BY CHRIS CHRISTEN, WEDDING ESSENTIALS EDITOR: Shannon Kennedy and Matt Dill hit the ball out of TD Ameritrade Park under a full moon Tuesday night when they stepped up to home plate and pledged their love before 22,400 cheering fans. Click here to watch a behind the scenes video of the couple’s wedding.
The 4-minute ceremony took place immediately following the third annual College Home Run Derby. It was the first in-field wedding in the ballpark’s two-year history, according to Kim Hillyer, public relations director for TD Ameritrade, which sponsored the Derby. The sports-loving newlyweds were looking for a fun and unusual way to tie the knot when a friend suggested the downtown ballpark. The bride pitched the idea to TD Ameritrade and Hillyer said, “Bring it on!”
“Last year we had an engagement during the Derby,” Hillyer said. “We were joking about needing a stadium wedding next when Shannon called. We thought it was a great opportunity.” The couple’s three-week timeline required some hustle from the planning team. Hillyer slid into the role of wedding coordinator with an assist from PR specialist Lori Havens of Ervin & Smith Advertising. “It was great. We didn’t over-think a thing,” the bride, 43, said of their quick work. (Wedding Essentials spied an obviously touched Hillyer wiping tears from her eyes once the bride was on the field and the ceremony was in progress.)
The couple initially thought they’d have a backyard wedding in the guise of a summer barbecue or a flash wedding at a metro area location. “We really had no intention of standing out in the crowd on our wedding day,” said the 47-year-old groom. “We’re both fairly introverted people.” His worst fear: “If we mess up, the video could go viral and end up on ESPN’s Top 10.”
The bride’s sons, ages 14 and 16, were especially thrilled with the ballpark plan. They got to wear their casual clothes and invite a few Facebook friends. A bight red Jone-Z’s Party Bus transported 40 members of the Dill-Kennedy team between her Omaha home and the stadium. The balance of their guests - 211 total – found their own way to reserved seats in Sections 116 and 115.
Katrina Becker, a friend of the bride, and Kathie Forrest, captain of the couple’s coed hockey team, stood up for the couple. The bride’s younger brother, Patrick Connolly of La Crosse, Wis., performed the ceremony (he got his officiant’s certificate online last week). Connolly endeared himself to the crowd by brushing off home plate in true umpire fashion at the start of the ceremony and later saying to the groom, “You may kiss my sister.”
Shannon told her groom: “From our first kiss, you surprised me, distracted me and made me happier than I have ever been.” Matt’s love, Shannon declared to the stadium crowd, “has proven that fairy tales really do come true.” Dill assured his bride, “We are better together than we could ever be alone” and then pledged his “love, trust and friendship.” The newlyweds exited the field through an arbor of baseball bats formed by eight grinning Derby participants while guests in Section 116 waved orange, pink and white ribbon streamers with bells.
The wedding entourage stayed for the Omaha World-Herald fireworks show. Then it was back to the bride’s home for a late-night barbecue and perhaps a little star-gazing before the morning sun breaks the horizon.
WHO DID WHAT
CAKE: Hy-Vee; FLOWERS: Blooms; PHOTOGRAPHER: Phil Jarrett; HER ATTIRE: Sue Wong beaded cocktail dress from Bloomingdale’s; HAIR: Bernadette Sousa; HIS ATTIRE: White resort shirt, khaki slacks from Men’s Wearhouse; MUSIC: TD Ameritrade; CATERER: Stokes Grill & Bar
WEDDING COORDINATORS: Kim Hillyer of TD Ameritrade and Lori Havens of Ervin & Smith Advertising; OFFICIANT: Patrick Connolly, the bride’s brother; TRANSPORTATION: Jone-Z Party Bus; HONEYMOON: Mexico; TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS: Enchanted Honeymoons; FAVORS: Dowels decorated with orange, pink and white ribbon streamers and bells made by Kim Hillyer and her team at TD Ameritrade; FIREWORKS: Omaha World-Herald’s 28th annual fireworks display produced by J & M Displays
ABOUT THOSE JERSEYS IN THE PHOTO THAT TOPS OUR BLOG
Shannon and Matt wore custom made baseball jerseys in a pre-wedding video for the big screen at TD Ameritrade Park. The shirtsleeves were embroidered with their wedding date. The numbers on their shirts have to do with their online dating experience. She was Match No. 9 for him; and he was Match No. 8 for her.
Photography by Kurt A. Keeler for Wedding Essentials unless otherwise noted.