klas and Tom Carlsen met in the wild world of roller derby, fell in love and got married not once, not twice but three times — on her family’s Town of Belgium farm, at his parents’ home in Australia and in Chicago
If planning a wedding is enough to cause most brides to have fits — sometimes dramatic enough to dub them bridezillas — what could three weddings do to someone’s psyche?
Just ask Lynn Klas. She and her husband Tom Carlsen got married three times last year, and she survived with her psyche intact.
“It is pretty extreme,” Klas admitted in an interview from her home in London. “But we’re both easy-going, and I think that helps.”
It was an ideal solution for a couple who spent much of their courtship online and hail from two corners of the world — Klas, the daughter of Peter and Susan Klas, is a Town of Belgium native, while Carlsen, the son of Per and Ingrid Carlsen, grew up in Australia.
Their first wedding, one intended for just the two of them, was held in Chicago while the other two ceremonies were held at their family homes in the Town of Belgium and Mt. Eliza in Victoria, Australia.
“They were all different, but they were all special in their own way,” Klas said. “All of them were really fun.”
To understand their multiple weddings, it helps to understand their background.
Klas, a 2005 graduate of Ozaukee High School, earned her degree at the University of Wisconsin and is a graphic designer.
But, perhaps more importantly, she is a roller derby girl known around the world as Juke Boxx. She started her sporting career in the Madison Mad Rollin’ Dolls League on the Vaudeville Vixens.
She found her way to Minneapolis, where she played for the Minnesota RollerGirls All-Stars.
In 2011, she was playing for Team USA in the World Cup when she met Carlsen, a video game designer who was coaching Team England.
They hit it off and began talking online, but didn’t really spend any time together until that August, when Team USA was in Finland for a boot camp and games and Carlsen came to the camp.
“We started talking pretty incessantly by June,” Klas said. “By Labor Day, I think we both knew we had a pretty big crush on each other.”
Ask her what’s so special about Carlsen, and Klas pauses.
“He’s just got this certain sense of moxie,” she said. “He’s hilarious. Mostly what drew us together is our sense of humor — that’s definitely No. 1.
“And he’s a tall, dark and handsome man.”
Carlsen was coaching and skating on a derby team in England, and she was doing a lot of coaching, Klas said.
“We did a lot of Skype-ing,” she said. “I was able to schedule gigs in Europe and we were able to see each other about a third of the year — which is pretty good for living 4,000 miles apart.
“It’s all pretty crazy when you say it out loud.”
By November 2013, the couple was ready to be married.
“We realized getting married was kind of our only option if we wanted to be together in the same place,” Klas said.
The idea of multiple weddings became a practical consideration for a couple who wanted to be married and include their families in their joy, she said.
“We told my parents, ‘We want to have a proper wedding and we want to do it this year,’” Klas said.
And they had planned a Christmas-time trip to Australia to visit his family, so the timing seemed ideal for a ceremony there.
“We both got married at our childhood homes,” she said.
But first, they tied the knot in an intimate ceremony in Chicago on Feb. 26, 2014.
“We wanted to do this just for us,” Klas said. “We made it really non-traditional because we wanted to have a big traditional wedding with our families.”
Because it was a non-traditional affair, Klas wore a pale pink dress with a vintage look while Carlsen wore a suit.
It was an impromptu affair, with the couple finding their officiant Sasha Tweel less than 24 hours before the ceremony at the Atwood Cafe in downtown Chicago.
“We got married over brunch, having mimosas,” Klas said. “It was really nice. We got to have the fun wedding stuff without the planning.”
They wrote their own vows complete with personal jokes, and Carlsen surprised his wife with a ring made by a friend of hers.
“It was just us and our officiant and our very good friend,” Klas said, noting their friend Val Capone served as maid of honor, best man, ring bearer and flower girl.
After the ceremony, they went to the Signature Room at the John Hancock building, where they were treated to free cake to celebrate. Then, they went to the Fat Cat Cafe, which Klas described as a 50’s style diner, where they enjoyed “hauntingly good” chicken sandwiches.
