WORTHINGTON - All it took was a haircut to change Sami Hameister’s life forever. And while the hair cut was fine, thanks, it couldn’t compare to the guy who cut it.
“I knew we were going to get married from the day I met him,” stated Sami.
Her mentor and friend, fellow teacher Roxanne Kremer, had hoped it would turn out that way.
“Roxanne set us up,” explained Sami.
“She knows Stephen’s grandma - they worked together at West (Elementary). They schemed together and Roxanne told me to get a haircut.”
Sami figured, why not? She made an appointment for a haircut with Stephen Woitalewicz - the lone male hairdresser in Worthington (if you don’t count barbers) - and before that first appointment was over, she knew she had found the stylist of her dreams.
“He was talking about this Elvis show at the auditorium that he was going to go to and I told him if he needed someone to go with then I’d be available,” Sami recalled, smiling. “He took me to dinner even before the Elvis thing, and then we went to it together a few weeks after that.”
Nine months later they were engaged and six months after that they were married, tying the knot on Oct. 16.
Sami, who grew up in Eyota (a small town not far from Rochester), has recently started her third year of teaching kindergarten at Prairie Elementary in Worthington.
“I had to look Worthington up on the map,” admitted Sami. “I had applied all over Minnesota and then got an interview here, but then the ice storm hit and I had to interview by Skype. I came a few days later to accept the job and meet everyone in person. I fell in love with the town right away.”
Together with her dog, Sami moved to Heron Lake and began teaching in Worthington in the fall of 2013.
Stephen is not a native Worthingtonian, either, though his hometown is much closer than Eyota.
“Stephen grew up in Fulda,” said Sami as she smiled at him across the busy hair salon where he has worked for four and a half years - Lakeshore Clips, on the edge of Lake Okabena. Stephen smiled back, though he couldn’t hear a word Sami said through the noisy holiday rush.
Sami raised her voice over the friendly hubbub to ask how long, exactly, he’s been cutting hair.
“Almost 10 years,” Stephen replied. “I was in college in Marshall and then decided I wanted to go to cosmetology school. I was the second-ever graduate from Avalon (School of Cosmetology).
“I was bummed not to be the first,” he added with a grin. “That would have been cool.”
Given Stephen’s propensity for detail - “I work in aesthetics,” Stephen justified - he had a lot more opinions than Sami expected when it came to wedding plans.
“Our wedding colors were plum and orange,” Sami said. “He was not sure about the colors at first. We decorated with burlap and mason jars. Stephen loves popcorn, so we had a snack mix with popcorn and candy corn and M & M’s.”
Following their ceremony at the Christian Reformed Church in Worthington, Sami and Stephen used a variety of local and non-local vendors for their reception, which took place at the Worthington Event Center.
“Our DJ was from Midwest Sound in the Twin Cities,” Sami elaborated. “My mom found them. They’d been here in Worthington before. The DJ did a very good job.
“She was very good at pulling us aside during the reception to say, ‘Just stand and watch the people and enjoy yourselves. Take it all in and don’t forget it. It goes so fast.’ It was a really cool thing that she did that.”
Sami’s dress was from the Wedding Shoppe in St. Paul, which, while not a local establishment, had a couple of fun personal connections.
“The Wedding Shoppe is on Grand Avenue in St. Paul,” said Sami. “It was cool to use it because Stephen lived on Grand Avenue for a while and so did my grandmother. It just made it kinda neat.”
The Woitalewiczes’ rings, tuxes, and flowers were all local.
“Our rings were from Johnson Jewelry, our tuxes from The Stag and we used Hy-Vee for our flowers. Sam was amazing. Jackie at the Event Center was amazing, too. She added a lot of really nice touches that complimented what we had for decorations. She made us signature drinks - an orange one and a purple one to match our wedding colors.”
Their photographer, too, was a local company.
“We used J & M Photography from Worthington - Jonathan and Miranda Sickmeyer - for our engagement and wedding photos,” Sami detailed. “I found them on Facebook. I didn’t shop around any more at all after I found them and talked to them on the phone. I knew they would be great. I loved their personalities. They took very unique pictures.”
One final aspect of the reception - the cake - was done by family friends who own a bakery in Rochester. A three-tiered “Donut Cake,” it was a unique and fun addition to their party.
“The donuts were delicious,” added a passing co-worker of Stephen’s, who overheard the cake question.
An additional one-of-a-kind part of the reception was a skit, put on by friends of the bride and groom’s from church.
“They did a skit and talked about our relationship to the tune of Big Bad John,” laughed Sami. “It was fun.”
After the reception, Stephen and Sami drove away in Stephen’s uncle’s vintage car - a two-door 1937 Chevrolet.
“It was really nice that he let us use it,” enthused Stephen. “It’s a very cool car.”
After a few days in their new home together, the Woitalewiczes spent some time in Door County, Wis., for their honeymoon. They rode Segways, toured wineries, and marveled at the fall colors. Now, settled down and back to teaching and styling hair, both Sami and Stephen are looking forward to getting more involved in the community.
Sami does face one disadvantage, however. Having married her hairdresser, she wakes up every morning to the pressure of not knowing for certain if she’s fixing her hair the way Stephen would have fixed it - but it’s all good.
It’s all very, very good.