Bekah and Willy Leafblad are all smiles for the camera shortly after their wedding ceremony on Dec. 30. They were married at Olivet Lutheran in Fargo, N.D.
KAIA LEA PHOTOGRAPHY Bekah and Willy Leafblad are all smiles for the camera shortly after their wedding ceremony on Dec. 30. They were married at Olivet Lutheran in Fargo, N.D.

For two music aficionados, incorporating music into their special day was an obvious choice.

Willy Leafblad and Bekah Sandgren met at Luther College, sitting next to each other in concert band. She was first flute and he was first oboe and thus, an acquaintance was formed.

They toured the Midwest with the concert band and sat next to each other on the bus, getting to know each other and forming a friendship. After their tour, they went on their first date. From there, affection grew to love and their romance continued until Willy knew he wanted Bekah to be his wife.

The engagement

It was on a blistery, cold, windy night in Viking Memorial Park under Christmas lights that Willy asked Bekah to marry him.

The park had been lit up for a few weeks by that night, Dec. 16, 2015, but Bekah had not seen the lights up close so Willy suggested they go for a walk in the park.

“He asked if I wanted to go for a walk in the park, to see the lights,” Bekah said. “And I’m like ‘Why?’ And he’s like ‘Please? Just to see the lights.’”

They walked in the park and then went to the gazebo, where Bekah saw two women, Karen Fried and Lara Wold-Mendez, giggling at the end of the sidewalk with a camera on a tripod. They had been getting ready for half an hour before Bekah and Willy came to the park, Willy said.

“What’s going on?” Bekah wondered.

By the end of that blistery, cold, windy night, they were engaged.

The wedding

The planning began almost immediately and the couple chose to marry a year later, on Dec. 30, 2016, at Olivet Lutheran Church in Fargo, N.D., Bekah’s hometown and home church.

“We just decided on it, because we would both be on break from school,” Bekah said.

“And I’m a teacher so I’ll always have that off,” Willy added. “A lot of our friends had that off from school, so from Luther they could come, other people we know from Concordia and those places. It was a good time of the year for travel.”

The weather was a “balmy 20 degrees” without a snowflake or blizzard in sight, despite the icy and wintry roads, but the wedding and reception went off without a hitch.

Willy recalled his cousin in Norway saying, “There’s three words I never thought I’d hear in the same sentence: a wedding, December and Fargo, N.D.” when he heard about the wedding.

“We like winter,” Willy said.

“Most people think we’re crazy,” Bekah added, laughing.

A love of music

Both avid music lovers, the bride and groom wanted to incorporate music into their special day.

The first musical event included sending out about 50 copies of “Pilgrim’s Hymn” by Stephen Paulus for close family and friends to sing at the beginning of the ceremony.

On the day of the wedding, 50 people had about an hour and a half to rehearse altogether. Willy’s college classmate, Ben Wagner, conducted the choir.

“It sounded beautiful,” Bekah said.

The wedding party made its way down the aisle and after Bekah entered the sanctuary, Willy’s brother and best man, Oliver Leafblad, stood in the pulpit and played “O God Beyond All Praise” by Gustav Holst, or some people might know it as “Jupiter.”

Bekah’s brother, Joel Sandgren, walked his sister down the aisle to their father, the Rev. Jeff Sandgren, who was officiating the ceremony. He had been a pastor at Olivet for 20 years.

“It was really special,” Bekah said.

Ready to receive them at their reception was local band “Post Traumatic Funk Syndrome,” a horn band consisting of 12 members and nearly 10 different instruments: alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, two trumpets, one trombone, drum set, bass guitar, guitar, keyboard and two vocalists.

A majority of the band members are directors or teachers in the Fargo/Moorhead area, such as at Concordia College or North Dakota State University, Willy said.

Bekah heard them perform at a wedding in October 2015 and immediately liked their sound. Her father also knew some of the members.

Willy and Bekah compared the band to similar bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire or Chicago. During the planning stages, they selected a list of songs from the band’s website for the band to play.

A wide variety of music was heard at the reception, such as ‘80s rock classics to ‘90s rock and newer music like Bruno Mars’s “Uptown Funk.”

“We just knew we wanted to have good music the whole day,” Willy said. “People and music are important in our lives and that was what we tried to make the best of … The people that we wanted and the music that we wanted.”

Their reception space was big and had great sound for the band.

Special touches, advice

Willy and Bekah also planned other special touches to enhance their wedding experience. The table pieces were birch branches and pinecones they cut and gathered themselves. Guests also received a party favor — apple cider pressed at Willy’s parent’s farm.

Their advice for other couples planning a wedding would be to “focus on the elements of the wedding that are important to you.”

“Our food was good, but wasn’t great because we wanted to have a great band so that we could have a good dance and good party for everyone,” Bekah said. “We stayed true to us in the planning of the wedding. We had a lot of help planning from both of our parents, so I think that was really helpful.”

The couple currently lives in Spring Grove, enjoys playing different instruments and singing in the church choir at Trinity Lutheran and participating in the hand bell choir they helped establish.

Bekah will graduate in May from Luther College with a double major in mathematics and religion and a minor in French. She looks forward to getting a job in youth ministry.