Jake and I met at the local YMCA in La Crosse, WI in August 2015. I was just diving into my master's program and Jake was in his second year as the assistant swim coach both at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. One day I planned to swim for my workout, but the pool was closed to lap swimming for swim lessons. I decided to stretch while I waited. I took my mat and sat next to a tall handsome young guy. "Did you swim for Ohio State?" I heard him say. I looked down to see what shirt I had dug out of my dresser that day- it was a very old Ohio State swimming shirt I bought while on a swimming training trip in high school in 2006. "Haha, oh no- I just have the shirt from a training trip. I'm from Indiana". The next thing I know, I'm 30 minutes deep into a refreshing conversation with an attractive guy. With a little confusion and extreme persistence on my part, we ended up inseparable even to this day. There was something about that first conversation at the gym that seemed different than anything I had experienced, it was refreshing and easy like we had known each other for years.
Anyone that knows us, knows that water skiing has become a major part of both of our lives and a passion we love to share. Memorial Day weekend 2017- we had just recently joined the Twin Cities River Rats Water Ski team and I was eager to start learning. With the long holiday weekend, it was an opportune time for us to get up north to Brainerd for some skiing. After 2 and a half gruesome hours battling the holiday traffic from the Twin Cities, the last thing I wanted to do was get in the car for another 2 hours to Brainerd with even more holiday traffic. I did NOT want to go- I did not understand why we couldn't get up early the next morning. Jake was insistent that we went Friday night. So to my demise, we got in the car and made the trip north to Jake's parent's house (the traffic was terrible). Saturday morning at 9 am I get a wakeup call from Jake, which is unusual because he likes to let me sleep in as long as possible on the weekends. "ARE YOU READY FOR SKI?!" He was so bright eyed and bushy tailed Mr. Sunshine I was slightly annoyed "I guess," I grumbled, practice makes perfect. So I go about my morning, have some coffee with the family while Jake is zipping around the house and getting the boat off the lift and all ready for our morning ski. I wiggle into my wetsuit and head out to the dock still half asleep- followed by the entire Larson family. Jake told me he was going to help me work on something while Danny drove the boat. We get Old Blue fired up and out a little bit from the dock and he sits me down on the side of the boat and says "The first thing about swivel skiing is that you know I love you, right?" Without thinking, I gave him a solid whack to the stomach. I'm still waking up and about to get into this freezing water and Jake wants to go into coaching mode (which he knows that I hate when he coaches me). I was not happy at this point. He laughed and said "No really- you know I love you right? I wanna know, will you marry me?" He pulled a box out of the side of the boat just behind me. I had absolutely no idea what was happening till I saw my great-grandmother's diamond ring in a perfect, brown, square box. I cried for what seemed to be a few minutes- I was at a loss for words. I couldn't even get a simple "yes" out of my mouth. I had to nod my head. When I came back to reality, I realized that Danny was videotaping the whole thing (including me hitting him), and the whole family was on the deck watching and taking pictures. I had no idea! The best part of Jake's proposal to me, is that it was special without all of the theatrics and big event. The river has a special meaning to both of us and Old Blue is very near and dear to Jake's heart. So proposing on the river, in the back of Old Blue getting ready to go skiing is the most Larson thing to do, and I loved every second of it.
We would like to thank first and foremost our parents. Thank you for taking us both in from the start and treating us like your own. For being with us every step of this process and for your unconditional love. We want to thank each other's parents for raising the perfect gentleman and a classy young lady- for raising our counterparts and our soulmates. Most of all, thank you for setting the best examples of what marriage should look like. We are very fortunate to have two parents that are still together, going strong and still are very much in love. Secondly, our friends and family from all across the country- Minnesota, Indiana ,Wisconsin, Colorado, California, Tennessee and more. Your support and excitement for our current journey and our next one shines bright and we appreciate and love you all.
The Future Mr. and Mrs. Larson
Ceremony and Reception Address:
Pettibone Resort Banquet Hall
333 Plaza Park Dr.
La Crosse, WI 54601
Ceremony- 3:30 PM
Cocktail Hour: 5:00 PM
Dinner: 6:00 PM
Hampton Inn and Suites
Holiday Inn and Suites
Bed, Bath and Beyond
The Old Crow
Pearl Street Ice Cream Parlor
Golden Tap House- Jake and Rachel’s first date
Pearl Street Brewery
Parents of the Bride:
David and Paula Shaw-Anderson, IN
Parents of the Groom:
Jim and Kelly Larson-Brainerd, MN
Jordan Catron- Maid of Honor best friend of bride
Jordan is my best friend from Indiana. We met at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital where we both did our internships and later became co-workers after graduating from Ball State University. We would both go on to graduate school at the same time for the same degree, except 500 miles apart. Jordan has always been "the Monica to my Rachel", my person I can be lazy and drink wine and eat pizza while watching a silly movie. No matter where we are in our lives, we will always be best friends and pick up where we left off.
