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Are those wedding bells you hear in the distance?

I hear them too — it’s definitely wedding season in Wanderland these days! This summer, I attended four. While that might seem like quite a few, they were all so incredibly unique and different, pretty much the only thing they all had in common was that two people signed a marriage license at some point.

First, there was the ritzy extravaganza in Sarasota. Next, the beautiful barn-yard fete in Maine. And then, there was the flapper wedding in Decatur, Illinois, with my Uncle Dave as the groom.

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

This wedding could not have been more special. The younger of my mom’s two brothers was getting married in her hometown to — get this — his junior high school sweetheart and first kiss, a few decades and winding roads later. His amazing bride Laura is the director of Decatur’s Staley Museum, which they used as both their ceremony location and a spring-board for the 1920’s wedding theme.

After a super early morning flight from Albany and a long drive from Chicago, we arrived in Decatur just in time to get my mom ready for her role as bridesmaid. So sweet!

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

At this point, I’m a little sad that I’ve jumped out of chronological order to share this summer’s travels more promptly, since I’ve never really had the chance to properly introduce you all to my mom’s hometown of Decatur — site of so many of my childhood trips. I returned for the first time since launching this blog in the summer of 2016 and I was just about to blog about it when I pressed pause to jump ahead to 2017.

But alas, here we are. I’ll give you the real scoop on this sweet small town in Central Illinois later. For now, this is a wedding story.

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

After an intimate ceremony in the main parlor of the Staley Mansion, the new family paused to say hello to Laura’s oldest son, who couldn’t make it to the wedding, but woke up in the middle of the night to Skype in from Vietnam, where he’s positioned for work.

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

This was such an incredibly joyful day, not only because I now have the most incredible new aunt — who has already felt like part of the family for a while now — but also three new cousins in Laura’s three kids! (I mean officially, I guess they would be step cousins? My family tree making skills kind of peaked in elementary school.) I have a pretty small family on both sides — my mom has just two brothers with three kids between them, so I’m always cheering when it expands.

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

And then, it was off to the reception! I wasn’t surprised in the slightest when I learned that Dave and Laura would be traveling in ultimate style — a 1930 Ford Model A. While Laura is a history buff and a museum curator, my Uncle Dave owns a local Coca-Cola museum and DJ business.

Growing up, we couldn’t have dreamed a more fun uncle — he always had some fancy new gadget or crazy toy to play with. So I knew there was no way we’d make it through the day without the wedding version of one — and I think a novelty getaway car fits the bill just right!

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

After nabbing a few more family photos (how could we resist, in these getups?!) we followed right behind them.

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Next up was the reception at Beach House on Lake Decatur, and on the chance that any of you might someday find yourself in this particular corner of Central Illinois, I can’t recommend a prettier deck on which to have a drink. My childhood is filled with happy memories on Lake Decatur, where my mom’s other, older brother has a beautiful home. Oh, the hours we spent flinging ourselves off his deck into the water, playing in the pool, screaming on the back of the jetski while our older cousins whipped it around the lake!

In the narrow vision of childhood, the entirety of Lake Decatur existed in my Uncle Mark’s backyard. So imagine my surprise, as an adult, to find that there were such things as restaurants with beautiful decks on which to dine that also shared the waterfront.

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding Reception at The Beach House, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding Reception at The Beach House, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding Reception at The Beach House, Decatur, Illinois

I smiled all the way through the article the local paper wrote on this special wedding. But my favorite line was this one:

“I’m vintage and history. He’s pop culture, modern and high-tech,” Jahr said. “But when it comes to having fun, we do that really well together.”

You could see so at the reception, where a live band kept us on the dance floor — and my uncles moves kept us in stitches! Table numbers from a photo of the newlyweds when they were in high school had me swooning, as did the heartfelt speeches from Laura’s daughter, my own mom, two employees my uncle has mentored, and to my delight, one of the bride and groom’s high school teachers!

