Constable: Who thought Cubs could mess with October weddings?
Couples choosing a fall wedding date have plenty of questions.
"What if the Cubs are playing a big postseason baseball game that day?" generally isn't one of them.
"We didn't know the Cubs would be good," says James Gizzo of Glen Ellyn, who got engaged to Sara Daugherty on Jan. 2, when the Cubs were coming off another last-place finish. The couple scheduled their wedding for Oct. 17. Now, there is a chance the Cubs will be playing in Game 1 of the National League championship series on their wedding day.
"I know, do you believe it?" says Daugherty, whose family hails from downstate Chatham, which also has plenty of Cardinal fans hoping that St. Louis is the team playing that day.
Relatives, especially Gizzo's aunt and cousin, who are part of the ceremony, have been "joking" about skipping the wedding.
"His cousin sent us a text saying that he paid a look-alike to stand in for him so he could go to the game," Daugherty says.
"My Aunt Pattie is one of those crazy Cubs fans," Gizzo says, noting that she went to the wild-card playoff game in Pittsburgh.
"I think she'll come (to the wedding) because she's doing a reading," he says.
"She might do the reading and then leave," Daugherty says with a chuckle. "We might have to have a TV in front of her during dinner."
The couple's wedding planner, Cindy Shanholtz, owner of Effortless Events in Naperville, has plenty of experience balancing weddings with big sporting events. Her stat sheet boasts 363 successful weddings in the past nine years, including some which fully incorporated the couples' favorite teams.
"You want to do it nicely, with a nod to the couple," says Shanholtz, who pulled off a White Sox fan wedding last year with an elaborate baseball theme at Morton Arboretum, and the union of Cubs fans at Harry Caray's Italian Steakhouse in Lombard.
"The whole bridal party had Harry Caray glasses on," Shanholtz says.
A wedding of college football fans acknowledged their passion in a tasty way. "For their wedding cake, we did the Notre Dame stadium with Touchdown Jesus and a hand-painted scoreboard," Shanholtz says.
She's also managed the challenge when the big game isn't part of the official wedding motif. Guests forced to choose between a wedding toast and a game featuring their favorite team have been known to wander from the reception to watch TV at the hotel bar, or skip a wedding completely.
"With modern technology, I try to keep them in the room," says Shanholtz. On May 30, 2015, the Blackhawks advanced to the Stanley Cup Final with a Game 7 5-3 victory over the Anaheim Ducks, and Shanholtz figured out a way to keep fans at a wedding reception.
"We asked for an extra chair and set up an iPad," she says.
A bigger fear is that a best man might be sneaking peeks at his phone during the ceremony. No one wants an emotional "I do" drowned out by someone screaming, "Rizzo just hit a homer!"
"I have made deals with the groomsmen. If you are standing up there, give me your phones and I'll let you know the score," Shanholtz says. She's also planning the wedding of Lars Skarie and Susie Helford, who grew up in Glenview, for a Chicago venue on Oct. 24.
That could be the day the Cubs win the National League pennant and earn a trip to the World Series for the first time in 70 years. No wedding party wants to compete with a historic Cubs moment. But that's not why Skarie is rooting for the Cubs to lose now in the National League Division Championship.
"I'm a Cardinals fan," says Skarie, who spent his early childhood in a small town in Alaska before moving to St. Louis for high school. "Coming from Alaska, the Cardinals were my first sports-team affiliation. I just fell in love with the team."
A Cardinals' victory would free guests who are Cubs fans to focus all their attention on the couple's wedding. But it doesn't solve the baseball dilemma for Skarie.
"I just joked with Lars that I don't want him checking the score," says Helford, 25.
That's where brother, Per Skarie, 34, of Des Plaines, pinch hits. In addition to his duties as a groomsman, the elder brother will serve as the designated playoff-updater.
"That will be my role: to keep up on the score," he says.
"Probably sign language or some code," says the groom, who turns 28 a week before his wedding.
Per Skarie already balanced postseason baseball and his own nuptials on Oct. 15, 2011, a Saturday that fell on an off-day during a clutch Cardinals series against the Milwaukee Brewers. Skarie says the Cards lost Thursday and Friday, but rallied to win the series.
"We won on Sunday," Per Skarie says. "So we got to take the World Series on our honeymoon (in Costa Rica). I figured out a way on the laptop to stream it. Yes, we watched baseball on our honeymoon, but the games were at night when we were already wrapped up for the night."
His younger brother says he hopes to catch some World Series action during a honeymoon in Michigan.
"We're not the kind of couple that says, 'Oh, you need permission,'" says Helford, noting that she and her husband will combine their names and be the Skarford family after the wedding. "I asked that we watch every game during the honeymoon and she said, 'Fine. As long as you give me a massage during the game,' to which I agreed," her hubby-to-be says. "She cares about the Cardinals because I care about the Cardinals, but she's confessed that she is rooting for the Cubs."
None of which matters in the big picture. "I'm marrying the woman of my dreams, so I'm happy," Lars Skarie says.
"Today, with technology, you can make everyone happy," says Shanholtz, who is working this baseball postseason to keep couples, wedding guests, and Cubs and Cardinal fans happy. As an East Coast native, her favorite team ended up being a bridesmaid, but not the bride.
"As a Yankees fan," says Shanholtz, "this is painful for me to do."