WORTHINGTON - July 4, 2018, might just go down as Laura Wetering’s best birthday ever.
Following the swirl of fireworks, family fun and birthday cake that marked the date, it was capped with a wonderful surprise: a marriage proposal from her beau of three years, Josh Christoffer.
“July 4 is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Wetering, a 2014 Worthington High School graduate who has been working in Charlotte, N.C., for a year as a procurement specialist for Foodbuy.
“We were in Worthington for the holiday, and Josh proposed to me during the fireworks display; I was not expecting it, but I said yes, obviously.”
For Christoffer, an engagement ring proved to be the perfect birthday gift for the woman he says he likes talking to and spending time with more than anyone else in the world.
“I’d been wondering what to get her for her birthday, and I knew it would be a meaningful date for her - plus one that would be easy for me to remember,” said Christoffer.
In April, Christoffer had privately talked with Wetering’s parents, Betsy and Bill of Worthington, requesting permission to marry the youngest of their four children.
“They were very excited about it, but I didn’t tell them or my parents anything about my plans for the proposal timing,” he related. “But on the 4th Betsy said to me quietly, ‘In case something special is going to happen, there’s champagne in the fridge downstairs.’”
Thus, a champagne toast with family topped the night and spoke to the promise of their future union.
“We celebrated together, and that was really nice and special for me,” said Wetering.The guy down the road
Although Christoffer, the son of Dean and Andrea Christoffer, graduated from Jackson County Central High School in 2014, he and Wetering never officially met during their high school years.
“Because we graduated from high school the same year and our schools competed in sports, we know we were in the same gyms or at the same fields multiple times, but we didn’t meet until April of our freshman year at the U of M,” said Wetering.
Wetering, a political science and statistics major, was a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority while Christoffer, who studied agriculture and food business management, belonged to the Farm House fraternity.
“His fraternity was hosting a Louisiana crawfish feed as a philanthropy event,” recalled Wetering.
“Proportionally, there aren’t many kids from southwest Minnesota who attend the U of M, and it’s big - there were between 5,000 and 6,000 students in our class, and the U has an overall student body of about 60,000 - so when someone there said they were from Redwood Falls, I said, ‘No way, I’m from Worthington,’ and then someone else said, ‘You’re from Worthington? Josh is from Jackson.’”
The two began chatting, discovering many commonalities based on their hometowns, and things continued developing from there.
“I liked him from the start,” blushed Wetering. “Basically, I just kept showing up when his fraternity had events.”
Christoffer remembers immediately enjoying Wetering’s sense of humor and personality.
“When she began consistently showing up, we began talking more and I realized how fun it was to be with her,” he said. “But I didn’t invite her to anything for a long time.”
A Minnesota Twins game outing with five other friends was key.
“I say that’s our first date, but she disagrees,” he laughed. “Once we arrived, we immediately abandoned her friends to intentionally sit by each other.”
That summer, after Christoffer spent a couple of weeks on a mission trip building a house in Honduras, he invited her out to dinner.
“I picked the Long Branch Saloon because I love it and I love Mexican food,” said Wetering, who considers that meal their true first date.
Call it love over chips and salsa: They’ve been together ever since.Long-distance love
Except when they’ve been apart.
Shortly prior to their engagement, Wetering had accepted a job with Foodbuy, the same company where she’d interned the previous summer.
Christoffer, meanwhile, is working as a credit underwriter for Compeer Financial in Lakeville.
“It was definitely challenging to be so far from each other, but we managed visits either in Minnesota or North Carolina about once a month; we took turns traveling,” said Wetering.
“Being apart forced us to learn how to best communicate with each other, and we had to learn how to be comfortable in making Facetime our ‘together’ time,” she added.
“It was tough, but it made the times we were in the same place more valuable.”
Said Christoffer, “After being only about 10 minutes apart, whether in college or at home for so long, it was a challenge.
“But it helped us realize how much we needed each other, and we stopped taking each other for granted. We learned to make the most out of every moment and it really affirmed that, yes, we do want to be together.”
Wetering said knowing there was an endpoint - they had agreed that, whether they ultimately chose to live in North Carolina or Minnesota, they wouldn’t spend more than a year apart - was helpful.