I always look forward to the speeches at any wedding, and these really hit the spot in emphasizing what a positive impact Uncle Dave and Laura both have had on the people around them. Laura herself put together a touching story of she and my uncle’s love story told via three songs — their cute puppy love story when they first met, their friendship over the years that they both married other people, and Laura moved to Spain for three decades, and finally, Laura moving back to Decatur and their reunion and all the fireworks. What a love story!

Wedding Reception at The Beach House, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding Reception at The Beach House, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding Reception at The Beach House, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding Reception at The Beach House, Decatur, Illinois

The weekend flew by! The morning after the wedding, we barged over to my Uncle’s house, where the newlyweds and three of their four kids were packing up for the long drive to their family honeymoon in Orlando, and insisted they get a late start in order to join us for one last meal.

Over a loud and rowdy breakfast at one of Decatur’s hopping breakfast diners, we went around the table and recounted our favorite moments from the day before. And you know what? That might have been my favorite moment.

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

Wedding at the Staley Mansion, Decatur, Illinois

With my sister on her way back to Philadelphia and everyone else on their way to Orlando, my mom and Miller and I spent a quiet night at my Grandma’s house winding down from one wedding and gearing up for the next — my cousin Kirstin’s, in Chicago the very next weekend!

And the next morning, I woke up before dawn to fly there and help her get ready for it. Having been a passenger for the three hour drive from Decatur to Chicago more times than I can count, I decided to try a new transportation method — the $59 flight on AirOne.

Air One Decatur to Chicago

Considering my recent confession, it should come as no surprise that I was a little uneasy when I first spotted this plane on the runway. And yet I was so intrigued by the whole experience and so physically comfortable on the short flight, I never had time to get nervous about any bumps or jostles. I was one of three passengers, and the plane felt like I imagine a private jet would with my seat essentially a massive cushy recliner. It was so unique and affordable — why can’t they have this route between Albany and New York?!

As I watched the world below change from one of cornfields to one of skyscrapers, I knew we’d hit The Windy City. And my summer of family time continued…

Air One Decatur to Chicago

Air One Decatur to Chicago

Air One Decatur to Chicagolook how tiny navy pier looks!

Air One Decatur to Chicago

Next stop: Chicago!

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8 Comments...
  • Addie
    September 7 2017

    My mom’s hometown is Decatur as well, what a coincidence! I’ve never spent much time there, though, so I’m excited to see what you have to say about it!

    Also, your uncle and his new wife’s story is SO CUTE! I love that they managed to find each other again after all these years 🙂
    Addie recently posted..Scared by Spirits at the Stanley Hotel

  • Ijana Loss
    September 8 2017

    Geez I didn’t think any wedding could look cooler than the last one you wrote about, but this one seems pretty cool too! That’s an epic story about how your Uncle and Laura ended up together 😀 I guess they were just meant to be!

  • Steph
    September 9 2017

    What a unique and gorgeous wedding!

    Those last photos taken from the plane are stunning.

    Steph x
    http://www.wanderlustpulse.com
    Steph recently posted..REP LIFE SEASON 4: THE FIRST WINTER SEASON

  • Dominique
    September 10 2017

    What a gorgeously styled wedding! Everyone looks wonderful!
    Dominique recently posted..Biesbosch National Park – Searching for Beavers

  • Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate
    September 11 2017

    And see, here I was thinking four was very few. That’s a light summer for me in the South 😉
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..August 2017 Highlights: The Highs + Lows

  • Krystal herrera
    September 14 2017

    Everything looks amazing and gorgeous! Also, it’s a great idea for an upcoming wedding for one of my friend this December. Anyways, love your post!

  • Roxanna
    September 17 2017

    As an central Illinois girl from right down the highways, (raised in Peoria, resident of Champaign,) I must say I never expected to read about Decatur in a travel blog. We always take our home areas for granted! I have considered writing about some of the local cities, then I always think they are too boring. Perhaps I should reconsider.
    Although, it was truly the wedding and the love story which make this a wonderful, feel good story. I don’t think I can imagine any coolr theme for a wedding than a roaring 20s theme, and everyone looked stunning in their outfits!
    Keep on doing what you do!
    Roxanna recently posted..Driving Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Eryn
    September 18 2017

    What a small world! My mom grew up in Decatur as well!

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