Jenny Finney- cousin of bride
Jenny Finney is my first and closest cousin- her mother and my mother are sisters. Jenny Finney is a fun, warm and loving soul that I am so grateful to have gotten close to over the years. Being the youngest child of the youngest of 6 siblings, there is quite the age gap between my cousins and I- but as I've grown older, my connection with Jenny has gotten stronger, more like a sister. I can’t imaging getting married without my cousin, sister and best friend.
Katie Finney- cousin of bride
Katie is my second cousin- Jenny (my cousin) is her mother. She is attending Anderson University in the fall of 2018. Growing up so close to the Finney family, I have a closeness to the whole family in different ways. Katie was always significantly younger than me, so it took a while for us to become connected. It wasn't till Katie became a teenager that we became very close. She has always been the little sister I never had and I have always done my best to guide her and protect her.
Kala Stanek- friend of bride
Kala and I work together at the Minneapolis Heart Institute. We hit it off instantly at work and outside of work, sharing many similar interests such as water skiing. We work as a team and as family both at work and in life. While we still work in the same building, she has moved up the chain and I couldn't be happier for her next journey.
Grace Crouser-sister of groom
Grace is the older of Jake's two younger sisters. She is currently in Portland, OR studying optometry and living with her new husband Steve. Grace instantly welcomed me to the Larson family with warmth and kindness. I have always felt like a sister since our first summer together.
Lydia Larson- sister of groom
Lydia is the younger of Jake's two younger sisters. She studies and swims at Concordia University in Fargo, ND. It took me a long time to pry open the goofiness of what makes up Lydia, but when I did I was in for a treat. She never fails to make me laugh.
Lincoln Stanek- ring bearer
Lincoln is Kala's 2.5 year old son and calls me "Auntie Ray Ray". When we were first engaged I knew I had to have this cutie be our ring bearer. This child has the biggest heart I've ever seen in a human that small (even bigger than most full grown). He sees a friend in everyone and greets them with either a fist bump or a high-five We have sleepovers and make cupcakes regularly (since mommy and Ray Ray don't work beside each other anymore) He is also buddies with his Uncle Jake, and likes to ride on his back and tower over everyone else.
Daniel Larson- best man brother of groom
Dan is my “little” brother. And for those of you who know us, he is only an inch and a half taller than me. We have had our moments growing up, as any siblings do- when I was 10, Dan always wanted to hang out with me and I would do just about anything to ditch him. Now however, I know Dan will have my back for the rest of my life. I could not ask for a better guy to be my best man and I hope he still wants to hang out with me.
Robert Stafford- friend of groom
Robert Fitzgerald Stafford the 3rd and I go back to freshmen year hanging out in his dorm room. We ended up living together for an awesome 4 years. Rob has come home with me for pretty much every holiday since we started school and has become an honorary family member. I think just about anyone in my family could talk for hours about all the shenanigans that we got into together. Some have had better endings than others, but when we are together, something awesome is going to happen. Rob is now living in Colorado, but despite the distance, he will always be someone I stay very close to.
Luke Weber- friend of groom
Dr. Luke Weber is currently living in Brainerd and a chiropractor at Sazama Family Chiropractic and Wellness. Luke has been a very close friend of mine since freshman year of college and we also lived together for three years. Luke has always been there, usually to help clean up Rob and I or make sure we don’t get into too much trouble. I can’t thank him enough for all he has done for me. Luke has always been a voice of reason and helped keep me on track in school
Ryan Goggans- friend of groom
DIRRTTYYYY!!!! Ryan transferred to St. Cloud State after our first year and lived with Rob, Luke, and I for two years. Immediately Ryan jumped right into the shenanigans and hazards that are associated with living in our apartment. Ryan is now married and the Head Swimming and Diving Coach at Rippon College. As I am trying to get into the coaching profession myself, Ryan will remain a lifelong friend and colleague.
Taylor Comstock- friend of groom
Taylor is my oldest friend from high school. For just about any story from high school, Taylor is in there somewhere with a sarcastic joke and his infectious laugh. Whether he is letting out a wailing scream that can only be described as the scream R2D2 makes in Attack of the Clones or drinking diet coke with his Taco Bell, it’s always a good time with Taylor. It’s that weird sense of humor that I love about him and why he will be a friend for life.
Andy Catron- friend of bride/groom
Andy is one of my newest friends and someone who I have already grown very close to. Andy’s wife Jordan, is Rachel’s maid of honor and one of her best friends. Andy is a fellow nerd and gamer like myself. I’m pretty sure he could talk about Star Wars or Lord of the Rings for longer than I can so he is pretty awesome! Even though we live far apart, we still get to hang out and talk while we game. I’m super excited for Andy to be standing with me and no matter how far apart we live, we will always stay close.