“It was nice being engaged, knowing we were always on the same page because we were planning to be together for the rest of our lives,” she said.
As their wedding approaches, Wetering plans to relocate to Minnesota.Wedding bells
Conveniently, the two were both raised in Catholic homes. Hence, their wedding will take place in mid-August at St. Mary’s Catholic Church - Wetering’s religious home - and will involve a full Catholic mass, as well as many family members.
“We have more traditional taste when it comes to weddings,” smiled Wetering. “There will be nothing too ‘out there.’
“My aunt Julie will play the piano and my cousin Alice is playing the cello,” she noted.
“My two sisters are my co-maids of honor, Josh’s younger sister will be a bridesmaid, my brother will be a groomsman and we have a few college friends in the wedding party, too.”
Bringing the event full circle, however, is their officiant, Father Andy Olsem.
“Father Olsem is Josh’s great uncle,” said Wetering. “He was formerly the Worthington parish priest, and he baptized me - and he married Josh’s parents.”
“He also did my first communion,” said Christoffer, “and we grew close through all of that. We’re very pleased he will be there to preside over our wedding, and my parents are thrilled.”
The couple has chosen shades of sage and purple for their wedding colors; the bridesmaid’s dresses will be sage green with varied necklines of the participants’ choice, while the men will wear charcoal-gray suits with eggplant-colored ties.
“We’ll have purple flowers, but I’m still working on final floral decisions,” said Wetering.
Their reception, at the Worthington Event Center, will feature a meal catered by P & J’s Mini Mart Café of Heron Lake.
“Josh is picking the food,” said Wetering. “I’ll eat most anything, and he has good taste in food, so I totally trust him with that.”
Christoffer also booked the couple’s honeymoon (a cruise to the East Caribbean islands).
A college friend who has a DJ business will provide the reception music, and they have engaged Chantel Saufley of Tilly Lace Photography to handle photos.
“We haven’t chosen a cake yet, but I think it will be either chocolate or marble - and I love buttercream frosting,” said Wetering.
“The big things are settled, and our moms have been very helpful on the wedding front, which is especially appreciated since I’m still so far away.”Opposites attract
Wetering’s sense of humor is typified by this joke about her wedding dress, which she purchased at Bridal Gallery in Sioux Falls, S.D.
“I keep telling Josh I’m wearing a brown pantsuit,” she teased, opting to keep the dress’ details a pleasant surprise for their wedding day.
“Generally speaking, we’re very compatible; most people who know us would say we aren’t that similar but fit well together,” Wetering added.
“I’m the more outgoing and louder of the two of us; he’s more reserved, but that seems to be working for us so far.”
Wetering is grateful her fiancé likes to cook, and is good at it to boot.
“She knows how to make toast and eggs and that’s about it,” laughed Christoffer.
“We have different styles - she likes everything a lot ‘cuter’ than I do - and she’s not much of a planner, which can sometimes be kind of stressful because my family likes to be very much on top of things all the time.”
“Josh is definitely more organized, more timely and operates more efficiently than I do,” said Wetering. “I’m more fun-loving.”
But that yin and yang is successful. When asked what Christoffer loves about his future bride, he responds, not altogether jokingly, “We don’t have all night,” before launching into a lengthy list of what he appreciates in her.
“She’s the funniest person I know, she’s very witty, and what I like most about her is the balance she provides for me,” he said.
“Laura has made me more outgoing, relaxed and adventurous, and she’s very kind and caring; it’s really awesome to see how she puts so much of herself into others.”
Together, the pair enjoys hiking, attending or watching Minnesota sports teams (the Twins, Vikings, Timberwolves and anything Gopher), playing games, watching movies and spending time with friends and family.
For her part, Wetering values that Christoffer enjoys cooking, keeps her organized and tolerates her foibles, among other charms of his she prizes.
“He’s very smart, caring and generous, and he’s always proactive,” said Wetering.
“I’ve also never met someone more eager to learn or try new things, and that approach to life has helped me grow. He’s my best friend, and making him happy makes me happy.”
Summarized Christoffer, “I think everything with us happened at just the right time; we’re not the same people we were when we first met and we’ve learned things about each other we never would have thought to appreciate then.
“Now we know that being together, no matter what, is what will make us happiest.”