You know the old saying: you don’t just marry the love of your life; you marry their family as well. That’s never more true than when someone in the couple has children from a previous relationship. For these couples, an entirely new family is created the moment they say “I do.”
Amber Stroh and Eric Drake both knew from the beginning that theirs would not be a cookie-cutter, traditional wedding. Their quirky styles and tastes had been nurtured by close family relationships, so involving their family and friends in the big day was a given.
When Eric and Amber tied the knot on Amber’s parents’ property in Copley, it was all about family. From Eric’s son, Aiden, approving the proposal, to Eric’s brother serving his home-made mead and both the dads’ bands playing at the reception, to Amber’s mom making a gluten-free wedding cake, the couple truly gave new meaning to family-friendly on their special day.
Eric works for The Ohio State University in Information Technology; Amber is a former flight attendant transitioning to management for an airline out of Port Columbus International Airport. Besides celebrating each other’s fun families, the couple recently bought a new home in Westerville where they enjoy gardening and cooking together.
We met making pear cider together. I had a well-producing pear tree in the yard of my house, and my [then] boyfriend, who worked with Eric, called Eric to help us, since he has years of experience with home brewing. Eric and I hit it off immediately. After that relationship ended, Eric and I started dating. He came over one day to bottle the cider and pretty much never left.
I never wanted a wedding; I wanted a party! Every August, we throw a birthday party for my parents here that is the best party I’ve ever been to. I couldn’t imagine having our wedding anywhere else. The neighbor’s organic farm is one of my favorite places on the planet, and having that as a backdrop couldn’t have been better.
Purple is my favorite color, so I knew it would be purple. I originally envisioned something a lighter shade with lace. But shopping at Macy’s and not even looking for a wedding dress, I walked into a dressing room and saw this one hanging there, just waiting for me. I knew it was perfect! I also bought a short, fun “party” dress that I changed into for dancing.
The promises we made to each other are kind of what weddings are all about, right? They’re something that will stick with us forever.
My mother has made wedding cakes for several of our friends and family over the years, so she wouldn’t let anyone else make it. I’m gluten-free, so she had to make several gluten-free layers, which was more of a challenge, but she rose to it. She made an amazing almond cake for those layers and a chocolate side cake. We had a tumble of the top layers when Eric and I were cutting it, but [they were caught], thankfully!
The Groom’s Take
When Amber asked me to marry her—not the other way around—I made her wait a couple of days so I could talk to my son, Aiden, about it. We are a package deal, and Amber wanted us both. You can tell we chucked a lot of tradition to the curb and had the most relaxed day. Our families are good at hosting this sort of thing, so we worried about nothing.
Our guests are still talking about: The open-floor toasts. Amber’s dad opened it up to anyone, and they said the nicest things. We all cried a lot.