Elizabeth & Keith: An Idyllic Affair in Shawnee, KS

by Amy Elliott

Elizabeth Fry and Keith Kwapiszeski met through a mutual friend in 1991, at an outdoor concert at Kansas City's Starlight Theatre. Seven years later, after graduating from KU and re-locating to Houston, the lovebirds found themselves on Captiva Island, Florida, the grand finale to Keith's week-long, pre-proposal scavenger hunt. Keith popped the question at sunset, on a sailboat, as they sailed past playfully splashing dolphins.

THE BRIDE Elizabeth Fry, 24
THE GROOM Keith Kwapiszeski, 26
THE DATE June 12
THE SCENE Elizabeth parents' home in Shawnee

As guests to the wedding of Elizabeth Fry and Keith Kwapiszeski were transported to the bride's parents' home via horse-drawn carriages, the early evening sunlight was soft. Sandy and Bill Fry's Tudor-style home is nestled on 43 acres of woodland and overlooks the Kansas River.

The ceremony was held on the lush lawn and gardens extending from the back of their house. For one summer evening, the backyard was an enchanted forest. Hickory, oak, and elm trees offered shade and filtered light, while redbirds sang from the branches.

When Elizabeth arrived at the ceremony with her dad, she stepped from the carriage with princess-like poise, then took in the sight: More than 300 guests filled the lawn while her beloved stood at the white wrought-iron gazebo made soft and ethereal with cascading white tulle and ivy. An elegant quartet called the crowd to silence and stillness.

Two flower girls, their heads crowned with baby's breath, carried a garland of flowers down the aisle to lie upon the unity candle table. Once there, they each picked up a "kissing ball", a rose-studded pomander to carry for the duration of the ceremony. Six bridesmaids in silk chiffon filed past, their colors of periwinkle, sage, and maize blending with the sylvan scenery and waning sun. And then, Clarke's regal-sounding "Trumpet Voluntary" formally announced the bride's arrival.

"I have always been at peace in beautiful surroundings," says Elizabeth. "For our wedding, I envisioned a romantic, outdoor setting, with flowing dresses and flowers everywhere." Her mother, a prominent Kansas City-area florist, styled the event with a sunset-colored palette-classic peonies, hydrangeas, lilies, and roses in romantic shades of yellow, pink, lavender, and purple.

Flowers circled the horses' necks in wreaths, burst from shepherd hooks lining the bridal path, and thousands of scattered pink and purple rose petals formed a natural aisle upon the grass.

A beautiful backdrop was a must, but the wedding was also meant to celebrate several generations of happy marriages. Parents of the bride and groom walked down the aisle to music played at their weddings. Elizabeth wore her deceased paternal grandmother's bracelet-it featured two dangling hearts bearing her grandparents' initials. A handkerchief belonging to Elizabeth's maternal grandmother, also deceased, was woven into her bouquet.

At the close of the evening, the bride's parents presented the couple with a scrapbook filled with good wishes and marital advice (guests wrote these down on parchment paper one month before the wedding and had sent them back for compilation).

The newlyweds, their families, and other loved ones reveled beneath a gleaming white tent aglow with rosy, reflective light. It had a moonlit, Shakespearean quality, with garden blooms and drippy greenery hanging overhead, lanterns flickering on long tables, and fairy lights twinkling from tall potted trees. A magnificent cake, lavishly adorned with white Belgian chocolate purple and yellow roses, gold-leaf latticework, and ivy, stood on display at center.

Special martini and margarita bars nurtured mingling, much dancing, and a lively, light-hearted mood that lasted from twilight till the wee hours of the morning. In between dancing to Motown and R&B favorites, several emotional toasts were offered to the bride and groom. Elizabeth and her dad danced to "Daddy's Little Girl" by Al Martino. As a surprise, Elizabeth had the band fade the tune into Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" for a doubly heartfelt father-daughter moment.

Secluded in the woods, still reeling from the evening's excitement, guests partied until Mr. Fry insisted that everyone call it a night. It was 3:30 a.m. A limo was waiting to take Elizabeth and Keith to the Marriott near the Kansas City International Airport. They were to leave for Antigua in the morning, and daybreak was just a few short hours away.

--Amy Elliott
Photographs © Mark Nelson

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