STROLL sat down with Patti and Russell Stern after they returned from Sweden for their son's wedding in June. They wanted to share a little about this lovely young couple and the beautiful wedding they had planned. Along with quite a few notes from the Stern's son and daughter-in-law, we're delighted to tell you about the blessed event. Here is their story:
Once upon a time, in the enchanting medieval town of Visby, on the picturesque island of Gotland, a love story unfolded that would captivate the hearts of all who witnessed it. It all began with the meeting of two souls destined to, one day, speak their vows amidst the cobblestone streets and ancient walls of this fairytale setting.
Upon returning to his family's home in California after traversing the globe, Harrison Stern and Hannah Busch, a woman raised in both Germany and Sweden, found themselves drawn to one another through the whimsical power of the internet. Their connection grew through playful puns and witty banter exchanged through text messages, with Harrison's humor capturing Hannah's heart. Intrigued by each other's personalities, they soon arranged a coffee date followed by a delightful dinner. And so, their adventure began.
Harrison, having just returned from his extended trip, offered to be Hannah's tour guide as she yearned to explore the wonders of the west coast of the United States. Together, they embarked on short trips and hiked through breathtaking landscapes, ensuring that Hannah experienced everything she desired during her time in America.
Meanwhile, Hannah had secured a remarkable job in her home country of Sweden, knowing that at some point, she would have to return. The couple agreed that Harrison would have his turn to explore Hannah's side of the world once the time was right.
As fate would have it, the time for Harrison to make his journey to Sweden arrived sooner than expected. Patti and Russ were preparing to make the move to Florida. Ever the supportive son, Harrison assisted his parents in their relocation and then continued his own journey eastward with all his belongings in tow.
Two months later, the pandemic descended upon the world, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the lives of countless individuals. For some, it was a time of fear and isolation, but it became an unexpected blessing for Harrison and Hannah. The pandemic compressed several years of "getting to know you" time into a much shorter span, allowing the young couple to deepen their connection and discover the depths of their love.
When the day of their wedding arrived on June 10, 2023, it seemed as if the universe conspired to create a truly magical experience. The guests gathered at the open-air church within Visby's historic walls, where they were serenaded by Andrew Stern, Harrison's talented brother and best man. Andrew had learned to play songs selected by the Priest on the guitar overnight when Harrison and Hannah couldn't locate the recordings beforehand. As this wasn't the original plan, and Andrew didn't bring along a guitar, Patti and Russ sprung into action and headed into town to purchase one just for this special day.
After the couple exchanged vows, Patti couldn't help but be taken aback by the melodious voices that filled the air. She turned to see a quartet of Hannah's friends singing in perfect harmony, their voices echoing off the ancient chapel's stone walls. The ethereal melody elevated the day to new heights, transforming it into a living fairytale.
After the ceremony, as Hannah and Harrison walked out of the church, the guests rose to their feet, cheering and showering them with handmade confetti. The couple had spent hours cutting the heart-shaped confetti from leaves, a labor of love that added a touch of whimsy to the celebration. As the couple embarked on their photoshoot, the guests continued the festivities inside, where they enjoyed champagne, shared stories, and engaged in some playful distractions unique to traditional weddings.
As the photographer stole away the couple to capture their love on film, several handmade versions of well-known games were rolled out for everyone to enjoy. Laughter filled the air as guests played an oversized Jenga made from sections of two-by-fours and a giant Connect 4 that Harrison had skillfully crafted using 3D printers in a local workshop over five weekends. The distractions proved to be a delightful surprise, keeping everyone entertained while Hannah and Harrison were held hostage by the lens.
Once the couple returned from their photoshoot, it was time to head to the next venue for the reception. The guest's stroll through the village towards the waiting motorcoaches was nothing short of enchanting. The cobblestone streets glistened beneath their feet, and some local residents, captivated by the joyous atmosphere, joined the procession. The scene felt straight out of a storybook, with laughter and camaraderie filling the air as the wedding guests made their way out of the city.
The reception took place at Salthamn, a venue with a rich history. What was once one of Europe's largest mink farms had been transformed into a haven for private events, boasting stunning water views and a commitment to sustainability. Most of the food served at Salthamn was grown in their own gardens and greenhouses, adding a touch of freshness and local flavor to the dishes.
As the guests arrived at the venue, those wishing to offer the couple a toast were directed to Hannah's friends, Abraham and Anna, the designated Toastmasters. Several people who were given time to speak stood to offer their congratulations, including Patti, Andrew, Hannah's father and grandmother, and a few of the couple's friends. Russ took his time "on stage" to describe the event as "different in every positive way." He, like Patti, was struck by the fairy tale atmosphere that the destination offered and the wonderfully unique elements the young couple included that were a refreshing change from many other weddings. His words resonated deeply with Hannah and Harrison, as this was exactly what they wanted to impart. However, the most memorable toast of the evening was Hanna's sister, who relayed a story that left the audience speechless.
When Hannah's sister was nine, she drew a cartoon and story for a school project. She came up with the adventures of "Humla Hannah" and "Humla Hari," which translates to bumblebee Hannah and bumblebee Hari in Swedish. What was odd was that Hari (or Harrison) is not a common name in the Swedish culture, and she didn't know any Haris at the time. She saved the cartoon and didn't think about it again. Some years later, around the same time Harrison arrived to visit with Hannah, she came across it again and thought to hold onto it just in case the couple's relationship developed. Of course, it sounded like a sweet story that might not have been entirely factual until the image of the cartoon was projected up onto the wall that had, up until then, been photos of Hannah and Harrison over the past several years.
As the night wore on, the music beckoned everyone to the dance floor, where the room came alive with rhythmic movements and uninhibited joy. But the true highlight awaited everyone's anticipation. Hannah and Harrison made a quick wardrobe change and took center stage. With synchronized steps and radiant smiles, they wowed their guests with a breathtaking dance routine to the infectious beat of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Let's Groove." The crowd watched in awe, their eyes sparkling with delight as they witnessed the magical union of two souls dancing as one.
And so, with love, laughter, and a touch of whimsy, Harrison and Hannah embarked on their happily ever after. Their wedding day in Visby will forever remain a cherished chapter in their love story, filled with memories that will sparkle in their hearts for eternity. As their tale concludes, we are reminded that love has the power to transcend borders, conquer obstacles, and weave its own fairy tales wherever it may roam.
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Visby's origins date back to the 12th century. The city is filled with cobblestone streets, surrounded by a well-preserved 2.17-mile-long medieval ring wall. Many of its original towers are still intact and were initially built to protect against foreign enemies and ne'er-do-wells from the Swedish countryside. One of its claims to fame is that Visby was used as the backdrop for the Pippi Longstocking movies of the late 1960s and early 1970s.