I have so much to say about this wedding. Before I can even dive into the couple, their peeps, and all the other details, I must take care in setting the scene. Most couples choose their wedding venue first based on how it looks, location, and budget. In Sammy’s case, this venue was decided while she was still a young girl. You see, the Soo Line Depot in historic North-End of Superior, Wisconsin was her childhood home. Before she was even born, her dad dreamed of owning the iconic structure someday. In 1992, while pregnant with Sammy, her parents Jim and Faith purchased the depot and moved into the building with her brothers Al and AJ.
The building needed some work. Without heat or many other amenities most consider essential in a house, they moved into one room (with temporary heat) while Jim got to work. With a stroke of luck, the filming of the Disney movie Iron Will moved into town. The crew approached the family to use the depot as a movie set and the compensation allowed him to finish the project and make it a home for the next 27 years. Sadly, during those years, Faith passed away, but they continued to make this unusual and unique building their home to not only them, but to many others as well.
In 2018 when Jim decided it was time to let the Depot go, he sold to Steve and Deb, the owners of the popular Superior brewery and pizza restaurant the Thirsty Pagan. His only condition was when it was time for Sammy to get married someday, it must be the site for her wedding. They whole-heartedly agreed.
Fast forward to August 14th, 2021, the day Sammy would marry her business partner and best friend Chad (more on them and him in a minute). After a COVID reschedule, closing the establishment for the entire day, and seriously working tirelessly to make this day the most special they possibly could, both Sammy and her dad’s dreams came true.
It’s true. One of the best parts of the entire day was hearing the stories from nearly everyone and the abundant memories there. Sammy’s bridal suite was her childhood bedroom she shared with her brothers. The room she had the first looks with her dad and brothers was their living room. The room she waited in before the first looks was her baby nursery.
One of the most heartfelt moments of the day was when her father Jim turned to see Sammy for the first time, his first words were “I miss your mom and this place, I wish she could see you now.” It was truly special for this rough and gruff guy (he will NEVER admit to crying, but I do have it on camera) to have his dream come true.
Usually, a wedding is solely about the couples love and their union. This day was different in that this place brought so many together not just celebrating Sammy and Chad, but also all those who’ve gathered there over the years. With the frequent trains running on the tracks just behind the depot (it’s still a working train-route) that blew their horns in acknowledgment of the festivities, to the honks and loud motors of cars as they passed by, to the people in the neighborhood just yelling out their well-wishes, and even the end-of-the-night fireworks display – it was all truly spectacular.
You can read more about Sammy and Chad’s story from their engagement shoot blog. I won’t get into all that here other than to say – the sentiments expressed over and over and over throughout the day was how perfectly balanced and complementary they are for each other, and how incredibly hard-working they are. I’ve seen it and know this to be true.
I’m honored to have been a part of this day. I say this a lot, but this was special in that the depot was a third element to the wedding. The bride, the groom, and this place. I had full-body goosebumps and cried a bit more than normal while I worked. I’m fortunate to know more about the story of the building, and Sammy’s family history with it. These photos aren’t my usual brand/style that some of you come here for. In this very special case, I wasn’t necessarily in search of the perfect backdrop or visual element. Instead, I let the people and the stories guide my eye and lens. I hope you can feel it as I did.
In closing, I was always a huge fan of the pizza and beer since the Depot’s transformation to the Thirsty Pagan. I will always pause for an extra moment to think about her family and the memories they have there. All while enjoying my favorite combo: Lawn Chair and a TPB pizza (both are SO good!).
Congrats Sammy and Chad. I’m so excited for your future, and can’t wait to catch some fish with you both! Here’s a final shout-out to the Soo Line Depot. You did a GREAT job of fostering the memories, old and new.
Venue: Thirsty Pagan Brewing
Reception Tent & Rentals: London Road Rentals
Hair and Makeup: Serenity Salon and Spa
Dress: David’s Bridal
Men’s Wear: Authur’s
BBQ: Family Friend
Flowers: Duluth Flower Farm
Happy Hour Band: Justin from Thirsty Pagan (they were awesome)
Reception Entertainment / DJ: Sounds Unlimited
Special shout-out to their amazing friend Alex: She was the GOAT at putting this shin-dig together for them and did it with an epic smile!