“We were there in August and had these really good chicken sandwiches that were haunting us,” Klas said.
They had considered getting married at the cafe, she added, but the restaurant wasn’t open when Tweel was available to perform the ceremony.
The couple’s second wedding, held Sept. 13 on the front porch of Klas’ family home at N5977 Hwy. 57 in Belgium, was by far the largest with about 250 people attending.
It was special and, Klas said, the most stressful.
First there was the matter of the date. The couple narrowed the date down to two days, knowing they would be in the U.S. for a fall tournament, but they didn’t find out the actual date until July.
“We sent out ‘Save the Date” cards with two dates,” Klas said.
They arrived in Wisconsin on the Wednesday night before the Saturday ceremony.
Klas, who bought her lacy white gown in London in early July, had brought the dress to the States later that month and had her initial fitting, but it still wasn’t quite right.
“We had to get it quickly sized and fit,” she said.
Then, of course, were the myriad details that need to be handled in those last few days.
“My mom did a lot of the planning,” Klas said. They spent many online and phone conversations planning the ceremony, she added, and she purchased many of the items for the wedding online and had them shipped to her parents’ house.
It was a traditional wedding officiated by Wendy Berberich.
The maid of honor was Dana Noss and the bridesmaids were Kim Grisolono, Mary Legg, Catherine Palese and Greta Klas. Jordan Seilaff was the flower girl.
Nick Peeters, the groom’s brother, was the best man, while the groomsmen were John, Kevin and Kurt Klas. Jaxon Klas was the ring bearer.
Jesse Klas and Stewart Larson shared the ushering duties.
The bridesmaids arrived at the house via a decorated trailer pulled by a tractor driven by Klas’ uncle Bill Klas, and Klas and her father pulled up in a decorated golf cart.
The reception was held in the Klas’ front yard with music by Sound Decision, a disc jockey.
Klas and her husband carried sparklers as they entered the reception and were surprised when they were treated to a fireworks show, courtesy of Klas’ father.
“It was fun but it was hard. There were so many people there you could only spend about 10 minutes with each one,” Klas said.
The couple’s final wedding, held Dec. 27, was in the Australian summer. The ceremony, officiated by Peta Finn, took place in the back yard of the Carlsens’ home.
Kelly Castagnaro was the maid of honor and Tui Lyon and Kristen Dusting were the bridesmaids. Mia Redman was the flower girl.
Nick Peeters once again was the best man, while Gil, Max and Manu Peeters were the groomsmen. Alex Peeters was the ring bearer.
The reception was in a tent on the tennis court in the family’s back yard, with the couple spinning discs that kept the guests dancing through the night.
“It was such a perfect wedding,” Klas said. “It was really nice to meet a lot of his family and friends.”
It was special for her husband, too, she said, because for the first time in years he and his brothers were together.
After, the couple took a honeymoon trip to Bali, Indonesia.
Having three weddings was important, Klas said.
“A wedding is an important thing to share with your whole family,” she said.
And in some ways, it made planning a little easier, Klas said.
“Having that little wedding earlier really helped, “ she said. “It was easy, if something was important to my family or to his family, to just do it.
“You get a little less precious about it when you spread it out over three days.”
Klas said the couple reused many of the items at each wedding. She wore the same dress to the last two ceremonies, and Carlsen wore the same suit to the first two.
She had a different color theme for each wedding — the first was pink, the second navy and the final gold and sparkly — but let the bridesmaids pick their own style of gown.
But the honeymoon is over and the couple is back at their London home. Klas is a blocker on the London Rollergirls — she’s also vice captain of her team — and does some coaching. She also works as a graphic designer for a skate company while her husband, who previously played on men’s roller derby teams, is now a coach with the Rollergirls and is a brand ambassador for a skate company.
“It’s a shared passion,” Klas said. “We get to do this thing we love and travel together and it’s awesome.”
Image information: Tom Carlsen dipped his bride Lynn Klas after their Sept. 13 wedding at the Klas home in the Town of Belgium. Photo by Jamie Ramsey and Gil Leora