Caitlin Powell is my matron of honor and my cousin. We've known each other for almost all our lives (she lived an awful 17 months without me and doesn't like to talk about it) and, minus her brief college semester in Ames, we've lived in different city/states the entire time but have remained as close as sisters. She has an enviable laugh, a fearless spirit, and can make just about anyone feel like the most important person in the room. She is expecting on May 23rd so we'll either have a brand new baby or an extremely unhappy pregnant lady on June 10th.
Stephanie Haberer is my maid of honor and has been one of my best friends since we met in elementary school. Truth be told, I was jealous of her colorful braces in 4th grade because I had to wait until 8th and had them when I started high school (thanks mom). She's lived in France and Switzerland, kicks ass at her job in Des Moines, goes out for tacos and beer one night then home cooks an entire turkey the next. In heels. She's also the only person I know who can go backpacking (read: one backpack) for an entire month and look like Kate Middleton while doing it.
Andrea Arenholz is my bridesmaid and also my cousin. She's been my cool older sister and can be credited with any dance technique I have because it was her who introduced me to Darren's Dance Grooves and choreographed my first public performance in Grandma's living room to B*Witched's "Cest La Vie". She also told me once that Backstreet Boys is better than NSYNC which to this day I will defend. Andrea runs a household of FIVE, can cook better than Julia Child, throws parties that would make Martha Stewart's look like a table at Applebee's, and is a giver of life to the people around her.
Larissa Hargens is my bridesmaid and one my best friends since we met freshmen year of college. She was my partner-in-crime of pulling all-nighter study sessions, is the queen of inside-jokes and colloquials, and is the smartest and most humble person I know (we need you in DC). She is spontaneous and fun and always knows the right thing to say. She just had a baby, Henley Joy, in September who has the most to-die-for red hair and blue eyes. If watching your best friend become a Mom isn't the most surreal and inspiring experience in all of life then I give up.
Brittany Lindberg is my bridesmaid and, if I wasn't lucky enough to get one Thune for a best friend, I got another! As Larissa's older sister, Brittany played an integral role in God's plan of getting me to DC, and hasn't stepped out of that role for a minute. I will never forget the moment I met up with Brittany - who I barely knew at the time - after about a week of being in DC where I knew no one. She opens her arms, her house, her wallet and her heart to friends and strangers alike. She's also got a great job, great style and great insight into what it means to follow Jesus. She is expecting in April (sensing a theme here?) so we are excited to have a new baby BOY join the Ryan/Beach party.
Molly Lepasana and I met in college and have grown to become best buds over the years. She came to Bethel by way of Boston and taught me the ways of the world through East Coast lenses - the words "wicked" and "jimmies", that knee-high black boots go with everything, and that you can actually turn left on red (or straight on red, or go 20 over the speed limit). Molly teaches high school chemistry and just finished her master's degree. She spends most of her time in North Minneapolis investing in kids who have it harder than most; cheering them on in zero degree weather at their football games, driving them home from school, and buying them things like better books and sharper pencils. She's successful, strong, sassy and a steadfast friend for life. She also never loses a game of Chubby Bunny.
Andrew Beach is my best man and younger brother. We are best friends today but it wasn't always that way. We beat the stuffing out of each other as little kids, fought over almost everything, and thought the other one was a big loser. That was until high school and suddenly I realized my brother was actually a really funny, cool guy with a huge heart and infectious charm. Some of my greatest memories are the snowboarding trips we took out west or our surf trips through Costa Rica.
Jonathan Carden came to Patrick Henry College my sophomore year of college and I thought it'd be a great idea to prank him by stealing his truck when he was trying to move into his dorm. I quickly found out that big guys from Texas don't enjoy pranks that involve their big trucks. But we've made up pretty well since then. We were roommates for almost all four years of college. We devised a one-of-a-kind education experiment and discovered that playing hours of video games does in fact hurt your GPA. Jon introduced me to all things Texas, country, and gangster rap. For that, I will always be grateful.
Phil Greendyk is the older brother that I never had. Phil and I met our freshman year in college and he was the reason I survived four years away from home. He was always better prepared, better organized, better dressed, listened to better music, read better books, and cooked better food. Phil got married before me, had kids before me, and through it all he's helped guide me along through life. In short, Phil has his life together. Mine is still a work in progress, but it'd be a heck of a lot worse and a heck of a lot less fun without Phil.
Joe Pisacreta: When people find out I'm from New Jersey they usually say, "So you're Italian, right?" And I'm not (the red beard sort of gives it away). But ever since I met Joe - my 100% Italian fratello from New Jersey - and became roommates for several years after college, I feel like a part of me is Italian. Joe and I bonded playing on the Patrick Henry soccer team and continued that bond with heated FIFA marathons and by joining a sketchy adult soccer league in DC and playing against war criminals from Serbia and South America (at least they seemed that dangerous).
Paul Devamithran and I also met at Patrick Henry and played on the soccer team together. We were close friends, but we really bonded when we both volunteered to teach and coach soccer for inner city Washington D.C. students. On our first day of teaching, one 6th grader decked another one right in the face. It was then we knew we were in for a good time. But through it all we became incredibly close and take solace in the fact that we hopefully steered some of those kids towards college and away from prison.
Michael Ryan is Allie's younger brother and I've gotten to know him over the past year that Allie and I have been together. This past summer, Michael and I went tubing together on Lake Okoboji while Tom tried to kill us, so I think we bonded quickly after that experience. But in all seriousness, I was a total stranger to him and Michael welcomed me to the family with open arms. I'm very grateful for that, and for the fact that he's letting me marry his sister.