Groom’s Parents: Frank and Linda Gacioch
Bride’s Parents: Michael Koel, Susan Raasch
Date of Engagement: May 29, 2014
Wedding Date: Sept 6, 2015
How did you meet?
Dani and Joe met on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 while attending their mutual friend Nicolette’s concert in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Joey spent the night talking Dani’s ear off, and with some help from Nicolette, ended up giving her a ride back to Ann Arbor. Two days later they went on their first date, and two days after that, Joey met her mom. Some might consider this a tad aggressive, Dani likely found it creepy….but she relented and found herself in a relationship by Thanksgiving.
We had been planning our first trip to Europe as teammates for May, 2014. The first week of the trip would be spent touring Belgium/Flanders; experiencing amazing culture, architecture, and likely the best beer we would ever taste. The second week of the trip would be spent meeting Joe’s french/polish family in Paris, France. Words cannot describe the extent of their hospitality and our gratefulness.
During the months leading up to the trip, it was clear that we both expected to come home with a story. (Dani knew Joey was having the engagement ring made, as the diamond is an heirloom from grandma Raasch’s engagement ring.) Needless to say, Joey spent a lot of time trying to determine the best setting for that story. No pressure.
Joey’s plan – Joey and Dani would visit the morning market and purchase a basket-worth of meats, cheeses, and wine for an afternoon picnic at Lake Minnewater, which is Flemish for Lake of Love. Joey would pop the question, swans would sing, unicorns would fly, and centaurs would cent…. and Michael Koel would approve of the plan.
What happened – We woke up to an all day forecast of rain and spent the morning walking up the famous Belfrey and drinking some Kwak beer. Joey spent all afternoon working out whether he should just wait for Paris and better weather. The two walked along the riverbank through the cold and rain until they found themselves at Lake Minnewater. The park itself was beautiful, but was very crowded and much of the grass was roped off from visitors. The picture Joey had in his mind was actually covered with swan poo.
We continued to walk all of the pathways of the park; in (giddy) yet nervous silence. The intention of the moment grew more clear with each step. Well, the perfect moment wasn’t happening. We meandered through the park and back up the streets to the Air BNB. After a nap and some dinner with the host, we trekked out once more to the northern end of town. After an Absinthe and a Belgian beer, we realized that the rain had stopped, and we walked the now empty streets of Brugges and eventually arrived back to Lake Minnewater. Just after midnight, Joey found the perfect bridge lying in the moon shadow of a historic building that overlooked a river strewn with white swans and the satisfaction of waiting for the perfect moment. Many tears and hugs followed.