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Couple plans public vows with ‘Mall my Love’

Carolyn Hanson and Dan Nichols strike a pose to show their wedding rings from Helzberg Diamonds. The Superior couple will exchange wedding vows at the Miller Hill Mall in June. Businesses from the mall and the Twin Ports are pitching in to provide wedding items and services. (Submitted Photo)

Do you want to get married at the Miller Hill Mall?

Director of marketing and business development Machelle Kendrick lofted that pitch earlier this year. One Superior couple said “I do” to the proposal. Now Carolyn Hanson and Dan Nichols are preparing for a very public display of their love on June 21.

“This is a marketing event; it’s a feel-good event,” Kendrick said. “As a marketer I couldn’t ask for a better couple.”

She told Hanson, who works at Younkers, about her idea in February. The Superior woman brought it home to her long-time boyfriend. After some mulling, and a little prompting from Nichols, they decided to do it.

“He said ‘Who better, who goofier, than us?’” Hanson said.

The couple sealed the proposal with a high five.

“Clearly Carolyn and I, left to our own devices, don’t get married,” said Nichols, who has been with Hanson for nearly 14 years. He’s a “less is more” sort of person; Hanson is an admitted procrastinator. Now, businesses are rallying to make their nuptial day a one-of-a-kind event.

The two met at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Nichols was working in food service, and Hanson was a student. The two had mutual friends through KUWS radio and many common interests.

“My love of her cooking and her love of eating work out well,” Nichols said, and they were drawn to each other’s goofy sense of humor. That humor saw the couple through the June 2012 flood. As they threw an entire basement full of possessions into a dumpster and set photos out to dry on the living room floor, the couple found time to crack jokes.

That sense of humor has come into play as the couple accepts wedding items from local businesses. When asked to display their rings, provided by Helzberg Diamonds, the two struck a pose.

“They’ve both got great personalities,” said Helzberg manager Dick Bellamy. “They looked like they belonged together.”

Nichols has a bachelor party planned for the Jedi holiday of May the fourth (May the forth be with you). The groom and his posse will play the board game The Settlers of Catan in the Barnes & Noble cafe.

Although the mall has 130 different shops, it took some help from Superior to outfit the bride.

“We’re so excited to be part of it,” said Rhonda Grussendorf Tomlin, owner of Rhonda’s Always and Forever Bridal House. When Kendrick approached her about supplying a couture gown for Hanson, Tomlin jumped on the bandwagon.

“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “It’s the first time I ever assisted a bride getting ready for a venue this outside the box. They’re going to have quite an audience.”

The strapless design incorporates vintage lace and some bling.

Helzberg was an original tenant when the mall opened in 1973, and Bellamy felt the store should be part of the mall community’s first wedding. The event has proven to be a team-builder.

“It’s not only bringing a couple together, it’s bringing stores together,” Bellamy said. “It’s fun to have a common goal.”

Kendrick has only had one panic-inducing moment through the preparations, which began in February. Nichols and Hanson texted her, asking to sit down with a list of their demands. But in an event like this, the marketing coordinator said, the couple has to be content with what they get. When they met, Nichols said his one demand was that, at the end of it, they wanted to be married.

The Superior man has worked as a caterer for hundreds of weddings.

“In all of them, people make compromises,” he said. The important thing is the end result, and “There’s no one else I want to spend my life with than Carolyn.”

The couple has chosen a unique official for the wedding — John Munson of Wisconsin Public Radio. And they expect the vows will be colored with their individual sense of humor.

The wedding date may fall on Grandma’s Marathon weekend, but the Superior couple knows it as flood day. Two years ago, they were throwing out sodden furniture, cookbooks and keepsakes. One year ago, they watched a neighbor’s house flood again.

 “It will be nice to have a happy memory for that day,” Nichols said. “It’s part of the healing process.”

“It’s kind of symbolic,” Hanson said.

Getting married in a mall isn’t something everyone would do. It takes a special personality to step up for an event like that, Tomlin said. Hanson and Nichols, who rumor has it is wearing a kilt to the event, top her list of unique couples.

“I think it’s their dream wedding they didn’t even realize they wanted,” Tomlin said.

People can follow the couple’s journey to wedding day through the Mall My Love Facebook page.