Friday, July 5, 2013

adventures in Brookings: the Touchdown Jesus edition.

Whoa. It’s July. Besides fireworks and cookouts and general summer delight, do you know what that means? It means that I am getting married THIS MONTH. I repeat: whoa.

I’ve mentioned here and there how wedding planning kind of sucks and how I probably (definitely) should’ve eloped, but I’m sure that once it’s all over, I’ll be glad that I had the big Midwestern wedding. Until then, though, you’ll have to cut me some slack.

James proposed in June 2012, and we settled on a July 2013 wedding for a number of reasons: James is a teacher, which would make a fall wedding (my first choice) difficult. My dad and many of our friends and relatives are farmers, so fall is tough for them. But what really tipped the scales in favor of a July wedding was the fact that July 27 landed on a Saturday. July 27, 2007 was the day James and I started dating, so we staked a claim for a wedding date of July 27, 2013.

So after we’d hashed out a date, the next pressing decision was where to have the wedding. James is from Minnesota, and I am from South Dakota. We briefly considered a wedding in Minneapolis, but dismissed it on the grounds that we’re too cheap for that. I had been living and working in Sioux Falls for almost a year by that point – what about a Sioux Falls wedding? Well, neither of us were very attached to Sioux Falls, so that would be a little strange.

Enter the lightbulb moment. Why not get married in Brookings? It wasn’t technically my hometown (my actual hometown of Arlington didn’t have much to offer), but I spent an awful lot of time there growing up. James was also familiar with Brookings, as I had dragged him around town on more than one occasion. He thought it was a nice college down with plenty of character. So we decided that we’d get married in Brookings.

Ok, now we’d gotten the geographical location decided. But now… where exactly in Brookings should we have this wedding? There’s a beautiful garden in Brookings, as well as a number of lovely little parks, so there were definitely options for an outdoor wedding. An outdoor wedding is great idea in theory, but the execution of it was a little too daunting for a non-party planner like me. You’ve got to rent the chairs and speakers and what if it rains? Almost more worrisome than the potential rain was the much more likely scenario of extreme heat. I didn’t want to sunburn my guests and sweat off all my makeup (ick), so an outdoor wedding was never to be.

We had booked our reception hall the second we’d chosen Brookings, so there was always the option of having our ceremony there. But again, the non-party planner in me balked at the idea. That meant we’d have to set up our little ceremony area, get through said ceremony, clear everything out, and THEN set up the tables. Waaaay too much work, so as far as I was concerned, the wedding ceremony had to be at a separate venue.

Enter the lightbulb moment, part two. This one was just way too obvious: how had I forgotten Touchdown Jesus? OF COURSE! WE’D GET MARRIED AT THE TOUCHDOWN JESUS CHURCH!

Allow me to explain. Brookings, as a not-too-terribly-large town, doesn’t have much for landmarks. It’s got the Campanile and McCrory Gardens, but that’s about it… besides Touchdown Jesus. Touchdown Jesus is a huge Lutheran Church situated at the end of a block. The face of the church has a gigantic image of Jesus with his arms outspread: hence, the touchdown. Generations of young Brookings folk have called this church Touchdown Jesus, and I don’t know about them, but my friends and I TOTALLY thought we had come up with that name all by ourselves. No sir – everyone calls First Lutheran the Touchdown Jesus church. Even the church has gotten in on the fun: the church’s website (I am not making this up) is

James contacted First Lutheran, and they were happy to give us a place for our ceremony. They even allowed us to bring in our own pastor – the pastor who served in Arlington for the first nineteen years of my life is performing the ceremony. Pretty cool. And you know what else was a selling point for First Lutheran? My parents got married at that very church.

So that, my friends, is how we ended up scheduling our wedding ceremony at Touchdown Jesus church. Officially, it’s because my parents got married there, and it is a very lovely church in a very lovely town. Unofficially, it’s simply because it’s Touchdown Jesus. What could be better than that?

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